What does it mean to have ‘free will’?
It’s a phrase that is used very casually, as though it carries an identical meaning to us all. It’s particularly important if you want to pursue a path of mystical self-development, since the whole idea of ‘will’ is a central concept of work on the self.
What is will? We take its very existence for granted, but we should be clear in our own minds as to what we mean by it. We could say that will prevails. It is a kind of force that determines what happens next – as much as that is under our control. We will return to this subtlety of this point at the end of this short post.
It would be useless, as King Canute is reputed to have done, to exercise our will to hold back the incoming tide. Actually, Canute was a wise ruler and was trying to show that the divine right of Kings had limits… History can have a cruel ‘will’ of its own. This does imply a certain amount of wisdom about how we use our will: we have to know what is possible, or potentially so, whether or not we have the force to succeed. This, in itself is curious, as it implies we have some foreknowledge of our likely success in the exercise of our willed force. Do we, then chose to fail when exercising ordinary will power? Or is there some form of higher ‘seeing’ that knows what can be done, uniquely, in the personal now?
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