>An Education


I’ve got a gripe, and I realize it might not be ingested easily, if ingested at all.

What prompted it (although I’ve always had it)?
A young boy wants to get married when he is 18. This young boy asks the adults around him what they think. They all tell him, “No, don’t do it. That’s too young.”
It is probably good advice. Had I gotten married at 19 when I wanted to, I am sure I would have divorced. But this isn’t my gripe-
Someone responded, “Here is what I tell my two daughters, one 18 and the other 21. Don’t even talk to me about marriage until you have a degree. And make sure he has one too.”
Again, probably good advice- but, why in this culture does most everything often come to getting a degree? Don’t get me wrong, I wanted one. I was going to be a psychologist and we know a degree is needed for this profession.
I went to college for two years, getting a degree in Human Services. Then I got pregnant. Sure, I could have gone on to further my academic education, but I didn’t. I chose to devote those years to raising my daughter and getting to know myself.
These choices have earned me vast amounts of knowledge of the human psyche (mostly my own of course), and still do. However, the way I attain this knowledge does not come from an accredited institution, where I will earn a degree, that will win me intellectual favoritism in our current society, so I can secure my future.
We have a philosophy in this country, which seems more prevalent than ever: in order to secure our future, we must earn a degree, and the bar keeps being raised. It is no longer enough to have a two-year, or even a four-year degree. We must have a 6 or an 8, or however long it takes us to prove our intellectual worth- and secure our future.
The other day, as I tweeted on this subject, a follower asked if I was against getting a degree. My answer is absolutely not. I am for doing anything our soul speaks for us to do, and if that is receiving higher eduction than by all means, work toward a higher education. However, in this day of constant external pressure do we even know the voice of our soul, and what it speaks? For that matter, do we even know there is a voice of wisdom in our soul? Do we think our current institutions are the only places in which to earn a higher education?
Had I enrolled in more years of college, I am not convinced I would have earned the depth of knowledge I have by paying attention and listening to my soul. With all the external studies, would I have encountered the voice of my soul? If I had, how absorbed would I become with it? Where would I have found the space in between text books and classes to listen to its voice, and to understand its wisdom? We are not empty slates who only have knowledge when administered externally.

The only useful purpose is to turn within and realize. There is nothing else to do. ~Ramana Maharishi

Recently it has been said we are lacking common sense. At the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the phrase, ‘know thyself’ appears. It does seem we have misplaced our greatest asset, our wisest teacher, and that is our self, a self which guides us to know common sense, and also spiritual sense.
This lack of common and spiritual sense makes me wonder what the degree will do for the young daughters mentioned above should they lose their job or the husband with the degree. Is their future secure now? Sure, they might have intellectual favoritism and worth, but what about our spiritual worth? Will it ever be favored? It is in the realm of the spirit where ALL is secure and worthy. But where is the emphasis of the spirit in this world? Why aren’t mothers telling their daughters to develop and secure a relationship with their soul, and make sure your spouse has too?
I am proud of my daughter, Alyssa who is almost 18. For years she told us she was going to college. It was never a requirement I had of her. It is what she wanted, but something changed. She has chosen to concentrate her energy on what she loves, what she’s good at and what she wants to do- acting. She auditioned for one school, an acting academy, which offers complete concentration on dramatic arts. Just as the young boy who wants to get married, my young daughter has received advice from the “wiser” adults:
“Are you sure you should only audition for one school? Shouldn’t you have a back up plan? You know you would really be more secure doing a BFA program. That way if this actress thing doesn’t work out…..” All the while, my daughter stands confidently in the space SHE has chosen. She has a confidence and faith no degree could ever give her.
Perhaps, as a culture we are afraid to stop earning what we think we deserve. We can’t have a secure future unless we earn it, right? We must work and sweat for it. And working for a degree is the best, and frankly seems to be the only way we know how to. But, if we fear we are not “worth our salt” any other way, let us be sure earning a higher education in our spiritual nature is work. Lots of work. Uncovering our spiritual foundation, which lies beneath the societal and familial clutter is work. With this work, we earn a clear voice of wisdom from our authentic self. A voice that will guide us through, perhaps even with a bit of grace and faith, when the spouse leaves or the boss fires us.

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire man cannot live without the spiritual life.” ~The Buddha

Jesus Christ has been called by some the Master Psychologist. But do we know him as Jesus Christ, PhD? Buddha did not attain enlightenment at Harvard. He attained it with intention to be enlightened, and sat under a Bodhi tree until it was received. Mattie Stepanek taught many to live in their hearts with his poetry of heartsongs. He never had the chance to graduate. There are many among us who have wisdom to share and it has nothing to do with what we as a society has deemed necessary for “smarts,” which is a traditional education.
There will be those who may not agree with what I say, and think I am critical of those who have earned higher education degrees. I share this post, somewhat for myself. I have struggled with feeling I am not worthy of a secure future for I do not have the documents to confirm my knowledge. So, I say to myself, as I say to any of you who may also struggle- there is security in our future (and our present and past), and it is bright. It is bright because we ALL have inherited a bright light within us. The only true security is ourselves, and like a degree, we must work to earn the reconnection to our true and wise self. It is process to know thyself, one we have barely begun. One I hope we begin in earnest for it is needed. One I hope we begin to honor, and to share.
The (Self-Educated) Soul Reporter

2 thoughts on “>An Education

  1. >I think the same advise can be given to little boys as well and I am sure you did not intend to exclude them.Alyssa is a rare breed in the sense that she is our child raised in way that most are not in my opinion. I say that because she is supported and that is huge.The way I understand this is simple. America is chasing China as far as education goes. So that stems this great expectation of educate, educate.I have not problem with people wanting to be educated, my issue is people thinking that you are better for the job if you are.I work in a job with Spanish speaking people, everyone wanted someone that spoke Spanish. Well except the person that wanted me, lolThe point is the person before me got complains every other day, the person before that got them everyday. I have been fortune to my knowledge to have not received any.So being educated in this case as far as knowing the native language was not a plus. What I learned from my family, hood and being a consumer has helped me more.Great post look forward to hearing much more from you Soul.OBMO

  2. >Your post really makes one think! I earned my Ph.D. shortly before my 50th birthday. I pursued this higher education degree because I love learning. I love knowing and seeking to understand. My son, Mattie, helped me study for exams, and he loved to sit in on my classes. Yes, there is some competitive nature associated with higher education, which is a shame. But there is also the gift of knowledge that fosters thinking and learning and then being our best self, and working with our neighbors and supporting them to be their best selves as well. For me, that is what higher education is all about. Not the competition, but learning to collaborate through awareness and knowledge.In hope and peace,Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D. ("Mattie's mom").

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