Making good decisions is one of life’s most important skills, and yet we have gotten virtually no training. Sometimes even life-defining choices such as marriage, job, or taking up a spiritual quest are given little energy. Here is an illuminating example.
Some years ago, in India, we had dinner with a fine, noble man who once had been a doctor. One weekend two friends told him they were going to take an extremely competitive exam to qualify for high-level civil service jobs. If successful, they would be assured a life with financial security and high status. Over a million would be taking the test, and they had been preparing for months. Almost jokingly they invited our doctor friend to come along. You can probably guess the result—only he passed the exam. When we met him years later, and he recounted the story, he held the important job of planning traffic patterns for the whole Delhi area and was, indeed, financially secure and highly respected. He was also desperately unfulfilled. On a whim, he had abandoned his original calling.
Have you ever met someone who, like him, found themselves on a sort of karmic bullet train taking them for a ride that they never really asked for, let alone consciously directed? Maybe this has even happened to you. Here are the ways we usually make decisions, and how we can improve.
1) Subconscious, habit-driven, impulsive decisions. Many daily choices, and some critical ones, are made by subconscious impulse. They just seem to happen, and only later do we become aware of the ramifications. The cure: Get clear about your life goals. Swami Kriyananda wrote, “Life is a quest for inner joy.” If that is a life goal for you, then evaluate the decisions you make, large and small, to see where they are leading you.
2) Conscious decisions directed by reason. Conscious decisions are often made with a lot of thought and worry. The difficulty is that they are limited by the degree of wisdom we do or don’t have. The cure: Ask for guidance. Paramhansa Yogananda said to pray this way: “I will reason, I will will, I will act, but guide Thou my reason, will, and activity to the right path in everything.” You can also ask for clarity from a wise and trusted friend.
3) Semi–intuitive guidance. These are the gut feelings you might have, based mainly on feeling and experience. In most cases you should trust your instincts, but check them against your reason and common sense.
4) Superconscious intuition. This comes with stillness of mind and heart and a deep desire to attune your individual will with God. For important decisions it’s good to get away from your normal environment. Take seclusion in an uplifted place. Let your mind calm down, and then meditate deeply. Float your question into the light, feeling that you are an empty vessel ready to receive divine guidance. In deep stillness you can hear God’s whispers, which might come as a lucidly clear thought or as a deep, calm knowing in your heart.
When you live your life in attunement with higher consciousness, your decisions will always lead you toward your life’s true goals.
In divine friendship,