You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices. ~Deepak Chopra
We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear. ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
8.The Law of Choice: There are many choices you do not have the power to make. You cannot choose when, where, or to whom you were born. You did not choose your family, genetic inheritance, race, body type, or the early blessings and traumatic experiences that shaped your mind, emotions, and fundamental personality. You cannot choose to avoid suffering, or change the natural aging processes of your life.
But you do have the power to choose what to do with what life gives you. You can choose to confront your challenges with courage, confidence, and trust. You can choose the values you want to serve, the friends you want to keep, the partner you want to spend your life with. You can set goals and act on them, or procrastinate lest you make a mistake. You can settle for a job or lifestyle that does not fulfill you, or design a path of your own. You can accept responsibility for your choices or blame someone else. You can cultivate your imagination or bury it. View yourself as separate or as connected. Integrate or fight otherness. Nurture love or hate. Trust or fear. Your choices will shape your life and influence yours and the world’s welfare.
The difficulty in life is the choice. George Moore, The Bending of the Bough, 1900, Act IV.
But the big choices that can permanently alter the course of your life are very difficult. How then do you decide? In my life I’ve found that impulsive decisions are rarely the answer. Most really big choices require a great deal of soul-searching, self-knowledge, and time before the gates open and the path becomes clear. You need to examine your motives — not the surface, idealistic ones your ego flatters itself with, but the ones deep in your unconscious that you struggle to disown, like those based on pride, hunger for power, fear, selfishness, hatred, the need to impress, or the desire for revenge.
It is not I who create myself, rather I happen to myself. (The Collected Works of Carl Jung, Vol. 11, Para 391)
Unknown forces in your psyche influence you every day: instincts, archetypes, typologies, complexes, emotions, attitudes, and memories. You can choose to ignore them. You can blame them on people and circumstances. Or you can choose to be mindful of them. You can ask yourself why you just behaved the way you did; look for alternative ways to respond next time. You can pay attention to the dramas that are enacted in the dream theaters of your soul every night.
Once you understand your psychological patterns and the negative affect these patterns have on your life, you can now make better life choices. This is a breakthrough! Those patterns have kept you stuck from living the life you have imagined. Of course, your experiences and the way you coped with them will never disappear. They are part of your spiritual development. However, the coping mechanisms and false beliefs are no longer dictating who you become, your authentic self is, the self that wants purpose and meaning in life. ~www.virtuesforlife.com
You must recognize, embrace, and be honest about what is real for you today and allow that understanding to inform the choices you make. Only then will you be able to build the future of your dreams. ~Suze Orman
We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves. ~Thomas Merton
At a crossroads
Honest choices that enable you to fulfill the deepest capacities of your Self are motivated by the Law of Love. Choices made from love change your life and the lives of those around you. They bridge opposites instead of creating divides. They bring hope, trust, and freedom. They nourish compassion and healing, dispel fear and despair.
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. ~Nelson Mandela
What choices motivated by self-knowledge, truth, and love can your country make as it prepares for the mounting crisis of the coronavirus pandemic? What choices can you make?
Love “bears all things” and “endures all things’* (i Cor. 13:7). These words say all there is to be said; nothing can be added to them. For we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic “love.” ~Carl Jung; Memories Dreams and Reflections; Page 354ç
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Love . . . is of fundamental importance in human life and . . . of far greater significance than the individual suspects. ~Carl Jung, CW 7, Page 218.
Where there is love, there is life. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Love of the soul. Charity. The love of human for human, God for humans, and humans for God. The highest form of love,the supreme value that sums up and encompasses all the others.
Quan Yin: Goddess of Mercy and Compassion
Emotion is one aspect of agape.The Greeks thought of it as empathy and feelings of lovingkindness for others, like sympathy, familiarity, affection, sentiment, and attraction. But agape is also a choice. We can choose to strive for the highest good of others as well as ourselves, even in the face of extreme adversity.
Yet agape is even more than this, and here we enter the realm of mysticism. For spirit persons throughout the world, agape also comes from outside the human body and ego. It is an intangible living thing that we are all born with and immersed in together.
Like the Self, the psyche’s core and circumference, the supreme form of love is a spiritual life force that we cannot escape. Whatever we want to call it, we’re in agape, agape is in us, and every form of love comes from it. Agape is something we are: the Self within us and the miracle of our life. God, Spirit, Life, Love, and the Self are all the same thing.
This means you are sacred, I am sacred, all life is sacred. Why don’t we know it? Why is there so much suffering in this world? Because we have not yet learned the final kind of love I will discuss in this series.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~Nelson Mandela
Love of the self. To have regard for your own happiness or advantage. While this is a basic human necessity, many see it as a moral flaw akin to vanity, selfishness, and egotism.
Every human being yearns for love. But like all life, we are still evolving, and we haven’t come close enough to full consciousness yet. There are two sides to every quality — love and hate, good and evil, pro-social and antisocial — and we still don’t understand that we contain both. We haven’t learned philautia because we are unaware of our core of love and its shadow, hatred.
When we feel an impulse we think is evil, in our fear and ignorance we project it onto others and turn them into our scapegoats, then secretly hate ourselves for it. The more we do this, the more self-hate wins. Believing we are unworthy, we turn our most valuable commodity, our ability to love, into a sin. And in our self-hatred, we destroy ourselves and the capacity for love in those around us.
I cannot love anyone if I hate myself. ~Carl Jung, Psychological Reflections, Page 221.
To love someone else is easy, but to love what you are, the thing that is yourself, is just as if you were embracing a glowing red-hot iron: it burns into you and that is very painful. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 1473.
Throughout history we’ve been furnished with many models of agape: Lao Tsu, Buddha, Quan Yin, Abraham, Leah, Jesus, Muhammad, Fatimah, Hildegard of Bingen, Oshun, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. are among these spiritual warriors. We have yet to fully understand their messages.
Who are your models of agape? What have you learned from them?
Image Credits: Google Images: muslimmatters.org, thespruce.com, she knows, quotes.com.
My philosophically-oriented mind is very attracted to ideas and I delight in making connections between fascinating theories and my everyday inner and outer life. But my readers are teaching me that others don’t automatically make the same connections I take for granted and sometimes I need to clarify their practical applications. So I’d like to share a recent interaction with a reader who is helping me see how to do this. In response to “Who Was Eve: Wanton or Warrior?” Donna wrote, “You lost me on this one.” Here’s an improved version of my response.
Sorry, Donna. My point was that this story is about how primitive humanity, symbolized by Adam and Eve, was at the mercy of the rules made up by the leaders of their tribes. If a powerful group leader said, “I talked to God last night and God says you can’t shoot marbles with the kids from across the tracks,” or wear the color red, or eat a certain food, or whatever, they didn’t dare challenge his/her authority lest they be banished from the tribe, their only source of protection, and die all alone in the wilderness.
As humanity acquired greater self-awareness and better survival skills, some of our early rules became outdated, yet we were so conditioned by traditional standards that we continued to believe in them even when they had lost their relevance. As long as we didn’t stop to think about what a rule was for and why we shouldn’t break it, we were living in a paradise of ignorance and childish innocence in which whatever our tribe told us was good was good, and whatever it said was bad was bad, and all we had to do was obey and we’d be good too.
Thus, if the custom was to stone a child for disobeying its parents, jail a starving man for stealing a piece of bread, or ostracize a woman for exposing her ankles, we did it without compunction because we sincerely believed it was the right thing to do. It’s the same with parents and kids. Some rules are important when we’re young and vulnerable, but some are products of our parent’s particular neuroses. Eventually we have to decide for ourselves what’s really right and what’s really wrong because as long as our moral reasoning is based on following rules willy nilly, we’re capable of committing evil without even knowing it!
Eve represents the awakening soul which says, “This rule does more harm than good and I’m not going to keep it any longer.” So while her action was very bad from the viewpoint of her “tribe’s” limited God-image, from a higher perspective it was actually a courageous moral act. Eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil means seeing for yourself what’s right and wrong and challenging rules you know to be unjust or immoral whether others do or not. Examples of people who ate from the same tree, (became more conscious of what was wrong with their societies), include Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela. They knew it’s evil to hurt, restrict, persecute, enslave or kill others who are different from “us.” This knowledge emboldened them to leave the narrow thinking of their groups and inspire others to do the same. This is why Eve is the mother of all Spirit Warriors who help humanity evolve into greater moral awareness and responsibility.
Thank you, Donna. I hope this clears up my meaning. And my sincere gratitude to all who comment here for helping me make better connections with others through my writing.
The Wilbur Award is given by the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.