THE LAW OF FREE WILL
You are the choice-maker
You are the only thinker in your mind. This is the most wonderful discovery anyone can ever make. It is the key to freedom—the high road. Because this means that you are the choice-maker. You are the one who decides.
Your ability to choose what you focus your attention on is what makes you a free individual. If you could not think for yourself and choose your focus, you would not be free. But you can, because no one else can get into your mind and think for you. Please think deeply about it—and you will see how truly amazing this is. Yes it is true that people can use force on the outer plane to coerce other people to do or say things, but no one can get into another person’s mind and think for them.
This is what makes us human beings.
This is what makes human life so precious, because we have the ability to be aware and choose our focus—and thus grow and evolve spiritually.
Having free will is our greatest gift and privilege. It is also our greatest challenge!
Why? Because no matter what is happening around you—no matter what—no matter what anyone says or does, you and you alone choose the focus of your attention. No one else can make this choice for you. Only you can do it.
That is why we are the choice-makers.
This choice is our only freedom.
Free will is our only freedom.
And whether we are aware of it or not, we are always exercising this privilege, this freedom because we are always choosing.
So please wake up to the fact that you are choosing right now—and every single minute of every single day.
Nothing else is going on.
And nothing is more important—or more wonderful than this!
So contemplate on this until you fully understand the significance (and power) of free will. Free will is what we are. Free will is our true nature, our essence. Free will is all we have, and fortunately for us, free will is everything!
When you observe what you are doing with this in mind, you will see that this is true. In every moment, you are choosing the focus of your attention. In every situation, you are making a choice. Either you are choosing to focus on the potential and the goodness of a situation or person before you or you are choosing to focus on the limitations and the negative in the situation or person before you. And it’s always like this. From the very smallest, most insignificant events in our lives like standing in line at the supermarket to the so-called big and important events in our personal relationships, careers and on the world stage.
When we understand this, we will also understand why the Wise say it’s all about you—and it’s always all about you. Nothing else is going on but your choice of focus.
You choose your focus and then you get to experience your choice.
It’s as simple as that.
Learning to choose wisely
This is why it is so important to learn to choose wisely!
Because we get to experience all our choices!
So it makes sense to learn to focus our attention wisely. This is what all the great teachers have been telling us throughout the ages—the importance of exercising your free will and choosing wisely.
Learning to choose wisely requires self-discipline. Learning to choose wisely means following your wisdom rather than choosing immediate pleasure. The Wise tell us that even if this is difficult, it is necessary if we wish to evolve on the pathway of life and achieve our highest potential.
Obviously this is no news to any thinking person because everyone knows that success in any field requires self-discipline. Successful people make up their minds, focus on their goals, and are disciplined about reaching them. Just think about the people you admire. How did they become great? The great leaders, the great athletes, the great musicians, the great artists, the great spiritual teachers—how did they achieve what they achieved? They used their free will to choose a course of action and then they focused all their attention on their goals. They used their free will to spend time learning and practising their skills!
And what about successful business people? No one is successful in the world of business without exercising a great deal of self-discipline. The same goes for politicians, world leaders, and for good parents, good teachers and good partners. Everyone who succeeds at achieving anything learns to use their free will wisely and to exercise self-discipline.
The same goes for happiness! Even though people may think happiness is a haphazard event, true happiness isn’t haphazard. Achieving true happiness requires self-discipline too! Now I am not talking about random or accidental type of happiness that comes from outer events and which depends on other people. I am talking about true happiness, the deep inner happiness which is our natural state and which arises in wise people who are living in harmony with this thing calls life. The people who experience this deep inner happiness see the Nature of Reality and understand the way the mind works. This kind of happiness is stable and comes from within. It is unconditional because it does not depend on outer circumstances.
For those of us on the path who can see and understand this, realizing this inner state and achieving this kind of happiness requires continual self-discipline. Achieving this goal requires constant study and daily contemplation of this thing called life. Plus using our free will to practice the techniques required to cultivate and nourish this deep inner peace and inner happiness. This is what spiritual practice is all about. And of course what most self-help books and books about personal development and spiritual growth are about. The best books describe practices for self-empowerment and spiritual growth which require study, daily practice and self-discipline.
Most people work with their bodies, but not with their minds.
Daily practice and self-discipline
Here are some examples of the types of practices I am talking—all of which require active use of our free will. The practices described below may seem simple, but anyone who has ever tried any of them knows they require a great deal of self-discipline!
Practising non-judgment: A good focal point on the spiritual pathway is making the decision to let go of our judgment about people, things and events. This is an excellent practice because we use so much mental energy judging people, things and events all the time and this creates a great deal of inner turbulence. Practising non-judgment (in other words just letting things unfold without engaging in an inner dialogue about them) quiets the mind and slowly allows a deep inner stillness to emerge. But practising non-judgment, even for an hour a day, requires self-discipline. To do this, you must use your free will. You must decide to do this and keep practising! Day in and day out!
Practicing non-resistance: Another good focal point is to use your free will to decide not to resist whatever is happening in this moment. Even though we may be unaware of it, many of us are often at war with this moment. We are resisting what is happening in our lives right now—and this creates a great deal of stress and anxiety. So what happens when we stop resisting what is happening right now? It’s an amazing experience and wonderful spiritual practice. But again, we are so used to resisting what is, that it requires real focus and self-discipline to stop resisting this moment. Do it on a regular basis and see how it transforms your life! See page xx for more about this practice.
Practicing seeing the potential for good in every situation: Here’s another good inner practice that requires active use of your free will. To see the potential for good in every situation no matter what is going on—to see the highest and best in every person present—requires constant control of your focus. You have to be aware of what you are thinking, doing and saying in order to do this. You must be mindful and self-conscious enough so when you find yourself dwelling on the negative, you are awake enough to realize that it’s time to shift your focus. Again this requires constant vigilance which is why it is a demanding spiritual practice, unless of course you are Forrest Gump! (See the Law of Substitution on page xx for more about this practice.)
Practicing no gossip: Here’s a wonderful practice I learned at Findhorn, a spiritual community in northern Scotland. This is what they attempt to do. Whenever a member of the community has something to say about another person, instead of talking behind the person’s back, the community member must go up to that person and tell the person directly to his or her face what’s it is her or she wants to say. In practice, this means that when you are talking to anyone in the community—if you have something to say about another person—they will tell you to go and tell it to that person instead of to them! This is a wonderful practice that requires a great deal of self-discipline! Try this for a few days and find out what a gossip you really are!
This was just a few examples of spiritual practices that require conscious choice and self discipline. Obviously, there are so many excellent practices we can devote ourselves to such as:
– Practicing mindfulness (being present in this moment:
– Practicing compassion
– Practicing forgiveness
– Practicing service
– Practicing meditation
– Practicing silence for an hour a day