The most fundamental aspect of Sikhism is learning. To be a Sikh is to be a learner. When I was going to bed last night, thinking about how tired I am of writing exams, I actually realized how much I love to learn. Don’t get me wrong- I’m dying to be done school, but I realized that I am quite passionate about learning and teaching in my free time. For example I enjoy reading books and talking to other people about what I learned, or sitting down with my parents every night to talk about the great and challenging things I experienced and to hear about the katha my mom heard on tv, etc. When something horrible happens and I call or text someone about it to debrief, I am getting ideas and learning how to manage it better next time. I hear about how people got to where they are today. I guess I just never really realized that all of these things, that have been so much a part of my daily life, are just another form of learning. So much of our learning is informal and even just our mind absorbing what is subtle.
There is a lot of prestige that comes with formal education. Formal education certainly does give us a lot, which is why I always encourage my friends graduating from high school to get a degree. It’s not only practical, but also important for our development. I think, though, that by attaching status to formal education, we underestimate the value of the education we get from simply seeking our own learning. My schooling has given me the opportunity to do the sewa and to make money so I can feed my family, but that’s temporary. There is a big limitation to what that type of education can give me because it can’t come with me when I die. If I don’t pursue my own learning into the meaning of life, how to reach God, and continue to learn, then I will have defeated the purpose of everything. What use is my multiple-choice exam on internal medicine if I don’t pass the test of life? So I think it’s important to remember really how important our regular, daily learning is. If I compare simply the education I have done versus someone that has merged with Waheguru, they have done a million fold more work in being able to stop their thoughts and connect with God. It takes dedication and passion.
Lastly, just like we have thousands of opportunities to learn, we have thousands to teach and share what we learn. I would encourage each of you to use those opportunities because our relationships in this world (friendships, family) are for learning, teaching and growing. It's so important to spend time with people who challenge you to grow and to become a better version of yourself.