ALL IS CHOICE
By Shepherd Hoodwin
According to the Michael teachings, we are, at our core, an eternal spark of the Tao (or Source). We decided to have an adventure on Earth, and created a new essence as our vehicle. We began our journey as humans on the physical plane. When we are complete with that phase, we will gradually ascend through the higher six planes, activating more layers of our essence, until we’re back home full time in the Tao. This loop from the Tao and back again is a grand cycle.
The lower part of our essence is our soul, which collects our physical plane experiences. It created our current and past-life personalities, and will create those in any future lifetimes. In our first lifetime, our soul is totally inexperienced. Gradually, it moves from being wholly a creation to being a co-creator with our spark partly through learning how to make choices, which generate experiences. We see the results of our choices and can make adjustments, becoming more skillful as we go along.
It is similar to how creativity works in the arts. For example, composers try a series of chords, listen to them, and perhaps try something different until the result is as pleasing as they can make it. Perhaps they study with teachers who suggest things they hadn’t thought of, and that expands their range of creativity.
Will Rogers, the great American humorist, said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” In other words, we all make a lot of mistakes on the way to learning how to navigate life more skillfully. Even the greatest composers try a lot of wrong notes before finding those that work. Most of their mature works are more skillful and substantial than their early ones. Prodigies such as Mozart were quite accomplished at an early age; the likeliest explanation is that they developed a lot of their skill in past lives. But even with Mozart, his late works were more profound. If we don’t get to make our own choices and therefore our own mistakes, we cannot develop mastery.
Another analogy: The Tao is like parents who have children (essences) that they plan to take into the family business. As newborns, they must be cared for, but as they grow, they learn the business until they can help run it. If the children never take any responsibility and make decisions, they don’t learn. Some are fond of saying that we are children of God, but would any parent want its offspring to stay children forever?
Prior to each lifetime, the soul creates a personality made up of overleaves, which are traits designed to give the soul the specific kinds of experiences it wants to have in that lifetime. The body, parental imprinting, astrology, and other factors also shape the personality. As a newborn baby, our personality, like the new soul, was totally without experience, although to some degree, we always draw upon the experience of our soul and spark — they can be seen in the background. As we mature and have experiences, our personality increasingly becomes a co-creator with them — like the soul, it becomes more skillful in making choices.
In the Genesis creation story, it says that God formed humans from dust and breathed life into it. That is how all creation works. We start with raw material. For a painter, that might be a blank canvas and paints. For a writer, that might be a new word processing document. They are inert until we breathe life into them. When we create something that lives, the creation goes on to become a creator. A work of art has a life of its own apart from the artist, perhaps provoking thought or inspiring reflection. It has its own relationship with those who interact with it. It has an energy. I knew of a blind man who used to go to art museums, stand in front of paintings, and feel their energy. He raved to a friend of mine how she had to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Met!
Every creation expands the creator. The Tao expands by creating universes (and essences within them) that then go on to become co-creators. Essences expand through the soul’s creation of personalities. Even after the body that first housed the personality dies, it continues to have experiences and grow on the astral plane (where we go between lifetimes), co-creating with essence until it is fully integrated into it and goes dormant as a sort of subpersonality of essence that enriches it.
We are large, multifaceted beings. Different parts of us are responsible for different kinds of choices. Our spark chose our essence traits, our soul sets up our lifetimes, and our personality has primary responsibility for the specifics of our lifetime, being on the “front lines.” The personality itself is multifaceted, and different parts of it handle different kinds of choices. Ideally, however, personality works in harmony with essence to make the best possible choices. Essence is already in unity with our core, or spark, so that results in wholeness. When we are in our true identity as our whole self, we understand that “I” made all these choices. We take responsibility for all of them, even if we do not yet fully understand them or have mastery of them.
Many people identify as being their body, or an ego in a bag of skin, as Alan Watts put it. They are cut off from their essence, which is frustrating for both essence and personality. However, every situation brings experiences and therefore can eventually be used for growth. When there are breakthroughs, when personality opens to essence, it can be thrilling, and essence will have learned about going from being imprisoned in an unresponsive personality to freedom. Ultimately, no experience need be wasted.
We are constantly making choices. We choose actions, words, attitudes, etc., both on conscious and unconscious levels. As we evolve, we move more of our choices from being unconscious to being conscious, and access a broader palette of possibilities. We make our choices more artistically, bringing more beauty into the world. Some choices are more significant than others, but seemingly small choices can have a large impact. Every choice is important as practice for creating.
For example, some people have found that keeping a record of all the money they spend and reviewing it regularly has made them more conscious of their financial choices. Maybe they were surprised by some of them and decided to make changes. Perhaps they created a budget, but simply becoming more conscious of our spending might be enough to bring our finances into better balance.
All humans are evolving simply due to the fact that we’re having experiences. When we choose with awareness, engaging with our full faculties, including reason, we make better choices, with more pleasant outcomes, and grow relatively quickly through joy. When we choose on autopilot, we grow relatively slowly, through pain. Either way, the evolution of consciousness is a very long, complex process. If it were quick and simple, we’d only need one lifetime!
(People generally take 100–200 lifetimes to complete the physical plane, depending on their average lifespan, speed of moving through the thirty-five soul age levels, and personal preference. The fewest I know of is 37, and a “specialist in infant mortality” I channeled for has had 1500 lives.)
Good choices could be defined as those that bring positive results and that we still feel good about later. We ourselves are the final arbiter of whether a particular choice we made was the best possible one, and sometimes that is not clear until much later. However, being mindful during the process of making choices tends to bring better results.
Often, many possible choices are pretty equal in terms of probable outcomes. Job A might have a different set of pros and cons than Job B, but when they’re all added up, they might have similar tallies. And there might not be an ideal or “perfect” choice in a given situation. Simply making the best choice we can at least keeps us moving forward so that new choices can present themselves.
There is a saying that “You create your own reality from your core beliefs.” Our core beliefs shape our energy, thoughts, and feelings, which influence our choices, which largely create our reality. For example, we will make different choices if we believe that the world is against us than if we believe that the world supports us, and different life experiences will result.
We all have some negative, false core beliefs that limit us, many of which we are unaware. Becoming aware of them and changing them to be in alignment with truth can considerably accelerate our growth and improve our life. There are many techniques for accessing, exploring, and shifting our core beliefs directly. We can also change them from the outside in by being more aware of our choices and making them more from positive, true beliefs. For example, we can choose to act from the premise that we live in a benevolent, abundant universe even if we don’t yet feel it.
True beliefs, those that are in harmony with the larger universe, are based in love and are naturally positive and constructive. There is much negativity in humanity, and we don’t benefit from being in Pollyanna-ish denial of that. However, improving life on earth requires that we reach outside the closed system of human negativity and bring in the fresh air of universal love, truth, and beauty that are the basis of life.
For those on a conscious spiritual path, the essential question when considering a choice is whether it is aligned with love, truth, and beauty and serves the highest good. This principle is the spiritual half of choice-making, and it is relatively simple and straightforward when we have a clear sense of what those qualities look and feel like. However, the material half — its application — is complex. A person can be purely loving in intention and still blunder through life. Practical considerations are specific to each situation. Mastering the art of living is an endless task that demands a great deal of knowledge, insight, experience, and skill. We live in a complicated, everchanging world, and there is always more to learn about it to enable increasingly better choices. We practice the art of living by making choices over many lifetimes.