It is a cardinal principle of Buddhism, if not somewhat of a hidden principle, that all conditioned things are dependent originations, being manifestations of one fundamental dynamic substance this being Mind. Following this trail, conditioned things include our most intimate, subtle thoughts as well as the entire cosmos. Whatever we perceive in our composite, conditioned bodies is also conditioned. From this we might gather that it is a daunting task to see the unconditioned. It is not some object out there or some inner psychological state such as the smell of roses, sitting in zazen for twenty minutes, or watching the sunset in Sedona Arizona. Far from it.
The "dependent" (pratītya) of dependent origination (origination = samutpāda) is a rather interesting term. According to Edgerton’s Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary, pratītya means dependent on, based on. One eye-opening example he gives is: “on the basis [pratītya] of muñja or valvaja (grass), a rope is produced.” So, in other words, based on hemp, the rope is made, or based on wood the chair is made. Made things are constructions based on other constructed things finally going back to the ultimate which is unmade, unconstructed, and unconditioned.
We might also say that the conditioned world, including our corporeal bodies, is a creation but, ultimately, based on what, we know not, except to guess and say, God made it! The world is certainly not a creation of muñja grass or hemp, not anything we might imagine such as atoms or quarks. With this in mind, before Gautama became a Buddha, fully awakened to what all things are, fundamentally, based upon, he had to get really good at identifying the conditioned so as not to be taken in by it. To find what the conditioned is based upon requires understanding the basis cannot be, itself, conditioned. But this is where everyone sooner or later falls prey to mistaking a conditioned basis for the true unconditioned basis.
In a nutshell, this is what Buddhist education is all about: avoiding mistaking a conditioned awakening for an unconditioned one. This is also the source of great error in Buddhism and how we delude ourselves into believing we've found truth when we have only managed to find another opinion. It's a thorny issue and a contentious one, too. Especially, Western Buddhists or those who claim they practice Zen are in the habit of dumbing down Buddhism, for example, it's all about being aware. This leads us to another problem. Finding teachers who are not themselves deluded. For many Westerners, in their eagerness to wear robes and be thought of as a Zen master, they attach to some institution (certainly conditioned) thus failing to see the unconditioned Mind.