Becoming a Good Student

Chapter III, Verse 2

Sri Nerode’s Translation:

2

With thy seemingly conflicting words thou only bewilderest my understanding. Therefore, tell me one thing and tell me positively by which path I can attain the highest good.

Helpful Translation:

I am confused. Your guidance appears contradictory on the surface. Please, just tell me how to succeed on the spiritual quest.

Commentary:

The devotee Arjuna tempers his approach to Krishna by taking his lack of understanding onto himself.

The point expressed here is a universal turning point required for learning and progress in understanding. Humility is required. In this verse, Arjuna expresses humility. The reluctant or arrogant student may memorize the material or perform the actions given by the instructor, but does not learn with that attitude.

Right attitude and approach is required for learning. Learning requires a student who acknowledges that something is lacking in his own knowledge and skills, even within his ability to think. “Thinking” and “creativity” can be taught. There’s an old saying that may be paraphrased for this situation, “The instructor appears when the student is ready.”

In society today, much emphasis is placed on education. “Get the best education. Go to the best university you can get accepted into. Improve the qualifications of the teacher!”

More emphasis needs to be placed on preparing the student for an education. One’s mind must be receptive and the attitude must be willing, even grateful, for an education to occur. Effective education requires more than the ability to regurgitate facts and ideas, education requires that the student learn to think and create.

I’ll admit that I have often been a poor student. My mind wanders to dreams and fantasies in the classroom setting. While I used to argue the material in most classrooms I attended was rote and unexciting, now I am willing to admit that I was also unreceptive to what was being offered. I wanted a castle without having to lay a foundation and align the stone blocks into walls.

Consider mathematics. To apply for a university education after public school, several courses in “advanced” mathematics are required. While I was a student, I was completely against this requirement.  I studied and memorized and passed the math required, but I did not learn. Review my formal education, I did not learn in any situation where I felt forced, or where I disagreed with the material. I had a bad attitude. Lacking humility and resistant to the knowledge being shared, it’s a wonder that I was able to pass any course and “succeed” at completing my degree.

While I am not a mathematician today, I can say my appreciation for math has increased. Rather than seeing math as difficult and uninteresting, I now recognize that it is both challenging and potentially enlightening. Imagine, if you will, a language that has exact meaning. A language that when “conjugated” results in predictable and exact results. A language that quantifies and qualifies observed phenomena. Imagine a language that leaves no doubt. If someone says, “I love you” for example, that phrase has an exact and defined meaning. Well, mathematics is such a language. Math assigns specific value to observed phenomena, it is predictable by creating the same results from the same combinations, it leaves no doubt as to the meaning. To the successful student of mathematics there is little about creation that cannot be communicated with numbers and formulas.

So, you’re not Einstein who cracked the atom and considered how to precisely define relativity with numbers? Well, then consider this. If I had been humble and if I had embraced the potential of mathematics, I would have learned that the precision of expression offered by math is a philosophy. (Hey, I enjoy philosophy.)

Many debates today, those of a religious, political, and philosophical nature quickly degrade into arguments because the English language is not precise nor predictable. Imagine the same discussion had in math. No arguments would arise over the definition of individual terms. Disagreements would be reserved for the clearly defined formula to arrive at the most desirable outcome. Wouldn’t political proposals be better evaluated by math than by language?

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Arjuna has become humbled by his own confusion and with a receptive attitude appeals to Krishna for an education.

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:

Each sound in the original Sanskrit of this verse presents a powerful indication on how to use the energy behind the main nerve ganglia and nadi channels to achieve the highest good.

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Ancient History

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