We are always looking for reassurance, safety, and security in the conditioned realm. Whether we look for them in the material conditions of the world, the material conditions of the physical body, or the immaterial conditions of thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, and ideals, they are all within the realm of conditions. If we don’t understand the nature of conditions, then we become disappointed, frustrated, or confused when they don’t behave as they should! And of course, we think they should behave the way we want them to behave, but that’s not their nature. Conditions behave according to their own nature.
We cultivate meditation, precepts, and daily reflections in order to gain stability and clarity so that we can start to be present for conditions as they are. Meditation and mindful, composed actions and speech are also conditions, but they are very wholesome ones that lead us in the right direction. Commitment to cultivating these practices helps us develop the ability to sustain attention with a pleasant and peaceful object of meditation so the heart becomes settled and clear.
Working within the realm of conditions is absolutely necessary and cannot be avoided. To a large extent, we have to rely on conditions, in the same way that we have to rely on the physical requisites of clothing, shelter, food, and medicines, which are also part of the conditioned realm. We can’t pooh-pooh them away and say, “They’re all empty and don’t matter.” We do have to recognize their conditioned nature. If we get lost in unrealistic expectations that conditions are safe, satisfying, and within our control, disappointment and suffering are destined to follow.
This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is from the book, Don’t Hold Back, pp. 60-61.