“Freedom is precisely the state of not having to choose.” ~ J. Krishnamurti
‘I am a person who can choose’ – the root of all confusion!
‘I choose’ is a good story, spun by a storyteller who creates himself in choosing himself.
In reality, what happens, happens. The story of choice is simply an interpretive overlay, a narrative superimposed onto what happens.
Imagine you are walking down the street. You come to a junction, and then you can, apparently, choose to go left or right.
You go left, and you tell the story: ‘I made the choice to go left.’
Now, replay the same scene but without the soundtrack of thought, without the story of choice, without the ‘I’m choosing! I’m choosing! I’m choosing’ monologue. What do you see?
You see a body moving down the street, and going left. You see legs moving, legs that have no idea that they are going left. They just move, without a concept.
‘I made the choice to go left’ is just a story, told in hindsight, after the fact, and is identical to the story ‘I could have chosen to go right.’
But is that really true? Could you have chosen to go right?
Going left happened. That’s all you can know. Going right was not a possibility: it didn’t happen. It only appeared to be a possibility within your dream.
The only possibility is what actually happens.
But this is not a predestined universe, because that would imply an entity ‘behind the scenes’, something beyond the appearance that is controlling the appearance in some way.
However, there is only the appearance, and anything ‘beyond’ the appearance is just part of the same appearance.
That which is beyond life, is life.
Beyond choice or lack of it, there is just the awesome simplicity of what is. What a relief it is, to see that you are always free from choice… and lack of choice! Whatever happens, happens. Whatever will happen, will happen. Whatever has happened, couldn’t have happened any other way.
‘It could have happened differently’ is a story, an illusion. It is the root of guilt, regret, suffering.
Life happens, and we have no control at all. It seems as though we do, at times, but ultimately we don’t. Illness and old age show us this: we simply wouldn’t choose to get old and get ill and die, if we had the choice!
And even if you believe in personal choice and free will, you must admit that ultimately we have no control over the consequences of the apparent choices we make. Even when we make what we think are the correct choices, things still don’t always go according to plan.
As the old Yiddish proverb goes, ‘Man plans, and God laughs.’
You can apparently choose to go and make a cup of tea right now, but where did the idea to make a cup of tea come from? If you trace it back, right back, you will find that at some point the idea just ‘popped’ into your head. Who is responsible for that ‘popping’? Did you make the ‘popping’ happen? Did you choose it into existence? Or did it just ‘pop’ in by itself?
How wonderful: life plays out, presently, and everything happens exactly as it should, when it should, just like in a perfectly choreographed play. What freedom in that!
The idea of choice implies that there is an individual who is separate from life, who somehow creates his own life in choosing it. What violence! How could I ever separate myself from this? Who am I, to claim that I have power over this? What arrogance, to think that I can control life!
Yet how wonderful, how exciting, to believe in choice, to believe that I am an individual who can change the world, who can make things happen, for myself and for others!
So let’s not deny apparent choice! It can be fun, to play at choosing to make a cup of tea, or choosing go for a walk in the park, or choosing to try and change the world. The world is nothing but a play of apparent choices! When it’s all seen as a play, you play along. What else is there to do?
Did you choose to read this article?
Did you choose to move your eyes over these words?
Or is reading simply happening? Are the eyes simply moving by themselves?
Yes, the thought ‘I chose to read this article’ may arise.
But to whom does this thought arise?
And did you choose to have that thought?
Can you choose to think or not think about this?
~ From: The Wonder of Being: Awakening to an Intimacy Beyond Words, by Jeff Foster