Kent Nerburn


When you feel burdened by formal education, do not be quick to cast it aside.  What is happening is a great surge in your growth and consciousness that is screaming out for immediate and total exploration.

Remember that all other learners have traveled the same path.  And though all true learners have felt this urge to strike out on their own, formal education, in its many shapes and guises, has been sought and revered by all people and all cultures at all times.  It has a genius that is greater than our passions, and is abandoned at your own peril.

Still, formal education will not inform your spirit and make you full.  So, along with knowledge, you must seek wisdom.  Knowledge is multiple, wisdom is singular.  Knowledge is words, wisdom is silent.  Knowledge is standing outside, understanding what is seen, wisdom is standing at the center, knowing what is not seen.  No person can be whole without both dimensions of learning.

There are many ways to seek wisdom.  There is travel, there are masters, there is service.  There is staring into the eyes of children and elders and lovers and strangers.  There is sitting silently in one spot and there is being swept along in life's turbulent current.  Life itself will grant you wisdom in ways you may neither understand or choose.

It is up to you to be open to all these sources of wisdom and to embrace them with your whole heart.

So do not disparage the lessons of either the schooled or the unschooled.

Those who have less formal education may have learned some single thing more deeply, or they may have embarked early upon the search for wisdom.  In their uniqueness, they have discovered something special about life, and it is yours to experience if you are open to what they have to teach.

Those who have devoted their lives to formal learning may have walked further along a path than you can even imagine, and may be able to lead you to a vista that will take your breath away, if only you can overcome your boredom and fatigue at the rigors of the search.

Remember the words of the musician who was asked which was greater, knowledge or wisdom.  "Without knowledge," he answered, "I could not play the violin.  Without wisdom, I could not play the music."

Place yourself among those who carry on their lives with passion, and true learning will take place, no matter how humble or exalted the setting.  But no matter what path you follow, do not be ashamed of your learning.  In some corner of your life, you know more about something than anyone else on earth.  The true measure of your education is not what you know, but how you share what you know with others.


A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.

George Santayana


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