Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Freedom and choice

Now we have a sense of how freedom is essential to our being, and how it is a quality of the will, and how it points to the need for the training of the will to mature ourselves and to move beyond the problems that we inevitably face when the free will runs amock. So it's time to go a little further into two more ideas which are linked to this version of freedom which I am putting forth here: those two are choice, and responsibility. Let's do choice today, and responsibility tomorrow. What do you do with a free will, after all? Well, you choose stuff! With my free will, I can choose to: forgive, hold a grudge, serve the source of all, wait to be served, believe this, learn that, eat this, play that--the possibilities are literally endless. Now, a real choice, I learned way back when from one of my teachers at the Rolf Institute, requires at least three options: this, that or the other. If there is only one option, well, that's not any choice at all--we call that tyranny. The tyrant says "my way or the highway, bub." We feel the strain of tyranny in our lives when, looking at a situation, we seem only able to see one option (which may look "ok" or "horrible," but it's tyranny nonetheless.) If there are only two options, well, that's not a full-fledged choice either. The term for having only two options is a "dilemma." We have all felt stuck in a dilemma from time to time. I myself have often painted myself into a "double bind." That's where you're "damned if you do, and damned if you don't." Having three or more options is where choice kicks in. That's where we are certain that the free will is "in play" without the coercion of severe limits on options. Both tyranny and the dilemma are, in fact, illusions. They are a product of the false belief that the option/s that I see are the only option/s that there are. Such a false belief is extremely common, and we all fall for it at one time or another, if not constantly. It's really a tad sophomoric to believe that one's own twisted construal of a situation is automatically accurate, after all! (I say "sophomoric" because sophmore year in college was the one year in my life where I KNEW EVERYTHING. I've been getting dumber ever since. The belief that I have only one option (tyranny) or only two options (dilemma) in any given situation demonstrates not the reality of the situation but rather a momentary lapse of imagination. There are always at least three options, and normally very many more than that. How do I know this? Well the fact that I have a free will necesitates it. Choice, and the multitude of options it implies, flows from the free will like water bubbling from a spring: if there's a spring, there's water! If there's a free will, there is choice! The recognition of a multitude of options--the perception of choice--is a state of mind associated with the free will. The free will literally manifests the options from which to choose. On the flip side, the consciousness of the victim is always perceiving tyrannies and dilemmas all about itself, and never admits that it had a choice, even to the point of refusing the possibility of choice. The victim points outside of hi/rself and says "He made me do it!" or "I had to do it" or "I tried really hard but xyz happened, so it's not my fault." The one striving for self mastery, on the contrary, says, "I made this set of choices and here are the results. I recogonize my role in the creation of my life experience." This leads us to our particular understanding of responsibility, which will fill in many a pothole when paving the road to self mastery.


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