Thinking about Choice

Thinking about choice…do you take responsibility for the choices you make?

Choice newTo become aware of the choices we make and being upfront about them – this is one way of getting to know ourselves better. Our choices are a clear reflection of us for all to see – we had better have a handle on them ourselves.  But there are other ways of looking at choice – try these mind-bogglers.


There are many aspects to choice.  Determinism would suggest that choice is an illusion and you really haven’t got any choice. Its position is that a long chain of cause and effect accounts entirely for the decisions we make, and the feeling of choice that goes with them. Can’t stand the thought of that?  Determinism would say, “Well, of course not!” Your reaction was fully predictable because already determined by the pre-existing causes in your life (and of the stream of pre-existing causes preceding your entry into the world),

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Comfort, Discomfort, Both OK

Generally we choose comfort over discomfort, and that seems wonderfully reasonable, doesn’t it?  But just consider, whenever  you choose comfort you are pushing away about 99.9% of what is available.  Reality is vast, while your comfort area is tiny and constrictive.  Recognising that both comfort and discomfort are valid experiences is a big leap into a broader, more flexible mind. And that happens when we recognise also that comfort and discomfort are about preference, not reality. Continue reading

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Noxious guru

Supposing that you find you have a noxious guru, what do you do?

How might you discover it?

You may have encountered unpalatable aspects of his personality, but assumed that he was a high-functioning narcissist Continue reading

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Yoga Retreat, or Yoga Treat?

When I was in fourth grade, our teacher left the room for a bit, and told us to be very quiet as we were now on retreat. Another teacher came in, and I proudly wrote her a note saying that we couldn’t talk because we were having a treat! Continue reading

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Hurting and Growing

I owe much to guru and lineage. Without having had a guru, I would not have discovered this yogic path,  nor ventured far upon it. Without his guru, I would not have met him. Without the great Nityananda, none of us would have made this journey at all. Nevertheless, many years ago I was disillusioned with my guru. It hurt soooo much, I was soooo disappointed, I cried many, many bitter tears and it took years to heal from it. For anyone who might be suffering or might have suffered, this is the story of my healing.

It took years to heal from it. But something much better came from the process than I was able to imagine during the hurtful years. I found in insight that disillusionment is not so much an indictment of another person or institution, it is an indictment of my own illusions, and I am much better off without them.  There is spiritual restoration in that. And in the end, I am profoundly grateful for having had a guru. His personality is his business, and mine is my spiritual life. But disillusionment really does hurt Continue reading

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End 2014, Year of Changes

Changes – some painful, some joyful or even ecstatic, some that come simply with the turning  of the Earth.This time last  year, somehow I had a feeling that 2014 would be a year of changes… and I was right. Maybe,on reflection, any 12 month period will see change anyway. But this one was fully charged… quite glad to start on a new one tomorrow. Continue reading

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Sit with your anger, dive deep through pain

A few days ago I sat with a spiritual community in trauma.  Their spiritual leader was in disgrace from allegations of sexual impropriety. The hall that is normally full was half-empty, and of those attending, half were quietly weeping.  The session was taken by the leader’s life partner, the woman sweetly and affectionately known as Divine Mother. She was left to carry not only her own pain but that of the community. Such pain, such grief, such betrayal.                 Continue reading

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Yoga and Women



Prior to Vedic times, women were fully equal participants in ritual celebration – then along came Vedic Brahmanism and women were not even permitted to hear the vedas recited. We were told so recently by the renowned scholar of Yoga and Sanskrit, Dr Mark Dyczkowski. But, he said, while women have been cruelly repressed, we are now seeing the “re-vindication” of women. It is a pleasant thought… do you see it around you? Continue reading

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Mission Beach – Rainforest in Winter

As winter 2014  approaches, I’m reminded of the time I spend, once a year for a week, in the mysterious rainforest of Northern Queensland. Sanctuary Retreat is not too far north – an hour’s drive south of Cairns. I go in July, just as the Melbourne winter is beginning to drag, even for someone who generally prefers winter to the heat of summer. Already booked for this year, too – I’m going from July 12th to July 20.  Some years the sky is blue all day long; last year it was strangely mystical – stormy, rainy, windy, and warm. Continue reading

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Truthfulness …Being Truthful to Yourself – so that you can be truthful about yourself

Truthfulness is a strange phenomenon. Scrupulous truth-telling may not be the same as real truthfulness. (Why?) Likewise with lying. A persistent liar is very unlikely to be able to be truthful to himself. And if untruthful to themselves, neither the scrupulous truth teller nor the liar is able to be truthful about themselves. But what about you?

Truth or the con?

Someone who is truthful to him or herself is free of game-play and can simply tell the truth about him/herself. Such a one is also free to be uninhibited, self-respecting, and much more likely to see through the fudges and fantasies of the liars and those fixated on literalism.. So, how do you know if you are truthful to yourself? Let’s explore some of the fallacies.The greatest fallacy is supposing the ego can be non-egotistic.  There must be some way that we can come from a deeper place than ego.

Ego fallacy no 1. “I have to be true to myself.”

Aha, this is the number one fudge by which people lie to themselves.  It is NOT the same as being truthful to oneself. Think about the last time you said it yourself, or heard someone else say it.  Wasn’t there just a hint (or a great big in-your-face obvious ploy) in that? Don’t you hear defensiveness in it?  Defending what?  I would suspect it defends some way the person is positioning the ego-self to demand respect for the inconsequential or the outright unrespectable. And “being true” to an ego position is intrinsically untruthful – the ego-self is a phantasm of wishful thinking, positioning itself as the centre of all it sees.

Ego fallacy no 2. “I am telling the truth”

Again, don’t you feel suspicious when someone says this?  As though it is to be expected that some lie is happening which has to be denied. And again, the defensiveness of it, the sound of someone defending a shoddy position.. An ego-self insisting on something that someone else finds unsupportable.

Ego fallacy no 3.”I never lie”

Hohoho… Remember the old adage about death and taxes? The only things that are certain in life?  Nope, the other thing that is certain is that you lie sometimes, and everyone you know lies from time to time.  Incidentally, if you are trying to get a job, do not tick “I don’t lie” on the personality test – it shows immediately that you have a shaky hold on reality.  You have to get way beyond the notion of yourself as a “good person” to be remotely able to say that with any reliability.

Ego fallacy no 4. Everyone lies so it is ok if I lie

Talk about shonky,  This is the life-plan of someone who can only front the world by manipulating you into supposing that reality is not what it is. Anyone who thinks “lying is just how you get what you want” is a sad shadow of a person, with very fundamental self-esteem problems. Even a spiritual teacher said it to me – he is very effective in many ways, but what is lurking at the base of his sense of self? Can a spiritual teacher really not see that lying is a disconnect with reality?  Yes, it is paradoxical that every human lies from time to time, and yet lying as a tool for living is a loser’s plan. Reality wins every argument you have with it.

Then what is being truthful to oneself?

Truthfulness to oneself is a clear recognition, a realisation moment by moment in living, that what is real has precedence over what you prefer. It is an ability to see yourself as a set of processes and reactions rather than as a “someone”, and not be afraid to look clearly at the bundle of sometimes opposing motivations and desires hidden amongst those processes.  It is the capacity to look to see the things that underlie your preferences, instead of dressing them up in rationalisation or denial.  Often your behaviour your behaviour demonstrates what your mind refuses to accept, but still the person won’t look.

The normal ego-self, however, doesn’t, can’t, won’t, do that looking, that investigating.. Ordinarily, who will look so deeply into the self-sense to see what ego is?  When the one that says “I’m Jenny, I’.m John” is satisfied with such a simple description, and doesn’t have the courage (or sometimes the means) to look to see how it is constructed, built out of thoughts and reactions to perceptions.

Truthfulness to self takes courage

Being truthful to yourself means allowing yourself to see what your motives really are, and give up the wishfulness of what you would like to think they are. This is difficult to uncover, because we are so used to inventing a nice idea of ourselves.  Even those who murder others, steal from them or molest children cling to a wishful idea of themselves as justified in some way. Such examples are extreme, and easy to see.  The example of your own self is less extreme but much harder to see – though the same process is taking place in you.

Having the courage to look, really look, may be difficult, and more so for those with personality dysfunctions like narcissism or paranoid tendencies, or avoidance patterns like histrionic reactions or somatising. But , perhaps clinging to the sense of being a person, a special and interesting person, or even a good person, is an existential/spiritual disorder in the first place.

Can’t bear to look

Truthfulness to yourself means not fearing what you will find in yourself. Here are some of the things most can’t bear to find out about, and so they defend themselves by becoming hard, or denying the obvious:

    • the outcomes and effects of your behaviour on others. You’ll recognise this process when you find it too hard to say “sorry”. Instead you’ll rationalise and defend and declare that you’ve got nothing to be sorry for.  And everyone else can hear the clang of discord in what you say.
    • the effect on yourself of someone else’s behaviour. This is when you just don’t want to know, because your ego fears the appraisal of another. So you cling to relationships that don’t work or are damaging for you or another. You wishfully think that you are ok even when to anyone else it is obvious that a heap of suppression is going on and that you are disconnected from feeling and emotional health.
    • your contribution to someone else’s behaviour towards you. The way to recognise this is when you blame the other person. Nice comforting feelings of self-righteousness stroke your ego.  Often you hope that the other person will feel hurt by your blame, and that makes you feel even better. Yuck!
And so we just have to look, without fear of what we’ll find.

No spiritual enlightenment without it

If you are on a spiritual path, this work just has to be done.  There is no enlightenment or Self-Realisation without it. There seems to be an idea – a post New Age idea, perhaps – that whenever you get an uncomfortable inkling, just brush it away by some meditative process, shift the bad feeling into a good feeling, and always think well of yourself, because after all, god lives in you and that is all that is important. Is that where truthfulness is, or is it a great hiding place for untruthfulness?

That would be fine if the work of really seeing the processes of personal self is undertaken. Bypassing that work only serves to reinforce the whole fiasco and gloss it over with a spurious feel-good strategy. And if there is a God in your belief system, you are inventing god in your own image.  Whatever a real divinity is takes second place to your pleasant self-serving fantasies.

Person vs Individual

So truthfulness to oneself surely comes with not having to nourish and look after a “this sort of person” sense of self. But what then?

In really doing it, you might find that individuality and personality are two different things.  Individuality is the wonderful diversity of life, sparkling and scintillating wherever it is found, amongst humans as well as the rest of life. Personal self is an idea invented by the mind and externalised as though it is a “you”. It is never free, and is always dishonest. Individuality simply expresses itself, without any agenda in its self-expression. Understanding that, or better, experiencing it, you can be truthful about yourself as well.

No neediness for validation

How it is gets its validation entirely from the playing out of what is real, and mental approval or disapproval is not relevant. This is such a big thing… to realise that your mind is not the arbitrator and adjudicator of truth – it only wants to be.

What you can do, what is entirely in your own domain, is to make sure you don’t perpetrate untruth. And you can call untruth when you see it or hear it – no more playing the game of pretend, with yourself or others.




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