54 QUESTION: It was pointed out to somebody that making decisions is necessary in life. This person believes that this would be self-will and pride, and that one has to wait for God’s will.
ANSWER: Humanity always tends to go from one extreme to the other. Knowing that one extreme is wrong, one wants to believe that the other extreme is right. This would be so much easier, and there would be nothing to weigh. God’s will does not manifest so easily. God’s laws work within the soul.
If people who are unable or unwilling to make decisions wait for God to take care of their decisions for them, what will happen will not be what God has decided, but the result of their own weakness, unwillingness, or inability to make decisions. It is a fallacy to think you can go through life without making decisions.
Actually, you make a decision every time you breathe. Not making a decision is a decision too, although a wrong or unfavorable one. It is God’s will that you become mature, independent, and responsible for your decisions. By no means do I suggest using self-will. Decisions may but need not be prompted by self-will. It depends entirely on the motive.
Whoever interprets free, mature decision-making as self-will, should question himself – or be questioned by his Helper – along the following lines: Why do you feel God should make decisions for you? Didn’t God give you free will? Does not free will imply becoming a grown person who can make responsible decisions personally? Does the idea that God’s will cannot manifest if you make decisions hide a fear that you are responsible and may have to blame yourself? Isn’t it too easy to do nothing and wait for God to run your life?
Is it really devotion to God that forms this concept or is something else hidden behind this point of view? If you wait for God’s decision and it turns out badly, isn’t it much easier to say it is all God’s fault? You may not pronounce these words even in your thoughts, but this is what you must feel when you hide behind this wall of a fallacy. Such fallacies very often turn into false piety. What in your view is obvious devotion, hides something completely different.
No, my friends, it is much healthier if you say, “Even if occasionally my decisions will turn out wrong, I act according to my best ability, trying to consider everyone involved, making my decisions with as little egotism as possible, but with the healthy premise that I am to be considered just as much as anyone else. I realize that I am a limited human being and therefore I am bound to make mistakes. I am willing to pay the price of learning from my possible mistakes. In reality, by avoiding decisions I would only try to get out of paying the price for living.” This is healthy.
It is unhealthy if you let God make the decisions for you so that you may be absolved from the consequences of your decisions, their consequences, and the responsibility involved in making them.
Such shirking of responsibility – for this is what it amounts to – is just as wrong as self-willed actions in which one just goes ahead without consideration for another person. In fact, lack of decision-making will often produce the same results as inconsiderate, heedless and selfish decisions that are made without further thought.
It is a complete error to believe that independent decisions are necessarily selfish and self-willed. It is equally erroneous that refusal of decision-making, under the mask of “waiting for God’s will,” lacks selfishness and self-will.
It may be much more self-willed, in a hidden way, to refuse to make decisions; it may even be dishonest to say, “It is my desire to have God’s will decide for me.” I do not say that whenever a person says this, the motivation must be a basic dishonesty. There is no black or white. God’s motives always mingle with wrong or sick ones.
Certainly, a true desire to fulfill God’s will can coexist with a certain cowardice and refusal to assume self-responsibility. I am only pointing out that it is possible to use a spiritual truth to rationalize the weakness and sickness of the soul.
QUESTION: Is making a decision a manifestation of free will or the natural result of the law of causality?
ANSWER: Humans have been endowed with free will, contrary to beings still in a lower grade of development, such as animals or plants. Free will implies the ability and the responsibility to make your own decisions. Certainly it is advisable to trust in God and ask for guidance and not to go about making decisions without asking God for help.
When you ask for guidance and wait for it to manifest through various channels, at the same time using your own brain, decency and responsibility, you are also using your free will. To ask for guidance already implies a certain flexibility, a lack of self-will.
So ask for guidance in humility, knowing that you cannot always know the right answers, but realizing that you have self-responsibility and are therefore accountable for your decisions, whether they turn out right or wrong. It is inevitable in every human being’s life to make some wrong decisions, but you should certainly learn from them. Is that so difficult to understand?
105 QUESTION: I tried to explain what you explained to us about the spirit and the free will to two people – one very religious, and the other a scientist. They then asked if God is omniscient and loving, then he also knows the future. If he knows the future, while he gave us free will, he must know what we will do with it. And this I cannot answer.
ANSWER: In the first place, the future is a product of time. And time is a product of the mind. Therefore, in reality, future does not exist. Just as past does not exist. I realize that this is impossible for most people to understand. Outside the mind, there is being – that is, no past, present nor future, only now. This can, at best, be vaguely sensed, by feeling, rather than intellect.
Furthermore, this question arises from the same complete misconception I outlined in this very lecture [Lecture #105 Humanity’s Relationship to God in Various Stages of Development] in that it shows the concept of God who acts, does. Creation is, in the true sense, not an action, and certainly not a time-bound action. When God created spirit, it is out of time, out of mind, in the state of being. Each spirit is, in this sense, God-like and creates his own life. God does not take away or add on.
Moreover, I have this to add: it is man’s complete illusion to believe that pain and suffering are terrible in themselves. Please, try to understand what I am saying. Man’s inordinate fear of suffering is utterly unrealistic, and again a product of the mind, in error. Man fears pain and suffering mainly because he believes he has nothing to do with it, that it can come without his being responsible for it.
In other words, it is either unjust or chaotic coincidence. But once he realizes that every pain he experiences is due to his own evasion of truth and reality; once he not only understands this as a principle, but actually connects the links, he will no longer fear it. He will see the key, long before he can even begin to use it. He will no longer guard against the supposed arbitrariness of life against which he feels helpless. Thus, his suffering will take on an entirely new aspect and become productive.
This then, will make man see that the actual suffering is not half as frightening as his fear of and attitude towards it. To a slight degree, many of you have experienced this. You have experienced that when you fear something before it happens, it is so much worse than when you actually go through it.
And you have also experienced how your pains take on a new face once you thoroughly understand how you have created them. If you observe this chain of events within, abstaining from perfectionism, moralizing and justifying, the pain instantly recedes, although the outer situation may remain the same.
When you truly come to terms with your reality, you can also accept the imperfection of life as such. Without rebellion against imperfection, many patterns transform and you cause less suffering for yourself. But your conscious or unconscious expectation that life should be perfect causes you to rebel, to resist, to erect barriers which cause more imperfection and suffering than life would otherwise contain. So it is your attitude to suffering, to life, to your position in life and towards yourself, that determines how you experience suffering.
If man’s attitude toward suffering were not as distorted as it usually is, he would find that the problems he has to solve in conquering mind and matter are beautiful. They are the most beautiful things in your Earth life. Only by conquering your own resistance and blindness, your lack of awareness of yourself, will you experience the beauty of life, whether at one time you go through difficult periods, and at others, you experience happiness and fulfillment.
When man comes closer to this understanding, a question such as this could never be asked. It is so confused, contains so much blindness and lack of awareness of reality, it shows such spiritual immaturity, that it cannot even be answered in any way that will make sense to the questioner.
You cannot understand with the mind what is beyond the realm of the mind. For that, another faculty is necessary. But so long as the existence of such a faculty is denied, how can you even make the person lead to an eventual understanding?
The question also contains an eternal conflict in mankind, conflict in religious concepts. On the one hand, man postulates that God is an omnipotent Father who acts at will; who rewards you if you obey his laws; who guides you without your active participation in your own inner life, provided you humbly ask for it.
On the other hand, it is postulated that man has free will; that he molds his own fate; that he is responsible for his life. While religion teaches the latter, it simultaneously cripples free decision and self-responsibility by forcing man to obey certain prescribed rules. Between these two, apparently mutually exclusive concepts, man is confused. The question you asked is a typical example of such confusion.
An omnipotent Creator and man’s self-responsibility are only mutually exclusive when viewed in time and from the mind, when this omnipotent Creator is perceived as acting like man, in time, from the mind. You do not yet have to be in the state of being in awareness before you can sense that, in reality, in the state of being, there is no conflict between the two. All you have to do is face yourself without resistance, without the pretense of being more than you are, without striving to be more perfect than, at this moment, you happen to be.
Each individual aspect that you view in yourself in such freedom, puts you, at that moment, into a state of being, and you inwardly perceive the truth of God as being, without contradictions of the sort you asked in your question. Then you will know, profoundly, that complete self-responsibility is not exclusive of a supreme being. A person who is inwardly not ready, cannot possibly understand what I am saying here.
In this connection, I would like to say that it may occur to some of you, why it is that some great spirits – either in the body or without body through human mediums – have passed on great wisdom, yet their teachings actually seem to encourage one of those temporary stages I mentioned as a phase in the great cycle.
Their teachings were adapted to this still immature stage, rather than to drawing people out of it. You may rightly wonder why this is so. The answer is that each stage has to be gone through thoroughly. One cannot be forced to skip a stage, otherwise something unassimilated will remain in the soul and manifest in a later period.
Let us suppose we had a group of people here who have not gone through the development you have gone through in the last few years. What I would say now, for instance, about the relationship to God, would make absolutely no sense. A person who has not, at least to some degree, experienced the peace of true self-awareness without self-condemnation or self-justification – as rarely as this may happen to you – cannot possibly sense the meaning of the state of being.
If a group is, perhaps, just between the second and third stages in this great cycle, a spirit will have to talk in such a way that he can be understood. Yet, he does not lie. But for such a group, it is humanly impossible to understand more. Only by gradually bringing a group out of this stage into self-facing, can the souls of these people begin to absorb more truth, even if the mind cannot follow it. This is why it may often occur that spiritual helpers, from this or the other world, seem to encourage a phase from which you have already emerged.