Is Wholeness Really a Choice? by Deepak Chopra™

 Excerpt from Our Moment of Choice

When consciousness created something out of nothing, two tracks emerged and separated as the objective and subjective domain. Human beings are extremely good at balancing the two. A physicist can measure Higgs boson particles and also fall in love. But this balancing act is what keeps wholeness from being realized. Both worlds, as long as they are separate, falsify reality. Our inner experiences are solipsistic without an external world.

The “real” reality dawns when the illusion of separation is replaced with wholeness. Reality is wholeness, but we won’t experience it until we are whole. You might suppose that relating to reality through separation is the only way to relate. If so, then aiming to be a whole person would be futile. Wholeness lies beyond any kind of split or fragmentation.

How do we actually get there? It can’t be done, if the recent history of science has anything to say about it. In physics, more than a century has been spent attempting to fuse two irreconcilable domains, the quantum world of microscopic phenomena and the so-called classical world of macroscopic phenomena. This split pertains to everyday life because there should be a seamless connection between quanta, the basic building blocks of nature, and all the things we see around us—rocks, trees, mountains, and clouds.

Einstein devoted the last three decades of his life to merging the biggest and smallest things in the universe, without success. Sixty years after his death, the split remains, and physics exists with a rift down the middle that no one has been able to bridge. The same is true in the human mind. The world “out there” operates through things like cause-and-effect that should seamlessly connect to our subjective responses. Sometimes there is no serious rift. If you poke someone with a pin, they will go “ouch” almost without exception. Yet any predictable response runs up against the unique ways in which 7 billion people are building a life story based on their own beliefs, memories, desires, fears, and predilections.

You cannot robotize a human being, no matter how hard authoritarian regimes have tried. There is always the unknown, unpredictable possibility of a new and unexpected thought. That’s the source of our greatest human gift, creativity. But it is also the source of our suffering. The unpredictable mind is intimately tied to the uncontrollable mind, which afflicts us with guilt, shame, doubt, hostility, anxiety, and depression. Those afflictions give evidence enough that we cannot confront the subject-object split with a shrug of “So what?”


For centuries it has been declared, usually in a religious or spiritual context, that the cause of suffering is the separate self. Isolated and alone, building our individual stories, we have no connection to wholeness. We are like coral reefs amassed from tiny grains of experience, and that’s that, unless we can exchange the subject-object split—the very thing that placed us in separation—for a new relationship with reality.

Let’s say that you accept the terms of this argument so far, or if you don’t, let’s say you have other reasons for believing that wholeness is worth attaining. How would you get there? What would it feel like? Might you not be better off with your present life, warts and all, than pursuing chimera? The answer to all these questions is the same: they are the wrong questions. They presuppose that wholeness is a choice when in reality it isn’t.

Wholeness is everything. It is the One, the All, or Brahman, as it was known in Vedic India. Being whole, it cannot be accepted or rejected. Neither can it be lost. To choose wholeness is like saying, “I chose not to exist yesterday, but I have decided to exist today.” Another nonintui­tive implication that surprises almost everyone is that you cannot relate to wholeness. Between two separate things there can only be a relation­ship; wholeness has no separations, no divisions, no “this and that,” no “yes or no.”

As a result, wholeness offers only the possibility of choiceless aware­ness. In choiceless awareness, you experience yourself as whole: as pure existence and pure consciousness. You still accomplish the things you ordinarily do in the world—you go to work, meet deadlines, take the family on vacation. But at bottom, your experience is seamless and uni­fied. I realize that choiceless awareness sounds arcane if not impossible. We are so used to relating to reality through the subject-object split that everything is a matter of A or B. Countless choices fill our lives.

In the bigger picture, however, these choices have not made human beings happier, wiser, or more certain about who we are and what our place is in the universe. Indeed, no ultimate questions have been solved, which is the legacy of separation. We peer into reality like children with their noses pressed to the window of a candy store. This isn’t the place to detail what the journey to wholeness actually is (for that, please see my book, Metahuman, which is devoted to escaping the illusions we live by), but the road to wholeness begins by knowing what’s at stake: a complete shift in how we relate to reality.

  1. Krishnamurti referred to this as the first and last freedom. The vision of wholeness gets you on the path; the same vision supports you along the way, and it stays with you after you realize that you are whole. There could be no first and last freedom if the journey was a straight line or if it had any divisions, including a beginning or end. Wholeness, which is what you are, cannot depart from itself, lose itself, or come back to itself.

There is only the process of waking up to reality. From there, the pos­sibility of higher existence opens up. From any other starting point, I think the illusion created by the subject-object split will endure.

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