Making Decisions: A Spiritual Perspective

Each moment of our lives, we have a choice about how to think, act or react to the current situation. Sometimes, the choices we face seem trivial. At other times, we come up against a decision of such importance that we might be afraid to make a choice altogether.

No Best Choice

From a spiritual perspective, the actual choice is not important. This may seem hard imagine, because most of us grow up learning that there is a “right” choice and a “wrong” choice. Or at the very least, there is a choice that is “better” than the other choices. But “right” choice and “best” choice are judgements, and as such have no spiritual significance.

Considered from a logical perspective, the idea of “best” choice starts to break down when you consider what making the “best” choice actually means. In life we constantly desire for certain things to happen, as well as to acquire certain things. We believe – against all evidence – that by getting what we want, we will be happy. However, our desires come from the selfish aspect of ourselves called the ego. When we get what we want, it simply leads to a further desire for something else.

In general, we can obtain happiness regardless of whether or not we get what we desire. In other words, fulfillment of desires and happiness are not connected. Therefore, getting or not getting what we desire is completely beside the point. With this in mind, it’s easier to understand why there is no “best” choice.

Selfish vs unselfish choices

Since I commented that the choice itself is not important, it’s necessary to address the “elephant in the room”: selfish choices. For this discussion, a selfish (i.e. “morally incorrect”) choice is defined as one in which the person making the choice will gain something at the direct expense of somebody else. Generally speaking: any action such as lying, cheating, stealing, or violence could be considered a selfish choice.

A spiritual person understands the law of karma at some level or another. At the basic level, the law of karma simply means that when you do something to somebody else, that same action will happen to you at a later point in life. This isn’t because the universe punishes people; instead the law of karma is a natural as the law of gravity.

At a higher level, when a person recognizes the extent to which people are connected to each other, she will realize that to do something to another person is in effect doing that thing to yourself. As stated in The Course of Miracles: “giving and receiving are the same”. The same is true for all actions (not just giving), because the doer of the action and the receiver of the action are the same.

If a person does not recognize this fact, then he may be tempted to make a selfish choice. And there would be nothing wrong with doing so, as people learn from experience. It is only a matter of time before the consequences of one’s choices make it clear that selfish actions do not lead to any real benefit. Therefore, a selfish choice is not in and of itself a wrong choice, because even a selfish choice will eventually lead to wisdom and self-improvement.

The Relativity of Truth

The next thing that must be understood is that no action in itself can be regarded as selfish or unselfish without context. For instance, killing in most cases is selfish. But to kill another in order to protect innocent people from being slaughtered is not selfish; instead, it is a moral obligation. The same goes with any action that is generally regarded as a sin. There simply isn’t any cut-and-dry rule for any action.

The reason for this is because truth is itself a living entity. This is why it is not something that you can simply “grasp hold of”. It may be possible to talk about truth for a specific moment and event, but you can’t pin it down because it is not a thing, but rather an energy that is alive and moving.

People who create rules and religious dogma do so because it is easy: it takes away the responsibility of deciding what is “morally” correct in particular circumstances. Rules also give people a sense of stability: when you know what the rules are, you feel better protected. But life itself is constantly changing; therefore to have inflexible truth is to ignore the reality of constant change.

As we see in today’s society: when regarding controversial issues such as abortion, black and white rules cannot properly cover all circumstances. But many people refuse to recognize the lack of logic in their fixed rules. For example, most people recognize that killing is morally correct in the context of war. But some of these same people refuse to consider any possible flexibility in cases of abortion or euthanasia.

Awareness of Motivations

When making any decision, the important factor is whether or not we are honest with ourselves about the decision. For example, if we make a choice for selfish reasons but refuse to admit that the motivations were selfish, the consequences of doing so will be negative every time.

On a spiritual level, it is better to consciously commit a selfish act, than to commit an unselfish act for selfish reasons. For example, let’s say you give a gift to a coworker because you inwardly want her to think that you are a good person. You may think that your true intentions are hidden, but you coworker will subconsciously realize your true intentions. So ultimately, you will not be “rewarded” for you “good deed”. And this could result in you resenting the coworker for not being manipulated into believing you are nice.

True motivation is important because motivation is energy, which is what the universe recognizes. You can tell yourself one million times that you are happy and grateful to be alive, but if you don’t feel grateful to be alive, that is what the universe will pick up on. The universe doesn’t “care” what you do or say, it cares how you feel about it.

Therefore, the most important part of any decision is to know your true motivations for doing something. You can only fix a problem if you recognize that it exists. So when you recognize that you are selfish, you are closer to correcting your selfish motivations than if you deny your selfish intentions.

Major Decisions

Sometimes in life we are faced with decisions that can potentially have life-altering consequences. Such decisions can be intimidating or downright scary. In such cases, there is even more stress to make the right decision. But in reality, fully accepting the consequences of the choice that is made is more important than the choice itself.

Consider the example of a man who considers asking a woman to date him, but ultimately decides against it. Perhaps the man decided that the woman was not a good fit for him, or perhaps he was simply too scared. In either case, he made a choice, but is now unhappy that he is still single.

When contemplating a decision, it is extremely important to realize that every choice has advantages and disadvantages. Even more important, it is extremely important to fully accept the disadvantages of the choice that you ultimately decide upon. In the case of the single man, if he had been completely honest with himself he would have realized that his choice (or lack thereof) would mean he would continue to be single (at least temporarily). By accepting this fact and being at peace with it, he would now be in a much better position emotionally to continue to search for a potential partner.

Asking for Guidance

One of the best strategies that can be used for making decisions big or small is to ask for guidance. This doesn’t mean you have to pray about a decision and wait for an answer. Instead, it involves taking a moment before each decision to clearly set an intention to choose the option that would best align with spiritual law and would help fulfill your life purpose.

When you set such an intention, you are acknowledging the wisdom of a higher power. This power could be God, a spirit guide, or your higher self. In any case, the higher power truly knows what you need, which is not necessarily in alignment with the wishes of the ego. By allowing yourself to be open to such guidance, you will begin to move through life with more confidence. You will also start to open up to the sense that your life is part of a purpose greater than yourself, which will ultimately lead to life fulfillment and peace.