I used to get a little uptight whenever I come across the word “conditioned” in Buddhism and felt so “lofty” when the meaning “unconditioned” came to mind – though at those times I don’t really get what it means except whatever limiting ideas I put upon it, thus seeing conditioned as wrong and unconditioned as right. What an ignorant judgment!
And throughout those years I was so attracted to the word “unconditional love” – trying so hard to be one but failing most of the time :(
The wiser part of me (or Holy Spirit, if you come from a different faith) came up with the following illustration to let me see that there is no right or wrong to both words except its definition. And there is no better way of illustrating it other than Darkness and Light.
Darkness Is, Light Exist.
Darkness is unconditional as it always Is. Darkness needed nothing to make it exist, for in reality, it does not “exist” except is. Are you following me? It will be easy to see this truth when we come to Light. Now for Light to come into existence, it must have something for it to arise, for example, the Sun or even the collision of meteor etc. In other words Light is been conditioned by something. Once it is been conditioned, it has the nature of ending for the word “conditioning” already implies a situation that can only come into existence due to a certain nature. For instance, fire can only exist when a matchstick and a source of friction comes into contact. Fire is not hidden somewhere awaiting for contact. It just arise due to conditioning, and thus temporal by nature.
In the modern new agy stuff we are been encouraged to view Darkness as evil and Light as purity – I am not disputing what are been shared but we missed the point of Reality when we see something as good and bad. Everything has its essence of Truth – only when we give opportunity for enquiry. I wish to share with you here a teaching on Tao about Darkness:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
– Tao Te Ching (A New English Version) by Stephen Mitchell
Coming back to the topic of Conditioned and Unconditioned, it is logical to say that all existence are conditional by nature and thus not lasting, devoid of self and unsatisfactory. All existence are unreal, so to speak, for it only exist due to conditioning. What is it beyond existence, you may ask? Unconditioned, my friend, as spoken by great sages like the Buddha or Yeshua (he uses the word eternity).
I invited you to consider the following which may invoke repulsion, defense or disillusion but allow yourself to enquire, deeply – Your existence is unreal. Beyond your existence lies the Unconditioned.
Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed, they will marvel, and they will reign over all.
May you see this Truth. Peace be unto all.
3 Replies to “Conditioned and Unconditioned”
The information presented is top notch. I’ve been doing some research on the topic and this post answered several questions.
Something just came up in me that I wish to share here – in this conditioned world there is nothing to change or to add, as the word “conditioned” already implies predetermined by what is before. According to Yeshua, everything we experienced on earth are effects, churned by causes that is unrecognizable by an untrained mind. There is no possibility I can create anything “new” as the so-called new are combination of ideas that I already have – they are all recycled so to speak. So what I am experiencing in the world are simply recycled stuff which I am ‘trapped” in, like a fish not knowing it is contained in a glass bowl. I am trapped in my own conditioning.
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