Freedom To Choose.

Introduction.

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.

Surpassing Our Natural State Or Weakness.

Introduction.

The previous article, the third in the category of ‘Being Human – The Way We Are,’ Whatever Goes Around, Most DEFINITELY Comes Around – concludes leaving the reader with a question:

“Why the hell would I in effect, turn the other cheek?” Well, if it was only to take care of your own karma wouldn’t that be motivation enough? However this article takes it further suggesting that to resist self-control in his way, is the root of our suffering and so on this basis, isn’t it worth some serious consideration?

This fourth article, Surpassing Our Natural State Or Weakness, delves into some of the problems that can be encountered once we have chosen to resist ‘chucking stones’ and once we have declined to continue to create, diseased karma.

Surpassing Our Natural State Or Weakness.

The Domino Effect.

At some point in our lives and for some people, many moments of their lives, we yearn to be the best of ourselves, to love unconditionally, to be someone who can give to others without feeling owed something back. Then shortly afterwards we realise that all sorts of obstacles can and do get in the way and therefore just how hard it is to even change one little thing about ourselves, let alone many things. Worse still, we see that everything about ourselves, our thoughts, feelings and natural instincts is  interconnected just like dominoes in a row, all leaning on the one before – and just a little movement, a little change for one domino, can lead them all to fall down. So we see to change one habit, really involves a whole lot more than we at first calculated.

Often we hear from someone who wishes to quit smoking that they can’t until they have no stress in their life. Then we witness them having a cigarette in response to their perceived stress. How can this be changed? Some people will try to quit smoking by going cold turkey – in other words without any preparation or any support – but then often, when the usual stresses arise and call for their nicotine escape-route, the draw to smoke may feel even stronger than before, because they haven’t created new ideas and momentums to take the place of the addiction they wish to lose. An example of a new idea might be, “I feel stressed. I have researched the effects of smoking and now know that opposed to the stereotypical idea that smoking relaxes me, it actually makes my heart-beat double in speed, creates tension in my muscles etc. Am I simply creating greater tension to disguise the real tension?” This is an interesting concept, it’s like smashing yourself in the face to take the attention off a sore hand, or cutting your arms in a bid to free yourself of emotions that you can’t handle…hence the birth of self-harm/self-calming.

Do you know, that most legal narcotics/medications work on this basis? Check it out – the side effects of most medication, include the symptoms which the patient is taking the medication to relieve! The side effects of Venlafaxine for example, used for depression (being stuck-more about this later), include increased aggression and suicidal tendencies. These medications create a need for a fix much like a drug addict relies on each fix but all in the name of mental health support. The truth is this method of progress is often-times illusory and certainly not reliable, as it simply dampens down parts of us which need attention and whilst maintaining a vicious circle of addiction, rather than there being any useful development.

The Brains Of Evolution.

We all have a propensity to imitate here and there and certainly as children this is a chief function and very necessary for many years.  The evolution of life uses imitation within the repeated cycles that turn the cogs of the natural world, perfectly, year after year. If nature demanded that every single thing be reasoned through at length before it came into being, it would be a very different reality. No, there is already a framework in place that works and we have been equipped to exist here, even to thrive here and to procreate here. To survive and to prosper. There are many habits and momentums that do not call for our attention, that do not demand that we remember to maintain them and these are taken for granted until they fail; the beating of our hearts and breathing being just two of many, many processes that unfold without the need for our attention. We live in the womb of the Universe and just like babies, we are fed all that we need to exist.

This natural state is so powerful, that to supersede it takes very special efforts. All the mental, emotional, and sensual momentums that we experience simultaneously, are towards the survival and proliferation of our race as it is with other animals, so there is much sensory distraction for those who commit to go against the grain.  Also by their very nature, habits are comfortable whether good, bad or middling and therefore to change them, can feel like a very unfriendly idea indeed and this along with consistent distractions, can and often is enough to keep us where we are.

It is interesting to observe not just ourselves but also other people and to note where imitation arises. Many people will attempt to imitate the qualities in others that they like and superficially this can work; we can wear the same clothes as someone else, walk the same way, adopt a persona displaying certain apparent attitudes and such like but imitation cannot replace in depth study, learning and development, so unless you are content with only making connections based on transient and relatively vague ideas, imitation is not useful enough on its own.

I have witnessed people trying to imitate the un-imitatable and then finding they aren’t able to, falling into depression. In my view, depression, regardless of the cause, is essentially being stuck. Consider this if you will; if you are trying to copy people to feel connected here and to experience a sense of safety and belonging, you may well become depressed as you realise that yes you can copy others, but you cannot yourself feel the peace of the guru that you have chosen to imitate. You can sit like him and hold your head like him, you can smile like him and repeat chants like him, you can speak gently to other people in the manner that he does and you can leave them with a soft hand on their shoulder, again, just like he does. However, does this mean that you also are free of  negativity and of judgement against your fellow man? Do you feel free, pure and at peace? These attributes cannot be imitated.

Some times people try to bridge the gap between their truthful perception of themselves and the way that they wish to be perceived by others – by using marijuana, narcotics, alcohol,  medication and/or other addictions and distractions. They may avoid spending time alone, taking stimulants to push the otherwise constant nagging thought away, “This isn’t the real deal!” and all the time maintaining connections with other people who are also avoiding the same truth and who therefore present little challenge.

However, you may be one of those people who are hanging off the edge of your seat for real food now? Perhaps you have spent many years fashioning illusions of grandeur about yourself, based on parts of you that have been closer to reality at different times in your life or simply through your recognisable worldly achievements; whilst simultaneously building a safety network of people around you, for the sole purpose of supporting and nourishing these grand attributes you have fostered. You may have done all tis and more and yet still arrived at the same aforementioned thought, “This isn’t the real deal.”

There Is Nothing Valuable Without Effort.

This looks like a hard-truth and it is until it is properly understood and it cannot be understood by words alone. Western living in all its glory, teaches the less effort the better which on the surface may look really appealing – why make effort if we can just flick a switch? Why make effort if we can just lie? What make effort without knowing exactly what we can get out of it and when?

WE are largely autonomous beings and the state that is naturally ours does not afford us to see ourselves as we truly are. Even if we examine our inner worlds from our usual state, it is really just one character within us, judging another. There are different states available to us but, and it is a BIG BUT, these other states cannot be reliably experienced without making regular and very specific efforts. So here we see a problem right away – as the rewards of such efforts cannot be properly understood or appreciated UNTIL WE HAVE ALREADY MADE THE EFFORTS. The rewards are unimaginable and life-changing but the laziness of our pre-formed personality has to be confronted and diminished before the small voice of our essential selves can be followed with suitable conviction. The truth is that the majority of people will not opt for this opt for this –  why would they when they can almost effortlessly simply pull the wool over their own and other people’s eyes? However, there are those who sincerely wish to be free of western world conditioning –  and who have already experienced the joy of paying first… and for these people who wish to surpass their natural state of weakness, there is a very real way ahead.

The path of the truth-seeker utilises imitation as a means to adopt certain methods and principles, rather than as an end, to maintain a state of image and ignorance. It is the seeker’s responsibility to make enough effort and to choose whether or not to risk the safety of the conditioned life they are already accustomed to. Some seekers who opt to risk wobbling their current life circumstances (often because on balance they feel their life isn’t quite doing it for them anyway), live outside of the box but only until they have fashioned a new and more comfortable box. Whereas others, seekers may have a curiosity for all that lies under the surface of the things that we take for granted, such as artists flowing with creative thoughts challenging the usual views of life or perhaps people who have endured trauma and been left with deep grooves of discomfort and splayed out boundaries.

Please bear in mind that there really is such a thing as lost opportunity. There are many papers and books highlighting a variety of dual nature’s of man but for the purpose of this article, I will not be discussing these. Suffice to say, the duality that I am referring to, I am calling the face which we show to the world and the way that we know ourselves. If we are being driven by the face which we show to the world, then we are experiencing ourselves through other people’s opinions and interactions and not through our own peaceful reflection. If we are experiencing ourselves through other people’s opinions and interactions and not through our own peaceful reflection, life passes by extremely quickly. Without certain efforts the other part of our duality cannot do much, cannot impact much and cannot even be felt very much and opportunities, some of them one in a million, can easily be missed or even lost altogether.

As much as we know we have just one life of around seventy-eighty years – it isn’t a long time. There are many chances to grab the golden hoop and as many to miss it. It is every individual’s right to choose their own path. We can chuck stones, spreading and inciting misery. We can live by unmoderated imitation. We can operate as lazily as possible, quickly pasting the cracks where effort may be called for or we can choose to nurture the other part of our nature, the side that wants to take responsibility and find out more. We can develop the side of our natures that really doesn’t want to create negative karma but sees that there are habits to break to be free of their weakness and therefore efforts to make.

We cannot change in one step but we can choose and then forge ourselves a new path if we have a heartfelt wish to change – can’t we?

Thank you for reading. Comments welcome.

© 2015 Sarita Perrott. All Rights Reserved.