Art of Deconditioning

According to the German philosopher, Nietzsche, the secret of bringing a developed man into existence lay in self-thinking. But in my opinion, that is a half-truth. The whole truth is that the secret of producing a developed man lies in anti-self thinking. The reason for this is that everyone lives in some society or the other. This society continually exercises formative influences on his mind, until finally his thinking becomes totally conditioned by those influences.

The American psychologist, J.B. Watson, wrongly took the man conditioned in this way to be a real man: but he was an artificial rather than a real man.

Since spiritual development is to do with the mind, spiritual progress is just another name for deconditioning of the mind, which leads to intellectual progress or intellectual development – the main target of man. The process of spiritual or intellectual development in fact begins with the de-conditioning of this conditioned mind. The more one de-conditions the mind, the more one will gain in spiritual or intellectual development. Spiritual or Intellectual progress is just not possible without taking such a step. The truth is that everyone is born spiritual. Everyone is Mr. Nature or Mr. Spiritual by birth. But, after birth, he lives in a society, which continues to condition him. Spirituality makes it possible to erase this conditioning and allows the individual to revert to the natural state in which he was born. Spiritual science is, in effect, another name for the de-conditioning of the mind. There can be no spirituality without this.

In this respect, the human mind can be likened to an onion. In the centre of the onion, initially, there is a small kernel or the natural state of the mind. Then layers start forming, one upon the other over this inner kernel. This process continues until the inner kernel is totally covered with external layers. Now, apparently, layers alone are visible. The kernel is completely covered and remains invisible. To find the kernel of the onion, all the external layers have to be removed. Similarly, all the conditioning has to be removed in order to restore the natural man to his pristine nature. This process of de-conditioning is similar to the removal of the onion’s layers. The whole concept of spiritual science is highlighted by this example.

How can de-conditioning take place? There is only one simple formula: ‘learn to say, “I was wrong.” Many times in our lives we are confronted with situations in which we realize that we were wrong in our thoughts, speech or actions. However, in almost all such situations, we do not have to courage to say that we were wrong. This stops our de-conditioning process. It is only when we openly say that we were wrong and accept the truth does our de-conditioning continue and we can go back to our nature and intellectually develop ourselves.

In this way, spirituality helps one become positive by learning the art of conversion. Spirituality, in fact, is a mental condition, which enables us to convert everyday material events into spiritual experiences – negative experiences into positive ones, non-spiritual matters into spiritual matters. Although such conversion takes place in the spiritual rather than in the physical sense, the principle by which this conversion operates governs the entire material world.

Then we have to understand that everyone may be born spiritual, that is, one may be spiritual by nature, but, after birth, one lives in a society, which, with its multiple influences conditions or shape man’s personality or nurture one based on negative feelings – just like the layers of the onion that cover its bulb. These negative feelings can be of anger, revenge, jealousy, hatred and rivalry.

The individual, to regain his spiritual character, has, therefore, to de-condition himself through a superior intellectual process, which will necessitate his mental de-conditioning. And it is spirituality, which makes it possible to de-condition the individual, so that he may revert to the natural state in which he was born. For this to happen, he has to re-engineer his mind. Man must become disciplined and not allow his personality to develop under the influence of external incentives. He should by his own decisions construct his personality on the basis of higher principles. Only then will he be of a divine character. He has to shake and jolt and remould his personality to abide by the plan of the Creator. He has to turn himself into the kind of person who is shaped not by society, but by spirituality and is thus able to live a God-oriented life.