Choices

Essay and Painting by
Bryan E. Hall 

 

What is it we do in life? Exist and choose. In doing so, we think and postulate ideas about existence and even the concept of non-existence, though the very fact we are considering anything at all is evidence we exist. If we exist, we also choose. We may choose to simply exist, which many learned philosophers, religious advocates and scholars consider the pinnacle of spiritual paths.

We constantly see images of Buddha, sitting fat and happy, or meditating, or seeming to meditate when actually attempting to clear his mind of all thought. All of the great leaders of faiths have encouraged meditation and prayer. However, most of us do not have the luxury of sitting, doing nothing, yet still surviving. Would we if we could? These are the ultimate choices, to do or not to do.

We must however, do something even if it is a little as perception of existence itself, or indeed we will cease to exist. "I think, therefore, I am," said Descartes. So, this minimalist approach to life is also the minimum approach. Aristotle went so far as to assume we will and must pursue more than thought itself or we will die, "To do is to be."

Now, we are left with one notion of choice, what to do.

Hegel suggested that people do and should in fact constantly take a stand or judge situations. This is the Thesis, a position, which consequently by the laws of nature and physics, according to Hegel, have a counterpart of equal force, the Antithesis. The two battle and ultimately merge to form a totally new concept, the Synthesis. This is referred to as the Hegelian Dialectic, which serves as the basis of most Western thinking in regard to economics and political struggle especially.

Easterners follow a belief in avoiding judgment and seeking harmony, "the path of least resistance." Buddhists and Hindus alike deal with an acceptance of opposing forces but suggest one allow the path to settle naturally that however it settles, is natural and could happen no other way. Many current scholars argue about whether or not the path is choice or predestination, which crosses East and West in religious circles. Without moral consideration, one thing is for sure, wherever we are, we are on a path, and we perceive that we have choices.

The belief that all things are result of things past and the cause of all things to come is "karma," which suggests a linear existence in time and space. The belief things constantly alternate between opposing forces in a "swirl" if you will, is called "yin-yang," which allows for a variety of dimensional existences. Something may be and not be, good and bad, black and white, etc. simultaneously.

Humans create and perpetuate a competitive struggle to control choice. Most are led to believe, by those who have power or are willing to lie, deceive and manipulate, that we have only a few choices which conveniently all result in transfers of power from you to them. Governments lay out a prescribed path in the form of laws and available services, discouraging us from certain choices and encouraging us to take those that make us dependent on them. Businesses do the same. One can be sure that individuals, who wish to lead powerful governments or own powerful businesses, will do the same. You always have choices other than those offered, which may hurt you or assist you. They are your choices to make.

Knowledge of this precept now makes you responsible for all of the choices you make. You may never again blame your poor choices on victimhood. It seems to difficult to choose from the unknown for the known, however terrible, may be better than the unknown and those driven by fear , prefer to stay in their hell, for fear there is a worse hell in the unknown choice. Slaves, after the US Civil War, often chose to stay on the plantation as sharecroppers, effectively still slaves, because they feared an even worse destiny in the unknown. But, we may always remember, one may usually have the option of going back, should they fail at their choice to dream.

We must, at least in our common perception, choose between making progress or reverting to our old ways, neither good nor bad, feeling pain and pleasure or avoiding them respectively. Even if we are on a path, we may very well affect the speed and direction. Hitting the edge of the path may actually cause the road itself to change. All of this leads us to another, if not the only ultimate conclusion, according to Socrates, that "Perception is Reality," that it is irrelevant whether or not we exist, that we are puppets on a string, controlled by a self-entertaining God, or that we make all our own choices and create our own God in our image to amuse us.

And finally, if there is a God, how could the beings it made, possibly discern his actual characteristics from their imaginations and wishful thinking? How could a lesser creation define its maker? And if we could, would not that make us equals if not superior? We have no choice but to make choices and act as if they are real, and if there is a God or controlling force at work, despite our choices, ultimately something will happen, and we will either accept it or not.

 

These are our Choices.

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