What is the Nature of Choice?

In the video for the weekend dialogue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUuvpNuX4rM

" A : Yes, you know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that only a person responsible, as you have said it, can make what we call, in our tongue, a clean decision.

K : Of course, of course.

A : So many decisions are frayed.

K : Sir, I would like to ask this: is there decision at all? Decision implies choice.

A : Yes.

K : Choice implies a mind that’s confused, between this and that.

A: It means, I think, radically to make a cut, to cut off.

K : Yes, but a mind that sees clearly has no choice. It doesn’t decide. It acts.

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This is the last of the conversation centered on choice:
K : But I don’t like to use that word ‘decision’ because, deciding between this and that.

A : You don’t want to use it because of the implications in it of conflict?

K : Conflict, choice, we think we are free because we choose. We can choose, right?

A : Yes.

K : Is free a mind that is capable of choice? Or is a mind that is not free, that chooses?
The choice implies between this and that. Obviously. Which means, the mind doesn’t see clearly and therefore there is choice. The choice exists when there is confusion.

A : Yes, yes, yes.

K : A mind that sees clearly, there is no choice. It is doing. I think this is where we have got into rather trouble, when we say we are free to choose, choice implies freedom. I say, on the contrary! Choice implies a mind that is confused and therefore not free.

The way I understand this is that when Krishnamurti talks about choice he is talking about psychological choice.

There is of course choice in the ordinary sense: by which I mean preferences. Preferences are based on taste, aesthetic judgements, practical considerations, etc - such as what card to send to a relative.

But a psychological choice might be that I am angry or frightened, and I then choose to be calm or courageous.

But there is no choice if the observer of anger/fear is anger/fear (i.e. the observer is the observed).

So Krishnamurti is saying that there is only choiceless awareness or seeing of the fact of anger/fear (and any other psychological factor).

On many occasions we act without choosing or deciding to because we’re confident that we’re seeing clearly and doing the right thing in response. But, sooner or later, when it’s clear that we were responding conditionally, reacting to what we believed was happening, we’re stunned to realize how mistaken we were.

When there’s clarity (I’m speculating), more often than not, passive response is appropriate because most of what happens need only be acknowledged, observed, and left alone. Likewise, when active response is appropriate, one acts no less effortlessly because there is no choosing when there are no confusing alternatives.

Of course all of this implies the absence of I, me, mine, and the presence of complete attention, choiceless awareness, silence, emptiness, and direct perception that K spoke of, so it’s only a thought exercise.

that the conditioned mind has no choice (obviously) - but here K is saying that clarity and a sense of responsibility will also determine what action is taken.

I think you may have this the wrong way round Douglas?

Clarity is the understanding (or insight) that the conditioned mind has no choice - i.e. clarity is the understanding that the observer is the observed, fear is not separate from the ‘me’ who is afraid. That clarity then acts (e.g. to dissolve fear).

If psychological thought is the illusion of choice, the chooser, magical thinking in accord with what-should/should-not-be, is it a reaction to the choiceless awareness of clarity, or has the human brain never been innocent, clear, silent, because it has never understood how it manages to be delusional?

Has the human brain taken a wrong turn into selfishness, or has it never been free because freedom is impossible without the understanding that comes with self-knowledge?

I understand you to be asking how or why psychological choice comes into being in the first place, and why it continues to maintain itself.

Probably the ordinary innocent movement of preference (e.g. for an apple instead of an orange) turns into psychological choice unconsciously, without the mind being aware of what it is doing.

But perhaps if I change the first ‘never’ in your question to ‘ever’ (and drop the second ‘never’ completely), it becomes more clear what the question is?

Or, to put it differently, has the human brain ever seen through its own illusion of psychological choice?

Yes. It may be that the human brain has never been free of itself, identity, and all that goes with it because it has rarely questioned its behavior seriously enough to see how limiting it is to be self-absorbed.

K did not use the phrase “psychological choice” in the above segment. K did say, “Choice implies a mind that’s confused, between this and that.” This is a premise of K’s only, as far as I can tell. I’m confused at how K came up with that???

I also find K’s language about ‘choice’ somewhat confusing, but it is clear from his talks and discussions that the kind of ‘choosing’ he has in mind is not the practical choice (or preference) for one colour shirt over another colour shirt. His concern is inevitably with the psychological aspect of choice: i.e. how it involves a notion of psychological becoming.

I think this is a recurring pattern

If we see the situation clearly, and we want to do the right thing, the right course of action is evident - imposes itself.

Yes, now this makes sense to me. It’s like “plugging in” and following the “clarity action plan” because it’s the responsible thing to do, no choice about it.

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I think the issue of responsibility may require its own separate thread.

One can feel a sense of responsibility that is wholly illusory; in the same way that one can be motivated to “do the right thing” for reasons that have nothing to do with another’s well being.

In the video K makes a strong distinction between feeling a sense of “responsibility for”(some outcome) and just feeling a sense of responsibility - which I could easily interpret as a sense of responsibility for one’s own selfish movement and its consequences in the world.

That may well be the case (I haven’t watched the video); but for the purposes of this thread I don’t feel that mixing the topics of responsibility and choice is all that helpful.

When I am choosing between vanilla and chocolate flavour ice-cream the question of responsibility seems redundant. It is simply a matter of preference - which I understand K to say is fine. There is no issue with choice at this level (i.e. of preferences).

But when I am confronted by some aspect of my behaviour or emotion, does choice have a place there? This is the point I think is important to look at. Most people think that the responsible thing to do is to control one’s behaviour or deliberately alter one’s emotional state - implying that there is a difference between the behaviour and oneself, between the controller and the controlled.

But if this difference is an illusion, then the choice of how to act with respect to one’s behaviour or emotional states is also illusory. There is no choice (psychologically speaking).

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Choice seems to be redundant when it comes to preferences also (and feelings about how things should be).

ie. I don’t choose my preferences (for chocolate or vanilla)

Yes. The question of choice is clearly related to the question of free will. Am I free to will what I will?

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All choices are made by the “me”, in time, either consciously or unconsciously, explicitly or implicitly. I choose because I want something, although I may know or not know what is it that I want. In the process of making a choice I compare, judge, and finally decide. I can choose something today and fulfil my choice tomorrow or next year. I chose a lifestyle, friends, professional career, ideals, long-term goals, etc., many years ago, believing that I knew what I was doing—but then life taught me differently, that choices lay down the path for living in the world, for living in time. So, by breaking my relationship with time, by becoming free this way I can see and break away from making choices, psychological choices as well as practical choices.

At the early part of the video K said, " Now, what is human relationship? If I feel totally responsible, how does that responsibility express in relationship: to my children, if I have children, to my family, to my neighbour, whether the neighbour is next door or ten thousand miles away, he is still my neighbour! So what is my responsibility? What is the responsibility of a man who feels totally, completely involved in this feeling of being a light to himself and totally responsible? I think this is a question, sir, that has to be investigated.”

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