The simple fact is we that we never have any choice about what we do. Ever.
That might sound frightening to you. It might be a relief. Or you might well not believe it.
What about personal responsibility you might ask? Or will power? Or mind over matter?
Are you saying that we are all just floating around in a soup of anarchy? Or that we are all zombies or robots? Or our lives are pre-destined? Or that we can do what the hell we want because it is not up to us?
Actually, none of the above.
There are levels of understanding, clarity and awareness that mean our experience of this ‘no choice’ and the result of our actions can range from hell to heaven on earth.
We are on a journey of discovery. We might slip back down the scale of awareness and more towards hell from time to time. Or we might have a part of our life that is stuck in exhaustion while the rest is inspired.
But once we start realising the truth of how we are, the momentum of our life is towards clarity in all aspects. And that clarity (which is essentially clarity about the universal ‘no choice’ nature of life), brings with it absolute transformation of our experience.
Because, (with apologies to Orwell): All ‘no choices’ are equal but some are more equal than others…
There are two aspects of oblivious
i) I don’t know what I am doing or why I am doing it. I don’t see the impact of behaviour on other people, the world or my own life. I act mindlessly on compulsions or voices in my head. I am out of control. Other people step in to avoid my harming self or others.
These are the people who have been sectioned, who are uncontrollably violent. There is no recognition of any distinction between thought and reality or awareness of the impact of behaviour .
ii) I realise what I am doing and I believe the thoughts that justify why I am doing it. I live in extreme fear or anger towards myself or others. I see myself or others as evil and deserving of harm or even death. I am consciously violent or abusive to myself or others out of the utter conviction that the world will be a better place or I will be better off as a result.
These are the people who see fearful and angry thought as reality. Who have no idea of the independence between the outside world and their feelings of intense insecurity. The difference between the first and the second group is that the latter is aware of their behaviour. Neither questions or doubts their thoughts and beliefs.
People in this category are those who believe so completely that the death or harm of themselves or other people is the only way to relieve the feelings of fear, anger or insecurity that they act in accordance. Hitler or people who commit suicide are here. Oblivion.
I am aware of my thoughts and feelings. I am aware of my behaviour and I know it harms or restricts me or other people. I know I should stop but I feel terrible when I do and I believe I need to keep doing what I am doing to feel better, to relieve my feelings. I am exhausted from trying to change, from trying to be a better person or to fulfil my potential. I believe I have the ability to choose but it seems I just can’t make my life go the way I want it to. I am caught up in my feelings, trying not to act on them and then feeling bad when I do, which makes me feel worse. With all this noise, I can’t really hear the quiet inspiration that is always available to me.
People at this stage are those who believe they should be different or behave differently in some way. They may want to drink less alcohol, take less drugs, shop less, play less video games, argue less or watch less tv, or whatever other habit.
But the drinking, drugs, shopping and tv is a way of blanking the thoughts which blanks the feelings. When I think I have to feel better, I have no choice about whether I will go shopping or drink wine. There is will power of course. I can hold out for a while. But holding out against our own beliefs is limited, exhausting and temporary.
The other aspect is that I believe I do have a choice. I see other people who eat less or shop less or watch less tv. I believe I could be more like them. Then I feel bad and I do what I do to feel better. I beat myself up for the ‘bad choices’ I continue to make. And each bad choice I make is more evidence for me that I am ‘weak’ or ‘wrong’, is more evidence that I need to do something to feel better.
So I struggle on, blaming myself for every bad decision or wrong choice or unkind act as though I had a choice. But I don’t. Exhausting.
3. ‘Realistic’ and frustrated
I notice the ideas that come to me while I am in the shower or out on a walk or when my mind is quiet. I recognise momentarily that these are good ideas, that they would lead to expansion of what I can do out into the world or to a deeper, clearer engagement with life or with myself.
For a moment I allow myself to imagine what these ideas would look like in form in the world. I am curious and intrigued. They seem to make sense…
And then my insecure thinking takes over. “Realistically, you would never get that off the ground, you haven’t got the staying power”. “Where would you find the money to do that?” “You don’t have time to do what’s on your to-do list right now, let alone this huge project.” “In reality, you would start it and then fail and look ridiculous. Why bother?”
The inspiration is noticed but insecure thinking steps in and is believed. It is under the guise of being rational, having our feet on the ground and that seems safe and sensible but deep down we know there is more to us and more to life.
This is the world of the unfinished manuscript, the painting classes with no final exhibition, the web search for mature undergraduate courses with no application, the unbooked theatre tickets, the dream holiday that stays a dream, the declarations of love that go unspoken, the soaring mission for humanity that never gets clearance for take off. We have felt the prompt, the nudge in our ribs but we haven’t seen the inconsequence of insecure thinking clearly enough to stand up in wisdom. ‘Realistic’ but frustrated.
I am fully aware that I invent my world and myself through the creative power of thought. I know that I feel my thinking, nothing else. I know that these thoughts and these feelings are ever changing, transient and insubstantial. They are not important to me. I don’t need to change them in any way. I know not to send any energy in that direction.
I listen beneath the noise of my thinking to the quiet wisdom beneath. I notice the ideas and inspiration that make sense, that come from love, expansion, creativity, curiosity and peace. I know that there is a truth and a guidance in this inspiration.
I know that anything I think about the reasons to act, about whether this will make me happy or not, successful or not, a good person or not, loved or not is made up. I drop all of that.
I also notice the insecure thinking that appears. The thoughts telling me not to risk myself or my reputation, not to waste my time and effort. I notice how these thoughts come with a feeling of unease, insecurity, fear or anxiety. I know to let them pass.
I turn back to the inspiration. I know I can’t control the timing, content or form of inspiration. I am passive in this process. I can only ever act on what occurs to me. If it doesn’t occur to me, then it is not in my reality, it is not part of my life. The only reason I would not act on this wisdom, over which I have no control, is because I am believing my thoughts, over which I have no control. Act on wisdom? Act on insecure thinking? I know, ultimately, I have no choice about what I do.
I know that inspiration brings with it its own feasibility as I start to work on it. Doors will open, people will appear. I will have as much energy and time as I need. I continue to act on the personal wisdom sent specifically for me and I express it in the way that only I can. As I do so, I take my place among the greatest, most creative, most impactful people to ever grace the planet.
I am inspired.