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Unlearning


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Learning is one thing; and unlearning is another.
The process of spiritual attainment is through unlearning....
Spiritual attainment, from beginning to end, is unlearning what one has learnt.
But how does one unlearn?
One can do it by becoming wiser.
The more wise one becomes, the more one is able to contradict oneís own ideas.
In the wisest person there is willingness to submit to others.
And the most foolish person is always ready to stand firm to support his own ideas.
The reason is that the wise person can easily give up his thought; the foolish holds on to it. That is why he does not become wise because he sticks to his own ideas; that is why he does not progress.

Now you may ask: Is this unlearning forgetting all that one learns? Not at all; that is not necessary. This unlearning is to be able to say with reason, with logic, the contrary to what you know. When you are accustomed to say, This is wrong, this is right, this is good and this is bad, this is greater and this is small, this is higher and this is lower, this is spiritual and this is material. If you can use the opposite words for each with reason and with logic, naturally you have unlearned what you had once learned. It is after this that the realization of truth begins, because then the mind is not fixed. And it is then that one has become alive, for the soul has been born.

Mental purification therefore is the only method by which one can reach the spiritual goal. In order to accomplish this, one has to look at anotherís point of view. For in reality every point of view is oneís own point of view. The vaster one becomes, the greater the realization that comes to one, the more one sees that every point of view is all right.

If we look still closer at reason we see that reason is nothing but a veil and a series of veils, one veil over another. Even when the veils are lifted, at the end there is reason just the same. But as one goes further, one will find the more thorough and more substantial reason. It is the surface of reason which is unreliable, but the depth of reason is most interesting, for the depth of reason is the essence of wisdom".

Reasoning is a ladder. By this ladder one can rise, and from this ladder one may fall. For if one does not go upward by reasoning, then it will help one to go downward; because if for every step one takes upward there is a reason, so there is a reason for every step downward.

The next step... is to be able to see the right of the wrong and the wrong of the right, and the evil of the good and the good of the evil. It is a difficult task, but once one has accomplished this, one rises above good and evil. Mental purification means that impressions such as good and bad, wrong and right, gain and loss, and pleasure and pain, these opposites which block the mind, must be cleared out by seeing the opposite of these things.

What one learns in life is most useful after one has attained spiritual realization, in order to express it, but it can only be a hindrance in progress in the spiritual path unless one knows how to unlearn...

Unlearning is looking at things from an opposite point of view, seeing things from another angle as clearly as one is able to see from the angle from which one is used to looking at them. It is this experience that leads one to perfection.

In what way does the Sufi discover that life in him which was never born and will never die? By self-analysis but according to what mystics know of self-analysis: to understand what this vehicle we call the body is to us, what relation we have to it, and to understand what this mind, what we call mind, consists of. And then to ask: What am I? Am I this body? Am I this mind?

There comes a time when he can hold body and mind in his hands as his objects which he uses for his purpose in life. Once he has done this then body and mind become as two corks which a person puts on himself in order to swim in the water without danger of drowning.
The same body and mind which cause one mortality at least in thought this very body and mind then become the means of saving him from being drowned in the waters of mortality. Really mortality is our conception; immortality is reality. We make a conception of mortality because we do not know the real life. By the realization of the real life the comparison between it and mortality makes us know that mortality is non-existent. Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration if I said that the work of the Sufi is unlearning.

Hazrat Inayat Khan



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