Enlightened Choice — there is no real state of enlightenment. All there is, is moment by moment choice.
** Want more great writing designed to help YOU to shift your behaviour?
** Want to learn how to find, build or deepen your principal relationship?
** Want to know more about Zen living and being?
I’ve been to re-reading what I wrote back in 1999. As I actually enjoy reading what I write 😉 , this has been an interesting experience. I’m able to see the evolution of my thinking around the topics we cover here, as well as seeing, ever again, our underlying theme.
That theme is enlightened self-responsibility.
For decades, I’ve been pretty consistent about this topic. I recognize how easy it is to “get” the words that I write. But, for me, it’s not the “getting” that helps us to move through those things that block us.
Enlightened choice is all about our willingness to actually live out what we understand.
I picked up my well-worn copy of Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul the other day, and found this:
“When you enter these dynamics consciously, you create for yourself the ability to choose consciously among the forces within you, to choose where and how you will focus your energy.
The choice not to choose is the choice to remain unconscious and, therefore, to wield power irresponsibly… Each decision requires that you choose which parts of yourself that you want to cultivate, and which parts you want to release.” pg. 138
Notice how “choicy” Zukav’s language is. Notice how little attention he gives to figuring out “why we are the way we are,” (which is code language for escaping responsibility through blaming outside forces.)
I am, “the way I am.” This is a true statement. “This is the way I am, and therefore I can’t act differently, and you’ll just have to put up with me” is irresponsible — and also a load of crap.
You have to do your work!
Let’s put it this way — there are no enlightened people, just enlightened actions. After the Ecstasy, The Laundry
Enlightened is another way of saying “enacting consciously.”
So, what might this look like? Well, we begin with a sense of the many parts of us that float around in our heads, speaking in voices many and varied. (Check out our booklet, The Watcher, available as a free download on our site.) Each voice is clamouring for something. Perhaps there is a voice seeking peace and contentment, and another voice that wants to be the centre of attention.
As we step back a little, we see that the goals our heads come up with are often mutually exclusive.
The key exercise, then, is to spend time in meditation, just noticing. Noticing the voices, noticing the internal competition. And then, noticing who you declare yourself to be.
And right after that, have a look at how you are actually behaving… because that’s all that matters.
I often share my internal “bastard” with Darbella. It’s the voice in my head that encourages me to tear someone a new opening. I let this voice out with Dar as a witness, get the energy of this voice out — and then I construct an appropriate response — one that seeks resolution, not “winning through destroying.”
I’ve been doing this since 1982. I still have an internal battle over which voice will win. My last slip-up was 1986. Am I cured? Nope. I can stop monitoring myself when I’m dead.
Here is how enlightened choice works:
Whatever you enact, you become. So,
- It is not enough to declare that you are wise. True wisdom is wisdom enacted.
- Or, it is impossible to be centred in yourself while at the same time defining yourself based upon the opinions of others.
- You can’t work your butt into the ground at work and still have time for a rich family life.
- You can’t be self-responsible while blaming your genetics or upbringing for your problems.
You have to choose.
Which is not to say that the things about me that I choose to enact are the only parts of me yelling for attention. Often, the parts I choose to let go of are the loudest voices.
A temptation, for me, can best be described as an internal voice that wants me to step off of my path. I choose, again and again, to refuse to enact what such voices suggest. Or, as I slip, to catch myself — to pull myself back to an enlightened choice.
Our goal with The Pathless Path is to keep reminding you to pay attention to each choice that you make.
Will I head in a direction I choose if I simply react to whatever is going on in my head? Or can I acknowledge the chatter, and let go of the voices that lead precisely nowhere?
For, example, if I know a certain behaviour will be a source of contention for my partner, can I get over expecting her to do the “sorting out” (“she should get over reacting to my being an ignorant moron,”) and choose to, instead, act responsibly?
Each of us has the capacity to do precisely that, again and again. The self-responsible, disciplined choice is neither easy, nor popular, but it does actually lead somewhere worth going. I’m glad that so many of you, week after week, choose a similar path.