Riding a bike?
There is nothing like seeing a child gaining their balance on a bike for first time. That moment when they suddenly start moving faster through their own efforts than they ever have before is magical. Not just for you but for them too, it often their first experience of what it is like to be independent and capable of changing, expanding and challenging the limitations of their lives. It is a peak experience that we remember forever though we can recreate it when we are free-wheeling downhill taking advantage of free gravity energy and sitting in balance, effortlessly flying with grace, ease and joy. We recapture for a moment that sense of self determined freedom that we have manifested purely by our own efforts, it is for most of us the first memory of having the self-awareness of being autonomous, making something happen due to our own personal will, we wanted to ride and then we did.
However for such an important moment in our lives, almost no one remembers the bit in-between, we remember a story where there was desire and then fulfilment. In our memories the highlights are the beginning and the end, though if you ask your parents, they will tell you that it took days of practice in your backyard or local park, how hard they laughed at you trying and trying, how overjoyed you were when you finally do it on your own. Most this happened before we thought of trying to remember things, that we had the consciousness that memories make up part of who we are, or at least how we act in the moment, that they form the habits of behaviour. That we should treasure our memories, and we get trapped in the habit of trying to remember and having experiences to enjoy later, instead of fully experiencing things in the moment.
And it was definitely before we were aware of learning as a thing that people do because it is worthy and worthwhile. We did not learn the way that we do as adults, we did not have to force ourselves to concentrate, we naturally brought our awareness fully to what we desired, we wanted to ride a bike like the big kids and put the whole of our being into riding a bike. We knew without being told that we could ride a bike, the big kids did it, so we could, we just had to be big enough and when we were big enough we would ride or maybe it was that riding a bike made us a big kid. There was no indecision, no doubt, no bargaining, no planning or putting off until tomorrow, the adults told us things but we just did until we did, we did not have crisis of confidence or anxiety attacks. We learnt as a side product of our desires, our knowledge that we could ride a bike and for some reason we could not yet do so, we had the feeling of riding a bike before we actually could, we saw ourselves riding and each time we got on our bike this was the time that we would.
Our parents were certainly there, helping us pay attention to what we needed to do, to bring our awareness to where it needed to be, not on our feet but the way ahead. That is what the best teachers do bring your awareness to the things that you need to pay attention to, the actual learning is all down to the student, and the very best can show you things that you never knew you desired to pay your attention towards, they create experiences that engages your awareness and all of your senses with the whole of your being, just like that child that learnt to ride a bike.
When we are thinking of learning as an adult, not getting qualifications that is just a skill and game of mind-reading what the examiner wants you to tell them. Rather we are talking about the kind of learning that is entirely for yourself, that follows your desires and fulfils your need to be a growing being of consciousness is something quite different from education. It is when you engage the whole of your being to fulfil a want of knowledge, it might be to understand ancient Roman architecture or how to unblock toilet it does not matter just that you have the desire to know.
There is no elitism in learning when is not about proving things to other people or gaining status and gold stars, when we are feeding a desire, we do not have to try to force our concentration, what we need to do is recapture that wholeness of being that we had as a child. That ability to fully engage with the process of learning, in the same way that child knows that they are going to be riding a bike, as an adult you need to know you are going to be knowledgeable, that you are going to understand the thing you are studying, you are going to be a person with understanding, then learning becomes doing, you are doing the thing that needs doing to become that person but it is not important. It is the loop of being, doing and having, where being something is the experience of having. You are not learning, you are simply experiencing the process of becoming what you already are, and by fully experiencing it, effort disappears, it is not easy or difficult, because the object of your attention is not the suffering of learning, it is becoming what you are already are, it is happening but it does not happen to, you are simply passing though it, it is not personal, there is no longer a relationship between a learner and hard work. There is just you passing through the process of being you.
It would be easy if we could just remember the experience of learning to ride a bike and when you try to remember the experience it is at the tip of your tongue. You remember the joy, you might recall glimpses of trying to learn, except your memories are with the eyes of an adult and not the actual experience that you had. So whenever you see a child learning something, be humble and try to learn from them, see how they flood their awareness into whatever they are doing, they engage the whole of themselves, that is the way we want to learn as adult, and start with the thing that brings you most joy, if you like sport learn about that sport, if it is history, techniques, whatever brings you joy, do them with the full joy and knowledge, that you are already one of the big kids who can, you simply have to wait for reality to catch up with who you already are.