The Power of Choice

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Course Ideas / Reflections

Sometimes I really enjoy discussing quantum physics, cosmology, or the nature of human consciousness, but these are largely pursuits of pleasure for my intellect, the way a great novel can be a pursuit of pleasure for the soul. There are fascinating adventures to be had. And while it’s good clean fun to wonder how what is observed fits into what I think deep down about how things work, at the end of the day . . .

I don’t know how things work . . . I just know they do.

But what does that mean, right? What does it mean to say that life “works”?

It means I’m already in over my head in this post, for one thing. But let me give it a go.

First, foremost, and perhaps completely, it means that the context or framework in which our experiential awareness arises is functional. The word functional provides no greater insight than to say that reality “works,” I know, but it offers a different vantage. We can talk about what this function is. And to that end, the first clarification I can offer is that I think this “realm” we live in (for lack of a better word) provides infallible experiential feedback on the consequences of our fundamental perceptual choices.

Of which there are two.

Choice A is the one we’ve been in for a very, very, very long time and are potentially graduating from. It is the choice to identify principally with a finite physical form. I am this body (and only this). I often call this the “mindset of separation” using language from A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, etc., etc. Fundamental to this choice is the notion that the universe is basically an empty container, and even in religious views, that we are here, and heaven or God or what have you are “out there” somewhere.

Choice B is unity. This doesn’t mean we’re not specific individuals, but it does mean we’re intrinsically bound to one another and to the field of life itself in ways that transcend the limitations of our individuated physical expression. It also means we are fundamentally unified with all that exists eternally—meaning outside of time—which we can call the unknown. For those of religious orientation, it could mean there is no God “out there,” only the God we come to know “here” as the relationship within. Also, that “heaven” or the timeless are accessible and/or expressed through movements within time.

So, when I say that “I know things work,” I mean I trust that the conditions of life that we experience and are forced to navigate on a daily basis are perfect returns on the investment of our choice relative to the above. And I can’t say this with enough emphasis: this matters.

I think every last one of us has concerns about the nature of lived life: about the condition of the planet, of its people, and of all other forms of life. We would like, I think, to be part of transforming the nature of experience for the better, but we all face the same difficulties. The barriers are universal. If only, we say . . . If only I could get ahead, and could afford it, I’d put solar panels up. I’d buy different products. I’d stop driving to work and polluting the atmosphere. I’d stop eating food that is grown in a way that depletes the land. I’d stop depleting the oceans and the skies. I’d stop pumping rivers of water out of the ground that cannot be replaced. I’d stop using plastics. I’d stop using animals. I’d stop using wood. I’d stop using air conditioning. I’d stop using cobalt and lithium. I’d stop using computers. I’d stop taking strange medicines. I’d stop getting sick. We’d stop spending money on machineries of war. We’d fix inequality for good.

Sometimes this gets projected. If only “they” would stop [whatever, whatever, whatevering].

If only . . . if only . . . if only . . . .

The reason our fundamental choice (as described above) matters, is that all of the difficulties we face in their seemingly intractable forms are the naturally arising consequences of the choice for separation. And until this choice is made anew, every difficulty we solve will only lead to another. I submit that this is very much the way things work, and the most fundamental natural law there is.

I’m speaking globally here. Collectively. And I want to leave the individual experience aside for the moment, because while it’s true that each of us has a unique experience and path—some of which are easier or harder than others, some of which involve more physical pain and suffering than others, some of which involve differing hardships, journeys to overcome them, life lessons, talents or opportunities, moments of beauty and grace, etc., etc.—it’s also true (I believe) that having a “perfect” life while others suffer is not really what we’re after, even if we could. . . . Sometimes we make this an aim because it seems like the best choice among the only (bad) ones available, but if we had a blank sheet of paper, and perfect freedom, this isn’t what we’d draw.

Commitment to Choice A, to the experience of separation into which we were born—(as it is and has been the defining condition of the human experience since and prior to the dawn of recorded history)—is a commitment to the constraints that shackle us. It is a commitment to the zero sum game, to the scarcity of possibility, to one person’s loss being another’s gain, and to all the machinations of power, control, and tribalism that are the inherent outcomes of this fundamental choice.

I want this to sink in: make Choice A a million times on a million different planets with a million different forms of intelligent life, and a world akin to the one we have made will arise—a world riddled with problems to be solved, a world in which one person’s solution is another’s problem, a world gradually depleted of life, a world grinding slowly to dust. There is zero error band on this prediction, because as I noted above, this is the most fundamental natural law there is. If you bite into an apple, you will taste an apple. No matter what you do next, you cannot change the fact that you’re eating an apple. There is no malicious intent or judgment involved in this process: it is simply cause and effect.

The world—the vehicle of experiential awareness in which we reside—is functioning perfectly, and in some sense this could even be reassuring: it suggests that Choice B, a choice for unity, will lead with equal inevitability to different results. Make Choice B a million times on a million different planets with a million different forms of intelligent life, and the results will be the same: frameworks of experience will arise in which one person’s gain is indeed another’s, in which instruments of power and control are unnecessary, in which needs are met through processes that enrich and expand the very tapestry of life in its myriad expressions.

We don’t know exactly what this looks like—and it can probably look a million different ways—but as I touched upon in the previous post, we remember the feeling of it. What remains is to accept the possibility is quite real. It is as easy (and as difficult) as remembering who we are, in our heart of hearts.

A Course in Miracles says that a mind in unity “wills only to know.” I love this simple line. We need only will to know that in our every interaction, unity is being birthed. Will we make different choices? Sure. Will new actions born of a new choice be beneficial in ways that we can tabulate and quantify? Perhaps. But that’s not the real power in Choice B. The power is that the universe will move with us, as it always has, only instead of delivering the experience of separation we have sought, it will deliver us the experience of unity. Unity offers the mobilization of all that resides in the unknown, through our will to know it as the very substance and nature of our existence—to know it as the unity and relationship of all life.

11 Comments

  1. Always love to read your mindful and thoughtfulness Michael I’d love to listen to you and have a conversation…always curious…and I also love this line…”a mind in unity “wills only to know.” I love this simple line.”…I don’t know but you have my mind wandering and thinking…thanks kindly and have a beautiful evening ~ sending joy hedy ☺️💫I could make pictures that would works best for me☺️🕊🤓

    Liked by 4 people

    • Would be great to have a conversation sometime, Hedy! Thanks for reading through my long-winded dissertations of late. I do appreciate it. There’s definitely truth in the bounty that is revealed in a single image as compared to all these words!

      Peace
      Michael

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  2. Thanks for the thoughtful review of the impacts of living from separation vs living from unity and the power of choice. While I agree that living from separation keeps me chained to a zero-sum game, I somehow don’t quite trust in unity enough to surrender myself to those mysterious powers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well that’s the age-old question, I think, Brad. What I can say is it doesn’t mean pretending one is what they’re not–meaning, the choice for unity doesn’t begin with the assertion we’ll turn water into wine tonight in our kitchen, or never get sick again, or start aging in reverse, or walk around healing the sick with a few choice words. There’s this thing that happens where the choice for real change puts our limited view of self front and center, and it responds by creating these scenarios we have to live up to. It’s like somehow we’ve got to prove ourselves or something. I don’t know. Pretty soon we’re bending over backwards to demonstrate to the most cynical part within ourselves, the part we could simply let go, that this is real. lt’s a beautiful trap!

      The power of unity, as Mari said in reply to my previous post, cannot be used… This is also important. When that little voice inside us starts imagining all the things we could do with real power, like get a bigger house and a vacation next year to the south of France and whatever else it maybe thinks will give life the good feeling it has lacked, we’re off in LalaLand–meaning, unity has not been fully taken on board.

      There’s also the feeling that we’re hanging by a bit of a thread, and if we don’t grind along the way we’ve figured out how to grind, it could get worse… Like, we better not take our eyes of the ball here, or we’ll drop it. So better to grind away in the known, then take our foot off the gas. But unity doesn’t really ask us to make wild tests of ourselves. That’s really what I’m trying to say. Unity isn’t asking us to walk along the edges of buildings, or stop earning our livelihoods, or do whatever else we gin up in our minds that would be a proof we’ve made it… the one who’s walked away from everything and has this amazing story of discovering themselves on another continent has access to no greater truth than the one who’s stayed right where they are, still works in the same job, and cares for the ailing parent. Our paths our unique. Our fundamental truth is the same…

      What unity may do personally I think, is soften edges. Bring new life into the present conditions. Perhaps elicit shifts in perception that reveal opportunities we didn’t previously see or understand how to access. Provide the resources to shift focus, invest attention differently, etc. And before we know it things have genuinely transformed. And what I was getting at in this article is that collectively there’s the possibility of a world “where things just work out” in contrast to the world of the past which is a world “where things usually end badly…”

      I hope this makes sense, Brad!

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lee Roetcisoender says

    As usual, you’ve got some great insights going on here Michael. Other than feelings being at the core of our universe compelling and instantiating expression by its creative process, I think that “possibility” is the substrate upon which that universe is built. Possibility may be the singular qualitative property of the quantum realm, I don’t know. But for all practical purposes, that possibility already resides within the domain of our own minds as an ever present force; and an openness to that force and the willingness to take risks for some “thing” that we are not familiar with is the key to living and experiencing the unity that you speak of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautifully said, Lee! And do I see some of the thought processes behind the notion that mind is a quantum system as expressed on Mike’s page? I love how you write that “possibility” is the substrate upon which our universe is built, as well as an “ever present force” within us. The very thought mobilizes the feeling of “knowing” which I feel is in there, too, somewhere.

      Best to you and yours in this time of Thanksgiving!
      Michael

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      • Lee Roetcisoender says

        I posted a link yesterday to a review of Penrose’s book, “Shadow of the Mind” on Mike’s page addressed to Eric that you might be interested in as well a recent video from the Science of Consciousness Conference dated August 13,2021 that I posted today. Really cool stuff……

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    • Yes, the feeling of it . . . . I enjoy unfolding my feelings in words, more than is strictly necessary sometimes. Haha. But it is a practice that seems to deepen those feelings, and I think that is why it is helpful. However we discover and carry these feelings into our lives is our path to freedom. Thanks for attending to mine!

      Blessings to you and Don–
      Michael

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