I love the idea of free will–it’s such a wonderful and tantalizing concept. The opportunity to pick your own destiny! To imagine what you want and then get it! What a wonderful life! What a free ride! But, as Kierkegaard may or may not have said, “we come into life with sealed orders.” I like that, because it implies rather niftily that there is a destiny already carved out for us, or at least one that we carved out for ourselves in conjunction with what I call spirit guides and guardian angels.
The adventure is to find out what those sealed orders are and perform them to the best of our ability. The chart that we astrologers “cast” at the moment of birth is really the human curriculum–a visual and spatial reference point or “mandella” as Carl Jung called it, of the entrance point of one life in the long cycle of birth and death that the human entity has designed as a learning tool for evolution. It is we who design the classes we want to take in the form of life lessons, genetic heredity and family we’re born into. These lessons are not always fun or easy and the more advanced souls may go through some really difficult hardship lessons. One should be very, very careful in judging others based on what their lives look like–some may be experiencing a graduate level exam and struggling mightily–their struggle, by the way, may look very messy and disorganized, while you may be coasting through some third grade curriculum like a lark. Or perhaps you’re just here to serve, having already passed through much of the lower grades, so to others everything seems easy for you–although I am pretty sure this is not the case and is just the illusion of perception. The bottom line is don’t judge–you don’t know where someone has been.
A lot of the “prosperity and reward lives” are basically rewards from accumulative karma–many previous or other lives–(time is simultaneous, really, and it is only humans who need to put a linear fix on it through the concept of past-present-future). Relativity invites us to consider time as one big non-linear construct with alternative universes and timeless event horizons that occur magnificently over and over or that pre-exist, co-exist and disappear with various junctures we can only guess at! Things are moving co-commitently really, so when I speak of “past lives” it is only because that is the only frame of reference I have to explain the karmic function. But certain talents, opportunities and rewards that come to people are because they earned them. Trying to explain the karmic balance sheets of earning and discipline and reward is quite difficult to the more pragmatic types. I’ve given up trying. Best to let everyone discover their awareness in their own time. But there we are again, at this consideration of time. If you don’t believe in past lives then watching people receive tremendous talent, great riches or wonderful families may seem just a bit of random luck. If everything is random luck then we’re shit out of luck, aren’t we? But I prefer to go with Einstein who told us “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.”
This is not an essay on time. I’m not smart enough and I don’t know enough about it.
However, time figures prominently in the consideration of “free will” vs “destiny” whether we like it or not.
I do not believe in free will or controlling our destiny or positive consciousness or prosperity crap or any of that bullshit and haven’t for a long long time. I don’t believe we can “pick our destiny” create our destiny or even really change our destiny. It’s all been mapped out by ourselves and our guides before we ever came into life. As I said, we created the curriculum we planned to study–it’s called our chart and I’ve seen, god knows, thousands of charts and I always end up noticing what doors are open, what doors are closed and what doors can go either way. No one ever gets to have every single door open all the time–this stuff moves in seasons and some people get more chances to make some limited choices in certain seasons that others. Someone born without the ability to walk will have limits that others don’t have. Someone born an orphan in Somalia will have a very different life than a child born of a prosperous family in Sweden. About the only thing we really can do is approach our destiny and it is in the approach that we are judged by a peer group of guides and guardian angels, not what we think we decided.
Of course, I must be careful in talking about choice, because there are some choices that we make that we totally responsible for. If you choose to murder someone or leave someone or steal from someone, then, of course, you will pay the price, not only in the societal sense of punishment, but in the greater karmic court as well. What goes around does, indeed, come around, so be wise about your choices, day to day, moment to moment. This makes the spiritually aware life so difficult and so filled with responsibility. There are no easy outs, no illusions and no escape clauses. However we’ve been given thousands of years of wisdom about practices and disciplines and readings and understanding and music and theatre and art and many other things that prepare us, consecrate us and encourage us–there is certainly no excuse not to do the right thing when examples of the right path are all around us! So, in that sense, we are free to choose the right path. To engage in daily meditation or some sort of discipline that encourages us to see beyond the limit of the five senses, to contemplate a deeper place where silence may prevail for even a few moments. Einstein called it the “Gedankenexperiment “–the thought experiment. We are invited to experiment with thought, with creativity, with intellect, with our bodies, our minds and our movement in life. This is the sphere in which we can choose.
But Free Will? Free will is a total illusion. I will this, I will that–pshaw! You will nothing! You are free to wish! Good luck with that. And everything, every opportunity has a price–but for sure in my own life I have experimented time and time and time again stubbornly trying to change my destiny to no avail. Even getting a masters degree did nothing to change the fact that I am still doing shit job/ste’n’fetch it work as I have always done, that if I try to “step above my station” I get ignored, laughed at, ridiculed or condemned. No one will accept me in a leadership or boss role no matter what the job I am doing. Of course, I do take into consideration that finally, in my 50’s, I found out that I have numerous learning disabilities including processing deficit–meaning I process information slowly–I process transactional information very very slowly, which makes me a thinker, a philosopher, a musician; a writer, and a terrible cashier and merchandiser. The skills required of retail sales are merchandising (my visual-spatial deficit doesn’t help with this) and quick reaction, multi-tasking transactional skills. These are the skills you absolutely must show talent in if you are progress and get promoted in retail. I’ve been in retail for 50 years or more. The beauty part is that I am a great salesperson because I really know how to work with people and can sell them anything, but my detail skills suck and I move through transactions slowly–no one is going to promote me. My visual-spatial deficit coupled with processing deficit means that I am actually a pretty big hindrance in most work-places. I do well at telemarketing which I absolutely loathe, however. And here I am nearly 65, and I have answered my own question: can I change this? Not really. However, I’ve tried to work with and around these deficits and to a great degree I’ve managed to overcome them, but the price is often severe anxiety and lately High Blood Pressure. I simply cannot tolerate that much stress on my body as I age. I need a different kind or work or job if I want to stay alive and well.
Although retailers will constantly harp on sales and people skills, they really don’t give a fuck. What they care about are fussy, detail oriented individuals who can process fast and get through transactions at lightening speed. Get em in, get em out–that’s the retail model these days. I am terrible at details, I am not fussy about this stuff at all, (I call myself an “imperfectionist”) and because I have to process and think through every step many, many times before it becomes automatic for me, I drive those wonderful fast-moving kids around me crazy.
I am using my own life only to illustrate that nobody but nobody can control their destiny. We do have limited choice moment to moment, day to day–I can choose to work on my novel today or fritter away the time–I can write this blog or forget it etc. These apparently small choices, by the way, are really huge and actually, they are the choices that create our future karma–both in this life and the next. So, in fact, the small everyday moments are where we really make enormous changes and growth. It is the small moment to moment choices that really matter. They make up the mosaic of our lives.
Yes, you could stay where you are and say goodbye to your lover or your partner or your friend and see what kind of new partner you attract in your life. This is an option for you and some other people at various points in the lives and affairs of humans. You can take this job or that job, move to Portland or stay in Sandusky or travel around the World. Should you move to Omaha or go live with your parents in Dubuque? Divorce the girl who’s cheating on you or stick it out until she leaves you? However, bear this in mind: at some point in everyone’s life, sometimes early on, even at the very beginning or in the middle or very much later, the choice door slams shut and one is invited to “sit in the middle of the shit and fertilize it.” It’s just that time.
Would Nelson Mandela have learned the lesson of forgiveness and patience had he not been imprisoned nearly 30 years? Contrast the young revolutionary, fist pumped defiantly into the air, with the old white haired man leaning on a cane coming out of prison and back to his people (and the world) many years later. Perhaps the “illusion of being imprisoned” (what some people call life–imprisonment in 3-dimensional reality, in this body) is the best way to force a soul to interact with the qualities of the growth process that produce a fully fledged deeply spiritualized and serving human entity.
Pressure on the coal produces the diamond!
But who would volunteer to endure a third of a lifetime in prison? And who would do this willingly if they knew about it beforehand? Isn’t that the lesson of Oedipus? The gods already predicted his fate and he did everything he could to run away from it only to run smack dab right into it. There is no escaping destiny, no matter how hard you try. And that is why the current trend toward positive thinking and prosperity consciousness has me all worked up.
Barbara Ehrenreich, as usual, totally nails it in this short piece.
How unhappy it would be to know the future of our lives before we play it out! How strange and sad and awful, in fact, to realize that we are to die of a brain tumor at 56, or have a car wreck at 18 that leaves us paralyzed, or get married to our sweetheart and stay with her until she dies in our arms at 82. The whole creative gestalt of the great adventure of life is that we do not know what will happen and therein lies the rub. But just because we do not know and we are living under the illusion of free will–that we are the captain of the ship haha and God or whoever you believe in is the “co-pilot”–that we can somehow shape our destiny (aren’t all the free-will proponents and self actualization gurus touting this over and over again in different words, books, language?) –just because we think we can, like the the Little Engine That Could, can we? Can we really? I think not. In fact, I am absolutely sure not, but do I have absolute proof? No, I do not and neither does anyone else. All I have is the lifelong experiments I’ve been doing on myself to try to somehow shape my destiny and ending up exactly where I started all along, time and time and time and time again. My experiment to twist a rope of sand or make water run uphill has failed repeatedly.
It all may be anecdotal and I am not a scientist. I am a writer and a philosopher.
No one can make themselves prosperous by thinking right. If that were the case then two thirds of our world would be richer than they are and we all know that many millions of people in this world live in total and abject poverty without even the basic amenities. Let’s get real about Karma and what it is and stop blaming victims for not thinking right.
And by the way, how about lightening up a little and enjoying the ride, even if we can’t control it?