Well, of course, it’s not simple. It’s very difficult because of the power and deeply embedded nature of our ego thinking-mind and habit-energies. But the point that the choice is ours is absolutely correct.
Once we are aware of the impermanence of all things. Once we are aware of the emptiness of all five skandhas ... appearance of form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness-ego. Once we are aware that there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today, only the present moment and that the present is the only reality, all else is thought, all else is in the mind. Once you know that all you need to be happy is to offer others joy, to be in the company of loved ones and friends, to respect your mind, to respect your body, to be in touch with nature, and to live within your means, and that everything else your mind tells you is ego.
Once you are aware of all these things, both when you’re on the cushion and off, then the choice is truly yours. Do you really want to be at peace and find happiness in each moment? (See my post, “Do You Really Want to Be at Peace and Content?”) If the answer is “yes,” then the way is to follow the path of the Buddha as best you can and not be drawn into the web of your mind. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot have the “comfort” of your habit-energies and experience peace and happiness.
But even if you answer “yes” unequivocally, even if you are aware of all the Buddhist truths noted above ... it is not, as the monk claimed, “as simple as that.” Because even at this stage of your practice, your ego-thinking mind in concert with things happening in your life and the world around you conspire to draw you into its vortex of attachment, fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, negativity, etc. And its pull is very strong.
What then is the way forward? How do you implement your answer of “yes”? The answer lies in the daily discipline of meditation and the recitation of mantras that embody these truths.
We are trying to create a new paradigm for our lives. And that is very difficult. By reciting affirming mantras every day, in addition to meditating, we slowly begin to absorb these truths at a deeper level until we get to the point that they become our new default mode, not our old habit-energies.
As I have often said, walking the path of the Buddha is a slow, incremental process. If we are disciplined in watering the seeds of our true Buddha nature, we find as the weeks and years go by that those roots grow deeper and stronger and we are more able to both be aware and say “no” to the force of our ego thinking-mind when it arises, thus being able to see things clearly and be at peace. (See my post, “Nirvana - It’s Right before Your Eyes.”)