Chapter 13: Conditionality and Transcendence

We have seen in Chapter 6 how the Law of Conditionality applies to everything that is and how most of us seem to be thickly immersed in it. If we are mindful, we become aware that we are frequently driven by impulses which escape our control. Being thus at the receiving end of the law is evidently unsatisfactory: we would rather create causes than be emotionally trod on by effects.

The process of conditioning will always continue, so some kind of transcendental release is required. I've suggested that a good step towards this is a purposeful refinement of our conditioning and, for Christians, I've offered a refinement of the notion of God - to the three aspects of oneness, superconsciousness and energy.

Unfortunately, such steps can only be seen to operate within and not beyond the Law of Conditionality. I summarise our problem by a statement and a question:

"To release oneself from physical conditioning one dies with the physical body and lives wholly in non-corporeal mind.

To release oneself from psychological conditioning one 'dies' with non-corporeal mind and lives ... where ?!"

It should be noted that physical conditioning may be considered at one end of a spectrum of layers of mind: there may be many non-physical bodily forms reflecting increasingly refined states of mind.

On Transcendence

Any given person has developed some character, which I liken to a pair of tailored gloves. For someone still attached to conditioning, we may represent this by having one's hands glued to the inside of the gloves!

If this person becomes Enlightened, then it as if the glue has melted completely, never to set again, and so the person is free to withdraw their hand (and this is probably what they would do in the first instance). Subsequently the person is really free to use the gloves (maybe hot temper and all!) at any time, with undistracted purpose, by conscious choice, free of impulse. Don't expect an Enlightened person to be all warm compassionate serene smiles! Recall Jesus' tirade against those misusing the temple courts at Jerusalem (John 2:13-16); and his indignation at the refusal of his disciples to let some children come to him (Mark 10:13-16).

So conditioning is not eliminated but transcended; hence also, the idea of 'balancing one's karma' is no good. Somehow one must reach (/return to?) an utterly indescribable state, which I'd like to refer to by 'Ultra Being' 1. This is, I feel, another term for what the Buddha was referring to by realising 'Anatta'. Referring to the diagram of superconsciousness (Fig 7.1), this state is unregistered, yet has very full dynamic potential.

In the light of the above, I redefine:

Definition: Someone can be said to be one with God if at any time he or she can instantly attain the state of Ultra Being/realise Anatta.
One who has the (Holy) Spirit has at that instant ready access to Anatta.

Each time someone who is one with God has just fulfilled a purpose, then at that instant that person may re-enter (or return to) Anatta, ready to be made manifest again for whatever new purpose which is chosen next.

Any spirituality must have implicitly some degree of transcendence from conditioning.

Transcendence in the Bible: to be 'born again'

Jesus stated to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the ruling council, how conditioning must be transcended (John 3:3):

"I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
In reply to Nicodemus' questions which indicate a lack of understanding of the metaphor, Jesus points to the Law of Conditionality and its working in the physical plane [John 3:6]:
"Flesh gives birth to flesh ..."
In the same sentence Jesus describes the totally different plane of one who has been 'reborn':
" ... but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit."
The wording appears parallel which probably belies a change in intonation, posture and spiritual transmission which Jesus would have communicated whilst he was teaching Nicodemus. However, the meaning of this scripture is made more explicit as Jesus elaborates: he indicates, I believe, the illusiveness of Ultra Being which, being beyond the Law of Conditionality, cannot be predicted:
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Some Consequences of Transcendence

With respect to a body which is still breathing, it may be that someone can be it or in it or not be it nor in it. How about brain activity - must this cease? Not necessarily! The body or any part of it may still carry on, in the same way that a car engine may still run after it has been left by its owner.

Each path to Enlightenment will involve its own unique aspects and experiences, developing along the way certain conditionings, especially those we may assign a positive (constructive) value - perhaps the ability to paint portraits, the ability to relate well to an audience, the ability to generate metabolic change so that one can meditate without discomfort in a cave in Tibet, etc ... (the list is endless). These positive aspects of conditioning may be termed accumulations; each Enlightened individual will have different accumulations - not all can be teachers of spiritual truth.

Conversely, someone staggering far from a path of Enlightenment will develop largely negative (destructive) conditionings which I term contra-accumulations. These are, however, abilities of sorts: the ability to disrupt a school class, the ability to cheat at cards, the ability to be deceptive in speech (being 'economical with the truth' without anyone noticing!), etc ... (another endless list).

As one grows spiritually, one's consciousness expands and abilities become positive rather than negative. In particular, a highly developed spiritual individual may be naive with respect to the machinations in worldly existence. Jesus reports this in the parable of the shrewd manager [Luke 16], commenting:

"For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light."
So it could well be that Enlightened people, without worldly advisers, would have little success in business!

The wheel of existence is like a centrifuge spinning relentlessly and thrusting us away from the centre in which there is perfect equilibrium. The refinement of conditioning may be likened to the process of slowing down the centrifuge, so that whoever is subject to the centrifugal force has a better chance of recovering from their disorientation and thus of approaching the centre. This is one way of viewing the nature of transcendence.

Finding a workable methodology to achieve transcendence; to melt the glue of our gloves of conditioning is difficult, so we should look around carefully at the options. Nevertheless, there will come a time when sustained commitment to predominantly one approach is required. If we opt for meditation, then what kind do we choose? Whatever the choice, there must be someone else to guide us, an individual who has 'gone before' and who can remain in contact to interpret our progress, perhaps even over the telephone!

Footnotes

  1. Ultra means 'beyond'. ^

Next, we move onto the third part with Chapter 14: Ethics in Society | Contents

- Paul Trafford 1996,97 Paul's home page