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  1. Well here we are again with this choice topic. Rather than derail another thread, I'm bringing this here. Disclaimer: I'm not sharing this to convince anyone of anything. But I'm driven to share my unfolding experience and realization of the processes going on within that amorphous thing I refer to as 'myself'. To be honest, this doesn't even feel like a choice. I've deleted it twice, hidden it once in my personal section and am now going to post it because I find it intriguing and enjoy sharing and listening to other's experiences. So... Lately (particularly the last 13 years or so, moreso since becoming a father and watching my son develop, delving more deeply into cultivation than ever before in my life and witnessing as my wife's life is totally consumed for the last four years in the suicide inducing pain of assimilating resurfacing repressed memories of childhood trauma and torture), my experience of choice has shifted and I no longer hold to my prior notion that what I refer to as "I" is something that moves through life enacting conscious choices that exhibit control over my actions, environment and responses to the stimuli of life. More and more as I release into being, it seems compellingly to be the case to me that what is commonly referred to as choice is really the illusory experience of control over compulsive unconscious actions of response to stimuli, driven by conditioning, subconscious impulses and survival prompts... and is not a consciously driven response at all. Action and reaction happen, and then conscious mind assigns rationalization after the fact. As I experience it now, the actual choice occurs beyond/beneath conscious awareness, prior to the concsious mind's involvement... the illusion of choice, is the rationalization my conscious mind makes during/immediately after the compulsion to act and is an attempt by the conscious mind to explain to my mind and to others why the compulsion took place, while giving me an illusory and supposedly comforting sense of control about it. I know this is neither popular, nor irrefutable and whenever I share this, I add the disclaimer that I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, merely sharing my unfolding realization of my experience of the illusory and surface nature of the concept of conscious choice... (and boy did I resist this for a long time, it was unsettling in the best of cases at first, and downright terrifying in others). Yet it has arisen time and again, more recently as an almost physically palpable sense that this experience that I used to call conscious choice arises deep beneath conscious direction. Accepting it, or at least no longer needing to define it or fight against it, has become incredibly liberating. This notion has been reinforced repeatedly with myself and those closest to me in recent years, particularly in cases where there are repeated patterns of destructive 'choices' being made by seemingly rational people. Looking back, how often do we think to ourselves... 'why the hell did I do that?'. Only after the reaction, does a rationalization arise with 'a reason' for why I made that choice... when in the moment, there is only action/reaction. Conditions arise and my system responds to the stimuli and then my conscious mind interprets what occured in an attempt to make sense, understand or have a sense of control. Also contrary to what I used to assume, that this would be demoralizing and inhibiting and eat away at my sense of potency... my experience has been the opposite. Liberation, bouyancy and a sense of incredible potencty arises as I release into accepting that my choices arise from my true nature, in the same manner that my heart beats, my endocrine system operates and my bones and organs repair themselves without my conscious choice or interference. I experience a grand bouyancy of the utterly intimate interconnectedness of action arising from my essential nature. A merging of the outer and inner is a seeming biproduct, giving rise to the palpable notion of unity between my true nature and the entirety of stimuli around what I consider to be my separate self. It certainly seems I don't choose my emotions, or illnesses, or thoughts. Who chooses their thoughts, or has conscious control over their mind? Isn't that what meditation and cultivation is all about? The attempt to rest control over what and how much, when and what we think and feel? Isn't cultivation on a base level and admission that we don't choose concsiously what we think and feel, but would desperately like to... so we train and rewash our brains in order to try and gain some more control over processes that lie beyond the slim light of our conscious focus? Are you choosing how you feel in response to my words, or the barking of your neighbor's dog, or your reaction to the guy who cut you off, or the woman who held the elevator door for you? Do you choose to drink water over juice? Did you choose to be thirsty? Can you choose not to have an emotion, or not to respond to my words if you disagree when I claim 'we are all meat bots of awareness... complex patterns of predictable behaviors, programmed by unconscious survival drives responding to the stimuli of our environment through our desires to certain responses by the vast unconscious process of our own dance with Maya? If we choose our parents... then perhaps there is some choice in the universe. Otherwise all of the stimuli that forged the responses I have to my environment, were beyond my conscious control as I was conditioned by my environment, society and family. How often do we ask a child why they did something and they respond 'i don't know'. How often do we wonder why we did something? We act according to our nature... just as all living beings do. And are we ever really acting? Primal action?... My experience is I am always responding to stimuli, not creating independent action. So where is choice, from where does it arise? To me, my actions accord with and stem from my essential nature. How often do I intend to do one thing, change a behavior and then find myself doing just the opposite? Even after decades of dedicated practice and systematic brain rewashing... my reactions seem to arise from deep within my compulsory nature. When there's a discrepency between my conscious mind's intentions and wants and my actual responses... I get the sense that my conscious mind is like a child with a toy steering wheel, sitting in the passenger seat while dad drives the car. I steer and shift and choose... and the car goes where dad drives it. The flea riding the elephant says... "let's go to the library and study daoist texts..." and the elephant nods, then crashes back through the forest to the watering hole where the pretty ladies bathe... Take the actions of soldiers in battle, who find themselves careening through cascades of bullets and mortar fire to grab their fallen brothers and sisters and drag them to safety... Ask them after the fact what was happening at the time and they often respond "i don't know... i wasn't thinking, i just did it". Reaction arises from our essential nature is how it seems to me. The teacher who stepped in front of the bullets meant for students in the high school... this to me speaks of the compulsory nature of reaction to stimuli being a choiceless action arising from one's essential nature with its source far beneath the slim flashlight of conscious awareness.
  2. Perfect Choice

    PERFECT CHOICE Imagine a twisting, winding river. Some bends are sharp, others wide. There are rapids, calm pools, and eddies. Ships travel down this river. Some race, others meander. Sometimes ships turn wide and get caught up in snags below the surface. Other times they turn narrow and bump the sand bars, or get stuck in the mud. Traveling the river is not easy. There is one ship that never gets caught. This ship turns perfectly, at times going fast, at other times going slow. It navigates with exact knowledge of the river, its safety and its danger. This ship travels using perfect choice. It always makes the correct decision, at the correct time, for the exact situation at hand. But does this ship actually choose? If it were to make any other choice than what it already makes then that choice would not be perfect. Thus is perfect choice actually a choice at all?
  3. While talking to a Bhakti-yoga practitioner today, I couldn't help but notice the many similarities between the way these practitioners (Hare Krishna folk) live their life compared to Buddhist and Taoist teachings. Basically, and unsurprisingly, religion and/or spirituality share many common principles. But how does one hone in on one school of thought? For example, if I choose to become a Bhakti practitioner, I feel like I would be missing out on a whole other world, namely, Buddhism and Taoism. Anybody here 'migrated' from one religion or spiritual path to another or encountered this question along their own path? Thank you for your time to read this