Choice

Choices by Mafo Souza
Choices by Mafo Souza

One of the curious aspects of being human is the sense of free will. This sense varies over a large range, depending on our life experiences and stage of development. But there is always some value of choice.

Higher beings live a life in service to the whole and can easily fulfill desires. Choice isn’t prominent then. Animals experience life more instinctively so again, choice isn’t prominent.

Humans sit in a range that can vary quite a bit. Some experience little choice and may feel life is fated or even feel trapped. Others celebrate their self-determination or get overwhelmed by choices. And others sit somewhere in the middle, sometimes feeling choice, other times obligation.

This range of experience is only perceptual, based on how in control or self-determined we feel.

Fascinating though; this perception of choice allows us to evolve more quickly. We can choose to step up our game, adopt better practices, and so on. But it also allows us to fall further. Movies like Star Wars illustrate this.

Sometimes, a sense of choice is a detriment. For example, if we’re trying to establish a new habit like regular exercise, we want to reinforce automatic routine. We want to shift from the conscious choosing mind to the subconscious automatic habit-mind. We need to take choice out of the equation. Otherwise we can choose not to and break the developing habit. Just do it, don’t think about it.

The subconscious habit mind runs programs and is much faster. It’s good to place as much as we can of our daily routine into habits so it’s automated (assuming we’re culturing good habits). This frees up the slower conscious mind for more important tasks.

If we don’t, we’ll spend the day making the same decisions over and over. And if more challenging circumstances arise, we fall into overwhelm.

Yet the ego likes to feel in control. It wants to have a choice and can balk if it feels constrained. But is feeling in control because of choice? Or a story we’re telling ourselves that actually constrains us? Without those stories, we gain freedom from restriction.

If we have a taste of the witness or observer consciousness, we experience a detachment from the body-mind and their actions. Then we notice that the ego had been claiming doership after the fact. The impulse arose, and we acted. Meanwhile the ego tells the mind “I did that.” Much of it was just a story.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have choice. Only that the ego’s is claiming a much larger territory than it has. It tries to give an illusion of being in charge so we’re kept under its thumb. Once we see through this delusion, its game is soon over.

True choice is cosmic. It is the flow of our attention, imbibed with intelligence, guiding us through life. From ourselves to ourselves.

The subconscious habits turn out to be our support team of devata or subtle beings who create the appearance of the world and our life. They support our vehicle for experience in the world and the unfolding of our life. We can support them with our attention and gratitude. That will improve their ability to support us and we’ll all have a much smoother and happier time of it.

We discover that what sets things in motion and what chooses are the same thing, our cosmic nature. Overlaid on that is the dynamics of action, playing in its own field. We operate on all levels. It is only for us to clear the fog and shadows so we can see what is unfolding and align ourselves with our deeper nature.
Davidya

Average rating 4.9 / 5. Vote count: 20

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

20 Comments

  1. George Robinson

    Frozen, La Brea-like, in the depths of the mind-body identification tar pit, I feel wholly unqualified to rate any post from anyone living “the full value of life.” For me to vote a star value to any of your posts is an exercise in raucous hilarity directed toward my own, stupid little constrained dull existence. All your posts are 5’s for me, D! Every single one. I’m just unspeakably grateful that I have a place to go where I’m understood and guided along. You and LuciaLorn provide that, and so, namah, namah, namah.

    1. Hi George
      Namaste!
      I am certainly living a fuller life than I used to be, but it’s all relative. There is still work needed here. I used to sometimes sign notes to a former girlfriend “JAG” for “Just a guy.” That’s who a relationship is with.
      .
      Sure, there is some insights and support for expressing them. But there is also a person living a life here, working to lose some weight, clear more baggage, and live life as usual.
      .
      I am interested in feedback on how the articles are for you. Comments are great but I know not everyone has words come easily. Whatever feels comfortable.
      .
      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. James

    It is often said in non-dual circles that awareness is choiceless. This is true of pure awareness. But when awareness is “stepped down” in the context of the body-mind, then choice indeed comes into play. In other words, choice is a function of awareness in the circumstance of the body-mind.

    1. Hi James
      Yes, in pure awareness we are just aware. There is no qualifications or impulse and thus no idea of choice.
      .
      And yes, when awareness diversifies into experiences, polarities arise which lead to choice. However, I would say choice is also happening on more subtle levels than a human body-mind. As I mention in the article, it’s less dominant but I would not say absent.
      .
      Also, there is a level of choice that happens prior to consciousness arising. Before pure awareness. This quality of grace that “chooses” when its time for this or that jiva to wake up, for example. This isn’t choice in a way we might usually think of it, but there is a quality of intelligence and discrimination in play. 🙂

  3. This topic has always fascinated me.
    .
    “ If we have a taste of the witness or observer consciousness, we experience a detachment from the body-mind and their actions.”
    .
    Thus choice is also witnessed as life seems to flow seamlessly. But at other times it seems effort is required.
    .
    “ “No one succeeds without effort… Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.” – Ramana Maharshi“
    .
    Can you put Ramana’s quote in context?
    .

    1. Yes, Ron. There are some curious paradoxes around this.
      .
      Part of the learning is how to detach ourselves from all the ego entanglements so we can awaken to our true nature.
      .
      But part of the learning is also about how to be in the world in more effective ways. We cannot expect results without action. The results of today come from prior actions. The results tomorrow come from today.
      .
      What this comes down to is there is a part of ourselves that is cosmic, beyond action. And there is a part of ourselves that is in the field of action. We want the first to be liberated from entanglements with action while at the same time we immerse ourselves in action.
      .
      Action helps ground the liberation and liberation helps free the action and the results.
      .
      You may enjoy this article:
      https://davidya.ca/2008/07/29/all-arises-from-self-effort/

  4. John

    I am woefully unqualified to comment here, given the level of awakening that you and some of your commenters enjoy. However, compelled to learn, I’ll wade in nevertheless. It seems that claiming any thought, action, perception – anything, really – for one’s self as a “person” (in the ordinary sense of the word) is impossible. Any action can only be noted after the fact. There is nothing to “claim” at that point. In the phenomenal, time is a factor, no?

    1. Hi John
      We’re all just stumbling towards ecstasy. 🙂 See my comment to George above. This isn’t an exclusive club and we all have things to learn and share. No one is better than anyone else. We’re all in this together.
      .
      I would not say its impossible – the identified ego does it all the time. But yes, it is delusional.
      .
      It’s somewhat like the world appearance. It’s not good to assume the world is just as it is to our senses and consider that reality. But nor is good to see it as pure illusion. It’s more the world is there but not how it seems at first. When we see the bigger picture, we can enjoy it more fully.
      .
      In a similar way, the ego claiming Mine and I Did This helps itself but doesn’t help us. When we fall back into our universal Self, we get a bigger picture and put things in a more helpful perspective.
      .
      In that sense, the ego isn’t bad. It’s just taken over by default until we discover our deeper nature. We need it as a stop-gap. But it makes a poor master.
      .
      Once we’re in a witness mode and have a bit of refinement, we can notice the action as it first arises. Then we see it’s source. It could be purification, reactivity, consciousness, even an impulse from the Divine. Nothing to do with a me though. 🙂
      .
      Time is a function of the process of experience. When we change our relationship with that, our experience of time changes. But yes, we’re designed to bring out all the detail, so we generally experience a sequence of events and sequential time.
      .
      That got a little wordy. (laughs)

      1. John

        Thank you, David! Most helpful! There is a sense of witnessing here in that, thoughts, feelings, events etc are recognized as kinetic and temporary and “in time”, but viewed from stillness as in (cliche alert) watching objects on a river float by from its banks or clouds in an open sky etc. I see what you mean when you say that we are in stillness (or we are stillness) and also in the phenomenal world and that it’s ok, even vital, to recognize that duality. Very clear and helpful. Thanks! Still working on this, obviously 🙂 .
        I thrill at the idea of choice prior to the arising of Conciousness! This must be Grace… Thanks again…

        1. You’re welcome, John. You may want to read my reply to Ron above also.
          .
          As each shift unfolds there is a new discovery about who we are. But there is also a new learning about how we are in the world. From a detached place, it’s easy to dismiss the world as “illusion.” And yet we have a body and live in this place.
          .
          With the Unity shift, that duality collapses into one. But still, there is the application of that in the world of diversity.

  5. Vivi C

    The below quote from this article has given consciousness here to unbind deep subtle concepts that were unseen, now living through allowing being to flow more freely ..thank you brother… appreciate this

    ‘Sometimes, a sense of choice is a detriment. For example, if we’re trying to establish a new habit like regular exercise, we want to reinforce automatic routine. We want to shift from the conscious choosing mind to the subconscious automatic habit-mind. We need to take choice out of the equation. Otherwise we can choose not to and break the developing habit. Just do it, don’t think about it.

    The subconscious habit mind runs programs and is much faster. It’s good to place as much as we can of our daily routine into habits so it’s automated (assuming we’re culturing good habits). This frees up the slower conscious mind for more important tasks.’

  6. David,

    You are familiar with the Hindu concept of ‘maya.’
    .
    Many people, including some Hindus, think that it means this life is an illusion. A more correct understanding is it is our attachment to it.
    .
    Many mystics view this life as theater. Following divine law we must perform according to our script, but only to please the divine, the producer and director, not for the applause of the audience or the praise of fellow actors. People usually act to achieve personal benefits and believe their characters and the play are reality. Our ultimate goal is to be aware of universal Reality as the true stage of life, released from attachment to our fictitious human roles.

    1. Very much, Ron
      Here’s a recent article on the topic:
      https://davidya.ca/2019/04/26/the-maaya-of-maya/
      .
      I use Shankara’s take, that maya is the world appearance. Depending on your dominant guna, the world may seem solid and real, an illusion, or lila, the Divine play. Essentially, it’s an appearance to allow us to have experiences and unfold the nuances of consciousness.
      .
      Our attachment to the appearance is a related but somewhat different thing. Asmita is the possessive my sense and Ahamkara is the I-sense. I explored those here:
      https://davidya.ca/2019/12/22/what-awakens/
      .
      Yes, the lila or divine play is a way of experiencing it. However, i would take the goal higher. You can recognize you are the producer and director also, not just the actor on the stage. You are also the stage, and the building, and the entire thing. 🙂
      .
      But yes, stepping out of the attachments to roles is what helps the above unfold.

  7. Jim

    “True choice is cosmic. It is the flow of our attention, imbibed with intelligence, guiding us through life. From ourselves to ourselves.”
    *
    Thank you – “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” 🙂

  8. Gina L WESTBROOK

    What is the ‘subconscious mind’? And doesn’t it fall away in the awakened? I mean if the body-mind no longer dominates, isn’t a Totality available so that no underlying motives are hidden?

    1. Hi Gina
      It’s a Western term that has some varied definitions. It is true that a great deal of what is repressed or unresolved is “subconscious” or background. (I explored that here:
      https://davidya.ca/2019/11/09/what-is-mind-2/ )
      .
      We’re not really aware of it and yet it continues to influence us. We might also include learned roles, stories and self-concepts in our definition.
      .
      The mind also uses this to filter our current incoming experiences as there is vastly more data coming in than we can process. It decides what we want to pay attention to or be conscious of.
      .
      But all of this is dynamics of mind. Awakening is consciousness waking up to itself. This is on a completely different level. It does bring greater clarity and helps heal what is unresolved. But it doesn’t inherently deal with all that.
      .
      This is part of why spiritual practices are valuable. But we also need the understanding to support this process.
      .
      In the current time, it’s more than possible to be awake yet be unwilling to look at our shadows (subconscious). And even if we are willing, most of us still have lots to work on.
      .
      If awakening were a magic bullet, we wouldn’t see all the issues with spiritual teachers going off the rails.
      .
      Totality develops post-Brahman. Not everyone gets there. Rising sattva is a quality mainly of the refined stages. Many develop little there, depending on history and practices. But in any case, we remain human and have our blind spots. This is why I sometimes harp on recognizing that so we’re not blind to our blindness.
      https://davidya.ca/2019/04/22/the-humanity-of-a-teacher/
      .
      Enlightenment isn’t perfection, at least not in a human form in the current time. It’s a lovely upgrade but we remain human.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *