We see what we are conditioned to see. What we see doesn’t necessarily have to be how things actually are or in other words, ultimate reality could be hidden from our view just like the sun is out of sight on a cloudy day. The obscurations blocking our view might include our tendency to focus on what only serves our purpose, for bare survival, for bonding with each other and for constructing a ‘self’ that is meant to dominate, or relate and persevere. With the multitude of objects and purposes that engage our attention, uncovering what might lie behind appearances and beyond concepts becomes unimportant. Our usual pursuits and attainments convince us that we do see all there is to see. Our insatiable thirst for success, approval and gratification keeps us trapped in misery. Perhaps, attempting to discover what is not distorted by appearances and conditioning is a way to break free of the mass of suffering that we frequently find ourselves in.
Is there anything that is not distorted by appearances and conditioning? Or is that just a fancy? Whatever the case may be, it is important to realize that any special mental state that claims to see truth is also conditioned. But like it or not, all we have within us to access what is unconditioned is our minds and our awareness. The panorama in the field of these faculties might be untrammeled truth or it might just be another construct that is shaped by our social, cultural or biological dictates. How can we be certain that our beliefs and aspirations do not come in the way of pure sight? The answer likely is the process of negation. If we are inadvertently shaping our field of inner vision, then reaching an end that is absolute and undistorted is only possible if we keep ‘clearing’ and ‘moving’. This means that we do not hold on to anything that we chance upon, clear, in as much as is feasible every trace or residue of our ‘self’ and continue in the search.
This search can become central in our lives and is informed by the increasing certainty that in it lies freedom. As we traverse our path to what lies beyond conditioning, this certainty grows and becomes a self fulfilling source of more learning and great joy. In that manner, the question of whether anything lies beyond distortion is answered. In investigating this ‘view’, some guidance might be called for. Deconstruction is not easy and we are prone to succumbing to the pervasiveness and persistence of habitual tendencies and our search for an absolute ground can easily become sidetracked by what we ‘think’ is undoubtedly and finally real. “Emptiness” is a core principle in Buddhism and implies an absence of inherent existence of any phenomena, this means that objects that we perceive do not exist in and of themselves. In depending on causes and conditions, they arise but are essentially devoid of inherent existence, that is, they are empty. The principle of emptiness can be a great source of renewal in the journey towards an absolute ground. This negation can become central in making sure that we do not merely ‘see what we want to see’. Any mental object or view is therefore held to be devoid of substance and we fruitfully move on!
In this manner, the search for ultimate ground becomes an everlasting journey. As we move along the path, we conceive, visualize and perhaps even realize shades of truth. Perhaps this truth does come in shades, and is both a conjuring and a happening. In conjuring, we accept that what is conditioned is also a part of the whole, and as a happening, a glimpse into totality. It could be that there are no characteristics of this undivided whole and that we inhabit a realm of pure potential without any attributes whatsoever with construed reality being an eddy that is contained within and overlays a flow that is the ground for the manifest as well as the unborn.
The Buddha once said that all conditioned phenomena are suffering, and that we should strive diligently for freedom from ignorance about ultimate reality. In heeding his advice, not only do we surpass conditioning but also acquire the capacity to access what might be absolute being and incomparable beauty.