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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. Nihilism

    How could something exist? How could morality exist? How could free will exist? Morality implies absolute judgement. It's impossible. Free will implies... well, I can't even imagine how free will could be possible. If there was something, what would it be? What "exists" (maybe) is some kind of automatic, irrational, completely meaningless and impersonal happening. No one is in charge of anything, because there is no one. There's just happening without something happening. Absurd verbs without nouns. Is this nihilism? Maybe. But nihilism does not necessarily imply darkness. It can be neutral.
  3. Hello! So I love the many stories in Zhuangzi that talk about Robber Chih. Without the book at hand, just my phone, I decided to Google search and read some again. I ended up with, what I think is, Chapter 29. We only have earlier chapters in this forum but I don't think it's neccessary to start a chapter thread as it's more the character I want to talk about. So I will begin in summary and see where we end up, and I guess we can reference chapters if we like Mainly for me, Robber Chih is a wonderful character for his honesty and loyalty to himself. He knows what he is, under no illusion, and is quick to point out the hypocrisy of the "high class". The character also brings me comfort - we live in a world run by the high and mighty saying what is and isn't moral, duping us into fear and chasing noble status. "Criminals" are led to feel guilty for petty crimes (though many don't - I hope to differentiate between what we should feel remorse for a bit later) I am not perfect, by definition of the word, but I am perfect by my understanding of it. Robber Chih has his way...his perfection. I like to tie this in to the Taoist teaching of "returning to your own nature", and also, neuroscience experiments into the "illusion of free will". If we inherit thoughts and our subjective nature due to our genes, upbringing and social environments, it can only be natural to keep within these perameters, otherwise we begin a struggle to do things that we don't really want to do, nor have evolved to do! Discuss
  4. I am struggling with something. How many times have I said those words I wonder? I have finished reading Joel Goldsmith's, "Art of Spiritual Healing." He is one of those teachers lumped into the "New Thought" movement at the turn of last century. The book was very hard to read, and I found it troubling. But I didn't get the sense I was being lied to. Quite the opposite. Mr. Goldsmith spoke very authoritatively, and it made sense with what I have learned in my own experience. The whole point of the book, its theme, is that God does the healing. God does the creating. Everything is done by God. That is how Jesus worked. Essentially we must come to an inner God-realization and open ourselves to God working through us. While God was the name used, the book was not specifically Christian, and you can probably substitute God with whatever name you have for the energy that powers everything, I call it the Source. The book details the process of what "New Thought" folks called a Treatment. Someone comes to you and asks for a Treatment. You forget their name or what they want treated. You come before God, inside, and you focus on some aspect of God. If someone has come for a Treatment of sickness you come before God by realizing this energy is perfect health. You focus on the nature of God, there is some sort of release, and then you are done. What bothers me about this is that it puts me back under God's thumb, and worse, seems to say that I do not really exist. That the energy that gives my physical body life is God. My identity, who I am, as I used to say who I truly am inside, does not really exist. Basically we are puppets and God's hand is what gives up life and movement. We do not create, God creates through us. We do not heal, God heals through us. This idea seems to reinforce the idea which I have encountered in other spiritual teachings, that our real purpose is to become one with God. Self-annihilation, God as Brahman. I find this worse than the Christian idea of Heaven VS Hell. I may have said some of this elsewhere, if I did I apologize for repeating myself. Anyhow It used to be that I could think of nothing worse than staying in one place for all eternity. There is the whole afterlife to explore, and I would like to do that. Well this idea, that all I do is become energy and cease to exist in any form I can move about in, that I merge with God and disappear - well this is worse. To add insult to injury I am told this is really the purpose of my physical existence, and that of myself I can do nothing. There is one problem with this idea. Who created the ego? Because if Joel Goldsmith is right, man does not create anything, so God had to have created the ego. Why? Why create an ego for us, so we can be separate from God, if indeed were were one with this energy in the first place, only to tell us that we have no power outside of God and are supposed to be one with this energy? It makes no sense. When I left the Christian faith I liked that I no longer had to deal with God's Will. I was in charge of my life here on earth. There was a path I could follow to my true life, but it was my choice. I chose to follow it. Furthermore I could manifest what I needed here in the physical realm, whether it be an object or healing. I felt like I had power. I am not power-crazed or anything. It was just nice to know that in a world where I could not control the actions of others, where there were things I had no power to change in society, I could at the very least choose what to think, choose to see things the way I wanted them to be, and know that this would affect the reality I experienced. I had a way to change things in my life I wanted to change, and I didn't need social prestige or money. But now this, and I have to apply it. I have to try it. Because if I was truly in charge of my life, I would not be living where I am now. This is not a conscious decision. I do not want to be here in this tiny room, in a place where I am surrounded by Christians, where I have little or no social or spiritual opportunities. Obviously changing my thinking patterns, changing my thoughts, has done little to change my reality, beyond making money come to me easier, for which I am grateful. Now I have to figure out how to become God-realized, to allow God to work through me. If this is how Jesus operated, I want to operate in the same way. I want to test this out, apply it, live it, become it and then decide if it has proven to be experientially true. Tonight I had a thought that inspired this thread. Jesus wept. He then resurrected Lazarus from the dead. If this really happened it tells me something. God, or as Jesus referred to Him, His Father, didn't give a flying you-know-what about Lazarus. Didn't care, didn't not care, beyond those feelings. But Jesus did. If Jesus was allowing His Father to work through him, then that tells me that Jesus still had his personality, his identity. Something beyond the ego and its identification with the physical body labelled Jesus. Jesus made the choice who to raise up. This was His decision. His will. But His Father did the raising, if Goldsmith is right. So perhaps becoming one with God does not mean self-annihilation? There is still something there, an identity, a presence, that is unique to each person? If so it wouldn't be so bad to be a puppet with God's hand up his arse. Are we all just puppets, just God playing at being the multitude of forms in the physical realm, with nothing left but God after the form has ceased to function, or is there something more to us? If we are waves in the Source ocean, when we subside is there anything left of us at all, or is all that we think we are just an illusion, with God being the only reality? What are your thoughts?
  5. To me there isn’t such a thing as “free will”. It’s possible for anyone to feel the deep freedom in everything by means of meditation and mindful living, but there’s no “will” in freedom. Freedom is just plain freedom. The same freedom can be seen in the clouds moving across the sky and in my own thoughts and actions coming and going. Freedom is “a verb” without nouns. It isn’t anyone’s or anything’s possession. (And in the end, freedom is empty.) What about causality? Right actions cause right actions and the other way around, or is it as simple as that? Whenever we separate our actions from the whole and view them as “that is because this was”, causality applies. What about the bigger picture? How do we know what happens ten years after because of our right actions? The chain of causality is infinite already seconds after our actions (actually it's instantly infinite). There is no way of knowing the “results” unless we name and limit them. Anyhow, I have to live my life believing in free will and in the positive results of my positive actions. At the same time I have to understand (deep down) that everything that happens (once more: including all my thoughts and actions) is essentially out of my control. Any thoughts?