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  • Writer's pictureallenbroadman


Updated: Jan 12, 2022

Choices, Choices, Choices...

In every moment we have a choice. In a certain way, our life is simply the series of choice-moments that stretches back from birth and onwards towards death. Moment after moment after moment. Choice after choice after choice. What can we make of it all?

What we choose to do in all these moments is the unfolding of our life itself. Our choices have consequences, both obvious and subtle, seen and unseen, which stretch far and wide in their sphere of influence, in both time and space.

Stephen Batchelor, in his book Verses from the Center, provides a translation of the great Mūlamadhyamakakārikā work of the Buddhist teacher Nagarjuna, and he points out how our actions, once made, reverberate out into the world, Batchelor writes:

Once the fateful decision has been made, the words have left our lips or the body's deed is done, the act is released into the flow of life. Its reverberative effects will, to some degree, reconfigure both ourselves and the world...

We are what we do and we do what we choose. Or do we? Do we really know exactly what a choice is with perfect certainty? It feels as if "I" make a choice, the "I" being that little person inside my head, the mini CEO in charge of deliberations and decisions tucked away in the brain somewhere. That's what it feels like, but is it so? Isn't my choice right now influenced by a thousand different things? By how sleepy or energetic I am, how irritated or relaxed, my whole emotional state? Isn't this moment's choice influenced by the many ideas and concepts I hold dearly, by my values and ethics, by goals and hopes and dreams? And isn't how I think and choose connected in some way to how I was raised by my parents, the schooling I did (or didn't) receive, my friends and family, the culture I've grown up in with its unending messages and social conditioning?

Truly, what's in a choice, and who really makes it?

So choose Zen!

Despite the mysterious nature of choices, they just happen! Even without perfect clarity into how choices manifest, the world keeps moving along with billions of people making choices, for better or worse, in every moment. So I recommend choosing an encounter with Zen practice! It might be impossible to know how the choice gets made, but somehow we just do it.


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