Even though we may not be going back to school, most of us feel September is a good time to tighten up the discipline and structure in our lives after the looseness and relaxation of summer.

Did you ever notice that discipline has the word "disciple" in it? What are you a disciple of?

When it was time for me to enroll in college, I had no idea what I wanted to study or which career I might become happy in or good at. What I did know was that I wanted to become a disciple of life. I wanted to be in a profession that would allow me to grow and where I would never stop learning.

Since I had no clue as to what that profession might be, I decided to study literature, thinking it would teach me universal truths about humans, including myself.

To this day, I remain mostly interested in things that seem to be of enduring importance to all people everywhere. I guess you could call me a "perennialist."

Perennial means everlasting, like the perennial flowers in your garden that bloom year after year. According to perennial philosophy, education should focus on universally recurrent insights, independent of epoch or culture, into the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness. When students are immersed in the study of these profound and enduring ideas, they will appreciate learning for its own sake and become lifelong learners.

Perennialists believe that the most important topics to learn are those that develop the mind. Since people are human, one should teach first about humans, not machines or techniques. Since details of fact change constantly, these cannot be the most important. Therefore, one should teach principles and reasoning instead of facts.

While the term first appeared in sixteenth-century Italy, perennialism is not rooted in any particular time or place. It seeks to help students discover those timeless ideas that have the potential for solving problems in any era and area.

It turns out I'm still dedicated to this primary goal of wanting to be a student of life. Miraculously, I found a profession and a business that allows me to learn about people while getting to know myself a little better every day.

What about you? Are you a perennial learner? If you are interested in personal growth or dedicated to becoming a leader of people, you almost have to be.

The discipline of learning requires effort and concentration; paradoxically, it is also what sets us free. Fortunately, this doesn't have to be a lonely process: of all professions, network marketing offers one of the best support systems and empowerment communities for self-realization.

Statistics show that people aren't looking primarily for money when choosing a career; they are looking for meaning and they want to grow. When approaching others about your business, keep in mind that this is one of the most powerful, desirable and lasting benefits a profession can offer.

JOSEPHINE GROSS, Ph.D. is cofounder and editor of Networking Times.