Fate or Free Will

free will

Are we ruled by some predetermined destiny, or are we endowed with the capacity for the exercise of free will? This question has been the source of ceaseless debate among philosophers, religious pundits, and expounders of every persuasion through the ages, and convincing arguments have been made by believers in both camps, as well as those who have thoughtfully proposed some sort of middle way.

Rather than merely re-hashing positions that have already been staked out at length by better minds and more articulate voices than mine, I would simply like to suggest that the crux of the whole issue invariably depends upon one’s level of awareness, or interpretation on perception, which is in turn conditioned by factors such as belief and experience, but more often than not, by second-hand information.

In brief, depending one’s angle of vision, it may appear that we as human individuals are “programmed” prior to our first breath, and that everything that is to happen to us is indeed pre-determined. I will refrain from speculation at this time on the mechanics of such programming — whether it is performed by us ourselves, or in collusion with some “life-between-life” guides, or even by some higher powers who are directing our “soul” evolution.

From another (and perhaps more pragmatic) point of view, it may appear that we do indeed have the power to make changes in the quality of our life, whether in positive or negative ways, and so can indeed transcend our apparent fate by the application of will. This viewpoint can lead to a circular argument, however, since it could be noted that this supposed power is itself pre-determined, or “down-loaded” into the entity like software into an operating system in order to fulfill a destiny.

In and of themselves, both views (and/or some variation of the two) are provisionally true, but all such views are nothing more than conceptual designations, mental constructs, and moreover, are based on the assumed reality of a substantial and enduring “person”. However, the presumption of such a reality is not borne out by thorough deeper inquiry, and that is the salient point of this brief consideration. Indeed, the more we investigate, “To whom does fate or free will apply?”, the more we will discover that the so-called “person” is nothing but a bundle of dependently arising thoughts, sensations, memories, and perceptions, all strung together on an imaginary clothes-line called “I”, and in fact no such independent and enduring person has ever really existed, except in the realm of narrative fiction. That is, the persistent sense we have of some individual person (“me”) is based on a story – a fiction which is comprised of all that we may yet take ourselves to be in our ignorance, or amnesia.

Upon awakening, we realize that both destiny and free will ultimately do not apply. How could they? After all, if there is no concrete and independent person, then there is no place for the concepts themselves to land. Nevertheless, as long as consciousness appears to individuate itself in the form of these human vehicles, there appear to be two truths that constitute our experience of this psycho-physical realm — the relative and the absolute.

On the absolute level, with the liberating recognition that there is no substantial and enduring person, opposing notions of fate and free will are de facto rendered moot. However, since we (as shards of Source Energy) are currently enjoying the illusion of incarnating in an objective world, and within the sphere of our everyday relations here, we certainly can act “as if” we have the power to direct our human hosts towards better behavior and an increasingly more conscious and loving response to life. Conversely, we can refrain from taking responsibility, thereby allowing the “animal” to have its way, with the consequent violence and selfishness that is characteristic of the species when left to its own uncontrolled nature.

The relative, or objective world of duality, is a crucible of blended energies, and a very powerful environment for learning and growth experiences. It has often been described as a “stage” on which anything can happen, including negative events. What matters for us is how we react to our experiences. When we “choose” to react as victims, for example, we tend to reinforce a particular energetic vibration — a negative one. However, we can also turn that negative into a positive, and acknowledge whatever lesson it has to teach. In every experience there is a lesson available, an opportunity to refine our relationship with the world, even if we do not immediately see it. Such choices help to determine what sort of access we will have to the higher frequencies of light vibration.

Consider also that, if life were preordained, it would negate the very reason for incarnating in this realm in the first place. If everything was already scripted, there would be no adventure of confronting the unknown and hence growing in self-awareness. Furthermore, there would be nothing new to bring back to our soul group, enabling the further evolution and expansion of the whole through the addition of fresh experiences.

Consequently, perhaps all we can really say in this regard is that things happen the way they do because the universe is as it is, filled with infinite potential, and we in these human forms are here sampling a tiny fraction of the universal possibilities, as the eyes and hands and feet of Source.

In manifestation then, there appears to be choice and/or choicelessness, depending upon one’s relative level of awareness, though the reality of the matter is not ultimately a subject that the human intellect can definitively apprehend, given the limited frequency at which it operates, along with the accompanying amnesia which characterizes our 3-D experience.

Just so, the main source of confusion on the subject is the amnesia with which most of us live in this dense realm, which temporarily blinds us to the bigger picture of existence. The purpose of this amnesia is to create a more impactful experience of the human adventure with which we have temporarily identified. I have addressed this issue in more depth elsewhere, but in regard to the theme of this essay, I am suggesting that there is a difference between human animal response and soul-level response. That is, the human persona is very much limited to predictable behaviors and responses to mundane stimuli, whereas the soul-level response pertains to life-changing decisions that determine the direction of manifestation. For example, issues of morality and conscience might be regarded as soul-influenced matters.

Certainly, much more can be said in this regard, but suffice it to say that the inadequacy of scientific materialism, which posits that consciousness is merely a brain phenomenon, is that there is only a focus on the physical — the body-mind-self complex — which is actually a very small part of the “whole self”. Of course, without the benefit of insight derived from expanded consciousness, it is understandable how conclusions about the mechanical nature of choice are reached. For further elaboration on the amnesia factor, see here

In any case, as the great sage Ramana Maharshi noted: “Find out to whom free will or destiny matters. Find out where they come from, and abide in their source. If you do this, both of them are transcended. That is the only purpose of discussing these questions. To whom do these questions arise? Find out and be at peace.”


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/1heart Essays on the Conscious Process: https://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: http://feelingtoinfinity.wordpress.com/ Verses and ramblings on life as it is: https://writingonwater934500566.wordpress.com/ Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: https://themindthatneverwas.wordpress.com/ Verses on the Play of Consciousness: https://onlydreaming187718380.wordpress.com/ Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: https://themysteriousexpanse.wordpress.com/ Poems of the Mountain Hermit: https://snowypathtonowhere.wordpress.com/ Love Poems from The Book of Yes: https://lovesight.wordpress.com/ Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: https://travelsindreamland.wordpress.com/ Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: https://freetransliterations.wordpress.com/ Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: https://westernmystics.wordpress.com/ Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: https://spiritguidesparrow.wordpress.com/ Thank You!
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19 Responses to Fate or Free Will

  1. Bob OHearn says:


    Neuroscience vs philosophy: Taking aim at free will

    Scientists think they can prove that free will is an illusion. Philosophers are urging them to think again.

  2. Bob OHearn says:

    “Everything in this world, no matter how small, occurs because of the constant operation of cause and effect. This body is not yours, nor does it belong to others. It should be seen as the product of the whole of history. In regard to it the wise person will reflect on the nature of conditioning, saying: “If this comes into being, that will arise; if this does not come into being, that will not arise.”

    ~Samyutta Nikaya

  3. Bob OHearn says:


    The commonly held illusion of free will (and the illusion of the somebody who has it) is reinforced whenever life moves in the direction we apparently chose. For a few very lucky people, this happens quite a lot. These people tend (perhaps understandably) to come to the conclusion that anyone can freely choose to go from rags to riches, or from addiction to recovery, or from sickness to health, or from depression to happiness, because—after all—they did it. They chose to lose weight, and they did. They chose to dedicate their lives to social service instead of to being serial child molesters, thieves, or compulsive gamblers. They choose to “take a time out” when they get very angry at their spouse instead of yelling at or beating that person. They choose to be productive, to lead good lives, to do the right thing. Or so it seems to them. And society at large confirms their conclusion.

    But for those who are not so blessed, the illusion of free will and the widespread belief in it is a cruel joke and potentially a source of endless self-hatred, shame, guilt, blame, and a deep sense of being a miserable failure or a worthless bum who didn’t try hard enough, or who “made bad choices,” or in some cases—consider the child molester or the serial murderer—maybe even the very personification of evil.

    So are we completely powerless? Yes and no.

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    Free will and determinism are no longer paradoxical in the sense of being mutually exclusive. Both are correct, depending upon the consciousness from which they are considered. The paradox only appears when we consider both sides from the same state of consciousness, i.e, the everyday waking state.

    I like to illustrate this with Hamlet pondering the question of “To be or not to be?” The character in the play is making a choice. And if we have not seen the play before, we may wonder which way he will choose. This is the thrill of the play, to be engaged in it, moved by it, absorbed in its reality with all its twists and turns. However, we also know that how the play unfolds was determined long ago by William Shakespeare. So, we have two complementary ways of viewing the play. At times we may choose to live fully in the drama. Other times we may step back to admire his creative genius.

    So in life. We can be engaged in the drama, experiencing free will, making choices that affect our futures. Or we can step back and be a witness to this amazing play of life unfolding before us. Both are true within their respective frameworks.

    – See more at: http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/the-paradox-of-free-w…/…

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    Do you believe in free will?

    “Of course, I have no choice.”

    ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it. Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.

    ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  7. Bob OHearn says:


    “[T]he soul is beyond all laws, physical, mental, or moral. Within law is bondage; beyond law is freedom. It is also true that freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright: that real freedom of the soul shines through veils of matter in the form of the apparent freedom of man.”

    “The only way to come out of bondage is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.” [by self-identifying with soul or spirit] . . . . “This is the goal of the Vedantin, to attain freedom while living.”
    ~ Swami Vivekananda

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    From Sri Nisargadatta, here is an interesting quote:

    “There is a connection between the word and its meaning, between action and its motive. Spiritual practice is will asserted and re-asserted.”

    On the other hand, he also said:

    Q: Is there no such thing as free will? Am I not free to desire?

    M: Oh no. You are com­pelled to desire. In Hin­duism the very idea of free will is non-existent, so there is no word for it. Will is com­mit­ment, fix­a­tion, bondage.

    Q: I am free to choose my lim­i­ta­tions.

    M: You must be free first. To be free in the world you must be free of the world. Oth­er­wise your past decides for you and your future. Between what had hap­pened and what must hap­pen you are caught. Call it des­tiny or karma, but never—freedom. First return to your true being and then act from the heart of love.

  9. jamiem333 says:

    Another amazing piece! Such talent. I hope someday to discuss this topic but have to read it several times and contemplate a response or question/s. More later my friend ❤️

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    “Life is a celebration of free will and spontaneous creation in the moment of now. You do not set out with life plans in great detail, certainly not that of your death. The reason for this is because you do not, ahead of time, know the decisions you are going to make, the feelings you are going to experience and the sense of values and purpose you are going to create in your life. The ‘persona’ of the life you are about to create is not apparent to you yet since the persona which is now who you currently are was created by a great many events in your life, which in fact were not planned at all, but are the result of others deeds and actions, and influences of society and species as a whole. You do not know in advance the cause and effects of these others influences on you before you are born into physicality.”


    • Bob OHearn says:

      “As Life in the form of each one of us becomes self-aware, we also become aware of our own will to choose that which we create. Humans perceive time by the rate at which events transpire in relation to one another. As one event precedes another, which follows with another, this linear cycle is a mechanism purposely devised to allow free will and choice to be REAL-ized within a physical reality. Rather than having your choice, your desire immediately manifest as it is in the spirit world, linear awareness is a gift which permits experience of not having a ‘thing’, in order that you may experience yourself choosing it, creating it and sharing it. As you seek to define your place in time, what you are really doing is seeking to define your place of Self-awareness.”


  11. Bob OHearn says:


    And like their counterparts in Germany, these neuroscientists say the new picture is much more in keeping with our intuitive sense of our free will. When we form a vague intention to move, they explain, this mind-set feeds into the background ebb and flow of neural activity, but the specific decision to act only occurs when the neural activity passes a key threshold — and our all-important subjective feeling of deciding happens at this point or a brief instant afterward. “All this leaves our common sense picture largely intact,” they write.

  12. Bob OHearn says:

    Free Will

    “To begin with, as a sentient light being you exercised the capacity of free will long before you even chose to submerge your soul within physical form and state. This is to say, long before the creation and development of the physical brain you use today your consciousness was exercising free will independently of any physical organ or mechanism. As do those in the spirit realm continue to do as we speak. This should first and foremost acquaint you to the fact that free will is not a product of or dependent on the physical brain or anything neuroscience wishes to prod its finger at.

    Let us speak about what exactly the physical brain does and does not do.

    The physical brain is a bioelectrical mechanism hardwired with instinctive survival response patterns built from genetic memory algorithms. So it is built and designed genetically to keep you alive. It is based on self-learning memory disciplines which assimilate awareness as memories and processes them for decisive reactive responses and decisions. In other words, your physical brain accesses past memories and observations to coordinate behaviour within variable circumstances of every day life. When past memories are inadequate, inaccessible, or nonexistent, the brain opens itself to intuition and gut feeling to dictate appropriate behaviour. What this really is, is the access of memory on other interconnective conduits which exist much deeper. This involves the cellular memories of your own parents and ancestors, as well as memories accessible through the connectivity of the etheric cord at your solar plexus. It may also involve memories accessible from your surrounding environment and from the physical elements and fibres you are touching. So essentially the brain has the capacity to process memory, events and sensory information streams from many different sources to influence decisions.

    The physical brain does not contain thoughts or feelings, it only processes responses to them and retains them as memories, images and experiences. That is, the brain is an antenna, receiving frequencies and encoding them into a language of bioelectrical impulses which cause the brain to behave a certain way as it has been taught. What it actually does is translate sensory inputs to reproduce thoughts and feelings using impulses and chemical secretions to create what you experience as a mental thought or an emotional feeling.

    Real thoughts and feelings occupy an energetic frequency faster than physical mass, and thusly do not exist subservient to or bound within any one physical body part or mechanism. Simply put, physical mass cannot enclose or keep in a pervasive expansive energy more etheric than itself. Instead it is the physical aspect which sits within the pervasive expanse of the etheric field. Again we are reminded that thoughts and feelings exist independent of the physical brain, as it is the way for all those in the spirit realm and for consciousness itself.

    When you are attempting to determine how thought dictates choice and free will you should come to understand that there is always a thought behind the thought. That is, any choice you think you have made with your physical brain, there is always a thought behind that thought. Original thought.
    That original thought is actually the component of your spirit, or described differently, your core central values. These core central values existed long before your physical form and are built on the memories and experiences of your specific soul group and core vibrational signature. These embedded core central values are constantly lurking in the background effecting your every decision on a very subtle level. Depending on how receptive you are to your spirit and to these values will determine how much of your divine will plays a part in your physical life. If you ignore this component of Self for more reactive defensive living, then you will appear to have very little free will at all. The reason for this is because the will of other human beings and their actions will impose their influence upon you dictating the direction of your own life. It is only when you access divine will within your own core vibration that events of synchronicity and miraculous good fortune manifest revealing the true nature of free will in all its glory.

    Do not ignore the will of the spirit (central core values) for the separate will of the animalistic human brain.”


  13. Bob OHearn says:

    Question: There is a line of reasoning, proposed by so-called sages, that free will does not exist. For example, one famous teacher from the last century, Swami Vivekananda, remarked: “There cannot be any such thing as free will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is molded by the conditions of space, time, and causation. Everything that we know, or can possibly know, must be subject to causation, and that which obeys the law of causation cannot be free.”

    Sparrow: The proposal from proposed sages that free will does not exist calls into condition that the very nature of the design of the Ultraverse and Multiverse must therefore also not exist. Essentially it is looking at free will only from a human mental perspective and not a perspective pervasive of all verses of what comprises life.

    In view that Sparrow holds awareness and understanding of things outside such physical universe dictates this former suggested statement to be inaccurate. Will is not simply what your physical brain knows, or just a mental reactive response to experiential causation. Such mindset is like calling something a square when it is actually a cube. The presence of a universal cause does not create the experience of Self; the Self already existed prior to the cause. It is the presence of Self within a dimension which gives rise to an experience of causation. That is, it is not Self which responds to the universe, but the universe which responds in consequence to your Self. The physical universe was originally created in response to independent will that existed outside of it. In actuality it was created by a preceding universe, but my point remains the same.

    Your will is the presence of intention. Your intrinsic intention goes back to the origins of your spirit inception into the resonance of your soul group, which embodies an energetic intention. That is, your vibration as a being resonates a specific intention (desire of will and purpose). Intent is based upon memory, vibration and consciousness interaction. So your ‘free-will’ decisions are influenced by memory, intuitive vibrational frequencies and consciousness interactions. This happens on many layers and dimensions, and varies depending on the state of the life form.

    You are free to choose who and what you are at will, regardless of what your Self causes the universe to reflect back through time and space.

    Time and space have no choice but to react to you, but you always have a choice how to enact your Self through time and space.

    The best way to know and experience if free will exists is to manifest all that which you will and desire for yourself. Then the very question becomes inconsequential. Only those who do not possess what they ultimately desire are capable of asking such question to begin with.

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