The more I think about learning and growing, the more I think they're the same.
Formalized learning i.e. via the structures of education from pre-primary school to university tends to be really artificial. Sure enough, skills like literacy, numeracy, analysis, comprehension and many others are picked up along the way, and are not merely valuable but indispensable. Yet learning is a matter of conscious change, or put the other way, change of consciousness.
Not too many people look for change of consciousness. Although consciousness is essentially indivisible, being continuous and not discrete, linked by the imprint and impact of pre-verbal experience, a key vehicle of which is emotion, humans grow up recognizing little else other than the stark limits of being on their own.
Solitaire. Desperado. You're on your own. Best you can do is fall in love, and hope that it works both ways.
The bottom line works in these emotional barters.
It's not true, though.
The other day I asked a class, "Can you learn to be stupid?" A few of them caught the idea. Yes, you can. In fact, we do it a lot. We accept, adapt, and change to minimize ourselves. We obey. We don't dare. In short, we don't think through emotional barriers. We perform them, to our detriment and diminishment. We succumb to economic pressures, formalized demands, social regulation, spiritual containment.
Formal education puts you in the box and ticks off the box. Well done, now you're a lawyer, a doctor, a bus-driver, a masseuse, a plumber.
Learning, like living, is indivisible and continuous. But you have to choose it. There's a certain strength of character that grows exponentially once it gets given its head. You get really stupid people in all professions. They missed the bus somehow, they got the certificate, but don't use their services.
People in difficult circumstances don't need sympathy. I'm pushing a point, here. They need to be taught how to think through their difficult circumstances, make strategic decisions, pursue emotional breakthrough, find a way through.
The world we have created doesn't want us to grow. It wants us to be a market, a stamp of approval, a good citizen, a loyal member, a leader, any kind of a thing that makes the way smooth for others.
Emerson wrote "Take the way from man, not to man." Follow radiation, rather than inclination. The open door is dangerous, the closed door safe. The shelter of promise is desired, the quest denied by default.
If I open my heart, can I control the traffic?
The answer is "no". Control is a legend, and love is the proper opposite of this legend. This is why "love" is anti-conceptual and a poor word for a perfect storm.
In the current age, learning has missed the point if it depends on education. You learn to fly by being tossed out of the nest, by being on the sidewalk, by feeling the cold as well as glamour, by reading the stock markets as well as the tabloids. By seeing with the eyes of your eyes and hearing with the ears of your ears, e.e. cummings pointed out.
Is growing imperative? I believe it is. Neglect it, and you learn to be stupid. The majority do, not on purpose, but because the emotional patterns intimidate, demand and diminish. Some of these patterns are created exactly for these purposes, others simply arise. Within each heart, however, openness is possible and provides another pattern which ultimately changes everything.