When we go back one or a few steps, we get to a place where there is no choice.– from a previous post, A pandemic among the unvaccinated
I wrote that sentence a few minutes ago and it makes sense in the context I wrote it, but it’s not what makes the most sense in all situations.
In general, it may be best to not think too much about choice unless it comes up related to something we discover and directly notice.
We can also make practical use of certain assumptions of choice. We can use specific assumptions of choice as medicine for our own habitual – and perhaps unhelpful or somewhat stuck – orientation.
DAILY LIFE ORIENTATION
In our daily life, it generally works best if we assume we have choice in a very ordinary and normal human way. That may help us be a bit more careful in what we choose and how we live our life, and take responsibility for how we relate to life and live our life in the world.
And in some cases, it’s helpful to consider some things related to choice. We can use certain assumptions about choice as medicine.
ANTIDOTE TO JUDGMENT
If I find myself judging someone else, it helps to remember that they – ultimately – don’t have much if any choice. They follow their programming, as we all ultimately do. How we perceive and live our life has innumerable causes – parents, culture, subculture, past experiences, biology, the evolution of our species and pre-human ancestors, the evolution of this planet, and so on. And if I find I am judging myself, reminding myself of the same can be good medicine.
ANTIDOTE FOR AVOIDING RESPONSIBILITY
If I notice I avoid taking responsibility for some of my choices and actions, it’s helpful to remind myself that I have a choice. I made these choices and actions. Taking responsibility in this way helps me examine what’s behind my actions if they seem to come from a place in me that’s less than clear and kind. It helps me shift from blame and into identifying and exploring hurting and unhealed parts of me.
Of course, I can still identify and examine whatever unhealed parts of me led to certain actions in my life, even if I don’t assume choice. But assuming choice can be a shortcut to bring in a shift into looking at it.
A PRAGMATIC APPROACH TO CHOICE
This is a pragmatic approach to choice.
The question of whether and how we have choice can be vaguely entertaining or interesting. And there are more pragmatic ways of approaching it that are more useful and perhaps even get more to the point.
We can use the question about choice as a mirror for ourselves, we can explore the effects of different assumptions of choice, and – as touched on above – we can use different assumptions as medicine.
Where does the question come from? Why is it important to me? The question may come from some unquestioned beliefs in me, or a sense of need or want or lack. If I have the question, and it has some charge for me, I can use it as a pointer to identify and explore this.
What are the effects of the different assumptions of choice? How do they color my perception? How I see others and myself? How I live my life?
How can I use different assumptions of choice as medicine? How can I make use of them as medicine when I notice I go into an old habitual orientation? I may find that if I go into blame, it can be helpful to remind myself that we are all programmed and don’t have much if any choice. And if I avoid responsibility for my own actions, I can assume that I have choice and look at where my choices come from – especially if they come from something unhealed in me.
WHAT’S THE TRUTH ABOUT CHOICE?
This is all fine and good, but what about choice itself? What’s the truth about choice?
If we operate from an assumption that we are, most fundamentally, this human self, then the question of whether we have choice or not can seem relevant and make sense.
And if we find what we more fundamentally are, in our own first-person experience, it may look different. Here, I find that the question doesn’t make so much sense anymore. It only happens within my own mental field, and I cannot find choice or no choice in any other place.
Also, this human self and the wider world happen within my sense fields, and there is no inherent separation. To me, they are part of the same whole. Here, it’s easier to hold any ideas of choice much more lightly.
We may recognize that any ideas about choice are ideas and not inherent in reality, that there is some validity to each of them, that each one leads to certain ways of perceiving and living our life, and that each one can function as an antidote to a certain fixed mindset.
The reality of choice is, as just about anything else, likely different from any of our ideas about it, and more than and less than any of our ideas about it.
Note: I wrote this on my phone in the wilderness so I haven’t edited it as much as I would like. It’s a bit disorganized, and that’s OK too.
The fluidity of choice
Interesting territory to navigate, for ourselves often best to assume choice, when see others may be good to remind ourselves of no choice,
As who we are, assume choice in normal way, when exploring what we are, find no choice
All together, is validity in each one
Reality is much more complex and fluid than one or the other, it’s more than and different from one or the other or even both
So what’s the truth about choice? Do we have it or not?
There are several answers to this question, and most of them don’t answer the question directly but may point to something more important for us.
Also, our assumptions of choice may work best as medicine, as suggested above. If I go into blame, it helps to remind myself that we are all programmed and don’t have much if any choice. If I avoid responsibility for my own actions, it can be helpful to assume that I have choice and look at where my choices come from – especially if they come from something unhealed in me.
From noticing this, we can take it a bit further within the realm of stories. We can say that this human self is an expression of the movements of the larger whole. Just like a wave is an expression of the ocean, we
THE ARTICLE QUOTED FROM
A PANDEMIC AMONG THE UNVACCINATED
We are now seeing what we knew would happen a long time ago: a pandemic among the unvaccinated. In most countries, the people hospitalized and dying from covid are the ones who are unvaccinated.
We are seeing a continued pandemic in poorer countries that don’t have access to enough vaccines. And we are seeing a pandemic among those who, for whatever reason, have decided to not get the vaccine.
It’s easy to create a mental split between the two, and have sympathy for the first group and not so much for the second.
After all, those who choose to not take the vaccine chose to listen to misinformation, they chose to actively put themselves and those around them at higher risk, and they chose to actively participate in continuing the pandemic with all of what that means – higher risk for far more dangerous mutations, a lot more people dying and getting long-covid, a far longer period of social restricitons and lock-downs, and so on.
And yet, no matter how irresponsible and idiotic that may seem to others, they didn’t chose to be a person that makes that decision. They were put together in a way that makes them suspeptible for misinformation, and we live in a society – and especially a digital world – where misinformation flourishes.
When we go back one or a few steps, we get to a place where there is no choice