The Art of Choosing

How do we choose and what does that say about spiritual practice?

How we make choices and what motivates us reveals cultural preferences as demonstrated in this video clip from TED. Very interesting.

Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing

Reflections from Lillah…

What stuck in my mind after viewing the video, was how performance and choice was related to how we perceive mother. In the US students perceived mother as an adversarial force inhibiting freedom, whereas Japanese students perceived mother as supportive and guiding to all that is good.

In the realm of spiritual practice many traditions look to the personal to connect to the Eternal. The native Americans; “ Grandmother, Grandfather, Great Spirit”, The Sufi Order of the West; “ take us in thy parental arms….”, in Catholicism; “Mother Mary, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit”.

How then do we of the West, with our love of individuality, and the responsibility to then make our own choices for better or for worse, create a relationship with our Universal and Divine nature?

My current understanding is that our individuality is both a blessing and a curse. For as we begin from the point of authentic self-expression to My idea, My energy, My way… our ego is allowed to grow bigger and bigger stealing the show as it were, leading us to self-serving extremes. What I have learned through time is that I can’t do it all myself. Every expression is really a collaboration of many ideas, people and circumstances. It seems to me that individuality often supports a false premise, as no woman/man is an island and each individual is not separate from the whole.

As individuals we may seem in our outward expression to be unique, and in a way we are, as the Divine spark manifests differently in each of our hearts. Yet we are really a combination of all the forces that create us, making us more alike than different. These include the basic elements (earth, fire, air and water), family and ancestral dreams and conditioning, our relationships with family, friends and community, and the ways in which we express the shared ideals of those groups.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist holding a Nobel Peace Prize, helped us to embrace this idea of “non-self”. The idea that when we look deep into a living being we see the totality, all that the tree is made of, earth, clouds, sun, etc., so really there is no tree without all the other elements.  When we can bring ourselves to a deep acceptance and appreciation of how we are created and supported by everything around us, now “my” point of view becomes an expression of the ideas and desires of my family, community, and with clear focus and attention the Divine impulse itself.

Going back to the video. How then can one find the peace of knowing when one has chosen well?

In the yoga Sutra, Patanjali set forth timeless guidance. Through asana and pranayama practice, we are to find release from the distractions of the ego mind and come to a still quiet place within. There we can turn our attention toward the Divine Self. There is a saying by those in spiritual circles that energy follows thought.  Therefore the more we give our attention to realizing our Divine Nature “consistently through time”, the more we establish a relationship with the peace and wellbeing that is our birthright.

It is from this place of inner stillness or peace that clear choices are made. Accepting our limited understanding of all the cause and effects at play at any one time, making a clear decision means feeling in our heart for our best choice, the one that brings us a sense of contentment, a fullness of heart. Even so, the results of our choices are not guaranteed. Therefore the guidance of all great spiritual traditions is to not be attached to the outcome, or, from Patanjali’s perspective to “surrender the fruits of ones actions to the Divine”.

On the Bhakti path of devotion, my inner quest is to remain connected to “Source”, not with an overly individual feeling of separation, but rather through the gateway of the heart.  I love to connect by invoking the presence of a great being or “Grandmother” for I deem her to be wiser than I.  All my ideas and desires are not really mine… yet an expression of “all that is” expressing through me. My responsibility is to live as authentically as possible, in good faith that all will be well, surrendering the fruits of my actions as a gift to the Divine Being which sustains me.

How is it that you connect with your “Source”? How do you know when you have arrived? After a difficult choosing, Is there a lasting peace that remains?

Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments. Namaste. Lillah

This post was written by Lillah on August 19, 2010
Posted Under: Articles by Lillah,Interest / Humor

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address