Choice isn’t always a good thing. In the absence of a clear idea of what is in the interest of freedom from afflictive emotions and self destructive states, unbridled choice could easily be a trap. For instance, our anticipation for a better future does not necessarily lead us towards formulating goals and plans that take into consideration all the variables that determine eventual results. Do we know what we want? Do we know why we want what we want? Our intentions are formed not only from what we continually imbibe through the senses but also from past mental states and previous actions. This, combined with a fragmented and limited processing apparatus usually weighs some form of self grasping or gratification as primary. The sources and the dynamics of our form, circumstances and dispositions are essentially unknown. Considering that, there is never any basis for the ‘right’ choice! It is perhaps not simply a matter of doing away with desire but examining if we can ever identify what informs that desire. Reward and punishment rule our lives. We seem to think that choice that enables the acquisition of the objects of our desire or the circumstances that guarantee comfort will do away with the need for looking at the reasons for wanting something that we supposedly do not have. Honestly sitting with why we need or want something can be startlingly informative. Not just as an exercise in discrimination but in revealing that the option to choose is one that is best withheld in favor of remaining choiceless.
The constraints that are built into our lives enable an honest look into both hope and fear. In the midst of our everyday lives, as we busy ourselves with one thing after another, fearing the thwarting of our aspirations and hoping to have better, we might be forced to ask, what short of complete freedom warrants hope? If we design our deliberations and actions to abrogate the generation of fear, we move away from choice into choicelessness. Choice brings with it the creation of complexity and structure upon a completely illusory base. Personhood is ultimately a mirage and our attempts to give substance and sustenance to an illusion mires us in an ever increasing spiral of confusion and discord. Our creation has not just an immediate effect but also serves to ensnare us in a never ending succession of ‘choices’ that keeps us dangling between gain and loss, between apprehending pleasure and then pain. In the face of a virtually endless stream of what we can feel, experience or possess, we cannot help but create a self that is always subject to the volatility of circumstance. If instead, we opt to just stop or pause and shed the need for inhabiting a state of incessant fortification of our sense of self, of an identity, of a base from which to relate to what we perceive with our minds and our senses, we realize that any ‘choice’ that we think we exercise is just a deception.
What does it mean to be choiceless? Perhaps, it entails a letting go of both hope and fear. More often than not, our choices simply provide a distraction with the object of our choice losing its import and relevance as time passes. What we might deem as urgent is so likely because our ambitions and our desperation ride with it. The desperation or the enthusiasm to change ourselves and our lot, the desire to have more and better, the willingness to sacrifice the present and the immediately accessible moment of needlessness for a fuller future without strife and with pleasurable effects leads us to foresee and long for a life that is better, stronger, richer, more accomplished or happier and we get drawn into a veritable storm of hopefulness, as well as uncertainty and fear. However, this doesn’t have to be as pointless and bleak as it sounds. The only real choice that we always do have is to be at peace with whatever happens and strangely enough, that means not asking to change anything, even the fear and the longing that we frequently find ourselves feeling! In making that singular choice, there is freedom, and a sense of ease and often a state of absorption that is unconditioned and liberating. Sitting with whatever we have or are, without envisioning a ‘self’ or a situation that is different is being choiceless. In this also, there is movement albeit movement bereft of the struggle to change what just is, and a willing acceptance of whatever it is that might come our way.
Often times we harbor the belief that we design our lives. That might be true, but what takes us towards lasting freedom is the conviction that we can live at peace with what we design or are bestowed with, without relentlessly resorting to the choice to have better!