There is top down insight and bottom up learning. Insight is available from those who have gone the whole way and come up with the means and the fruits of their path. The guidance their insight provides serve as beacons in the sea of choices we have to eke out our sense of order or meaning. We might choose to be guided by this insight, with varying levels of alleigance or devotion towards the originators or we might opt to engage in the process of the generation of wisdom in ourselves. The latter is much harder as the creation of wisdom asks for a fervent ability to question ourselves. In this bare questioning, the circumstances we find ourselves in serve as the raw material for growth, for bottom up learning. The harder the circumstances, the more fervent and immediate the questioning. There is one caveat however, the direction has to be freedom. Freedom from limitation, freedom from suffering, freedom from entrapment. Perhaps it is only in the mind that the changes fructify, but that is enough. One has to be free right here, right now, despite circumstances, otherwise it is not true freedom. Being subject to the vagaries of conditions and circumstances does not preclude freedom but seems to point to the fact that it is in the mind that this freedom lies.
Bottom up learning requires the capacity to pause and look at everything before commentary sets in. That in effect means to behold phenomena before our conditioning colors it. Conditioning is defined as a consistent pattern of behavior and thought as a result of having been subject to certain circumstances or conditions. By its very definition, it is automatic, pervasive and reflexive. In order to sidestep our conditioning, we need to pause and we need to question. Is this reality? What is this? Who is looking? That we fall prey to the color and flavor of just the immediately previous mind moment, not to mention our entire past experiences, our storyline, has to be seen clearly. Once we see, hear and sense, we pause and question what it is we see, hear and sense. Is it objective reality or just us looking at ourselves? Who is seeing, hearing and sensing? What is this!!
Primarily, objects outside of ourselves make up our obstacle landscape. Bottom up learning in order to effect release from this trap seeks to identify the substrate of the self, and continuously keep doing that. Until the dawning that our sense of self itself is conditioning. As we learn to identify these moments, we extend this search for a substrate to the other, and keep doing that till we come to a conclusion about the solidity of the other. A solidity bestowed that is perhaps erroneous. What do we see, hear or sense? Who sees, hears or senses?
Bottom up learning isn’t a means to an end. Rather than having a solution focus, it has a process focus. It is an attempt to generate a path towards emancipation, not merely follow a prescribed way. In looking at all phenomena including our idea of self and other without our past, or the future coloring it, lies a robust way to circumvent our conditioning and carve out moments of true freedom.