Spaces of Unlearning

Water fascinates me. The moment space is provided it simply and naturally flows in to that space. It’s very nature is to permeate space and bring life. Try it. Dig an opening alongside some water and you’ll see it immediately flows in to that opening.

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I think awareness, or becoming more conscious, is a bit like water. The moment an opening is provided it flows in to that space and brings life.

Would it be true to say that often the biggest hindrance to the growth of this awareness is what we’ve been taught over the years?

Gets you to thinking about the importance of “unlearning,” something far too frightening and threatening for so many. What if the second half of life had more to do with digging little spaces or trenches of “unlearning” to enable the inflow of deeper or even different insight and truth? There’s no telling what may gush in.

One thing I know is that in the past I’ve been far too full of opinions and certainty. I now find myself on an exciting journey of changing that.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, inspiration, Life, Poetic Imagination, Spirituality, Transformation, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Spaces of Unlearning

  1. I like that idea, of digging little trenches in the mind, as on the beach, letting not the water flow in but all the new thoughts and, more importantly, the insights and the new understandings. Let’s all di g some trenches! All the best to you and yours 🙂

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  2. nrhatch says:

    Well said, Don. You might enjoy this Zen Parable:

    An arrogant man, who felt that no one could teach him anything, visited a Zen master for tea. The Zen master poured the tea until it overflowed the cup, and still he continued to pour. The arrogant man cried, “Master, stop! Why do you keep pouring? The cup is full.”

    The master replied, “You too are full of your opinions and judgments about the world. You must empty yourself of the past, to receive the present.”

    * When we hang on to our opinions and judgments, there is no room for anything else. Lama Surya Das

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  3. Hudson Howl says:

    I’ve been working on a little graphic for something which may or may not make it to being posted. Your thoughts and words very much parallel the image almost to the point of being a descriptive prelude. So if you don’t mind I thought I might send you a low res draft.

    Unlearning and thinking without the brain is something I think is done subconsciously more often than we know -it is after all the bases for our ability to be loving beings -kindness, compassion, and affection not to mention or forget about ‘creativity’. The creative landscape is very that space or void that any or all of the human condition can flow in taking on new form and hopefully new understanding. To quote myself, “she as beautiful as a blank page”.

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  4. I like of think of it as soul hydrology-images of water is ever present in my dreams. I see estuaries, confluence of rivers and inlets into marshy terrain. They seem to accompany times of increased psychic energy welling up from the depths of the unconscious.

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    • Don says:

      Now, those are beautiful images you describe. I can relate to what you say. I also find water to be present in a lot of my dreams. You speak of inlets into marshy terrain. That really stirs my imagination – thank you.

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  5. Wow, Don! In the same post you have touched upon one of my strongest affinities (with water) and one of my core passions (awareness). Thank you for merging the two. I am intrigued and warmed to learn about your exciting journey. I may, virtually, join you in that fascinating space.

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Eric. Judging from what you write about, I’m sure you’re well on that journey, far further than me. I would certainly meet you in that “fascinating space.”

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  6. Carolyn Page says:

    Seems we are of like mind, Don….. So many ‘knowns’ are now open and ready to be reevaluated. A softening, and an uncertainty that does not bring fear, but challenge and grace. Such is life, Don; that it can change from moment to moment; never again to be completely known.

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    • Don says:

      I love what you say Carolyn, “A softening, and an uncertainty that does not bring fear, but challenge and grace.” So much wisdom in that line – thank you.

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  7. Lorem Ipsum says:

    I think I’m right, Don, in saying that Jung spent a lot of time digging little trenches and watching the flow of water, in order to explore exactly what you’ve written about here. Interestingly post. I know there is much I need to unlearn personally. Cheers!

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    • Don says:

      Thank you. I suppose it has a lot to do with having the courage to actually walk along that path of unlearning. I think the first step is always an acknowledgement of the need, which you obviously express. Again thank you for your comment.

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  8. ptero9 says:

    I love these thoughts on water and it’s been on my mind and in dreams too. The nature of water is fascinating and is so much a part of us and the world. Maybe that is why we look to it for insights? Water has a peculiar nature, giving herself so readily to her surroundings; ice, steam, liquid, and yet, it is through her passivity that rivers and oceans come to be.
    I too, have a lot to unlearn, or revise anyway. Was it Jung who said the 2nd half of life was for turning to those things in the shadow, those parts of ourselves that had not acknowledged? I feel drawn to listening and being more open than when I was younger. I don’t want to surround myself with myself, but feel the need to expand in the last few years.
    Thank you Don for this inspiring post!

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Debra. Enjoyed your comment. I love your expanded description of water. As you say, I’m sure that’s why it is such a profound symbol. I also like the way you speak of being drawn to listening and being more open as you get older. I have that same feeling and yes I agree it does have much to do with the exploring of the inner life. I think one is far more external when younger and for me that’s fine, even necessary. But the time does come for that to be balanced and I agree that it has everything to do with our way of living through the second half of life.

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  9. Jenny Sprong says:

    Absolutely! Once I knew about gender justice, I could never again go back to patriarchy.

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  10. Excellent insights, Don. With my mother’s dementia, at first it seems that she is totally unaware of people in the present, but then I realize that her mind has picked and chosen the loveliest, gentle and happy moments to recall and relive from her childhood on the farm with her brothers and sisters. This is a comforting possibility for me to consider under the circumstances. Thank you.

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    • Don says:

      I’m so glad you’ve found it comforting Marylin. I so admire your journey with your mother and the beautiful way in which you express it in your blog. You’re an extremely inspiring person.

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  11. Forest So Green says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and discovering your blog, Annie

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  12. ladyfi says:

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head! As we get older, a lot of life is about unlearning.

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  13. safia says:

    Being around young children is a great way to ‘unlearn’ – loved the water metaphor. I dedicated a poem to your and Lorem Ipsum: http://topofthetent.wordpress.com/love-poem-of-the-week/
    Hope you like it if you don’t already know it.

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    • Don says:

      There’s no doubt that children do that to you. I think they bring us back to a simplicity and a naturalness which so easily gets lost. Safia I deeply appreciate the poem. I read it. It was extremely touching – thank you and thank you for your interest in the blog.

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  14. Terry says:

    I loved this post Don. I often think of light in this way and wonder if “enlightenment” is derived from that. Light behaving very differently to water, it cannot be defined. When observed it behaves as the observer wishes, at times like particles and at other times like waves. Which for me is so much more pertinent, almost teasing us to be present in each and every moment and really observe life.

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    • Don says:

      Particles and waves. Now that’s wonderful stuff Terry. I love your concept of “teasing us to be present.” What a beautiful description. Also so enjoyed your description of light – so true. Thank you. Always good to hear from you.

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  15. I really like the questions you raise about unlearning. For me, it’s time to start unlearning low self-esteem and self-doubt. I’m realising more and more that they ARE learnt behaviours, which means I can learn new ones which are more healthy and contain wholeness. May the light of consciousness flow into that space and open up my reality! Thanks for your post. Nic

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    • Don says:

      Certainly is something wonderful to start unlearning Nic. Thank you for being so open. May the manacles of self doubt and low esteem fall from you and may you begin to celebrate confidence and true identity. Thank you for your comment. Great to hear from you.

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  16. Shweta says:

    Great post. Really liked the way you described ‘awareness, or becoming more conscious’ by giving water’s example. Great capture. I also liked the story that Nancy shared.Thanks to her too !

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  17. iamforchange says:

    I can appreciate and embrace the thoughts expressed….. Thank you for sharing them!

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  18. Don says:

    My pleasure. Thank you for your comment.

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