Sometimes when we meditate we come across barriers, which seem insurmountable. We dwell on why we
cannot concentrate or why a particular job makes us insecure. Behind our fears and weaknesses
lies a fundamental constraint which affects every person's life, Conditioning. This chapter
looks at conditioning, explains what it is, how it appears, and how to regain our
concentration and our life.
Conditioning, in its broadest sense, is anything that tends to block the free movement of energy through form. Meditation frees the blocked energy. However sometimes our conditioning is so entrenched that even experienced meditators struggle to progress. By becoming aware of our conditioning and its influence on our actions and beliefs we can overcome the blockages of energy and meditate comfortably. Conditioning is characterised by being insular and dogmatic and shows itself through tension, clinging, prejudice, and lack of spontaneity. In a more limited sense, conditioning is any process or activity which results in behavior which is not spontaneous, unlimited, and appropriate to the specific situation. Conditioning can stem from and act upon individuals, groups, nations, cultures, and societies. Yet to break conditioning requires individual freedom and action, which then can feed over into seemingly larger areas of our life.
We all seek to know our self, to know what is real, and to be able to think and act in harmony without feelings of guilt or fear. Thus we want to be able to act fluidly and with confidence, in any situation, without hindrance. In other words, being able to act without any preconceived conditioning and based on clear, non judgemental perceptions and beliefs.
In order to do this we must eliminate any blockages we encounter affecting us or coming from us. Becoming aware of conditioning, learning how to avoid it, and then rising above it is vital for us to progress beyond the social facade that we project. As the foundation of the conditioning process has prepared us for virtually all of the situations in which we have lived we are often unaware of our reactions to new or different ideas. Resistance from our conditioning normally comes to the surface when we experience an event or action that we cannot explain rationally. It is necessary, in effect, to un-learn and re-learn any of the conditioned beliefs that make us closed minded or intolerant.
It is difficult to separate our self from our perceived reality and beliefs. Furthermore we may not be aware of the relative validity of how we act or what we believe in vis-a-vis our environment. Assuming we feel resistance to our meditation. We try everything to continue it, however we do not seem to progress after a few weeks. Our pride could have brought forth aspects emanating from our early training (learning) or beliefs that create negative feelings towards learning or practising inherently different or alternative ideas. In that case we would consider meditation to be different and it would create blockages making it difficult to concentrate. Becoming aware of how extensive and intrusive this conditioning process is in one's life and how it operates opens the way for further growth. It allows us to exist, experience, function and perceive - in an unconditioned manner.
A limited example of the conditioning process it found in a typical educational system. Within the system one normally finds curricula for teaching certain subjects. Each subject, depending upon its level is broken down into steps. Thus we find that there is an outline or syllabus for each course or step. With very little variation, this is followed, regardless of the individual or particular skills or characters of the people or situation. This method does not take into account the many variables inherent in a process, and by its very nature and methods precludes "real learning and development".
Each of these subjects requires certain step-by-step procedures to be learned, but each situation is different. Thus for effective teaching, attention must also be placed upon approach, which is determined (or should be determined) in part by the particular students, their aspirations, background, training, and make-up, by the time allotted, by the place, equipment, and facilities, by the point of view of the teacher, and by the purpose, intent, capacity, culture, society, language, preconceptions, expectations, and more, of the students, faculty, organization, and society at large.
In other words, the syllabus, or outline must be flexible enough to allow for all of these conditions (and many which were not stated), and the teacher must be able to recognize each of these variables and adjust the presentation accordingly. Even assuming this can be done, the student must be able to perceive what is taking place and become an active and willing participant in the process.
To develop unconditioned students effectively means there can be little constraint in the development of the student. Therefore time of classes, semesters, degree of study, approaches, methods, testing, evaluations, etc. All must take second place; and there must be an attitude that the only successful course - or gauge of success for the student - is when the learner is able to develop and function. One of the conclusions that may be drawn from the above discussion of education is an understanding and acceptance of the fact that while we are being educated we are being conditioned. This process however is successful within its societal limitations and can function within its own framework. It is not, however, necessarily the basis for true learning of a liberating nature.
This is generally not the frame of mind that helps us become spontaneous or exude an innate confidence. On the practical level the rigid constraints become a hindrance for the free flowing of energy. In any limited system as the scientific field, which is only one small level of what may be called rigid education, any practice which cannot be adequately and scientifically explained is dismissed. It is not based on societal values, expectations,assumptions, the relative value of the material studied, or many other areas. This does not mean we should forget or dismiss the education system but we should ensure that when we meditate we are aware of an inherent and deep resistance to a practice which can be fundamentally different to our previous education and experience.
If we deceive our self into believing that the "way" or method is important, we are guilty of conditioning and will never be able to reach our goal. We have to broaden our world view and accept meditation for its simplicity. We must not see it as just another means to an end where other conventional methods have failed. Meditation should not be seen as the tool, explained, or rationalised as an available means towards that goal. When we realise this concentration will seem natural silence will appear and the energy will flow.
(c)Copyright 2001 Pleasuredrome