In the past, I’ve discussed all sorts of things that can impact your perceptions and the course of your life – your beliefs about work, life, relationships, sex, religion, your emotions, the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breath… Sometimes those forces are healthy and sometimes they aren’t, and it’s easy to get bogged down worrying about all of the different variables at work in our lives. But I like to keep things simple, so today I want to emphasize one point to keep in mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed. None of the forces I mentioned above is as strong as your will when you have a legacy and goal structure.
This gift of self-directedness is part of our spiritual and biological evolutionary heritage. Let me explain this with some help from Norman Pearson. Free will is one of the primary consequences of the theosophical tradition as set out by Pearson in his Space, Time and Self. For Pearson, the course of anthropogenesis or physical evolution for a human being passes through the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. At the same time, consciousness passes through its own evolutionary trajectory of psychogenesis. It is the process of psychogenesis that I want to focus on now.
If you look at the diagram above, you will see a number of clusters of circles each of which is color-coded. I developed this diagram to help illustrate Pearson’s notion of psychogenesis and the transition from mineral consciousness to human consciousness. Let’s begin with the black circles. These circles represent the mineral class of objects, which is the first kingdom of physical evolution and represents the first step in psychogenesis. These entities only see themselves as part of a whole and their point of consciousness is so intertwined with other molecules that make up the object that they have no sense of identity. A rock, for example would have no sense of identity, since each of its components is so tightly bound together and its consciousness is so intertwined with that unity. The tight grouping of the black circles represents the idea that these entities only see themselves as part of a whole.
In the next phase, both anthropogenic and psychogenic evolution pass through the plant kingdom, captured below by the green circles. Notice that these circles are less tightly grouped. This is because plants have a greater degree of individuality than objects in the mineral kingdom. There is a progressive individuation of the Spiritual or Soul being. In fact, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird argue in The Secret Life of Plants, that plants are conscious. They react to emotions and to harm caused to other plants and animals. However, plant consciousness is not of the same sort or degree as animal or human consciousness. They are often still in physical contact with other plants through their root system and through branches and shoot. For this reason, while they possess some degree of individuality, they do not have a sense of individuality.
The next stop on the path of physical and Spiritual evolution takes place in the animal kingdom, represented here by the Gold Circles. These circles are now almost completely separate though the outer edges of their rings still touch. This represents the fact that it isn’t individual animals that have Souls, rather it is species that have Souls. We call these Group Souls. So, for example, all dogs have a Group Soul. The life of an individual dog is an expression of the Group Soul of dogs. Any life experience that a dog has is shared with the Over-Soul of all other dogs on the planet. So while the members of the animal kingdom may be physically discrete, they are bound through their sharing of this Group Soul.
The final cluster of white circles represents humans. Notice that the circles no longer touch at all. They are completely separated to represent the fact that you as a human are a fully individuated being with your own soul. It is this possession of an individuated Soul that gives you complete control over your own actions. This is not to say that we are completely isolated from one another. Rather, we are each of us having both an individual and a collective experience. We humans can share our life experiences with each other and learn from each other by mixing our bloodlines. Because we don’t have a group Over-Soul, we’re learning how to understand each other. The best way to do this is to mix with each other and in that way each individual Soul gets multiple human experiences genetically, biologically and Spiritually.
The thrust of Pearson’s view is that spiritually, humans have the greatest power of choice and the greatest capacity for individual experience because of our biological and spiritual makeup. You have your own Soul. You pilot your ship and you have your hand on the helm of your life. Any external force has an influence on you only to the extent that you allow them to.
If you are to be fully in control of your life, it is important to understand that both thought and emotion create movement. If you allow your thoughts or emotions to become too polarized, there are real consequences for your ability to direct your life in the way that you want. For example, the Yin- Yang below represents thought. The polarization of thoughts is depicted by the disproportionate amount of blue in the Yin-Yang symbol. You can think of polarization of a belief in the same way. It is a disproportionately strong belief in one idea or another. So if you believe that the Yankees are the best team in baseball then you have a polarized belief. If you believe strongly that people on welfare are lazy, this is another example of a polarized belief. These polarizations or disproportionately strong beliefs create movement – they affect your psychology, emotions, physiology and subsequently your Spirit.
Emotion operates in much the same way, as I demonstrate in the yin yang to the below. Every thought has a corresponding emotion. These emotions will cause movements as well. If you’re angry, this will cause movements – physiological, hormonal and other biochemical changes.
This movement is important to monitor. If anything moves too much or too fast, it burns itself out. On the other hand, anything that moves too slowly is essentially depressed, sluggish or frozen. This would be the route of apathy. The best choice is balance or homeostasis – to avoid over polarization of thoughts.
How do we achieve balance? Two important pieces of the puzzle are having a legacy and the corresponding goal structure that leads to it. Your legacy is a very powerful way to focus your thoughts and emotions on what you want, rather than on what you don’t want. So if it feels as though your thoughts or emotions are chaotic or all over the place, take a time out and revisit your legacy. If you haven’t yet begun to draw out your legacy, try it. The will can be extremely powerful, but without something for it to focus on, it’s rather impotent. Give your will a legacy to focus on and you’ll find your life returning to a place of calm balance.