Conditional and unconditional

Most of the time our thinking goes like this:

  1. I want something to happen (this could be something mostly within one’s own control such as the achievement of a personal goal or the acquisition of an object, or something outside one’s control such as the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of other people, a promotion at work, a specific political or economic state of affairs, or the outcome of an event in which others are participating such as sports and war. For the purposes of the examination of conditionality, it is irrelevant whether it is inside or outside one’s control, also whether it is realistic and achievable or not).
  2. If it happens, I will be happy; if it doesn’t happen, I will be unhappy.
  3. Thus, my happiness or unhappiness is determined by whether certain things happen or not. My happiness depends on certain conditions being met. Not all outcomes are acceptable to me; I prefer certain outcomes to others.

Even when the thing we wish to happen does happen, we usually experience a feeling of happiness for only a very brief period of time, returning shortly thereafter to our previous baseline mental state. Living one’s life in this way is like riding a roller coaster: sometimes you’re up, other times you’re down, but in all cases you are out of control. So long as you let your mental state be determined by things happening in the world, you are unlikely to find deep and lasting peace and contentment. It is a very fragile state of affairs and puts us at the whim of all kinds of forces which we cannot control nor predict.

True happiness comes not from events, but from awareness of our own being. We may not have control over the external circumstances of our lives, but we can take control of our patterns of thought and attention. Training and focusing our awareness on that which does not change – the background of awareness itself – meanwhile letting things be what they may and accepting all outcomes without preference, we have a higher likelihood of living in a state of flow and finding peace of mind.

Most people spend their lives trying to secure unconditional survival of the physical body; this is a great delusion. Everything that comes into existence will eventually cease to exist. All forms will dissolve and return to formlessness. Life as a physical body is highly conditional, as is the mental state of most people on this planet who identify with the body. There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong, for suffering, loss, damage and decay, disappointment, and so on, that if we identify only with the body, our very foundation is threatened on a daily basis.

What is the alternative to living only as a fragile body, preferring certain outcomes to others and depending on external events as the basis for our happiness? The alternative to identify with the unconditional, unmanifested universal consciousness which exists outside spacetime and cannot be touched by anything in the material world. The practice that takes us there is meditation. If we take this approach, we are in a very good position and have no reason to fear anything. It is the essence of saying “I’m ok, no matter what“. This is the unconditional identity. Without this knowledge, we are always under threat and we will never feel truly secure, no matter how much money we have or how well protected we are behind walls and barriers.

Unconditional love is necessary for a person to fully develop their potential and feel secure enough to express themselves. Some relationships offer this kind of unconditional love, others only offer conditional love. For example, we may act (without necessarily saying it) in a way that suggests: “I will love you, care for you and stay with you, as long as you stay fit and attractive, don’t put too many demands or burdens on me, bring home enough money, act the way I want you to, and serve my own shallow egoic interests”. Some of us had this message passed to us by our parents. Others have it passed to them in their marriages.

It is interesting to observe that on the societal level, all the messages broadcast by mass media and popular culture suggests the possibility of highly conditional love: “You will find love IF you buy this brand of perfume/clothing/jewellery/car etc. You will be worthy IF you have enough money/power/youth/success/education/influence etc. As soon as you lose these very important qualities, all the love and respect will be taken away because you are no longer worthy or useful”. There is no reference in most of our movies, music, television shows, magazines, or other cultural products to unconditional love, to a caring generosity and abiding presence that will remain no matter what. There are only false promises for false rewards, and most of the time we get suckered into believing them because we are so desperate to feel loved and appreciated. All of this of course only serves the interests of the wealthy elite who have the entire media and advertising industry at their disposal, and who act as middlemen between us and our own well-being and happiness by using these tools to profit from products and services with false promises. The sad thing is that they themselves fall into their own trap of believing that they need money, power and prestige to achieve happiness and integrity. The only difference is that their perceived needs are more costly and elaborate on account of the socio-economic class in which they find themselves.

Conditionality breeds fear, anxiety, worry, stress and resentment. It is associated with distrust, a closed mind and heart, competition and killer instinct. It is a byproduct of unregulated capitalism. Conditionality stifles creativity and free imagination and activates our fight-or-flight reaction. Unconditionality fosters comfort, ease, relaxation, joy, and happiness. It is associated with trust, openness, cooperation, generosity, creative expression and imagination. When we cultivate an unconditional state of mind, we create neither fear nor desire. This boosts our baseline happiness, and reduces the fluctuations that produce destabilizing emotions. We do not move toward or away from any experience, but take all experiences as learning opportunities. Rather than reacting to events, we accept the information presented and allow it to enter our awareness no matter what it may be. Rather than using words such as “hope”, “wish” and “should”, we say: “It is. I am.”

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~ by spiritualseeker1 on December 13, 2011.

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