The Art of Continuous Learning: Insights from Coursera Founders and Kung Fu Panda

Embracing the Journey: Learning with the Masters, image generated by author with DALL.E-3

In today’s rapidly evolving world, continuous learning has become more than just a buzzword. It’s a necessity. Whether it’s to stay relevant in your career, to fuel your personal growth, or to simply satisfy your curiosity, continuous learning plays a crucial role. Let’s explore this concept further, drawing insights from Coursera founders and the beloved animated movie, Kung Fu Panda.

Continuous Learning: A Habit Worth Cultivating

In an interview, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda and co-founder Andrew Ng emphasized the importance of cultivating a habit of continuous learning. They suggested that dedicating a small amount of time each week to learning can lead to transformative results over the course of a year or two. This aligns with the philosophy of lifelong learning, where learning is not confined to the years we spend in formal education but extends throughout our lifetime.

Aligning Learning with Personal Goals

Maggioncalda and Ng also stressed the importance of choosing courses that align with individual interests and career aspirations. This is where the concept of intrinsic motivation comes into play. When we are intrinsically motivated, we engage in an activity because we find it enjoyable and personally rewarding. By aligning our learning with our interests and goals, we can ensure that the process is enjoyable and sustainable in the long run.

Lessons from Kung Fu Panda

The movie Kung Fu Panda provides a delightful illustration of these concepts. Po, the protagonist, is an unlikely hero – a clumsy, fun-loving panda who dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. Despite numerous setbacks and challenges, Po’s intrinsic motivation and continuous learning mindset enable him to achieve his dream.

Po’s journey is a testament to the power of continuous learning and intrinsic motivation. He starts as a noodle-maker’s son with no Kung Fu skills, but through perseverance, he becomes the Dragon Warrior. Po’s transformation is not overnight. It’s a result of consistent effort and learning, reinforcing the idea that continuous learning can lead to transformative results. His journey is driven by his love for Kung Fu, a clear example of being intrinsically motivated and finding the learning process enjoyable and personally rewarding.

A key turning point in Po’s journey is when Master Shifu discovers that Po’s love for food can be used as a motivation for learning Kung Fu. Shifu ingeniously incorporates food into Po’s training, turning his intrinsic motivation into a powerful learning tool. This highlights the importance of aligning learning with personal interests and passions, a concept that is equally applicable in our own learning journeys.


Continuous learning is a journey, not a destination. It’s about cultivating a mindset of curiosity and a habit of seeking knowledge. Whether it’s through online platforms like Coursera or through life experiences like Po’s journey in Kung Fu Panda, continuous learning can open doors to new opportunities and personal growth.

So, let’s take a leaf out of Po’s book and embrace the journey of continuous learning. After all, as Master Oogway says in Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”


Understanding Emotions and the Self: Insights from Indian Psycho-Philosophy and the ‘Rain man’ Movie

Higher self as compass: generated by author using DALL.E.3

Emotions are a fundamental part of our human experience. They are the internal weather that shapes our days, influencing our decisions, actions, and interactions. But what if we told you that emotions are not directives, but signals? And that understanding this distinction can lead to a profound journey of self-discovery and personal growth? Let’s explore this concept further, drawing on the wisdom of ancient Indian psycho-philosophy, the concept of Nishkama Karma, and the narrative of the movie “Rainman”.

Emotions as Signals

Emotions, whether they are anger and jealousy (associated with the Lower Self) or peace and joy (associated with the Higher Self), are signals. They are not meant to dictate our actions but to inform us. They are like the changing weather, not always within our control, but always providing us with valuable information about our internal state. The key is to recognize these signals, understand their source, and respond thoughtfully rather than impulsively

Lower Self and Higher Self

According to Indian psycho-philosophy, the Lower Self is our connection to the external world, driven by deficits and insecurities. It is the part of us that is mean, fearful, and small. On the other hand, the Higher Self is our connection to the internal world, the source within us. It is eternally perfect, constantly blissful, completely autonomous, and identical with the higher self of all others. The challenge lies in recognizing the signals from our Lower Self, understanding their source, and choosing to respond from our Higher Self.

Nishkama Karma: The Art of Detached Action

Nishkama Karma, a concept from the Bhagavad Gita, teaches us to perform our duties without attachment to the outcome. It encourages us to accept both success and failure with equanimity. This concept aligns closely with the idea of responding thoughtfully rather than impulsively to our emotions. It’s about doing what needs to be done, without worrying about the results. This is an essential aspect of moving from the Lower Self to the Higher Self.

Lessons from the Silver Screen: The ‘Rain Man’ Movie

The movie “Rain man” provides a powerful illustration of these concepts. Charlie Babbitt, the main character, initially allows his Lower Self, driven by greed and resentment, to dictate his actions. But as he spends time with his brother Raymond, who has savant syndrome and autism, he begins to understand and appreciate him.

This leads to a pivotal moment of reflection, where Charlie chooses to value their relationship over money. He moves from his Lower Self to his Higher Self, responding thoughtfully rather than impulsively. It’s a powerful example of emotional intelligence in action.

Wrapping Up

Interpreting emotions as signals and not directives, distinguishing between the Lower Self and the Higher Self, implementing the principles of Nishkama Karma, and extracting lessons from narratives such as the Rainman movie can offer intriguing insights into our own selves. This exploration may not always be straightforward and may require some resilience. However, it can lead to a more nuanced understanding of ourselves and a refreshed perspective on how we interact with the world.

Related Links:

My response to Adam Grant Tweet

Emotions Table derived from the concepts in “Management by Human Values” by Sri SK Chakraborty (Attended this course in 2001)

EmotionGunaSelfType of KarmaRelated Indian Philosophical Concept
AngerRajasLower SelfSakama KarmaKrodha (Anger)
EnvyTamasLower SelfVikarmaIrshya (Envy)
JealousyRajasLower SelfSakama KarmaMatsarya (Jealousy)
LustTamasLower SelfVikarmaKama (Desire)
CompassionSattvaHigher SelfNishkama KarmaDaya (Compassion)
JoySattvaHigher SelfNishkama KarmaAnanda (Joy)
PeaceSattvaHigher SelfNishkama KarmaShanti (Peace)
LoveSattvaHigher SelfNishkama KarmaPrema (Love)
Emotions Table

Amitabh Bachchan and Christian Perspectives: A Study in Work Ethic and Interfaith Support

Amitabh Bachchan’s Work Ethic: A Testament to Professionalism

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Amitabh Bachchan, a legendary figure in Bollywood, is renowned for his exceptional work ethic. His punctuality and professionalism are often highlighted as key aspects of his success. In an anecdote shared by ad guru Prahlad Kakkar, Amitabh’s punctuality was so profound that it left a film crew traumatized due to his early arrival and nonchalant attitude.

Imagine the scene: The crew is casually setting up, expecting the star of the show to arrive fashionably late as per usual Bollywood standards. Suddenly, Amitabh Bachchan strides in, hours before his call time, ready to work. The crew is caught off guard, scrambling to get everything ready. Prahlad Kakkar, witnessing this, is both amazed and slightly terrified at the sheer dedication and time management skills of this superstar. It’s a comedic scenario, with a profound message about professionalism.

Web link: Amitabh Bachchan was so punctual, he wordlessly traumatised a film crew to the point that they didn’t sleep all night: Prahlad Kakkar recalls anecdote

A Christian Perspective on Interfaith Support

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In the Christian faith, there is a strong emphasis on interfaith support. This is based on the belief in an all-encompassing God, which encourages respect and support for individuals of different faiths.

This perspective is beautifully articulated in an article titled “Understanding Interfaith Support: A Christian’s Perspective on the Ram Mandir”. The author emphasizes the belief in an all-encompassing God and encourages respect and support for individuals of different faiths.

Web link: Why, as a Christian, I support the Ram Mandir | The Indian Express

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