Freedom To Choose.


The previous and fourth article in the category of ‘Being Human – The Way We Are’ – Surpassing Our Natural State Or Weakness – concludes leaving the reader with a question:

‘We cannot change in one step but if we have a heartfelt wish to change, we can choose and then forge ourselves a new path can’t we?’ This may have hinted at a further article related to truth-seeking and esoteric ideas, but being as I am still very much a student in this way, I will not be attempting to as one great guru described it, ‘re-write the book.’ In other words, there is already so much useful and readily available material on the topic of spiritual growth, that there is no need to repeat it and more so, no need to risk distorting what is already written about so well. However, you are more than welcome to contact me should you wish to enquire or to discuss the subject further.

The fifth article within the ‘Being Human – The Way We Are’ category, Freedom To Choose, consolidates the main points of the first four articles, whilst focussing on what we can actually do ourselves to become people who choose, rather than people who guess, hide, pretend, copy, lie and react and then make do with the results. We have looked a little at the idea of drama playing out in our lives and mentioned the disease that this can lead to if left unchecked. We’ve also examined the principle, ‘We reap what we sow’ and considered how it works in our lives. Finally we have considered some of the foibles of our natural state and the idea of choice related to change. This article attempts to bring these ideas together adding perspective along the way.

Freedom To Choose.

It could be said that we are born into a potentially dramatic world where there are so many views, opinions and attachments, it can be hard to make head or tail of very much at all. However, this doesn’t mean to say that we are sentenced to being thrown into one dramatic circumstance after another without any choice on our part – we could even consider going against the flow. Perhaps it’s simply easier to ‘just go with the flow?’ I think it can certainly look like it at times and it’s certainly apparent pretty quickly to anyone who tries to go against the grain, that there are many obstacles along the way. Nevertheless, without making concerted efforts to challenge what we are experiencing at times, we are likely to simply move autonomously from drama to drama, ageing along the way.

If we decide that we are fed up of living within different dramas without much real connection going on between the parties involved, what can we actually do about it if anything at all? I think this leads to another more profound question: How can we KNOW that we are caught up in drama at the time? It can be easier to see in hindsight that we allowed ourselves to be carried along by reactionary thinking and associated emotions… but how can we remember it at the time that it is happening, so that we might have a chance to step back and look at it with new eyes from an unadulterated, clear perspective and be able to control any parts of us that wish to manifest negatively?  To reiterate, I am not about to write a recapitulation on the works of our greatest psychologists and philosophers who include certain methods and principles for dealing with our autonomous structure and associated habits – but the material is available. No, I am asking the question in layman’s terms. How can we remind ourselves of our better selves, so as not to become lost when our thoughts and emotions are drawn into yet another dramatic scenario?

When I asked myself this question I looked back into my late teens, a time before I had begun studying esotericism in a specific form – and remembered what I did to do keep myself on my toes in this way. One of the techniques I found very helpful, was in response to tricky situations, I would make notes and stick them around the house that might have said for example: ‘Turn the other cheek’ (reminding me that when someone was mean, there was no use in being mean back) – or ‘Be humble’ (reminding me in the face of life’s challenges, that we are ALL STRUGGLING and to be patient) – or another one was ‘Every bad word you say about another you are saying to yourself’ (reminding me that everything that we give out comes back to us and making me realise that words do hurt, they do hold weight, it is NOT just sticks and stones that hurt – and to be careful and cautious with my tongue). These are just three of many, as I had dozens of notes put up in places around my house where I knew I would notice them  and I was constantly replacing them or adding to them as and when I knew I needed a critical reminder. Moments where I could have fallen into negativity became less as a result and I found myself increasingly relaxed and less and less afraid. I felt more able to be kind and to allow for other people’s weaknesses and unpleasantnesses.

Each person’s notes will be different depending on where they are in themselves at the time and what they are needing to remind themselves of. The hub of this way forward, is a sincere wish to not react and to grow stronger in the face of others unpleasant ways of being, rather than to add fuel to the negative fire so to speak. But why would we take this tac in preference to just lashing out and stopping our discomfort there and then or at least trying to? This is a really worthwhile question, especially in today’s political climate as many would reason to NOT lash out, reveals weakness and vulnerability and invites further trouble. Is this true?

We have a habit of thinking in opposites; right and wrong, up and down, left and right, should I or shouldn’t I? etc and this very automatic way of thinking limits us severely. If you take any subject for yourself and attach either right or wrong, good or bad, nice or horrid etc – what do you find? When I tried it, I found that many situations didn’t really fit into one category or the other – they could be a little of both, sometimes more one and sometimes more the other. Not only that, as I looked further, I realised that when we are caught up in drama and emotions are running high, we enter this restricting way of thinking and all the other details in the greater picture become lost. Then once we have ‘calmed down’ and looked back on it (hindsight), we are able to consider several lines of thought and feeling all coming from the same situation, that we did not consider at the time, because we became so dramatic that we lost the whole picture!

Bearing this in mind, it would surely be tantamount to absurdity to allow that kind of thinking to be at the helm of our efforts to grow stronger and to resist lashing out. We cannot rely on limitations such as ‘Good or bad,’ Nice or horrid,’ Pretty or ugly,’ ‘Intelligent or thick’ and so on – as this way of thinking see-saws our associated thoughts and emotions in a most chaotic manner and takes the rest of our life experience with it. We need to work to consider that there are many threads, many possible lines of action and therefore many potential choices flowing from each subject… Remembering this, allows us the possibility of replacing old, outdated ideas that do not work anymore… if they ever did – with new progressive thoughts.

So these notes can be gold-dust. Granted they won’t be pinned up in the streets when you are shopping and maybe not even at work – but at home, you can put them everywhere and anywhere that you will see them and just as you are about to react to a call, or a neighbour, or your children, or your partner you will notice one of them… ‘Count to ten first then respond,’ ‘Remember to be a yes mum whenever you can’ or ‘Be kind to others as you would have them be kind to you.’ Initially, you may read a note and shout at it because you are caught in a drama raging inside you at the time and the note just doesn’t seem to touch the sides. But as time goes on and with repetition, you will become better at talking to your trickier sides in your notes and this will enable you to make them more personal to the moments that you struggle with in your life. Before you know it, you will have built a basic tool set for dealing with unpleasant things that come your way and all whilst not reacting and lashing out i.e. without chucking stones.

This way of responding to life’s impressions, leaves us free of negative reactions and compromise and subsequent guilty conscience and halts our natural instinct to lash out when we feel offended in some way. Guilt and compromise along with an array of other negative emotions, great tension adversely effect many functions of the body and eventually leading to disease. To be free of reaction is to be someway free of the risk of disease and it also means that we are not contributing to anyone else’s struggles. A man who has attacked another cannot see himself or his behaviour whilst he is experiencing his horrid revenge; it is in his victim’s absence that he is most likely to be able to see himself. We can use this idea to support those who are reacting negatively –  we can effectively become ‘absent’ by refusing to jump on the same bandwagon with them whilst at the same time not taking an opposing side. Even if the negativity is aimed at us we can do the same. We can remember that they are simply in a state of reaction, before humbly apologising (so as not to antagonise them further), therefore offering them gentle conditions to be able to reflect and review the situation in their own time. There are so very many distractions in life that it can be really hard to stay on task but each altercation, each unpleasant moment, can signal another opportunity to strengthen in this way and eventually, you may even welcome the challenge of other people’s unpleasant behaviours as a chance to ‘get over yourself’ and free yourself of reaction to others.

I have heard many a person wish that they could be witness to someone else’s karma but usually out of revenge after having felt slighted, after competing and losing, or in acute frustration at the seemingly easy life of someone they feel does not deserve it. In my view quite honestly, this is not how I have witnessed Karma at work and anyway, waiting for someone else’s ripples to come back and hurt them, means we are not focussing on our own Karma. We don’t know the lessons that another person needs or the timing of the prescribed lessons, so we may be waiting for a very long time. Why? a. Because there are actually SO very many moments and experiences that make up one person’s life, that we cannot possibly know the Karma that they are creating and reaping and b. We don’t know when Karmic lessons will be presented to us, let alone someone else.  However, if we were able to see exactly the ripples that we send out and had a good understanding of how things connect, then we could be more on top of our game couldn’t we; So that when we did inadvertently chuck a stone, we could note it, seek to correct our error bringing it into balance, and therefore eradicate the need for the karmic lesson that may well have followed. Let’s use an example to look at what this actually means.

Person A has been mean to Person B. The ripples that Person A has sent out from the stone that they chucked, are full of blame and anger. Person A has successfully thrown a stone whose ripples on their way out, really hurt another person. Person A reflects on his day and at first feels just as angry and just as justified. Later on that night he watches a film and it reminds him how easily good people can and often do make mistakes and yet how keen they are  to point the finger at each other. After reflecting on his own behaviour he feels awkward and then sorry for the way he lunged at another struggling human being. He commits to ensure that the next meeting with Person B is apologetic and maybe he will even mention the film to him too. By arriving at these ideas himself, why would he now need Karma to deliver a situation to teach him? He threw a stone and hurt Person B on the way out – but now he has developed, he is no longer the stone that created the ripples – so they cannot come back to him and hurt him too. He has already acknowledged his weakness and paid the price. If Person A had not learnt his lesson, then Karma may have seen him in the same position as Person B as the very same ripples that he sent out would have come back to him. In the same light, if Person B is able to recognise that Person A was reacting and did not mean to point the finger, Person B can choose to resist throwing stones and avoid inviting bad Karma to himself. This is what I understand about Karma. Bad Karma should be renamed, The Teacher With The Twinkling Eyes.

There are some amazing sensitive souls who have studied the relationship between our bodies, feelings and thoughts. One such a person is a lady named Louise Hay who explains how matters left to fester on a thinking or feeling level can easily begin to adversely effect our bodies. Over the years I have researched, challenged and checked this idea repeatedly and for myself, found it to be true. There are some very obvious and direct examples – like the illness that can arise if a person consistently complains for example. A person full of complaint, sports a certain tone, a certain manner, certain physical postures and habits and all the while that they are held by their negative thoughts and emotions, there is much tension in their body hindering the free-flow of its usual functioning.  To understand this clearly, envisage a depressed person bouncing in the room with a huge smile on their face… it just doesn’t happen does it? Or a person full of revenge practising postures in a Yoga class….The truth is that our emotional and mental state, very much dictates not just our health, but also what we send out to the world and what we then receive. Is this worth some thought? If you knew for sure that your negative thoughts and associated reactions would in turn leave you unwell and spread illness to others, wouldn’t you want to learn to think better thoughts?

Maybe you already have your finger on the pulse in this way and have studied many ideas. There are certainly countless examples related to the effect of negative thoughts and emotions, arising from different belief systems. For example you may have heard of a man named Dr Emoto who has published his findings regarding the properties of water and speaks to us about how we can be instrumental in using this knowledge to our advantage. Once we realise the delicacy and receptivity of those around us and ourselves, however robust and impenetrable they may appear to be, it becomes obvious that there really is profound work that we can do, IF we choose to trade negativity and lashing out, for practising awareness and consideration of others. Dr Emoto teaches us that we are life, organic matter and largely made of water which transmits messages easily. So if we are spending our time generating negative thoughts and feelings, we are literally intoxicating our bodies and those around us who are unable to fend it off. Surely this is worth some contemplation – because if it it as easy as that to impact one another, surely we would want to utilise our watery selves to heal one another, wouldn’t we? 

There are many people who would assert that we do make choices every day but this article differentiates between the reactionary decisions we often make on the hoof and those we make after much reflection, deliberation and consideration of the whole. This second way of considering moments that call for choices, needs an intelligent and unfettered centre of gravity. It is not possible to choose well from a chaotic foundation and yet without work on ourselves to first notice drama when it presents itself and to practise not throwing stones and pausing the momentums already driving us, chaotic choices are all that are available to us. Until we have worked on ourselves to become at the very least generally non-reactionary in our ordinary lives, we have no hope of really choosing. Until we have created reliable internal dialogue to catch those moments where we would normally react and blurt, our perspective of life will remain the same and we will be unable to change anything of significance.

I realise while writing this article, that perspectives on these ideas may vary hugely from person to person and even within the same person at different times according to circumstance and an array of other considerations. However, the proof of the pudding is in the personal application of these ideas, so you can see for yourself if they are useful to you.

At the very least, please remember that we are largely made of water and that each message that you deliver to yourself or to someone else can alter the makeup of that water and create toxicity and disease – or positivity and healing. In this way we really do become what we feel. Our Karma is in our hands.

Thank you for reading. Comments welcome.

© 2015 Sarita Perrott. All Rights Reserved.