By MAULANA WAHIDUDDIN KHAN
Conditioning is an integral part of life, discovered the American psychologist Broadus J Watson, after researching the subject at great length. Every human being is born in an environment, so everyone is subject to environmental conditioning. There is no exception whatsoever. So, every one of us is conditioned one way or other.
Professor Watson’s finding is perhaps relevant. We do lead conditioned lives. But there is more to the finding than is apparent. It is half of the truth. He elaborated on the law of conditioning, but said nothing about the law of deconditioning. According to his research, everyone is bound to live a conditioned life. It is everyone’s fate and no one can escape from it.
It’s an unnatural statement. It is a fact that everyone is subject to conditioning but it is also a fact that every form of conditioning can be reversed. Conditioning is a phenomenon of thinking; so it can be changed by counter-thinking. Thinking and counter-thinking are both well within the capacity of the mind.
The modern computer is a small mechanical model of man’s mind. Everyone knows that a computer can delete anything that you want it to delete. If you feed something into the computer, and then you want to delete it; this can be done, simply by striking a small key. Man’s mind is an inconceivably large model of the computer. If a small mind can delete an item without failure, it is inconceivable that a bigger model cannot do the same.
The deconditioning of mind also has a small touch-button. This touch-button is a simple phrase of just three words: “I was wrong.” Say with complete sincerity: “I was wrong” and you can delete any type of conditioning in a second.
Watson himself is proof that environmental conditioning can be reversed in the later period of one’s life. As a matter of fact, Watson first deconditioned himself, consciously or unconsciously, and only then was he able to discover the phenomenon of conditioning. So, if this deconditioning was possible for him, why should it not be possible for others?
Deconditioning is the only way to intellectual development. It is accepted that education is an important tool for personality development. At the same time, one must try to decondition one’s mind; otherwise one cannot receive the fruits of education.
I know a member of a minority community who was obsessed with the concept of discrimination. He said that unless there is reservation for members of minority groups, he would not be able to find a good job in this country. I said: “No, at present you are thinking in terms of discrimination, but please try to understand the matter in terms of excellence.” I reminded him: “There is always room at the top.” If you were an average student, then you might face some kind of discrimination, not only here but elsewhere, too. But if you made the effort to do well, then you would certainly get the job you desired. There is a limit to discrimination and you could cross that limit only with dedication and hard work.
The student took my advice and thought again. He increased his efforts and the result was miraculous. He got good marks and eventually achieved what he wanted to; he got a good job here.
Those who look only at external factors invariably underestimate their own capacity. But those who discover themselves become free of this obsession and can meet all challenges. Decondition your conditioning and you will instantly emerge a new person – even better than what you were in the past.