THE POWER OF CHOICE

All that we need to be in control of our lives is to know that we have choices. We do not even have to exercise them so long as we own them.


Our lives are not determined by the situations that confront us, but by the choices that we make when confronted. If I am born into a poor family I can accept my lot and make the best of it, I can work hard to overcome it, or I can become a thief, or a drug dealer. We are not victims of the situations that life puts us in, we are victims of the choices that we make within those situations. It is vital to living a full life that we accept this fact.

I knew a woman who began with every advantage and ending up on welfare. I saw my daughter reacting to life in the same way and it worried me. I feared that if my daughter saw through the same lens she might end up same way. My daughter’s response to my fears was, “Don’t worry I won’t end up like her”. That statement had such an impact on me, because I knew that no one decides to destroy their lives. Our lives follow the paths determined by our choices and those choices are made one at a time. When we perceive that a choice we made was not right, we should then try to make a choice that is right for where we are now. Instead, most of us lose sight of where we wanted to be and instead focus our choices on making our initial choice right. Each choice is taking us in one direction or another. If we are not aware that we are making choices, we will not look around for options. The path that my friend was on was not the path that she thought that she had chosen it was the path that she took because she believed she had no other choice.

When we are in a place that is not where we had planned to be, we feel unhappy; either with ourselves or with the circumstances we hold responsible for putting us there. Usually we prefer to believe that it is anything other than our own choices that put us where we are. It is generally a partnership, life presented the choices and we made them. Acknowledging that we made the choices helps us to be more aware of the choices available to us in the future. It helps us to stand back when things seem bleak and see other options, and other ways. If we feel like victims, we react without assessing our possibilities, if there is a turn – we miss it because we are not looking. We continue on the path that has caused us suffering since our initial choice. What we can do is we can choose to dig ourselves out instead of choosing to dig ourselves in deeper.

My childhood was very difficult and I felt that I was a victim. I got involved in drugs, tried to kill myself, and I married for the wrong reasons. I married to escape the pain at home. As victims do, I sought escape from the suffering of my life, rather than a better life altogether. I exited through the only door that I could see simply because I was not aware that there could be others. I was not living in choice. I married the first man who asked. I felt very sorry for myself. Each choice that we make out of a feeling of helplessness places us in a situation that increases our helplessness. All of my limits, fears and pain simply changed form but remained consistent with my belief that I was a victim. I continued to make choices dictated by my perception of the situation rather than dictated by what I wanted, or who I was or where I wanted to be.

One day during therapy the therapist asked me why I chose to take drugs. I came from a town where taking drugs was the accepted means of dealing with our pain. However when I had to explain it as a choice, something changed. I never thought of anything that I had done as a choice; I just did what I believed I had to do. This covered anything, I had to react, I never thought that I could choose to act. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had made a choice and it was one of many choices that I could have made.

When we are children we do not have many obvious choices, we can fight, we can hide but we cannot change our situation. We actually have very little apparent power. Within that context I did not see myself as making choices I simply reacted.

I accept the choices that I made then; I accept my reaction to that environment because I did not see at the time that I had choices. I could never look back and blame myself for walking through a door that seemed to me to be the only one open. It was the door according to my belief system, but not the only one according to who I was and what I really wanted. Victims are always blind to where they are going because they live their lives running from instead of going to. They never plan a future – only an escape. Yet knowing even after the fact that I did have choices gave me the power that I needed to move on. I finally realized that each step along the way in my life I did make a choice for which I alone, not my parents, not my life, and not my situation, was responsible and one hundred percent accountable. I made the only choice that I could see, and that was fine, because a person who owns the power of choice owns his life. A person who makes choices, regardless of the outcome of those choices, is a person with a future to live, a life ahead of them rather than merely an expanding prison cell. I may have made choices that did not turn out as I planned, but those choices were mine. This freed me.

The fact that my life is made up of my choices has given me my wings. Nothing could stop me but I myself, and that was fine. I knew that in my life I may reach many dead ends, but if I built the road that reached them, I could build the road that would take me around them.

We suffer not because of what happens to us in our lives but because of the choices that we make in reaction to what happens. Each moment we live, we are making a choice, and that choice will determine the next experience. There is no choice is our last choice until we take our last breath.

We cannot assess our worth based upon one choice. Rather we must assess ourselves based upon our willingness to accept responsibility for each choice. If we do this, it will drive us to make each choice responsibly. Remember that so long as we have another breath we have another choice. Sometimes we are meant to make what we believe to be the wrong choice so that we can arrive at the right destination. When a situation is painful it is not working. If we cannot find a way to make it work there probably is no way. Here is where we have to make a choice. If we stay that is our choice and if we keep moving that too is our choice. The controlling factor is not the situation it is the choice that we make.

If I want my partner, but only if he or she fits into a certain image that I hold, I really want the image and not the person. I should look elsewhere or change the mold. If I need a job but I will only work under certain conditions, I cannot complain that I cannot get a job. I just have to choose what I want more and follow my choice. It does not matter what we do or do not do, we are making choices. What happens to us is and will always be a result of those choices not ever a result of the reason that we made those choices.

There is a person with one leg who chooses to play tennis and live a full life and joyful life. Then there is the person with one leg who chooses to sit in a room lonely and bitter feeling that life has given him nothing but pain. Both choices are understandable. The former is the choice of one whose choices are founded in a belief in challenges and not limits. The latter is the choice of one whose choices are founded in limits, a victim. Why should we sit and make ourselves miserable over those things that we cannot control? The time that we are wasting, and that pain that we are suffering is due to our choices, and not due to our situations. Difficult and painful things happen in our lives, but how we choose to deal with them will affect our entire lives. When we find ourselves facing an ocean of suffering we can choose to swim through it, facing only the far shore, or drown in it.

It used to anger me when every time I said that I could not do something because it was too hard, or even impossible to accomplish someone else did it. Someone would come along with less going for them than I thought that I had and do what I thought that I couldn’t. But I chose to let that help me grow. I could have said that that person was lucky, I chose to look at that as a sign that it could be done. When I took responsibility for my choices I had to examine their foundation. My choices were founded on my belief that my life held only a lose lose potential. Those who accomplished what I chose not to even attempt chose based on a belief that anything is possible.

I once would have decided that they must have been better or luckier than I. That way of thinking was once a choice that validated my self-pity. Instead I now choose to allow the accomplishments of others to empower me, and to make it more difficult for me to say, “I can’t”. We have to take responsibility for our choices, and embrace our ability to choose.

Some souls have chosen a more difficult road than others, yet however difficult or easy the road may be, we have all come here with everything that we need to reach our own destination. The pot of gold is behind one of the doors. All that we have to do is to find it. And we find it by choosing doors. Life is a treasure hunt, each experience gives us something, a direction, a tool, or a clue to the next door until we have it all.

The key is not to give up if it is not behind door number one. We have to keep in mind that the goal is just to find the treasure not to be right. First we find the treasure and then we know where it is, we do not have anyway of knowing where it is before we find it, so we should not expect that of ourselves. God knows where it is and He will lead us to it so long as we choose to seek it. Life does not force us ever to give up, that is a choice, sometimes it is the wise one, but in any event it still is a choice.

ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR LIVES

To be responsible is not simply to accept burdens, more than anything else it is to accept power. We are the actors in the play that is our lives – we are at all times spiritually responsible for our actions in that play. However, until that spiritual responsibility becomes emotional and material within our lives we will be destined to enact the same play over and over again with nothing changing but the period wardrobe and props.

When I was a child my father taught me how to play Gin Rummy. We would play for hours and most of the time that we played I would win. One day I was feeling very full of myself as a great card shark and I decided to play for money. My father tried to talk me out of it, but I insisted. I bet my entire allowance and in about five minutes my father won. Now the game was over and he had won and I believed that he should give me my money back. My father refused. I cried, I begged, I sulked, I even tried to borrow the exact amount, but he absolutely refused. I could not believe that my father could actually love me and not give me back my money. I decided that he did not really love me. I believed that if he loved me he would give me anything that I wanted. This was what I really felt. It took a long time for me to understand that my fathers’ love had nothing to do with my responsibility for my own actions.

After many months, perhaps even years, I finally understood what he had given to me. I could never again act in any way or say any words that I was not prepared to be responsible for the outcome of. I realized that my father would never make idol threats, if I wanted to do something that I should not, he would tell me the punishment that I would receive if I did it. He was no longer attached to my choice, and when I ultimately did what I wanted to do anyway, he was not attached to the punishment. I am now grateful for this lesson. The one good thing about this lesson is that it is never too late to learn, and never too late to teach to your children. It only takes one time, which was all it took for me. I may have pushed the envelope many times after that, but the difference was that I was responsible and prepared for whatever the outcome. I was in my power.

I suppose that when our belief in reincarnation was taken away from us, so too was the possibility of ever really being right – so we went for the next best thing which was appearing to be right. Of course if we could do neither, we had to place the responsibility for our being wrong on someone else – blame – so that we could escape whatever repercussions we envisioned. The concept of reincarnation has always felt right to me. I always knew that God was Love, and it just made sense to me that placing us in the darkness and giving us only one chance to find the right light – without a manual was not a loving act. To me, it was like taking your child and putting her out at night having this discourse:

Parent: Go find it and you can’t come home until you do – and if you don’t you will be lost forever.

Child: Find what?

Parent: Figure it out.

Child: Which direction do I go?

Parent: Look in the Book.

Child: Which Book – there are so many?

Parent: Figure it out!

Then having the parent close the door on the child. So, reincarnation made sense to me. As someone who has practiced Astrology for many years, I have looked to the chart for past life content. But a chart may be easily verified in this life, but when referring to past lives it is really theoretical. However, since I started doing past life regressions, I find that the chart does give very accurate information as to the issues we need to take responsibility for in our lives that we have failed to do the same in past lives. I see people repeating the same theme over and over again. In the sixteenth century the theme may have been “Romeo and Juliet”, while in the twentieth century it may have been “West Side Story”. Over and over again I see people making the same ultimate choices, life after life, suffering the same consequences only with a slightly different story line. My father put the responsibility for my actions in my lap. I am still growing into that lesson, it is still a work in progress, but at least there is progress. I thought that my choices were pre-determined. I now realize that they are not pre-determined but they are hardwired into my make-up, because they are the choices that keep my ego where it is the most comfortable – on familiar ground. I love the saying, “Better the hell you know than the hell you don’t”. That is straight from the ego’s mouth. When we take responsibility, full responsibility – “The buck stops here” kind of responsibility, we will very likely end up in unfamiliar territory. I know how to function in a bad relationship, but do I really know how to function in a good one? Even happy is scary if happy is unknown. I always go left, maybe I should go right. I always wait, maybe I should act. I always go for the one who needs love, maybe I should go for the one who has it.

We choose the lessons we will learn. We have to accept responsibility for the choices we made before we came here as well as the choices that we make while we are here. We did not choose to suffer; we chose to learn we chose the areas of growth we would work on in this lifetime. This was how we determined our moment of birth<!–[if supportFields]> XE “birth” < ![endif]–>; we chose that moment so the energies of the planets would create the right atmosphere for the growth we came in to achieve.

Taking responsibility automatically puts us in the present. It puts us in a situation in which we have choices to make. As soon as we acknowledge that we have choices, we will realize that we have power. Finding someone or something to blame for our situation relieves us of the responsibility of changing it. It also prevents it from changing. Even if we blame ourselves, we tend to blame something that we label as an inadequacy rather than our own action or inaction, which we can do something about. I will not permit my children to say, “I can’t”, they have to say, “I won’t”, “I can’t” is a great deal more comfortable than, “I won’t”, “I won’t” implies responsibility.

Some people prefer to be miserable; they prefer to be victims. These people are constantly seeking and rejecting answers. Everything that goes wrong in their lives is the responsibility of someone or something other than themselves, and no amount of facts will convince them otherwise. This is a pattern built up over lifetimes.

The wrong people find them; they don’t find the wrong people. They remember the harsh things said to them but not what they might have said to provoke harsh words from others. If they are ever wrong, it is because they were provoked, tricked, or in some way forced to do whatever they were being held responsible for doing wrong.

If there is any good in their lives they find someone to compare it with who has it better. They do not compromise, because if it is all or nothing there is a much better chance of getting nothing. These same people tend to be luckier than most, they tend to be taken care of although they don’t notice it. These people probably live the most tortured lives because they have to keep validating the external source of their misery. The catch is that when we are not responsible we are not in our power, we hand over our power to those people or circumstances that we consider to be responsible. We are not blocked from having a wonderful life, we miss the chances life presents to do so because we are so deeply engrossed in our need to elude responsibility. “I won’t call her because she hasn’t called me”, “I won’t show love because it is never appreciated”, “I won’t try because I always lose”. Even when we blame ourselves, we say, “I am not tall enough, smart enough, attractive enough, strong enough…” We blame an attribute or lack of an attribute; we don’t take responsibility for an action or lack of action, a choice made or refusal to make a choice. We do not take responsibility, as beings.

This is all perception. If you perceive yourself as not responsible, as helpless then the positive side is that you are off of the hook, you didn’t make a mistake, fail, etc., the negative side is you are helpless, a victim of an unsafe world.

Lets look at an example, say that you have a good job, you have never been late, and have never been sick. One day you walk into the office and the boss’s lover is sitting at your desk and you’re out of a job. Well that is a classic case of victimization if ever one existed right? Perhaps, it really depends on ones perspective. This could be an example of how nothing you do works out, so it is a good reason to go get drunk, or lock yourself in your room. You can add this to the list of wrongs done to you. Or you could tell yourself that you’re lucky that you got away from a losing situation. Perhaps you might perceive it as a sign from the Universe to go on your own, or that it is just a sign to move on.

Most people are afraid of responsibility because they fear being responsible for the outcome of our actions. However, taking responsibility for the outcome is unrealistic. When we take responsible for a child or a valuable piece of jewelry or anything left in our keeping this is in a moment. It is not something that we do twenty-four hours a day. However when we accept responsibility for our actions we are taking responsibility for everything except the outcome and we are taking that responsibility in every moment that we are alive. It is being responsible for each thought, each movement and each word that we say. We cannot control the outcome of anything. I may drink and drive and have an accident or not. I am responsible for having been drinking. I am neither responsible for the fact that I had an accident nor am I responsible if I did not have one. To be responsible is to be present and aware in each action that we take in each thought that we have. This is to be in each now of our lives.

There is a part of our brain that works automatically. It regulates our body, it breathes, it pumps blood to our organs it does not take our presence or our awareness in order to function.

When we are toddlers and we begin to walk we are present. Each step is an effort it takes mindfulness. After we walk long enough it becomes automatic. I watched my son focus and strain while he tries to put his socks on. Eventually he didn’t even notice that he was doing it, because it became automatic. Even when we drive to a certain destination enough times it too becomes automatic, as though the car just knows where to turn.

How often do we bump into a piece of furniture and say, “excuse me”? When our living, becomes automatic we cannot be responsible, we are sleep walking. We are not present. Many times the loss of passion in our relationships and even the loss of growth in our relationships emerges simply out of our having sent the functioning of the relationship to automatic. Where once we experienced each word and movement of our lover and were present within the relationship now the relationship becomes automatic. The relationship becomes part of our unseen unfelt automatic world. So we cannot find where we went wrong because we were not really there. We need to relegate the functioning of our bodies to the automatic brain and the functioning of our lives to our active selves.

When we meditate we are taught to focus on our breathing because that connects us with the present. That connection is the key. When we are connected with our present, with our actions we can then assume responsibility for our lives. When we are truly responsible we are again empowered and in control. It may take work and time to disengage our lives from automatic. It will certainly take walking through our own fears. Yet once this is done we are finally connected with our lives, our loves, our souls and our God. When we are awake we can hear sounds that the sleeping cannot hear and feel things that the numb cannot feel.

When we are awake and responsible nothing gets past us or slips through the cracks. When we say something it has value because it is not just an automatic response. When we are awake we awaken those around us, merely by our presence. Our lives do not just happen; we don’t wonder where the day went. We are aware that we have lived it. Each moment is fuller because we are aware of all the wonders within it. In a relationship we feel all the things that we felt in the beginning because each moment is a beginning when we are alive. Life becomes awe inspiring because we are in it. We feel empowered in the knowledge that we are responsible for how we have lived our lives.

The Power Of Being

When we move from within, centered and one with our journey and our destination, this creates a power that can move any mountain.


When I was a child I was impressed by the way in which people responded to my father. It was clear that people treated him with respect. The atmosphere in a room took on an air of deference when he entered; people seemed to be drawn to him by some unknown force. His words drew an audience no matter how softly he spoke. He emanated power. He was as difficult to describe as to forget. Yet, he seemed to be completely unaffected.

He was my father, and although I enjoyed the way that I was treated because of that fact; I felt that my feelings for him were obviously based upon the fact that he was my father and so I could not understand why others looked at him with that same awe that I did as a daughter.

During the time when anyone with dark skin would have to enter through the back door, my father would enter through the front. Instead of stopping him; people would pretend that they did not see him. This was how my world worked. There were no rules, only agreements and when one did not agree; everyone else moved out of the way.

My parents made an odd couple in the early fifties. My mother was Hungarian and Jewish with blond hair and green eyes. One day in the mid-nineteen fifties, my parents were driving somewhere in the South and a Policeman pulled them over. My father knew that they were pulled over because he was Black and she was White, so he looked the officer straight in the eyes and told him that my mother was Black. The officer let them go. He just did not seem to be subject to the same rules as other people. I could not understand why the river seemed to flow in a different direction for him, I never noticed him asking it to.

When my father died, the minister said, “This was a man who was loved and hated, but whether you loved him or you hated him, you always called him Mr. Gibel, with respect.” The minister had never even met my father, but he knew of him.

His gift to me as a father was his passion for being. He demanded that I honor my own being, and compare myself to no one. My father believed in God and himself. He knew himself as a man and when he said it, it had meaning.

He was completely self-centered. By this I mean that his sense of being was centered within. He sought no outside approval and accepted no outside criticism. He set his own rules and he lived by them. He listened to the voice from within and no other.

I cannot say that he had self-confidence in the way that we think of it. Confidence was not an issue. He was secure in the belief that we create our own world whether we do a good job of it or a bad job of it is another issue. He did not look at himself in the mirror and say, “I love you”, it was more of, “I am”. He had no time for blaming society or hating anyone, he dealt with what was, faced it and walked through it.

This is The Power of Being. The belief that what God created only God can affect. The knowing deep within that God creates us in His image and for that reason we are fully capable of realizing any dream, accomplishing any feat and reaching any goal that we choose. It is only the One who created us that can judge for better or worse our lives and our living.

It was this centeredness that people responded to. Most people are not sure about anything. Most people will follow anyone who seems to know where he or she is going. Of course I did not know my father when he was young. I believe that he had a very difficult childhood. I feel certain that this acceptance was hard won. From what he told me of his life, I believe he came to this point simply because there was nowhere else to turn in his perspective. Being a survivor, the only way to survive is ultimately becoming your own strongest ally.

My father’s life taught me that things were not the way they appeared; there was something wrong with this picture. He would not allow me to be a victim because he showed me that no one could victimize us unless we give him or her that power. He showed me that nothing stops us that we do not buy into. He showed me The Power of Being through his living. When we create our lives from within, instead of simply trying to fit into the world that is without, we have all of the power that we need to succeed in anything that we attempt.

I am bi-racial. That didn’t help me find who I was as a child living in a world that begins with labels. On the surface it would seem that I was Black. But to Black children I was only Black until they saw my mother. Being is not how we are identified by others; it is how we identify ourselves. However, as children we identify ourselves with those around us, we identify ourselves first in the way that our family identifies itself. When our family has no single identity, we must find our own, skipping the first part. So, we begin to find where we fit in with others – since my family didn’t have a group identity, I didn’t have a place to fit in. After much rejection, and minimal acceptance, I chose to identify with my father. I chose to be Denise. I limited my identification to my being. So, from there I journeyed to find my roots, my history – and beginning, not with a racial or ethnic group, but with a single self – the only direction of that journey was within to find my soul and my true Being.

I did this because I felt like a rootless tree – easy to tumble – lacking in support. I needed to root myself, just for the sake of survival. However, when I did, I found that the world related to me in the same way that it related to my father. I found that people began to relate to me in the same way that I related to myself. They neither saw, nor looked for what group I belonged to as a reference as to how I was to be treated. They saw only me, they saw my Being and what they saw, what they related to was greater than the packaged and labeled version of a self, and they saw and related to a Being who was a reflection of a soul – instead of a reflection of a group identity. Seeing the change in how people responded to me taught me that we are no less and no more than we believe ourselves to be. If we release the history – the baggage of a race, a religion, a nationality or a family name, and become only who we really are, then the power of pure being becomes the essence of the energy that others feel in our presence. Our lives are no longer shaped by those who came before us, but by ourselves. This is the power of Being.

Faith In Mind

Seng Ts’an

The Supreme Way is not difficult
If only you do not pick and choose.
Neither love nor hate,
And you will clearly understand.
Be off by a hair,
And you are as far from it as heaven from earth.
If you want the Way to appear,
Be neither for nor against.
For and against opposing each other
This is the mind’s disease.
Without recognizing the mysterious principle
It is useless to practice quietude.

The Way is perfect like great space,
Without lack, without excess.
Because of grasping and rejecting,
You cannot attain it.
Do not pursue conditioned existence;
Do not abide in acceptance of emptiness.
In oneness and equality,
Confusion vanishes of itself.
Stop activity and return to stillness,
and that stillness will be even more active.
Merely stagnating in duality,
How can you recognize oneness?

If you fail to penetrate oneness,
Both places lose their function.
Banish existence and you fall into existence;
Follow emptiness and you turn your back on it.
Excessive talking and thinking
Turn you from harmony with the Way.
Cut off talking and thinking,
And there is nowhere you cannot penetrate.
Return to the root and attain the principle;
Pursue illumination and you lose it.
One moment of reversing the light
Is greater than the previous emptiness.
The previous emptiness is transformed;
It was all a product of deluded views.
No need to seek the real;
Just extinguish your views.

Do not abide in dualistic views;
Take care not to seek after them.
As soon as there is right and wrong
The mind is scattered and lost.
Two comes from one,
Yet do not even keep the one.
When one mind does not arise,
Myriad dharmas are without defect.
Without defect, without dharmas,
No arising, no mind.
The subject is extinguished with the object.
The object sinks away with the subject.
Object is object because of the subject:
Subject is subject because of the object.
Know that the two
Are originally one emptiness.
In one emptiness the two are the same,
Containing all phenomena.
Not seeing fine or coarse,
How can there be any bias?

The Great Way is broad,
Neither easy nor difficult.
With narrow views and doubts,
Haste will slow you down.
Attach to it and you lose the measure;
The mind will enter a deviant path.
Let it go and be spontaneous,
Experience no going or staying.

Accord with your nature, unite with the Way,
Wander at ease, without vexation.
Bound by thoughts, you depart from the real;
And sinking into a stupor is as bad.
It is not good to weary the spirit.
Why alternate between aversion and affection?

If you wish to enter the one vehicle,
Do not be repelled by the sense realm.
With no aversion to the sense realm,
You become one with true enlightenment.
The wise have no motives;
Fools put themselves in bondage.
One dharma is not different from another.
The deluded mind clings to whatever it desires.
Using mind to cultivate mind
Is this not a great mistake?

The erring mind begets tranquillity and confusion;
In enlightenment there are no likes or dislikes.
The duality of all things
Issues from false discriminations.
A dream, an illusion, a flower in the sky
How could they be worth grasping?
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
Discard them all at once.

If the eyes do not close in sleep,
All dreams will cease of themselves.
If the mind does not discriminate,
All dharmas are of one suchness.
The essence of one suchness is profound;
Unmoving, conditioned things are forgotten.
Contemplate all dharmas as equal,
and you return to things as they are.
When the subject disappears,
There can be no measuring or comparing.

Stop activity and there is no activity;
When activity stops, there is no rest.
Since two cannot be established,
How can there be one?
In the very ultimate,
Rules and standards do not exist.

Develop a mind of equanimity,
And all deeds are put to rest.
Anxious doubts are completely cleared.
Right faith is made upright.
Nothing can be remembered.
Bright and empty, functioning naturally,
The mind does not exert itself.
It is not a place of thinking,
Difficult for reason and emotion to fathom.
In the Dharma Realm of true suchness,
There s no other, no self.

To accord with it is vitally important;
Only refer to not-two.
In not-two all things are in unity:
Nothing is excluded.
The wise throughout the ten directions
All enter this principle.
This principle is neither hurried nor slow
One thought for ten thousand years.

Abiding nowhere yet everywhere,
The ten directions are right before you.
The smallest is the same as the largest
In the realm where delusion is cut off.
The largest is the same as the smallest;
No boundaries are visible.
Existence is precisely emptiness;
Emptiness is precisely existence.
If it is not like this,
Then you must not preserve it.

One is everything;
Everything is one.
If you can be like this,
Why worry about not finishing?
Faith and mind are not two;
Non-duality is faith in mind.

The path of words is cut off;
There is no past, no future, no present.

THE POWER OF CHOICE

All that we need to be in control of our lives is to know that we have choices. We do not even have to exercise them so long as we own them.


Our lives are not determined by the situations that confront us, but by the choices that we make when confronted. If I am born into a poor family I can accept my lot and make the best of it, I can work hard to overcome it, or I can become a thief, or a drug dealer. We are not victims of the situations that life puts us in, we are victims of the choices that we make within those situations. It is vital to living a full life that we accept this fact.

I knew a woman who began with every advantage and ending up on welfare. I saw my daughter reacting to life in the same way and it worried me. I feared that if my daughter saw through the same lens she might end up same way. My daughter’s response to my fears was, “Don’t worry I won’t end up like her”. That statement had such an impact on me, because I knew that no one decides to destroy their lives. Our lives follow the paths determined by our choices and those choices are made one at a time. When we perceive that a choice we made was not right, we should then try to make a choice that is right for where we are now. Instead, most of us lose sight of where we wanted to be and instead focus our choices on making our initial choice right. Each choice is taking us in one direction or another. If we are not aware that we are making choices, we will not look around for options. The path that my friend was on was not the path that she thought that she had chosen it was the path that she took because she believed she had no other choice.

When we are in a place that is not where we had planned to be, we feel unhappy; either with ourselves or with the circumstances we hold responsible for putting us there. Usually we prefer to believe that it is anything other than our own choices that put us where we are. It is generally a partnership, life presented the choices and we made them. Acknowledging that we made the choices helps us to be more aware of the choices available to us in the future. It helps us to stand back when things seem bleak and see other options, and other ways. If we feel like victims, we react without assessing our possibilities, if there is a turn – we miss it because we are not looking. We continue on the path that has caused us suffering since our initial choice. What we can do is we can choose to dig ourselves out instead of choosing to dig ourselves in deeper.

My childhood was very difficult and I felt that I was a victim. I got involved in drugs, tried to kill myself, and I married for the wrong reasons. I married to escape the pain at home. As victims do, I sought escape from the suffering of my life, rather than a better life altogether. I exited through the only door that I could see simply because I was not aware that there could be others. I was not living in choice. I married the first man who asked. I felt very sorry for myself. Each choice that we make out of a feeling of helplessness places us in a situation that increases our helplessness. All of my limits, fears and pain simply changed form but remained consistent with my belief that I was a victim. I continued to make choices dictated by my perception of the situation rather than dictated by what I wanted, or who I was or where I wanted to be.

One day during therapy the therapist asked me why I chose to take drugs. I came from a town where taking drugs was the accepted means of dealing with our pain. However when I had to explain it as a choice, something changed. I never thought of anything that I had done as a choice; I just did what I believed I had to do. This covered anything, I had to react, I never thought that I could choose to act. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had made a choice and it was one of many choices that I could have made.

When we are children we do not have many obvious choices, we can fight, we can hide but we cannot change our situation. We actually have very little apparent power. Within that context I did not see myself as making choices I simply reacted.

I accept the choices that I made then; I accept my reaction to that environment because I did not see at the time that I had choices. I could never look back and blame myself for walking through a door that seemed to me to be the only one open. It was the door according to my belief system, but not the only one according to who I was and what I really wanted. Victims are always blind to where they are going because they live their lives running from instead of going to. They never plan a future – only an escape. Yet knowing even after the fact that I did have choices gave me the power that I needed to move on. I finally realized that each step along the way in my life I did make a choice for which I alone, not my parents, not my life, and not my situation, was responsible and one hundred percent accountable. I made the only choice that I could see, and that was fine, because a person who owns the power of choice owns his life. A person who makes choices, regardless of the outcome of those choices, is a person with a future to live, a life ahead of them rather than merely an expanding prison cell. I may have made choices that did not turn out as I planned, but those choices were mine. This freed me.

The fact that my life is made up of my choices has given me my wings. Nothing could stop me but I myself, and that was fine. I knew that in my life I may reach many dead ends, but if I built the road that reached them, I could build the road that would take me around them.

We suffer not because of what happens to us in our lives but because of the choices that we make in reaction to what happens. Each moment we live, we are making a choice, and that choice will determine the next experience. There is no choice is our last choice until we take our last breath.

We cannot assess our worth based upon one choice. Rather we must assess ourselves based upon our willingness to accept responsibility for each choice. If we do this, it will drive us to make each choice responsibly. Remember that so long as we have another breath we have another choice. Sometimes we are meant to make what we believe to be the wrong choice so that we can arrive at the right destination. When a situation is painful it is not working. If we cannot find a way to make it work there probably is no way. Here is where we have to make a choice. If we stay that is our choice and if we keep moving that too is our choice. The controlling factor is not the situation it is the choice that we make.

If I want my partner, but only if he or she fits into a certain image that I hold, I really want the image and not the person. I should look elsewhere or change the mold. If I need a job but I will only work under certain conditions, I cannot complain that I cannot get a job. I just have to choose what I want more and follow my choice. It does not matter what we do or do not do, we are making choices. What happens to us is and will always be a result of those choices not ever a result of the reason that we made those choices.

There is a person with one leg who chooses to play tennis and live a full life and joyful life. Then there is the person with one leg who chooses to sit in a room lonely and bitter feeling that life has given him nothing but pain. Both choices are understandable. The former is the choice of one whose choices are founded in a belief in challenges and not limits. The latter is the choice of one whose choices are founded in limits, a victim. Why should we sit and make ourselves miserable over those things that we cannot control? The time that we are wasting, and that pain that we are suffering is due to our choices, and not due to our situations. Difficult and painful things happen in our lives, but how we choose to deal with them will affect our entire lives. When we find ourselves facing an ocean of suffering we can choose to swim through it, facing only the far shore, or drown in it.

It used to anger me when every time I said that I could not do something because it was too hard, or even impossible to accomplish someone else did it. Someone would come along with less going for them than I thought that I had and do what I thought that I couldn’t. But I chose to let that help me grow. I could have said that that person was lucky, I chose to look at that as a sign that it could be done. When I took responsibility for my choices I had to examine their foundation. My choices were founded on my belief that my life held only a lose lose potential. Those who accomplished what I chose not to even attempt chose based on a belief that anything is possible.

I once would have decided that they must have been better or luckier than I. That way of thinking was once a choice that validated my self-pity. Instead I now choose to allow the accomplishments of others to empower me, and to make it more difficult for me to say, “I can’t”. We have to take responsibility for our choices, and embrace our ability to choose.

Some souls have chosen a more difficult road than others, yet however difficult or easy the road may be, we have all come here with everything that we need to reach our own destination. The pot of gold is behind one of the doors. All that we have to do is to find it. And we find it by choosing doors. Life is a treasure hunt, each experience gives us something, a direction, a tool, or a clue to the next door until we have it all.

The key is not to give up if it is not behind door number one. We have to keep in mind that the goal is just to find the treasure not to be right. First we find the treasure and then we know where it is, we do not have anyway of knowing where it is before we find it, so we should not expect that of ourselves. God knows where it is and He will lead us to it so long as we choose to seek it. Life does not force us ever to give up, that is a choice, sometimes it is the wise one, but in any event it still is a choice.