By Tauriq Latief |

The Master and The Student

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda

If you love Star Wars, you’ll most definitely recognize the above phrase. Yoda schools a young Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, as part of his Jedi training.

To start anything new in life—be it an activity, skill, knowledge, or even working towards solving a small problem—we must change our mindset. This starts by becoming a student, to desire to learn from those experienced in a particular skill set.

Often, while being taught something different or trying out a new skill, it is common to think, “I know this or that already.” In that exact moment, you may heighten your ego and may miss the importance of absorbing new knowledge. Instead, consider telling yourself, “I know this, but need to understand it.”

To know something and to understand something are two different things. You may know the how, but the master will understand the how and why. To really come to know and understand, begin by opening your mind.

Empty Your Cup

Below you’ll find a short lesson, elaborated by Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat:

“A man went to an old sage to learn from him. The sage was pouring tea into a cup whilst his new student was pouring out all his knowledge on the subject matter to show how much he knew. He kept speaking and the sage kept pouring. ‘Stop! The cup is full’ exclaimed the student when the tea started to spill out of the cup all over the table.

The sage stopped pouring, looked up, and calmly said, ‘You are like this cup. I cannot teach you because you are full. Empty your cup.’ The student learned a subtle, yet profound lesson.”

Bruce Lee, the greatest martial artist who has ever lived, echoed this very same message to his pupils. If you keep an open mind, you can easily learn something new every day, no matter how big or small.

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

To follow such words of wisdom, you must humble yourself to grasp new knowledge and pass it on.

You can choose to remain a student for the rest of your life or become a master to students. Although a tough decision, remember that the master has failed more times than the student has even tried.

“Money can buy you anything, but one of the things it cannot buy, is experience” – Passed on from BCX Manager to Tauriq Latief

There Is No Box

Back in elementary school, collaborating in group brainstorming sessions, you might remember waving your pens, pencils, and crayons like wands over papers. You might have jotted down your unique ideas and then chose which ideas were best suited for a particular project.

On the project’s presentation day, you would stand in front of the classroom, present your project, and explain how your group worked together to complete it. You might have even gone beyond the instructions to include something unique before or after your presentation to impress the audience. Afterward, the teacher would acknowledge your efforts and state that you were “thinking outside of the box!”

This phrase is one you may have often striven to hear because it meant you were special or that you came up with something that others didn’t. Though a seemingly positive phrase, it implies that a “box” exists.

To have an open mind, you must be willing to look at life from the perspective that rather than thinking outside the box from time to time, you should acknowledge that there never really was a box in the first place. To believe there is a box is to believe there are constraints or a limit to what can be learned or achieved, or even just a standard for what should be tried. The reality is, without a box to determine where to stop, endless failure, learning, and achievement is possible.

The True Burden of All Masters

“Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.” – Yoda

The short quote above comes from an iconic scene where Yoda, as a Force ghost from Star Wars Episode VIII, The Last Jedi, revisits and passes on great wisdom to an experienced, elderly Master Luke Skywalker.

Here, Master Yoda reminds Luke of his Jedi training. When Luke thought it was impossible to Force-lift the X-wing, Master Yoda did it right in front of his very eyes. Luke still wasn’t believing, this time in himself, so Master Yoda pointed that out to him.

This scene from Star Wars evokes a very valuable life lesson—don’t be too quick to act or too quick to give up.

I believe that Yoda is right about failures. I’ve made many mistakes, both in education and in life, but tried to learn from my failures. Doing so made me the person I am today. The willingness to fail and the ability to disregard the limitations set by arbitrary boxes will allow you to recognize “failure’s fortune” as a willing and open lifelong-learner. It will allow you to acquire a depth of achievement and wisdom that cannot truly be realized from within “the box.”


Tauriq Latief

,Tauriq Latief

Learning Technologist at Construct