“To be on the path is to decide that every day I’m going to learn something about myself, others, and humanity. Learning begins with the beautiful recognition that I don’t know.”
A little over a year ago, these words came to me after a conversation with my good friend Rafael about “the Path.” Until then I had not noticed the road signs, but had only seen the Path from a poetic point of view, and it was a great surprise to be able to go deeper into it than the simple aesthetic beauty of what it suggests, and the intellectual and emotional agreement with it. What it suggests is simple, and is explained in four phrases:
Learn to treat others the way you want to be treated.
Learn to overcome pain and suffering in yourself, in those close to you, and in society.
Learn to resist the violence that is within you and around you.
Learn to recognize the signs of the sacred within you and outside you.
Four suggestions that seemed very good to me, but got even better when Rafa pointed out that they all begin with the word “Learn.” And there I had my first crisis and also my first revelation with this path.
The crisis – to give it a name – was my realization that I don’t really know much about what these phrases are saying, and that learning is the only way to make them come true. Just agreeing with them isn’t enough. I realized that I’m not clear about how I want to be treated, that I need to learn, and I also need to learn how to treat others that way. I need to learn how to overcome pain and suffering; I need to learn how to resist violence; and I need to learn how to recognize the signs of the sacred. Because honestly I had never proposed this to myself as a learning situation, and on formulating that first statement, I understood a little more that learning is something that is life-long, a way of being in the world and of relating to others.
This revelation – to give it a name as well – came to me when I said to myself: Learn as if learning were a new attitude. As if you were hearing those phrases for the first time. Ask yourself about the sacred, about violence, about pain and suffering, about how you want to be treated. If you can see it in yourself, you can see it in others. And the other way around. If you can see it in others, you can see it in yourself.
And in asking myself these things every day, I began to understand better that I can have learning as a permanent attitude. Then I couldn’t help thinking about another phrase that has been very meaningful for me for many years: “I will tell you the meaning of your life here: It is to humanize the earth! What is it to humanize the earth? It is to overcome pain and suffering, it is to learn without limits, it is to love the reality you are building.”
To learn without limits has a connotation, at least for me, of an open future anchored in a way of living that is constantly in motion, that requires an active behavior where I am attentive both to what is happening and to how I am affected by what is happening. This attention allows me to learn, and even more, it’s given me a taste for learning, which I recognize is a good way to exist.
This is very similar to childhood, where a taste for learning is always present, and we have that desire for learning that we lose later in life, when we begin to hold onto beliefs and truths that we don’t even know where they came from, and instead of learning and acknowledging our ignorance, we limit ourselves to what we already know and can handle. These limitations are what I abandon when I dedicate myself to learning…
These images / drawings are from a collection called “Weekly Reflection”. Most of the time the text is related to the photo or the drawing and is a “poetic” interpretation of the image. All the images and drawings are made by Rafael Edwards, all the texts are created by Fernando Aránguiz and all the English translations by Trudi Richards.
If you want to be part of this project, send me an email.