Conditioning controls our lives. How we feel emotionally, what we think, how we think, our beliefs about the world – they’re all primarily a result of conditioning. We receive impressions from childhood and throughout our life. Those impressions condition our hearts and minds. Some ancient teachings refer to these impressions as samskaras.
Zen Buddhists aspire to a state of “no mind.” What does that mean? Ancient Sanskrit texts define the mind as something created from conditioning. Impressions etched upon the awareness determine how we interface with the world. It colors everything including our mood and even how you are receiving this article right now. We often feel passionately about it, considering our conditioning to be our truth. Our entire lives become invested in our conditioning.
When we try to gain more knowledge about something, where do we go? Where do we look? What do we find an affinity with? What determines our aversions? When we look for a teacher, what is our criterion? Isn’t it based upon our conditioning? Those we view as qualified teachers are individuals more indoctrinated and vested in our conditionings than we are. You then might think you need to find a teacher with a different conditioning. Consider the possibility that a true teacher frees you from conditionings in general. This enables you to rest more fully into your innate inner wisdom.
All too often, when an old conditioning stops working for us, we simply look for another. This leads to a seemingly endless cycle of one indoctrination followed by the next. At first, abandoning conditioning might seem scary. You might ask, “Am I supposed to become an anarchist? Am I supposed to reject everything I know and love?” Absolutely not. As you move beyond conditioning, your life on the surface may change very little. You still have your affinities and aversions. But there’s a deep level of your being that ceases to be overshadowed by conditioning. Conditioning becomes like a thin veil that does not overshadow your inner wisdom.
Education in the world today is certainly an out/in process. For the most part, it is the imposition of new ideas and new behavioral modalities. Act this way, think this way, and then you’re a more accomplished person. Of course, these things have value. It’s a great thing to study physics, music, or whatever your field of endeavor is. But there’s a different sort of education, a different way of attaining knowledge that is greater. You attain it when you wake up to the place within you that already knows.
When we typically think of personal growth or spiritual development, it tends to be somewhat of an out/in proposition. Some believe that if they can just restructure the surface of their life, it means they’re growing. Different groups have different ideas about what that’s supposed to look like. One group may think it means being unattached to material things. For another, it’s all about staying centered in their heart cave and speaking from a place of serenity.
You would do well to ask yourself what parameters you think you must conform to in order to be spiritual. What do you think you will be like on the surface? Will you be more loving? Will you practice the Ten Commandments? Maybe you will have a different, wise phrase from the Tao Te Ching to use in each situation.
But these things do not make a person truly wise. Real wisdom is not the regurgitation of wise phrases. It is not identifiable as a type of behavior. The place of wisdom is alive, well, and eternally accessible within you. Yet, it is unattainable through thoughts and emotions. As you soften your relationship with your conditioning, you awaken to that place of wisdom within.
The Golden Frog and Surya Ram Classes aren’t really about the conveyance of notions, intellectual theories, or behaviors. As a matter of fact, if you reduce it to a set of ideas, you’ve compromised it. Facts, theories, and concepts are artfully used to work with your awareness and physiology in order to liberate you. In so doing, you more fully rest into the grandeur of your being. You start to wake up to the part of you that is the source of your true greatness.
© Michael Mamas, 5/05