FREE WILL IS A PHENOMENON with curious existential properties, one of which might actually be that it is a totally delusional belief in multiple ways. On the other hand, it could be fantastically genuine if we humans are indeed the sovereign souls each of us likes to think we are.
Mentally, most of us almost certainly consider ourselves to be free to believe anything we like. Physically, however, we are not so fortunate, for we are bound by the laws of physics and can only do what our bodies will allow us to do. We cannot fly of our own physical accord, for example, nor dramatically alter our shape on a whim. Emotionally, we are likewise restricted. We are capable of feeling a wide range of emotion, but not an infinite range. We can feel ecstatic, happy, infatuated, ravenous, thrilled, delighted or despondent, sad, frustrated, angry, jealous, envious or totally and completely depressed, but one cannot parse the basic human emotional constitution indefinitely.
If we look at our physical, emotional and mental make-up, we see that physically, we can be at our “absolute fittest” at times or, conversely, feeling “weak” or “exhausted”. Emotionally at times, we can feel as if we are hitting an “all-time high” or, conversely, “rock bottom”.
Mentally, we can be “sharp” and “quick-witted” or feel “dull” and “out of it”.
Of the three, there is only one that enjoys a limitless facet and that is our cognitive faculty. We humans are endowed with the phenomenal ability to imagine.
It is the imagination that can take us flying to stratospheric heights and allow us to achieve an infinite scope and range of visual constructs. Thanks to the imagination, we can dream of unbounded possibilities, even ones beyond the known wonders of this world.
Does that mean that we can bring such imaginings into actuality, though? Can we do that for real and in a way that can be experienced by our senses?
Believers in the so-called “Law of Attraction” like to think so and there are countless books and videos that tell us exactly how to do that.
On the rare occasion, almost miraculously, some of these desired imaginings do seem to come to fruition and manifest in a material way, but they are so exceptional that one is well advised to not get too carried away by such a notion.
The smarter choice may be to just appreciate what we already have so long as our basic survival needs are being met and to not be constantly craving after things that require a “miracle” to manifest. Do we really need millions or billions of dollars to be happy? Do we really need to live in a mansion? Do we really need to cruise city streets and the open road in a sleek super car that is the absolute envy of our neighbors?
Is it not miracle enough just to be alive?
It is, of course, yet every single one of us would love to have magical powers if we could have them. We would be ecstatic to find ourselves able to conjure any dream or any imagining.
Likewise, those of a spiritual bent would love to be able to have direct access to “God” or “angels” or “saints” or the “prophets” of yore, to “buddhas”, “bodhisattvas” and “avatars” or others who could grant eternal life in paradise or, even better, physical immortality right here on this earth.
How intelligent is it for us, however, to spend our days and nights hoping for such miracles to befall us when there is already so much for which we can be grateful? Anyone who has traveled the world knows that there is an infinite abundance of wonders in every quarter of the globe.
Yet, we still want more.
We have all heard anecdotes about magical phenomena or read accounts describing miraculous occurrences, especially as enshrined in the world’s sacred literature, but these always seem to happen to others or to have taken place only in the olden times.
Why, we might ask, has evolution not blessed us all by now with the ability to experience life altering revelations or enjoy telepathic communication with beings of a higher nature at will and whim? Why has it not made it possible for us to revel in states of mental and physical prowess that would essentially turn us into “superbeings” or able to conjure riches out of thin air?
The answer, I suspect, is that we would then fail to advance morally, ethically and spiritually.
It appears to me that the conditions of this earth with its mental, emotional and physical limitations is precisely what allows each of us to be blessed with individual sovereignty and to be able to interact with the billions of others who inhabit the planet without violating the autonomy of our fellow beings. Limitation protects us from one another in a way that facilitates our immediate survival.
What is needed, therefore, is not supernatural revelation in this day and age, but revelation of a practical constitution. What is needed is insight into the way the natural world works.
We humans are at present the one species capable of higher levels of consciousness on this earth, endowed with the single most staggering aptitude on the planet: self-awareness. This means that humanity and humanity alone is capable of comprehending the full scope and magnitude of what is actually occurring here on this planet and in the universe as a whole. Thanks to our fecund ability at gaining deep insights into life, we have evolved into the sophisticated beings we are.
Scientific materialists, however, tell us that our self-awareness is simply a lucky happenstance of nature and that life itself is essentially meaningless.
This is doubtless true for creatures lacking the cognitive aptitude of self-awareness, but it is far from true for humanity, for it is our great blessing as human beings that we are endowed with the ability to know that we exist and that the universe exists. This is not without value and if we take the time to fully appreciate this astounding and thoroughly improbable fact, we can find ourselves overcome with an immeasurable level of love and gratitude for the life we have been given.
What can turn us into “superbeings” – if we choose to see it this way – is that we are also endowed with the ability to self-evolve by using our consciousness in infinitely imaginative ways. We can read books, watch informative and amazingly entertaining films and videos, attend sophisticated academic lectures, pursue revelation on every level and process data to our hearts content in order to expand our intelligence and insight into life. We can then use that treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom to imagine things that never were and, on occasion, against almost all the odds, bring them into being.
The evidence of human success in this arena is all around us in our art and architecture, our politics and spirituality, our science and technology, in our world-wide cultural heritage as a whole.
Revelation – what is revealed – belongs to all of these fields and equally so.
Perhaps, then, the ability to imagine really is humanity’s greatest asset as Einstein suggested and the evolution of revelation can serve us beautifully and perfectly just by bringing us to this very insight.