Q: I am very grateful for your response. Still I am greatly perplexed. I understand that surrendering is to tune one's attention to see how beautifully the Divine reveals itself. Surrendering is not to choose the weather, but to choose to notice what the weather is like (and to be happy with it). But, I still don't understand how could I freely:
- control my motivation/preferences to look at the weather in the first place
- control my attention span and hold it onto current weather
- control my preferences to feel contented about the weather at hand.
I feel that attention and preferences are outside of free will just as any other active process/choices that humans do.
A: It can be easy to feel perplexed about this topic! Usually it means that we are holding one view or the other to be true, when both are true, and can even be true at the same time. Lots of opposite things can be true at the same time. You can feel happy and sad at the same time. You can want more ice cream and feel too full at the same time. And some apparently opposite things can be true simultaneously because they are true at different levels or from different perspectives. On a cloudy day, it is still sunny above the clouds
But, first of all, humor me for a moment and close your eyes and tap your forehead lightly a few times.
OK, have you done that?
The "you" that just tapped your forehead is the same "you" that can choose to notice the weather or the flow of divine will. (And even if you did not tap your forehead, you chose not to tap your forehead.) So from one level or perspective, it is true that you can choose.
However, at another level of truth or from another perspective this "you" does not really exist as a separate thing. And so even when "you" choose, it is the larger field of Being that "you" are part of that chooses. From this perspective, the "you" that chooses is an illusion. An illusion is something real that appears to be something else. So in this case the real Being that you are appears to be an illusion of a separate individual. And so from a higher or bigger perspective, this illusion cannot by itself choose anything because it is not very real, and when you are fully immersed in this perspective, it does not feel like you are choosing anything.
Both of these perspectives are true and correct. The confusion only appears if you want one to be true and the other one to be false. They are both true. However, this does not mean they are equal truths. The truth that Being chooses is a much bigger truth, but within that very big truth, the smaller truth is still true. Even the illusion of a separate individual has some truth, just not very much truth. Again it is something real or true appearing as something other than what it really is, which makes it less real. All illusions are real, just not very real.
The only reason to understand this is so you can hold both perspectives lightly. If you try to make one true and the other false, that is usually a prescription for confusion and suffering. It is pretty obvious that if you think the only truth is that you are a separate being and it is up to you to make everything happen the way you want it to, then you are going to suffer from that limited perspective and be very confused and hurt when things don't always turn out the way you want.
Since the bigger truth is that Being is doing it all, it is therefore much less obvious how holding that perspective rigidly can lead to suffering. And yet holding a bigger truth rigidly does lead to suffering and confusion. After all, how are you supposed to decide if it is not you deciding? Even if you just sit down and do nothing and simply wait for Being to do everything, you actually have to keep deciding to stay sitting over and over again, or you might get up by mistake and do something! If you hold even the bigger truth lightly, then it becomes obvious that you can just go on choosing to do things and not worry about sticking to the bigger truth. So in the case of what you pay attention to, pay attention to whatever seems truest in the moment to pay attention to. If that is the television, so be it. If that is the mystery of Divine will then so be it. But again "you" will still have to choose to turn on the television or to leave it off, even though it is Being that really chooses.
Holding both perspectives lightly and even simultaneously means you can just go on choosing as needed, but also hold your choices very lightly and even hold the results of your choices very lightly since not all of the choosing is happening through you. You can just relax and choose and even enjoy the mysterious nature of choosing, and not worry too much about how it all turns out.
There is a story about a man falling overboard on a big ocean liner. The crew rushes to save him and so first they throw him a life ring. The man tells them that God will save him and swims away from the life ring. So then they throw him a rope and once more he says that God will save him and swims away from the rope. So then they launch a lifeboat and start rowing towards him, but once more he swims away from the boat saying God will save him. Pretty soon he is exhausted and drowns. When he gets to heaven, he confronts God and says, "I had total faith that you would save me. Why didn't you save me?" And God says, "What do you mean, I tried three times!"
That is the kind of thing that happens when you hold a big truth rigidly.
One more thing: as part of your question, you mentioned using your free will to choose how you feel about the weather. Because our individual will is so limited, that is not a very fruitful way to use it. I pointed to the use of your free will to direct your attention as directing your awareness is something that is much easier to control with your free will. So if you do not like the weather or anything else that the Divine is doing, then the simplest thing you can do is really notice your own preference. In other words, direct your attention to your preference since that is what is happening, and so that also is the will of the Divine in that moment. What is it like to have a preference? How true does it feel? Does it open your heart and quiet your mind, or does it contract your heart and busy your mind? It is much easier to notice what is happening than it ever is to change it or to keep it the way it is. So the lazy way to choose is to choose to be curious and really be aware of what is happening. That is a small enough choice that the small truth of yoiur free will has a pretty good chance of succeeding at it. You do not have to work so hard at it to succeed, and even when you do not succeed at simply noticing what is happening, you can then always easily choose again to notice what is happening in this new moment.
There is another possibility. Sometimes we choose what Being is choosing. That is a very easy choice, and it can lead to an even clearer seeing of the illusion of free will. And it just so happens that Being is very curious and very aware. So choosing to be curious about and aware of what is happening often turns out to be what Being is already doing. This can be a wonderful way to directly experience the bigger truth of the Divine will that is here right now making all of your choices.
I hope this helps.