That which is unwillingly learned is willingly unlearned
When we practice bhakti-yoga, we frequently find ourselves relapsing to worldly anti-devotional indulgences. Why does this happen?
Because in the school of devotion we are often unwilling learners.
We may protest, “But I am not unwilling – I really want to love Krishna.”
That may indeed be our aspiration, but often it is not sufficiently internalized. Much more deep-rooted are our desires to enjoy worldly things – desires that we are still unwilling to give up. In that sense our lesson to love Krishna is learnt unwillingly.
The Bhagavad-gita (15.15) indicates that Krishna residing in our heart gives us knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness, according to our desires. When he sees that we are still entertaining worldly desires, he reciprocates by giving us forgetfulness of spiritual knowledge. Thus does our learning become unlearnt. This unlearning is willing in the sense that it is our will to enjoy worldly things that causes the unlearning.
Despite such unlearning, we don’t have to become discouraged.
Because even through the unlearning, learning can happen.
The cycle of learning and unlearning can help us realize how superficial devotion is inadequate: it deprives us of the steady fulfillment latent in a substantial connection with Krishna. Thus we learn the necessity and urgency of internalizing our devotional aspiration. Learning this may not stop our lapses immediately, but it can inspire us to boost our intellectual conviction by scriptural study, build our spiritual determination by associating with serious devotees and beseech Krishna with sincere prayers. Our intensified endeavors show him that, despite our lapses, we really want to love him. And he reciprocates by giving us the right remembrance at the right time.
By his reciprocal mercy, our learning, far from getting unlearnt, blossoms into living, and we progressively graduate from the school of devotion to a life of eternal ecstatic love.