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  • Daniel Rodman

Choices

When we make choices we change the world around us based on our will. Those choices will bring about positive or negative consequences. The intention from which we act determines the moral quality of our choices, whether they are virtuous or not. All spiritual traditions will say that practicing virtue and letting go of non-virtue leads to happiness outwardly and a deeper sense of contentment inwardly.

It is interesting to notice that our choices have different characteristics. Some choices are made with strong intention and deep dedication, like a sculptor making her art, or a baseball player at bat, looking down the pitcher. Other choices are made with whimsy and little effort like what parking spot you'll use out of many, or what you will look at on facebook. Some choices are out of a large variety like grocery shopping or shopping online for a watch. Some are very specific like giving money to a homeless man, or taking your exit on the highway. Some choices change your life forever like proposing to your loved one, or going to this or that university. Some make a lasting impression like visiting a different country or seeing a Broadway show.

Out of a multiplicity of choices there are primary forms of intelligence we can rely on to guide us through. One is reason and logic, gathering all the information about whats possible and judging what is the optimal solution. Another is cravings and desires, telling us what we want and what we don't want, sometimes being contradictory, sometimes being selfish, sometimes being in alignment with our love. Yet another is our heart's natural intelligence, recognizing in any variety of possibilities which is the most fulfilling and most meaningful choice.

The heart's intelligence includes logic, cravings and desires, as participants in the process of elimination and finding the right choice. Finally, though, the heart will chose what is the best for not just ourselves, but all involved, which may contradict any of the other means of intelligence. Sometimes to follow our heart means to be “illogical”, to go against what we usually think is the smarter thing, more socially acceptable, or common sense. Also, our heart will tell us even though we may have cravings or desires that are strong, that it may hurt someone else or ourselves, maybe just in the long run, and from that intention of love, we will forgo those desires.

Learning to follow our heart's intelligence is a practice, and not something we are spontaneously experts at. It takes time to attune ourselves with our heart, especially if we have not listened to it often. However, our heart is always available to us, and always guides us if we need it to. The more we love, the stronger our heart becomes, and the louder and more clear its desires become as well. It is not that our heart becomes improved in its fundamental purity and intelligence, but rather the obscurations of ignorance, attachment, aversion, and selfishness get in the way of our true clarity. Once we become attuned with our heart we live a most profound state of being: everything we do is informed by love. That means that everything we want, everyone we meet, and everything we do, and everywhere we are, is our love, it is included in our heart. This is a state of perpetual celebration. In good times you celebrate what you receive with gratitude, and in bad times you have the energy, stability, and deep contentment to overcome it. This state of full attunement with your heart is what is called someone who lights up a room, being a vital person, spiritual realization, or someone who is exuberant. I call it living the exuberant life. May we come to know the variety of our choices, and may we learn to align ourselves with the heart's intelligence.

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