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De-conditioning

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited January 18 in General Banter

I was writing in another thread when the topic of deconditioning or deprogramming came to mind. Jiddu Krishnamurti used to talk about this quite a bit in the days when he used to give daily lectures in India, he used to maintain that a lot of what Western society puts into the average young person’s mind is not really in his or her best interest.

Sources of conditioning include one’s parents, one’s surroundings, one’s teachers and school, the media, and the socioeconomic structure around you. If you are lucky you will come across an original thinker who has managed to observe the mind closely, seen where many of our thoughts originate, and noticed that as JK says the contents of the mind are largely not our own, and has pointed out the various ways in which it is disadvantageous. All of it needs to be re-examined.

So how does one go about de-conditioning the mind? One way is reason, I’ve found the Buddha’s saying “will this, if I do it, contribute to my long-term welfare and happiness” to be a very good lens for discarding useless elements of the past. Another way is contrarian conditioning, where one listens or watches a steady diet of independent thinkers talking about non-mainstream viewpoints, which breaks down old conditioning by reinforcing a contrary point of view.

So where does Buddhism come in? I think that Buddhism causes an internal shift, from an ad-hoc conditioning caused by one’s upbringing to in the end something that is justified by the cessation of suffering and finding one’s happiness. It is a conscious re-evaluation of all the things that have been stuck in your brain, your automatisms, your habits, and your past choices seen in a new light.

Have you come across other good ways to de-condition yourself?

Comments

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited January 18

    I’m always reminded of Sartre when I think about conditioning/de-conditioning. When he entered the debate on free will, against the predeterminists, he said that the more you become aware of the factors determining your actions, the freer you are to act under your own volition.

    I think there’s a common viewpoint with Buddhism here. Both the Buddha and Sartre taught awareness as the means of taking control of one’s life. It’s just that, where Sartre was interested in freedom philosophically, the Buddha taught it with the very practical goal of reducing suffering.

    Perhaps you could say:

    For Sartre, de-conditioning was about becoming free to act; for the Buddha it was about becoming free from our suffering.

    How does that strike you, @Kerome?

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s interesting... thanks for the introduction to Sartre, I did some quick reading.

    @adamcrossley said:
    Sartre said that the more you become aware of the factors determining your actions, the freer you are to act under your own volition.

    There’s truth in that, becoming aware of old preconceptions constraining your actions certainly leads to immediate freedom in a lot of cases. It’s a very legitimate way to de-condition parts of yourself. But if you widen your viewpoint, does that also mean that you automatically reveal new reasons for taking action in those new areas?

    I think there’s a common viewpoint with Buddhism here. Both the Buddha and Sartre taught awareness as the means of taking control of one’s life. It’s just that, where Sartre was interested in freedom philosophically, the Buddha taught it with the very practical goal of reducing suffering.

    It seems to me as if merely using awareness as a road to freedom is not quite enough. The buddha’s approach towards reducing suffering and so increasing happiness guides further choices beyond just becoming aware.

    Good stuff though :)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said: .. One way is reason, I’ve found the Buddha’s saying “will this, if I do it, contribute to my long-term welfare and happiness” to be a very good lens for discarding useless elements of the past.

    Another adage I am fond of, is "Things are not always what they seem, nor are they otherwise."

    And I must mention (not to gain admiration or credit, but simply because it hit me during a 'silent' moment of meditation), this little bolt from the blue:

    "You can think what you want, say what you want and do what you want, but you must pay the price."

    I'm sure there's endless heavy influence from other words I have read and heard, but given that this phrase arose in my mind unbidden and unexpected, it formulated the recommendation in a new and refreshing way... So to an extent, my thinking has been conditioned by Buddhism in a most positive and pleasing manner....

    How can we ever be free of conditioning, without completely erasing each and every experience?

  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    Small nuance: I don't think deconditioning is what we are talking about. Rather, we are talking about reconditioning. @federica yes?

    And not just reconditioning willy nilly, but reconditioning with purpose, with intention and effort and out of knowledge or out of understanding with faith.

  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    Deconditioning suggests to me that ultimate possible liberation, which involves all ill will, greed, and delusions extinguished / cut off at the roots without remainders...

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @ERose said:
    Small nuance: I don't think deconditioning is what we are talking about. Rather, we are talking about reconditioning. @federica yes?

    And not just reconditioning willy nilly, but reconditioning with purpose, with intention and effort and out of knowledge or out of understanding with faith.

    Well it depends. You could talk about de-conditioning in some specific cases if nothing new came in it’s place, such as in a case where your father said to you, “always go for the money” when young, and you much later in life decided there were other things more valuable than money, and discarded this adage.

    But a lot of the Buddhist conditioning will be reconditioning yes, at least at first. One value system replacing another, or even just conditioning, a value system appearing where there was none before.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 19

    @Kerome said:
    Have you come across other good ways to de-condition yourself?

    Sure. Find the unconditioned. Meditation. You knew?

    ... meanwhile the ex-matreya guru who made a pampered guru living from saying, 'you don't need to follow gurus'. A perfect example of conditioning. :o
    http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsamplechapters/krishnamurti.html
    Do what I say but say ... I don't walk that walk [tsk, tsk] This is the condition of hypocrisy which we all experience/know to some degree

    And now back to pseudo-freedom or not ...

    @ERose said:
    Deconditioning suggests to me that ultimate possible liberation, which involves all ill will, greed, and delusions extinguished / cut off at the roots without remainders...

    I'll have what she's having. ;)

    Exactly so, removing the poisonous clashes, klesha, karmic impediments and naughtiness [lobster hangs head in shame ... ]
    https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5574/klesha

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited January 19

    @lobster said:

    @Kerome said:
    Have you come across other good ways to de-condition yourself?

    Sure. Find the unconditioned. Meditation. You knew?

    Do you find meditation truly a good way to break down conditioning? Usually when I come out of meditation I’m the same person who went in, perhaps more refreshed.

    ... meanwhile the ex-matreya guru who made a pampered guru living from saying, 'you don't need to follow gurus'. Perfect example of conditioning. :o

    Guru is just the Sanskrit for “teacher” you know. I don’t think Krishnamurti was a special object of veneration, he rejected the whole Maitreya “World Teacher” gig and walked away from the Theosophical Society, but when talking about freeing the mind he makes some sense. He was the first person to point out to me that the whole human mind is a mixture of conditionings from different sources.

    @ERose said:
    Deconditioning suggests to me that ultimate possible liberation, which involves all ill will, greed, and delusions extinguished / cut off at the roots without remainders...

    Exactly so, removing the poisonous clashes, klesha, karmic impediments and naughtiness

    If you were to carry deconditioning to it’s ultimate conclusion, you might be in a similar state to a just born baby, a tabula rasa. The negative effects of the world’s conditioning would be erased, but so would the positive. What positive? Compassion and kindness for the other. Insight into the worldly condition. Perhaps these things are essential parts of the journey to liberation, and a partial deconditioning is all that is needed.

  • Do you find meditation truly a good way to break down conditioning?

    Yes.
    I do. We are now married.

    Another way is the body, traditionally in Buddhism: Shaolin, 5 rites, yoga, prostrations (that'll get you healthy) and similar ...
    https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2012/06/15/free-your-body-free-your-mind#

    Shoshin
  • ERoseERose Earth, North America, west. Explorer

    @Kerome "If you were to carry deconditioning to it’s ultimate conclusion, you might be in a similar state to a just born baby, a tabula rasa. " But I don't actually perceive babies as tabula rasa. Nor do I see deconditioning as stripping out all history of a life stream... The deconditioning I referred to is a conscious renunciate effort, an expression of spiritual depth and progress.

    We can't actually go back to a Beginning; its requisites no longer are present, un doing history is simply not how time functions. A Beginner's mind is not ignorance or delusion; it is aware, present.

    ) Examining semantics cuz testing new similes and terms sometimes make concepts ... slippery?

    personKerome
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    edited January 20

    @Kerome said

    If you were to carry deconditioning to it’s ultimate conclusion, you might be in a similar state to a just born baby, a tabula rasa.

    Baby's aren't actually fully blank slates. That idea goes way back to Aristotle and found its way back during the Enlightenment. Evolution, genetics and infant studies have kind of done away with the idea but it somehow wants to stick around. Not to be rude, I just think it can get hurtful to people if we think they are infinitely moldable and don't come out already conditioned in many ways already. I know you don't mean it this way, but the idea really needs to go away, it allows bible thumpers who believe you can train the gay away to make their claims and other such things possible.

    lobsterKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said
    I know you don't mean it this way, but the idea really needs to go away, it allows bible thumpers who believe you can train the gay away to make their claims and other such things possible.

    You're right in saying there is no real way back, I was talking in an ideal sense. If you were to try you’d probably be left with low level conditioning mush. The whole gay conversion therapy thing is a travesty, harmful and it doesn’t work.

    lobster
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