In our attempt to help alleviate suffering in the world and put forth a better way, I believe it is essential for us to recognize how the choices we make are determining the quality of our lives. If we wish to progress, we need to realize that we are creating our own destiny. We are the authors of our own actions. We have the power to choose our own experiences–and the misuse of our power has led to our present human condition. When we are able to recognize this, we can become more thoughtful and intentional with our thoughts and desires. It is a gradual process and this process begins with remembering and reconnecting to our true divine loving nature. Because we are all connected to one another things get out of balance when we live our lives in a separate (self-serving) way. It’s just not ‘natural’. Love is our true nature. Dissension arises when we forget our inherent loving connection to one another. Because we are in a state of forgetfulness, we tend to act in ways that fail to support our overall well-being. So one of the first things we need to do to affect positive change in the world is to remember who we really are: divine loving beings. We need to re-align ourselves with our true loving nature. When we go against nature, we see varying degrees of dissonance and disharmony. It really is a matter of getting back to nature–back to our real loving nature.
Free will is defined as the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. In theology, the existence of free will must be reconciled with God’s omniscience and goodness (in allowing man to choose badly), and with divine grace, which allegedly is necessary for any meritorious act. So, how do we reconcile the existence of free will with God’s omniscience and goodness (in allowing man to choose badly)? So, if God is all-good why does God allow man to choose badly? What I have learned through Vedic wisdom is that as divine eternal spiritual beings we have certain inherent qualities. These innate qualities are always within us. Our spiritual nature reflects the nature of God. As children of God, we have the same traits as God. Whatever qualities God has, we also have. In God, these qualities are unlimited and absolute. God is fully independent and we are somewhat independent. We may do what we wish to do, but there are consequences if what we do is not in alignment with our true divine nature. God (our all-loving parent) never acts against His/Her divine nature–and so God is not subject to a world of duality. We (as children of God) are inclined to act against our true nature and so we are subject to a world of duality. This is because our independence and our ability to control is not absolute. So even though God is omniscient (all-knowing)–and knows what we will choose, He does not interfere. Why? Because where there is love, there is no desire to enforce control. This reflects the all-loving nature of God. We may choose to do what we want with our independence and God does not interfere because God loves us. We exist to love and [real]love is always voluntary and unconditional. God is our all-loving parent and as I mentioned in my book Divine Love: A parent often sees their children making choices that may not be in their best interest. But by not interfering, they are showing respect for their children’s decisions. And though the parents may not desire such things for their children, they may “allow” it out of love. Learning from experience is very effective. This is love.
So–the material creation is set into motion to facilitate our desires; to facilitate the desires of every individual living being who has a curiosity about the material creation…and material diversity…and material pleasure. As God is omniscient (all-knowing), God already knows everything about this material world. This world is created for us–God’s children–and while we are here we continue to exercise our free will however we desire. So we can choose to remain aligned to our divine loving nature (if we want to) but the material energy is so strong that we get very easily influenced by the dualistic nature–and we tend to misuse our freedom. And it is the misuse of that freedom that is causing our suffering. We need to take responsibility for our condition and our desire to choose badly and see how God is giving us due respect for our choices–out of love. It is better to have the freedom to make bad choices than to have no ability to choose at all.
So the next part of the question: how do we reconcile the existence of free will with God’s divine grace, which is necessary for any meritorious act? Well, as God is omnipotent, He has the ability to control all things; nothing can occur without the will of God. So credit for any meritorious act is shared between us and God. We are due credit for our desire to carry out acts that are deserving and worthy of merit, but ultimately–as it is said: not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the Lord; and so it is by the divine grace of God.
Free will suggests that human beings are the authors of their own actions and rejects the idea that human actions are determined by external conditions or fate. Everyone creates his own destiny. The conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces. Free will allows us personal choice…we are the authors of our own actions; herein lies our power. We need to recognize how the misuse of this power is causing all sorts of problems. So we may ask: why is free will considered a gift if it has the tendency to get us into such trouble? Free will is a gift because (even though we do not have absolute control) we are not being controlled–even though there is an Absolute controller. God (our all-loving Parent) does not control us. God does not interfere with our free will–with our freedom of choice…. God loves us. We exist to love–and real love is never forced. Real love is always voluntary–otherwise it is not love. Our need to express love is always within us; it is the essence of our existence. Oftentimes in this world our loving nature is thwarted because of the influences of the material energy: the mind and the false ego. So even though we exist to love it is difficult to do so when we are disconnected from our true selves and from each other. So–the first step in creating a more balanced and harmonious condition in the world is to recognize the essence of who we really are: divine loving beings–and to act upon it. When we identify with the conditioned self–the conditioned mind, our actions become very compromised–and we tend to seek enjoyment in a way that has an exploitative quality. Enjoyment is not the issue; enjoyment at the expense of others is the issue……we are meant to be happy and enjoy life, but we need to take care that it is not at someone else’s expense. We may not always do this perfectly, but it is something that we can work towards and set as a goal in life. When we find common ground and common interests that are based on real spiritual values, we will be able to progress as a human nation.
The power of choice is related to something that is a popular topic of today: the law of attraction. Depending on the choices we make, a certain type of reality is being created. Everyone creates his/her own destiny. We have our independence. We have it and we can use it however we want (though we are subject to the consequences). We create whatever reality we desire; so if we align our actions with the true well being of all, we really can transform the world. If our actions are based on unconditional love, we really can alleviate suffering. If our actions are based on unconditional love, we can alleviate karmic consequences. The only thing we would reap from our sowing–is more love…So our every day focus needs to be: how to increase our loving spirit. This is the single most important thing that we can do every day. Our free will will not get us into trouble if our will is aligned with the true well-being of all. So we may ask, well then, why isn’t it? The truth is: when we hang out in the material world for a while our loving nature gets covered. Certain experiences get in the way; certain emotions get in the way. We are in a world where there is both light and darkness; it is the duality of this material existence. We always have the choice to either move towards the light–or not…so we may ask: why would we want to choose anything other than “the light”? Lightness and love seem so much more attractive and appealing than the darkness, so why would anyone want to choose “darkness”? Well–this is the phenomena of the material world. It’s the plight of the conditioned souls; our present state of forgetfulness propels us towards the darkness. So it is our mission (if we so choose to accept it) to remind as many people as we can of their real divine nature. We are here to awaken others and to help them recognize the joy and abundance that comes from knowing and being who we really are. This state of forgetfulness is causing so many problems in the world, so we really need to wake up now from this deep slumber that we presently find ourselves in.
Once we have (re)awakened, we can begin to use our free will in a way that supports the well-being of all. It is essential to recognize that we need each other to survive. As I mentioned in my previous blog: Building Healthy Communities: we are in relationship with every living being on the planet–and we have an inter-dependent nature. Because we have an intrinsic connection to one another our actions affect all those around us. We are coexisting in this world together—and everything that is provided for us is meant to be shared. The relationships that we have with each other are the foundation of our existence, so we need to find ways to help and support one another. To progress as a community, we need to share a common goal. We need to have common values that are based on love and the true well being of all. We need to exercise our power well. We, as human beings, have the tendency to self-destruct–and this is definitely not the best use of our power….
So, with our free will, with our freedom of choice, we can create a ‘new’ world…..”A New Earth” as Eckhart Tolle has suggested. When enough people have awakened, we can pull together and begin transforming our world. We can use our power of choice to uplift humanity. When our will is aligned with our real loving nature, our actions will be in support of everyone’s happiness. When our will is aligned with our real spiritual nature, we can find common ground–and our actions will have the least amount of compromising effects on our selves, on our children, on our environment, and on others. We have the power to decide what it is we want for our future. If we continue on this way–living without regard for the well being of others, we can expect to see ongoing turmoil, strife, and despair. We need to come together now and define our goals as a human nation. Once we agree on what it is we need to be working towards, we can begin to implement ideas for real progress. The law of attraction may be used for material gain, but this should not be the prime goal. Material gain may bring us happiness, but it is temporary. Without having spiritual goals and aspirations, there is a perpetual experience of sowing and reaping on the material plane. True everlasting joy and pleasure come from connecting to divine energy. Hopefully we can appreciate the value of having such spiritual goals rather than focusing on our material aspirations. We need to have whole reevaluation of values and discuss what our goals need to be–ones that will benefit the population at large. We need to begin by helping people–one individual at a time. We first begin with ourselves and then we can help others. We need to have a more community-based outlook in life–realizing that we are all citizens of this global nation. We have the power to create our reality– so let us use our power well…