“The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the impossible, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.” ~ Tom Robbins
Here’s the thing: We were all born into a conditioned state in which we didn’t have a say. We didn’t get to choose what sex we are. We didn’t get to choose what country we were born into.
We didn’t get to choose what level of affluence we grew up in. We didn’t get to choose the type of cultural conditioning and statist indoctrination we received.
Conditions abound: physical, psychological, cultural. Some of these conditions will have greatly affected the way we see the world and some of these will have had minimal effect on our perception. But the question is this: what will you do with what’s been done to you? Will you merely allow yourself to become a puppet to circumstance or will you rise up and cut the strings?
Most of us were born into a broken culture. That’s the condition we were forced to grow up in. If you’re reading this, then it’s proof that you have at least survived it so far.
As Hemingway reminds us, “The world breaks everyone.” But the question is: what will you do with your brokenness? Now that you’ve survived being broken, what steps will you take to transform that vital information into further resilience and robustness?
The Conditional (knowing the rules):
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” ~ Rumi
Ironically, the secret to discovering that which is unconditional and indestructible within you, is an intimate understanding of the conditional. This requires a barebones intimacy with Universal Law. Indeed. In order to stand, you must have something to stand on. In order to fly, you must have something to fly through.
The condition of the universe is dictated by Universal Law. An intimacy with Universal Law is a deep understanding of what is healthy and what is not. Health is foundational. It’s that which speaks a “language older than words.” It’s the core of Universal Law. Neither the unconditional nor the re-conditional can be self-actualized without basic health as its groundwork.
Walking off cliffs, petting scorpions, and spooning black mambas, are not sound survival strategies. The basics of health are primary survival strategies. One must breathe, one must hydrate, one must find healthy nourishment, or all further bets toward self-improvement are off.
Taken as such, health is objectively valid regardless of subjective opinion. One cannot survive without oxygen. One cannot survive without water. One cannot survive without healthy food. This is regardless of opinion, because if one’s opinion is that one does not need these to survive, then one’s opinion would be invalid according to Universal Law.
Once you’ve adapted to the conditional (Universal Law) in a healthy way, you can begin to explore the unconditional in adventurous ways (independent) so as to become re-conditional in creative ways (interdependent).
The Unconditional (breaking the rules):
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Now that you have a deep understanding of what’s negotiable and what’s not, of what’s in your control and what’s not, you can begin the risky prospect of testing unconditional waters.
Where the conditional waters (like health and gravity) are fixed and not up for debate, the unconditional waters are open and free.
Though there are consequences to everything, most of life is unconditional. You are free to move to a new place. You are free to have multiple lovers. You are free to jump out of airplanes or live on a deserted island. You are free to quit your job and become a circus clown.
The unconditional abounds. As long as the conditional is taken into account, the unconditional is limitless. As long as health is your bedrock, you are free to rock and roll.
You are free to make life a job or a game. You are free to take things too seriously or react to things authentically. You are free to wallow in misery or transform pain into wisdom. You are free to breathe oxygen or cut yourself off. You are free to jump off a cliff or build a bridge. You are free to create and destroy any number of gods. You are free to unconditionally love despite the conditional love of others.
Just remember: the conditional is always there. It doesn’t just go away because you are free. The conditional is not a matter of convenience. It’s a hard truth, a tough instructor. Universal Law is always in the background dictating Truth despite our opinions and in spite of our freedom.
The unconditional waters are yours to play with. Splash around. Make a mess. But there will always be consequences to your freedom. There will always be an upshot to your volition. Some of them will be direct and some of them will be indirect.
But it’s your responsibility alone to own up to them and to self-correct, or your condition will always be one of ill-health no matter how good you get at surfing the waves of the unconditional.
The Re-conditional (creating new rules):
“’Reality’ is just a word and you shouldn’t use it without quotation marks around it anyway.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Between the conditional and the unconditional there is a third thing: the re-conditional. The re-conditional is a creative state of renovation. It’s a state where we overhaul perception and refurbish worldviews. It’s a creative balancing act between that which we can control and that which we cannot. It’s taking limitless advantage of that which limits us.
As Campbell said, “Reality” is just a word. But it’s also just a concept. Both the word and the concept are rooted in our limited and fallible human psychology. The re-conditional strategy is to take the condition of “Reality” as we know it, root out that which is unconditional as we know it, and then re-imagine new ways to update our understanding. This can be applied to all aspects of “Reality.”
We can use the re-conditioning strategy to update almost any precondition. From statist indoctrination to worldly cosmopolitanism. From fear-based perspective to courage-based perspective.
From irrational belief to rational thought. From an unhealthy stagnant lifestyle to a healthy progressive lifestyle. From a fixed and rigid psychology, based on outdated ideals, to an open and flexible psychology, based on updated ideas. From codependence to interdependence.
Reconditioning prior conditioning is a creative approach to proactively adapting and overcoming in the moment. It’s strategic adaptation and improvisation. It’s using the imagination to balance that which cannot be changed (conditional Cosmic Law) with that which can be changed (the unconditional) and then creating new rules from the updated perspective.
These new rules have the power to update our understanding of “Reality,” thus ushering in a healthy and progressive evolution.
Ultimately, the conditional is nonnegotiable, but our reaction to the conditional must always be challenged (reconditioned) lest we fall into the kind of rigid and dogmatic thinking that leads to intellectual and spiritual stagnation and unhealthy devolution.
We must consistently and persistently test our interpretation of the conditional by utilizing our freedom within the unconditional to leverage our imagination with the re-conditional.
With enough practice and discipline the world opens-up, the cosmos expands, the comfort zone stretches beyond what we imagined possible, and an authentic engagement with “Reality” is initiated. A provident interdependence liberates us, despite the ignorant codependence that once contained us.