Dharma arrived right on schedule and quickly poured himself a cup of freshly-brewed tea. He poured one for me, too, and as we warmed ourselves up, he thoughtfully asked me, "Tadpole, why do most humans think they know everything? You have many human friends and I'm hoping that you can help me understand why it is that people have such a hard time accepting learning from the experience of others." Honestly, I had to scratch my head on this one because I didn't have a clear answer for him. "Sir, I don't know why. But you are right. Many humans believe that they're experts in everything. It seems that they have great difficulty in admitting, even to themselves, that they don't know all there is to know." Dharma smiled a little. "Son, one frog's head cannot hold all the wisdom. And your human friends would do well to learn from us." And so began our breakfast and my weekly lesson.
Dharma explained that while it's good to learn from our own experience, it can be even more beneficial to learn from the experience of others. It is often more efficient, as well. Many others before us have traveled down the road we're on. And while no two paths are exactly the same, there are usually enough similarities that the problems they've encountered and the solutions they've found can help us accelerate our own progress.
I was reminded that discoveries and inventions develop in an exact fashion. Humans start with the existing body of knowledge and then advance from there. If everyone felt they had to discover everything for themselves, society would never have evolved from the Stone Age. Humans. and more than a few frogs, believe that it's best to simply learn things for yourself. Dharma agrees, but only to a point. "Although self-discovery is certainly beneficial, my boy, ignoring proven cause and effect scenarios experienced by others wastes time and is a pathway to frustration." I can see where he's going with this and I wanted to know more. "Teacher, what is the best way to learn from others? Maybe those in my circle of acquaintances don't have the experience I need. What then?" "Good question, Irwin. The first step, and often the easiest way to learn from others is by reading and researching the subject you need help with. Countless books have been written on every subject imaginable. Whether you want to lose weight but don't know which diet and exercise plan will work best for you, or you want to know what kind of wood to purchase to build a bookcase, you can find that books will be an invaluable resource. And don't forget the internet. A world of knowledge is available with just a few strokes on your computer's keyboard. But keep in mind that much of what is found online is erroneous. Be discriminating with your choice of sources.
If you still need more information, check out local classes or seek a mentor in your area who is an expert on the subject you want to learn. Working with an authority in a particular field is a great way to acquire lots of experience quickly. Another way to learn is by joining a group or association. Let's say you want to know about bird-watching. Your local library can help you find a local group that will be very happy to have you as a new member. Humans, frogs too, love to talk about their favorite subjects. By joining a club, you'll have many opportunities to learn from the collective experience of the membership.
Spend time enhancing your experience on a regular basis and you will be surprised how quickly your knowledge grows. Be proactive. Go out and find the experience you need. Practice applying what you learn. Knowledge is effective only when it’s utilized.
Dharma had this to say on learning from others. "Gaining experience is fun. It keeps your mind sharp. It makes life more interesting. As your experience grows, you are in a position to expand on what you have learned. Other people’s experience provides you with a great foundation from which to reach higher goals." Wise words from a wise frog.
In summary, don’t waste time learning from your own experiences. I mean, really, do you want to spend your time reinventing the wheel? Acquire an edge by learning from what others have already been through. Whatever your goals may be, there are those who have a lot to teach you because they have already hopped down your path. Another valuable lesson from Dharma.
Please join me back here tomorrow for a look at the February Calendar of Special Days. Until then, Dharma and I wish you PEACE.