Habits of Thought
Certain habits of thought also need to be fostered in connection with a culture of learning, often at odds with current society’s tendencies – three will be mentioned. It is clear that society increasingly speaks with slogans. To be able to analyze yet not reduce, to ponder and not dwell, to categorize but not compartmentalize are essential to form full and complex thoughts required of a learning mode. To take science and religion as an example, there seems to be an endless quest to describe each of these vast systems using fewer and fewer words accompanied by clichéd pictures. “Science flies you to the moon while religion flies you into a building” is one rather amusing one. What is actually learned from this statement?
Society also breeds false dichotomies – many of which have already been mentioned: science vs religion, study vs action, individual vs collective, material vs spiritual, action vs reflection, mind vs heart, “us” vs “them”, etc. They are all manifestations of fragmented thought, harmful to a culture of learning that seeks to understand the interconnectedness of all things. Many stem from the general false dichotomy between being and doing. These are two mutually informing aspects of one coherent human being; an individual personally develops through service, and gains the impulse to serve through personal growth.
And thinking in terms of process, as oppose to society’s end-point oriented value system characterized by punctuated events, short-term vision, and instant gratification, is crucial in understanding that learning is a process that will proceed over time, will evolve in an organic fashion, will require sustained and long-term action and vision, and will never reach a definite conclusion. Regardless of if current society has forgotten this fact, science and religion are both characterized historical process, whether progressive unfoldment of revelation or progressive development of disease treatment.