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  • Choice
  • Fundamental Choice
  • Power of Choice
  • Question #21
  • Nothing to Achieve, Nowhere to Go

  • Metta's Reflections

    Choice and Free Will
    Our confusion about choice, and the question of whether
    or not we have free will, is compounded by the fact that
    even our most esteemed teachers have assumed what
    seem to be ambiguous positions on this question. For
    example, consider the following three quotations from
    Ramana Maharshi:
    The present difficulty is that man thinks he is the doer.
    But it is a mistake.  It is the higher power which does
    everything, and man is only a tool.
    Choose that guru from whom you get shanti (peace).
    There is no creation or dissolution.
    There is no path or goal.
    There is no free will or predestination.
    The issue is complicated further still by the fact that the question of choice and free will can be addressed from a variety of different levels and perspectives, as detailed below. However, exploring and reflecting on these various perspectives eventually will aid each of us in recognizing, understanding and appreciating the power of choice in our lives, when and as it arises.
    Traditional Advaita ("Not Two"): No Choice The traditional Advaitan, and popular neo-Advaitan, position asserts that as human beings, we have no choice at all. This position is based on the premise that if the appearance of a separate identity is an illusion, so too is our apparent freedom of choice. This position is commonly illustrated by our experience of preference. For example, we appear to be free to choose between different varieties and flavors of ice cream, but are we actually free to choose our preference for a particular flavor? Inevitability: No Choice Another similar, but slightly different, "no choice" position is the notion of inevitability. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. Principle of Open Space If things could be any different, they would be. Peter Fenner Whatever action happens, whether you eat ice cream or meditate, at that moment you could not have done otherwise. Ramesh S. Balsekar The rationale for this position has best been articulated still further by Nisargadatta when he said: Considering the endless list of factors required for anything to happen, one can only admit that every- thing is responsible for everything, however remote. Classic Vedic Teachings: Ultimate Choice In spite of the traditional assertions that we have no choice, there is the notion in classic Vedic thought that at the highest, ultimate (cosmic or ontological) level, choice does spontaneously arise and this, in turn, results in the process of creation: ` The One chooses to become Many. ` The nondual chooses to becomes dual. ` The unmanifest chooses to manifest. Immediate Experience: Relative Choice As long as there is the appearance of an individual, there is also the appearance of choice. Therefore, we can still meaningfully talk about choice at this relative level. You can easily and directly recognize this truth simply by observing your own immediate experience. For example: there is a difference between thinking about moving your hand and actually moving your hand -- and that crucial difference is choice.

    2002, Metta Zetty All Rights Reserved.

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