In order to continue that journey toward greater wisdom, it is no longer enough to have the desire to know, although of course that is important. In order to keep growing and learning, there has to be humility. The opposite of humility is ego, and ego blocks human development and inner growth.
Lifelong learning is an attitude that equips us with the irrepressible impulse to seek greater awareness – to have the openness to learn that comes from knowing there is always more to understand and discover. It is the ego that decides it doesn’t need to know any more and cuts off avenues of learning. What’s more, the ego is always sure that it is always right! When ego gets in the way, we can’t be honest with ourselves because we can no longer access our inner wisdom. The ego, with all the manifestations of its arrogance, blocks our wisdom. How do we remove this internal blockage? Through humility; it is this quality that keeps the learning process alive throughout life, ensuring that the seedling of wisdom can continue to thrive.
The word “attitude” links back to the Latin words apititudo and aptus – “fitness” and “fit”. In humility, our attitude – our “fit position” – is one of openness and learning. With that attitude, we take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and their consequences. We are able to see what more we need to do to make things better within ourselves and also to make things better in a situation in the outside world or with other people. When we just blame and complain, we just create further dissatisfaction, which can have far-reaching effects. It then becomes almost impossible to put things right in any way because we have avoided accepting our part in the situation. But with humility also comes an acceptance, which allows the mind to be peaceful and open. Then we will have the wisdom to know what needs to be done and how to make things better.
Here is an insightful story shared by Amita Bachan. “At the peak of my career,I was once travelling by plane. The passenger next to me was elderly gentleman dressed in a simple shirt and pants. He appeared to be middle class and well educated. Other passengers perhaps recognised who I was but this gentleman appeared to be unconcerned of my presence. He was reading his paper, looking out of the window and when tea was served he sipped it quietly. Trying to strike a conversation with him I smiled.The man courteously smiled back and said hello. We got talking and I brought up the subject of cinema and movies and asked,” Do you watch films?” the man replied, “Oh very few. I did see one many years ago’. I mentioned that I worked in the film industry. The man replied “oh that’s nice. What do you do?” I replied I am an actor.” The man nodded,”oh that’s wonderful!” And that was it…When I landed I held out my hand and said,”It was good to travel with you. By the way my name is Amitah Bachan!” The man shook my hand and smiled,”thank you…nice to have met you. I am JRD Tata.” I learned on that day no matter how big you think you are, there is always someone bigger than you. Be humble it costs nothing. “