Learning to unlearn
Learning is as much a process of deprogramming as much as acquiring or acquainting with something new.
Learning something new, must be preceded by a process of deprogramming that eliminates pre-existing paradigms and misconceptions. Learning physiologically is a process of conditioning. It involves recruitment of neural networks or pathways, which after sufficient time and repetitions get established. Thereafter, conditioning works at a quasi involuntary level. A classic example is that of driving. Initially as a novice, every action is deliberate, premeditated and one has to very consciously focus on the activity. Later on as the reflexes get strengthened, the same activity becomes very effortless and gradually moves to a sub-conscious level. And soon we can engage in a conversation or even grab a bite whilst driving. Many of our belief systems and thought processes post conditioning work below the consciousness horizon. Once the template is set, these anagrams become an integral part of the individuals perceptive and thought processes. We scarcely realize that these deeply etched programs serve as major deterrents from learning anything new. That partly explains why adults need a longer while to learn a new skill like computers or a new language whereas kids seem to take to this new skill like a fish takes to water. That is because the kids hard disc is unformatted and can imbibe a new concept faster and better than an adult who first has to undo some hardwired programs. These established neural networks increase the resistance to accepting fresh thoughts and ideas. On deeper introspection we would realize, that most of our belief systems are just a legacy of our environment and upbringing. Religion, culture, behavioral patterns are a few such examples. This indoctrination happens subconsciously but has far reaching consequences.
Along with the passage of time, all such recorded programs spin a cocoon around the individual. Impermeable to newer thought process. All intolerance to new ideas is consequential to this rigid unyielding cocoon.
All revolutionary inventions have become possible only when the concerned person broke open this cocoon of conformist thought process. The person had to delearn conventional wisdom to make way for newer wisdom. Religion has always beckoned mankind along the ages. It still remains one of the most profound influences on our lives. Religion programs the thought processes and sooner than we realize, we align ourselves to one of the many ‘isms’. But the basis of all religion is to attain Godhood, or self-realisation or ‘swaroop saakshaatkar’ Various sects and religions have over the years programmed their followers along different lines. These regulatory protocols are ideally the means to the end but unfortunately have become the end themselves. The extreme obsession with form precludes any tryst with the formless. All spiritual pursuits are adulterated with preformed notions and are the scourge of liberation. It would be paradoxical to confine the omniscient omnipresent being to the narrow bandwidth of our perceptive focus . As a learned sage said, Liberation is not of the individual but from the individual. From the shackles of our thought processes. Self-realisation as a concept, is again a construct of our thought. But self-realisation transcends thought. Till there is thought, there is an entity that is thinking, and this separate entity that asserts its separateness is bondage. The finite can never perceive the infinite. It can only become infinite. And once that happens, who or what remains to perceive ?. It cannot be engineered, because all attempts made by the doer only underlines his separateness, which defeats the very purpose. Somewhat akin to the monkey, with its hand trapped in a cookie jar. Trying to get its hand out of the narrow neck of a bottle whilst holding the cookie. All efforts are in vain until the monkey releases the cookie and extricates its hand. This cookie of our belief systems and conditioning that we all hold on for dear life surely has to be relinquished. This delearning of all pre-existing programs and concepts is a precondition to self awareness.
Dr Deepak Ranade
(The author is a consultant Neurosurgeon and may be contacted at email@example.com)
posted by Dr. Deepak Ranade @ 1:16 AM