Nothing is Conditioned

I recently answered a question about whether it is necessary to address the conditioning, when inquiring towards liberation. I said in my answer that Yes, it is necessary to address the conditioning. But I have to qualify what I mean by that.

Addressing the conditioning, in self-inquiry, does not mean going to the therapist and digging through every hangup you have acquired since the moment you were born. Now, I'm not saying
not to go to the therapist — therapy can be really useful and sometimes even urgent, as things are unfolding and as you are facing your ego.

But the kind of "addressing the conditioning" we talk about in self-inquiry is different. It is not digging through the infinite pile of reasons you got so screwed up in the first place. Instead it is seeing how the mind tricks you into believing that that screwed up person is you.

There are many layers to this kind of
discrimination — that's what it's called in Vedanta. It is called discrimination because you are applying your intellect to tell the difference between you and the apparent person you take yourself to be. And there are many layers to it because this false idea of a personal self pervades your apparent being, from the grossest layer — the flesh of the body — to the most spiritual and subtle layer — the sense of "I am." And everything in between.

Vedanta helps you see how many layers you identify with as an apparent person, and how the deception is accomplished. Little by little, layer by layer, by applying your intellect and the tools of Vedanta, discrimination between me and apparent-me is complete.

Conditioning is not personal. Because you (might) feel that your conditioning determines what you do, think, and feel, you mistakenly assume that the conditioning is your
personal conditioning. But there is no personal conditioning. Conditioning is (apparent) matter, acting as it must act, based on everything in the universe that came before. It knows no person. Matter appears, and the universe happens. Bodies appear and actions happen. Thoughts and feelings happen. But nowhere in there has a person been created.

Conditioning isn't even the right word for it. Conditioning is training, and there is nothing being trained. We're just talking about a life as you see it unfolding, and appearing to be acting out certain learned behaviors and thought patterns. Maybe it would be better to call it the unfolding. There is truly nothing personal in the unfolding of the universe.

What is conditioned? Nothing. There is nothing to be conditioned. Okay now I'm sounding like John Wheeler! But John is correct — there is no separate person, there is no cause and effect. I've never argued with John's impeccable logic. I've only offered that there is a way, a method, that you can come to recognize this for yourself, and that is with the tools of the teaching of Vedanta.

Addressing the conditioning, then, in my view, means inquiring into what is underneath
all of it, and seeing, bit by bit, layer by layer, that there is a false picture of a person who is trained to do this or that. Seeing that the picture is false is liberation, and the means to liberation is discrimination between you and the not-you.