Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning
Many see this first quarter of the 21st century as filled with chaos, confusion, challenge and change. This is disconcerting to a vast number of people who value stability, predictability, the way it used to be and business as usual. Guess what? It’s time to learn that life is change, that there’s wisdom in uncertainty and impermanence is permanent. It’s time to unlearn what contributes to conflict and division and relearn what brings harmony, love, joy and peace to one another and the whole global community.
I learned a lot as a boy growing up in a small mid-western town that’s still valid and essential. There’s also much I learned that I’ve had to unlearn, discard and relearn. That which kept me stuck and separated through fear, denial, aggression, indifference and ego inflation had to be let go. Courage was learned from fear. Trust was learned from denial. Intention was learned from aggression. Acceptance was learned from indifference and understanding was learned from ego inflation. Questions turned into answers which then led to more questions.
As we travel a million miles through space each week on this tiny earth ball, spaceship earth, doesn’t it seem logical, rational and reasonable that we would come together as a crew to sustain and improve the voyage for all? Wouldn’t it make sense for the number one priority on this voyage to be the care and maintenance of the ship and crew? Isn’t it clear that we all go together or we don’t go at all? Isn’t the greatest good for you the same as the greatest good for your neighbors on the other side of the spaceship as well as its’ entire eco system?
In many Native American traditions there was a deep understanding about decision making and change. Inner and outer deliberations were essential in weighing significant choices. The principle issue always considered how the decision would effect the children into the seventh generation. This required forethought, time and exploring all the possibilities with their intended and unintended consequences. Today however, in most cultures, it’s only the short term gains that are considered. Long term losses are left for others and are seemingly inconsequential.
A Zen proverb speaks of knowledge as learning something everyday while wisdom is letting go of something everyday. Teachers become students as students become teachers. A fellow blogger, EllieDolgin.com commented in a recent blog about teaching her young granddaughter about life. In a pregnant pause, her granddaughter asked her a question she couldn’t answer: “What’s more important, air or love?” If that’s not a Zen koan I don’t know what is. Here there is learning, unlearning and relearning. Questions are pathways to greater understanding.
Passionate curiosity seems to be the only special talent needed to be a lifetime learner. As every child born into this world is passionately curious, I wonder why so many seem not to be curious when they grow up. Could it be that Einstein pointed to something significant when he said: “It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Is growing up in our present cultures a process of dumbing down rather than enlightening up? How curious are you? What are you learning, unlearning and relearning? Are you asking enough questions?
Maybe it’s time for us all to take a deep dive into what, how and why we’re being taught what’s being thrown at us twenty-four-seven on all our electronic devises. Maybe we need to be monitoring what’s taught in our schools and ask corporate America what we’re profiting by being constantly barraged with advertising wherever we look? What’s the hidden message of a culture that puts monetary gain ahead of human dignity, care and development?
Over the past fifty years I’ve been silently observing the proliferation of more and more violence in our global community here on spaceship earth. I’ve also been observing those who call themselves pilots and stewards not caring for the passengers in ways that enhance the journey. I’m seeing the haves getting more while the have nots get less. I see greater division in the cabins and more discontent and disconnection in the boarding areas. There’s gross negligence in the maintenance of the ship and, the supply chains for goods are in the hands of the few.
It seems the passengers need to again become the crew as we forgot that we’re the ones responsible for the well-being of the ship, the other crew members and the passengers who are aged, young, disabled and underserved. We’re the ones to facilitate new connections and heed the warning lights blinking on and off in every continent, every section of the ship. Rather than turning a blind eye to the warning signs, each of us has a service to perform. Curious, I’m searching for a cue and continuously learning, unlearning and relearning. What about you?
- Over the next days, weeks and months look at this moment as a second and as an epoch. Divine your life into quarters: 0-22, 22-44, 44-66, 66-88 and overtime, 88-?. Ask in the moment of this second, hour and day as well as in this quarter or half quarter of your life: “What does this moment ask of me?” Listen for the answer in words, images, music, syncronicities, events and inner promptings. Follow the musings into your next assignment for the greatest good. When you feel the aliveness, the ripeness, the wonder of the answer; move toward it with thanksgiving, receptivity, patience and persistence . . .
- Allow inner openness and receptivity to engage something you’ve put off that will help you learn, unlearn and relearn to further expand your awareness. Allow yourself to be curious and explore many options if you’re undecided. Observe your positive and negative thoughts, words, and actions to notice what brings more love, more joy, more life, more peace and more play on these roads less traveled . . .
- Your presence is your product . . . Sit deeply with this koan to let it reveal to you the mission you’re on at this time in your life. It’s about your True Nature and it’s an invitation for you to further expand into it. Be present, appreciate and progress. It’s your journey of a lifetime.