The mind

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
― Plutarch

The mind is a dynamic element possessed by humans enabling one to think and reason. Quite contrary to the ordinary belief, an evolved mind is not one that is full to the brim but one that is open and ready to grasp new ideas. Great thinkers like Aristotle and Lord Buddha have time and again stressed on the freedom of mind. Their intelligence had solely depended on the freedom of their thoughts and the fire in their minds, which made a sea change in the thought processes of the world at that time.

A four year old who can recite poems and stories almost mechanically is seen as far more intelligent than a child who questions and learns through observation and is always curious to know more. In the present day and age, society’s perception of development of the mind revolves mostly around a person’s retention capabilities, which is truly disturbing. Quite ironically though, it is time and again seen that the great leaders of our society have not been great “crammers” but great thinkers who have through their unique ideas made life easier. Thomas Alva Edison, who took out more than a thousand patents at the age of 21 and Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the 20th century share the fact that they were both called “dumb” by their teachers when they were students. This leads all of us to question whether the set societal standards of intelligence that revolve around marks and percentages are the ideal measures of mental superiority or not. One can go on filling facts and dates in to one’s brain but true knowledge is attained only when the information one has learnt is put to full use for the benefit of the individual and society.

Long, long ago there lived four friends. Three of them were very informed of scriptures and considered themselves to be learned though they lacked common sense. The fourth friend was not at all keen to learn the “knowledge” that his friends possessed and was called a “fool”. This friend however had a good deal of common sense. These four friends set out on a long journey to win the favours of kings and nobles and amass great wealth. As they were passing through a forest, they found the bones of a dead animal. The three friends decided to test their knowledge by bringing the animal back to life. The fourth friend however shouted that the animal was a lion and they mustn’t bring it back to life. The three men ignored him and set about the preparations for bringing the dead lion to life. Meanwhile, the fourth fellow climbed up a tall tree. The learned men brought the animal back to life. It was a huge lion. It stood up and pounced on all three men and killed them. When the lion left, the “fool” climbed down the tree and went home. This story has time and again been recited in different forms but the reciters as well as listeners often ignore the deep message that is a part of this story. The mind, if not inquisitive, can lead to over confidence, which can be harmful for a person. If one creates roadblocks in the mind and a fire is not kept alive, it may lead to situations that are negative and generate dissatisfaction in the life of the individual as well as his/her well-wishers. As in the case of this story, the men were learned but by filling their minds up with only contents of scriptures and Vedas, they had blocked out their sense of logic and rationality. In real life too, one sees people being referred to as geniuses and “ brainy” but when they are faced with situations that demand sagacity and the use of what is known as “emotional intelligence”, they get “eaten” up by the problem and think of ways to escape rather than solve them.

What use is knowledge if it is not propagated? Knowledge is the only power that increases manifold on being shared.
A mind that is akin to a vessel can only take in information and stock it. One akin to a fire spreads its flame around and kindles a flame in the minds of others as well. Lord Buddha is a very fine example of this theory Lord Buddha’s genius can be solely attributed to the wisdom he propagated far and wide. It led to a widespread introspection and widening of rigid thought patterns. That is the reason that he is seen as the most learned man that ever lived.

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