Really, it does not matter if you call something choice or fate/scripted/preordained. Either you can say you chose it all or you can say you chose none of it. I find the “no choice” side tends to promote distancing and escapism. Distancing and escapism is contrary to nonduality. You are this and you can’t get away from it. So I tend to speak from the choice side. This tends to promote more intimacy and engagement with what-is.
Really either stance is fine, but the problem is when we say we chose something and other things just happen to us…that is duality. We want to pick and choose…some things are my choice and some things are not my choice.
Perhaps it is really that it is not free choice, nor fate/scripted/preordained, nor both, nor neither. These are all just thoughts and concepts we focus on too much. What is…is.
As I said, I tend to speak from the choice side, but there is no chooser other than the Self. The Self is the only doer. Things happen, but there is no personal “doer” to claim responsibility and ownership of the specific happening. There is no “me”…so whom is the doer? I would say the Self, but the Self is not personal…it can not be identified with and called a “me” either. The Self is not some universal or omnipresent “me”….there is no “me”.
The Self does have options and choice. I would say it is not all fate…preordained…or otherwise programmed. The world is not a mechanism. The world is not an execution of a pre-written script. The world is play. The world is improvisation. We should not claim choice and say we are the chooser or doer, but choice and doing happens.
This body had just raised its hand and showed three fingers…and typed about it. This body had just raised its hand again and pointed upward…and typed about it. Even-though totally meaningless, there was choice in this.
Some may argue that for humans there are many decisions we think we make that we are really unconscious reactions. I am familiar with the idea. I used to perform magic and in practicing magic you learn all the tricks of “forcing” a choice. They think they made a “free choice” but it was exactly as the magician wanted. Some magic tricks in mentalism are solely based on typical unconscious reactions based on options given in a certain way.
Also, there is conditioning. We have been conditioned from childhood, and so there are many thoughts, feelings, and reactions that arise from that conditioning. You may fear clowns, bugs, snakes, or whatever…and not really know why. The unconscious/subconscious is where many of the “decisions” are made…that are later rationalized as choice by thought.
All of these arguments are thought as well. You can use them to drill down quite sophisticatedly to say there is no free choice. However, just as easily you can say these thoughts are rationalizations (for no choice) for choices made by the Self. There are repeating patterns and natural laws. So it seems quite mechanical at times, but you could say these were prior choices by the Self when setting up the game. You could say (as you are the Self) that you chose the conditioning of this body/mind. I am not denying certain aspects of our (body/mind) lives are derived from prior happenings (i.e. conditioning). However, happenings by what is conditioned and what is not conditioned are both by the choice of the Self. Really, the idea of voluntary and involuntary is an illusion.
Let’s go back to conditioning. It is like when children play pretend. They play all the parts of their imaginary cast. They know which ones are friends and foes. They also decide which ones have conditions…like the arch-enemy’s weakness is puppies. If you started this pretend game with the birth of the arch-enemy, you would need to create a reason and circumstances as to why his weakness is puppies. And so the story of conditions and conditioning is born. The children set up the parameters of the game…and the conditions are put in place to overcome later or otherwise make the game more fun.
Think about any game you like to play. Limitations and conditions are created and are the foundation of the game itself. Limitations and conditioning need to exist for the game to continue in its current form. As the game progresses, maybe you can remove some limitations and conditioning…or new ones are added.
Ultimately, whatever you choose to do or are conditioned to do is what the Self chooses to do through you (either way). For me, when there was/is a realization that there is no “me”…there was/is vast freedom and the realization that all this was/is chosen. I used was/is…because the realization does not go away. It was not just a past event.
Really there is no chooser and no doer…as both imply a “me”. And yet, there is choice and happenings…and it is the Self.