Can we learn from experience? Most of us have heard the phrase, "learning from experience," throughout the entirety of our lives. We have an experience, categorize it as either good or bad, and store it for later. Then we might look back upon those experiences and provide ourselves the necessary knowledge to choose wisely in the future.
It seems an ideal mechanism for a peaceful world. We can see the pain and hurt, eliminate hate and separation, and truly live with one another. After all, if we see the dangers of the self, and the pain it causes for all concerned, then surely it will end.
But the world is not peaceful, and our minds do not see the danger. Why doesn't experience show us the destruction caused by our actions? No, not "caused." The very action IS the destruction. But why do we continue to butcher one another, hate and kill one another, in endless cycles? Why do we not say, "That is it. No more killing. I cannot live life like this for one more second.
Why do you allow it to continue?
Experience as a Weapon
The way our brains process information and store it for easy retrieval is a beautiful design. It is elegant in its simplicity. By why can't we leave it at that? Why must we constantly refer to the past in order to make something out of every moment?
I can understand that for the evolution of humanity, this mechanism was essential. Even in our own world, it is essential. But only as a means of interpreting incoming information. It has nothing to do with reality, in the way the self perceives it. And the self can only perceive in relation to its own desire for preservation. The self projects only what it thinks could happen, or should happen. It can never see beyond the desire or the fear.
When the self projects ideals and beliefs, it does so in order to protect itself. It only recognizes those things that can ensure its continuity. Conflict arises when the self is challenged, then the proper knowledge, memories, and experiences are called upon to attack in order to preserve. This reaction solidifies the existence of the self, and in order to continue existing, it desperately needs to be right. It needs to win, at whatever cost.
For example, conflict does not arise unless there is a challenge. If you are at your house, washing the dishes, there is very little to be worried about. There is nothing to respond to. But if one is highly religious, for example, and someone tells them, "There is no god," the conflict begins. But why? There are two responses:
1. You are deeply held in your beliefs. You don't even listen or give any energy to it because you know you are right. The other person is wrong, but you don't have to give them the time of day. 2. You are deeply held in your beliefs. You don't even listen, but you do give all of your energy to protect what the self believes to be true. You act to preserve what you think you are. This action can be outward, or inward.
Some might say, "But I respect other's beliefs. We should all be able to believe what we want." We should, and we do. And look at the world, as it is. It is terrifying, the things we do to one another to preserve what we believe.
And what will you do? You want to respect other's beliefs, but what happens when you are challenged? What happens when everything you believe is seemingly under attack?
We destroy each other to preserve the self, and we call that learning from experience.
Learning is Alive
We think of learning as gaining knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience. We gain skill, and we gain knowledge through learning. Learning is a process, and not a result. It is the process of being one with all we come into contact with.
Learning does not rely on the past, or experience, in any way. If one projects themselves, or their beliefs, onto reality, the only thing that exists is the belief about reality. Learning cannot take place in the projected past.
Think of the beauty of learning for a moment. As reality is seen, as it is, the connection is incredible. (But the word connection is not quite right, because there is nothing within being used as a point of connection. Instead of being connected, there is being.) There is only one, and nothing else. This doesn't mean there is exclusion of any kind, as that exists solely in the realm of the self. No, when you are truly learning, everything is available. The energy is wonderful.
For Takuin, there is no weight to this body. There is the slightest pressure in the neck and the top of the head, but those areas do not become a center for anything. It is just a noticeable sensation. All movement is noticeable, right down to the cell. As the heart beats, and the body is free to work as it does, the mind observes with no trace of a self that is capturing or collecting. There is no experience to interfere with learning.
Learning is a constant, never-ending movement.
Experience is Dead
Experience and knowledge are dead things, with no life to them. This doesn't make them useless or bad in any way. But experience has no energy or motion. It can only be used as a memory or a projection. This can be either useful or useless.
Memory is somewhat plastic, but knowledge and experience are rigid and dense. If the experiences of the self change and fluctuate in memory, then the self is at risk. There is no solid base to build from. That would be too dangerous for the self, as it is carefully built from specific experiences. So in order for the self to exist, the experiences must be solid.
But can anything be solidified when one is learning? When one is observing and seeing things as they are? The only thing that can be solidified is the projection of the self, but that is a trick. Because when we project, we only see what we believe and what we think should be. Reality is not there.
Besides, can there be solidification in reality anyway?
Living is Learning
If one lives, truly lives, and gives their spirit through natural expression, learning becomes something more than the idea of accumulation. To truly learn is to live. It is constant, and never ending.
Through learning, the mind is alive, and the energy available is almost unbelievable. Action or movement occurs from all points simultaneously, as there is no experience to point to or look from. There is no cage to hold, and no funnel to direct one's movement.
Experience does arise when needed, but it is not needed in order to see things as they are.