Men who follow idols rarely get as far as those they follow.
People follow people for a number of reasons. A religious leader may be followed by people in search of spirituality, a politician by people who believe in a particular political creed, and a philosopher by those who seek learning. This essay will attempt to examine the principle benefits gained from being a philosopher, how best a follower may learn from the teacher and the importance of reason and an open mind. The benefits of discipleship are as varied and diverse as the number of people who have ever written or uttered a few thought provoking words. From Jesus to Keynes, before, between and after, there lie many men worthy of study. A desire to learn draws one towards these people. These ‘great’ people encourage the inquisitive mind and challenge them to understand, to study these great people and learn from what they taught. Learning is where the beauty lies in discipleship. Be it Judas, Peter or Paul the dedication of these fishers of men was what made them holy. Jesus never wrote a word and his message was simple and yet he demanded he’s followers to give up all they had to be with him and learn. Learning is the key to success in our lives, in whatever it is you may desire. However learning goes beyond that. As a fly or dung beetle has the role of helping break down waste, a human has the ability and therefore the role of learning. In neglecting this role, which placed humanity at the peak of evolution we neglect our duty and perhaps what we were made for. In essence, a day in which you learn nothing is a day wasted. Who do we learn from? Great men and women.
What may be the best way to learn from these teachers? Learn from as many and diverse a number as possible. Do not study the great thinkers of the West alone however. Learning from the philosophers of the East, of Africa and of the Arabic world will teach an individual far more then seeing the world through the eyes of a few Westerners. Many ‘discoveries’ which the Western world claims for itself came from afar and many written thoughts go ignored due to the arrogance many have within our Western culture. It is also worth remembering why you learn. While the learning and knowing of old facts may be a worthwhile venture, the creation of new thoughts is far better. Creativity grows out of diversity. A thought worth remembering.
I think I’ll finish with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson from he’s essay ‘History’. It covers the last point I desire to make and fits quite nicely here. A good description of our ability to empathize.
‘There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the estate. What Plato has thought he may think; what a saint has felt he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind, is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.’