Ultimate reality, which is unconditioned, is not something that is made or even conceivable. It does not have a beginning or end. What we see before us is ultimate reality that is conditioned like waves of water or a lion made from gold. The world that we were born into, live and work in are like waves. The names and objects (nāma-rūpa) we interact with, including our psychophysical bodies, are also wave-like.
When one investigates the phenomenal world which is never other than conditioned, in an attempt to see ultimate reality, this being our true nature or essence, the habit of looking for this reality is dominated by the assumption that this reality is in someway conditioned.
It is somewhat like believing that we can use a conditioned instrument to help us capture the unconditioned. This is an impossible task. But what happens when before us the conditioned is reduced to zero? It is the same thing when waves have subsided. Only non-wave water remains. This is unconditioned water.
In much the same way, when we use our conditioned, wave-like mind to find the unconditioned, waveless mind we are surely on a fool’s errand. What we have to do is effect a brief, instant collapse of the wave-like mind. As a result, what is revealed is unconditioned mind which I hasten to add, cannot be described or conceived.
What most Zen practitioners these days find impossible to believe is that the wave-like mind that they have had since birth can collapse to zero—be waveless and unconditioned. This resistance to the possibility of mind’s collapse has to be overcome.