One of the phrases that we hear and say a great deal in metaphysical circles in “This is all an illusion”. Although it sounds good, it is not something that we are able to really incorporate into our consciousness because it is so fundamentally opposed to our experience. And though we may be temporarily soothed by the idea of it, the feeling vanishes the moment we bump into a part of that illusion, like a wall, and get a concussion on another part of the illusion – our heads. For most of us the idea that our experience is “all an illusion” is filed away somewhere with God, another idea that, for most of us, is firmly implanted in our belief system but very much disconnected from the reality of our daily lives.
If this is an illusion, why does it hurt so much or feel so real? Why can’t we just affirm it away? In a movie, which is for all intents and purposes an illusion, when one of the characters – another illusion is shot by a bullet – another illusion, the character dies – another illusion. There are two layers here. There is the layer of the actors or the soul who is assuming the role of the character – the illusion who dies. Within the movie, nothing is an illusion. When the actor – the soul – steps out of the movie, or the life in our case, it was all an illusion. A good actor will feel the pain of the character; he will feel the joy of the character which is what makes his performance believable. A good actor is very sensitive, just as a soul is. When the actor leaves the role, he has to re-enter his own life – his own role in the greater movie that is life. This reorientation often takes time. When a soul leaves a life, that soul too has to re-enter its essence, after absorbing all of the experiences of the life that it has just left. A character in a movie or in a play follows a plot, acts or reacts in a way written by someone else. So, in order to react naturally the actor must inhabit the part. We souls inhabit our personalities and so we are able to act and react according to the character that we come to play.
An actor becomes the character, so convincingly. that we are able to anticipate what he will do or say next because we believe him. We may know that the actor is acting and that the words have been written by someone else, the cues given by someone else, yet we feel and experience what the characters are going through. Although the choices that each character is making have been predetermined by the writer, we know that those are the choices that this character would make. Even when the character surprises us, if the actor did his job and writer did his, we can review the movie and see how this unexpected action could have been predicted. This is free will. These characters are predictable because we understand how they are motivated. Yet, does our ability to predict their choices deny the freedom of their choices? No, they are free to choose. What is predetermined is the point from which they view the world at the time that God or the Universe places the choice on their path. How often do we say, “I did that based on what I knew then”, or “If I only knew then what I know now”, or, “The person I am today would never have done that”.
Imagine being in a room, facing a wall and from your position, you can see the wall in front of you and from your peripheral vision you can make out the walls on each side, right and left of your position. But from where you stand, there is no door. Now, the position that you are in places you on a wheel, like a clock gear, that will slowly turn you around. However, right now you only see walls. You are facing twelve o’clock. There is a door at the six o’clock position, but you won’t see it for six hours. Now a voice enters the room and says, “You are free to go”. Is it an illusion that you are free to go? No, there is a door. But from where you stand, there is none. In a story, the character has free will and, we can anticipate that characters actions. We have free will, and our choices are predetermined. They are predetermined because our visibility of available options is really limited to one, at the time that the Universe presents the choice. There may be ten puzzle pieces lined up before us to choose from, yet, the experiences, the beliefs, the impressions of the world that we have accumulated up to that moment sees only one perfect fit. Because there is only one, it is the one that our soul has chosen to best experience the lessons we need to learn.
We have to remember that we come here to learn and to grow. In order to do this, we have to set up a lesson plan.
Our lessons do not only come from where the choice leads us on our path, but also from which choice we make, and how we arrived at that choice. We are here to expand our view, and to learn to see from our hearts. Most actors take roles for a purpose. Many take roles which allow them to stretch, to grow. Free will is not an illusion, but in a way, the choices we make are. They are the lessons; they are the set-up for our growth. They create the plot within which the actor acts. As we learn from each choice, our view expands; our abilities grow until we are in tune with our hearts. When we are in tune with our hearts – we are in tune with our souls. When the soul has mastered the personality, its view is no longer limited. It then sees through the eyes of the creator of the path. The dreamer has mastered the dream, so it is no longer a dream; the actor now writes his part, so he is no longer limited by the existing plot. Illusion vanished and all that is left is one Will in tune with All-That-Is. To enlighten is to light the path so one may see the way. It really has never been a question of whether or not we have free will, the question is, how much we really see of what our free will is acting upon. This is where growth lies.