We are accustomed to the notion that progress is the outcome of learning. In our outer lives, learning and education are fundamental values, cherished personal goals, pillars of civilisation, bedrock of our society, culture and economy.
Yet in the spiritual life, learning is virtually useless: far more precious and pressing urgent, is unlearning.
Acquiring knowledge is a function of the mind. The more we learn, the more baggage our minds accumulate: ideas, notions, concepts, methods, theories, beliefs, ideals, prejudices and judgements. All this baggage combines and recombines to inform our world-view and our self-view. The more laden our mind with thoughts, the more cluttered with concepts, the more our mind’s sprawling contents and processes dominate and captivate our consciousness. There is simply no room or bandwidth to see or feel beyond our mental behemoth; the mind subsumes our concept of self and assumes stewardship of our identity. We think and act as though we are the mind. Thus, living as a lie, spiritually we die.
Lacking the heart’s capacity for love, identification and oneness, our minds sit apart from reality, seeking to know and control through analysis and guesswork. We build, project and inhabit models or constructs of reality – informed guesses, inherently false and flimsy. The mind is a hoarder of falsehoods and champion of ignorance – our mentality, once fancying we walked on a flat earth, is today greedier than ever for illusion, delusion and confusion-profusion.
All our minds’ cherished truths and isms are so many relative falsehoods: all are barriers to spiritual progress, self-discovery and fulfilment, to be discarded, overcome – unlearned.
As a snake must shed its own skin, its very identity in order to grow, so must we “unlearn” all we believe we know about the world and ourselves, to discover and become who we truly are.