Chapter 18: The Power To Do What You Know
Rod Stryker’s Four Desires (4D) Virtual Book Club
“Until you act on [your heart’s guidance], you shouldn’t expect to be happy. No one who indefinitely ignores his or her heart should.”
It’s interesting and helpful to know how, according to Vedic tradition, we make decisions. Chapter 18 tells us to get up and act; to put what we know at the core of our being into action. Following that inner guide is the bridge between you and your heart’s desires or fulfillment.
We’ll discover what makes us either act on moving towards fulfillment or away from it?
The decision maker is called buddhi–notice the root word dhi (true knowingness). This is the part of the mind that decides. We should note it is different from our reactive mind that would move us out of the way if a ball was launched in our direction. Buddhi makes decisions based on past-experiences and self-perception.
The Buddhi’s 3 stages of development gives us insight into how we make decisions. Knowing how we make a decision can help to develop and strengthen our buddhi.
Buddhi’s 3 stages–how we decide:
1. Instant Gratification- Need I say more? These are the kind of decisions we make based on those things we have known and experienced. At this level we try to avoid anything that is unpleasant, and to maintain our sense of self (whatever that may be).
This kind of thinking reminds me of how I unconsciously linked being an artist and smoking. It was difficult for me to identify as a painter without smoking. When I smoked, I instantly (in my mind) was a creative person and believed that this was what others saw.
Rod says that this kind of thinking “has sparked many wars, the formation of inner-city gangs, drug use, child abuse, infidelity…where a choice to do or not do something based on trying to defend a false or limited understanding of one’s self or one’s relationship to the “other.”’
Basically we are preoccupied with what is pleasant and unpleasant.
2. Maturity- In this next stage we have some self-control; we not only think of ourselves or how we are perceived but we can consider the bigger picture. When we start operating on this second level, we stop and ask what will be beneficial for me in the long run? Having a strong Dharma code is helpful in this stage of conscious decision making.
Our Buddhi, in Rod’s words, is “rooted in a more evolved philosophy” at this stage. That is why we make decisions not only for ourselves but we are able to make sacrifices and understand that there will be delayed gratification that will better support us.
I stopped smoking because my best friend’s mother had just been though cancer treatment. It came from the realization of the impact it had had on her family as well as on me. I made a conscious effort to benefit in the long run, instead of just acting from level one. Even though we are able to see the bigger picture we are still acting from self-interest.
3. Serving the highest truth- This is the kind of decision making that Mahatma Gandhi, St. Francis and Socrates made. Their choices and approach to life were not determined by making their lives more pleasant but by embodying the highest truth.
All three of these stages have their degrees. We can act on this last stage when we make a choice to embody our own highest truth. This is possible by limiting the instant gratification and engaging our life by serving ourselves, our community and our highest truth, or dharma.
Now that you know how we make choices, let’s start to make those decisions from the levels of maturity and service. It may be interesting to observe yourself for a week and notice what stage your buddhi is at in relation to the action.
Next week, we will talk about why we resist change.
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Rod Stryker travels to the largest spiritual pilgrimage in history in 2013. I’ll be there. Will you?