Unlearning

 

In this life we have learned many wrong ideas and formed limiting beliefs that became obstacles to our awakening, our knowing who we really are, and what is the truth about reality. In childhood we unconsciously accepted the teachings and examples of our caregivers and elders. Examples include: Curbing our aliveness and passions, Pleasing our parents, Measuring ourselves by comparing grades, activities, abilities, and appearances, Learning it’s OK to judge others, Don’t show emotions, Failure is unacceptable, Follow the rules, etc.. Ego learned about personal doing, pride, blame, and shame. You must have self-control, and so forth. Add to this are the religious and moral beliefs associated with our family, culture, and society, and any resulting self-judgments.

It is our birthright to become free of limiting ideas and beliefs, so it is vital that they become unlearned or overcome or relearned differently. Ego itself may resist leaving its comfort zone to enter into the unknown – it hates to give up its sense of being right.

You might ask “What is one belief that you wish you could unlearn?” It might be about race, money, intelligence, sex, laziness, your body, free will, politics, right & wrong, religion, God, life, death, heaven & hell, education, prejudice, doership, gender, or perhaps something else. Byron Katie suggests writing down your belief and then begin by asking “Is it true?“ and “Can you be absolutely certain that it’s true?”

 

Quotes

Are you aware that you are conditioned?
Most people are second-hand human beings.
The truly religious man is he who, realizing his conditioning, is breaking through that conditioning.
As long as you remain within that field of the culture, of society, of greed, of envy, of achievement, you are not a free human being. You may think you have free will, but you are just part of this monstrous society, a conditioned human being.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
~ Mark Twain

You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life. Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.
~ Marianne Williamson

You must unlearn what you have learned.
~ Yoda

Yes, transformation is often more about unlearning than learning, which is why the religious traditions call it "conversion" or "repentance.
~ Richard Rohr

Seymour once said to me - in a crosstown bus, of all places - that all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold.
~ J.D. Salinger

There are some of us who want to awaken with all their heart
and with all their soul. Yet they always forget that they have
to get rid of the stuff that's keeping them from awakening.
The concepts, the preconceived ideas, the dogmas,
the belief system that we've had for so many years,
this has to be given up.
~ Robert Adams

Mediation - Before you learn how to meditate, you must unlearn what you think meditation might be.
~ Idries Shah

THIS teaching in many ways is unique. Usually with a teaching, it is to make a note of it, study hard, use it in practice. What I’m telling you is, FORGET THE TEACHING. Let it work by itself. Very Important!
Forget the teaching because “who” wants to remember the teaching? It’s the EGO that wants to remember the teaching and wants to use the teaching to achieve something. But if you forget the teaching, then the teaching leading to the understanding will work by itself. And if the teaching doesn’t lead to the understanding, then it’s not worth it. So either way, forget the teaching! . . .
Will the ego want to contribute to its own annihilation? No. The ego wants the teaching ONLY to be able to use it, to achieve something— not for its own annihilation. If the teaching is forgotten the ego is forgotten, and the teaching works by itself.
Your effort is the obstruction. That’s why I say forget the teaching—don’t try and use it. Let that understanding work at whatever level.
~ Ramesh S. Balsekar

Recognize that unlearning is the highest form of learning.
~ Rumi

But the transformation of consciousness undertaken in Taoism and Zen is more like the correction of faulty perception or the curing of a disease. It is not an acquisitive process of learning more and more facts or greater and greater skills, but rather an unlearning of wrong habits and opinions. As Lao-tzu said, The scholar gains every day, but the Taoist loses every day.
~ Alan W. Watts

The mind is slow to unlearn what it learnt early.
~ Seneca the Elder

Zen is a kind of unlearning. It teaches you how to drop that which you have learned, how to become unskillful again, how to become a child again, how to start existing without mind again, how to be here without any mind.
~ Osho

It's not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it's what you have to unlearn.
~ Isaac Asimov

Re-examine all you have been told.
~ Walt Whitman

You will free yourself from emotional drama by uncovering all the lies you believe in. It is a process of unlearning the lies. It is a period of cleansing, and it has nothing to do with the dream of society.
~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

Surrender is another name for self inquiry, it’s another name for this traveling back. Surrender and self inquiry are the same thing. It’s the letting go of everything that seems to limit you; it’s the letting go of everything that is superfluous to you. Letting go, letting go, letting go, until you arrive at that element of yourself that you cannot let go of - your naked, self aware being.
~ Rupert Spira

 

As one man said, “I got a pretty good education. It took me years to get over it.” That’s what spirituality is all about, you know: Unlearning all the rubbish they taught you.
~ Anthony de Mello


When I was a child, I thought grown-ups and teachers knew the truth, because they told me they did. It took years for me to discover that the first step in finding out the truth is to begin unlearning almost everything adults had taught me, and to start doing all the things they'd told me NOT to do. Their main pitch was that achievement equaled happiness, when all you had to do was study rock stars, or movie stars, or them, to see that they were mostly miserable. They were all running around in mazes like everyone else.
~ Anne Lamott

The soul informed by the ego is asleep. 
This is why enlightenment is called awakening -- your soul wakes up to what is really here. Many people believe that this awakening happens automatically the moment you have an experience of Being. Some parts of your soul may wake up, but the soul is very deeply imprinted by the egoic sense of inferiority, and this depth of the soul does not awaken easily or rapidly. When your awakening does approach this level, the first thing you wake up to is this sense of inferiority. The most evident manifestation of the soul being asleep is one's unshakable conviction in conventional or consensus reality, and in the content of one's overall social conditioning. Regardless of what profound experiences of Being you may have had and how objectively you may have seen reality, when you get up off your meditation cushion or leave a meeting with your teacher, you act, feel, and behave as if reality is the world you learned from your mother. When you do this, you are expressing the asleepness of your soul.
~ A.H. Almaas

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