Article: Decision Making
Adapted from Mythogenic Self Training Transcript, 6-16-2005
Back by popular demand, "Decision Making". For those of you who attended this seminar in Novato, this will actually be a review for you. And even the stories will be familiar. For those of you who have not been here before it will all be new.
There is a lot to learn. Learning will be very useful for you. One of the things which you already know how to do, and you are learning how to do, is how to generate a positive state.
Positive state is probably an understatement. But a very special state...a non-ego state. A state where there are no longer any issues of identity. There is no longer any existential longing. Just a sense of being in the present and involved in what you are doing. There is no internal stuff going on. No nonsense. It's all just quiet, clear.
Living in this state, there is a sense of knowing what to say and do, without necessarily even recognizing how it comes about. Just before you even know it, before you even think, you are actually responding to what is going on in the outside world. Naturally. Spontaneously. And in a way this is right for you. This really is operating 95 to 98 percent at the subconscious level, using all the resources and attributes that your subconscious mind has to offer you and actually always has, though it was outside of your awareness.
And still yet, part of operating in the outside world must be conscious. Probably one of the most important things that we do at a conscious level, albeit sometimes very quickly, is make decisions.
Now...You can all think of times when you have made decisions. Right? And you can think, there have been times when, well, you've made a decision and afterwards you've thought, "Damn, I knew I shouldn't have done that. I knew before I even began that I shouldn't have done that". And then there are times when you have made a decision and you have thought afterwards, "Boy oh boy, I knew I should have done that other thing. I knew it. I thought about it at the beginning. That's what I should have done. I don't know why I didn't do it." And yet, it is only after the fact that you recognize that you already knew from the very beginning the right thing to do.
Now there are also times when you have made decisions and you can think of these now, when they were contrary to what everybody said you should do or shouldn't do, and yet you made the decision to do it because you knew it was just right for you.
For instance, last week it was beautiful here. I came here anticipating that the weather was going to be rainy every single day because that is what you had, something like 40 days of rain. Like Noah and his Ark. It cleaned out the San Francisco area. So when I arrived here it was fresh and sunny and clean. The first morning here I discovered that back behind the hotel is a wonderful trail. I had asked the concierge about a place to jog. I hadn't jogged in a year and I love to do it. And he said, "Sure, there are two trails, you have your choice of two. There is one that is rough, unpaved, and there is another paved one. The one that is unpaved kind of winds up and is a little bit difficult. And the other one is flat and it is a lot easier. I thought, "Okay, I would love to take the unpaved one that goes through the mountains". And I asked him, "Is it safe? I'm going to do this real early in the morning."
He looked at me and said, "Well, there have been some reports of mountain lions and coyotes." I smiled and said "Mountain lions and coyotes? I'm from New York. I'm thinking about human animals. Bring on the mountain lions. Bring on the coyotes. I'm worried about axe murderers and mad rapists". So he answers, "This is Marin. We don't have that here." Well, I had no idea where it would lead to, but I took the unpaved trail, I took the high road.
Then the next morning I woke up and I had so much to do. I thought to myself, I could go out and jog and I could take the unpaved trail. But I've got lots of stuff to do and I don't know how long it is going to take me to jog. Yet, I still thought about it. "Do I just stay back and not do jog that I really want to and just do those other things, the stuff that I have to?" Fortunately I've learned a very quick decision-making process so it doesn't take me very long to make decisions. I considered it very quickly and I decided it was clear. This was the path to be taken. The high road. This morning. Now. Yes there are things to do. But if I do this, if I take this jog, all those things will happen quicker and easier for me.
Now it didn't come out consciously like that. There wasn't all this thought. I just opened up to a yes or a no. And when I got the yes signal, "GO, YES", I knew that was the thing to do and all would be well. All the other things would work themselves out. That was it. That was the end of it. And so I did.
I went out that morning and I went up the path and I took it. By the time I got to the top I was breathing heavy "huh-huh-huh". I was thinking back to two days ago when I first took this trail. It was even harder then. But as soon as I stopped at the first plateau and I looked out, I saw the view all over San Francisco that you could see from here. Way out. Then I turned around and I saw the vista from the other side and I listened to the wind blowing. There were no more sounds of traffic. It was just quiet. And I noticed again that two days before, just two days before, when I had done this, I couldn't breathe as easily. And now I was breathing pretty well. And I was just enjoying what was going on around me. And I thought, just from that little effort I have come a long way in such a short period of time.
And then I went further. "Huh-huh-huh". Jogging up and noticing the trees...and the birds...and all the natural sounds. And then I rounded a bend and you know what I saw? I saw six wild turkeys just standing there looking at me. As I looked at them, kind of hanging out there I thought "Oh my God. This really is magic. Just a little trust and a little persistence brought this gift from on high to me today." There they were, those long-necked things, kind of walking along. You know, with that red thing dangling, sort of clumsy, but yet graceful in their way. Clearly, clearly before me a creation of God.
They kind of wandered off into the woods and then I was on my way. So I continued on to the peak. I went to the very top where I looked out and all was quiet. All was quiet but the wind...gently...rustling the leaves. A couple of sounds. Maybe a bird here and there intermittently. And I looked all around me and I knew. I knew here was the gift.
Here, now in the present is the gift. Just being like this...connected to myself and to the universe. And moments like these...ahhhhh. Once you begin to recognize how often they actually do occur when you are like this, they begin happening more and more often. Not just at mountain tops, but everywhere you go. In everything you do. You can begin to recognize it is all around you; on the highway and in your car; up at mountaintops, by the shore and in the office. There is no limit to experience these moments.
They occur everywhere once you make the connection with yourself and what is all around you. Open, ready. And once you can do this and it is self generated, the next thing you learn is how to make good decisions that will allow you to maintain this. There are people in the world who have always done this, all their lives, made good decisions. I asked this before in the last two seminars, but did anyone see the 60 minute special with Bobby McFerrin? Bobby McFerrin is one of those people who's had a lifetime of making good decisions. I don't know if you've heard his music. Probably the least accomplished thing he's done is a simple song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy." But he's amazing! He has this command of his body and his voice so that when he sings, he not only sings, he sounds like an instrument. He has a range of four octaves from high to low. And when he sings, he sounds, not like a human really, but like an instrument. And not like really one instrument, but like a whole orchestra.
Now it is very interesting because Bobby McFerrin apparently had this tendency to make noises even before he was born. If you ask his mother, she will tell you that he was making these sounds, these weird sounds and noises, in the womb. And she and her husband being musicians themselves, they kind of enjoyed it and sort of encouraged it. They responded on the non-verbal level with curiosity and wonder and a sense of "boy, this is interesting!"
And then when he was born, they allowed him to continue to do these weird things. From a very young age he was making these noises and mimicking people. He is a phenomenal mimic. And he was encouraged in his home to do this. Now, you can imagine these strange noises coming out of little Bobby McFerrin. And when he went into the classroom as a child and he sat there and made these noises, maybe his teacher heard it and said "Wait a minute Bobby. That's enough for now. None of this nonsense in the classroom".
But Bobby kept doing it. Maybe he learned not to do it in the classroom because that wasn't the appropriate context. But he never stopped making noises. One person telling him "Don't do this, it's not right", would not be enough to stop him. He kept making the noises throughout his childhood. And not only did he keep making the noises, but they developed into high art. So he probably made a good decision about what one person said and thought--"Well ok, not in the classroom, but not never again. Not a chance." A person like him thinks, "I do this because this feels right. I do this because I know inside this is right for me." It was right for him. He just kept doing it.
And of course, later on we all came to know Bobby McFerrin for his special talents. There is a song he did with Yo Yo Ma called The Flight of the Bumble Bee. Yo Yo Ma plays the cello and Bobby McFerrin with his voice does a perfect bumble bee. And more, his bumble bee is alive. As you listen to it in the room you know just what is happening with the bumble bee in the moment. He is phenomenal.
But where is Bobby McFerrin today? Has anyone heard him doing new music? He kind of disappeared. He disappeared off the face of the Earth. What happened? Well as Bobby McFerrin does so well, he made another good decision. He made a decision that there was something that he wanted to do that is different from what he had done all along. Until then his performances were singing, if you can call it singing. That was what he was doing, singing in concerts and on recordings. Making lots of money, lots of money. He was very successful. Then he decided he wanted to do something different.
What did he want to do? He wanted to conduct an orchestra. He wanted to learn how to conduct. So he contacted his friend Leonard Bernstein and said I want to learn how to conduct. And Leonard Bernstein said, well the only way to do this is to start from the beginning. So he enrolled in a course to learn conducting. And he had to, by his own admission, be with all the other people and start from scratch. Make all the mistakes. Subject himself to making mistakes, maybe moments of embarrassment, but learning, learning and getting better and better in the process of doing it. Making the mistakes. Making the corrections. Learning to even recognize where the corrections are necessary and when they are unnecessary. And improving with each thing that he did and each time that he did it.
So then he was finished with conducting school. And as you know, at the end of school what do people really know how to do? Not a whole lot. He had to go out in the outside world and really do it. So he got himself a job conducting. And obviously the London Philharmonic or the Boston Symphony Orchestra were not about to hire even Bobby McFerrin with no experience. So he decided to take a job in Minnesota--"decided" being the operative word--with the Minnesota Baroque Orchestra.
This was an important decision. It meant uprooting his children and moving them from where they were living. I'm not sure where that was, maybe California, maybe New York, but somewhere much warmer than the state of Minnesota where much of the year it is white and very, very cold. His wife, his family--he has young children--had to relocate. And his children were of an age where they already had friends and had developed relationships.
But he knew there was something that he wanted and this was very important. So he went through a decision-making process which took into consideration all these important people in his life. And he knows how to do this. He has had years of practice. He knows in his heart what is right. And he can consider it and quickly make a decision about what is right and what is not.
How does he do this? Well... wait for it. I'll let you know. I'll even teach you how he does it. He has a lot of practice. He's been doing it for years and you are about to learn how to do it for yourselves.
Well, it was interesting, this interview. I think it was Morley Safer who was sitting and talking to Bobby, and in the middle of the interview he said something like, "you know Bobby, I am sitting and I'm talking to you and you just strike me as someone who has a presence. You just seem so self-confident and yet at the same time so easy, so comfortable in your skin. Is this just the public you, or is this my imagination? And is this my imagination, or is this how you really are?"
Bobby essentially said, "Yes, it is true. I really am like this. I am really easy with life and very comfortable with myself". And Morley Safer, of course the investigative reporter that he is, couldn't resist asking, how? How is this possible? How do you do his?
Bobby's answer was something like this: "Well you know I never really thought about it, but when you put it that way, it's like this...number one I pray, I pray a lot, number two, I always do what I love to do, and number three, I have a wonderful wife". He had been married for 15 years.
Now when you consider it, number one...praying, consider what you have been learning here, what you have been learning how to do, make connections...make connections with yourself and then with something that is even greater. And if you are not sure yet what that GTS (Greater Than Self) is, but you know that it is greater than sex, you are beginning to have a sense of it.
You are beginning to have a sense that there is some power, some force that is more, much more than just you alone. And when you are like this and you are operating like this, in this wonderful state, as you have been learning how to and already are doing more often, there is that sense that there is something that you can count on. There is something you can rely on. And it is much more than just you alone. And when you are like this you do make the connections.
So Bobby McFerrin, through his praying, makes the connection and takes it with him in everything that he does. And then of course, he does what he loves. He makes good decisions very consistently about what to do.
Morley Safer interviewed Bobby's wife. She actually looks a little older than he is, but I don't know if she is. She's not exotic looking or even sensuous. She is very plain looking but in a very powerful way. She is really quite plain, quite elemental, but very efficient in speech, very efficient in movement, very plain, and very clear. You don't have a sense that there is a lot that is uncertain about her. You have a sense that in the same way that he is easy, she is easy too, but different...very different. He is much more creative. She is much more focused. I don't know. That is my imagination, my hallucination.
And Morley Safer asked her about Bobby's decision, "He gave up all that money, all that fame, all that fortune producing records, doing performances, to bring you up here to God's cold country, Minnesota." (And they showed a scene of her kids sledding down a white mountain, playing in the snow.) "What do you think of this decision, giving it all up for a $30,000 a year job conducting the Minnesota Baroque Orchestra?"
And she efficiently explained, "Bobby never does anything for money. It's just not what he's about." So for him it is not about money. Bobby is about something greater.
And during the interview Bobby McFerrin described, just as an interesting thing, the difference to him between singing and conducting. He said "in order to sing I go inside to where the music is born, and then the music is born. And it just flows. And as it flows out, then the dance comes. First comes the song and the music, and then the dance." He explained that with conducting, "First there is the dance. Then through the dance I enfold the music. I enfold the reeds. I enfold the strings. And then the music comes through this." And it is just "ooooooohhh", a marvelous, way to live.
Can you imagine that? People who are diletantes or beginners, they have no sense of the music, not in that way, unless they are lucky or unless they keep with it. And then they develop it and they begin to discover the source of both...the source of the music...the source of the dance...from the inside in both cases. And then they let it spread to the outside.
In either case, for Bobby, singing is about letting the music come out and letting everybody share it and join in the dance, or in the case of conducting, it is about doing the dance and then letting the music come and letting the people enjoy both. And with conducting he does something extra. During the concert intermission he adds in a sense of humor.
Now did you ever imagine a conductor during intermission doing comedy? During 60 Minutes they showed a tape of his performance with the orchestra and then showed the audience at intermission. You see the people there laughing! He conducts these dramatic pieces of music where everybody is totally moved, and in between he has them laughing, giggling, like little children.
He added in not only the skills of the conductor, but also the element of his own style. This personalization can only come through this: Living with devotion, dedication and tenacity, to your own truth. And living on your own true path.
So, I'm going to read to you now something that Carlos Castenada wrote in one of his books. It is best read word for word as it is written. It is something that Don Juan said to him. It is about decisions. It is about decisions that Carlos Castenada really has to learn how to make--good ones for himself. And Don Juan says this:
This question is one that only a very old man asks, [and I say why wait ‘til you are old? Ask it now. Ask it every day. Ask with each decision you need to make. But ask at the deepest level, the unconscious level.] Does this path have a heart?
All paths are the same, they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush or into the bush. In my own life, I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use. One has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey. As long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong. The other weakens you.
So, Carlos asked him more questions. And Don Juan, talking about some of the decisions he had made about which drugs to use for different purposes said, "In the course of learning about the devil's weed I realized that she was not for me, and I did not pursue her path any further." Carlos then asked him, "What made you decide against it?" He answered, "The devil's weed nearly killed me every time I tried to use her. Once it was so bad I thought I was finished. And yet I could have avoided all that pain." And Carlos wants to know, how? And Don Juan explains, "The devil's weed is only one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or others, in dropping it if this is what your heart tells you to do.
Now, the question is, how do you make a good decision? Well, I have something to tell you now. Your subconscious has always done it each time you considered what to do. And it does it very quickly. When you begin from a positive state, your best state, the subconscious mind takes into consideration all your values and all your criteria so quickly, quickly, quicker than you can even think about it consciously.
Just as an example you can say a picture is worth a thousand words. Can you look at a picture and in the time it takes you to look at it speak a thousand words? Impossible. I challenge anybody to try it here now. If you can, you can go on one of those shows....amazing stories...or what is it, Guiness Book of World Records. A sound...music, just a small piece is worth a thousand words. Try and speak them as fast as you can hear it. A feeling, an emotion. How can you describe it? Can you do it in a second? And yet it is worth a thousand words. That's how quickly the subconscious mind works.
And you've been getting the signals each time you consider a decision, without even recognizing it. And yet you do at the deeper levels because so many times after you've made one you've thought, "I knew from the beginning I shouldn't have done it", or, "I knew from the beginning that it was the right thing to do and yet I didn't do it." Or, "I knew from the beginning that it was just right for me, no matter what was said by anyone else. No matter what was done. This was right and so I did it and it served me. I knew it. And I was happy afterwards."
So, Vicky, how do you make a good decision? Think of a good decision you have made. Got one? How did you make that decision? Let's call this the "Right" decision.
V: It felt right.
N: It felt right.
N: And can you think of another decision that you made that didn't turn out as well? One that you should have said no to. Let's call it a "No Go" decision.
V: Yes, got one.
N: Okay, and how did you make this one?
V: How I made it was I thought about it. And I weighed it back and forth to decide it.
N: And how did you weigh it back and forth?
V: I thought about it logically.
N: Right, ok.
V: I went, "Well there is this, this, this and this with this one, and there is this, this, this and this with that one." And then I decided.
N: So you actually even said the words to yourself.
V: Yeah, I talked to myself.
N: Right, you talked to yourself. This is the auditory element of the decision. And what about the "Right" decision?
V: A little bit of internal dialogue but it just felt right.
N: Right, so there was very little talk at all, wasn't there? Mostly just the final kinesthetic element.
N: To summarize, you just thought about it, there was little talk, it felt right and then you knew...
V: I'm gonna do it.
N: So it was as simple as that. As you think about both possible decisions now you notice they are quite different internal responses. If you consider other "Right" and "No Go" decisions you have made you will find that they vary consistently in each sensory system. There is a pattern for each. So think about the "Right" decision now. Okay, notice where you think about it, the visual element. And the next thing you know, when you check it out it's just a feeling and "Yeah, I'm gonna do it", right? Now think about the other one, the "No Go" decision.
V: It's over there.
N: You see it in another place completely. Okay. Now, do you like to eat?
N: Okay, think of a food you really like, one that if I asked you now, would you like to eat this...
V: There are so many...
N: Ok, just pick one that you would like to eat in the near future.
N: Got it? Notice where it is. Now pick one that you don't like at all.
V: Ok. It's hard to find one. Vegemite.
N: Right. Vegemite. It comes up immediately in the "No Go" location. Now think of the "Right" food.
V: Yeah, ok.
N: Ok. Now notice what goes on internally, in your body, because the kinesthetic element is a major element of both the "Right" and "No Go" signals.
V: It's like a full body yes, nodding.
N: Right. So it's full up and down. It's yes. Now think of the other decision "No Go" or vegemite.
N: A different sensation in a different place?
V: Yes, very different.
V: It is more of a horizontal kind of a thing that is like a no, an internal no.
N: Right. Now I know you like to dance. So if I asked you if you wanted to go dancing that's a full body yes, right?
N: So there is some consistency in the response. And you have learned this very quickly and you get the idea of how decision-making works. But most importantly you must remember to begin with an internal state of alignment, your optimal state... in this way your subconscious mind does select the criteria and values which will allow you to make good decisions for you... what we are calling here "Right" decisions.
Okay, what I would like you to all do is to form into groups of three. Have a person access their "best state" and then elicit their decision making process. Uncover the patterns and signals for their "Right" and "No Go" decisions. When you are finished eliciting them, ask the person about things they want to be doing in the future. Get three of them. Find out where they're located in space when they think about them. Elicit the visual, auditory and kinesthetic elements of the decision. What you will find is that there are some consistent patterns.
Vicky, is there something you want to be doing in the future like this with all you have learned here this weekend?
V: Oh yeah.
N: And what would that be? If you are watching her you will see where she looks. OK. Point to it.
V: I want to be using this process, particularly tomorrow for one thing, and in upcoming sessions. Also, whenever I am doing groups and whenever I am training someone.
N: So that's one context. Now think of something else you would like to be doing this with.
N: Got it. Same place, yes? Now think of something else maybe even further in the future or even sooner, either way.
N: Got it. That the same place?
V: There's a little difference of heights but it's primarily in that center line.
N: Somebody here in the training said yesterday that they observed that for each person the location is different, but for the respective individual it is generally in the same line. He found that for one person, the degree to which she was committed to the decision determined how much on the line that the decision was for her. And for another person, the location varied depending on how near or distant in the future he would be carrying the decision out, but he found that generally all the "Right" decisions were on the same plane. So in this case there's a plane, and like this you can begin to get a sense of direction in your life. For as long as what you consider doing is along this plane, this is something that is right for you. It just becomes a matter of time. Once you consider anything located off the plane, you are somewhere off the path with heart.
Q: Please tell me quickly about Joseph Chilton Pierces daughter?
N: Alright. We saw Joseph Chilton Pierce speak at an INLP Conference in NY at the Vista International hotel. I don't know if you're familiar with him but he is a marvelous author. He has written a number of books including "The Cosmic Egg." He is an older man. He's got to be close to eighty I think at this point. But you look at him speak and you hear his voice and you can only feel that he is like a child. He is kind of small anyway. But his whole aura, his whole manner, his whole demeanor is just naïve and wondrous and curious in his way of being. He just bubbles over with joy, this man.
And he was telling a story. He is an older man and probably married to a younger woman because they have a child. And this was about five years ago I guess, and the child was probably about six at the time. They had home schooled her up till now for nursery school and kindergarten, but they had decided it would be better to for her to begin going to a school with teachers and other children. They said to her, "Dear, up ‘til now we have been teaching you and you have learned a lot. When we come back from our vacation together, we are going to enroll you in school". He was really kind of concerned about it because he had hesitations about formal schooling. But his daughter looked at him and said, "Daddy, that's ok. That's ok. As long as I can do what's important." And he looked back at her and said, "Well what would that be?" And she answered, "To sing and play. Dance and sing and play. As long as I can dance and sing and play," she said, "it's okay to go to school".
So you can look at the father, dancing and singing and playing though life in his naïve way, and you can look at the daughter already growing up with those values, those criteria. What you find is she already knows her path, the path with heart. Welcome back to the path with heart, everyone.
Earlier, Mark and I were working together and he came up with Sing a Song of Six Pence. He was wondering where that came from. He couldn't remember. But do you all know Sing a Song of Six Pence? A pocket full of rye? Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. Ahhhh. Getting young again and that's what happens when you begin to live like this. You incorporate in the world all your experience and the wondrous naiveté and innocence of a child. And the appreciation for all that is simple as well. So, join in groups of three and do the next exercise and enjoy living on the path with heart.