Choices

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The only thing that ever actually belongs to any of us is our free will.

Free will means making choices. We always have choices about everything.

We chose what we do, what we think, how we spend out time, who we spend our time with. We chose what things to put our energy into, and what things are a waste of our time.

All of our lives are these constant choices.

Sometimes people get into a state of mind where they forget that they are constantly making choices. They say "well, I had no choice" .... usually followed by "therefore I had to" .... such and such.

But really, there is always a choice. Maybe it's not the choice we think we can make, or the choice we would rather be making, but we're making some kind of choice, always.

I remember when my children were little, and I was trying to figure out how to manage all the discipline that children need in a constructive way. Well, I read a book that recommended giving the child choices between two good alternatives, both of which you could live with.

For example "would you rather do your homework now, or would you rather do it after dinner".
This was so that the child felt in control of their life, and also gave them some training in this important life lesson of how to make choices.

When people cannot make choices, they feel helpless, out of control. Same thing when they think they don't have choices. I would imagine that's because our free will and therefore choices are such an integral part of the soul itself.

I remember a long time ago, reading about someone who was going to be executed in Nazi Germany. Well, they had taken every single thing he had away from him, one thing at a time. He still, at the end, in front of the firing squad,had his wedding band, then they took that away. He thought to himself, well, they have taken everything I have, now they will also take my life, but they can't take away how I chose to think and feel about this. They can't take away how I chose to face death. So he stood bravely and faced the firing squad without fear.

These are mundane examples of course, but they help when people feel certain that they have no choice about something. There is always some kind of choice and even in the most extreme circumstances, you can at the very least chose your behavior and your thoughts.

So, in this way, we are constantly, at every moment being given the choice of how to think, how to behave, what to do with our lives, second by second.

The best choice is always whatever brings you closer to Krishna. If you get used to making the choices that make you more aligned with the desires of Srila Prabhupad and Krishna, then your choices will always benefit you, no matter how they may look to others from the material level.

They will also be for the ultimate good of everyone else also, though it may not always appear that way. Being harmonious with the desires and plans of Krishna is good for everyone.

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Comments
Fri, 06/27/2008 - 19:09 — kannankamalesh
kannankamalesh's picture
Perfect Conclusion

Hare Krishna Mataji!
Absolutely. According to our choice only, Lord Krishna is sanctioning everything. Without His sanction we cannot do anything. From time immemorial we had a choice to enjoy materially. So that , now we are here. If we have a choice to go back to Godhead, again Lord Krishna will sanction us. But it depends up on our strong desire. A good example given in Bhagavad Gita is two birds sitting on a tree. Among these two, one bird is eating and other bird is watching.
Actually We are all part and parcel of Krishna only. Lord Krishna can control us. But Krishna is giving respect to the free will of each soul which is 100000 times smaller than tip of hair. Onlything we have to do is dovetail our desires or choices or freewillingness according to Krishna's will or His representative's will is the perfect conclusion.
Kamala Kesava Das

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Sat, 06/28/2008 - 03:15 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Strong Desire

Thank you for your nice comment, Kamala Kesava Das.

You are right, we need to have a very strong desire to be with Krishna again.
As you said, He is only granting that which we wish for our own selves.
So, we cultivate this strong desire by our practice of devotional activities.

I love that example of the two birds in the tree. It's very appropriate here and I am glad you mentioned it.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Wed, 06/25/2008 - 14:44 — Dhama Rupini
Dhama Rupini's picture
Choices

Hare Krsna Navasi Mataji,
Thanks ever so much for this interesting blog entry. This subject of free will has pervaded my thoughts for a long period of time. I kept thinking in performing my daily tasks and duties, "Is this my choice or is this Krsna's choice?I became very overwhelmed with this constant thought pattern, however after being adamant on seeking the right answer I read this very instructive verse in Bhagavad Gita that allayed the inner turbulence Chapter 5 verse 15 the words of the purport provides clarity:
"The Lord, however can fulfill all desires, and the Lord being neutral to everyone does not interfere with the desires of the minute independent living entities. However, when one desires Krsna the Lord takes special care and encourages one to desire in such a way that one can attain to Him and be eternally happy....The Lord engages the living entity in pious activities so that he may be elevated."
So yes we are given free will or the power of choice, however if we surrender unto Krsna then Krsna guides us into making the best possible choices. Our choices and decisions should be geared as you have stated very clearly to what brings us closer to Krsna. I am comforted knowing that if I sincerely surrender Krsna is going to guide me into making the right choices that will serve Him best.
I really appreciated this blog; it's a subject matter that I love reading about. Thanks ever so much.
Haribol
Julia

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Thu, 06/26/2008 - 00:02 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Guidance

Dear Julia,

A lot of people become very confused over this issue, you are certainly not alone in that.

The problem for some of us occurs because we don't understand the difference between Krishna "guiding us", "encouraging us", "taking special care of us" and our own desires still affecting our choices.

Until we are entirely pure in our hearts, our desires will always be mixed. We want to serve Krishna, we desire to surrender, but these desires are mixed with the desires of an impure heart. All kinds of subtle desires that we may not even be aware of can be affecting us.

So, Krishna is there, guiding us, encouraging us, taking special care of our desires. But that does not mean that every decision we make has been made by Krishna Himself through His guidance of us.

It is still our choice, and our desires that are doing the choosing.

With the guidance of Krishna, we will be "corralled" into gradually becoming more and more purified on the path of devotional service, until our desires and choices are always "one" with Krishna's.

In the meantime, it's important to know that we are always the one's who are doing the choosing.

Sometimes, we think that because we have surrendered to Krishna, and we have a desire to serve Him, therefore, every choice we make is perfect because He has guided us.

We may make a lot of misguided, wrong choices while believing they are right, because we don't understand this.

Krishna is guiding us, directing us, encouraging us, to become more and more purified until we know what it is to actually surrender to Him, and have no other desire but to serve Him.

That is protection, and that is comfort, knowing that Krishna is leading us always on the right path to reach Him.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 11:38 — Gopa Aaron
Gopa Aaron's picture
Making Choices

Does'nt the Guru help us to make the ultimate choices?

Hare Krsna,
Bhakta Aaron

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 22:38 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Instructions

Yes, if you follow the instructions of your guru then you will be making the right choice always.

A lot of times we don't chose to follow those instructions, even when they have been given.

Following the instructions of the guru will not only help you make the ultimate choices but also all the small ones.

Just like in Karnamrita's prabhu's comment below, he talks about making the choice to chant instead of watching tv.

If your guru is still on the planet and you have the good fortune to obtain instructions that are very specific to your everyday life, what devotional service you should do, or your current problems or issues, that's very wonderful.

You would still have to make the choice to follow those instructions. They might not always please you. So, you have to chose to follow them. That's what I meant when I said to make the choice to align yourself with the desires of Srila Prabhupad and Krishna.

If you are initiated, then you would do that by aligning yourself with the desires (instructions) of your own guru (if that is someone other than Srila Prabhupad) and by aligning yourself with your guru, you are automatically aligned with the desires of Srila Prabhupad and Krishna.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 06:32 — pushpendra_
pushpendra_'s picture
Krishna our netural choice

Mataji ko pranam,
Every one in this world wants "anand"(Happiness).Krishna is the source of unlimited happiness.
Since we are partial part of Krishna therefore we naturally attract towards Krishna.

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 08:57 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Naturally

Yes, we are all naturally attracted to Krishna.

We are all covered over by the conditioning of the material energy, to one degree or another, so we don't fully realize our souls natural attraction.

But, we can at least make the choice to do the things that will remove the conditioning.

Then we will be able to fully understand just how much we are attracted to Krishna.

Thank you for your comment.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 01:04 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
No choice

I really wish Krishna would have not given us a choice to make choice. Its only because we made a choice to enjoy ourselves we are here in this material world. If we had no choice but to only love Krisna material world would'nt have existed. Just like if there were no criminals prisons wouldn't have existed.

Hare Krishna!

Snehal.

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 01:25 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Love

Dear Snehal,

I understand why you wish we had not been given a choice by Krishna. But really, the problem is not that Krishna gave us a choice, rather that we chose wrongly.
Therefore, we are responsible for the fact that we are here in the material world.
We didn't Have To Chose to be the enjoyers and not serve Krishna after all.... that was our doing.

Krishna gives us choice and free will because without it there is no meaning to love. If you are forced by Krishna (because He gave us no free will) to stay in the spiritual world and serve Him, then it's got nothing to do with love and devotion.

Krishna has everything and needs nothing. However, amazingly, He desires our love and devotion. That's a far greater blessing than being kept out of the material world because we have been given no opportunity to love, to love Krishna.

Imagine if there were no such thing as love for Krishna. That would be the worst form of hell imaginable. Far worse than being temporarily imprisoned because of wrong choices.

So, that's a great blessing from Krishna, that He gives us the ability to love, and the free will and choice comes with it.

We just have to make the choice to love Krishna again, that's all.

: )

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 04:37 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
My understanding

I understand Mataji, what you are saying here. Although we are parts and pacels of Kishna we have our identity. And out of love Krishna gives us oppurtunity to make choices. Living in spiritual world without love for Krisna (if we had had to forcefully stay there) would be no better than living in material word.

I think I have got your point.

Thank you very much.

Hare Krishna!

Snehal.

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Sun, 06/22/2008 - 23:57 — abhishek108
abhishek108's picture
Time

Time also plays an important role in choosing things.
Don't u think Mataji?

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 01:10 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Timed Choices

What role exactly do you mean Abhishek?

Could you please explain?

I'm not sure I understand what you are referring to regarding the role of time.

Thank you,
Navasi

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 22:49 — abhishek108
abhishek108's picture
Span

I mean the span of time we get to choose things.

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 23:03 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Yes

Okay, I see what you mean now...

Yes, it does make a difference.

When you don't have much time it's even harder to make choices. You can't really think things over much if there is not a lot of time. So that could make choosing the right thing even harder.

That's another reason why it's a very good idea to practice all the time making the Krishna conscious choice in all the small ways, and large ways when you have time. Then, your choices for the Krishna conscious thing will become more automatic.

That way, when you are faced with having to make a very large choice (or even a small one) with very little time, it will be more natural for you to make the right choice.

Very good point Abhishek. It's good you brought this up.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

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Sun, 06/22/2008 - 13:08 — Karnamrita.das
Karnamrita.das's picture
Choosing to comment

Thanks Navasi for reminding us about choice. Truly our choices define our life at every moment---they make us or break us. The small choices we make will determine how we make the really big choices. Choices are paths we take with different results. For instance, how do you use our time? Choosing to go to the Temple on a regular basis or chanting Hare Krishna daily will make a huge difference in our life versus just staying at home, watching TV, or being materially absorbed. We have the freedom to choose, though it is more difficult for some than others. Still practice makes perfect.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita

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Sun, 06/22/2008 - 23:15 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Practice

Hi Karnamrita prabhu! Pranams.
:)

I love what you've said here:

"The small choices we make will determine how we make the really big choices."

That's so true.
Also I love what you said about "practice makes perfect".

If we practice making the small choices that are beneficial for our spiritual life, then when we are faced with the really big choices we will be much more able to make in the best possible way.

It's so important I think to realize these things, how we have to practice and how all the small choices are going to effect the larger ones.
Sometimes we think "well, I'm going to chose to just enjoy my senses now, I'll chose Krishna later..."
Later you may not have the strength (or chance) to make that choice. So, good to start with the small choices now.

Thank you for your very helpful addition to this post.

Your friend in Krishna,
Navasi

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Sun, 06/22/2008 - 13:12 — Karnamrita.das
Karnamrita.das's picture
Choosing not to comment

Thanks Navasi

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Sun, 06/22/2008 - 23:36 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
No Comment

(that's very funny ... hehehe) : )

A Comment:

I remember when I was a small child, there was this cartoon on television then (maybe you might remember it being similar in age).
I forget their names, but it was two chipmunks or squirrels ...
Well, I guess they must have been devotees in disguise because they were always so kind and polite and considerate of each other.
They over-did it quite a bit and got into a lot of trouble because of it.
They couldn't even get into their tree hole because they would stand outside it, insisting that the other one go into the tree first.
"oh, you first my dear friend" ... "oh, no, you must go first my friend".... and on and on. I thought that was so funny and I adored them :)

Well, that said, at the risk of sounding like one of those squirrels:

Oh, no, thank you Karnamrita!

: )

ys,
Navasi

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 03:52 — ekbhaktin8
ekbhaktin8's picture
Chip and Dale ?

Dear Navasi

Hare Krishna

Could you be talking about Chip and Dale ?
My baby sister (6 yrs younger) and her best friend were once sitting on the steps on the front porch (they were about 6 or 7). They reminded me of Chip and Dale. Ever since then i teased them - that they are "Chip and Dale".

Very nice Blog. Thank You !
Sometimes we feel we do not have a choice about something. However, if we think about it , we do have choices. Either Krishna makes the way soon or our perspective and attitude changes. That reminds me of one quote :

"...only God’s infinite Grace is the over-ruling factor. Hence, one should stay howsoever and wheresoever God wishes one to stay, knowing that it is the part of grace itself."
-Vallabhacharya

Krishnali

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 04:44 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Perspectives & Attitudes

That's great what you've said about our changing our perspectives and attitudes Krishnali.

We often tend to think only of externals. We focus on what's going on outside of us, in our circumstances. Sometimes Krishna is not changing the externals because he wants us to change something internal.
This actually happened to me recently.
I was bothered about something that was going on in my life. I kept thinking "Krishna, this doesn't make sense to me, why doesn't it change"....
Finally, I just let go of the whole concept of how I thought it "ought to be" and tried to see what it was that Krishna wanted me to learn from what was happening.
Wow! I was so startled when I realized what a tremendously greater spiritual gift I gained when I finally figured out what it was I needed to learn.
If I had been determined to focus only on the externals of things, without "letting go" of that attachment and looking deeper for the valuable lesson contained there, I would have missed this tremendous blessing from Krishna.
You know the saying "a blessing in disguise". It's so true.
Sometimes we forget that Krishna plans are really in our best interest, whether we can see that at the moment or not.

Thank you for the quote from Vallabhacharya also.

Hare Krishna,
Navasi

(oh yes, I do believe you're right.... I think it was Chip and Dale... maybe, I really don't remember for sure) lol
: )

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 09:59 — Snehal
Snehal's picture
Change in perspective

Hare Krishna!

Me too recently had an oppurtunity to learn this "letting go" attitude. Something was bothering me for a long time . And actually, as you say it turned out to be a spiritual gift and Krisna's blessing when I started looking at it with spiritual aspect. I must mention it here, that I learnt to change may perspective only after joining connect. So I am very thankful to all the wonderful devotees here.

I now belive that whatever happens in our lives, is good for our spiritual life and we should always make a choice to accept it as Krisna's mercy rather than crying over the spilt milk.

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Mon, 06/23/2008 - 23:12 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Spiritual Life

That's really wonderful Snehal.

It so important what you're saying.
We cultivate Spiritual Life, the life of our soul.
It's very hard for us all because we are so attached to our bodies, minds and senses, and all the things of the material world.

Krishna is trying to help us, but we fight and fight trying to "make things the way we think they should be".

If we examine these things closely, it will be easy to see that the way we "think things should be" involves some material arrangement of some kind.

Krishna is working on our soul.

Thank you for sharing your nice realizations here. We all learn from each other. That's one of the things I love about connect also.

: )

Navasi