Choices and Decisions

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From lecture 128, LIMITATIONS CREATED THROUGH ILLUSORY ALTERNATIVES:

The either/or attitude, gravely and falsely limits spiritual reality, the cosmic forces at your disposal. Apart from the general misconception that suffering is necessary, and therefore should be sought, the either/or attitude has three important subdivisions, contained in all mass and personal images: (1) If this is good, then that is bad, everything is either black or white, right or wrong. (2) There are but two equally undesirable alternatives; no other possibility seems open. (3) Only one, or at best only a limited amount of desirable forms of self-expression and fulfillment can be had; other choices have to be given up. It is either this or that fulfillment, not both. Let us now see, in this context, why these limitations are false and damaging.

When you seek clarity in an issue and you consider it merely from the point of view of right or wrong, good or bad, this is a shallow and insufficient evaluation, leaving out many aspects of importance, many considerations of reality that cannot be found on the narrow level of either/or. The scope and depth of reality is much wider. This happens only because you do not question the issue in a spirit of really wanting to see whether or not it is constructive, productive, life-affirming and growth-producing for all concerned — and this, after all, is the central question of all life issues — or limiting and destructive. Ask, what is constructive about it and why, and what destructive?

You are used to quickly assuming a ready-made rule, without questioning it. You echo something blindly, without quite knowing why. And if you are challenged, you feel cornered and lean on authority; you conform, without ever using your own resources and your mind to find out why you adopt or reject, why you condone, and why you condemn. It does not occur to you that considerations other than right or wrong may apply to an issue. When you miss questioning the real issues, you overlook the greater scope, which would carry you way beyond the fence of unquestioned standards. This fence seems a protection against disapproval or rejection. But you imprison yourself, and the result is that you have to constantly deal with wrong choices — choices that do not exist in reality. Adopting views and standards without questioning and probing, without getting to the real issues, or even the will to see what is really important and true, stems from the concern to gain approval, ward off disapproval, and not from a sincere concern for the issue itself. Here we find again what I mentioned first: living in integrity versus living in pretense.

Let us now look at the second either/or, the choice between two equally undesirable alternatives. Such a limited and negative outlook must, of course, be the result of an equally limited and negative wrong conclusion. Untruth can only breed further error; it cannot breed truth. Wrong conclusions are always the result of stale, stagnant, obsolete ideas that remain unquestioned. If you dare not question your own taboos, you cannot widen the horizon of your life and discover that there are so many beautiful possibilities. Then you are doomed to making choices between equally undesirable and painful alternatives.

The third either/or is the assumption that only a limited degree of fulfillment and happiness exists. You have to choose between either this or that goal, the fulfillment of this or that wish. You also believe that your happiness or fulfillment takes away someone else’s, so you dare not wish for your own, in the fear of being selfish. Within the fence, the universe is so limited that there is not enough room for a full life for each created being, and your fulfillment in one area seems to deprive another of this particular fulfillment. But beyond the fence, where no envy and jealousy exist, there is no such limitation. There the universe is seen for what it really is — unlimited. Within the fence, you think you have to make choices. Beyond the fence no such choices need to be made.

You cannot step beyond the fence unless you discover that you are a free creature with self-responsibility. Part of this is the willingness and eagerness to question all doctrines, rules, regulations, and opinions handed down to you. Such questioning must be done thoroughly and independently, deeply probing into the truly important questions of living and growing. You must refuse to accept a view unless you, yourself, have arrived at its validity. You, yourself, must learn to determine yourself what you want, what to think, how much you are willing to invest to obtain what you wish, and whether what you expect for your investment is fair. You must learn to delve into yourself to summon the necessary resources and strength from within, in order to obtain what you wish. If you declare that you wish it and want to establish the necessary precondition within yourself, the answer must come from your higher self. You will find the capabilities you need. Clear-cut, concise formulation and articulation of what you wish, in what way you need to grow, and where you need help, will bring forth answers from the deepest source of truth and wisdom within, from the cosmic forces inside yourself.

When you fully understand the most accessible cause-and-effect connections which are within the first fences, the closest sections of your private maze, you will then be able to remove fences which are the results of more remote connections. How can you understand a karmic condition if you do not first fully experience the truth of immediate cause and effect? For example, you have a disharmonious relationship, but you do not see how you constantly contribute to it with your actions, thoughts and feelings. After you become aware of this, you have the ability to immediately change the relationship. But when you go on and on in blindness, you will come to the point where you find yourself alone, where you have no relationship, where you live in conditions in which it seems almost impossible to create a new relationship. This condition, then, is an effect not so easily perceived. But when the more immediate connections have been worked through, you will also come to understand and experience the more remote ones.

In order to deal with the less obvious cause-and-effect situations, it is important to understand an apparent contradiction. On the one hand, through a deeper understanding of yourself and spiritual law you begin to realize that suffering is unnecessary. On the other hand, the acceptance of what is, and the relinquishing of your selfwill are both necessary to be in inner harmony. This seems, indeed, like a contradiction which may give rise to puzzlement and confusion. Now, when I speak of acceptance, do I mean acceptance of suffering? Of course not. In an indirect sense it may temporarily appear so, but the emphasis is entirely different. You have to learn to accept your limitations and their results. If you rebel against your present hardship, which is the result of your past ignorance, you obstruct the removal of the cause that created the hardship in the first place.

Accepting your limitations does not mean resignation to a limited state. Rather, it means true self-responsibility. It means to be aware that your freedom is not interfered with, that you are a free creature even before you become conscious of your own strength and freedom. It is indeed wonderful that it is that way. When you cannot accept your limitations, you do not accept self-responsibility, therefore you cannot step across the fence. The consequences of your past ignorance have to be accepted, but only as long as you persist in retaining the particular ignorance or misconception that has created the suffering. The moment you truly decide to change — and that requires the courage of ruthless self-honesty — the past negative cause dissolves and you feel the inner freedom to express happiness, to fully desire it, without tension, without urgency, without guilt, without the fear of unhappiness. Calmly, and with certainty, you will know that you can have all the happiness you wish, that your happiness does not interfere with any constructive issue in the world, nor does it deprive anyone. Nothing stands in the way. This will be your soul-condition the moment you are truly willing to change the cause that has brought the effect of unhappiness. When this decision is fully made, then further removed cause-and-effect connections also become immediately accessible.

The more you establish and experience the links between cause and effect, the more secure you must become, and the more trusting you will be in the nature of the universe and its benign character. As you remove fence after fence, you will emanate a current of trust which will have its positive effect. In other words, when you find yourself in a position that is evidently the result of a long chain reaction of negative beliefs and misconceptions, you will no longer feel hopeless about your condition. As your inner consciousness changes, you trustingly express your wish for fulfillment, in the knowledge that this is in keeping with spiritual reality. Thus you build a new condition. Such expression of trust is possible after experiencing again and again your true selfhood and its results, as opposed to self-imprisonment and its results. The knowingness that the law of cause and effect must fulfill itself will bring its proof. The trust you send out must come back to you. You will deeply know, without a doubt, that as your limited concepts bred their limited results, so your expanded concepts of the abundance of creation will breed, correspondingly, its own rewarding fulfillment. This knowingness is a ray that reaches out and must come back in fullness.

From lecture 54, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

QUESTION: It was pointed out to somebody that making decisions are necessary in life. This person believes that this would be self-will and pride and that one has to wait for God’s will.

ANSWER: Humanity always tends to go from one extreme to the other. Knowing that one extreme is wrong, one wants to believe that the other extreme is right. This would be so much easier, and there would be nothing to weigh. God’s will does not manifest so easily. God’s laws work within the soul. If people who are unable or unwilling to make decisions wait for God to take care of their decisions for them, what will happen will not be what God has decided but the result of their own weakness, unwillingness, or inability to make decisions. It is a fallacy to think you can go through life without making decisions. Actually, you make a decision every time you breathe. Not making a decision is a decision too, although a wrong or unfavorable one. It is God’s will that you become mature, independent, and responsible for your decisions. By no means do I suggest using self-will. Decisions may, but need not be prompted by self-will. It depends entirely on the motive.

Whoever interprets free, mature decision-making as self-will, should question himself — or be questioned by his helper — along the following lines: Why do you feel God should make decisions for you? Didn’t God give you free will? Does not free will imply becoming a grown person who can make responsible decisions personally? Does the idea that God’s will cannot manifest if you make decisions hide a fear that you are responsible and may have to blame yourself? Isn’t it too easy to do nothing and wait for God to run your life? Is it really devotion to God that forms this concept or is something else hidden behind this point of view? If you wait for God’s decision and it turns out badly, isn’t it much easier to say it is all God’s fault? You may not pronounce these words even in your thoughts, but this is what you must feel when you hide behind this wall of a fallacy. Such fallacies very often turn into false piety. What in your view is obvious devotion hides something completely different.

No, my friends, it is much healthier if you say, “Even if occasionally my decisions will turn out wrong, I act according to my best ability, trying to consider everyone involved, making my decisions with as little egotism as possible, but with the healthy premise that I am to be considered just as much as anyone else. I realize that I am a limited human being and therefore I am bound to make mistakes. I am willing to pay the price of learning from my possible mistakes. In reality, by avoiding decisions I would only try to get out of paying the price for living.” This is healthy. It is unhealthy if you let God make the decisions for you so that you may be absolved from the consequences of your decisions, their consequences, and the responsibility involved in making them.

Such shirking of responsibility — for this is what it amounts to — is just as wrong as self-willed actions in which one just goes ahead without consideration for another person. In fact, lack of decision-making will often produce the same results as inconsiderate, heedless and selfish decisions that are made without further thought. It is a complete error to believe that independent decisions are necessarily selfish and self-willed, it is equally erroneous that refusal of decision-making, under the mask of “waiting for God’s will,” lacks selfishness and self-will. It may be much more self-willed, in a hidden way, to refuse to make decisions; it may even be dishonest to say, “It is my desire to have God’s will decide for me.” I do not say that whenever a person says this, the motivation must be a basic dishonesty. There is no black or white. God’s motives always mingle with wrong or sick ones. Certainly, a true desire to fulfill God’s will can coexist with a certain cowardice and refusal to assume self-responsibility. I am only pointing out that it is possible to use a spiritual truth to rationalize the weakness and sickness of the soul.

QUESTION: Is making a decision a manifestation of free will or the natural result of the law of causality?

ANSWER: Humans have been endowed with free will, contrary to beings still in a lower grade of development, such as animals or plants. Free will implies the ability and the responsibility to make your own decisions. Certainly it is advisable to trust in God and ask for guidance and not to go about making decisions without asking God for help. When you ask for guidance and wait for it to manifest through various channels, at the same time using your own brain, decency and responsibility, you are also using your free will. To ask for guidance already implies a certain flexibility, a lack of self-will. So ask for guidance in humility, knowing that you cannot always know the right answers, but realizing that you have self-responsibility and are, therefore, accountable for your decisions, whether they turn out right or wrong. It is inevitable in every human being’s life to make some wrong decisions, but you should certainly learn from them. Is that so difficult to understand?

QUESTION: I am afraid it is, but I want to take a little more time to think about it. I don’t understand if the law of causality is extended in some cases.

ANSWER: No, not at all. Free will works within the law of causality.

QUESTION: But then one is not free… as an effect of a cause.

ANSWER: No. You set your own causes in motion by your decisions or the lack of them. The law of causality or of cause and effect does not exist as a force that has nothing to do with you. On the contrary, it exists rather as an outcome of the free will of the individual. It is the product of it.

I suggest that you take up this question in your discussion later. I think most of my friends understand it quite well, so a discussion may prove to be illuminating for you. Or is there anyone else who does not understand it? No? So then take it up afterwards. If there is still a lack of clarity, bring it to me and I will try to shed more light on it at a future time. If there is a real block, however, this should certainly be considered in the personal image-work. For then you will find in this question a major key to your own problems.

QUESTION: What happens to the spirits who do not belong to the Plan of Salvation and are being prepared for incarnation? Are they subjected to this separation with their consent, without their consent, or in what way are they prepared?

ANSWER: It works along the same principles. They are always consulted and are given a free choice first. Together, they then consider what this choice may mean, what results it may produce from the point of view that is important, namely spiritual development. A wiser and higher developed spirit advises and points out certain things that the spirit in question may not have the overall view to see as yet. As I explained in the lecture pertaining to this subject, in some instances their own choice is fully considered because it is wise. In other cases, it is pointed out that their choice may be dangerous. It is shown to them how and why. Then they may accept the advice or they may not. Still, their wish is considered. In other cases, their choice is too easy and therefore the coming life would not offer them any chance of growth. Again they are advised and shown; again they may or may not accept. And again, in yet other instances their choice must be denied outright because it is so blind and so far away from understanding the purpose of life that they would bring great harm to themselves and others by following through on their own suggestions. Besides, doing so would violate the law of cause and effect and free will. They must remain within the effects they themselves have brought about by their previous actions and reactions. There is some leeway to that, but it is limited. A spirit who has gained some understanding and vision, some self-awareness, even before he is part of the great order of the divine Spirit World, will make his choice within the framework of his own causes. If an entity stubbornly refuses to take advice, he will just naturally fall into the channels he has prepared for himself by his previous free will. Then his will seems limited, but this is erroneous, for the limitations are the product of his free will. In short, the same principle holds true for all spirits, whether they belong to the Plan of Salvation or not. The difference is only that the former will make wiser decisions for their lives from the viewpoint of reality.

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To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

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