The Free Will Paradox

Free will: the “Prime Directive” here within “Earth Game”. You get to make choices and decisions. More fundamentally, you get to choose what to pay attention to; from moment to moment, you choose your thoughts. Including, beyond knee-jerk reactions, your reactions and responses to events that occur on the stage of your life.

And yet, clearly there are aspects of your life that are not subject to your conscious choice. To begin with, your basic physicality – including race, body type, sexuality, and any extraordinary abilities or disabilities. Obviously, the physical “you” didn’t make any of those choices. Nor was it the Earthbound you who selected your parents, any siblings, and the key characters whom you were destined to encounter over the course of your lifetime.

Beyond the setting of the stage for the story of your life, happenstance often appears to come at you, out of the blue, for better and/or for worse. Yes, stuff happens. Your life may seem to have a life of its own; it has a plan, a script, it knows what it is doing and where it wants to go. Irrespective of how you feel about where your life seems to want to take you, there are some passages that are not optional. You are going to experience those passages, free will be damned.

Of course, how you experience those passages is up to you. But you are going to go through them. You can harness your will to the max, but whatever is in the plotline will play out in one way or another. No, you are not helpless, far from it. But neither are you entirely at the helm.

The one key that seems to emerge is to refrain from using your will to actively resist and reject things that have already happened. Any state of being “triggered” – or worse yet, making that a permanent state – is an unproductive distraction from the endless now. Hence the wisdom of regarding untoward events in terms of “Plot twist!” or “Ooh, isn’t this interesting”, or the well-known quote (from Krishnamurti) “I don’t mind what happens”.

Nonetheless, there is an obvious role in your life for will, for choice, for self-determination. In many respects, you are the author of your own story. Often, the question “What do I want?” is the most important question you can ask yourself. As an old saw put it, You can’t get what you want till you know what you want.

And yet, there is another old saw: You can’t always get what you want … but … you get what you need. There is an obvious intelligence at work in your reality. Sometimes, it is “unanswered prayers”. Or course corrections. Or wake-up calls. Or even the proverbial “whack upside the head” when you have determinedly ignored the whispers.

Let’s take a look at how the two aspects – free will, and the aforesaid other obvious intelligence at work – come together.

Your Soul carries the “story arc” for your lifetime. It knows what the larger “you” (your Higher Self, technically) had in mind; it knows the blueprint and the design for your lifetime. It knows how the pieces were put together – and, unlike you, it can see the upcoming characters and plot twists that have yet to make an entrance onto the stage of your life.

As I have previously written (see “Earth Game as God’s Stories”), your free will is the wild card, the unknown, the “secret sauce” in the story of your life. You are the actor on the stage, and you are the entertainment. Not only are you allowed to ad lib; there are points in the storyline where you are left to improvise, i.e., make it up as you go.

So yes, you need to receive and accept and embrace whatever scene is crafted for you by Soul. And then, whenever Soul gives you the cue, exercise your free will and write your own story. Sometimes it is as simple as saying “yes” to whatever Soul seems to be asking you to do. And sometimes there are options, i.e., those “choose your own adventure” moments. Clearly there are two imperatives here; one is to go with the flow; the other is to boldly go. They only appear to be at odds – and only so if the voice of Ego in desperately-seeking-safety mode (as opposed to just-watch-the-show-unfold mode) enters into the discussion.

Unsurprisingly, Ego gets uncomfortable when Soul “sends in a play”, i.e., signals a direction or action for you to take. You do not get to demand an explanation of the why of it, when Soul whispers in your ear. Understanding will come in time, but only retrospectively. Ego’s stance is often akin to “I’m not pressing that button until I know exactly what will happen”. That is the opposite of the adventurous spirit that Soul communicates: “What does this button do?” You do not get to insist that Soul reveal to you all that will unfold if you go down the path to which you have been pointed. No, you step off like the carefree Fool of the Tarot, and only then do the why and the wherefor begin to be revealed to you.

The above point was made crystal-clear to me recently in a (meditative) conversation with my Soul. I was asking where a particular path might lead me. Soul matter-of-factly explained that, since I had already said yes to the path, I would find out in due course where it would lead. To further illustrate the point, Soul used the example of a Netflix dramatic series that I was currently enjoying. “Well, why don’t you just go to the pertinent Wikipedia page and read the plot summary to the end of the season?” That would ruin my enjoyment of the story, I admitted. Soul continued, “Would you really want to read a Wikipedia page that has the full storyline for the rest of your lifetime, so that you would know now everything that is scripted to unfold between now and the time you leave the planet?” No, of course not, I conceded. And Soul had made its point. Just follow the yellow brick road. No figuring out required. Just enjoy the ever-unfolding storyline as you play your role in it.

And yet, from our perspective, there seems to be an inherent clash between the notion of free will and the inescapable feeling that there is a plan – and perhaps even a script – underlying the storyline of one’s life. There is an inescapable sense of paradox in that clash.

As we know (see my previous article, “Integrating Duality”), whenever we find ourselves encountering paradox, we are dealing with a Duality. In that terrain, the answer is always both. The winning approach is always to integrate the two sides of the paradox, which only appear to be incompatible or somehow in conflict.

In the context of the story of your life, think of Soul’s role as breathing in. That is, Soul will bring you whatever you need in order to accomplish the design of this particular lifetime. It will set the stage, introduce the characters, bring initiating incidents as needed, and choreograph the rising action in just the right way and at just the right time. All you need do is say yes to each whisper of the Soul. Receive it. And yes, all that is feminine energy. None of it involves figuring anything out, and none of it precipitates out of your actions.

The story of your life equally requires breathing out. That is, masculine energy. That involves conscious choice, setting things in motion, taking action. When you hear the whispers of Soul, just move in that direction. Whenever something or someone calls to you in that je ne sais quoi way, focus your attention there, even if you don’t quite know why it is calling to you or where it might be leading. And, whenever you sense one of those “choose your own adventure” moments, feel your way, and then boldly choose.

There is a rhythm to it. Listen for the whispers; only then decide and act. Breathe in and then breathe out. But you need both. It is a dance, and it is a duet.

There is also the space between. Occasionally you will find yourself in the “doldrums” – in the sense of being at sea on windless waters. There, you rest and you wait. Inspiration is not there – yet. And no action will avail you. The inbreath will come soon enough; and your heading will become clear enough that you can sail – most likely into the unknown – with enough confidence.

Perhaps all this is why it is so easy for one to feel lost and alone and directionless within “Earth Game”. In our noisy, busy world, many no longer hear the whispers of Soul. Into the void steps the Ego, vowing to forge a path towards safety. But Ego has no clue, other than trying to come up with an algorithm based on what it has experienced in the past (including, unfortunately, any vaguely-sensed horror stories from past lives) . Often, Ego’s path forward ends up being either an excess of action or a paralysis of inaction. If the path is excessive activity, that may produce something, but it won’t be joy or fulfillment. If the path is the other extreme of paralyzed inaction, the result will be retreat, escape – perhaps into some sort of addiction.

At best, Ego will focus on achieving things designed to impress other people’s Egos. That is not a path that will bring joy or fulfillment. Even major “wins” achieved through such a focus are likely to feel surprisingly and disturbingly hollow.

In contrast, Soul’s path will always take you out of your comfort zone. It will be uniquely your path; it may be quirky, even odd, if viewed through the lens of other people’s Egos. But it will bring joy and fulfillment. Together with, if you will allow it, a broad-spectrum abundance that has a different quality to it than wealth amassed through struggle and sacrifice.

Sadly, for too many the connection with Soul can seem irretrievably lost. (That is never the case, but I gather it can feel like it.) The tether to “home” is gone. And the player within Earth Game feels not only lost, but alone. Years ago, I came across the notion (which still rings true to me) that homelessness in our world is a reflection of the connection to Soul having become all but lost. Turning to drugs to replace that connection can never succeed. (A quote from Being Humans, authored by Melissa Gates-Perry, comes to mind here: “Addiction is the place where [individuals] go to avoid the growth they came into a lifetime to experience.”)

When Soul is no longer part of the narrative in one’s life, the state of being physically alive can go on for quite some time. Think of the life of a derelict or, towards the end of physical aliveness, the life of one with dementia. Yes, life goes on, but there is no spark, no juice. And, no direction. The storyline no longer goes anywhere; there is no rising and falling action, just existing. The “story arc” flatlines.

Let’s ponder the opposite of all that. What if Soul’s participation in the narrative of one’s life were enhanced? That is, what if Soul were embraced as full partner; what if a lifetime were transmuted into a team game? If nothing else, that could free up a lot of energy that presently goes into trying to figure things out, or figuring out your next move.

Soul, embraced, will be felt in the heart centre, i.e., the fourth chakra. The “heart brain” or “feeling brain” will always know the way forward. Once you have the direction, your “intuitive brain”, accessed through the pineal, or sixth chakra, can plot a course. (Here again, you breathe in, and then you breathe out.) Your physical brain can focus on doing what it does well, i.e., carry out the course that has been laid out. Whereupon your Ego – being your sense of self and your interface with physical reality – can mostly relax and watch it all unfold. The actor on the stage – the “you” who is the sum of the parts – will proceed to deliver your lines impeccably and play out your role with poise and grace.

In sum, your free will is a powerful and essential tool as you make your way through Earth Game. But it is not the only resource you have, and you are not alone.