Tuesday, February 7, 2012

THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

In 19th Century, Ponce De Leon traversed vast expanses in the American continent in search of the Fountain of Youth. By then what mattered most was looking and feeling young and he sent out his best men on sea and land in search of this Fountain.

This story is also well incorporated in Pirates of the Carribbean 4, with a twist of one sip that can either destroy a person and the other give back life. What intrigues me in all this is a Zen story in the same light. The story is told of a well educated man visiting a Zen master to learn more, and the master invites him to a cup of tea. As they sit down, the master offers him a cup and keeps pouring tea into the cup long after it is full, and the tea pours out till the man tells him "enough! the cup is already full" and this makes the Zen master stop and smile. He looks at the man and tells him "just like the cup, you have come to me so full of what you know that you cannot receive nothing new."

Youth is best attributed to being open to learning. Being able to take in new experiences and sharing them with as much passion and curiosity as child who is learning to walk. The mind can take in lots of information, but in a manner that enables it to store in either short term or long term memory. Most people can recall things they did learn or experience as a child because back then their curiosity was pure and they gave every experience their all. I know some of my friends can still sing the rhymes they learned in kindergarten but cannot recall the last lecture topic they discussed in class. To learn something we have to be willing to experience it fully and to share it with as much joy as we did while acquiring that knowledge. Henry Ford says "anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning today is young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."
Now that I have gone on and on about keeping the mind young-what matters then is how to do so. How do you keep your mind young? Better yet how do you keep a beginners' mind?
  1. Focus: Concentrate on what you are doing and do so by simply asking yourself first and clarifying what you want to learn from whatever it is you are experiencing.
  2. Open: Admit that you do not know something and that you would like to know it. This is the beginning of it all. It's like while learning a foreign language you find yourself learning new words, phrases and repeating them -all these are new to you and just by taking that course you have declared you cannot speak that language and would like to.
  3. Reflect: Gain confidence by recalling what you have already learned.
  4. Observe: Increase your awareness be keen like a child. Children are quick at observing what is happening around them and they do so by simply paying attention to things in motion or not around them. Do the same.
  5. Model: Take advantage of other people's experiences. Well, you might be asking how? Simply put, learn from other people's mistakes and their successes to-what did they do to get where they are? What did they do right or wrong?
  6. Act: Practice, practice, practice and that's all there is to it.
 

You don't have to traverse the world like Ponce all you have to do is refresh your mind, and there you have it...