The Subtle Art Of Unlearning
By: Muhammad Hasnat Tanveer
Unlearning is a vital skill people easily confuse with other aspects of enriching one’s thoughts. It’s not like chopping off a piece of your brain which encapsulates the information you want to forget. Rather it’s like being more receptive to things. We can say that it’s like being more welcoming of new experiences and things in life which you would otherwise reject before your primitive knowledge. Unlearning can be thought of as a psychological mechanism that allows you to put a lock on your knowledge to enable you to easily learn other things. However, if we vaguely start feeding ourselves with knowledge, our past concepts, thoughts, opinions, and biases would come into conflict with the much greater and broader spectrum of the knowledge we are trying to get a hold of. In light of some modern spiritual and scientific studies, it is proclaimed to be a concept of putting a pause on our thinking system and allowing the source to usher in its light into our mind. Scientifically, numerous people use it to acquire knowledge that contrasts from the field they are already masters of. We can take the example of an IT expert trying to learn entrepreneurship which is a completely different field. Spiritually, we consider it to be like allowing the source (which in this case might be a spiritual teacher in all aspects) to take a place in our mind by not debating what we think on that matter.
We use this technique because when we are on a journey of spirituality, it’s a long bumpy ride, and to make it to the end, we have to be full of charisma, energy, and of course, knowledge. Subsequently, if we start engulfing morsels of spirituality without unlearning, we might never be able to achieve our ultimate goal because the entire agenda would be about what you think (worldly pursuits and aspects) and what the teacher is trying to get into you (a vastly enlightening perspective). Therefore, we put aside all of our thoughts and ideas (unlearning) and try to learn what we are trying to learn. Conserving ourselves to just one forte when infinite possibilities are at our disposal is not the most productive use of one’s time. We need to remember that attaining knowledge is only possible when we humbly accept the thoughts of our teachers without bringing our personal preferences into contradiction. So, when the next opportunity of learning something previously unknown knocks on your door, don’t let the knock go unattended. Invest time and efforts in yourself, get out of your comfort zone and familiarise yourself with innovative concepts because surely the time spent with ourselves is the best. True art is not boasting your intellect, instead, it’s the name of being honest and portraying your notions purely with respect.