In 2009 I lived in an unfurnished apartment. As in, no furniture save for the futon mattress I slept on.
No chairs. No table. Just that futon mattress.
I read and I sat and I tried to blank my mind of thoughts and desires. And then I would wrestle with thoughts and desires, trying to figure it out. And by “it” I mean the problem of my life that I was sure I had.
I called Tony Parsons. I called Richard Sylvester. I called John Wheeler.
I contemplated going to India. Or maybe to Australia to visit Sailor Bob.
I was trying really hard to force what I thought was a choiceless. desireless state. This is ironic, I know. But it is what I was doing.
I thought that perhaps I could fake it until I made it. If I could just want to be desireless with enough desire. If I could just get rid of thoughts. If I could just make my life stark enough. Then maybe everything would click. Maybe, magically, I’d have that experience that I thought others were promising was available…to discover non-separation, ego dissolution, etc. as a permanent state.
I had read that there is no choice. I had read that there is no one to make a choice. And so, as these things go, I tried to arrive at a state of no choice and no one. I tried to make it so.
It’s such a common trap. It’s purgatory. This idea of no choice. The idea of no one.
It’s still just an idea, though. It’s not the reality of no choice and no one.
It wasn’t until I made a choice that things shifted.
How’s that for a paradox?
The funny thing is this: if there’s no choice and no one, then who is so concerned about making a choice? What does it matter?
The appearance of choice happens. This doesn’t need to be negated. What will be gained by arguing with the appearance?
Just make the choice. It’s so much better to finally make the choice. Because then you’re no longer arguing with reality. And the whole illusion of a separate self who is has something at stake in the game of whether there is a choice can finally be seen for what it is – just a phantom.
The obvious reality is that choices are happening all the time. What will you eat? Chocolate or vanilla? Or perhaps pie instead? Or maybe a coffee? Or maybe no dessert?
You’re not doing all those things, though. You can’t eat the ice cream and not eat the ice cream simultaneously. A choice is being made.
That’s happening all the time. You’re reading this instead of doing something else. You made a choice.
This is not a problem. How could it be?
It just seems like a problem when your identity depends on getting it right. Then you feel that you have to come down on one side or the other…preferably the correct side. And that, incidentally, is (the illusion of) separation.
It’s just an idea. That’s all. What can it hurt you?
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The big stuff…the really, really, really big stuff…the stuff that is infinite and indivisible and whole…is that hurt or diminished by the illusion of choice? Does it care? Does the idea of choice matter one iota? Will it in any way cause any harm whatsoever to the really, really, really big stuff that is infinite and indivisible and whole?
No. No. No.
In 2009 I seriously contemplated suicide. A lot.
And I prayed to God to help me.
God helped me. God nudged me off the fence. To start making choices.
The most important choice, in my arrogant opinion, is this: the choice to stop giving (so much) attention to all the small stuff. And to instead give attention to the really, really, really big stuff that is infinite and indivisible and whole (which is non-separate from what is conceived of as the small stuff, by the way).
In my arrogant opinion, the best choice a person can make is to stop squandering their attention on the illusion of separation and to give their attention to self-inquiry. Directly. Experientially. In the most intimate way possible. Before thought. In the body. Subtler than the idea of the body. And completely and always already obvious.
Because if you stop right now…and I highly recommend it…just stop, just pause for a moment right now. Stop giving attention to thoughts and worries and anxieties and stories. And just for a moment, inquire directly. Feel into the direct experience of being.
Not thought. Being. What is always 100 percent obvious. What is always here.
You are. This presence is always here. The feelings come and go. The states come and go. Everything else comes and goes.
But the fact that you are is always here.
Now, pause again. The tendency is to jump back to thought, which says, “Yeah, so what? It’s always here, but what’s it going to do for me? Will it fix my problems? Will it make me feel better?”
But pause. Don’t jump to thought. Just rest in being – what is always here.
And feel into it. Notice that in direct experience, there is no boundary between you and it. And in direct experience, there is no boundary to it. It is infinite. And timeless. And totally unbounded. And it receives everything.
What problem do you have right now?
Now, tell me…why *wouldn’t* you make this choice to inquire directly? It’s a choice. And a good one.
God nudged me off the fence. I’m passing along the favor.