The chapter Al-Shams (The Sun) of the Qur’an sets forth a very important principle, termed in modern language the principle of de-conditioning. The translation of the relevant verses is as follows: He who purifies it will indeed be successful, and he who pollutes it is sure to fail. (91:9-10)
In this Qur’anic verse, to ‘pollute’ means ‘conditioning’, and to ‘purify’ means ‘de-conditioning’. According to this, everyone is born as Mr. Nature, but due to environmental influences, he deviates from his original nature and becomes Mr. Conditioned. The first need for every man and woman is to make himself or herself again Mr. or Ms. Nature. If he or she is to revert to his or her original nature, it requires de-conditioning of the conditioned mind. This de-conditioning is imperative if objective thinking is to be evolved. Conditioning makes one a biased person, whereas de-conditioning brings one back to one’s true nature so that one again becomes Mr. Nature. There is no other way to develop your potential other than de-conditioning or cleansing.
In the physical world, and onion is an example of this psychological process. Every onion has a core but this core is covered over by many layers. If you peel off these layers down to the last one, you will reach the core, and the same is true of most men and women. Their personalities are layered over by different kinds of biases and prejudices. It is only de-conditioning that will remove these external forms of pollution and restore the human personality to its pristine state. In this sense, one can say that every human being has two different periods of his life—the pre-maturity period and the post-maturity period. In the former period, due to conditioning, everyone’s mind is full of different elements, both black and white. Thus everyone’s mind is a jungle of thoughts. De-conditioning then basically calls for the mind to be sorted out.
Through introspection or self-criticism, all those notions which are really undesirable can be discovered. The fact is that in the age of immaturity, no one has the power to distinguish between the true and the specious, so he imbibes everything indiscriminately. Now he needs to cast out all erroneous and therefore superfluous ideas. For this, he has to develop the power to recognize which are the undesirable elements of which he must rid his mind, so as to make himself a purified person or a de-conditioned mind. There is no mathematical way to sort out this mixture of good and bad. It is a completely subjective process. Everyone must develop the power to distinguish between wanted and unwanted things, between biased and unbiased opinions. This kind of ability is a must if you are to de-condition your conditioning. Why de-condition? The process of conditioning has a deleterious effect on your personality. It is the art of de-conditioning that makes you able to return to your original status.
The process of de-conditioning is a process of cleansing. There is no other way to develop your potential other than de-conditioning or cleansing. De-conditioning is not a very easy process. You have to initiate a relentless process by which to identify and eliminate all undesirable facets of your personality. It is like self-flagellation, during which you should be prepared to accept all kinds of criticism. Conditioning is like living in darkness, whereas de-conditioning means re-entering the golden light of day.