Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882 - 1927)
Learning is one thing; and unlearning is another.
The process of spiritual attainment is through unlearning....
Spiritual attainment, from beginning to end, is unlearning what one has learnt.
But how does one unlearn?
One can do it by becoming wiser.
The more wise one becomes, the more one is able to contradict one's own ideas.
In the wisest person there is willingness to submit to others.
And the most foolish person is always ready to stand firm to support his own ideas.
The reason is that the wise person can easily give up his thought; the foolish holds on to it. That is why he does not become wise because he sticks to his own ideas; that is why he does not progress.
Now you may ask: Is this unlearning forgetting all that one learns? Not at all; that is not necessary. This unlearning is to be able to say with reason, with logic, the contrary to what you know. When you are accustomed to say, This is wrong, this is right, this is good and this is bad, this is greater and this is small, this is higher and this is lower, this is spiritual and this is material. If you can use the opposite words for each with reason and with logic, naturally you have unlearned what you had once learned. It is after this that the realization of truth begins, because then the mind is not fixed. And it is then that one has become alive, for the soul has been born.
What one learns in life is most useful after one has attained spiritual realization, in order to express it, but it can only be a hindrance in progress in the spiritual path unless one knows how to unlearn...
Unlearning is looking at things from an opposite point of view, seeing things from another angle as clearly as one is able to see from the angle from which one is used to looking at them. It is this experience that leads one to perfection.