Whether or not humans have freewill has been debated by philosophers and academics for centuries.
However, I’m neither an academic or theoretician. I doubt you are, either. We want what works. We want practical results.
In tarot readings, we often describe freewill to clients as being 50/50. In other words, our choices and actions influence the events in our lives. But, there are also larger forces beyond our control which influence our lives.
This number is completely made up, of course! No one could ever figure out that one. Life is far too complex for the extremely small slice of the universe our minds and senses perceive to understand.
It’s a metaphor. In other words, it’s pointing out that we make choices based on our conditioning.
And, there are also larger forces around us both in this world and beyond.
Does This Mean We're Puppets On A String?
Of course not. That’s another projection of the mind. Since it’s not in complete control, the ego/mind projects an apathetic and negative viewpoint at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s all or nothing.
Before we go any further, it’s necessary to challenge some assumptions. The first one is the root problem. Our ego. What is it exactly? And how can we be free of it’s problem making?
So...Just What Exactly Is Ego?
For our purposes here, The word ego means the mind based sense of self. Our sense of ourselves as a separate entity in a physical body.
We identify with our name, our history and a certain “storyline” that we believe is unique to us.
And this is not a problem. In fact, it’s great! Everyone is different. Would you want to live in a world where everyone was a carbon copy? Of course not.
A metaphor for this is that the separate self is like a wave in the ocean.
But wait a minute. Are you actually separate from Life? Or does it just appear that way?
The Seer and the Seen
When we learn language as children, we learn to label the things we see in our environment. That’s daddy. That’s mommy. That’s a dog, etc.
Eventually, we even learn to label ourselves. I’m “Dave.” Prior to learning it, I didn’t know I was a Dave.
So now whenever we see something — say a tree — and we label it, “tree” — it creates duality. There is now “me” as the one doing the labelling and the tree.
This creates the mind based sense of self. It only strengthens as we grow into adulthood. And this is well and good as the Tarot teaches. But at a certain point, we need to go through further “inititiation.”
Ego view is “me” and “other.” Everyone — including your loved ones — can be a potential threat to “you.”
You might argue “well, sometimes it’s necessary to defend myself!” And you’d be right. But what I want to show is that in Truth, there’s really no-one there to defend — at least psychologically.
It’s all Life happening.
But I also want to explain that this doesn’t stop you from taking care of yourself or asking for what you want. As a matter of fact, you are freed up even more to do so.
What About Taking Responsibility For Our Lives?
What about all the teachings urging us to take responsibility? They are absolutely correct. We must take responsibility. Who else is going to if we don’t take it for our own lives?
As I already said, we’re NOT puppets on a string. But neither do we have control over everything that happens. For example, can you control the weather? Have you ever tried to control other people? If there was an earthquake that caused some damage to your home, would it be your fault?
Of course the answer to all the above is “no.” What we do have control over is our response to what happens.
This we have absolute control over. But…
Does This Mean We're Robots?
Hardly! Some teachers (Gurdjieff comes to mind) describe humans as a robot like mind/body mechanism.
I happen to agree with this to a point. But I would re-frame it as follows: Yes, we are mind/body mechanisms. But ultimately we are That which is aware of our minds and bodies. We’re only “robots” to the extent that we cannot create new and creative responses to life. In other words, if we always get taken over by the same old reactions.
In a nutshell, as long as we aren’t present and aware to what is going on, we can only react with our programming.
So how do we get free?
Life demands that you respond to every event. This isn’t a moral issue — it’s a fact of life. - Rachel Pollack
How Do We Get Free?
There are many paths to freedom. But regardless of the path that resonates with you (if you’re reading this I’m assuming you’re doing some kind of work), it ultimately comes down to one thing.
Are you aware of Awareness?
Try this: Sit quietly for a few moments. Take a breath and exhale to relax your shoulders. Gently place your attention within. Notice the sounds around you and within your body. Notice your breath. Feel the sensations in your body.
Now notice your thoughts. Who or what is watching your thoughts?
Can you get a sense of the spacious awareness that though is appearing in or on? Thoughts come and go. But the awareness is still and unchanging.
This investigation can go much deeper. But I’ll leave it at that for now. Let’s get back to how this relates to our freewill and ability to create in life.
Freewill and Your Ability to Create
Let’s say you had a relationship in the past that ended badly. You were devastated at the time. But because you never processed all of the feelings that were coming up at that time, you repressed them.
This repressed energy led to your holding on to a story that “relationships are bad. I’ll get hurt.” Or something along that line.
Because of this program you’ve installed you have no choice but to take actions and decisions based upon it’s parameters.
Many egos take a story such as this and turn it into “I’m no good” or “I’m less than.” And of course, there are egos with the opposite story who sadly believe themselves to be superior in certain ways.
When we’ve worked to increase our sense of Awareness, we don’t have to react according to our past programming. That is what is meant by letting go of the past.
Note: Another description of Awareness is our felt sense of “I am.” Not the thought “I am.” The felt sense.
Now we have some space around that story about relationships. Now whenever that story comes up, we begin to recognize it as a story and not necessarily the gospel truth. We begin to challenge it.
The story begins to lose it’s foundations. If we persevere with our work, the story eventually dissolves altogether.
We are then free to create a new story. One in which we recognize the truth. We are lovable and loving beings. When we know that to be true in our hearts — not our heads as just a forced belief — we can then take new actions to create different results in our lives.
Davidson Yeager is Mary's loving husband and partner-in-crime. He is a spiritual teacher, tarot reader and musician. He is an expert in The Sedona Method -- a very powerful but simple to use process of letting go. Visit his website and find out more.