The Path is up to us

One overall theme of true metaphysics and religion is that we each need to be responsible for our spiritual Path. It is up to us, each day, or even each moment, to come into relationship with the Greater Divine Mind/Love/Will, or more simply, God, then maintain this connection and live from this greater inspiration and knowing. It is up to us to make the necessary effort and practice, and open to the Greater Divine, and allow the Divine Power and Presence to move through our experience. If we do not, then nothing Real will happen, and our usual personality patterns will merely continue on and on, including our automatic reactions to undesired circumstances. Until we take responsibility for our self and our Path, with consciousness and intention, the usual will most likely continue, which really means we are not on any Path at all.

Up by our bootstraps -- Buddha says, work out your own salvation.

Those who claim that God will do everything, or that it’s all up to God anyways, are using misleading religious clichés to justify their lack of taking any responsibility. By only relying on God and not taking responsibility for oneself along the spiritual path, is like deciding to become an invalid depending on Another, so that you don’t have to do any work. God wants people to do some work; we are not meant to remain as babies or invalids.

In the process of divine manifestation, and as part of the spiritual path, God does play a significant part. Where would one be on the Path without the Greater Divine Love, Wisdom and Inspiration? So of course God or the Divine is significant. It is this very Power of Love and Guidance and Healing that we need to be open and allow through us. But this flow of the Divine into manifestation, through us, requires our conscious agreement and effort at opening. We have to make the connection. Why? Because we are the one in this relationship that has been turning away or not opening the door. The Greater Divine Power, God, is standing at our door, knocking and waiting. That is why it is now up to us. God is already ready and waiting; waiting for you to open the door and consciously allow this relationship. So there is no sense just waiting for God to open our door and embrace us. God is respectively waiting for us to open the door and renew the relationship; because God did not leave us, rather we had left God. So God provides the Creative Will, Love and Wisdom for spiritual manifestation. But we have to be in the agreement, in the relationship. We need to be conscious mediators between the Divine and manifestation. God does not force Itself into manifestation. Rather, God inspires the mediators.


Being, Knowledge, and Doing

Three main aspects of individual life are Being, Knowledge, and Doing. Subsidiary aspects fall into at least one of these categories. All spiritual practices develop or improve one of these aspects.

The aspect of ‘being’ that we have is our quality and degree of mindfulness and present-ness. It is the quality and degree of our consciousness and wakefulness. It is the quality and degree of our inner feeling and inner experience. It is all these. Basically, the aspect of being is the quality of our inner experience, and how this vibrates or radiates into the space surrounding us. It is our inner state of experience and the outward presence of this. Sometimes being will be defined as our inner state, and sometimes it will be defined as our presence. Others may feel or be aware of our being-presence. But we need not be concerned about this or try to have more presence in the world, for that kind of concern and trying most likely comes from an ego wish to be important. Our being will inevitably have presence in the world, but all that we need to be concerned about is our inner state, our inner wakefulness, and being present. Love is the finest quality of being, the finest quality possible for our inner state. Inner wakefulness is our degree of conscious being. And being present is a further aspect of being conscious and awake. In terms of developing and having being, we will mostly speak of conscious being, which is a practice in itself, and also being present.

Being present here, in the moment, is one of the most important practices on the spiritual path; being present to what is here, to the people around us and the world around us. From being-present (present here) comes right response, service and good character action. But however simple this may sound, the actual practice of being-present (with conscious-being) is not just an easy task. It often requires patience and trust in the moment, and a developed ability to clear the mind of all extraneous and rambling thought, because uncontrolled thinking impedes the pure state of just being consciously present. The pure practice of conscious-being or being-present is a pure mindfulness. Insight and thought may arise from this pure state of being-present, but this is part of another aspect of development which is knowledge. The practice of pure conscious-being is distinct from the aspect of knowledge, though these aspects can be complimentary related.

To practice being-present or conscious-being, simply be consciously awake in the present. Be awake to the form and circumstance of the present world around you. And more subtly, be awake and open to the Presence of Spirit immanent in this moment and circumstance. So be open to the Presence and form of that which is present. I am here, when I am present. I am conscious, when I am present. May your presence of being be fully present. May you be fully awake to what is here. Be fully, consciously, present here, to this portion of God, and open to exploring more of the God that is here. This brings us to the aspect of knowledge. But before going on to this aspect of knowledge, there is another facet of being that should be briefly mentioned.

Any state of being is within a greater state of being. This means that whatever state of being is consciously experienced, there is always more of the Total Being to experience. Any state of being is ‘being within Being’. And our spiritual purpose is to spiritually ascend to greater and greater states of being, all the way to Divine Being Itself. This is the expansion of being to Being, from ‘i am’ to ‘I Am’. This is the expansion of the inner state of experience towards consciously being Being Itself, the all-inclusive Being, the finest degree of absolute pure conscious Love. Finally of being, there is only Conscious Love.


The second aspect of our development is knowledge. There are various types of knowledge: knowledge acquired by the outer senses, knowledge acquired by inner senses or inner experience or intuition, knowledge acquired from others, knowledge acquired by reasoning. We can also divide types of knowledge into (inner) self-knowledge, (outer) world-knowledge, spiritual or metaphysical knowledge, ethical knowledge, and practical-life knowledge. All of these are important. Knowledge, in general, is not just an accumulation of information. That is, it is not merely about how much information you have available in your head. For the more significant feature of knowledge is that it is our mental tools for both understanding and living. In other words, the most significant knowledge is that which has purpose, meaning, and use in our lives. Also, the amount of knowledge or mental bits that we have is not as important as the quality, clarity, and usefulness of the knowledge. A computer can hold vast quantities of information, much more than any human brain, but the greater ability of the human mind is to discern quality, clarity, and usefulness.

Some forms of knowledge appear to be directly acquired, but some of our significant knowledge will be acquired by a process of reasoning. This may involve making logical connections, deductions, inferences, and inductive generalizations. It should also involve comparing general beliefs or theories with actual experience and specific facts. Often, the process of reasoning is helped by a dialectical conversation, between oneself and others, or sometimes done inwardly in thought. In the dialectic, a belief (or idea of truth, or proposition) is brought forth for questioning and inspection. This questioning and inspection is like a testing process, a testing for validity and a confrontation against muddled ambiguity, fallacious reasoning, and unfounded conclusions. Besides the common problems of ambiguity and disclarity, a belief or statement can be disconnected to actual experience and facts, it can be based on fallacious reasoning, or it can be contradictory to other supposed beliefs (held by that person), or its logical implications may come around to contradict the belief.


Doing gets things done. Also involves will. Also involves quality. Outer character, outer expression. Path is from being to doing, through knowledge.


One of our goals is to be in aligned contact with the Universal Creative Source, so that this Creative Power may work through us. This is not about having babies; its about spiritual creativity and expression in life. The Creative Source gives us this creative power, as well as creative wisdom – for remember that creativity without wisdom can lead to dumb or even harmful creativity. Thus, we need creative power and also creative wisdom. Now in order to be in aligned contact with the Creative Source, there needs to be caring and choice on our part. We need a caring, in the sense of caring that we have an aligned contact. We need to sincerely want this contact, really caring that we have it. This is prayer. We can also call upon the positive qualities that we need to serve the Good.

But we also need choice; we need to choose, or decide, that we will have this contact. If we do not make the choice, or if we are ambiguous about it, then it doesn’t happen. The Creative-Wisdom Power is a potential. It is available, but it doesn’t come through us without our caring-desire for it, nor without our choice for it. One needs to affirm with sincerity, “I want this, and I choose this.” The third need is trust. One needs to trust the Creative Source, and trust that the Creative Source will come through; given one’s desire and choice for this to happen. Trust clears the channel for the Creative Source to flow through. This can also be called faith.

Finally, there is one more need which is discernment. This is a precautionary need. Yet this can be somewhat tricky, because we do not want discernment to bring in all kinds of worries and reasons for not trusting the Creative-Wisdom Power to spontaneously flow through us. Discernment can have two faces; one can be too worrisome and negative, while the other can be positively cautionary. That is, sometimes the conditioned reason can usurp the spontaneous flow of Creative-Wisdom in the name of discernment, becoming an untrusting impediment to the flow. Yet we need right discernment, from a higher reason, to thwart the possible problem of delusionary wisdom. So what is right discernment, or how can we be cautious without disrupting the creative flow? The answer is the guidance of love. Love must be our discerning guide; the precautionary discerning question in any case is “does this feel to be loving and caring for those involved?” If an action passes this test, then there is sufficient discernment. Feedback from others may also be helpful in right discernment, but the final judgment of discernment has to rest upon trusting one’s own rational and feeling sense.

conscious deliberation

We have a potential to embark on a higher evolution. What is meant here by the term evolution is an improvement in both outer activity and inner intelligence. Thus, evolution is both outer improvement and inner improvement. It is also a finer integration of individuals with the greater system of life and with divine purpose. Now there are two ways of evolution. One way is blind and unconscious, and the other way is consciously deliberate. The blind unconscious evolution takes place, or not; depending on factors beyond our control. But there is a potential for accelerating evolution, when we take charge of the moment with conscious deliberation. This means deciding and doing with both consciousness and deliberate intent. Its opposite is unconscious doing, or mechanical doing. Most of the day one is [probably] mechanically doing, rather than conscious deliberate doing – or deliberately doing with consciousness in the present moment. Most of the time one is merely performing habits - habits of action, habits of emotion and habits of mind. In this state of mechanical habit, evolution is merely a matter of chance, for it will depend on circumstances rather than on new learning. One can never be learning when in a state of mechanical-habitual doing. Real learning only occurs when there is some degree of awakening from the usual mechanical sleep-walking. Then, after awakening from the mechanical state, or after escaping from its prison, one can consciously act with deliberate intent. But this has to be exactly in the present moment. It also has to be accompanied by conscious breath. For only with conscious breath is one really in control of oneself or captain of the boat. In this deliberate way, one can become a self-reflection of the Divine Creative Power. The Divine becomes conscious in us and acts through us.



Intention begins the spiritual work. Intention is what is important; not so much form. For without intention we tend to drift about in the habits and patterns of our personality. Intention can open a door to a way out. Now, there are many possible kinds of intention, just as there are many possible goals. One possible intention is freedom, to be free of our subjective cage. Our intention might also be to break out of our present level and pattern of mind, in order to reach a higher level and more expansive consciousness.

There is an unfortunate condition in our human existence, which is that we tend to become lost and trapped in repetitive patterns of mind and emotion. We get trapped in our unique cage of karmic thought and emotion. It’s karmic because it is revolving and repeating. This is our subjective cage. We each are in a unique subjective world of our thought patterns, beliefs about reality, and emotional issues. This is what we believe is reality, and of course it is reality but only until we break free of it. A difficult problem, though, is that we tend to forget (or maybe don’t even know) that this reality-experience we are in is just one small possible world. And we don’t have to remain stuck in this cage. The way out is called freedom. And freedom is a greater space in consciousness – a greater openness of mental space.


Surrender is another significant intention. Intellectually, it might seem that intention and surrender are opposites. We can see these as polarities, and then realize that both are important, and thus balance is important. Yet, surrender and intention can also be very related, since surrender can be our major intention in our practice. If our intention is surrender, then we allow surrender. This is really the first step in surrender to the Divine. One has to first be willing to surrender, and the intention sets up the self-condition (or prerequisite) for this surrender to happen. Next, there is a conscious and willing step to make the surrender, which is analogous to an act of letting go, or the act of opening the hands. So first one needs to have an intention to open the hand or let go. Then, next, we need to make the act of surrender. And at this point, which is a turning point, our intention seems to disappear or transform into just the surrender. Then, the energies are in transformation and we have a feeling of peaceful flow. Surrender brings us into the peaceful flow. It’s like coming into the Tao, to use a different term. At this point our experience of reality has changed. So, original intention is important as a first step in the transformational work. But as we fulfill an intention to surrender, the intention disappears into the surrender. And thus, these seem to be polar opposites, but in fact they are necessarily related, especially because we cannot get to the surrender without having an intention to surrender. You see?


Divine Emergence must happen through our will. But this is more of a willingness allowing such emergence, than it is a forcing kind of will. It is not the kind of will as in the image of someone pushing a car or lifting heavy weights. The Divine is not pushed or forced into emergence. It is simply allowed, though allowed with a decisive willingness. To some extent this is a willing surrender to the Divine, and to another extent this is a decisive willing that the Divine be expressed through us. There needs to be a [willing] surrendering and allowing, but also there needs to be [willful]decision and intent. But even this decisive willing is not a pushy aggressive kind of will. It is simply a decision of will to be expressive of God.

Remember that the process of Divine Emergence and Expression depends on us, on our will. This is because our will can either block or allow the Divine Emergence. Our will can either nurture or suppress the Divine. Our will can either affirm or deny the Divine. So Divine Emergence [through us] really depends on us, on our will and willingness.


Many spiritual traditions have denounced self-power. Yet we need self power to get things done, to get what we need, and also to protect ourselves from the power manipulations of others. Earth-based religions and shamanic religions have always accepted the need for self power and sought to develop it. Though as we find from these traditions, the purpose of self power is not to simply manipulate others or nature. It is not to become a superman with power to control or manipulate everything. Rather it is a power to serve life, while also getting what one needs from life. So it is to have assertive power in life, yet balanced by an ecological and social cooperation. There have been sorcerers of power with wrong motives, who work to manipulate others for just their own interests, but this is an exception. The true shamans and masters of power work for the greater good. It has been told that some of these masters can influence forces of nature and even subdue wild animals, but this is because they know how to communicate with nature and build cooperation in nature.


Power is actually everywhere. It is intrinsic in all life, all beings, all nature. Yet the ultimate source of all power is the Divine Being, or God. God’s Being is extended and radiant through all life, so all life has the power of God, in some degree. In a sense, God is sharing power with all life, in order to give each life some degree of creative and active power. This also includes a share of freedom in how this power will be employed. So it is true that power comes from God, the One Source, yet we are given the responsibility for freely deciding how to use this power. How we use this power depends on our development of intelligence and love. It depends on our attunement with the Divine Intelligence and Love.

Yet how do we develop power? First we need to recognize the power we already have. Next, we develop further power by tapping into our latent power and using it, hopefully for good or for love. We can also tap into and receive power from nature, from the Earth itself or from things in nature that give out power, such as minerals, trees, plants, and even animals. Shamans learn how to do this. It is not taking power away from things, but rather receiving the power that is being shared by these things. We can also receive power from higher spiritual sources, such as Masters deceased in body but still living in spirit.

Finally, we can receive power from the Divine Source Itself, or God-Power. In the tradition of Islam it is said that the Prophet Muhammad received the first instructions for the Qur'an while fasting and praying in a mountain cave. He journeyed up into the heavens and was given this revelation from the Angel Gabriel. Sufis call this the Night of Power. It is when God empowered Muhammad with responsibility to share God’s Guidance with the world. Now, there are times when we each may have moments of divine revelation, guidance, or divine empowerment. These are special times. Yet every moment is potentially a time for divine guidance and empowerment. The Divine is always ready to give guidance and empowerment. The question is whether we are ready. Divine Power and Guidance is always at hand, but we must be ready to receive it. The Guidance is always here. The Power is always here. So it is up to us to receive it. We need power to do spiritual good work, so let us be ready and willing to receive it. Fill up from wherever you can, but the greatest source of power comes from the Divine Being, God.

Another point about power is that it is meaningless if one does not use it. One could have a lot of power, or one could receive or develop a lot of power, but if one does not use it, then what is the point of it? That seems fairly obvious. Yet many will desire power and even do certain practices to get more power, yet not have any idea about how they might use it. So power must go along with intention, will and doing. Furthermore, power is developed by its use. So really when we speak about receiving power we are speaking of only half of the picture. For the use of power allows power to flow, and by this flow more power can then be received, and this is how it is developed.

Also, there should be some concern about what one might use power for. As already mentioned, many spiritual traditions denounce self or personal power because it is imagined that the person of power will use it wrongly, unintelligently or unlovingly, and maybe use it to control or manipulate others for their own interests. Certainly, this use of power should be denounced. But power can just as well be used for good, with intelligence and love. And we should include our own needs in this idea of good, for we are just as worthy as others to receive good in life, as long as our own acquisition of good does not harm or take away from others. We also need power to protect ourselves from harm. All of this comes under the ideal of personal power.

We can also distinguish between inner power and outer power. Outer power is not too hard to understand; ideally it is a power to make positive effects in the world and to serve life. Inner power is power in our own mind and emotions. It is a power to concentrate on ideas and direct the mind in some way. It is also a power to not let negative emotions take charge of our lives, and a power to transform negative emotions into positive emotions. Inner power is also a power of personal-self integrity, to stand by our own truest convictions and principles without being manipulated by others. Of course there is also the power to not be overly attached to fixed beliefs, thus being able to change direction and beliefs as one learns more.


to add

True and good personal power is not only a power to accomplish higher goals, but is also related to freedom. It is a power to be free from being swayed by external coercion, manipulation, opinions, reactions and desires of others. Also, personal power is the ability to be free from self-identifications and attachments, and freedom from fixed beliefs and expectations. Finally, it is freedom from inauthenticity, insincerity, and self-lying. This is the meaning of personal power.


So the individual self has power, and it needs power. Just as an instrument needs a power and ability to accomplish what is intended of it, so too does the individual self. This includes the need for will. Some traditions are quite negative about self power and will, saying that the spiritual path involves a renunciation and abandonment of self power and will. They teach that one should give up their own power and let God do what is right; and that one should give up their own will to let God do His Will. In these teachings there is an element of truth, but also an element of confusion. What is correct in these teachings is that the spiritual path involves surrendering to God. These means to surrender the egocentricity of self and commit to being a humble instrument of God. It does not mean to give up all of one’s power and will, because power and will are functional necessities of the instrument. An instrument devoid of power is a deficient instrument. So we need power and will, but this self power should be inspired by the Higher Will or by Divine Intention. If the self power and will is merely an extension of ‘egocentric motives’, then this does need surrendering. But this is surrendering an egocentric orientation of self-power, not a surrendering of the power itself. ‘Giving it up to God’ means to give of ourself as an instrument [for Divine Music]; it does not mean giving away our self-power, for we will need this power to be an effective instrument. In the affirmation, ‘Let Thy Will be done, not mine’, one is affirming a commitment to being oriented and aligned with God’s Will, whereby the Higher Will may work through the self will and power. In effect, it is asking the Higher Will to work through oneself. It is not meant to be a commitment to self-passivity, nor a weakening of self will and power.


The spiritual path should not be seen as a path of destroying the self-will or eliminating self power. Too often religious teachings of monotheism have elevated the value of self meekness and demoted the value of self power, with the justification that this how one submits to God and becomes a good person. Willful people are thought to be ego-driven, while passively-content people are thought to be spiritual saints. In most eastern religions we see this attitude as well; the general idea being that any use or expression of self-power (or self-will) generates karma, which then creates further rebirth and consequential suffering. So here too we see the purely passively-content person elevated to the rank of spiritual saint, or enlightened one, while anyone exhibiting will or self power is thought to be a non-spiritual worldly person and low on the spiritual scale. Now, it is true that there are possible negative features about having self-will and power, no doubt; but to simply denounce self-will and power as an antitheses to the spiritual ideal is like dumping out all babies because sometimes they get dirty. There are possible problems with self will and power; in fact, most problems of the world can be causally traced back to egocentric self-power. But this is also the very nature of being a human self. And we could just as well show that the most ingenious and loving solutions to human suffering, and the most beautiful examples of music, were due to powerful expressions of individual will. Though this individual will is under the inspiration of and empowered by Divine Will.


So the spiritual ideal is not to abandon willfulness. We should not simply condemn willfulness as being anti-spiritual, or as a spiritual antithesis. The real problem is not self-will nor willfulness; the problem is when the will has a wrong orientation, or when willfulness is motivated by egocentric purposes, or when willfulness becomes demanding that others fall in line with it, like I am willfully going to make you follow me or make you do what I believe is best.


One of the potential problems of self will is having too much of it in predominance, in relation to its complimenting opposite, which then makes the person out of spiritual balance. What is this complimenting opposite (which gives balance to the will)? There are two ways to explain.

In the first model, it can explained that every life within an ecosystem must have two essential qualities successfully at work. These qualities can be termed ‘individual assertiveness’ and ‘ecological cooperation’. Some may disagree on the best terms to use, but the general concepts are what is important. Now these essential qualities are complimentary opposites; they are by themselves opposing but when both are functional the result is a balance. Every life needs individual assertiveness [as a kind of work] to get what it needs to survive and to protect itself from getting eaten or destroyed by others. Each individual life works for its own good, in relation to its environment. But having just this assertiveness is not all that is needed for ultimate survival. Each life also needs to learn how to intelligently cooperate within its ecosystem, that is, how to functionally fit in with all of the other lives around it. Those lives that develop both of these qualities end up having more chance at survival, individually and as a species. So to apply this to our topic, the self-will can be understood as a kind of individual assertiveness, which by itself could become out of harmony with the greater whole; but if combined with the complimenting quality of cooperation, the result is creatively positive. The individual asserts [with will] what he/she believes is good, while balancing this by cooperation with what others believe is good. Or, one might take care of their own individual needs, while also cooperating with other’s needs. And what finally emerges from this balancing is a synthesis or reconciliation, whereby action is found that is symbiotically nurturing for both oneself and others, which can be seen as fulfilling a greater encompassing purpose.

In the second model (fairly similar to the first), it can explained that self will, or assertiveness, is an active-doing force, and that its complimenting opposite is receptivity. We can see this exemplified in a dialogue or conversation. If one person is overly active, as in being a continual lecturer, then the conversation is lop-sided. It is equally lop-sided if one person is only receptive. But if each person balances an active role with a receptive role, then the conversation is balanced and more productive. Each person needs to actualize both qualities, the active and receptive, in order that balance be achieved. In terms of our relation to the Divine, or Greater Purpose, we need to be active in our role as a doer for the Divine, but at the same time we also need to be receptive to the Divine so that the Divine may come through us. As well, we need to be active in our pursuit of Truth and Goodness, but also at the same time receptive to learning what is True and Good. And what finally emerges from this balancing is a higher synthesis, whereby a higher level of Truth and Goodness comes into being.


There is value in experiencing self-transcendence, in the sense of going beyond the experience of self, self-will, I, or me; which could be called self-annihilation, since there is no experience of oneself as subject. Some traditions have placed this subject-less state of experience as the ideal, where there is no longer any distinction or duality between subject and object. On the positive side, these can be experiences of completely being in the flow of life or what-is. Also positive to this approach is that one can more deeply know the reality of what is present, by being in complete contemplation of what is directly in awareness, without the cumbersome duality of self and object. Yet on the negative side, this approach could lead to a simplistic assimilation of the individual self into whatever is present in the world, which then might become a naïve submission to whatever. This approach, often termed as non-dualism or One View, can lead to self-passivity or simple acceptance of whatever, as one submissively becomes one with anything or anyone present to awareness.

There is value in this approach, but only if it is balanced by the path of self-awareness and self-will. The non-dualist approach is useful and significant, but only if tempered by the dualism it denies. For in some experience there needs to be a relation between subject and object, in order for creative action and evolution to be possible. Of course, there does not always need to be an experience of self, or self-will. For at times there may best be an experience of just life, or just an object or phenomena of life, or just the experience of being in the flow of play or work or love, without any sense of selfness. And it may be true that we respond quite well and harmoniously to life, without there being any sense of the self-subject. But if one is continually without any sense of self or self-will, then one is always in a state of mere cooperation and submission to whatever is. This becomes a lop-sided approach to life. For at times there needs to be opposition and conflict, in the pursuit of greater truth and justice, and this can only happen when the self-will is active. Of course, we do not always need to be aware of our self, or make continual reference to oneself, but it is needed at times. This is part of a greater balance.


The path of self-awareness and self-will has also been called the path of self-affirmation (versus self-denial). There are two important points to say about this path. One is that there is nothing spiritually wrong (or ‘unenlightened’) about having a self experience, self awareness, self will, and self affirmation. In short, nothing wrong with being an individual self, with self will and self awareness. This point needs reminding because so many spiritual philosophies have denied the value of this self, and it could even be said that they are in self denial. Second, self awareness is actually very important to the spiritual path.

There are practices to develop self awareness and self will. They are really quite simple; be aware of oneself in doing, and have conscious will in doing.

The value of practicing I am.. will, I am doing, I am experiencing., etc.

Value of I decide, chose, will….

Start with intention, then will to complete, and awareness of will.


the mistake of will-lessness, yet the problem of over willfulness.





Not willfulness without divine submission or without receptivity to greater need.


note that:

there is a real need for will; though remembering that one’s will is by God’s Power and so should be serving of the Higher Will.


Will is not only essential for manifesting visions or for bringing about greater good in our world, but it is also essential for the upward path or what is sometimes called 'the return to God'. A key attitude for this spiritual ascent is surrender, so it may seem paradoxical that personal will is also essential in this upward journey. Surrender does not seem to coincide with personal will; in fact, many teachings speak of surrendering the personal will. I'll try to briefly correct this confusion. It is not our will that needs surrender, but rather our usual desires. The very attitude or act of surrender requires personal will. Surrender is not something one would usually do along the usual road of life. Usual life is motivated by self-desires, habits, fears, socially conditioned aims and social coercions. The usual life is mostly governed by habitual and automatic patterns, and by the ego attitude of separation. These desires, fears, and patterns are like a train that keeps on moving in the same way. But the spiritual ascent necessarily involves surrender of these automatic patterns. It involves a letting go of the usual, even a kind of death of the usual. Yet this is not something that the automatic desires would do on their own. That is, our little desires and our habits of mind or emotion are not going to give up and surrender to a higher aim; unless another force comes into play. The needed force is our will, involving conscious decision and intention. So, surrender requires will, a will to surrender, or a will to follow a higher aim rather than the habitual conditioned aims of our usual desires.


Every kind of spiritual practice must involve conscious, intentional will. This is because any real spiritual practice is partly an emancipation from the usual train of life and partly an expansion of consciousness (or a reaching upwards towards the greater Divine). This requires will. And I think it is right to say that this is a personal will, since it comes from ourself. Yet we might also rightly say that this will originates from the inner Divine Will, since the Divine Will seeks to liberate us from lower conditionings and propel us upwards towards the Greater Being. Thus it is said that our personal will to surrender and be liberated from the habits of usual life, and to return to God or Wholeness, is actually the Will of God acting through us. God returns us to Himself.


Desire is a natural part of our human constitution, and there is nothing spiritually 'bad' about desire, but the spiritual path is a path of self-transformation - involving a transformation of the kind of goals we desire. In the usual life of socially conditioned beliefs and mechanical desires, the human being is basically a sleep-walking machine using its intelligence to achieve ego/self goals; that is, this machine is simply motivated by ego/self desires, one after the other, and its activity is basically an oscillation between efforts to achieve those desires and negative reactions to obstacles along the way. I am not going to delve much into the psychology of all this, but it is useful to understand the overall picture of things, and I am trying to use as uncomplicated language as possible.

Now, when we speak of transforming desires, this can only be achieved through a self-will. Self-will is not the same as mere desires; for desires alone act almost impulsively, while self-will is a capacity for directed conscious intentions. The human mechanism is mostly running on desires and reactions, and consciousness is actually quite constricted, which is why we can say that at these times the mechanism is pretty much asleep, but still able to function alright, just as any machine can do on its own. And in these times where we are fairly asleep, or constrictly engrossed in desires and reactions, there really is no 'will' at work, not even what we shall call 'self-will'. Self-will comes into play at a higher stage of human functioning. Self-will requires a certain minimal amount of self-consciousness and unification of our emotional/mental functions, at least for a short duration of time. Self-will is a conscious unification of our functions and energies, and a consciously/intentionally directed use of our energies. So it is important to understand the distinction between loose-running desires and conscious/intentional will. Either one may result in the making of a dinner, so we cannot always see the distinction by results, but the distinction can be known by each of us subjectively. Inwardly, the distinction is quite important.

{ Another important difference between will and a mere impulse of desire is that will has an original intention in it, while impulses of desire are automatic. So if an action is simply repeating actions from the past, as is the case with habits, then the action is not by will. If the action is what we usually do anyways, then it is not really by will. Instead, will rises above our usual desires and works with an inner power that is different from mere desire. Basically, will makes something different happen. Its function is to redeem or transform patterns of the past, acting not from habits and conditioning, but in response to a new vision or goal.

Yet although intentional will is a higher human function than mere impulsive desire, our self-will is not necessarily in service to the general Divine Will (the Divine Purpose, Values and Goals). In other words, our own will may be directed to goals that are basically selfish or maybe to goals that are even harmful to others. Some people develop their will quite strongly, but then use their will for just selfish purposes or for aims harmful to others. So the will can be used in unethical or bad ways. Rare is the person who actually uses their strong will to achieve horrible things, but it is possible, and it is evident in history. Most people who have a developed will are those who use it for personal success and achievements. There is nothing inherently unethical about personal success, but we all should be cautious of the selfish-ego's tendency to rationalize actions (or plans) that are consequentially harmful or unfair to others.

The development of will is important on the spiritual path. In fact, the spiritual ascent requires the power of our will, since only the will can overcome the automatic conditioned desires. But just having will is not enough, for the spiritual path demands a higher, spiritual conscience guiding our will. The will needs spiritual guidance, or spiritual goals, to replace the usual selfish goals and motivations. Our will needs a higher connection. It needs to be in a conscious relation to the Higher, to Divine Will. This is where we might speak of subservience of the self-will to the Divine Will. And this relation is mediated by our spiritual intuition, which is our inner capacity to realize the general Values and Goals of Divine Will.


So GW, Divine Will, is not making us do anything, and its guidance is only general. This means that the spiritual path is primarily dependent on our own will and our own spiritual intuition. The Guidance of Divine Will is general, and its power is not enforcing. This means that specific decisions about what is better to do along the spiritual journey is up to us to work out, though we can be helped by our spiritual intuition (or conscience) mediating between the general Divine Will and our thinking mind. And the power to do what is needed is up to our own will. We must raise ourselves up towards being in line with the Divine Will, and we are left free to explore how to do this.

This IS the Purpose (and general plan). It is our responsibility

to come into relation to the Higher and become mediators between the Divine Will and manifestation on earth.


Human beings have the potential for will and deliberate intention. These are related concepts. The concept of will is about having a power to do. It is also about having freedom to do, since “I will” would be meaningless if it were assumed that I have no real freedom of choice but instead forced or determined to do whatever I do. So ‘will’ implies both a power and a freedom to do. The concept of deliberate intention is about having a goal in mind and seeking to fulfill this goal. It does not necessarily imply a sufficient power to fulfill the goal, but only a desire or seeking to do so. It also does not necessarily imply a real freedom of choice, since a hypnotized or mechanical or determined person could still exhibit deliberate intention, an intention to get something done. Intention merely implies that there is an agent (or instrument) having intention – or a seeking to fulfill some goal. A robot could have intention to accomplish some task, but it would not have will. So if we combine these concepts of will and intention, as intentional-will, then we have a person with freedom in deciding their goal and a power to fulfill it. In the process of creative action, first one needs an intention, then one needs will to complete it.

Now, if we consider the psychology of the human being (or ourself), we find many kinds of desires at work, many different intentions, some of which are cooperative and some of which are in conflict. These different desire-intentions might be regarded as ‘different wills’ within the human; such as a will towards pleasure, a will to succeed or get ahead, or a will to be liked and accepted. This is a way that we might speak about the human self, that is, having various ‘wills’; but this kind of description can be misleading because these ‘wills’ may not be really free – but rather socially conditioned or habitually mechanical. Some models of psychology use the term ‘mechanical-will’, in distinction from free-will. As long as the distinction is made, this would be an acceptable description; but it seems clearer to use a distinction between desire-forces and true will.

Thus, if a force inside the self is merely mechanical and without real freedom, then it should not be regarded as actual will. Desire-forces in our psyche could still be regarded as intentions since they are seeking fulfillment of a goal, and they do usually have power to fulfill their goal, but without freedom these desire-forces are not examples of true will. Thus, it is a clearer description to distinguish the power of true will from mere desire-forces - that are mechanical, automatic, or habitual. The power of true will, then, must be in some way a power of freedom from mechanical or automatic forces of the psyche. For if these automatic forces (or desires) are simply running the show, as it were, then it really isn’t correct to call these examples of will. In other words, it is best to reserve the notion of true will to that particular condition where the person-agent is free of mechanicalness and is choosing freely in the present moment.

True will stands above mechanical desires, it is non-compulsive, and it chooses action according to a greater purpose or need. True intentional will is actually a higher intelligent response to greater need. It is a freely chosen response to greater need; rather than a mechanical reaction to situations, based on mechanical self-desires. So it is not merely a reaction from self-desire or social conditioning, but rather it is a freely decided response to what is intelligently seen as a greater need in life. This is true will. And it involves a freedom from mechanical desires and attachments. Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad believed in this possible freedom from the mechanical forces of lesser-desires and usual attachments. In summary, true will involves a higher intelligent response to the greater needs of life, or being responsive to the greater needs of all life. True will is all about freely responding to greater need, with deliberate and intelligent intention. And as one moves closer to this ideal, then this is closer to the Divine Will, as one is responding to the real needs and purposes of life.


Free will is about having choices of action and the ability to non-compulsively complete that which is intelligently best to do. We are adding in here the necessity for intelligence, because generally we want our choices to be guided by intelligence – and preferably the intelligence of what is best needed for the greater good. But of course not all choices have to be intelligently serious, for we should be able to also freely make playful choices or explorational artistic choices – whereby freedom itself is the final value, rather than seeking to achieve some final intelligent goal. Thus, to be more comprehensive in our view of freedom and choice, we can acknowledge the respective value of both intelligent choice and playful choice.

A third kind of choice would be loving choice; that is, making choices whereby feelings of love are regarded as the ultimate end. This kind of choice may sometimes involve a need for better intelligence, though sometimes choices of love are most freely made when we throw out the concerns of our normal intelligence. Any ways, choices of love are important kinds of free choices, hopefully involving some sense of free will (rather than compulsively following an attractive perfume, a pretty face, or sexual hormones).


It is wonderful and sometimes amazing to break free of our usual automatic patterns of perception, and thus perceive the world and others in new ways. These new ways of perception are not being made up or invented. It is not that one is intentionally constructing a new perception. Rather, one is letting go and breaking free of the usual automatic perception, which has become rigidified and mechanically subconscious. At the same time, one is opening the aperture of perception, and therefore one is seeing more of what really is there. So a new perception, a new way of seeing other people or the world around us, can come about when one opens further the aperture of perception to see more of what really is; instead of merely letting our usual automatic, limited patterns of perception run the show. One is not inventing the new perception; rather, one is seeing more clearly and fully what is there. This then adds to our true knowledge of other people and of what is all around us. As perception expands, so does knowledge and understanding. And as our understanding grows, our response to others is more fitting, and less cumbered with rigid little beliefs about who this person is. These rigid little beliefs about other people occur more often than we think, because they happen from the automatic subconscious mind. Our usual tendency, or the pattern of subconscious perception, is to put people in little boxes of belief; that is, we subconsciously or automatically assume they are like this or that, or they think this or that, or they will do this or that. Now of course, sometimes these assumptions turn out to be true, because people do often follow predictable patterns. But we should not simply assume that everyone will behave just like they did before, or that this or that person is predictable, and finally we should not simply assume that our usual patterns of perception are fitting. In other words, our usual perceptions are infused with subconscious beliefs or assumptions – which pattern our perceptions and interpretations of reality.

If we can at least admit to ourselves that our usual perceptions and understanding of other people and things of the world are most definitely limited and myopic to some degree, then at least we are not caught in the greater delusion of believing that we perceive all that is there or the delusion that our understanding of others has already matured to completion. At least then, we might keep open the path of continual learning and of continually expanding perception (and looking deeper into what is really here).


Our spiritual path is self made. We make the decisions, we make the sacrifices. It is true that God motivates and guides these decisions, but only when we are in alignment with God. And this alignment only happens when we consciously decide to be under the guidance from God and surrender to this. Something deep within us motivates this alignment, but only if we somewhat allow it. It is false to believe that God does all the work, or that God makes all the decisions in our path. For we are truly free, and so it is ultimately up to us. We can surrender to God’s Will, but even this does not mean that God will decide our exact path. God provides the general principles of guidance for our spiritual path, but not the details. So it is still up to us to make our own path, though hopefully under the general guidance of God.


also add: freedom of perception, as well as freedom of doing.

…. freedom to perceive what is around us in new ways, rather than being continually stuck in the automatic habits of our usual perception. [included in this concept of perception is interpretation]


Spiritual practice, remember, is an intentional activity of mind or body, which we do in order to help bring forth self-transformation and come closer to Divine Truth.

Our usual living existence is some form of repeated habits or routines of mind, emotion or behavior. There isn't any spiritual progression in such states of being, since our mind and character pretty much remain the same. So if one is not progressing beyond mere habits, patterns and routines, then one is not spiritually evolving. Spiritual practice is either a meditational or physical activity that is intended to unfold one's spiritual realization and potentials. It also has to be intentional and conscious, not a subconscious routine. It also should be transformative and bring one to a higher state of being.


Yet still, the body needs to get going and also stay on task. Some form of physical action is needed in order to achieve any goal. The physical world is the final place for expression and the physical body is the final medium for expression. Thus; besides intention, affirmation, commitment and visualization, there needs to be a physical mastery, which is an ability to mobilize and direct the physical body and energies. Yet the physical body can sometimes be like a lazy or stubborn donkey. Sometimes it may want to rest or sleep, or sometimes it may want to indulge itself in some way or another. There is nothing spiritually bad about physical desires, pleasures, nor even occasional over-indulgences. But if these desires, pleasures or indulgences become stubborn habits resisting our higher intentions, then there is a problem in need of resolution. For then, when the body is resistant to higher intentions, we will find ourselves in conflict and struggle.

If our higher intention lacks enough strength and determination, it will often give up to the body. This is like a teacher giving up to the laziness or resistance of their student. It is like a horse-trainer giving up to the resistance of the horse. Instead of being defeated by habits of the body, our higher intention must have strong commitment and determination when confronted by any resistances and habits of the body.

We have been speaking about directing the body and how the body can sometimes resist higher intention and direction, but really all the energies of oneself need to be in coordination with higher intentions. Often, the hardest resistances come from the combination of emotional and mental patterns which we shall call ego-desires.

An ego-desire is a combination of desire, attachment, identification, belief and justification. There are actually many possible egos within any personality; in other words, multiple egos. Within the inner drama of our general psyche, some of these little egos are in conflict with other little egos. So we speak of ego-desires when speaking about inner conflicts and resistances. But we use a more general term of 'lower self' when referring to the whole conglomerate function of mind, emotion and body, in relation to higher purposes or intention.

Spiritual psychology will often use the term 'lower self' or 'personality vehicle', which refers to the three functions of physical body, emotional being, and practical mind. These three basic functions (sometimes called bodies) are usefully necessarily for self-expression and ultimately necessary for Divine Expressions through the human being. It is this lower self or vehicle which needs development and training, in order to be of service and good use to higher self purposes (or to Divine Intentions). For example, divine purposes will work out more intelligently and beautifully through a developed mature person, than through a young infant. This is not to say that infants are not beautiful, but that mature vehicles can offer finer diversity and quality of expression. A young child playing the piano for the first time may be beautifully amusing, but the developed musician can offer a much more refined beauty to the expression of music. So as any musician or sports athlete knows, training and development is necessary. This requires some amount of discipline, and it also requires sufficient obedience from the lower vehicle.


The higher intention, or what we can call our higher self, needs to get in charge of our lower vehicle, because this vehicle is needed to get things done and express higher intentions. The Higher intention/will (the Higher self) needs to be in command of the vehicle and in the role of directing it. This is mastery over our own energies. Often this will involve a training of the physical body. In many different religions and spiritual teachings, each has their own particular practices for training the body and mind, so that these vehicles can be more useful to higher intentions and spiritual purposes. Many methods are possible and many are equally useful, but specific methods will not be mentioned here.


There are two types of training or self-discipline, involving the lower-self (the physical, emotional and mental bodies). One type can be called abstention discipline. The other type can be called fulfillment discipline.

{{ ...both can be motivated by higher purposes and by love.

Love motivates us to the best of activities. Loves gets us going, and love keeps us going all the way to completion. }}

The prime example of abstention discipline is fasting, when the body is denied food or drink. There are many ways of fasting. In some forms of fasting all foods and drink are denied, while in other forms of fasting there is allowance for water, juice, fruits and greens. There are two purposes for fasting. One purpose is for a healthier, cleaner body. The other purpose is for practicing discipline and training the body to obey our will. Combining these purposes, fasting is for self-purification and developing self-discipline. There are also forms of fasting or abstention more involved with the mental or emotional body. For example, we might practice a self-disciplined abstention from negative thinking, worry, anger, lust or fantasy. Or we might practice an abstention from put-downs in our speech. Or we might practice an abstention from acting morally or intellectually or aesthetically superior over others. There are many possibilities for self-disciplined abstention, which helps re-train our physical body, or our emotional/mental patterns. Whatever we choose to abstain from, or eliminate, we will probably experience an inner struggle, and we will find that will, intention and commitment are necessary.

There is a different type of self-discipline, called fulfillment discipline. This is when we commit to a discipline of mind and/or body with the aim of achieving a fulfilling goal, rather than an abstaining goal. For example, a fulfilling goal might be rock climbing, or surfing, or learning to play a musical instrument, or working to achieve a university degree. Fulfilling goals may also involve work we consider as practically needed in daily life, such as cleaning up or making food or holding a job. A fulfilling goal is any goal for achieving something positive, good, enjoyable, or useful. And of course, this requires some self-discipline and an intentional directing of our energies. It requires a development and directing of our lower self/vehicle. This is not usually an easy task, for there is often challenge involved. It is not so much a challenge from outside us, but a self-intended challenge, a challenge we put to ourself. And this will often bring up as much resistance as found in abstention disciplines.

The body may resist by being lazy, the emotions may resist by reacting with fear, and the mind may resist with self-doubt or rationalizations for not accomplishing the goal. Fear can be a main resistance, fear that we cannot do it. The actual achievement may be physically or mentally challenging, but the greatest challenge often is the overcoming of fear. All challenges usually bring up fear, such as fear of failure or fear of pain. But we have to keep remembering that a life unlived is a waste of life. The most interesting and fulfilling journeys of life are those with challenges. So we have to break through our inner resistances to challenges and develop mastery over our lower vehicle (body, emotions and mind). This mastery is being able to direct our energies and develop skills of the lower vehicle, skills needed to fulfill positive goals.


Now, talking about training the body or mind might make good sense to us. We might even say "Yes, I'll get started on this." And the energy of our higher intention will begin to succeed. But eventually, or most likely, we will come to a difficult juncture. Eventually, at some point, a certain habit of body or mind will resist or even try to fool the higher self, or the habit/pattern will simply succeed in regaining command. We should not get frustrated or depressed by this fact, but rather understand that self-evolution is not instantaneous. Also, sometimes we just need a break and kick back. And afterall, spiritual work and practice does not have to always be so serious.

Yet let us consider what is needed to work through the eventual resistances. Many resistances will come from the physical body itself. These resistances are based on physical habits, some of which are genetically acquired but some are self-developed. Our higher Intention, along with powers of mind and visualization, will be able to overcome much of these resistances. But as already mentioned, some resistances will pose a difficult challenge. Yet even a more difficult challenge will often be posed by our own mind. This is because parts of our own mind are not immediately convinced about the value of spiritual practices or spiritual intentions. What we have, then, is a kind of divided mind, and a mind somewhat in conflict. Obviously this not ideal; a unified mind would be the ideal. But the totality of own mind is like the general world, having conflicting beliefs and conflicting interests. And like the general world, a higher goal would be to resolve these opposing differences and develop harmony and cooperation.

Now in considering how to work through resistances, we can use the analogy of training a camel or a horse. But although useful, this analogy will not always apply, because in some cases you are this camel or horse. In other words, we can talk about training the body (like training an animal), because we are usually not so identified with the body. So the body can often be related to like an animal in training. But at some point the resistances and conflicts come from something much more subtle than just the physical body. They come from parts of the personality, or parts of our very own character. These parts of personality are usually much more resistant to transformation than the physical body. As well, they do not like being treated as an animal or machine to be trained or controlled.

Here, with personality resistances and conflicts, it is better to speak in terms of developing an integrally cooperating personality. This would be a goal more agreeable to all parts of the personality, for it does not divide the personality into good parts and parts-in-need-of-training.


Personality habits and desires cannot always be easily trained, because: a)they have power in themselves, b)they do not wish to be changed, and so c)they resist change. Higher intentions do not have ultimate power over all these personality habits and desires. Therefore, transformation of these personality parts (or ego-desires) requires personality (ego) surrender and cooperation. There needs to be a surrender from those parts of our personality that are inharmonious with higher intentions and resistant to higher intentions. In other words, the resistance needs to surrender and give up to the higher intention (or higher self). The ego-desire (that is inharmonious with higher intentions) needs to voluntarily surrender and sacrifice itself. This is, of course, a big step. It requires a sense of self-responsibility. This responsibility, this sacrifice and surrender, must come from I. Each ego-desire or each part of the personality is an 'I' unto itself. That is, at the moment when this ego habit or desire is dominant and resisting, it is the I of the moment. So the experience/act of surrender has to be "I surrender." I am the very subject in need of surrendering. I am the subject in need of transformation. It is not something else, not something other than me. For at this moment, I am the one who is resisting, so I am the one who must surrender. Nothing else will do. I must surrender and sacrifice myself. Thus, transformation depends on me, on my own willingness to surrender myself, sacrifice myself, give up myself. It's a big step, the biggest step. I must allow the higher intention to work through me, cooperate with this, and finally to become the vehicle for higher intentions.

add: It also involves an attitude of piety and humility, in relation to something Greater than oneself, or in relation to a Higher Intention (or Higher Will).