“ Oh, learning – what a thing it is!”
“If you want to learn anything about this work, first let go of everything you think you know about it.
If you can let go of it, stay.
If you cannot - leave now!”
The Art of Letting Go
by Toke Paludan Møller
It is my assumption that learning is a natural, inherent state of awareness—of being present in the Now, so that we learn from everythingin and around us, both individually and collectively. In these times, learning is a much needed core competence for all human beings. Dialogue, courageous action, and reflection are practices thatcultivate this competence.
If this is learning, what then is unlearning? Or we could say, how do we arrive at a higher level of learning?
To walk away from, to leave behind, to shed, some intellectual skin. To suspend or let go of old thought patterns and give up my rights and wrongs. This is important for higher learning to occur.
Letting go opens space for me to take in new perspectives, information, and insights. The journey then goes through the country of my “not knowing,” or chaos if you like. Chaos is uncomfortable because for awhile I may lose my known ground, my views of the world as I have seen it.
But I have come to understand chaos as a gift, because it has new order and deeper levels of understanding hidden within. Letting go to be in the state of learning - hidden inside is a practice, not just a theory.
Do I have the courage to start and continue practicing the art of letting go?
Being in the Now
I have found no more useful and powerful place to be than in the Now.This place is hidden inside me and collectively between us. To bepresent in the Now takes focus, letting go, courage, heartfelt longing,and a spirit of inquiry.
It is a meeting place for real learners – the students of Life.
Thinking about and explaining the Now will not take us there. Letting go, acceptance of the way life is, and breathing consciously will.
A spirit of inquiry
Being in the Now, having suspended my previous understandings for the sake of learning something new, there is also another wonderful ingredient available to us. We can build in a spirit of inquiry, curiosity, and passion for making meaning of what we see, experience, think, and do.
When we honour this spirit, follow it, and love it, we enter the dance ofl earning and unlearning, of letting go and taking in the new perspectives and understandings needed to go on living with meaning in my life every moment.
Shifting the mindset
The death of old world views and mindsets is a painful and confusing processt o begin with, but it always bring greater clarity, purpose, and new direction.
Shifting the mindset every once in a while is not a luxury or intellectual past-time, but a healthy and needed exercise that allows us to keep coping in a complex and confusing world.
A little story of unlearning
Once I was invited by a very good teacher of mine to learn something new. It hought myself to be very clever already and understood very well why I had been invited to this training. I did not speak this to others, of course, knowing—in theory—that humility is the name of the learning game.
At the first session he told me, “If you want to learn anything about this topic, first let go of everything you think you know about it. If you can let go of it, stay. If you cannot—leave now!”
Unlearning and letting go took place in seconds. I wanted to learn more than I wanted to keep up appearances.
I was invited into a great dance, and I accepted. The shift had already happened.
Let go into unlearning, give up being clever, seek what is truly meaningful to you, and enter the beautiful dance of learning and unlearning where life is unfolding.
“On the other side of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I will meet you there.” —Rumi
Toke Paludan Møller is a pioneer in the fields of sustainable entrepreneurship, sustainable leadership, educational renewal, and social responsibility. He is also an innovator in the organization, design, and hosting of interactive learning and self-organizing processes. Toke is co-founder and CEO of InterChange (www.interchange.dk), a training and process consulting company based in Denmark. For the past 7 years he has co-led, the module“Convening Strategic Conversations,” / "The Art of Hosting conversations that matter." and " The Circle, Brush and Sword " - which will be offered at The Authentic Leadership program at The Shambhala Institute in Halifax, Canada.