Four Methods to Understand the World

The proper understanding of the world is extremely important for all of us. All our frustrations, angers and happiness depend on our proper understanding of the world. If we know the world and its people, there is no doubt that we can live a very happy and enjoyable life. Yet understanding the world is most complex in this world. Even geniuses like Einstein admitted “I know little about nature and hardly anything about men.”

While it is so difficult to understand the world that even Einstein could not grasp it, yet it is so very simple that even an illiterate person can understand the world even without reading a single book. The mystery of this knowledge is as big as the universe yet as small as spark of soul?

Often people fail to understand the world because they do not follow the “right” method to understand the world. They simply follow the methods adopted by other “knowledgeable and wise” people and fail in the process because there is not one way to know the world but four methods to know the world. Every one must choose the right method of knowing the world based on their nature instead of copying other’s method.

The Beauty of the Universal Laws of Nature

The world is not really as complex as it seems since the entire universe is government by some basic laws. What is valid in one area of knowledge is also valid in another area of knowledge.

In the ancient philosophy of Gita, there are four paths prescribed to achieve salvation. These four paths are path of knowledge (Gyanyoga), path of action (Karmayoga), path of devotion (Bhaktiyoga) and path of self-realization (Dhyanayoga). These four paths have been prescribed since human beings are born with different nature and same path is not suitable for everyone. Unless one follows the “right” path that is in harmony of his basic nature, he can’t hope to go long in understand the world or achieving salvation in his life.

It would be interesting to see how the same principles can be applied in any area of human life including the acquisition of knowledge. We can discover four methods to know the world using this fundamental principle of Gita. The right method for a person depends on the nature of the individual.

Study: The Path of Knowledge

The most common path of knowing the world is by studying the existing knowledge of the world. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time. Study is such a polpular method to know the world that people often thinks that it is the only path to understand the world. A child from his young days is trained to learn by studying the different subjects like science, history, medicine, psychology, literature etc. Study is an art of understanding from someone else’s experience rather than by one’s own experience. With knowledge one can make the mental model of the self and the world and develop the proper understanding of the world.

However, leaning by studying is not everyone’s cup of tea. Only if you are intelligent and hardworking and you have proper resources like access to good education, schools and teachers, you can hope to learn the world by studying. However, often people learn without understanding the fundamentals. The result is that soon they forget what they have learned. Even those who remember the studied knowledge often fail to apply it properly as they fail to understand the fundamentals and they tend to apply the right principles at the wrong place.

Experiment: The Path of Action

The test of any learned knowledge is it right application. A learned knowledge is like a formula which if applied wrongly can not give the correct result. Even the soundest of theories have no meaning unless they produce the desired results. Roger Bacon, the English philosopher, scientist rightly stated,

“The strongest arguments prove nothing so long as the conclusions are not verified by experience. Experimental science is the queen of sciences and the goal of all speculation.”

Experiment is therefore, the most important way for the effective learning. However, the necessity ingredient of learning by experiment is courage and diligence. One must be willing to fail and face the humiliation of failure if one wishes to follow the path of action. Thomas Edison failed ten thousands time before he could make his first electric bulb. Gandhi was humiliated and jailed numerous times, before his experiments of nonviolence were accepted by the world.

The most beautiful thing in following the path of action is that every time you experiment, you learn something. Prof. Anon said,

“Every experiment proves something. If it doesn’t prove what you wanted it to prove, it proves something else.”

Therefore, Thomas Edison, in the attempt to learn making electric bulb did not failed 10000 times but learned 99999 methods as to how the electric bulb could not be made. Once, Einstein was doing research on the development of a theory for many years. After many years of research he learned that his theory was wrong. He was disappointed, but he sent his research paper for publication. He was asked as to why he wanted to publish a paper on a failed theory. He replied that he wanted to get the paper published so that others do not waste their time on a similar research.

Attention: The Path of Self-Realization

What if we are neither very intelligent nor very courageous in accepting defeat or facing humiliation, what is the next option? After all, intelligence and courage are the natural gifts to the people and it is extremely difficult to cultivate these gifts beyond a point.

Fortunately, all of us are blessed by nature to have a self-learning mechanism even by observation provided we pay close attention to the events around us and desire to learn from it. There is no way one can close the mind from thinking. Mind is always working in analyzing the events around us to make us understand the world. People automatically learn from their events of life. Thus it is common to become wise with age.

Yet the wisdom acquired due to old age does not have much utility since by that age the physical and metal capabilities of the person deteriorate. However, one can expedite the learning by observation by paying close attention to the events and by developing a deep desire for the right answers to emerge from within. This is the method of great saints, prophets and scientist. They all acquired knowledge by self-realization. Einstein wrote three noble winning level papers i.e. on Brownian motion, photoelectric effect (which fetched him the Noble) and Theory for relativity when he was only twenty five. Jesus was only 28 when he received the divine revelation. Prophet Mohammad and Buddha too acquired the knowledge of the world by the age of forty.

The people who are most suitable for self-realization are those who are introvert and altruistic. If you love peace of life and happy being yourself, this is the right path for you.

Art: The Path of Love

If you have the compassion for the people and love flows automatically from you, then it is most easy to understand the art of life by love. An artist knows the world better than any other person. The only difficulty is that he can’t express this knowledge in worlds in a logical manner like a scientist or philosopher. He often uses symbols and creative imagination for expression his understanding of the world in the form of art, literature, music, poems and fiction. The art however, directly hit the heart of the people and transform the soul.

Yet how to love the world, when it is filled with all type of people? It is true that every one is not blessed with the heart of an artists or a lover. You see the world as you are. Hence unless you have love in you, you can’t find the world worthy of love. Yet most of us do have the gift of love which we loose in the pursuits of worldly goals that are often achieved only by defeating a fellow human being.

Loving others is as simple, as loving one’s child. There would be no person who does not love his own child. You love your child because you consider him or her as your own. Now imagine that without your knowledge your child is replaced by another child, you can be sure that your love would not diminish at all. Thus love is not as natural as we

Steve Liem

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