There’s a friend of mine who’s elderly, incontinent and having major issues around self care. On him it’s obvious, because you walk into his apartment and the floor is awash with stale urine. Someone’s missing a few beats there somewhere. For others who neglect the details of self-care it’s not as obvious.
Now everyone makes choices every day. Some are minor choices and yield mild consequences, others major, with much larger consequences. But we do choose and we do that constantly throughout our day. Some, as the Buddhists would tell you, are skillful choices, some not so skillful. The Christian take on this dialogue is less helpful, I think, identifying sinful versus virtuous. Skillful vs unskilled seems more to the point as everyone is after the same thing basically: to be happy and be free to be their own person. Many people just choose ways that don’t actually get them where they really want to go by making unskillful choices.
The way I see it is that in this life you’re either busy growing or you’re busy dying, as some philosopher once said. Either the choice you make will further your development or hinder your progress, choosing life or death, choosing change or choosing self-harm by continuing in old patterns. For the Kabbalists choosing to reveal the light, the skillful choice, is often choosing to do the more difficult thing. Often the right choice is the one requiring more effort. In any given situation, faced with a set of choices we decide whether to increase our light, affirm our progress in charcter, say, or take the easy way out. I’ve found this to be true in my experience where the right choice is often the one I really don’t want to make.
Say you’ve decided that’s it’s the right thing to do to brush your teeth before you go to bed. So one day you’re not in the mood, or its too late or you’re too tired, and you decide to do the easy thing and skip the teeth-brushing that day. The slight guilt that you probably feel is not inherent in the act but a result of a conflict that comes of going against what you feel is right. It’s the result of not conforming to your own beliefs. (No not your mother’s or your church’s or your mosque’s or your teacher’s – yours.)
more on violating your own beliefs next time…….