Scientology is perhaps the most powerful technology ever developed for vertical, cognitive individual growth. Unfortunately it comes with an instilled mores that devalues and prohibits meaningful horizontal growth. In my opinion, vertical growth, absent a horizontal foundation can cause spiritual vertigo.
The following 2,000-plus year old story is translated by Eva Wong in Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living (Shambala Publications, Inc.). It gives a flavor of what I mean by horizontal growth.
What is Wisdom?
One day Tzu-hsia was chatting with Confucius. When they came to discussing the merits of each student, Tzu-hsia asked his teacher, “What do you think of Yen-hui?” Confucius replied, “Yen-hui is very kind and gentle. His compassion far surpasses mine.”
“How about Tzu-kung?”
“Tzu-kung is much better than I am when it comes to debating and presenting arguments.”
“And what about Tzu-lu?”
“Tzu-lu is a brave man. I cannot match him for courage.”
“Tzu-chang can hold his dignity better than I.”
Tzu-hsia was so surprised by his teacher’s answers that he stood up and exclaimed, “How come they all want to learn from you?”
Confucius motioned his student to sit down. When he saw that Tzu-hsia had calmed down, he said, “Yen-hui is compassionate, but he is stubborn and inflexible. Tzu-kung can be very persuasive, but he does not know when to stop talking. Tzu-lu can be courageous but does not know tolerance. Tzu-chang can be dignified but does not know how to be harmonious with others. I would not exchange their merits for my own even if they offered. That’s why they all come to learn from me.”
Wisdom is not competence in one skill or many skills. It is the ability to recognize strengths and weaknesses in ourselves and others. Thus, a wise teacher knows that although he may not surpass certain students in specific skills, he can give them what they need to become better individuals.