Getting rid of conditioning

Omkaradatta's picture

Average: 4 (4 votes)

Many on this website seem interested in combatting Western conditioning, but at times I've noticed a tendency to want to replace this with Eastern conditioning. Clearly, this won't do the trick, as you're merely adding more conditioning onto what's already there.

Since time is really an illusion, conditioning is of a different nature than you might think. It is primarily maintained actively, through constant input. Letting it go for awhile will remove much of its influence from your life.

Here are a few recommendations, for starters:

(1) Turn off the boob tube, permanently, including the news.

(2) Stop reading newspapers, or just glance at the front page from time to time. The most important news is told on the streets, anyway. This can eliminate much negativity from your life.

(3) Stop reading books altogether. This may be a difficult step for some, as we are conditioned to believe that reading is purely positive. In truth, it keeps you living in a mental dream-world. Instead of reading magazines in the waiting room, bring a music player, or start a conversation with someone.

(4) Cut back on movie watching and video game playing.

(5) Stop listening to the radio, or just be very selective about which stations you follow. Stick to music only, preferably wordless music.

(6) Be selective about the Internet sites you visit. It's possible to fill the mind with all kinds of nonsense browsing the Web, much of it unverifiable.

Taking the above steps will eliminate ~90% of all active conditioning from your life. If you're serious, you can even change jobs and find one where the radio isn't played at work.

It won't take long before you find yourself thinking more independently, and even more clearly/concisely. The mind becomes less interesting as its content diminishes, and meditation can improve. Taking the above steps can make a major change for the better in your life, as well as freeing up much time you can devote to more 'spiritual' pursuits such as meditation, contemplation, music listening, spending time with pets and loved ones, etc. Try it -- you may like it.

sonti's picture

Conditioning is much stronger

The conditioning mechanism is much stronger, these tricks will not improve much. The mind has a capability of simulating, "playing a videotape" of recorded events in case you force it to disconnect from external events. The mind does not know to tell the difference between events and stimulations truly occurring right now and recorded ones.

The best way I discovered to process conditionings is not to try to avoid outer circumstances but instead continue regular daily life, remain in the same surroundings and make sure you get the same triggers and just to observe your conditionings and try to avoid the automatic reactions. This way, when you observe and accept and do not react, the conditionings get weaker.

sonti | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 05:03
Omkaradatta's picture

Just a question, curious...

Have you actually tried these suggestions for (say) several months at least, and have a solid basis for knowing that outer circumstances don't affect conditioning much? I don't mean cutting back on TV and reading, I mean cutting it out altogether, as "following" events (i.e. the continuity) is what tends to maintain conditioning.

Omkaradatta | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 07:15
sonti's picture

Of course

I wouldn't write about it unless it is based on my solid experience.

I went to more extreme than you mention.

sonti | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 07:20
Tania's picture

It is always better to replace your native conditionings

It is always better to replace your native conditionings. They are the strongest and deep rooted so even if people tend to replace what they have with conditionings from the east, it is constructive.

I think that the eastern conditionings are much better for a spiritual seeker, they are softer, they include more belief and trust and devotion. And by eastern conditionings I refer to to India. This is the reason why when you land in Mumbay or Delhi and you feel some magic happens in your psyche (the collective mind there).

Tania | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 07:08
Omkaradatta's picture

Why not...

Why not just find trust/devotion within yourself? Why does it have to be with conditionings? Is it possible you might find more trust, devotion and sincerity automatically if you cut back on your native conditionings instead of replacing them with something else?

Omkaradatta | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 07:20
Tania's picture

conditioned robot

Because as long as you are the mind, you are a machine of conditionings, you are a reactive robot which its reactions are determined by the coding of the conditionings.

It is like asking a computer to run without a program, you can change the software, you can upgrade, but you need some executable code there...

Therefore, my opinion is that at least while pushing the boat to the sea (as someone beautifully called it here), the wisdom is to have the machine select the least damaging bundles of conditionings and it can do that by watching others and concluding, for example watch the people in India doing the Prodakshana, watch the people in Alaska resting, watch the New Yorkers doing shopping etc.

Tania | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 07:27
Omkaradatta's picture

Fair enough...

Sounds good here ;-). This is about relying on oneself ultimately. I post this stuff only for consideration, maybe somebody will decide to try it at least.

Turning off the TV set and stopping to follow the news has been helpful here in focusing on reality (which is ultimately what's right here, not what's in the mind). Most gurus have said this, although some people seem to believe that what's in the mind is to be trusted/accepted as well ;-). My guru Nisargadatta did not take this approach, he (rightly IME) denounced the mind as interfering with reality.

Omkaradatta | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 07:59
Phroggy's picture

Distractions vs conditioning

I've been a little confused by the terminology here. It is indeed useful to stop the distractions which are used by mind to entertain itself. To me, conditioning refers to beliefs, and really the only beliefs that are problematic are the ones that define and support the 'me' identity.

Yes, you could say that the drama of the news and the formation of opinions and such is part of the identity, but more specifically, do you exist, do you form your own thoughts, do you have control, can you find ultimate dualistic happiness, are you a body or your labels? This is the sort of conditioning that needs to be looked at.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 17:34
Omkaradatta's picture

All beliefs are false...

Sometimes it seems you can be a bit too focused on the ego ;-). What about the false in general?

Ultimately all beliefs are false, and it all contributes to the definition and support of the 'me' identity. The news, TV commercials, listening constantly to the illusions of others, it seems here that all of it contributes. You are eliminating not only mental entertainment, but a constant stream of input that affirms falsehood. Sure, the 'fixed' conditioning is worth looking at as well, but what is maintaining this fixity? The 'me' is an active process, not an entity.

Omkaradatta | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 17:46
Phroggy's picture

No idea is True

I'm focussed on the ego because beliefs are not a problem beyond how they "contribute to the definition and support of the 'me identity". It matters not at all if you believe the world is sitting on the back of a very large turtle, as long as you don't believe in the 'me' that holds this idea. If you don't believe in the 'me', whatever else is believed becomes irrelevant. Truth will come in to fill that open space where there is nobody grasping.

This is what I meant by the directness of teachings. You can replace the story of turtles supporting worlds with stories of Consciousness unfolding into time/space, and sacred moo moos and important mountains and allegorys about boat pushing and so what? Their just more stories. It's the 'me' story that needs to be seen as fiction. All other stories become just stories without the belief in that one.

Phroggy | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 20:21
Omkaradatta's picture

The truth?

"I'm focussed on the ego because beliefs are not a problem beyond how they "contribute to the definition and support of the 'me identity'."

Are you interested in the truth for truth's sake, or in getting rid of problems?

You can approach the issue of "seeing the false as false" from any angle. Why be fixated on the 'me' identity? But it's up to you, of course.

Omkaradatta | Wed, 09/03/2008 - 23:58
Phroggy's picture

Well, I'm not fixated on the

Well, I'm not fixated on the 'me' identity. I talk about all sorts of things that don't directly relate, and this is probably mostly because of my fascination with it, and I would be better served to focus on self inquiry because the rest seems like more of a distraction. 'The path is straight and narrow. Waste no time.'

Phroggy | Thu, 09/04/2008 - 07:28
Omkaradatta's picture

Fair enough...

Sounds good from here... I'd just add that in a sense it's all self-inquiry, as one doesn't really know what contributes to maintaining the 'me' and what doesn't, at least until the 'me' is transcended. Perhaps it's something you hadn't suspected?

Omkaradatta | Thu, 09/04/2008 - 09:54
Phroggy's picture

True nuff. I figure if

True nuff. I figure if something draws my attention, it's a boundary of some kind for me and best to go down the bunny hole with and see where it leads. I sometimes say if we knew where we were going, we'd already be there. Thanks for the reminder.

Phroggy | Thu, 09/04/2008 - 16:54
dora's picture

Conditioning is a BIT more more than beliefs

Conditioning is a BIT more than beliefs. I would rather say that beliefs are results of our conditionings rather then the conditionings themselves.

When we say conditioning we refer to the sanskrit term "Samskaras", which also mean impressions. It is the "if X then Y else Z" rules imprinted in our mind where X Y Z can be thoughts, emotions, sensations and any other mental object defined or not.

We are merely conditioning machines, like a computer or a robot, with zillion "If Then Else" rules dictating our behavior when we are unconscious.

And yes, once we invoke a higher level of consciousness by observing without judgment these conditionings, we can actually influence them. If we react on a condition, it is strengthen. If we do not react but observe it, then it gets weaker. We all are familiar with this mechanism.

See in more detail in

dora | Thu, 09/04/2008 - 08:21
Phroggy's picture

To me, it doesn't matter how

To me, it doesn't matter how many XYZ relationships are observed if you don't purchase them. IOW, if you don't grasp them as being True. If conditionings are impressions, I say they are not a problem. Beliefs are the problem; buying into your impressions. The woo woo enlightened master has the impression that there is an individuated perspective experiencing his life. The illusion continues and the mind/body plays it's part, but 'he' doesn't buy it; he doesn't believe it and declare it to be the Truth of the matter.

Phroggy | Thu, 09/04/2008 - 17:01
mrsnacks's picture

Who or what is telling you

Who or what is telling you to not focus on the mind and denouncing the mind as interfering with reality ? Is that a thought arising ? What cannot get rid of the noise from the outside ( tv , movies etc) anymore than one can get rid of the noise from wihin ( thoughts, feelings etc) But like the sky - clouds, thunder, birds flying, lightening etc doesn't interfere with the sky. Likewise nothing interferes or affects the awareness. An example is when Jesus and the disciples were on the boat and there was a storm. THe disciples were afraid and feared being capsized and Jesus was sleeping and at peace.
I don't own a tv and haven't turned one on for over 10 years.Got rid of it. I only watch tv in a hotel room when I travel on business. I have come to the realization that I should have gotten rid of my mind instead.But it is still a useful tool. We all agree on that.

mrsnacks | Tue, 10/06/2009 - 23:23