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September 20, 2005

Real-time Learning and Artha

Some interesting thoughts during the check-in:

Kaksha quoted: They know enough those who know how to learn.

Prasad talked about three types of Mantras:

Invoke specific deities or aspects of the Absolute (Saguna Mantras)

Abstract mantras to declare the meditator�s identification with the Absolute (Nirguna Mantras)

Seed mantras, which are aspects of OM and derive directly from the fifty primeval sounds (Bija Mantras)

More on Mantra�s here:

Manju talked about her reluctance in getting rid of building material (like doors) that are actually good individually but do not fit with the remodeling that she is doing.

This indicates that there is nothing that is inherently good or bad on its own. Anything has value only in relationship to a particular person, place etc. This insight should at least make us think twice before we rush to buy something just because it is on sale :)

Deep said, in the context of spending time with his children: How to spell love? TIME.

Two themes emerged after the check-ins: Real-time Learning and The Commercial aspect of Passion.

Real-time Learning:

I said that I have been paying more attention to real-time learning.

Most of us have grown up learning what we learn by first acquiring data and information in the subject. And at the time of putting them into action, we struggle and through that struggle we learn. Seldom we are able to fully convert what we conceptually know into meaningful results (which is when we could say we have truly learnt something). On the other hand, there are things that we can do very well which we did not learn by first acquiring information. It is as if we learnt them directly without passing them through symbolic language. This is easy to understand when it comes to hard skills like riding a bike or playing a game. Most of us never read a book on swimming before learning it. But when it comes to soft skills like leadership, we run to read a dozen books. No doubt there is struggle whether we already have enough information or not. But having information beforehand seems to increase the struggle. And in my experience, getting information after learning something enhances one�s understanding and capacity.

The question is, �How do we transfer our ability to directly learn hard skills (without first acquiring information) to learn soft skills?�

Jags termed direct learning as �thoughtless learning�.

Prasad shared a story of a person who read one of Prasad�s article in which he had said that our identity could be whatever we want it to be. This person, while waiting to pick up his luggage from the carousel in the baggage claim area decided to do an experiment. He started staring at a particular suitcase and started imagining himself as the suitcase. In a few minutes, his girlfriend who was standing nearby got concerned because his body was wobbling and shaking � mimicking the motions �experienced� by the suitcase!

Prasad said that after hearing this story, he had tried staring at suitcases in the carousel many times but could not feel anything.

He said that real-time learning requires one to merge with the object of one�s attention at which point, the learner, the process and the object or subject of learning become one.

He quoted a basket ball player who said that he �becomes the ball�

The Commercial aspect of one�s Passion:

Kaksha said that she has been our of the corporate world for a while and has been trying to establish herself as a Reiki Practitioner and a Holistic Healer. The problem she said was how to decide the business model. She said that if she thinks about money all the time, she will not be able to whole-heartedly heal people wherever and whenever someone is in need (which is her passion).

Manju was of the opinion that passion is beyond transactional relationship and hence it is best to pursue it free of commerce.

Prasad said that he decides on whether to charge someone for his service only based on whether charging is helping the process of providing the service. He said he does not think much about the commercial value of an opportunity to serve before investing time into it. He gave an example - the day before the session he did a workshop at TiE for entrepreneurs. TiE is a non-profit entity and hence he did it free of cost. But he spent a whole day of his �billable time� preparing for it without thinking about the opportunity cost. On the other hand, he said that when a large company asks him to do a 2 day workshop, it is proper to charge them as that is the way they have set up themselves to receive services. In fact, he says, there are times when it becomes a hindrance to serve without charging. He said that who he is does not change whether someone pays for his service or not. �You cannot pay me to be myself�.

Prasad also indicated the importance of artha (material wealth). He said that Purusharthas (objectives of human beings) in Hinduism is of four kinds: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. After Dharma (one�s core duty which comes from one�s true self), comes Artha, which is material wealth. He said that it is not by accident it is placed in the second position after dharma. Without dharma, artha has no meaning. And without artha, dharma cannot flourish.

More on Purusharthas here: http://hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_aims.htm

Practices for the week:

Pick a subject that you want to learn and try to be with its purest form that you can relate to without getting more information about it.

When there is an opportunity to serve professionally or personally, try to see how the presence or absence of the commercial aspect can help you serve better.

Posted by Ragu at September 20, 2005 12:20 PM

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