This article is written in response to the many emails and comments I received about my blog, Do We Have Choice and Free Will?
I knew there was some confusion and misunderstanding in the 3 Principles community about Syd’s teachings regarding free will and the power we have as humans to learn to make wiser choices, via the Three Principles understanding. Realizing that we use the power of Thought to create our experience not only naturally releases healthier thoughts from our innate wisdom to enhance our life but it gives us the wisdom to make wiser choices when our thoughts are less clear. This understanding also gives us a solid foundation to rest in until our innate mental health resurfaces. What an extraordinary gift!
Overall, most of the comments I received agreed that we do have free will and can make wiser choices, as our understanding grows. A few commented on how the choices may be limited depending on our mood/state of mind in the moment. I completely agree.
There were some comments that had a completely different perspective on free will and our ability to choose our thoughts, once they are in form. To that end, I want to share an exchange between me and Steve, who shared his understanding with me in such an honest, respectful manner that I was moved to respond at length. The exchange was too long to post on FB/Twitter or the comment section of my website. This article is the content of our conversation.
The first part is when Steve first contacted me and my response to him. The second part is our continued conversation.
First part: Steve and Elsie’s response to him.
Steve: Thank you, Elsie, for sharing what you see. I’ve loved hearing you on webinars or masterclasses in the last few years, and I really enjoyed your Nuggets of Wisdom book (and your blog, too!).
Elsie: Thank you!
Steve: So I find myself somewhat reluctantly in disagreement with you, about free will. I do not think we have free will, for a variety of ‘reasons’ (thoughts) that I will share below.
Though, we each clearly have free will to think that free will exists or to think that free will does not exist! (Hah!)
Elsie: This statement puzzles me. To me I hear you saying ‘we have free will’. Full stop! So why continue below?
Steve: And maybe that is what Syd was talking about when he spoke of free will. An individual will. A freedom to create a unique and separate reality. To have our own individual thoughts, etc.
Elsie: Yes, I completely agree with you. Our human nature has the gift of free will, individual will to create a unique and separate reality. We’re in accord.
Steve: So, my reasons why I don’t think we have free will are these:
Elsie: Here’s where I have to smile. After the above statements where you agree that we have an ‘individual will’, it seems the rest of the statements below just don’t fit.
Steve: * We do not get to choose our thoughts, and we do not get to choose our level of consciousness that tells us what to do with (or make of) those thoughts in terms of actions. So we are at the mercy of mind, consciousness and thought in any given moment!
Elsie: What I’ve experienced via insight is that once I had a glimmer of understanding of how we create our separate reality, my level of understanding or consciousness naturally evolved and my life was enhanced. The thoughts that came to me were healthier. When I had an unhealthy thought, I felt the unhealthy feeling and realized I had a choice to focus on which thoughts I wanted to feed, and to feel unhealthy or healthy. This was a revelation that freed me. I didn’t judge myself when I had unhealthy thoughts. Sometimes I felt negative and just accepted it as ‘that’s what’s happening now’, knowing that at some point my understanding would shift and I’d be back in my health again. Never have I felt at the mercy of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. I see them as spiritual gifts. That’s how Syd saw the Principles and how he taught us.
Steve: * And if we did actually have free will then why on earth would anyone who was aware of the 3 Principles understanding choose suffering or fear over peace of mind and love?
Elsie: This is what I’m pointing to in the above response. Once I realized I had free will and choice, I stopped choosing suffering!!! And my life began to be filled with peace and love. Believe me, Steve, I knew how to suffer because I was brought up in a religion that taught suffering and gave one penance, etc. in order to find peace. I didn’t find peace until I had a glimmer of the power of the Principles and the power we have as human beings blessed with the opportunity to use this same spiritual energy to evolve and live a life of more beauty. I’m not saying that I still don’t experience bad moods and suffer mentally but nothing like I used to because I know better. My level of understanding has increased.
Steve: For the most part, these words of Maya Angelou seem to sum up the way human beings behave: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”– Maya Angelou.
Elsie: I completely agree. This says to me, that psychologically we’re innocent when we mess up. We do the best we can, given our level of understanding. Again, this brought freedom to me so I didn’t judge myself so strongly, and it lessened my judgment of others. It brought love into my life.
Steve: * Lastly, we do not have free will because ‘we’ do not actually exist – we just think we do. There is no ‘I’, other than thinking that ‘I’ continually believe in.
Elsie: I see that the human physical form does exist as a vehicle for evolution, for our spiritual nature to imbue our human nature so that we can live in this beautiful world sharing love and understanding. To me this is the Oneness, form and formless in complete harmony.
Steve: Granted, I may be wrong here. This is just how I see it. And not because some high-paid coach told me to think this; this ‘wisdom’ revealed itself to me naturally.
But I don’t like the idea of intellectually arguing a point like this. I really don’t trust intellect when it comes to matters like these. I much prefer stillness, silence, and feeling (oh yes!).
Elsie: Me too!
Steve: But, ultimately, whether I am right or you are right or we are even paradoxically both right about this ‘free will’ business, I do not think it matters that much.
Elsie: I felt moved to write about this, Steve, because I see people straying from Syd’s teachings and hurting themselves, innocently. And yet some still think they are teaching the Principles, when in fact, are they? I do see that this blog has stirred things up, more than I thought. . . .but I feel it’s a good thing. However, I’m just about ready to pull back now, as I also see that this blog has stirred some to move into their intellect.
Steve: What really matters, then? What would be better for us all to focus on? Ah, wouldn’t that make a great blog post!
Elsie: Yes, it would, Steve, and it will be interesting to see what comes.
Steve: Thank you, Elsie, I appreciate you greatly
Elsie: And I appreciate you as well, for the time you took to share your thoughts with me. Bless your heart!
Second Part: Steve’s response to Elsie and Elsie’s response to Steve.
Steve: Thank you so much, Elsie, for such a considered reply to my comments. Very much appreciated.
I love that you were trying to find alignment between our two ways of seeing things. Thanks. And I’m sorry that I seemed to be contradicting myself in my comment to your blog posts.
I guess it all depends on what we all mean by ‘free will’. Freedom for each of us to create our own reality, compared to the reality that someone else might create, I see that. Freedom to choose what we create, I don’t see that.
So, free will for me to think that free will doesn’t exist, and for you to think that free will does exist.
But not free will for you (or I) to be in control of our individual experience.
Elsie: Learning that I’m in charge of my personal experience is what empowered me to blossom, to experience joy and love for myself, my family, and the world. To learn that I’m not a victim of my circumstances, as I thought I was all my life. Freedom from being a victim of my own thinking. ‘I’m in charge’ was a complete revelation to me. That’s the gift the Principles bring to the world. We are the creators of our own experience.
Steve: I just don’t see choice. I don’t see our being in control. I just see what Maya Angelou sees, and that we always do our best with what we see (and understand) of the moment.
But, as you say so wonderfully here (and in other parts of your response)
Elsie: When I had an unhealthy thought, I felt the unhealthy feeling and realized I had a choice to focus on which thoughts I wanted to feed, and whether I wanted to feel unhealthy or healthy.
Steve: Maybe I just have not had this insight, yet. (Or maybe I also take the pressure off me, in times of suffering or when I notice I’m judging someone or when I know I could’ve done better, because I realise it was the best I had at the time, i.e. I had no choice. So same outcome, different logic.)
Elsie: This is the tricky part; when one blames oneself for suffering or judging rather than ‘seeing’ you did the best you could at the time. ‘Seeing’ neutralizes blame/judgment. ‘Seeing’ is Consciousness in action. Go there rather than blame, etc. which is personal thinking.
Steve: Actually, some words of yours I’ve found really useful regarding all of this, are these:
“Notice – then stop looking – the job is done.” – Elsie Spittle.
Elsie: Thank you, Steve; you truly are ‘seeing’ more than you give yourself credit for. You’re on the cusp of the next step of your journey. Actually, even as I say this, I ‘see’ you already have moved past the cusp and are more at ‘home’ than you were before.
Steve: Anyway, I’m glad that there was some accord in my comments, Elsie.
And I must say I was very moved by your description of how life shows up for you. Thank you.
And thank you for this, too
Elsie: Never have I felt at the mercy of Mind, Consciousness and Thought. I see them as spiritual gifts. That’s how Syd saw the Principles and how he taught us.
Thank you, Elsie, so very much. I have printed off your comments and shall refer to them often, because I sense something new coming for me from what you’ve shared with me…
And the next time I post a comment on your blog, I shall make it smaller! 😉
Elsie: Steve, I’ve learned a great deal from our exchange. You’ve prompted me to go deeper, to reflect on how to share what I see with more simplicity, to consider your points with an open mind, to find alignment in where we ‘see’ the same, and how sometimes words can get in the way. Finally, I so appreciate your deep regard for the power of the ‘feeling’. In your words: “I don’t like the idea of intellectually arguing a point like this. I really don’t trust intellect when it comes to matters like these. I much prefer stillness, silence, and feeling (oh yes!).”
Elsie: I completely concur, with love.