29 Mar 2006

Choice, Suffering and Suffrage.

Well today's effort is only rhetoically inquisitive; this is the truth, no question, so just take it.

Choice, Suffering and Suffrage.

Do not confuse freedom with choice. I do not choose what to want, and I do not want choice; I want what I want. And what I want is what I do not have; it is wanting in me. To be free is to be free from want and the necessity of choice.

Choice is conflict. If there is no conflict there is no choice, it is already made. Choose between food and poison – there’s no conflict, no choice, no question. Choose between nourishing but dull food and tasty but un-nourishing food and there is a conflict between short term and long term wants. I do not want the conflict, and I do not want this choice, what I want is food that is both nourishing and tasty; that would be freedom.

The inverse of want is fear. I fear losing that which I have or not getting that which I want. Fear and want are the basis of all suffering which is not just physical pain, all psychological suffering. So although we do not choose to suffer, we do suffer from choice; choosing is suffering.

The freedom of the creative process, painting for example, is nothing to do with choice. The artist does not choose this colour over that colour, he simply tries to find the right colour, freely responding to what he sees before him and in his imagination. He is absorbed in his work; neither wanting nor choosing, seeking visual contentment from moment to moment. If he chooses, say, what to paint, then he suffers from the conflict, and many artists suffer, but they suffer from the conflicts of choice, not from the creative act.

It would be a mistake to think that one can choose not to choose; fortunately this is a choice one does not have to make. But there is no need to go looking for ever-more choices, which bring ever-more suffering. Democracy is not good government, democracy is the choosing we have to suffer to get something approaching good government; if we could have good government without all that fuss, well there’d be no choice, would there? To promote choice is to promote suffering, and there should be a better reason for doing it than merely to sell a few more packets of crisps, of any flavour.


TrampledbyGeese said...

I like this entry. It is a topic very dear to my heart. I like your deffinition of freedom.

Do I hear a touch of Sartre in this?

/you have hit the nail on the head in identifyin one of the central issues in the developed world.

unenlightened said...

Hey, thanks for that - and thanks for coming back. I see what you mean about Sartre, but actually the ideas are all stolen from J Krishnamurti - 'Please don't bother to applaud, it's a waste of time.' That was him, but me I'm always hungry for a bit of praise.

TrampledbyGeese said...

Any time. If you know me too long you might discover that I give credit where credit is due, praise the praise worthy and criticize the stupid with equal vigor.

But that is just me.

If you don't mind, I will add a permanent link from my blog to yours later this morning. I think you have a good thing going here.