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Free Choice?


JosephM
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The majority of human beings are mostly convinced that they are the author of their thoughts, choices and therefore their destiny. There is no doubt human beings make choices. The question is; Are those choices free choices or inevitable choices that are not free but predisposed by a limited context? If they are limited, then by definition, the choice is not free choice, but an inevitable choice that is bound or enslaved by ones present level of consciousness and the circumstances by which that event occurs.

 

Let’s examine this closer. When a five year old child, who is not hungry, is presented with a choice of his favorite flavored lollipop or a bowl of salad; which will he choose? Circumstances being such, greater than 99 out of a hundred will choose the lollipop. Of course, if the child is sick, he may choose to forgo either choice. Still, the choice is made and one makes the choice limited to his or her intellect, programming, desires, and surrounding circumstances. In effect, though the choice may not be known to others, it is the only selection the individual can make at that time.

 

With grown-ups, this process of choice becomes more complicated yet it is not much different. The particular choice one makes will be bound and limited to ones understanding or perception, desires, variable conditions, previous programming and tendencies. As consciousness evolves one hopefully makes better choices but in all cases those choices are still bound by ones imperfect programming, understanding and desires.

 

While life presents itself with a myriad of choices, most seem to take place automatically coming from the unconscious mind. The choices are greatly affected by ones in-born intelligence level, the family, group, society, and national programming by which one is brought up in. And, in addition, it is modified by the millions of mini-events and variety of daily perceptions of experiences and external stimuli that present themselves to the discriminating mind. Choice then is based, for the most part in the mind and its outcome is inevitable based on all of the above which is uniquely different in each individual. Yet though the data upon which the choice is made is different in each individual at any given time, ones choice taken is really the only choice that one could make at that time.

 

Why is this seemingly linguistic slight of hand even important? Why is understanding the concept I am writing about important for one to understand in the context given? What does it matter whether one considers it free choice or just choice?

 

At the present level of understanding in this mind, it is very beneficial to have a clear understanding at what is being implied. Understanding and awareness is key to the evolution of consciousness. Understanding that choices are not free in the sense that one might think of them helps us to empathize with our fellow frail human beings whom are in the same boat. This truth helps us release our anger and un-forgiveness of others, who through ignorance oppose themselves and releases our compassion for them.

 

Cherie Carter-Scott said: “Anger makes you smaller while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” Mahatma Gandhi said “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”

 

Jesus is recorded saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Emphasis is on ignorance because they know not what they do is a reason. One may think those suicide bombers, warmongers, liars, religious fanatics, those that are hateful and those that risk their lives for thrill or meaningless causes have free choice in the matter. Jesus didn’t think so. If they could be any different at any particular point in time by their personal choice then they would be. Their choices are a product of the evolution of their consciousness just as is yours. Any statement such as ‘they should have’ or ‘could have’ and the like are nothing more than hypothetical and have no existence in reality.

 

Even the Buddha might agree as this is the essence of his teachings based on the Pali Canon recognized by Buddhist scholars as the oldest record of what the Buddha actually taught:

 

"Absolute changeless permanent reality, the unconditioned, itself alone is,

all else has always been, is, and always will be just a state of make-believe fiction,

a state of delusion worn like a costume with multiple fabricated viewpoints,

with each self-sustaining itself in a self-perpetuated state of self-ignorance,

until each decides to come to closure through self-enlightenment and self-awakening "

 

His teachings point out that man operates in a make believe state of delusion worn like a costume with multiple fabricated viewpoints. This makes him incapable of free choice because his choice is determined by his attachments and ignorance. Through his endless variety of choices and circumstances, all founded in self-ignorance, one eventually through conscious evolution, stumbles upon the truth and begins a meaningful journey to self-enlightenment.

 

This of course is through no credit to oneself as it is an innate progression and destiny of all consciousness. (Though not spelled out in his teaching above, it is the present understanding as spoken by this mind) The self actualization by which ones true being embarks on the path to enlightenment is not by free choice but by consent of the will. All choices then are bound by the level of consciousness and understanding that exists at the time of choice. Only a fully enlightened or awakened being with full understanding of context would have free choice but then it disappears as choice. This is because choice itself is a non-existent reality.

 

This understanding may seem harsh, different than yours or difficult to understand. That is okay because even ones choice to believe what is written or not is bound by ones context of consciousness. Therefore, you have no free choice in the matter and only if you were predisposed to believe or your context has changed since you read this can you choose to believe what is written here.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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While life presents itself with a myriad of choices, most seem to take place automatically coming from the unconscious mind.

 

I think the key word here is "most".

 

I also think that the author is absolutely right on in most of what is being said here. Most of us do just function in the world under an unquestioned set of beliefs that we've never really examined.

 

Part of the path that I have followed is one of intense examination, and that process (which has involved meditation) has brought me to a slightly better awareness of what is happening during that moment of choice. So now, with God's grace, I have an opportunity to look within my own heart and ask myself a question: "is this a choice I am about to make one which comes from a place of love, or is it a choice that comes from a place of questionable motivation?"

 

Sometimes that's a very hard question to bring oneself to ask. And yes, there are always two possible paths to choose.

 

Not all choices seem all that important in the grand scheme of things. That a baby chooses sweet over salad should come as no real surprise. What might be more pertinent in this situation is whether or not the parent chooses to allow that child to continue to eat sweets instead of what would be healthy.

 

I am sure all parents are conditioned by their own upbringings, just as we all are. I am sure that there are some parents who don't care enough, and some who do, and maybe even some who care so much that they overprotect or don't allow their children to learn how to make loving choices on their own. I suspect that any loving parent who takes the time to ask what is in the best interest of his or her child would make the best choice possible.

 

I don't buy that all is predetermined. I understand that God's ways are mysterious, but I can't fathom the point of a universe where all outcomes are pre-programmed. To take away our responsibility for making choices seems a convenient cop-out, a way to absove ourselves of any responsibility for the current state of the world.

 

JMO.

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Greetings Lolly,

 

I agree the key word in that sentence was 'most'.... and might I also add another keyword 'seem' ... as it was just my view from personal experience at that moment. Except for the quotes, i am the writer. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

 

Loe in Christ,

JM

Edited by JosephM
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Lolly,

As an afterthought, I did have one question for you on your perspective.

 

Part of the path that I have followed is one of intense examination, and that process (which has involved meditation) has brought me to a slightly better awareness of what is happening during that moment of choice. So now, with God's grace, I have an opportunity to look within my own heart and ask myself a question: "is this a choice I am about to make one which comes from a place of love, or is it a choice that comes from a place of questionable motivation?"

 

Sometimes that's a very hard question to bring oneself to ask. And yes, there are always two possible paths to choose.

 

Do you think that possibly the reason you are now aware of having two possible paths instead of one could be because of your conscious evolution up to that point rather than actual free choice? That you do intense examination and meditation; Do you think that this practice was free choice or the only real choice that you could choose for your conscious state at that moment in time? Was it slanted by the totality of your evolution or was it really free?

 

Just some interesting thoughts to contemplate.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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I must admit that I have never really given any thought to this before. Existentially I experience the capacity to choose. As to whether such a capacity actually exists in reality is another matter.

 

I do see the implications that follow from how we understand this, certainly in terms of our "judgement" (or "non-judgement") of others. Also how the question relates to the thread I began "When are we saved?". Yet I need time to reflect upon this!

 

I would just say that the question also involves our understanding of the Divinity........Reality-as-is...........God. Can/does "God" choose? Is the ultimate "reality" in a constant state of "choosing" what comes next!!?? Or within total freedom, is it a constant spontaneous outpouring of creativity that cannot possibly be otherwise? And if "salvation" involves our becoming "one" with Reality-as-is, what then of "choice"?

 

It seems to me that much of all "religion" is paradox, as pointed to in the quotation from the Theravada texts I gave on the "When are we saved?" thread concerning the existence - or non-existence - of suffering. The exchange of words there could be adapted for various questions, including the questions raised by this thread...................."Have we free will?" "Do not put it like that Kassapa" "Then we have no free will?" "Do not put it like that Kassapa" etc etc. As I said, existentially we experience the capacity to choose.

 

It seems that many things revolve around the paradox pointed to in the words of Thomas Merton concerning "salvation" and "grace".....

 

"But oh! How far have I to go to find You

In Whom I have already arrived!"

 

Sorry, I seem to have confused the issue rather than answered it!

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I must admit that I have never really given any thought to this before. Existentially I experience the capacity to choose. As to whether such a capacity actually exists in reality is another matter.

 

I do see the implications that follow from how we understand this, certainly in terms of our "judgement" (or "non-judgement") of others. Also how the question relates to the thread I began "When are we saved?". Yet I need time to reflect upon this!

 

I would just say that the question also involves our understanding of the Divinity........Reality-as-is...........God. Can/does "God" choose? Is the ultimate "reality" in a constant state of "choosing" what comes next!!?? Or within total freedom, is it a constant spontaneous outpouring of creativity that cannot possibly be otherwise? And if "salvation" involves our becoming "one" with Reality-as-is, what then of "choice"?

 

It seems to me that much of all "religion" is paradox, as pointed to in the quotation from the Theravada texts I gave on the "When are we saved?" thread concerning the existence - or non-existence - of suffering. The exchange of words there could be adapted for various questions, including the questions raised by this thread...................."Have we free will?" "Do not put it like that Kassapa" "Then we have no free will?" "Do not put it like that Kassapa" etc etc. As I said, existentially we experience the capacity to choose.

 

It seems that many things revolve around the paradox pointed to in the words of Thomas Merton concerning "salvation" and "grace".....

 

"But oh! How far have I to go to find You

In Whom I have already arrived!"

 

Sorry, I seem to have confused the issue rather than answered it!

 

On the contrary Tariki,

 

You raise good points as always for contemplation by others. Thank you for your comments.

 

You also point out the implication between this understanding and 'judgement' which I believe is key to 'forgiveness' and ones progress in their journey to realize compassion/love.

 

Thanks again for your perspective and please feel free to add any after thoughts after you have reflected some..

Edited by JosephM
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Lolly,

As an afterthought, I did have one question for you on your perspective.

 

 

 

Do you think that possibly the reason you are now aware of having two possible paths instead of one could be because of your conscious evolution up to that point rather than actual free choice? That you do intense examination and meditation; Do you think that this practice was free choice or the only real choice that you could choose for your conscious state at that moment in time? Was it slanted by the totality of your evolution or was it really free?

 

Just some interesting thoughts to contemplate.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

Interesting thoughts, indeed!

 

I am quite certain that all that came before influenced (and continues to influence) the choices I have made an continue to make.

 

I guess if I had to describe what you are asking for I would call it something like a honing or fine tuning of awareness. When completely unaware, we tend to act in strict accordance to conditioning. As awareness unfolds, we become increasingly cognizant of our conditioning and this awareness allows us to see choices that we weren't aware of before.

 

With all that said, I don't want to mislead anyone to think that I have the market cornered on any sort of awareness! Indeed, it is probably the lack thereof that becomes most poignanty obvious through contemplation!

 

with blessings,

 

Lolly

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Interesting thoughts, indeed!

 

I am quite certain that all that came before influenced (and continues to influence) the choices I have made an continue to make.

 

I guess if I had to describe what you are asking for I would call it something like a honing or fine tuning of awareness. When completely unaware, we tend to act in strict accordance to conditioning. As awareness unfolds, we become increasingly cognizant of our conditioning and this awareness allows us to see choices that we weren't aware of before.

 

With all that said, I don't want to mislead anyone to think that I have the market cornered on any sort of awareness! Indeed, it is probably the lack thereof that becomes most poignanty obvious through contemplation!

 

with blessings,

 

Lolly

Lolly,

 

Yes , Very thoughtful and well said. My experience is the same.

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