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Excellence: A Missing Ingredient

The whole school system is supposedly designed to teach students to think. But what is the reality? What are the results of the education system in general?

You Can Tell A Tree By Its Fruit

If you want to judge a philosophy, you have to look at the quality of the results of its application. The same applies to current education. Students and pupils are not really motivated by the quest for truth. Rather, they seek to find their place in society through the acquisition of sought-after skills. In short, thinking is not really the aim of today’s education, but to ensure that students fully integrate the job market.

What Is Thinking?

Learning to think is learning to be free, to let go of conditioning and to approach the world with an open mind, so as to grasp all that is possible to grasp. The opposite of thinking is repeating a discourse that has been imposed on us, asserting that we know without having verified it ourselves through experience, or worse still, asserting a truth in the full knowledge that it is false.

To Fill, You Have To Empty

To learn, you have to unlearn. To think, you have to stop thinking for a while. Emptiness is an important element that is neglected in teaching. All physical principles function through a kind of duality: thermodynamics involves contraction and expansion under the effect of a pressure variation, chemistry involves reactions leading to a state of equilibrium, Newtonian physics teaches us that any force applied at one point generates a force of equal intensity applied in the opposite direction. Teaching should fully integrate the duality of learning: the idea is not to have a full head, but rather to alternate between a full and empty head, so as to “purge” or “filter” knowledge, but above all to distance ourselves from knowledge so that it doesn’t become our identity and supplant us.

Emptiness As A New Learning Paradigm

It’s not easy to clear the mind, because everything urges us to do the opposite. Today’s world is full of distractions, to which academic knowledge belongs just as much. Clearing the mind means entering the meditative state sought by Buddhist practitioners, whether Tibetan monks or Zen meditators. To fully understand and assimilate something, you need to detach yourself from it psychically, in much the same way as good digestion involves phases of fasting designed to purge the digestive system. To think about a subject properly, you have to purge your brain of all the preconditioning you might have around it. The ability to clear the mind is an integral part of thinking well about a particular subject or the world in general.

How Do You Learn To Clear Your Mind?

To do emptying well, we need to learn to value a different approach to work and integrate the “A / non-A” duality into everything we do. To begin with, this means accepting that the idea of performance implies apparent non-performance. One thing you probably don’t know is that the greatest sportsmen and women you know all sleep well above average. Sleep is the silent but essential counterpart to performance. You need to change the way you look at the world. In reality, when we sleep, it’s our unconscious that’s at work, so we’re still making an effort, invisible but just as valuable to our progress.

Those Who Neglect Rest Have Only A Fragmentary Vision Of The Recipe For Excellence

Those who take a blunt approach to knowledge generally ignore the behind-the-scenes aspects of excellence. They see only one aspect of performance, most often its visible, flashy, conscious and noisy dimension. The problem is that by focusing on only one dimension of excellence, they’ll never reach the top. It’s as if you decided to build a house with impeccable walls and a superb roof but forgot to have a solid foundation. Your house could collapse at any moment. Excellence implies a complex vision made up of apparent contradictions, which are nonetheless the very reasons for lasting, indisputable success.

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