Not long ago, I wrote a piece describing some of my childhood events; parents separating, sometimes harsh disciplinary tactics employed, the benefits of having multiple parents, early rebellion, etc. and then received a message on FB from a longtime friend. He wrote about how his parents had shielded him and his brother from the reality of African American life of the 1950’s and 1960’s and how he felt he had been left unprepared to face adversity. So I started considering the situation of our conditioning.
What arose is that all of us come through our lives with various flavors of conditioning; there does not seem to be any way to avoid it. Some of us have endured the conditioning of the post-World Wars, some of us the conditioning of the effects of the Great Depression. Some of us were conditioned by the effects of the Holocaust, some by fascism, some by communism. Some of us were conditioned by democrats, some by republicans, some of us by life in the suburbs in the 50’s, some by the upheaval of the 60’s. Some of us may have been conditioned by the Ku Klux Klan, and some by the Civil Rights movement. Some of us were conditioned by Baptists, some by Jews, some by Catholics, some by atheists, some by Hindus, and some by Buddhists. Some of us were conditioned by shielding, and some by exposure. Some of us have been neglected and exposed to some terrible circumstances, and some of us have been crippled by lack of exposure to the elements. Some of us have even been conditioned by those who were escaping all of the conditionings above and so were conditioned by communal life, by new age thinking, by borrowed Eastern thinking. In fact, it is probably true that we have all been conditioned by all of the above, more or less.
Some of us, through recognizing the degree of conditioning that we had been subjected to, might have even tried to formulate a different way of raising children to try and minimize the amount of conditioning that is passed on from one generation to the next. Regardless, in the end, there is no way to escape being conditioned, being impressed with ways of thinking, beliefs, ideas, philosophies. And we continue in our lives to gather new conditionings. We appropriate new ways of thinking, new philosophies of living, but still, these too are conditionings. They are all part of what makes up the mind, the “me.”
There seems to be no way out of this quagmire.
And yet, there have been those who have gone before, all of the mystics; the Buddhas, the Christs, the Zen masters, the Sufi masters, the Krishnamurtis, the Ramanas, the Oshos, who have proclaimed that there is a way out.
Having heard this news, it becomes incumbent upon me to look for myself, to explore, to experiment and see if what they have said is true or not.
So I embark on an experiment to discover for myself.
And what I discover is that there is a way to come out of this conditioning. The way is not out, but in.
By in, I mean meditation.
For me, meditation is not about bypassing anything I wish to avoid, and it is not about imagining some fantasy world. No, for me, mediation is just giving a little time and space to have a look at what presents itself, what arises in my inner landscape and to stay with it totally, not by thinking about it, analyzing it, judging it, but by being with unconditionally, by staying with, without saying no and rejecting that which is uncomfortable, and by not clinging to that which feels good, just watching without prejudice. And I have found that in this watching without prejudice, slowly, slowly, the procession of the stream of consciousness begins to lessen, begins to lose steam, and I begin to discover that which is bigger than this small “me” conditioned by all that has come before.
This is the transformative power of meditation. This is how conditionings, impressions, memories, and desires are transformed from dense matter into spaciousness.
And it is clear to me it is not enough to have an intellectual understanding that there is a way out, that it cannot remain just another belief, just another conditioning, it has to be discovered in my very own experiencing. This experiencing is meditation.
Perhaps someone has found another way “out,” other than “in,” but it would be negligent of me not to share this personal discovery.
By the way, I do understand that there those, in fact most, who have no interest in discovering a way out of conditioning, a way out of mind, a way out of the “me,” because our entire identity is wrapped around it tightly. In many ways, the end of conditioning is the end of me. For those who have no interest in coming out of mind, then I truly hope that you are able to find love, peace and happiness in some other way. But for the rest of us, let’s get cracking until the goose is indeed out!