Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Optimal learning

After a long break, I have come back to using words.
 If one masters the ability to enter a state of single pointed focus, the ability to focus ones desire to a laser sharp point and the ability to see what needs to be done i.e. vision - I used to believe that the purpose of formal education has been served.

Learning is an interesting and fascinating phenomenon.

One of the questions I had was - how does one achieve this one pointed focus at will?

The Patanjali yogasutras offer hints as to how this process occurs.

shraddhaa veerya smriti samaadhi pradnyaa poorvak itareshaam.
Patanjali's yogasutras (1-20).

Shraddhaa - loosely translated as faith. It begins with belief - with faith. Faith in the teacher, in the subject, in the process of learning. Faith provides the "wetness" necessary for union. (between teacher and student, between student and subject) In a teacher-student situation, without faith, there is dryness - resulting in "dry dis-course" that is a painful boring 'one-way' process. 

Veerya - this can also be translated as utsaah or enthusiasm. Faith leads to enthusiasm - (enthusiasm comes from en+theos from Greek - literal meaning - to be filled with God) and the being of the student is ready for union with the subject, for learning.

Smriti - Enthusiasm leads to past experience and knowledge being brought up into the memory cache, ready to be recalled at will, thus providing a firm foundation for learning to occur.

Next is samaadhi - or union with the subject of study, a state where one pointed focus is achieved. Nothing else except the subject exists.

This leads to the awakening of pradnya - a state where after the subject is assimilated into ones being, the blossoming of wisdom results.

( 'poorvak itaresham' - this sutra is referring to most normal people, and not those who have been talked about in the earlier sutras - those who have already achieved the ability to enter 'samaadhi' at will.)

shraddhaa->veerya->smriti is one of the pre-conditions for achieving one pointed focus. Hmm.

Wherever there are gaps in this chain, sub-optimal union with the subject at hand and thus learning might occur.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Refinement ... food

This desire to go beyond what is, slowly morphs itself into the desire to live the best life possible, a search for best practices. A process of continuous refinement. This process of refinement reflects itself in various ways. Including diet.

In Japan there is a special kind of diet called shoujin ryouri. If you are a vegetarian in Japan, then you'll be glad to know that you can enjoy shoujin ryouri at most Buddhist temples and some onsen (hot water spring bath inns)

The word shoujin is made of two characters. Shou - "refine, essence, spirit".
Jin - "advance, progress".

The word ryouri - loosely translated in English as "cooking" is composed of two characters "ryou" means material. And "ri" means "logic, arrangement, principles of right and wrong. 

There is a tacit recognition of the fact that all matter, everything that exists, is 'food' for some force or the other. All material is food. Cooking is the process of arrangement of material according to logical principles of right and wrong.

However, material may be arranged to reflect refinement, so as to bring out the essence and to progressively aid the advancement of that refinement. The principles for doing so have been identified and are embodied in "shoujin ryouri".

-miquelrius journal, end of 2008