During the ThetaHealing® Class I taught over the weekend the question of choice came up.

Do we choose to be born as a human on earth?

Do we choose our parents?

Do we choose a purpose for this life?

I argued “no”.  However, on other occasions, I also teach people that everything is a choice.  So which is it?  Is everything a choice or not?

While everything is a choice, it is the nature of the choice that really negates most choices as not being true choices.  What do I mean?

Consider the following analogy.  You are offered a choice blue carbetween a red car and a blue car.  The dealer says they both work great.  Which one do you choose?  I decide I like blue.  I jump in my new blue car and start driving.  Half way home the bumper rattles loose and the car overheats.

I chose a car that “works well” and what I got is one that doesn’t work.

So, did I have a choice or not?  Depending on my perspective and mood I may say, “Yes I did have a choice” or “No I didn’t really have a choice”.

I think most readers can agree that there is something in our mind that attracts what we have in our lives.  In this way we create our lives.  It is the movement of our mind that creates the world around us.  Since it is our mind that is doing the creating it appears like we are choosing.  Yet are we?

The issue is similar to the car that was supposed to work well, but didn’t.  The reality we are presented with is deceptive.  If we are not getting accurate information, how can we possibly make an informed decision?  Further, our thinking and ability to make a choice is is tainted by judgments and emotions that cloud rational decision making.  We tend to be reactive rather that proactive.

I like the way the Buddhists explain this conundrum best. They say we are forced to be reborn over and over, because at the moment of death, whatever the mind is doing or whatever the predominate occupation of the mindstream during the person’s lifetime will naturally create the next moment of mind and the next form the person takes.

For instance if a person dies after a lifetime of feeling jealously over what other people have (even if they are rich) their mind will continue to feel this lack and create of life of poverty.  The new-agers might say “They chose to be poor to learn how to live without.”  The Buddhists might say, “They were forced to be poor because it was their karma.”  Both systems acknowledge that the “state of poverty” is one that can be changed at anytime.  All that is needed is a change the  “thoughts” or “beliefs”  of “karma” that hold it in place.

Similarly, life purposes, or actions that are driven by some unseen force, are often based on misconceptions.  For instance, the feeling that “I have to take care of my family, even if it means self-sacrifice” could be coming from a need to be approved.  One could be reacting to someone judging them wrong (this life or past) for not doing more for others.  Or it could be that the person feels guilty about their family dying in a fire in the last life while they were out with friends.  In this case, they are driven by some unseen and unacknowledged fear of disaster and the erroneous belief that they could do something to prevent it.  Indeed, the person may actually strongly feel, “I have to protect my family”.

Note:  Choosing to take care of our family is different than the drive to take care of our family that is created by the “I have to…”.

In our current condition, most of our actions are controlled by the subconscious mind.  With this in mind, I don’t think we consciously make many choices.  And if by chance we do consciously make a decision it is based on inaccurate information or limiting beliefs.  In addition, sometimes whatever we choose is outside current possibilities.  So, once again we do not really get to choose.

For instance, many years ago I decided to not get angry any more.  Anger is a waste of time and energy.  Right?  Yet, just a couple days ago I got angry when I saw that a company has mischarged my credit card.  In that moment, I was aware that anger was arising, but I was powerless to change that emotional reaction by choosing to do so.  Of course, I could choose to not feed the anger fuel, but that first automatic reaction was still driving me.

What would it take to live from a place of true choice?

What would it take to be free of automatic reactions?



Eight Worldly Thoughts

Being happy when….

we get something

we feel good

we become well known

someone speaks well of us


Being unhappy when…

we don’t get something

we feel sick

we aren’t well known

someone puts us down

These are the things that keep us chained in samsara or cyclic life.  To be free of the eight worldly thoughts is to be free or close to freedom.

The Truman Show

The Truman Show, a movie released in 1998, demonstrates a couple of Buddhist and/or common spiritual ideas. These include how insight experiences mature to insight and how deceptive reality will eventually be illuminated and overturned by Truth.

In the movie, Truman (Jim Carrey) is adopted at birth by a corporation The Turman Show movie coverand becomes part of a reality TV show featuring him that airs worldwide 24 hours a day.  His world consists of a man-made set, Seahaven, which is an island populated by actors.  Every once in awhile he may get an idea that his world is peculiar, but the participants in the deception work to support his view that Seahaven world is real.  The movies depicts Truman, in his third decade, becoming suspicious and trying to break through the veil of deception.  While the Truman Show director and producers are trying to keep him trapped, the viewing audience is rooting for his escape.

I was originally introduced to the movie by Geshe Michael Roach, who suggested it illustrated the idea that buddhas are all conspiring to get us enlightened.  However, it seemed to me, that the most active participants in Truman’s world were working to keep him in his trapped state.  Albeit, the viewing audience was on his side, they were powerless to help him.  This is much like the idea that we have to do our own work to reach enlightenment.  Buddhas can help by teaching, but they cannot create our enlightenment for us.

The movie, however, does seem to illustrate quite nicely the idea of deceptive reality.  In the Buddhist model, the world we live in is quite real, but the reality of it is deceptive.  This is similar to how Truman’s world was real, but not the way Truman thought it was.

Our normal reality, or conventional reality, does not work the way it appears to work.  For instance, it appears that when we do something wrong (e.g. lie to our boss that we missed work because we were sick when we were not) that good comes from that (e.g. we keep our job and get a day off). This apparent cause and effect is a deception.  Only the unpleasantness of being lied to or being deceived can come from telling a lie.  This is not obvious because of the time delay between the action and the fruit of the action.  This is how we can act in ways that harm ourselves – the cause and effect connection is not obvious.

Truman had experiences in his childhood and as a young adult that could have led to insight into the reality of his world, but it wasn’t until he got older did enough of these experiences mature into true insight.  When he got the idea that his world might not really be as he thought, he began to test that insight and it was validated.  This realization then caused him to renounce the world. In fact, he was so done with the world that we was willing to die as opposed to living the lie anymore.

This is similar to any spiritual quest.  One starts with a dissatisfaction with the world and a seeking for something better.  This causes one to examine their world more closely.  In Buddhism this culminates in a realization that the impermanence and suffering in the world are truly not satisfying and feeds the drive to reach a “state” that can provide lasting satisfaction.

In Buddhism we say that samsara will have an end and that all beings will become enlightened because truth is a powerful antidote.  We see that manifest in Truman’s world.  Despite his world continuing to feed him lies, he recognizes truth and goes after it.  In the end he reaches freedom and the Buddhas (viewing audience) cheer.

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