There Are No Choices. There Is Only Doing.

Choices

Image by PixxlTeufel from Pixabay

The duality of the mind imagines that there are choices to be made between two or more options. Since the mind likes to believe it is always the one in control, it will tell us we can choose this or that or go here or there. But is this really what is happening in our experience?

We usually think of our lives as if they are a linear-existing, fully-scripted, “Life-Movie,” complete with props, sets, and characters already in place, waiting for us to act out the consequences of every single choice we make. We see life as already having a planned beginning and end and we must make vital choices to maneuver our way through it. However, life is not this way, nor is it like a “choose your own adventure” comic book. Life constantly unfolds in the present moment, it does not follow a predetermined plot. Even when there are the appearances of choices to be made in life, the reality is, there are no choices. There is only doing.

I know, I know, I can hear you now. “What the heck does that even mean? I make choices all day long, every single day!” OK, so let’s imagine a few scenarios. First, think of yourself as an old-time traveler on a horse, riding along a dirt trail. You come to a fork in the road. “Do I choose right or left?” you think to yourself. You imagine one choice may involve a longer, more difficult path to navigate. Perhaps one path involves a potential encounter with thieves. One choice may bring you to a town where you can rest or sell your wares. What’s a traveler to do?

Honestly, you could sit at the fork for days listening to your mind tell you about “this or that” choices. Because of the way the human mind works, you will be convinced that each side of the fork contains its own fully scripted Life-Movie with you as the main character. Depending upon the choice you make, you will either act out this scene or that scene. The choice to make, your mind will tell you, is in which scene will be the best for you to act out?

The reality is, your mind has created an illusion and is trying to convince you to believe this illusion is real. There is no Life-Movie and there are no Life-Movie scenes already set up, waiting for you to enter. There is only life unfolding now. When we begin entertaining ideas such as choice, purpose, and destiny, we assume life is an already constructed map, complete with preferred choices already planned and laid out for us. We think of ourselves as needing to align ourselves with those predestined choices and paths in order for everything in life to go perfectly.

Another scenario. Imagine you must decide if you are going to marry Terry or Alex. You can imagine what life would be like with either of them. Would you have kids? How would the relationship with your in-laws be? Where would you live? What would your financial situation be like? Your mind can (and will) design complete scenarios of life with either partner. It would be tempting to believe either choice comes with its own scripted Life-Movie plot, waiting for you to jump into as a character. But does that Life-Movie exist? It does not. It may appear Alex has more money and life will go a certain way as a result, but Alex could lose it all. Maybe Terry wants several kids as you do, but perhaps you both later discover physical issues prevent that. All of the reasons for making a choice between Terry and Alex are just as illusionary as the actual “choice” of who you will marry. The truth is, you simply marry Alex. That is what you do and, therefore, it is all that is or can be done. There are no alternative paths on a predestined life map to go unfulfilled. You married Alex because that is what happened. The “choice” was only an illusion. Yes, you may divorce Alex and marry Terry, but you can never examine an actual scenario where you marry Terry first because that didn’t happen. Speculation would just be imagination and fantasy. Any idea that it “could” have happened is only based upon the idea of the “Life-Movie.”

Let’s consider one more scenario. You are at a coffee shop and you are asked if you would like coffee or tea. You say “coffee.” Could you have requested “tea”? No, you can only order coffee because that is what you ordered and there is not an alternative existence where you order tea. To order coffee makes it impossible that you “could” have ordered tea because you didn’t. What is real is only what exists, not what you imagine exists. “Could” only exists in the mind. What “is” exists in reality. In this case, coffee is reality and tea is mind. There are no choices. There is only doing. While it may appear we are making a choice between two things, the reality is, we are simply doing a single thing. The appearance of “choosing” is only mind-stuff based upon more imaginary mind-stuff. We may believe we choose coffee because we prefer the taste but perhaps the coffee is spoiled and the mind-stuff would then prove to be a lie. Reality is, we order coffee and that is our only option because it happened. It unfolded in the now with the rest of our life experience, none of which we chose.

As long as we live as human beings, we will be confronted with the illusion we are making choices. It is a part of the human condition and it cannot be avoided. On the spiritual path, we play along with appearances while remaining aware that all of our life is simply doing and it is that doing that unfolds from our highest awareness of what is right. We do not constantly make choices to not steal or not kill. At times it may appear to be so. Perhaps a voice in our head says to take something that does not belong to us or to harm another. But that is never a choice for us. We only do what we know to be right. As our awareness becomes more transparent, our doing incorporates less thought and mind activity, and our doing results in a greater harmony than any choice could have arranged for us, or any mind could understand or have imagined.

The Illusion of the Individual

Every artist begins each creative session in touch with infinity. There is at the artist’s center, an infinity of creative thoughts, ideas, and impulses that swirl within, unlimited by style, medium, or canvas. At some point, an apparent choice is made by the artist to consciously limit that infinity by placing a stroke of color upon the canvas. With each additional expression of the artist, more and more infinite possibilities are narrowed until, at last, the painting is complete. Upon its completion, the painting is then looked upon as a “thing.” A single piece of art created by the artist, defined by its color and style as well as the size and shape of the canvas. Few people look at paintings in a gallery and see the infinity from which they originated. Most only see the appearance of a single, individual painting.

Even though a piece of art has the appearance of individuality, it is also true that every painting contains within it the infinite options the artist had available. We see the color blue but we also know the artist could have used the color red. A single stroke across the canvas could easily have been a series of many strokes. Appreciating a piece of art is also the appreciation of the infinite options available to the artist and the finite decisions the artist made use of to express an individual idea.

As each painting is the illusion of individuality, so are you the same illusion of uniqueness. We look around the world and see appearances of millions of individuals, each seeming to be single, separate, self-contained creations. The unseen reality, however, is the very Being we all are is Infinite Spirit. Even though you seem to be an individual, finite creation in appearance, at your very essence you are unlimited.

Unlimited Spirit

Spirit is always infinite and can never be limited. However, just as the artist consciously decides to use specific, limited options in order to create what appears to be a single art piece, so does Infinite Spirit allow itself to use limited options in order to create the appearance of an individual. This is obvious when you look around and observe our vast differences. To make these decisions of limitation, Infinite Spirit can be compared to a driver choosing to obey a speed limit. The driver could go much faster or slower but consciously decides to limit the speed of the vehicle for the purpose at hand. This decision may produce the illusion that the car can only drive to a certain speed, when the reality is, the car is capable of going much faster or slower.

In this way, Infinite Spirit decides to take on individual form (you and I) and, in doing so, picks from a palette of seeming limitations, thereby creating this ”individual” illusion. It is not at all unlike an actor playing a role in a theatrical performance. The character appears to be a separate person from the actor, but in reality, is not. Likewise, life’s characters appear to be separate individuals, male, female, light skin, dark skin, old, young, sad, and happy but the very reality of each and every so-called character is Infinite Spiritual Being. As the artist utilizes specific colors and techniques to make the appearance of an individual piece of art, so does Infinite Spirit utilize a variety of human physical, mental and environmental traits to make this world of glorious, artistic creation!

The Human Condition

All of this brings us to observe what we might refer to as “the human condition.” The human condition happens when this so-called individual begins to believe it is actually a separate, self-contained individual. In spite of its real, infinite nature, the individual begins to believe it is autonomous, like the actor’s character suddenly believing it is a real person! The illusionary individual mind begins to believe it is the one in charge and begins dictating its own, limited perception of reality. “I am insufficient and finite” this mind instructs. “Life is full of unexpected events and uncontrollable tragedies that will bring me harm, make me ill and, ultimately, take my life. I must look out for myself and protect me at all cost!”

Now deeply trapped in this human condition, the illusionary individual spends its entire existence searching for a way out. It seeks peace, happiness, and eternal life, never realizing it already is those things! The majority of individuals put so much trust in the dominion of their own limited mind, they rarely take a moment to stop, look to their essence, and experience the Spiritual reality they are. Most people are trapped as a character in a play for the duration of their life experience.

Fortunately, rediscovering and reconnecting with our true Spiritual nature is as simple as looking past the appearance of our limitations, seeing past the body, ignoring the false leadership of the mind, and experiencing the reality of our own Being. Because that Being is always who we are, this state is immediately available to be rediscovered. Always here, always now. It is the only state there really ever is.

When we rediscover our Spiritual nature, we do not cease becoming apparent individuals. The play continues, but we are no longer lost in it, believing we are the limited characters we appear to be. We play these characters to their fullest, all the while silently abiding in the awareness of our true self. We encounter other individuals every day, many of whom are unconscious in the illusionary life-theatre, but we know the truth about them just as clearly as we know the truth about ourselves. We are, at our essence, Infinite Spirit creating Its masterpiece and we, in our individual form, are that masterpiece.

Life Through Limited Perspective

Spider

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

 

We have seven mammals living in our household. Each of us, it seems, has a penchant for continuous hair loss. It isn’t unusual at any given time to find areas of dog, cat, and human hair on the floor, forming temporary, interspecies carpeting.

This morning I watched a spider walking across the floor and attempting to maneuver through one particular hair jungle. Its spindly legs attracted and carried hair strands of similar leg size, causing the spider to pause every so often to shake loose the additional cargo before continuing its journey.

As I watched this little nature documentary happening live on my bathroom floor, I thought about what it would be like to live in the world of that little hiker spider. A world where one would walk across a hard, polished tile, while enormous ropes, in a multitude of sizes, shapes, and colors, clung to your legs. Not to mention, a world where you could, at any moment, be devoured by a ginormous, whiskered feline. Or inadvertently squished by shuffling slippers. It’s a completely different world than my world, yet the exact same world, isn’t it?

The only difference is in the perspective of the experiencer.

I often consider how the object I know of as “my body” appears to the bacteria and other live beings that also reside within it. What I consider my body, they also consider (so to speak) as their body. I experience my body as this large, moving shape I use as a vehicle for awareness. A host, which lives within this body, experiences it as a dark world of seeping moisture, chemicals, and nutrients. What I label as “my body,” a host might label (so to speak) as “my world.” It’s a completely different experience of the exact same object, depending upon perspective.

Even my own experience of my body ignores the reality that it is composed of many different, and seemingly separate cells, almost all of which began as things outside of my body and not things I would normally consider to be my body: food, water, air, impurities, viruses, germs, and an occasional craft beer. It’s a perfect example of how I think I know something so intimately familiar as my own body, when the reality is, I only know it from my own limited perspective.

We can get so attached to our own human, eye-level existence that we ignore the fact our own world is really an illusion. We see what we see and how we see it but we never know the reality of what we are actually experiencing. We don’t hear the variety of sounds in this world that a dog hears, nor can we see the multitudes of colors like a butterfly. Still, these “pieces” of reality exist within the world we occupy and we rarely consider it.

The error is when we believe we “know” anything as it is, or experience reality in its wholeness. Living a life of conditioned and habitual thinking has forced us to label and categorize our experience so we can comfortably believe we know the truth of our world. Actually, we only see distortions, half-truths, and illusions fabricated by our mind. A mind conditioned by our own upbringing, education, society, and opinions. In being satisfied with that mind-created reality, we never know the truth about anything.

To spiritually experience reality, it is necessary to go beyond our mental creations. We transcend our human existence of habitual thought and we experience the world with inner silence. We look at a flower without the mind telling us it is a “flower” or the color “yellow” or that it smells “sweet.” We experience the flower, and everything else, without mental labels, without descriptions and in deep silence and open awareness. It is in this atmosphere that the true nature of the reality of our experience is revealed.