Unlearning – An Art of Letting Go

Toke Mueller <toke@interchange.dk>

" OH, Learning – what a thing it is!" - Shakespeare

It is my assumption that learning is a natural built-in state of awareness — of being present in the Now, where you learn from everything in and around you.

It is both an individual and a collective endeavour and, in this day and age, it is a much needed core competence for all human beings to learn by practice of dialogue, action and reflection.

If this is learning, - What is unlearning then? How to get to higher learning ?

Letting go…

To walk away from, to leave behind, to shed some intellectual skin, to suspend or let go of old thought patterns and give up my rights and wrongs, is important for real higher learning to occur.

Letting go opens space for me to take in new perspectives, information and insights. The journey goes through the country of my "not knowing" or Chaos if you like. Chaos is uncomfortable because I loose my known ground, my views of the world as I have seen it.

But Chaos, I have come to understand, is a gift because it has new order and deeper levels of understanding hidden inside it.

Letting go to be in the state of learning hidden inside is a practice. It can be learned by practice – not in theory.

Do I have the courage to start and continue the practice of the art of letting go?

Being in the Now…

I have found no more useful and powerful place to be than in the Now. It is also hidden inside me and collectively between us. It takes focus, letting go, courage, heartfelt longing and a spirit of inquiry to be present in the Now.

It is a meeting place for real learners – students of Life.

Thinking about and explaining the Now will not take you there. Letting go and breathing consciously will.

A spirit of inquiry…

Being in the Now, having suspended my previous understandings for the sake of learning something new, there is another wonderful ingredient available to us. Our built-in spirit of inquiry, curiosity and passion for making meaning of what I see, experience, think and do.

Honour it, follow it and love it. It opens the dance of learning and unlearning, of letting go and taking in the new perspectives and understandings needed to go on living with meaning in my life every moment….

Shifting the mindset….

The death of old worldviews and mindsets is a painful and confusing process to begin with, but it always brings greater clarity, purpose and new direction.

Shifting the mindset every once in a while is not a luxury or intellectual pastime, but a healthy needed exercise for us to keep coping in a complex and confusing world of humans.

A little story…

Once I was invited by a very good teacher of mine to learn something new. I found myself to be very clever already and understood very well why I had been invited to this training – I did not speak this to others of course, knowing – in theory - that humility is the name of the learning game. At the first session he told me: "If you want to learn anything about this topic, first let go of everything you think you know about it. If you can let go of it, stay, if you cannot, leave now!"

Unlearning and letting go took place in seconds. I wanted to learn more than keeping up appearances. I was invited into a great dance and I accepted it and the shift had already happened….

An invitation…

Let go – give up being clever – seek what is truly meaningful to you – enter the beautiful dance of learning and unlearning.