Here’s a model of conditioning. Just a model, not truth. A model to illustrate the impact of conditioning.
Take a mind. A mind is a term for a stream of thought. Of perceptions, of memories, of concepts and ideas.
And, in this thought stream will come the occasional thought: “I am a separate entity, an independent person.” The ‘me’ thought. More thoughts follow as reactions to the ‘me’ thought. How to protect the ‘me’, how to develop the ‘me’, how to acquire on behalf of the ‘me’. Seeking, stretching, striving. On behalf of a thought.
Then, every so often, a thought with nothing on it. An ordinary, low-key thought that simply narrates activity. And, at night in deep sleep, the mind rests—no thought. Before the ‘me’ thought rises up again . . .
That pattern is exhausting. Experiencing life mostly driven by ego, by the ‘me’ thought. Suffering, by definition.
Now, any thought about how to relieve the suffering—this is a further thought on behalf of the ‘me’. How to make ‘me’ feel better. And so, the cycle of seeking, stretching, striving, begins again.
In this teaching, with my clients, we don’t try to get away from the ‘me’ thought, or the suffering inherent therein. We do the opposite. We investigate this ‘me’. We trace it back to its source. And find that, like all thoughts, all objects, it has no substance beyond the knowing of it.
This is something you can test in experience. Has there ever been a single thing—object, circumstance, person—that you’ve experienced without knowing the experience? (I promise, there isn’t, but keep looking for as long as you like.) And does the knowing, the open awareness, remain even as experiences come and go? (Yes, but take time to convince yourself.)
Back to the ‘me’. We investigate, and we find that the ‘me’ comes and goes. Is not consistent or reliable. How can the ‘me’ be protected and developed if it is not a solid entity? Yet, the habits of a lifetime, the conditioning of society, mean the ‘me’ thought is still going to occur. And thoughts on behalf of that ‘me’ will follow. But, maybe now those thoughts don’t have quite the same power. Maybe the normal, everyday thoughts are more frequent.
As the mind is freed, bit by bit, from the tyranny of ego, simply knowing, simple awareness comes to the foreground. Then, the mind, thought, when it rises up to face the practicalities of the world, does so in service to who we truly are.
Living as love, peace, joy, freedom and abundance. This is living without the impact of conditioning.