Lethbridge, T C - A Step in the Dark – Retreating to become wise
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T C Lethbridge – A Step in the Dark
'I am a part of all that I have met.' In fact poets seem to be able to get far nearer to the heart of the matter than any modern philosopher, or theologian. The poet somehow has a thinner refracting layer at 40 inches than most. Many seem to be able to slip from one layer of the mind to the next without any difficulty. But then to be a real poet you have to sit and think.
Few people nowadays have time to do this and would have to go on the dole if they tried to do it. It is the old story of Mary and Martha all over again, over and over again. Martha has no time to spare for thinking about anything of real importance. Our whole educational system is designed to produce Marthas. Mary made time to sit and think about what everything meant. So when she met someone who really knew something, she was able to listen and understand. This may be a parable, or it may be fact, it does not matter which; but the more facts educationalists try to cram into the heads of children, the fewer real thinkers they will produce. All that a man really has to be taught is to be given enthusiasm to read, and then be given the time to do it. With this he can teach himself anything. But think how many corns of vested interest I tread on by saying this. From the professor in his university rooms, to the village school teacher, they all depend for their livelihood on being able to repeat what they have been taught by someone else. Not only must they be able to repeat it, they also have to be able to persuade gullible politicians that what they have as their stock in trade is of great importance.
Half an up–and-coming don's life is spent in persuading people that his special line is of vital importance and that he needs more people to teach it, when in truth it would be far better for the intellectual development of the students if they had to sweat up the subject for themselves and learn to form their own judgment on what they read.
All the real sages of antiquity had to get away somewhere quiet to think things out. In the East they still do it. How far the modern ones get, we never know and in any case they may not have been first-class material to start with. But both of the really great religious founders whom we know about, Jesus and Buddha, did this. In the case of the Christians this tradition of going away into a desert place for contemplation survived so long into the Dark Ages that only the piratical raids of the Norsemen made it impossible.
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Observation contributed by: Margaret Booth