How to Make Personal Decisions Without a Personal Self

Yellow Breasted Bird

Steele Creek Park, COE Camp, Whitney, TX—When your personal self falls away and your wake up to your True Self, how do you make personal decisions?

How do you make personal decisions without a personal self?

The answer below the break (huh?).

From Oneness, your body is no more important to you than the chair you are sitting on. Think of Ramana Maharshi who, upon his realization, sat down on his ass, let the bugs bite him, and didn’t feed himself. He only survived because the temple priests would clean him up and put food in his mouth.

Such are the dangers of enlightenment.

From Oneness, your body (since there is no personal self) is not important to you at all. In enlightenment, the illusion of separation is seen through and you value your body no more than you value anything else. No more than a rock or a plant or a cloud.

Thankfully, unlike all those non-mystical enlightened teachers out there today (whom I’m sure have just got to be starving by now), mystics have Radiance to fall back on. Granted, there is almost no sense of self preservation at the Radiant level, but at least from Radiance we can hear Her whispers and make decisions based on what we “hear.”

So how does a mystic make personal decisions? How does a mystic hear Her whispers?

The answer is quite simple, but very hard to follow, particularly when your mind (or your heart) says otherwise: You listen to how you feel and then (and this is the tricky part) you have to have faith in those feelings.

There are three gut feelings when it comes to decisions:

  1. You feel tense, contracted or nauseated. This is Her way of telling you not to do something.
  2. You feel ambivalent or unsure. This is Her way of telling you to wait.
  3. You feel open and free. This is Her way of telling you to do whatever it is you are considering.

It took me about a year to figure this out—pretty much all of 2010—but now (mostly) I listen to Her more than I listen to my mind.

The less there is of you, the more there is of Her.

I’ve learned to hear Her, to open to Her, and to surrender to Her Will.

And as scary as it may sound, I’ve got to tell you, it’s a very cool way to live.

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22 thoughts on “How to Make Personal Decisions Without a Personal Self

  1. Seems more like “dancing around the emptiness” to avoid jumping headlong into it.
    Which is fine as death will eventually do what we will not by removing, once and for all, any imagined separation by ending the functioning of the organ in a human head that generates it.

    Your advice is good for persons.

    But persons are like a soap bubble floating in the sky.

    Sky within, sky without, with only a thin, fragile membrane to declare their brief existence at all.

    Then they burst, leave a spot of goo on the ground, and there is (what there always is) only the sky sans within, sans without.

    The “radiance” for persons is as terrible as it is beautiful, as destructive as it is constructive because persons (dreams of a separate existence) do not hold up well under the harsh light/radiance of reality.

    Or that is what this soap bubble “thinks?” at this moment from the experience of it’s own tenuously supposed existence 🙂

  2. I’m often in what I call a holding pattern. I have learned to move forward when I’m given the direction (my God nod) and not until then. The God nod always comes with complete clarity and peace – open and free, exactly as you stated. It took me awhile to be at peace during the wait. Now I just take on a “wait and see attitude” accompanied by sheer anticipation for what is to come. God has never failed me and pure joy has ensued since learning to live this way.

    Am reminded of a short passage from the book, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On” by Stormie O’Martian.

    Just Enough Light
    Sometimes only the step I’m on,
    or the very next one ahead,
    is all that is illuminated for me.
    God gives just the amount of light I need
    for the exact moment I need it.
    At those times I walk in surrender to faith,
    unable to see the future.

    I would add that it is especially at these times I walk in complete joy, feeling fully loved by God, complete in life. There is no other feeling like it.

    Have a blessed day! (as I know you will) 🙂

  3. @kv: Seems to me you are being a bit too translucent, and not transparent enough. Do you have any example of someone living this way? For example a personal (not just teaching) blog that we can all go look at? Or is this mostly just your belief as to what enlightenment is like?

    Not trying to pick on you, but it is critical for any spiritual seeker’s growth that they can believe what the teacher is saying not just because the teacher says it, but because the teacher acts as an example of living it too. Right?

  4. “Do you have any example of someone living this way?”

    Ramama Maharshi?
    Although “someones living in certain ways” is a nonsensical notion to begin with.

    “Or is this mostly just your belief as to what enlightenment is like?”

    Were there someone to believe, maybe. But there isn’t.

    “Not trying to pick on you, but it is critical for any spiritual seeker’s growth that they can believe what the teacher is saying not just because the teacher says it, but because the teacher acts as an example of living it too. Right?”

    What is critical to understand is that there is no “growth”, nothing to learn, nothing to move toward and therefore, no need for a teacher as there is no one in need of being taught.
    Also nobody to feel “picked on” 😉

    I know what you’re aiming at.

    It’s just that there is no “aiming at” what is already right in front of your face at all times.

    If this is troublesome or otherwise a problem the silence has no need to speak and can blissfully remain as it is.

  5. @kv: Okay…. since you say there is “nobody to feel picked on” … Show us your transparency. Let’s see you live like your example Maharshi (an excellent example btw).

    Do what he did for just one week (he did this for 14 years). Sit down and don’t get up. Don’t get up for the bathroom, don’t get up to eat (put enough water nearby to drink, I don’t want you to die doing this).

    Just live in complete enlightenment (formless awareness) for one week. Even if your mind wanders, at least do the physical part of what it means to truly believe that your body is no more important than that wall over there.

    Sit for a week and do nothing. No food, no bathroom breaks (just mess/wet yourself, it’s all illusion). Piece of cake.

    A week from now, let us know how it all worked out.

    Live it. Don’t just parrot what others say. Don’t just say what you believe but aren’t willing to live (that’s the definition of a hypocrite).

    In radical non-duality (which is what you are talking), you are either spewing BS, or you are living true. There is no in between.

    Also, could you give us your name and a link to your online presence (facebook, blog, whatever)? Transparency. Truth in action. 🙂

    (I apologize for sounding harsh, I’m just making a point about “walking the talk” and how easy it is to just parrot what we hear.)

  6. Who would do these things?

    Do the inquiry — which is exactly what “an excellent example btw” instructed “seekers” to do.

    Not defecate on themselves, fast, or thirst to “prove their genuineness to somebody”.

    You’re missing the point of it, I’m afraid.

    Although you may get lot of people to “believe in you” that has absolutely nothing to with “what is as it is”.

    Better than transparency is “nothing at all” which is also “all that is”.

    And you never need to apologize to that.

  7. @kv: Dude (I assume you’re a guy, but you’re not even open about that), I did the inquiry. “Who am I?” for 25 years. Didn’t wake me up (though it did weaken the identity).

    So. “Who would do those things?” – the same one who types the responses under the mysterious and opaque “kv”.

    Maharshi was your example of someone who walked the talk, not mine.

    So why should you do this tiny little experiment you may ask? Why should you emulate a man who did exactly what you espouse?

    A couple reasons.

    1) You would definitely learn from the experience, you would definitely transcend the “you/not-you” barrier and wouldn’t talk like there wasn’t a you. But far more importantly…

    2) Your example of living this way—the way Maharshi did—would serve as a powerful, modern-day, believable, undeniable, example of radical nonduality, and furthermore would dramatically improve the lives and progress of all those nondual theoretical spiritual seekers. Not just my readers, but all over the world. Anyone who said, “yeah, but you can’t live that way,” could be pointed to your example.

    That would be a wonderful thing, wouldn’t it? A modern day example of what millions of people talk about, but currently none are doing.

    In this simple little experiment, you could change the lives of literally millions of spiritual seekers. They could all say, “There is a man who is totally transparent (lives it) about nonduality. Therefor I can do this!”

    You’d give them the hope. And that is a huge barrier to awakening.

    Dude, if I thought the way you thought, I’d do it in a heart-beat. Look at all the good it would do.

    Transparent radical non-duality. Imagine that?

  8. If Siddhartha Gautama, Jesus Christ, Bahá’u’lláh, Ramana, Nisgardatta, Mohammad, etc…etc..
    didn’t “accomplish it” with all the “amazing feats and miracles” they are reported to have “performed” what makes you think an absolute nobody could and what would they have accomplished if they did?

    Hope and belief are the stuff of religion, not what the word “enlightenment” points at when people who know what it means use it — and the very word itself is usually a distraction from what it intends to “point out”.

    It’s already been done — you can’t add a thing to it or take a thing away from it.


  9. @kv: I wasn’t asking you to walk on water, just to sit and do nothing for a week (a tiny sliver of Maharshi’s example). But all your resistance just proved my point: That radical non-duality is not practical, not something that people can live with—at least without someone else taking care of them.

    It’s obvious that you’d rather talk it than walk it. Maharshi, your example, talked it AND walked it. His words were based on thoughts, but his actions were based on Her (he called Her Brahman).

    The goal of my life—and this blog—is to serve as an example of transparent (honest, open, and lived) Mystical Oneness so that others can see it is both practical and attainable. I guess I was asking you to be an example of transparent Non Duality. I guess I read your comments wrong. Sorry.

    Be well,


  10. As someone who lacks the passion you seem to have be be an example and give people hope I’ll be content to walk the path that presents directly in front of me.

    No doubt we’ll both ultimately arrive at the same destination to realize that we’d never really left it and have a good laugh at the joke, the somebody and nobody that we are 🙂

    Likewise, be well,

  11. I’m having mixed feelings about the “tense, contracted, nauseated feelings and to NOT do something because of these feelings. Quite often, and maybe it’s just me and I am whacked, it’s these presise feelings that cause me to do the things I am AFRAID of doing. These feelings arise because of fear of the unknown or stress. I know that I can not be in a constant state of these feelings or I’d be nuts, so I HAVE to so something about them Does this make sense?

  12. Hello Wayne,
    do we make our own decisions or are we puppets in a pre-scripted play, with varying degrees of awareness ?
    Are we really responsible for our actions ?
    1 in 20 of the population show strong psychopathic behaviour; can they change their nature ?
    Does the ‘one consciousness’ enjoy experiencing the whole spectrum of despair to elation ?
    Are we pre-programmed to, at this moment, read and think about what I have just written under the guise of free will ? Sounds implausible.
    Whatever choice we make, will it be ‘ Her’s ‘ knowingly or not ? Does ‘She’ operate through us with and without our awareness ?
    You have said in previous blogs, that free will is real but less important the closer you get to ‘Her’ and that it eventually becomes a barrier in your experience. Increasingly, over the past year, in my experience, I am ‘feeling/told’ that what has just happened was meant to happen; from this I extrapolate that if it was true for a few seconds of triviality in my life it must be true for all of it. Each one of our footsteps is carved in stone so to speak, at the command of ‘Her’. To be allowed into the world of awareness is a precious gift from ‘Her’ and that you have also been allowed to share this gift with us in your distinctive way is ‘Her’ gift to us. You are a lucky man.
    So now, we all follow the path set out before us; knowingly and unknowingly. There is no fear to tread as we have no choice. Am I mentally unstable ? who isn’t ?.

  13. “No doubt we’ll both ultimately arrive at the same destination to realize that we’d never really left it and have a good laugh at the joke, the somebody and nobody that we are”. Yes, no doubt that We All will…
    Thank you both, kv and Wayne, for this dialogue.

  14. I have the exact same issue as Shari! When I am asked to do things, my inner gut recoils, Its like I am afraid of the unknown which tells me to do it so I can get over this fear! ??

  15. @Shari, Laurie: If your contraction is based on “What if” fear—something that is quickly lost/weakened by living as a Soul—then I suggest you try to push through it and listen to your gut (“What if X happens” comes from mind.) The process is remarkably simpler after you live as a Soul for awhile though, so don’t sweat it if it isn’t immediately clear. Practice, practice, practice.

  16. @Kevin: Just try to remember: During the “in between lives” portion, we review the entire life of our future incarnation and consciously choose it with the express reason to help us find our way back to Her. We pick our Karma. (EDIT: This is based on my theory of life and death (similar to most reincarnation beliefs/theories)).

    But, as mortals, we forget what this life holds for us so that we can truly learn from it and grow wiser.

    So at the Mortal level, we do have free will. At the Soul and higher levels, we don’t.

  17. This “tense, contracted feeling” is major source of procrastination in my work (for instance when I sit down to write a paper). I try to battle through it…

    It isn’t always there… perhaps a hint whether or not I’m working on the right theory (I’m a scientist).

  18. Wayne’s insistence on “walking the walk” of sages goes to the core of a huge spiritual question that most confront. i.e. the role of practice or “doing” or “living” in “causing” awakening. As Wayne discovered 25 years of practice can “achieve” little whereas a bus ride one day can rip apart the universe.

    Pragmatically, people
    practice because they just feel better for it- centred, calm, open.
    There seems some causal role there for practice as well as perhaps “jolts” in awareness or discontinuities of consciousness that show us that the mind can actually “unmind” itself although generally not reliably and even then it may or may not deliver
    ongoing transformation.

    Some individuals can enter deep states reliably although the causal role of anything they did in bringing it about is unknowable.

    So living as a sage or soul or anything else probably has the same role as meditation or other practice or doing- we feel better for it, we may believe it has some causal role in our lives but this belief is very difficult to confirm.

    I may think cloud patterns tell me what to do and living as a cloud reader really works for me, but that’s all it is.

    There is no real difference between between the doing of cloud reading, soul living or chanting or living as a sage or any other recipe.

    I think to live as a sage you have to be one and unlike becoming
    a physicist, there is no reliable process. It just happens and then instead of living as what you were you live as something

  19. I suspect that the notion of decades of work that “did nothing” is a misunderstanding, although there seems to be an apparent (banal) reason that ultimately frees from identification with ego/thoughts I bet my last dollar that it won’t happen before the homework is done…
    (I don’t need that dollar anyway, since we have euros here 🙂
    …the homework, of course, is different for each of us and seems to me that the weaker ego gets, the more your process is guided by “her” and less of your specific method(s)/guru(s)
    Either that, or I’m moving away, rather than towards, freedom

  20. I tried to anticipate your answer before reading it. I expected you to conclude that you (or She) would respond lovingly to the situation as a whole. And instead of “…you value your body no more than you value anything else” it would be “…you value your body as much as you value anything else.”

    I also would have experienced Ramana Maharshi’s story, not as an example of the “dangers of enlightenment,” but as an example of the “success of surrender” akin to living as one of the “lilies of the field” and trusting that all is always well, whether that entails death, rescue by monks, or some other shift.

    Being personal, my perspectives and reactions shift, too. It’s helpful to have yours to consider. Thanks. 🙂

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