All I wanted was some original Oreos at Walmart but there were so may choices—thin Oreos, mint Oreos, family Oreos, flavored Oreos—I never found just plain Oreos, so I left with nothing but a picture. And this got me meditating on choice in our culture and why we have to keep multiplying them. We never have enough choices. Everything that is created comes in at least two choices, and then like parents, more choices are born from this original Adam and Eve. Now we are drowning in a flood of choices.
What’s going on? I’m reading a book called Original Wisdom by Robert Wolff in which is records is study of Malaysian aboriginals tribes that are original hunter/gatherers. Gradually he discovered like an archeologist a hidden way of know that our civilization of choices has covered up. They live in a choiceless reality where they just do what they do. What ever they are doing is their choice. It is not whether they should go here or there, they just go here or there without choice. Their will and the will of their habitat of rain forest is one will. Joyous and laughing, the call themselves The People.
I thought, WOW…this is Zen. We all stumble into our original knowing as if we step into a hole through our culture of choice, and we just know what to do. Without choice there is no anxiety, no doubt, no worry or calculation and weighing of positive and negatives to see which is the right choice. And there is no regret for making the wrong choice, nor guilt. Imagine, a way of life where there is no resentment for what the world did to you, no guilt for what you did to yourself, no anxiety about what the world is going to do to you in the future, and no hostility over what the world is doing to you now.
And just think, that Original Know is the ground of our Being, always available when we realize that choice is not the definition of freedom. When choice drops off—and we can’t choose choice to drop off—we discover the choiceless choice of just Knowing. Then like the Nike commercial, you Just Do IT.
The movie Hurt Locker was abut the hurt of choice. The classic scene when the soldier returning from Iraq was sent to buy cereal, and he couldn’t choose from the canyon of choices, so he just grabbed any box and tossed it into his cart. He went back to Iraq. But this is a movie metaphor about choice in our civilization, and the choiceless choice of war. But why go to war to discover freedom. You can discover freedom right in Walmart. It is that close.
All our suffering comes from choice, and the most acute suffering comes when our choices are contradictory—we must choose, but can’t, and if we don’t we know we will be punished by regret or guilt.
Our culture, when I look at it this way, is an avoidance, a mask or buffer created to avoid our Original Knowing that is choiceless choice. There is no Ego in Original Knowing because the Ego is a culturally created Chooser, a consumer of choices. There is no Ego in Original Knowing because the Knower is not sitting outside of the array of choices. The Knower is Choice. The Knower and the Choice are One, so there is no second, there is no Chooser making the choice. The Chooser requires be definition that there must be at least TWO choices, otherwise there is no choice. You see?
In order to have choices, you must have the Chooser, and this is an artificial view point outside of the shelf of choices culture gives us to choose from. Being the Knower is not a choice on the shelf of given choices.
It is not easy, if not impossible, to make you life simple in a complex world like ours, and getting more complex everyday. But you must notice, as I do, that every simple thing that rises in our consciousness, either in my personal world or in the media world, divides into two. I must choose between this or that, and what I’m seeing is that there is a mutual dependence upon the division of the simple into Two and multiples of two creates the Chooser who must choose. These two, the chosen and the chooser rise together like two ends of a horseshoe rising out of the water. We think they are separate, Me and the objects or ideas i’m choosing, but they are mutually dependent, a One that is divided and choices cannot restore the original simplicity. And the Chooser is created by our culture as the One who is to restore original unity through choice.
The irony is that choice cannot restore original unity or simplicity because the two choices are mutually dependent upon each other, and if you remove one, the other haunts you with regret. Oh, I should have gone the other way….
We’re talking Garden of Eden here, friends. That bite of the Apple divided our world into infinite choices, and we have been chasing our original innocence or simplicity every since, but by making more choices in the illusion the choice will restore our lost contentment.
Lets extend this exploration, this idea of just taking what’s given by the world, instead of dividing what’s given into a proliferation of choices. Turning within, this means accepting what the minds gives you, the emotions, the feelings, the thoughts that the mind gives you without complaint, without division into this or that. It’s Just This. Accept it joyously, with gratitude, even if it is unpleasant. You know the unpleasant is unpleasant because we imagine the pleasant and then want to choice. When there is no choice, there is no suffering of division and the loss of simplicity and our Original Knowing.