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Choice

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Choice

Choosing that the Truth is Important to You

Material needs do need to be satisfied to some extent, because we need to survive, we need to have some kind of comfort in our life so that we can discover what true life is. Life is for realization, not the other way around. We don’t have spiritual realization so that we can have better relationships or better jobs. We don’t have spiritual realization so that we will have more or better friends, or be more successful in life. Spiritual realization is something deeper, and what Christ is saying is that if we want to follow him, it should be the center of our life. And those things—the instincts, the instinctual self—must follow the truth. To sacrifice one’s life, to carry the cross, means that if it happens that your sexual, social, or preservation needs seem to be in conflict with the truth, or in competition with it, the choice should be obvious: You must abandon those needs, not just once in a while, but with consistency, daily, always. This is what true renunciation means. You do not give up the self so that you will become saintly, or so you will become good, or so that God will reward you. You will probably not be canonized. It’s more that you are choosing that the truth is important to you, that reality is important to you, that the essential life is important to you, that God is important for you. You are making a choice and doing the practical things to support that choice. It’s as simple as that.

Leaving Ourselves No Choice but to Live in this Limited Realm

The more fixed and rigid a concept is, the farther away it is from the living experience. Rigid concepts limit our inner experience, make our inner world smaller and smaller. They make our world in general smaller and more restricted. We are controlled by prejudices that we feel we need to uphold and fight for. Until we question, analyze, and reassess the concepts we use to express ourselves, we are restricted to only one set of interpretations for our experiences. Whether they accord with the reality of what is happening or bring us unnecessary pain, we leave ourselves no choice but to live in this limited realm. This means to keep living in a world that is a creation of our own mind. Even if our mental world is lonely, and we gain little pleasure from our experiences, our thoughts are familiar and give us an illusion of security and control that binds us to them. We may see no alternative to this way of understanding ourselves and our world . . . . . . because we believe it’s reality. How can we think of an alternative? Even if we think of and long for freedom, we think of freedom within that world.

One Never has a Choice About Emotional States that Arise, Whether they are Appropriate or Not

Not only one’s perception but of course one’s emotional responses and behavior as well are determined by the self-image a person is identifying with. For instance, to the same situation one individual might respond with fear, another with anger, another with apathy, with corresponding behaviors. Very often the behaviors are stylized and obviously automatic; in any case one never has a choice about emotional states that arise, whether they are appropriate or not. This automaticity of response is much greater than either normal subjective experience or modern psychological theory acknowledges. It is in the nature of mind to be in a constant state of reactivity; and here we do not simply mean what is implied in the usual sense of the word. We mean something more fundamental: that the individual is always reacting with certain very limited patterns of emotion and behavior which reflect the self-image he is identifying with, and that this self-image is itself a reaction, in two senses: first, that the specific self-image that is operating is automatically elicited by the situation, and second, that the self-image is itself a construction made up of reactions to past events from early childhood. This self-image is thus never a spontaneous response or a free choice, but is always a compulsive reaction.

One of the Principles of Ego is that You Have a Separate Will and that You Have a Choice

By pitting yourself against what is, you are acting according to the delusion that you have a separate will and that you can have your own way, different from what is happening. This is one of the principles of ego: that you have a separate will and that you have choice. Even when you believe that you are helpless and can’t do things, there is the implicit belief that if it weren’t for your helplessness, you could have your own way. From this egoic perspective, it seems obvious that you need to tinker with things, both inwardly and outwardly. This manifests externally as manipulating other people to make them conform to how you think they need to be for you, and internally as constantly evaluating your experience to see whether it is “right” or not, and trying to change it if it doesn’t match your ideas of how you think it should be. “What state am I in? Oh, no! I’m being reactive—that’s no good—I should be just being. Now I’m being. Good, good. I should stabilize that,” and so on, as if it were up to you to make your state become this or that. If you contemplate your experience, you will see this constant activity. The moment you are identified with your ego, you are involved in this activity of trying to make yourself feel better, and not scared or unhappy or empty. All ego defenses are based on this principle of changing your experience to make it conform to how you think it should be. So there is a constant inner manipulation going on, expressing the delusion that you have a separate will and that you can have things your way, which is
separating from Holy Will. You have lost your freedom, since true freedom means freedom from the content of what you are experiencing.

Facets of Unity, pg. 129

One Thing We can Learn From True Nature is to Have no Preference, No Choice

The way True Nature approaches all questions is by being open with full awareness and understanding of the particular reality that a person is operating in. For example, if a person embraces reality as nondual, as having no separating boundaries, True Nature is very open to that and will respond accordingly. Whatever beliefs, assumptions, and limitations a person has, True Nature is open to see those without trying to change them. If an experience is limited, True Nature sees it in its limitation and doesn’t try to make it be different. True Nature really has no preferences. So, one thing we can learn from True Nature is to have no preference, no choice; we don’t need to choose what to experience. Our experience always simply happens. If we try to choose and say, “This is good, this is bad, this situation should include this and not that,” we are already separating ourselves from True Nature; we are already not practicing. True Nature shows us that to be where we are means having an awareness that embraces whatever is—whatever our perceptions are, at whatever level, in whatever condition or state we are in. That awareness embraces our experience completely, with immediate feeling, with as much understanding as possible. The awareness contacts the experience, holds it, embraces it—just by being there, by being with it, in it, around it.

Seeing that the Spiritual Journey Need not be a Choice Between Various Parts of Ourselves

One of the main tenets of the tantric approach as it is taught in our work is to feel whatever we are feeling in any given moment. It is not necessary to either act a feeling out or suppress it. We don’t try to change either our feelings or ourselves; instead, we let the energy change us. Not acting out an emotion will eventually lead to the pure energy within it. And understanding the charge that we carry about the feeling will allow the energy to be cleansed of the fixed content of the charged emotion from the past, leaving it pure and clean, simply itself. This energy opens us to the realm of Being where we experience the essence of our being as flowing, dynamic, alive, intelligent presence. Frequently, the liberated energy opens up to a dimension of experience where the explosive and dazzling pulsing thrill becomes foreground, manifesting as the fully alive energy of spirit and life. In this process, we see that the spiritual journey need not be a choice between the various parts of ourselves but, rather, through embracing the totality of our experience, the realization of a personal life of nonattachment without renunciation. Nothing has to be excluded. Then we can know ourselves as our unencumbered essence while enjoying a life of fulfillment.

Soul’s Recognition that Her Unfoldment is Not Her Personal Choice

The soul feels any sense of movement away from total intimacy with the absolute mystery to be an intolerable loss. However, regardless of her resistance and protest, it finally dawns on her that she cannot stay where she is, and that it is not up to her personal choice. At some point she recognizes that her unfoldment is taking her to a place different than the transcendent absolute ipseity. She might feel the arising of a great sadness, tremendous grief. It may take her a long time before she realizes that there is no loss of the total intimacy with the absolute, that she does not have to actually leave her home to go on to these further stations. As she surrenders to the dynamism of Being, and ceases to hold on to her realization of the absolute ipseity, she recognizes and surrenders her attachment to the absolute realization. In this process she discovers that while it is true that she is on a journey of descent from the heights of transcendence, this journey is not a separation from the absolute. The descent is a descent into limitation, but it is the descent not of her individual sense of herself, but the descent of the ipseity itself. In other words, she descends into the limitations of the world not as a soul entity, but as the absolute mystery itself.

The Universal Logos is the Force that Guides Our Destiny

Another way of stating this is that one must be sensitive to the direction and promptings that the universal logos is unfolding within one’s experience. It is the universal logos that unfolds our experience, and if we listen to its guidance and intimations we may discern which way it is taking us. In other words, the universal logos is the force that directs our destiny, including which path to follow. We need to discover the direction its optimizing intelligence wants to take us, which is the same as finding and following our destiny. The path we follow is, in some very deep way, not a personal choice, but a destiny. That is why a genuine teacher does not recruit or try to enlist students, but simply follows the unfolding of the logos, accepting what it does in terms of which students to bring into the teaching and which it sends away.

There is no Way Around the Step of Preferring the Truth Over Other Things

So loving the truth for its own sake confronts us at some point with a choice between truth and our other loves. There is no way around the step of preferring the truth over other things. If our heart is going to move toward what it really loves—the truth for its own sake—the heart will need to see that all these other loves are not as important as the truth. That has to happen if the truth is going to continue emerging. Of course, you can’t force yourself. You can’t punish yourself for loving the movies better than the truth. If you see that this is the case, you need to acknowledge it, for that’s the truth of your situation. You can’t say, “No, that shouldn’t be true. Let me change it.” That again is fighting the truth. We need to look at the truth and understand it. Your understanding might reveal to you what your preference is really about. That will orient your heart in the right direction. It’s a process through which love of the truth will eventually reveal itself as the first priority.

We Lose Everything We Have and Gain Everything there Is

But in the course of our realization, we always face the fear of loss. You feel, “I am going to lose myself. I am going to lose my boundaries. I am going to be eaten up.” But that’s like saying that the hand is going to eat up the finger. What do we lose, actually? You lose certain beliefs that make you smaller, less than who you are. As the belief in separateness dissolves, you don’t lose the finger but gain the whole hand. You don’t lose your body but gain the whole universe. By letting go of the notion that your body contains a separate individual, you become the totality of the universe, which includes your body. No loss at all. There is only gain in going from ego to cosmic. We imagine that letting go means losing. We feel that everything we’ve accomplished, everything we possess, all our relationships, all our knowledge, will be gone. But despite this fear, when we understand the truth of our condition, we have no choice but to let go. Although we expect a certain kind of death, our transformation reveals a bigger, more universal life. Nothing is actually being overwhelmed; awareness simply expands. We lose everything we have and gain everything there is. What you think you have is nothing, a droplet, an atom of the universe. That’s what you lose. What you gain is the totality, not of this universe, but of all the universes that can exist. You become the totality of everything. You realize that totality is you. Sometimes you become an individual and walk around as a person, but you are the whole thing all the time.

You, the Separate Individual, have No Choice About what Happens

The moment you say that you don’t like this or that, you separate yourself from, and set yourself in opposition to, the universe. This is the beginning of the fixation associated with ennea-type Two. However, when there is no opposition to what is, there is surrender to the Holy Will, which is freedom. Buddhism and Taoism have the perspective that freedom is choicelessness, which is the realization that there is no choice. You, the separate individual,
have no choice about what happens. Even the choice to surrender indicates that there is still a trace of separateness, because even surrender is the action of Holy Will. It is not your action; it is divine intervention—meaning that whatever happens to you at any moment is not your doing. When you experience yourself as a separate self, you experience yourself as doing, as functioning. The moment you transcend this perspective, you realize that all this time you thought you were making things happen, while in reality, things were being done.

Facets of Unity, pg. 120

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