What did we learn in school that has been of absolutely no use to us since?
What could we have learned in school that would have served us well throughout our lives?
When I stop and think about my school days, they most certainly weren’t ‘the best days of my life’ as people tried to tell me they would be. I wasn’t a model student by any means; I asked too many questions. I was constantly in trouble for drifting ‘off task’ as my naturally inquisitive mind asked questions that my teachers quite obviously had no answers for; hence their irritability and aggression! Questions are good. To ask questions opens doors for us. The answers to questions bring us awareness. Asking a question is a tremendous way to receive feedback. At school when you got something wrong you got a great big red cross on your book. I remember fearfully opening my book just a chink to see if I had suffered the indignity of a great big red cross! Unfortunately I amassed a fair number of these during my eventful schooling. One particular repetitive red cross came every time I wrote the number 8! Instead of starting like writing a letter ‘S’ and then continuing until it joined up, I would do a reverse S and joint it up. The result was the same but it obviously offended Miss Jarman considerably that I did it this way. I would ask her why it mattered when my 8 looked as neat as my peers! I was chastised unmercifully for this and was hit around the bottom of my legs with a ruler for asking! It is easy to see why we stop asking questions. If you label things wrong or bad, what you are doing is making children fear and shame things and you limit what they allow into their world. Of course, if they are going to hurt themselves by doing something you stop them – this is being kind, but if you are really just going to inflict your opinion on them, maybe let them experiment and find out for themselves.
Many parents stop their children asking questions because it drives them crazy! ‘Will you stop asking WHY please?’ Pop would say to me. Mum would always give an explanation with her bid. Pop would say ‘you don’t need to explain to them; just telling them should be enough’! For an intelligent man he could be very narrow-minded!
What if this habit of asking questions that most children have is the very thing that expands their mind and so their future – we are limiting them drastically by telling them to stop asking questions! Perhaps these questions are the very tool that can change their entire life. Children don’t stop asking questions until we train them to stop asking. This then becomes habitual. They stop asking questions and behave in ways that they have been indoctrinated with! What a sad and narrow existence that then becomes when curiosity is removed from the equation.
I had stopped asking questions. Whether this was because of my schooling or my parents I’m not sure. The trigger that kicked off my incessant question-answering again was the death of our beautiful, warm, funny son, Rowan. I am sure that my family may feel like telling me to stop asking questions but so far, sixteen months into my journey, they are being very understanding!
Why are there so many religions in this world? Why do they each have a different Deity? Why are different religions so intolerant of each other? Why do all these religions have so very many things in common with each other? What is the difference between religion and spirituality? Do we have a soul that continues to live after we physically die? Where do we go when our soul leaves our earthly body?
I’ve been chasing answers to these and many more questions.
My hero, His Holiness the Dalai Lama came up with an awesome quote on Facebook recently. He said
“All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether”.
Love, kindness, compassion and tolerance are qualities common to all the great religions, and whether or not we follow any particular religious tradition, the benefits of love and kindness are obvious to everyone.
By implementing the practice of love and compassion, we will naturally live a non-violent way of life. Helping others and not harming them is the work of non-violence. We need to develop love, compassion and forgiveness to develop inner peace and that naturally gives rise to non-violent conduct.
Many people frown on ‘spirituality’. They equate it with ‘New Age’ thinkers who historically have been treated as drug-crazed flakes! They envisage people meditating in unusual physical positions, communing with nature, hugging trees and seeking conversation with the spirit world.
I think spirituality starts with love, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation………