(Black and White drew lots to determine who would begin.)
Black: Let us talk about choice.
White: Do you believe in choice?
Black: Not at all.
White: Well, all right, in my ordinary state I have no choice. But when I wake up, then, I have a choice.
Black: I am reminded of a very old saying which a friend of ours likes to quote: “An unenlightened man has no choice, for he is a slave to everything; a man on the way to enlightenment has a choice; an enlightened man has no choice – he does what is necessary.”
White: Yes, in our language: When I am asleep, I am identified, everything just happens in me. A conscious man – well, we don’t really know about that, but can we say that he will act according to the promptings of his real conscience?
And the man beginning to wake up – surely he has a choice? One never knows what will happen- the habitual reaction, or something different.
Black: Then why is it that when I look back on my life, with sincerity, I have to admit that at each moment I could not have been other than the way I was.
White: At the moments you happen to remember, you reacted.
Black: Let us say that I have been asleep 99.9% of the time.
White: 99.9%? After all these years …?
Black: Let us not quibble about statistics – you have missed the point.
White: The point being …?
Black: 0.1% is significant. Not of course as measured by time. Can you measure consciousness by the clock?
White: What are you getting at?
Black: 0.1% of the time I was not asleep. I can remember such moments. I did not react. I was free inside. Did I have the choice to react? No.
White: The fact that you did not react as usual proves that you had a choice- the choice not to react.
Black: I had no choice. Freed from reaction, something else was bound to appear. “Man is always under influence”.
White: “The only choice a man has, is what influence he is under”.
Black: Yes, but is it true? At any particular moment, the balance of influences converging on myself is what it is – I react habitually, or I don’t. Where is the choice?
White: How did you choose the subject of choice?