Not this, not this – choosing through negation

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“We are our choices.”
– Jean Paul sartre

Choices are given to man so that he can make mistakes! I am sorry for sounding pessimistic, but I don’t have a negative outlook about mistakes. They have their place and purpose in life. But that does not warrant us to make mistakes, especially avoidable mistakes. It is natural to get confused when we are confronted with too many choices, or for that matter, even the presence of just two choices can cause great confusion. Indian philosophy has a very powerful technique to understand the ultimate reality or truth. It gets to the real nature of the self by rejecting, one by one, that which is not real or false. It’s called ‘Neti Neti’ in Sanskrit language, which means ‘not this, not this.’ Apophatic theology or the negative theology of the West is a similar concept wherein the religious experience and language about the divine good is understood through discernment. Of course, these are grand concepts that I am talking about, but nevertheless they could be applied to mundane choices of life too. When there are too many choices, and when they are all seemingly equal in ‘weight’, focus on what you don’t like or what is deficient in each of the choices. ‘NO’ is always more powerful than ‘YES’. So, start with what each choice does NOT have, and eliminate it from your pool of choices. And start from the one that has the biggest deficiency in whatever are your parameters or specifications required for the situation. This is the quickest and reasonable way to make the right choice. At the least, it will reduce the number of contestant and make your selection process more easy.

“In the end that was the choice you made, and it doesn’t matter how hard it was to make it. It matters that you did.”
– Cassandra Clare

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2 thoughts on “Not this, not this – choosing through negation

  1. Nice article. I was first time faced with the Via Negativa (or the negative way) in the “Decoding Reality” from professor Vlatko Verdal. It was apparently held originally by the Cappadocian Fathers of the fourth century, who based their whole world-view on questions which cannot be answered. For example, they proclaimed that, while they believed in God, they did not believe that God exists. This may appear to be a great contradiction, but it really is not. Of course, and there is the Neti, that is very well established and documented from several ancient traditions, including Advaita Vedanta.
    I liked that part very much, exciting. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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