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There is a wonderful version of an old Sufi teaching story that addresses the state of illusion that most people are living in. One night at three in the morning, a drunk walks out of a bar. There is virtually no traffic in any of the four lanes of the highway right in front of the bar, just wide-open spaces leading in either direction. The man is so inebriated and dull from his evening of drink that, even though he has four wide open lanes choose from, he bumps into the single stop sign at the entrance to the freeway. In his drunken state he walks straight into the one obstacle that is in his way - in the vast expanse of possible space he finds the thin bar that supports the stop sign and bangs his head right into it. He stuns himself, backs up, shakes his head and then takes another run for it and once again bangs right into the signpost. This happens five or six times and after the final collision, in great despair, he grabs onto the stop sign and screams into the darkness of the night, "It's no use! I give up! I am surrounded!"

The bottom line of all paths of awareness and spiritual growth is to dedicate yourself to "waking up" from the conditioning that you have been getting since you arrived on the planet. This conditioning has happened on some basic levels and is very, very strong. From the moment a child is born, we begin to feed it information. Most of it is craziness. We feed it fear-based information about food, sex, money and relationships. Think about it for just a moment. Think about the information that we give to children. Is it any wonder that the 'computer system' ends up with the program that it is in constant danger and believes it has to continually fight to survive?

If you begin to be more honest and curious about yourself, you will notice that much of how you see yourself and the world is nothing other than what someone else told you. You have not really tried to find out very much for yourself. You are locked in the prison of your conditioning; you are trapped by these beliefs but will cling to them like the drunk to the stop sign.

During the course of your life you have constructed a personality or an identity out of this jumbled morass of mis-information. Fortunately, this construction is only covering, but has not destroyed, who YOU are underneath it all. To come out from under this conditioning, consider the possibility that YOU are not in danger (at least not the danger that you think you are!). If YOU do get into real danger, YOU will respond appropriately. YOU don't have to live in such a state of alert. If you can drop your conditioned beliefs about yourself and the world, then you can live in awareness rather than anxiety. If you start telling and living your truth, it will set you free.

What goes hand in hand with freedom is responsibility, which is neither duty nor obligation. Responsibility just means that you have an ability to respond - you have the ability to respond differently than your conditioning dictates. As you read this article, your conditioning is going to try and link these words back into what you already know. That is the function of the conditioned mind. It gathers new information and fits it into the original context of understanding. This mind can only re-create what it already knows. It is a very sophisticated computer that has been mis-loaded with all kinds of damaged software programs. It is taking new experiences and information and it is trying to place everything into its existing grid, trying to keep you safe. From this, it creates a "reality". Basically what you are doing is creating futures out of pasts and very seldom do you experience anything new. The conditioned mind can't do it. It is terrified of the unknown and, in its current state, is incapable of being in the present.

Now, the mind can do many things, and when we begin to access another kind of intelligence, the mind can resume its proper function. The other kind of intelligence is not about creating realities out of past experiences. It is about becoming aware of exactly what is happening in any given moment and allowing yourself to simply respond. It's not about how you think it is going to be, or thought it was going to be, or were told it was going to be. What we are talking about is getting clear enough so that you actually see what is going on, without the normal filters you have to protect you from your experience. Try entering each moment without any conditions. This requires courage, but remember, you are not the machine you have been conditioned to be. You are much, much more.