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  • Writer's picturePoetic PIXELS

Slave to My Conditioning

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Lets talk about conditioning. Traditions, culture, religion or habits, anything that is preached generation after generation with nobody opposing or questioning before adopting are a great hindrance to developing a critical thinking or a free thinking society. To better understand social conditioning, lets go back and check what happened to us when were children and embark upon to see how inefficient our overall development is.

As children, we were influenced by two sets of people- family (parents) and teachers. Though we spent most of the time in school, we were more subjective to our parents. Do you remember the time when your parents taught you to behave while you are at a relative’s place? Or the time when you were reprimanded for crying in the shop for a toy? Though they look like regular etiquettes being preached to us, these are typical examples of social conditioning. This taught us to display an acceptable behaviour in front of others.

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The basic inputs that are to be put in childhood are deprived due to social conditioning, such as the aptitude to appreciate art. To make them believe that poetry, painting and cinema aren’t productive career choices and will reduce one to poverty if luck does not favour. Due to the conditioning administered, there may be many such artists in children who never realised their worth or developed on their ability. Religions forbidding movies, for whatever ethical reasons, may actually chain the imagination of a child.

It is not only the thought process but children also inherit a few unnecessary fears. Mainly, it makes them conscious all the time about what the society thinks about them. This is a great impediment in developing a high self-esteem and also decision making without looking for others’ approval. When we grow up to be adults, subconsciously we might be struggling half the time to impress people and wait for others to validate us.

A dangerous spin-off brought about by social conditioning of children is when they develop cognitive biases as adults. Wikipedia says there are many types of cognitive biases. These are built up due to creating one’s own ‘subjective social reality’. These biases effect decision making, illusionary correlations between things which are mostly illogical. They tend to ignore key information which involves in making judgement and rather give weight to unimportant details. This is how critical thinking suffers a setback. After years of such brainwash, how do you comprehend an argument put forward by others or appreciate others’ thoughts? We become intolerant and ignorant.

It is now apparently visible that social conditioning puts a curb on our free thinking. The wit and intelligence in people to question the logic behind traditions or culture is suppressed under the cover of social acceptance and respectability possibly because there is no explanation to them but for the fear of being rejected by others.

Are you aware that you are conditioned? That is the first thing to ask yourself, not how to be free of your conditioning. You may never be free of it, and if you say, `I must be free of it', you may fall into another trap of another form of conditioning. So are you aware that you are conditioned? How do you know you are conditioned? What tells you? What tells you you are hungry? - not as a theory but the actual fact of hunger? In the same way, how do you discover the actual fact that you are conditioned? Isn't it by your reaction to a problem, a challenge? You respond to every challenge according to your conditioning and your conditioning being inadequate will always react inadequately.

You will be able to see for yourself how you are conditioned only when there is a conflict in the continuity of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. If everything is perfectly happy around you, your wife loves you, you love her, you have a nice house, nice children and plenty of money, then you are not aware of your conditioning at all. But when there is a disturbance - when your wife looks at someone else or you lose your money or are threatened with war or any other pain or anxiety - then you know you are conditioned. When you struggle against any kind of disturbance or defend yourself against any outer or inner threat, then you know you are conditioned. And as most of us are disturbed most of the time, either superficially or deeply, that very disturbance indicates that we are conditioned. So long as the animal is petted he reacts nicely, but the moment he is antagonized the whole violence of his nature comes out.

When you become aware of it, does this conditioning of race, religion and culture bring a sense of imprisonment? Take only one form of conditioning, nationality, become seriously, completely aware of it and see whether you enjoy it or rebel against it, and if you rebel against it, whether you want to break through all conditioning. If you are satisfied with your conditioning you will obviously do nothing about it

Why, then, if you see the danger of your conditioning, don't you act? Is it because you are lazy, laziness being lack of energy? You will not lack energy if you see an immediate physical danger like a snake in your path, or a precipice, or a fire. Why, then, don't you act when you see the danger of your conditioning? If you saw the danger of nationalism to your

own security, wouldn't you act? The answer is you don't see. Through an intellectual process of analysis you may see that nationalism leads to self-destruction but there is no emotional content in that. Only when there is an emotional content do you become vital.

If you see the danger of your conditioning merely as an intellectual concept, you will never do anything about it. In seeing a danger abstractly there is conflict between the idea and action and that conflict takes away your energy. It is only when you see the conditioning and the danger of it immediately, and as you would see a precipice, that you act. So seeing is acting.

Most of us walk through life inattentively, reacting unthinkingly according to the environment in which we have been brought up, and such reactions create only further bondage, further conditioning, but the moment you give your total attention to your conditioning you will see that you are free from the past completely, that it falls away from you naturally.


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