FREE CHOICE ?
One topic that continually arises in our meetings is that of considering the question "Who am I?" or "What am I?" and often the inquiry tends to focus on questioning long held beliefs such as "Am I this body?" or "Am I my thoughts?" or "Am I this role I play in life?" or similar ideas. Some of the more obstinate questions include "Am I the doer of actions?" or "Do I have free choice?" While these questions can be discussed intellectually, their value is best appreciated when they are recognized as tools pointing to unquestioned and habitual beliefs that support our egoic sense of being separate from each other and the rest of reality.
We continue to judge others (and ourselves) within a learned belief system that presumes that individual "free choice" exists and that different (and better) choices might have been made under varying circumstances. The result is often that we praise or blame (ourself or others) for the results of those choices. However, if you fully recognize the illusory nature of "free choice" it becomes clear that our habit of ascribing personal praise or blame is misplaced. One result is that it becomes impossible to harbor resentment toward another individual, no matter what the behavior, and thus even the idea of forgiveness isn't necessary. Another result is that without judgement the heart is more open to compassion.
Sages and spiritual leaders are often providing us with teachings that urge us to discover for ourselves the oneness of life, or reality or God, but they also caution us not to take on their words as new belief systems.I want to share with you some quotes from some of my teachers that have influenced my personal inquiry. See them simply as ideas that may suggest you reconsider your long-standing beliefs, but don't simply accept them as new beliefs. It's often helpful to temporarily suspend any disbelief long enough to deeply consider the advice of recognized sages.
This is your path. You don't have to like it, but you have no choice!
~ Byron Katie
There is never any choice. Choice is based on the idea there is a separate someone who can chose. If I have a look at the most simple action hat appears to have choice involved, it is obvious that there is no question of choice. . . . Whatever I think I decide to do is a thought that simply arises and then falls away. Doing happens or not. . . .The thought "I am doing this" is just a thought that actually has no connection to the action that happens.
What is humility? Perhaps it is the recognition of our ultimate inability to control this moment - our total powerlessness in the face of the unbridled, untamed, raw energy of life itself. There is no protection here - no filter, no boundary, no protective layer between who I am and life itself. This is wild vulnerability... which is also peace beyond understanding.
~ Jeff Foster
Life is totally taking care of everything. Who I am, who everyone is - is life. We can all relax, and let life do all the work.
~ Pamela Wilson
There is no me or you, no seeker, no enlightenment, no disciple and no guru. There is no better or worse, no path, and nothing that has to be achieved. All appearance is source. All that apparently manifests — the world, the life story, the hypnotic dream of separation, the search for home, is the one appearing as two, the nothing appearing as everything, the absolute appearing as the particular. There is no separate intelligence weaving a destiny, and no choice functioning at any level. Nothing is happening, but this, as it is, invites the apparent seeker to rediscover that which already is, the abiding uncaused, unchanging, impersonal silence from which unconditional love overflows and celebrates. It is the wonderful mystery.
~ Tony Parsons
The content of your mind is not your choice.
From the perspective of the infinite it is obvious that the individual self absolutely does not exist. The idea that we have a self that controls. arbitrates, or is the doer behind our actions, is absurd. The individual self is nothing but an idea of who we are. Ideas are ideas - and nothing more.
~ Suzanne Segal
Go into the silence whenever you can. Become silent at every opportunity. Again how do you resolve the problems of your life? By becoming still ! Not by looking for answers. Why? Because all of the answers come from the same source, the ego. It is the ego that prods you onward, and you're allowing it to happen. The choice is always yours. This is the freedom that you've got.To follow your ego or surrender your ego. That's the truth you've got. And life presents to you all kinds of situations. So you can make a choice. The choice you make determines what happens to you. Is anything more important than your salvation?
~ Robert Adams
In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind.
~ Annamalai Swami
We slip into the lives that are laid out for us the way children slip into the clothes their mother lays out for them in the morning. No one decides. We don’t live our lives by choice, but by default.
~ Jed McKenna
Self-Realization or Enlightenment is nothing more than the deepest possible understanding that there is no individual doer of any action - neither you nor anyone else. Also you are not the thinker of any thoughts, nor the experiencer of any experiences - they happen. When IT happens, no bright lights are likely to flash in your head!
~ Ramesh Balsekar
Events happen deeds are done but there is no doer thereof.
Drop the highly revered concept of choice and let it be replaced by recognition the divine order in manifestation. You can effortlessly know the peace of being carried by a natural flow. All unfolds without your help.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
Know that you have no choice. Live as if you do.
Remember that you cannot die. Love as if you will.
~ Jeff Foster
Life is a dance. We are dancing...we are being danced...we twirl and spin and leap and exalt in the sheer joy of this dance. There are no wallflowers here. It is all dance floor. It matters not if we have a partner dancing opposite us. We are joined in the dance by all the other dancers. We are all in this ballroom together, bound by the music and compelled to move to its rhythm. No it is not always graceful. We bump into each other, trip over feet...others and our own. Sometimes we fall. Funny thing about this dance of ours...the harder we try the more clumsy we become. Our grace is in the letting go. When we surrender to the music it is free to move through us unrestricted. Our bodies and minds sway freely, smooth and effortless. It is ecstasy, in its purest, simplest and most mundane form. We are blessed indeed to hear the divine choruses, even though those who hear not the music, think we dancers are mad! May your dance be joyous and effortless!
~ Wayne Liquorman
The essential confusion is between happening and doing. In time, everything is happening. Yet, there is no individual doer doing anything. It is all being done. It is all happening.
~ Wu Hsin
Breathe, live, die... as if you had a choice in the matter but know in your deepest place that your every choice is given and you are powerless to refuse.
~ Wayne Liquorman
You have never "done" anything. Because the mind has conceived itself to be an individual it conceives itself as the "thinker" and also the "actor" or "doer." Yet it is not anyone. The mind is not a thing or an entity but a process, the thinking process. It is simply a process that is happening automatically, in the same way the heart is beating automatically.
~ Galen Sharpe
The appearance of an individual self as a separate entity and as the originator or 'doer' of anything is the primary illusion, the basic 'endarkenment' from which any enlightenment occurs.
~ David Carse
This is what is asked of us, over and over and over, to offer our empty hands. To let the things we are holding so tight just drop. To give it all up, everything, that does not exist in this moment here. All that has happened, that we think we somehow need to do something about, all that we think might happen, or we hope will happen, every sweet dream that we cling to. This is like God's loving strip search, give it all over! Something else wants to live you. And you can feel it.
~ Jeannie Zandi
With His own hand
With the precision and care
No artist ever could.
Think about this for a moment:
I have never heard a bird or the sun
Ever say to God,
'I am sorry'.
There seems to be a great reward
For clear thinking:
All existence is a pawn in the Friend's hands.
Look, one gets wings and gifts to the world
Music each morning;
One turns into such an extraordinary light
He actually becomes sustainer of a whole planet,
One makes a thousand moons go mad with love
And blush all night
When one can surrender the illusion, the crutch, of
Though still live - for the benefit of others -
The highest of moral
People, confused by ego, think they are doers of all kinds of work while it is being done by the energy of nature.
~ Bhagavad Gita
It is extremely important that you become fully aware that you are the witness. For that eliminates the old patterns and the habit of thinking yourself to be the thinker or the doer.
~ Jean Klein
1. In any given situation, do whatever you feel you should do. Whatever you actually do would be based entirely on two factors which God made -- your genes and your conditioning. Therefore, whatever you do would be precisely what God expected you to do. There cannot be any sin for which you need to fear God. 2. Whatever happens after you have done what you felt like doing, would be according to God's Will/Cosmic Law. Whatever happens and the consequences -- for better or worse -- will have to be accepted by you; you have no choices. 3. At any time, do not judge anyone as good or bad, neither yourself nor the other; because no one, neither the sage nor the psychopath, does anything: everything happens according to God's Will/Cosmic Law.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
Humility comes from realizing that God is the Doer, not you. When you see that, how can you be proud of any accomplishment? Think constantly that whatever work you are performing is being done by the Lord through you.
~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Imagining that you are the doer of any action during your day is mistaken identity and an arrogance of the human mind. Mind will claim ownership. Mind will take responsibility. Mind will create expectations. Eventually, all of these ideas will bring suffering. When identification with the one who is doing ceases, life will continue uninhibited by the burden of the personal "I". Do not criticize anyone today as criticism deepens your beliefs in separation. Do not gossip or convey any unnecessary opinion about another. Judging others is a habit that feeds the erroneous perception of individuality. Let today be a day of no self-criticism. Do not replace criticism with arrogance or humility; simply stop criticising yourself in your mind and in how you express yourself. Self-criticism perpetuates the personal "I". Both forgiveness and acceptance lead to the same softening of the personal "I". Bring the idea: "Just accept it as it is," in whatever you can. Flow with what happens and forgive as you go.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
One should not have the idea that one is the doer. The activities will still go on. That force, by whatever name you call it, which brought the body into existence will see to it that the activities which this body is meant to go through are brought about.
~ Ramana Maharshi
You are not your body.
Your body is not you.
You are not the doer.
You are not the enjoyer.
You are pure awareness,
The witness of all things.
You are without expectation,
Wherever you go,
Desire and aversion are of the mind.
The mind is never yours.
You are free of its turmoil.
You are awareness itself,
Wherever you go,
The Self is in all beings,
And all beings are in the Self.
Know you are free,
Free of "I,"
Free of "mine."
~ Ashtavakra Gita (translator unknown)
On the Question of Choice and Spiritual Seeking
Do take this question of choice seriously for one moment. Simply look. What thought is going to arise next? Can awareness know what thought is going to appear before it appears? No, it cannot. Therefore, there is no choice or control. Thinking merely happens. The end of thought cannot be found through thought. The end of seeking cannot be found through seeking.
In the story of you, you believe you are going somewhere, to some future moment of awakening. But you are not going anywhere. More precisely, there is no "you" to go anywhere. There is only thought happening. That thought paints a picture of past that you call, "Who you are." It paints a picture of future that you call, "Who you are going to become." But you are not thought. You are not the past or the future. Because you are not thought, you cannot find yourself through seeking, which is a dream of thought.
In seeing that the spiritual search is happening all on its own, there is the possibility that awareness will start to see it for what it really is -- a dream of thought. When awareness sees the dream of thought known as "you and your spiritual search" and sees that it is happening spontaneously and involuntarily, all of the mental and emotional effort drops out of the search. There is a natural resting into what is.
~ Scott Kiloby, From his book Reflections of the One Life