Born In The Tiger's Mouth
I was born with my head "in the tiger's mouth." From early childhood what passed for truth and satisfied most people, did not satisfy me. A deep soul itch craved an answer. Raised in the Christian tradition, I could not buy the theology. So the search was on. The Christian mystics, on the other hand, seemed to have a deeper understanding of God, and it was not confined to the standard accepted theology.
In reading the Upanishads, the Indian sages seemed so Christlike, but their interpretation of God seemed much more scientific, abstract, and not based on belief. This discovery was profound for me, and touched that deeper part of my soul seeking satisfaction. From J. Krishnamurti, to Aurobindo, to Ramana, and Nisargadatta, I devoured it all. Compared to the Eastern sages, only the Christian and Muslim mystics seemed to be at a level that salved the itch.
Knowledge is power. Experience was not enough for me, although ecstatic and profound experiences did occur. Extracting the understanding from those experiences is what I call 'realization.' Intuition drove me, but the intellect was not satisfied until there was understanding underpinned with the mystical experiences that felt more real than anything else I had experienced.
All of the above is to try and explain how there seemed to be 'no choice.' I was born with a search already intact. It drove me to explore and risk my sanity to know a deeper truth. I don't feel there was choice in that matter. Since I had read so many mystics and sages, I was well prepared for any leaps that needed to be taken. I already knew that any leap would be unsettling, even making me question my own sanity. This knowledge was such that when it came time to let go and just be That, it did not feel like any choice at all. It was what needed to be done. A lifetime had pointed to this. The leap was obvious, and from my point of view, rational.
It is paradoxical. Just as it takes one to know one, the sages seem to speak from a different domain. And they are. The point of view of the Self has a viewpoint beyond the personal. I personally do not feel we have free will. But as soon as you take on the identity of Self, there is only complete freedom, beyond the concepts of free will.
My choice was not seen in 'retrospect.' A trajectory was there from birth. Any choice was beside the point. It was not a personal choice. It has to be the will of God or it would not happen to anyone. When the truth that I am awareness itself was seen, what choice was there? It was just a fact to be accepted. If it was personal, why would they call it grace?