I love to see my children learn, they are like little sponges. Sophia, our 4 year-old, will diligently repeat every new word we teach her sometimes with her own pronunciation. This is quite an exercise for her as we are teaching her to speak words in two languages. She is great with one or two syllable words but has more difficulty with anything larger. So chocolate, becomes “chocate” and so forth.
There is however one advantage she has over us: she learning most things anew. At this point she is only learning while we adults are doing a whole lot of unlearning while attempting to learn new things. In an age where is information is so readily accessible, true learning requires a good amount of un-learning first. Let me explain. While we have a tremendous capacity to process (or digest which is a more humane way of seeing this process) information, most of it does not really stay with us. There is only a limited amount of information, skills and habits we can retain and use on a day-to-day basis. Thus, in order to truly learn something new we must first let go of the old.
This season has been on of unlearning for me. As I worked in business for over a decade (and got a MBA along the way), I am now starting to un-learn the business mindset. While this may not be evident to many, many business practices are grossly incompatible with the spiritual life. Ideas like efficiency, expediency, drive for success, pursuit of profit now have to be re-evaluated if not thrown away altogether. Not that they are intrinsically evil, yet an unquestioning adoption of them can be deadly to the soul. One remarkable new concept is the idea that the best things are formed slowly through time which is completely at odds with a culture that drives for speed and instant results.
Another unlearning I am going through is the idea that it is best to lead life and make decisions through reason. This is a hard one to let go. While I always recognized the role of the Spirit in life major decisions, my main default was reason and rationality. A cool, well articulated argument was always to be preferred over an emotion-filled plea. Through years, I learned to suppress and ignore emotions in the altar of reason. To go through life thinking that it was all about making the right choices that only can be arrived through by careful reasoning and deliberation. I am learning that the Spiritual way is altogether different and a lot less by ideas an a lot more by feelings and hunches.
From the beginning, I suspected that the most important aspect of this time would be what God would be doing in me. That is, it would not be about what I learned but what I was to become. Part of becoming is slow, long and arduous process of un-learning.
The biggest aim of the Spiritual life is not success, knowledge or even wisdom but discernment. Yet, how can we discern if our very mindset is bent on suppressing the very channels God wants to speak to us through. Do we have ears to listen to what the Spirit is saying? May our emotions, reasoning, and all our senses be open to capture the wind of the Spirit?