Choiceless Awareness

Choiceless awareness, the idea that we can effortlessly experience life, respond and receive exactly what we need through intense presence and acceptance of what is rather than making controlled choices, is an elusive concept, but one worth striving for.

Choiceless awareness is usually attributed to Krishnamurti, who spoke of it in the Yoda-like ways that only he can. When he speaks of freedom, of learning, of peace, and of love, there is a choicelessness in the state of being that comes along with those concepts.

Here are my own attempts to understand choiceless awareness.

  • First, it can only be experienced when your mind is completely quiet. The mind or the ego wants to take you out of the present and create problems to solve. When the mind is quiet, there are no problems. I struggle with this on a moment-by-moment basis.
  • You have to summon all your attention into the present moment, disregarding any recall of the past or anticipation of the future.
  • You have to let go, surrender, not have any expectation or personal investment of outcomes.
  • You, your essence, your soul, the silent watcher of your life takes center stage.
  • Circumstances come and go and you appreciate them for what they are without any judgment.
  • You start to react appropriately to those circumstances without any effort or mental energy.
  • If you stop to reconsider your reactions, you realize that you are perceiving and responding in the best possible way for what you need at that moment.

Experiencing a state of flow might be similar, but I think there’s a fun, ironic paradox to the idea of a higher level of awareness attained through the absence of any choice to do so; the abdication of any control. Do you have to consciously choose not to choose? Is there a higher power controlling your actions when you are able to completely let go?

Poems are rough notations for the music we are.

Did you hear that winter is over?
The basil and carnation cannot control their laughter.

The nightingale, back from his wandering,
has been made singing master over all the birds.
The trees reach out their congratulations.

The soul goes dancing through the king’s doorway.
Anemones blush because they have seen the rose naked.

Spring, the only fair judge, walks in the courtroom,
and several December thieves steal away.

Last year’s miracles will soon be forgotten.
New creatures whirl in from nonexistence,
galaxies scattered around their feet.

Have you met them?
Do you hear the bud of Jesus crooning in the cradle?

A single narcissus flower has been appointed
Inspector of Kingdoms. A feast is set.
Listen. The wind is pouring wine.

Love used to hide inside images. No more.
The orchard hangs out its lanterns.

The dead come stumbling by in shrouds.
Nothing can stay bound or be imprisoned.

You say, End this poem here, and wait for what is next.
I will. Poems are rough notations for the music we are.

—Rumi