Q: I have been reading your title 'Nothing Personal'. It is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. I have a M.A. in psychology. I find your observations of human psyche and basic nature valid; they support my clinical observations, too. There is still one big question that troubles me: As I see it, one cannot change or choose anything in his/her life. To become free from all suffering, one has to learn to get curious and to desire the complete truth at hand. To really live is to want this moment and this moment only. But doesn't this desiring also belong to the classic domain of free will?
If there is no free will, how can one really choose to navigate/focus to this moment and learn to love it? I think it is a matter of 'chance' if someone learns to live & love in this moment, and a matter of chance if one happens to read, understand and impelement the wisdom you present in your book. How can a creature with no free will choose to surrender to the Mystery? My view is that surrendering is not up to us: if it happens to some one, it is a merciful coincidence. If this is true, then there will always be group of people who can never be 'saved' despite of how good a spiritual teacher, or psychotherapist tries to help them. What is your point of view in this matter?
A: Your questions are really good ones. They point to the mysterious dilemma of the dance between our true nature as infinite Being and our individual nature as a particular human being.
The biggest truth is that we do not choose and it is the totality of Being that decides what will happen, and yet within that biggest truth, there is also a relative truth which is that we still do make choices. It is hard for the mind to hold these two seemingly opposite truths, but they are not really opposite, but rather complementary. And yet the bigger truth is the truth that everything unfolds according to Divine will. So our choices as individuals can interfere with the Divine will, but only for a short time. Or we can cooperate with the Divine will and possibly also thereby experience it more fully. Either way, the will of the Divine will still predominate.
It is my sense that this dance between our individual will and Divine will is itself a part of Divine will. Being is so complete and infinite that it can deeply enjoy the apparent difficulties and dramas created by it's own creations. It loves seeing what we as individuals will do next, similar to the way my wife and I love watching our dogs just to see what predictable or surprising thing they will do next.
Regarding your question about the impossibility of choosing to surrender, you are correct that ultimately surrender or awakening are both movements of the bigger Divine will, and so we as individuals do not choose surrender. Or it may be more correct to say that even when we do choose surrender, that alone is not enough to bring about a total surrender. Choosing to surrender is similar to how we may have a preference for today to be a sunny day, but we do not choose the weather.
However, choosing to surrender does have a more subtle effect: it means that we are paying attention to the movement of Divine will. And this means that if by chance the Divine reveals more of the truth to us in the moment we are choosing to surrender to its impulses, we will thereby be more likely to notice the bigger truth of our situation that is being shown to us. Surrender itself is not a prescription for something we need to do, it is more of a description of our true circumstances. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are "surrendered" to Divine will. It is this bigger intelligence of Being that is making everything happen. But when we "choose" to surrender, we are more likely to notice the truth of our situation.
This is where our individual will has its greatest power: in directing our attention. When we direct our attention to the mystery of how little control we actually have, we are more likely to notice the Presence that is unfolding our life. We cannot change the direction of the Divine's will, but we can become more curious about its direction and its deeper nature.
As to your observation that there are some people that can never be "saved" no matter what they or a therapist or spiritual teacher does, I would also suggest that this may only be true in a relative sense. Everyone is already "saved" as we are all already under the control of the Divine will. However, it is possible that this drama of the individual will dancing in opposition to this bigger truth can unfold over more than one lifetime, in which case we cannot say for certain that someone will never discover the true nature of their predicament. All the apparent individual expressions of eternal Being are also eternal. And eternity is a very long time! Will I be saved today, tomorrow or a thousand years from now? Who can ever say for sure? But what a wonderful and dramatic story this dilemma creates. When we are the one living it, it is better than any TV show or movie ever made!
I hope this is helpful.