Ok, before I tell you what is that one thing, I’d like to say this. This doesn’t apply to schools and colleges. Or to be more accurate – Even though the principles apply to mass education scenarios like schools and colleges, it doesn’t matter there. Because, One, the subject and topics discussed and taught there are not too deep, all are merely a scratch on the surface. And two, because even the relationship between the student and a teacher is merely held by the timeline of their education in that particular institution.
However, this axiom I’m about to share with you, which I’ve come to realize through years of observation both in my students and my classmates learning music along with me, is one that can be seen in the long term, i.e, life-long learning subjects and endless journeys. It can be seen at its best in pursuits of art, dance, music, sports, or even personal mastery.
The aspect, or in other words, the virtue I’m talking about here, is Devotion.
Yes, I’ve observed and have come to realize and believe that Devotion is that one thing that sets apart excellent students from the average and the others.
To be more precise, it’s the level of devotion towards the craft and towards the master that sets apart the excellent students!
Since a long time, I started observing how each student perceives music. Some see music as a skill, one as a post-retirement chill habit, and one sees it as another feature she/he can add to her marriage proposal. But the pattern I saw was that the best student of all was the one who had the most devotion towards music and the master. The more devoted they were, the more music they were able to grasp. And similarly, the opposite is also true. The worst student is one who does not have devotion towards music and towards the master.
I realized that the lack of devotion is the reason why not many people are able to learn music.
And I have to highlight the dual aspects of that statement:
- Devotion toward the Craft
- Devotion towards the Master
Both of the aspects are crucial and are interdependent, and yet sometimes, people may believe that they can progress without any one of them.
- Devotion toward the Craft
This one’s the easy one. Almost everyone knows and believes that passion & dedication are required to progress in any craft. And yet there are so many cases of students dropping out of what once was their ‘passion’. It’s simply because, it was after all, not their passion, it was merely an interest, a curiosity, or not even that, it might have been a compulsion, by parents, friends, or any societal arrangement you can think of. However, resilience is not possible without passion. By the way, passion is not just a very high level of interest, it is almost love. And when one has passion, they don’t stop at passion, they’re automatically drawn to dedicate towards that pursuit or craft. In other words, they become devoted.
2. Devotion towards the Master
This one’s not that easily understood, instead, it’s the one aspect that’s easily overlooked. This is the reason why students try to manipulate the learning process in ways that need not be. It might be because they think they know better than their teacher, or not. In most cases it is not, It might simply be because the students aren’t aware of their level of ignorance. It may be because he/she hasn’t observed and absorbed the magic his/her master can produce. If they try to analyze and understand the magic, they’ll realize how many years of dedication to the craft the master has put into, to bring such magic into the world. Then, they’ll see the reason to see him devotionally. And hence there’ll be devotion.
And, as I mentioned, these two are interdependent. If a student is devoted to the craft, he’ll definitely come to be devoted to the master. Or if he hates the master, he’ll soon start to hate the subject/craft.
Of course, there is the other side of the coin too. I’m not saying you must believe and devote yourself to someone blindly. The Blind Believer.
It has been a known fact for ages, this disorder of seeing someone with miraculous abilities and seeing them too ‘highly’ that they forget to look into that person, look into his journey, look into his virtues, all the efforts and the pain he had to go through to become the person he is now.
And when someone is not seen like ourselves, we tend to disregard their qualities. If we see Rama as a god before we see him as a human and his virtues & actions as humane, we’ll not try to live like Rama. We’ll leave his case to be an outlier. We label it as divine, superpower, god, etc, but we don’t truly devote ourselves to that power. Do we?
We can devote ourselves to something that we understand is “Great”. And through that understanding, we believe, we love, and then, there is devotion. [ Simple question, would you devote yourselves to Rama if you did not know Ramayana?]
When something is done through devotion, it is the action done at its best! So when I say devote, that means, be all in. It means ‘Give your full’.
I’m sorry the topic got deviated a little, but I must say, devotion is such a topic. So I had to mention all that I have.
It might be your art teacher, dance teacher, or music or you may even have a mentor for life (which most great masters are), have devotion to him. And when I say devotion, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s about walking along with him towards the light, i.e, awareness. If you understand it correctly, Devotion is not a blindfold, it’s a means to awareness.
So, devote yourself to whatever that you’re pursuing and towards the master who’s guiding you and taking you along the journey you wish to travel.
Sanath Kumar Naibhi