The Learning River

Oftentimes I read articles and conversations about various Martial Arts, styles, and schools of thought regarding Internal and External practice, and how students and teachers describe their methods, and ways of training. In many of these inquiries, I find controversy, conflictual arguments, and even ego-driven dogma. This sways a reader from one train of thought to another, and forces him/her to have a very honest critical thinking hat on, in order to avoid being trapped by any of these undercurrents of our social dynamics.

Chinese Landscape - done in an engaging, positive, constructive way, this apparent conflict of ideas is perfect for learning. When the waters are muddy, and dogma grabs hold of reasoning, danger is lurking, and an uniformed mind can get lost, thus, hindering unbiased understanding and ultimately –  personal growth.

Think of learning as a river.

Always flowing downstream.

Sometimes calm, sometimes rough, the Learning River carries us from our beginning of our journey, to our end. We always learn, because the Learning River runs with Life.

As we flow downstream, on our individual path, we eventually come to the understanding that learning is cumulative.

There is something to be learnt from everything and everyone, in every moment, in every instance of our movement through life. And thus, we must at some point begin to learn how to navigate this river. How to make the flowing on it our guiding force, and how to learn to navigate in such a way that we do not allow ourselves to be overtaken by the undercurrents which would run us into rocks.

The Learning River does not flow upstream.

It bends, and rolls, adapts, rushes or stalls, but it keeps on flowing downstream, until its journey merges with its destination.

We must be mindful of the undercurrents. Life is short, and we have much to explore, enjoy, and learn. Because the Learning River always flows downstream, we can train our instincts and sensitivity to always be aware of times when we have been sucked in by an undercurrent, and as such, become more and more able to flow and navigate the waters of life.

How do we know?

Through the practice of a single question, we can continuously bring ourselves to flow, we can permanently cultivate our inner ability to navigate other incoming streams, and yet maintain our integrity, because…we each are our own Learning River.

If we ask ourselves “Is this adding to my functional knowledge of Life?” then the question becomes a guiding rowing oar which will always keep us on the main current of our river, and of our life.

This is an intrinsic and fundamental aspect of the inner path. It is the center, the origin of who we are and who we are becoming as we travel downstream on our own individual Learning River. This is the core of mastering learning as a path in life.

~ Bogdan Heretoiu


Illustration by Mariusz Szmerdt. His work can be found and purchased @