“We are potentially perfect, but free will and self-choice cause us to appear imperfect.” ~ Ernest Holmes

 

Up to this point, we have painted a picture of our experiencing physical human life as individuals separate and apart from one another while certain desires push us towards remembering our ultimate truth that we are unified in a spiritual oneness.  The internal urge or need for meaning and transcendence push along an upward path towards our ultimate return to our source.  The experience of love also serves this goal.

So, the question may arise at this point as to whether or not we have “free will”.  By that term, we mean that in our humanness we posess the actual freedom to make choices in our lives.  And, if we don’t really have free will, does that mean that everything is pre-ordained?

One can certainly make a case that we are buffeted about by external forces out there in the world, forces that were already in play before our birth that direct all of our existence.  It can be seen much like the movement of billiard balls on the pool table of life that are “knocking us about” directing completely our future path. Any feeling that we have a choice in the matter is simply an illusion.

Now, if we add in concepts like “imbedded urges” to evolve and the power of love to direct us to seek connection with others, it can certain seem like we are simply actors in a play reciting our lines with no ability to alter the script.

Does this “feel” true to you?  Not to me.  I certainly have a strong sense that I can make choices.  To the question of “do you have free will?”, don’t you feel like you have the free will in how to answer that? I do.

Does everything have free will? I don’t know about “lower” forms of existence like atoms and molecules and simple organisms and even more complex organisms.  Their actions and choices may be somewhat “pre-ordained” by their environmental circumstances.  But as we move up the evolutionary chain, more and more one might suppose that certain complex animals do exhibit some ability to make “choices” independent of the apparent forces at play on them.  I have witnessed what appears to be “free will” in animals such as dolphins, elephants, dogs, cats and others.  Yet some might argue that I am simply projecting my human motivations onto their actions and seeing what they are doing as “making a choice”.  Maybe. Maybe not.

However, when we come to the evolutionary level of humans, we obviously are a unique species.  We both “know things” and “know that we know”.  We may call this “self-awareness”.  This ability to think about our thinking leads us to believing that humans have the capacity of deeper pondering of their choices and the power of choice.  I believe we have free will.

I firmly believe that I have the freedom to choose one thing over another.  Yes, there are many times that my thoughts may be on “auto pilot” and I “choose” out of a pre-established habit or pattern.  This is a topic we will come back to later on, but I know that when I turn my attention towards the choice and am not operating automatically, I can truly sense that I have the freedom to make one choice over another.

Now as we have stated previously, we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that the All (God, Spirit, etc.) created us so as to both experience life through us and to create through us while at the same time causing us (at least initially) to being oblivious to the truth of our divine source. If this is true, doesn’t it make more sense that It would also give us the ability the make choices?  Stated another way, the Divine’s providing us the freedom of choice allows It’s creation to maximize the potential of the infinite variety of ways to express Itself.

If Spirit totally set in concrete all of our actions with a false sense that we are making free choices, would that not place limits on Spirit’s experience of Itself?

It is my contention here that the creative force and intelligence that made the universe both embedded a few characteristics into its creation to give a general direction to its growth while at the same time allowed aspects of its creation the free will ability to choose how and what it did.  It’s not an “either-or”, it’s an “and”.

For example, the divine characteristics within us that drive us to evolve and grow into more and more complex beings appear to give a certain general direction to all of life.  And as mentioned previously, the power of love seeks to push us to connect with one another, further moving us towards a greater experience of unity.  These and other embedded natures within us seem to serve like guard rails that gently keep us moving in the right direction on our spiritual path.

Yet at the same time, we humans (and perhaps other entities to a degree) have the capacity to make choices.  Sometimes our choices may move us towards the direction of unity and oneness and love.  Sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes our choices are labeled “good” and sometimes “bad”. And that brings us to the next topics of pain, suffering and evil.

 

NOTE:  This article is a part of our Spiritual Philosophy Series.  THIS ARTICLE describes the series’ intention. To view the entire series, CLICK HERE.