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Solving Problems - The Technique of No Choice

Douglas Harding
from his book, "Head Off Stress", p. 177.

This is how the technique works: faced with a problem, one doesn't feebly sit back and wait for things to happen. Neither does one toss a coin, or consult an astrologer, and hope that the outcome will prove the right one. Not at all. The very definite action to be taken falls into four stages:

1. See yourself to be the Ground or Bottom Line for the pros and cons of the problem to arise from - as many of them and in as much detail as may be. Encourage them to arrange themselves in all sorts of ways. Live with that display, brood on it, sleep on it, but don't go hankering after a decision. As entertaining the problem in all its aspects, as the Screen for them to come and go on, as their Mirror, you remain neutral. Among the exhibits, however, you may well find, prominently featured, a dateline for the problem's solution. Brood on that, too.

2. One morning on waking, or during the day when you are preoccupied with some chore, the completed pattern of things to come arrives, spontaneously and unannounced, from the Bottom Line. So inevitable it seems, so conclusively does it resolve your problem, that you are left in no doubt that here is the right decision, arrived at in the right way at the right time. It has been immaculately conceived in you and for you but not by you. Certainly not by you the human being. Accordingly, it arrives carrying the authority of its parentage, which is the real You, the Source, the World's Beginning and the World's End.

3. Now it is the turn of that decision itself, of that seemingly so right design, to go on display above your Bottom Line: and to reveal its limitations and weak spots. All manner of doubts and difficulties, and dilemmas about how to give effect to the decision, are now likely to appear. Again, you don't solve them by choosing between possible alternatives. You stay with them till they, in turn, are ripe and ready to resolve themselves.

4. Finally, the plan is implemented. With interest, perhaps with awe, you watch it take shape. At no time do you feel that you are moulding or forging that shape. It forms in you as cloud-shapes form in the sky, or intricate patterns in a kaleidoscope.

Such, then, is the technique of No-choice, resulting in no stress of the superfluous and toxic sort. It works. It works creatively, coming up with unforced and unpredictable and truly inspired solutions that you couldn't possibly take personal credit for. And it works like that because, to tell the truth, it is not a technique at all, not a useful dodge for relieving you of the pains of indecision, and certainly not a recipe for a quiet life at all costs. No: it works because it's the way you are built, the way you function in any case, whether you realize it or not. All this choosing one thing in preference to another is illusory, a great cover-up. Separate individuals, as such, are powerless to make the slightest difference in a universe where every one of them is tightly controlled by the rest. Pretending otherwise, pretending that, as our sole selves, we exercise free will, is as absurd and dishonest as it is vainglorious - and stressful. Only the Source of all, under the sway of none, has free will; and only deeds which are seen to proceed from it, which are referred back to it, which are felt to be its own deeds - only these carry its marvellous smell, the smell of an originality and rightness which belongs solely to that Origin. To live the choiceless life that we have been describing is not fatalism. It is not giving up the struggle and accepting that one is a machine within a Machine. It is to identify with the Machine's Inventor, to take one's stand in Freedom itself. It is to be one's Source, to choose what flows from it, and to perceive it as very good.

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