In Idries Shah's The Dermis Probe he mentions the need of sincerity in the student. Many may have heard of such a requirement before. But here he goes further and unpacks this technical term for us: sincerity- which many mistake for heartfelt desire- in in fact being straightforward and having an instinct or liking for balance. And a big part of balance is the ability to REGAIN ones balance after a fall. (People who make a fetish of saying they are balanced can often simply be control freaks who dislike novelty and change.)
These two requirements- straightforwardness and a liking for balance- work just as well in the lower sphere of ordinary learning as they do with higher studies. When I was at university the student who got the highest marks used to ask the questions we were all too scared to ask because they made you look stupid. However there also exists a kind of bogus straightforwardness "I just don't get it" which conceals laziness and a desire to abolish- which can confuse. But most of us have a nose for real straighforwardness- it is open, interested, not into point scoring, not trying to shut down things that are new or unusual, eager to learn without being taken in.
And this is where the instinct for balance comes in. We can all get a bit obsessive from time to time. When that happens we usually notice and pull back, do something else. But some people are wired strangely. They note the obsession- and do MORE of the thing. They enter on that dry downward spiral that engages and provides a kind of meaning, but somehow in a dulling way. The bore- an obsessive is always a bore eventually- lacks the necessary sense of humour to see the dry well he has fallen down.
Straightforward; a sense of humour when applied to self (always rather easier to laugh at others); an instinct for turning off the tap that is overflowing and threatening to drown oneself- to do less of what makes us mad, not more.