What Did You Unlearn Today?
This is a clear theme that aligns and contains my most persistent interests, practice, and teachings. It’s also edgy and counter intuitive, which I love.
Not everything we learn is useful. I know, it’s nuts. But hear me out. There are many things that we learn that are quite functional. Things like speaking, eating, dressing, writing, walking, running, etc. are pretty darn useful. Most of these things we learn by the time we graduate Kindergarten. Hence inspiration for the classic, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
However, many, many things that we learn actually impede our progress as individuals, families, societies, and countries. Layer upon layer of conditioning is laid down in our little minds, acting as programs that run us day in and day out. It’s been said that the average human thinks around 60,000 thoughts per day. The 60,000 thoughts that you think tomorrow will be pretty much the same as those you thought today. And what’s worse, many of them will be self-defeating.
We try to solve our problems from the mental framework that caused them. Imagine trying to fix a computer virus by modifying the code in the virus. Sounds absurd but I think that’s how we actually approach many of the problems we face in society. We think that if we can just add one new program, or beat down someone else’s program, then we will create heaven on earth. Or we think that if we can just learn one more magical skill, tool, or method, then we’ll be able to lead others to a breakthrough. Not that there’s anything wrong with our skills, tools, or methods. It’s our attachment to them as the source of our solutions that gets in the way.
Our modern society is obsessed with information input. We often refer to this as learning. Contrary to our upbringing in public education, learning goes a lot deeper than simply memorizing and recalling data, and has or will become useless and unnecessary as the information age advances. Youngsters have figured this one out and many have to be drugged to be kept in our schools.
We already know way more than we think we do. How many times have you heard sage wisdom spoken by small children? While a good deal of our conditioning is useful, a lot of it blinds us from the obvious. Most of what we need to know, we see right in front of us or feel in our guts. Unlearning is more often than not what’s needed to open a path to clear seeing.
A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
We do you need to unlearn?
So what can we do about this? What is one supposed to do to clear the fog. In an article that talks about unlearning, there’s something strange about asking you to take on just one more thing. So here are some very short and simple suggestions that have more to do with lightening your load, unlearning, than taking on more.
Stop solving problems. Assume the possibility that erroneous conditioning is perpetuating the problem your trying to solve. So like a bug caught in a web, struggle will only exhaust you. Stop, rest, and watch it very closely this week and see what you notice.
Don’t learn anything new. Yes I know, it’s sacrilege, but give it a try. I mean, don’t give it a try. If anything, don’t do something you normally do all the time.
Speak before thinking. Wisdom is innocent. As I said before, trying to apply all of your higher learning often mucks up the works. Share what you see before analyzing it to death. Do this with your heart open and you’ll do no harm.
Ask questions before sharing answers. It may seem like asking questions is simply taking on more learning. But actually, offering answers is what we were taught to do to demonstrate what we know. Asking questions is humbling to the ego and loosens your hold on what you think you know.
Talk to me. Tell me what you think about this unlearning thing. Would you like to unlearn more about this? Would an Institution of Higher Unlearning be helpful?
Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.