It is not easy for Buddhists to understand that Buddhism always assumes “unrealized unconditionedness” which is another way to describe avidya (ignorance). Said again, Buddhism assumes that, intrinsically, we have the seed or garbha of the unconditioned already within us but we are unable to awaken to its presence within us. Instead, we are mired in the conditioned world including our bodies and thoughts. It is only when our conditioned thoughts are stopped for even a split second does our native unconditioness recognize itself. This is proper awakening. This is what I have called a return-to-self.
Let me try to make it clearer. We have to totally drop all possible forms of the conditioned, especially, our conditioned mind/thoughts. There is no other way to awaken. Moral behavior will certainly not accomplish this. Yes, it helps. But acting according to certain social standards and expectations is not the same as directly seeing, face to face, our intrinsic unconditionedness. Far from it. Resting Buddhism on moral behavior is a huge mistake. It is really a failure to understand what is the primary teaching of Buddhism. Such a failure undermines Buddhism. It’s proponents are actually working counter to removing the veil of conditionality.
The modern depiction of Buddhism is more like something Hollywood might create which would ignore awakening to our unconditioned Buddha-nature. It could not portray the inward journey except superficially and that is not good enough. As crazy as it sounds modernity has made our spiritual ear almost unable to hear the Buddha’s real message.