Western media (TV ads) have taught us that to be happy we need more stuff. Growing up watching TV and getting 3-5 minutes of ads every 10-15 minutes, brainwashed a generation that one more toy, one more car, one more piece of jewelry will make us rich, happy, successful and get us lots of women.
We learned this from TV. How do we unlearn it after being brainwashed for so many years?
What is Unlearning?
Unlearning is not reframing or refreezing or something along that lines. They all focus on an end state whereas unlearning is about moving away from something rather than moving towards something.
So unlearning is exactly what it says. Intending to let go of what we have already learned or acquired. It is not about right or wrong. It is about being open to and exploring something that lies underneath the judgment, underneath the right and the wrong.
Unlearning and Spirituality
In spirituality literature, we talk about liberation or freeing oneself from the bondage. Whether it is Sufi, or Hindu or Buddhism or Judeo-Christian religions, unlearning the conditined or acquired behaviors and reaching for the higher truth, or Spirit, or God is the ultimate goal. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a well known Indian philosopher of the 20th Century had said repeated that the ‘truth is a pathless land’ and focused on freeing us from the conditioned responses. The process of unlearning is about liberation or freedom from the conditioning or from the known.
Obviously in this context of exploring unlearning, learning is used as acquisition of knowledge or information. In Vedanta, they talk about ‘para vidya’ and ‘apara vidya.’ One is learning about the manifested, external world and learning to manage and become good at dealing with what is outside of you. The other is about what is inside of you and knowing yourself and exploring who you are and what you are. In other words, the first one is about objective knowledge and the second is about subjective knowledge. Unlearning what is learned so that you are open to learning ‘what is unknown’ and to experience it is a path that interests many people.
It could also be a behavioral pattern or a habit or a mental construct too.