How to make the right choice when faced with a serious decision

Oftentimes in life, one hits a fork in the road where one is faced with a life-changing decision and has to make a choice without knowing all the facts.  In such situations, one must understand that there is not just one future but alternative futures.   Those who want to grow spiritually should know that the inner motive with which one makes the choice is more important than the choice itself.   One must examine one’s thoughts and ask, “what is the underlying motive on which my choice is based?”  Is the choice driven by money, comfort, desire for social status, religious law, despair, anger, cruelty or  the inability to admit mistakes ?  Can one live with the decision in the future…?  One must look for signs of uneasiness in the heart.  Looking back later in life, it is quite possible that one realizes that the choice one made then was pre-destined!

A prayer, a master act, a king idea
Can link man’s strength to a transcendent Force.
Then miracle is made the common rule,
One mighty deed can change the course of things;
A lonely thought becomes omnipotent.

Sri Aurobindo, Savitri – I: The Issue

These are some answers given by the Mother Mira Alfassa on this question.

Question: When a serious decision has to be made, how can one know in which direction lies one’s true destiny?

Mother Mira Alfassa: We do not have one destiny, but several destinies.

Each one has the right to reunite with his supreme Origin whatever his place in the world order – that is the gift the Divine has given to matter, and this is your true destiny. And it is a special gift given to the earth; it does not exist in the other worlds. At the same time, each one has a particular role in the manifestation, which is determined by the Supreme, but this same role can exist on different levels depending upon the degree of evolution of ‘that‘ which is within you. If ‘that‘ within you is still very young, your realization may be absolute and you may effectively be able to reunite with the Supreme, but the field of realization in the world will be limited, very small. Along the vertical plane, you may be able to touch the Supreme directly, in spite of your smallness, but on the horizontal plane, the extent of your realization will be infinitesimal.

So, along this same vertical line that leads you to your divine Origin, you might have several outer destinies depending upon your state of development. The yoga seeks to accelerate things, but this is not always possible, for some psychological combinations in the being can only be worked out through experience. This experience may take a few lifetimes, a few years, a few months, a few minutes.

When seen from the supreme consciousness, the unfolding of all the destinies and all the possibilities of destiny is something infinitely interesting. For example, there are beings accused of megalomania because they have vast projects and great designs which do not always fit in with the world’s present possibilities. Most often, it is a simple lack of judgment on their part, a lack of knowledge. They have indeed entered into communication with a higher truth, something that probably corresponds to a future phase of their destiny (which is why they are so convinced), but through lack of judgment, they do not see that the time for this truth has not yet come, that the circumstances are not yet ready, or that the conditions in which they were born prevent them from carrying out what they feel to be true. There is a gap between the vision of a truth and its present possibilities for realization. But these great dreams must not be killed, for it would mean killing something of your own future. Above all, we must refuse, energetically reject, this hideous morality of the Philistine which says that ‘nothing ever changes‘, this flat and vulgar common sense a la Sancho Panza. Simply, one must know how to wait and to nurture one’s dreams for a long time.

To conclude, this is what may be said: in the universe, there are no two destinies alike – there cannot be.

Each one’s destiny is inevitably fulfilled, but the nearer one is to the Divine, the more this destiny assumes its divine qualities.

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: Undated 1957

A touch can alter the fixed front of Fate.
A sudden turn can come, a road appear.
A greater Mind may see a greater Truth,
Or we may find when all the rest has failed
Hid in ourselves the key of perfect change.

Sri Aurobindo, Savitri – I: The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind

Question: “The difficulties and obstacles met on the path when one wants to attain a certain aim – are they sometimes a sign that this decision, this plan or project was faulty from the beginning and that hence one should not persist or, on the contrary, do these difficulties indicate a victory to be won, a transformation to be attained? Are they a sign that one must persevere and hold fast? I am not speaking here of the decision to follow the path of Yoga, but of the little things connected with work, sports or other activities. In other words, how to recognise and interpret the Guidance which comes through circumstances or relations with others and through experience?”

Mother Mira Alfassa: I believe this is only an apparent contradiction.

If one wants to follow a discipline of yoga, naturally, before undertaking anything one must try to discern and know if the inspiration received is a real one, coming from the Divine, or whether it is simply a reaction to outer circumstances and an impulse, either vital or mental. It is quite important, even very important, to try to discern and act in full knowledge of the cause. But there are very many things one does and about which one is not in the habit of thinking beforehand. When the circumstance comes, one obeys it, so to say. And, indeed, these things, like almost everything one does in life, are not important in themselves. The only thing that matters is the attitude with which they are done. The fact that you do something because that action is present there before you for one reason or another and that you are, so to say, always obliged to act as long as you are in the outer life – all this has a certain importance from the point of view of the management of life if these acts are liable to have far-reaching consequences in life, as for  example, getting married or going to live in one place or another or taking up one occupation or another; these things are generally considered important, and they are so to a certain extent; but even for them, from the point of view of yoga, everything depends much more on the attitude one takes than on the thing itself. And so, above all, for all the very small actions of daily life, the importance is reduced to a minimum.

There are some scrupulous people who set problems to themselves and find it very difficult to solve them, because they state the problem wrongly. I knew a young woman who was a theosophist and was trying to practise; she told me, “We are taught that the divine Will must prevail in all that we do, but in the morning when I have my breakfast, how can I know whether God wants me to put two lumps of sugar in my coffee or only one?”…And it was quite touching, you know, and I had some trouble explaining to her that the spirit in which she drank her coffee, the attitude she had towards her food, was much more important than the number of lumps of sugar she put into it.

It is the same with all the little things one does at every moment. The divine Consciousness does not work in the human way. It does not decide how many lumps of sugar you will put in your coffee. It gradually puts you in the right attitude towards actions, things – an attitude of consecration, suppleness, assent, aspiration, goodwill, plasticity, effort for progress – and this is what counts, much more than the small decision you take at every second. One may try to find out what is the truest thing to do, but it is not by a mental discussion or a mental problem that these things can be resolved. It is in fact by an inner attitude which creates an atmosphere of harmony – progressive harmony – in which all one does will necessarily be the best thing that could be done in those particular circumstances. And the ideal would be an attitude complete enough for the action  to be spontaneous, dictated by something other than an outer reason. But that is an ideal – for which one must aspire and which one can realise after some time. Till then, to take care always to keep the true attitude, the true aspiration, is much more important than to decide whether one will do gymnastic-marching or not and whether one will go to a certain class or not. Because these things have no real importance in themselves, they have only an altogether relative importance, the only important thing is just to keep the true orientation in one’s aspiration and a living will for progress.

As a general rule, and so that the experience may have its full benefit, when one has undertaken something one must do it with persistence, without caring for obstacles and difficulties, until an absolutely irrefutable event indicates that one no longer has to do it. This happens very rarely. Usually, things follow their own curve and when they reach an issue – either they have come to an end or have produced the desired result – one becomes aware of the reason for doing them. But the obstacles, oppositions – or encouragements – should not be considered as irrefutable signs to be followed, for these things may have very different meanings according to the case, and it is not at all on the basis of these outer events that one must judge the validity of one’s undertaking.

When one is very attentive and very sincere, one can have an indication, an inner but perceptible indication, of the value of what one has undertaken or the action one is doing.  Truly, for someone who has an entire goodwill, that is, who in all sincerity, with the whole conscious part of his being, wants to do the right thing in the right way, there is always an indication; if for some reason or other one launches upon a more or less fatal action, one always feels an uneasiness in the region of the solar plexus; an uneasiness which is not violent, which doesn’t compel recognition dramatically, but is very perceptible to someone who is attentive – something like a sort of regret, like a lack of assent. It may go as far as a kind of refusal to collaborate.

But I must stress it, without violence, without brutal self-assertion: it makes no noise, does not hurt; it is at the most a slight uneasiness. And if you disregard it, if you pay no attention, attach no importance to it, after a little while it will completely disappear and there will be nothing any longer.

It is not that it increases with the growing error, on the contrary, it disappears and the consciousness becomes veiled.

Therefore, one cannot give this as a sure sign, for if you have disobeyed this little indication several times, well, it will no longer come. But I tell you that if in all sincerity you are very attentive to it, then it will be a very sure and precious guide.

But if there is an uneasiness, it comes at the beginning, almost immediately, and when it doesn’t show itself, well, no matter what one has started, it is preferable to do it to the very end so that the experience may be complete, unless one receives, as I said, an absolutely precise and categorical indication that it should not be done.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1957 – 1958): 30 January 1957

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19 thoughts on “How to make the right choice when faced with a serious decision

  1. Pingback: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Astrology « Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  2. Srikanth

    “if for some reason or other one launches upon a more or less fatal action, one always feels an uneasiness in the region of the solar plexus; an uneasiness which is not violent, which doesn’t compel recognition dramatically, but is very perceptible to someone who is attentive – something like a sort of regret, like a lack of assent. It may go as far as a kind of refusal to collaborate”

    Is it not sometimes difficult to distinguish this from low levels of fear, nervousness etc (which are also felt in the solar plexus region) and complicate things? In other words, I might decide to go ahead to do something just to overcome the fear and not give into it (fear) when in actuality the uneasiness was a warning to stay away.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      In other words, I might decide to go ahead to do something just to overcome the fear and not give into it (fear) when in actuality the uneasiness was a warning to stay away.

      This is a difficult question to answer in general. All I can say is that one has to wait until all agitation subsides, and then concentrate one’s attention at the top of the head and await the response.

      Sometimes, our choices are pre-destined and in other cases, we are just availing of our free will. All decision-making is Self-finding!

      Reply
  3. kalpana

    ”The divine Consciousness does not work in the human way. It does not decide how many lumps of sugar you will put in your coffee. It gradually puts you in the right attitude towards actions, things – an attitude of consecration, suppleness, assent, aspiration, goodwill, plasticity, effort for progress – and this is what counts, much more than the small decision you take at every second. ”

    Gratitude to the Mother for this helpful advice – to cultivate the attitude which She describes.
    Thanks Sandeep- very helpful post.

    Reply
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  11. ipi

    Question: Has the psychic any power?

    Mother Mirra Alfassa: Power? It is usually the psychic which guides the being. One knows nothing about it because one is not conscious of it but usually it is that which guides the being. If one is very attentive , one becomes aware of it. For instance, when they have decided,in their outer ignorance, to do something,and instead of their being able to do it,all the circumstances are so organised that they do something else, they start shouting,storming,flying in to a rage against fate, saying (that depends on what they believe, their beliefs) that nature is wicked or their destiny baleful or God unjust, or …. no matter what (it depends on what they believe). Whilst most favourable for their inner development.

    And naturally, if you ask the psychic to help you to fashion a pleasant life for yourself, to earn money, have children who will be the pride of the family, etc . well, the psychic will not help you. But it will create for you all the circumstances necessary to awaken something in you so that the need of union with the Divine may be born in your consciousness. At times you have made fine plans, and if they had succeeded, you would have more and more encrusted in your ignorance, your stupid little ambition and your aimless activity. Whilst if you receive a good shock, and the post you coveted is denied to you, the plan you made is shattered, and you find yourself completely thwarted, then, something this opposition opens to you a door on something truer and deeper. And when you are little awake and look back, if you are in the least sincere , you say: “Ah! it wasn’t I who was right – it was Nature or the divine Grace or my psychic being who did it.” It is the psychic being which organised that.

    Powers Within by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (edited by A.S.Dalal, p. 155

    Reply
  12. ipi

    What we should do?

    Question: When we are faced with a difficulty, does this mean that the Divine is trying to make us conscious of the defects of our nature?

    If you face it, yes. That is, as soon as you are in front of a difficulty, if instead of giving way like a coward you begin trying to conquer it, then you may be sure that the Divine is behind you. But if you are cowardly, the Divine will not be there. That is, your cowardice cuts you off from the Divine. But if you resist and want to conquer, you may be sure that the Divine will be there to help you. There’s not the shadow of a doubt about it.

    A child asks: If this year is difficult for us, what should we do?

    What should you do? Be very good, very good, very quiet, work well, be very obedient, do what you are told, and be regular at school. All this – it is very important.

    If during these months you make much progress, you become very good and very reasonable, very conscious and very regular, after this it will be easier. But if you spend your time in letting time pass without making any progress, you will find yourself in the same position where you now are, not better.

    It is precisely a chance given to everyone to make progress. If he doesn’t use it, so much the worse for him, he will remain where he is. And instead of being a conscious element in the world, he will be a cork upon the waters, tossed by circumstances. And with anything that happens, he will be carried away without having the least control over what is happening. Because the first thing necessary to have a control over events is to be absolutely conscious and master of oneself; you must make a great effort throughout this time and manage to become a little more conscious and a little more self-controlled. You must not think that suddenly it will be a beatific paradise where all your defects will disappear as by magic. It is not like that.

    Your defects will disappear if you do what is necessary for them to disappear, not otherwise.

    – The Mother

    The Mother, Questions and Answers (1954): 31 December 1954

    http://www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/qstarch/qstjan03.htm

    Reply
  13. Sandeep Post author

    Another thing which works when faced with a serious decision : pretending that everything is going to be ok

    Pretending Everything’s Okay Works

    CAMBRIDGE, MA—A study released Thursday by researchers at Harvard University’s Department of Psychology has found that the simple act of pretending one’s life is not a complete shambles threatening to collapse at any moment works. “Even when everything is coming apart at the seams and disaster is almost certainly imminent, putting up a good front for friends and loved ones makes everything better,” said Professor Christine Wanamaker, who explained that smiling a lot and evasive answers were usually enough to get by. “Tell everyone that things are fine, and they will be fine. Just don’t over-think it.” When asked about her study’s methodology, Wanamaker said the research was rock-solid, had been looked over by a bunch of scientists, and definitely wasn’t anything to worry about.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/study-pretending-everythings-okay-works,29099/

    Reply
    1. Tusar N. Mohapatra

      The Zoroastrian Way Of Seeking Solace

      Every time a misfortune befell me, says Dastur Adurbad, I derived six kinds of comfort and solace from it.

      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2002-07-31/edit-page/27301069_1_zoroastrians-misfortune-comfort

      Puneet Jain:
      The state of excessive happiness or depression is temporary and relative only to our most recent experiences.
      …In less time than most people suppose, the emotional impact of significant events dissipates.
      ….Other research confirms that there is much more to well-being than being well-off. Wealth is like health: Its utter absence breeds misery, yet having it is no guarantee of happiness.
      …Happiness is also relative…When mildly depressed people read about someone who is even more depressed, they feel somewhat better

      Research reveals several predictors of happiness. Whether at work or leisure, most of us derive our greatest enjoyment from engaging, challenging activities.

      http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2002-07-08/news/27351941_1_happiness-envy-depression

      Reply

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