Real Effect and Free Will

A response I have written to my own essay of several years ago, Euclid, Extra-Terrestrial Style.

This essay describes the phenomenon of Real Effect.

What Real Effect is, is a description of the drama of the human soul on the stage of the temporal world.  Two opposing goals, everything else is just props.

Real Effect only be apprehended (according to all the religious traditions I know of) through a change in our own consciousness, through personal purification and surrender/relationship to God, who somehow set the whole thing up and waits to see what we will do, and hides the stage so that we make our choices according to the quality of our will and consciousness.  Like C.S. Lewis’s “Til We Have Faces”.

So one side of Real Effect is that which we cannot have any understanding of Real Effect, and the other side is that position where we come to understand all of it.  The side where we come to understand all of it is (understood) to be our real destined position in eternity, as, quoting C.S. Lewis again, “All answers through the lens of time deceive.”

But because there is this world and we are going either one direction or the other, we have just as much opportunity to go the opposite direction—but again the Real Effect, while being an absolute movement (you can never be moving in two directions on that spectrum), is not dependent on time, form, or matter…. per say.  There are natural laws (for example an acorn will always have an oak tree as its final cause), and while on the stage we are bound by them and our field of activities is within them, they do not DIRECTLY reference movement on the spectrum.

Since the essay linked above is a treatise by extra-terrestrials who do not have access to any position on the spectrum, these impersonal observers from outside of the drama see that which direction human beings go (from an impersonal standpoint) is unimportant, because they can, truthfully and absolutely, end up at the extreme of either direction.

However, here we ourselves observe a crucial difference between the various religious traditions in their attempt to explain this reality.  In the metaphysics of many eastern religions, for example, is the idea that, through reincarnation and samsara (the cycle of birth and death), the soul is part and parcel of God Himself and ultimately all separation from its own eternal nature is temporary and illusory.

If the human being is made exclusively to end up inevitably at one end of the spectrum of Real Effect, with no LASTING (ie, outside of time and space) option to end up at the other end, then Real Effect is itself an illusion dependent on time.

So, next question.  The extra-terrestrials haven’t gotten to this one yet.

Free will means the human being has the choice of his end.  In some philosophies, this free will is absolute.  In other philosophies, it exists only in time, because ultimately the human spirit cannot escape its true nature of being eternal and made of the stuff of God.

Is free will absolute, or temporal?

The Garden of Souls

Lately in reading the saints, I have found some echoes of my own heart and experiences.  This particular passage I am quoting below, from St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Story of a Soul”, particularly resonated with my own inner experience (though I could wish I had the gift she received of being protected and thus able to remain so innocent).  It gives me a little bit of peace about some of my quirkier convictions, especially as regards my faithfulness to my husband… talk about treasuring a little ring given..!

St. Therese’s conclusions, also, are what mine are coming to be, more and more… brilliant and delicate wings gifted by the One who is my real husband.  There is no other really.  It is a subtle thing that one cannot even apprehend whilst tangled up with things of the world… somehow… and it takes a lot of pain and burning out of pride and envy and bitterness indeed… but the sweetness of peace and healing that can be found is… well, it’s worth it.  And from this platform one has so much to give, forgiveness, love, and when we ourselves can do nothing, we can pray for those we love, even when they cannot respond.

~*~*~

“My heart, sensitive and affectionate as it was, would have easily surrendered had it found a heart capable of understanding it.  I tried to make friends with little girls my own age, and especially with two of them.  I loved them and they, in their turn, loved me insofar as they were capable.

But alas! how narrow and flighty is the heart of creatures!  Soon I saw my love was misunderstood.  One of my friends was obliged to go back to her family and she returned to school a few months later.  During her absence, I had thought about her, treasuring a little ring she had given me.

When I saw my companion back again my joy was great, but all I received from her was a cold glance.  My love was not understood.

I felt this and I did not beg for an affection that was refused, but God gave me a heart which is so faithful that once it has loved purely, it loves always.

And I continued to pray for my companion and I still love her.  When I noticed Celine showing affection for one of her teachers, I wanted to imitate her, but not knowing how to win the good graces of creatures, I was unable to succeed.  O blessed ignorance! which has helped me avoid great evils!  How can I thank Jesus for making me find “only bitterness in earth’s friendships!

With a heart such as mine, I would have allowed myself to be taken and my wings to be clipped, and then how would I have been able to “fly and be at rest?

How can a heart given over to the affection of creatures be intimately united with God?  I feel this is not possible.  Without having drunk the poisoned cup of too ardent a love of creatures, I feel I cannot be mistaken.

I have seen so many souls, seduced by this false light, fly like poor moths and burn their wings, and then return to the real and gentle light of Love that gives them new wings which are more brilliant and delicate, so that they can fly toward Jesus, that Divine Fire “which burns without consuming.”

Ah!  I feel it!  Jesus knew I was too feeble to be exposed to temptation; perhaps I would have allowed myself to be burned entirely by the misleading light had I seen it shining in my eyes.  It was not so for me, for I encountered only bitterness where stronger souls met with joy, and they detached themselves from it through fidelity.  I have no merit at all, then, in not having given myself up to the love of creatures.  I was preserved from it only through God’s mercy!”

Sins

I remember when I was young reading about phenomenon such as sin-eaters, and other ways of removing sins or atoning for them (usually through sacrifices of some kind).  Every culture in the world struggles with this.

I remember also reading a book called Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle to the Masai and one passage where the Catholic priest speaking to the Masai tribes noted that, “they understand sin. Everyone understands sin. You see the shame of the village outcast who has committed some crime. What they have not heard of is forgiveness of sins.”

I think most of us have, perhaps, not heard of forgiveness of sins, or not believed in it at least.  In the process of sin and atonement there is never any real way out.  We can not avoid sins and offenses, we cannot avoid causing suffering to others in this world through our own ignorance and selfishness.

But there are transcendental principles, very mysterious to this world, that somehow allow our reconciliation with God and with one another.

These are NOT easy principles to get to.  You have to give up everything else.  You have to have faith, and other transcendental qualities that you can’t get by your own powers.  It’s terrifying, actually.  You have to step down as the center of your own life.

It’s very hard.

But sins can all be forgiven, and love and connection–the things we all crave–can be restored.  This freedom and peace and joy is all there with God.

A friend of mine told a wonderful story.  Being in this world is like being a rabbit pursued by a hunter and his hounds.  The rabbit zigs and zags, terrified, but cannot escape the hounds of divine justice.  But, if turning, the rabbit leaps over the heads of the dogs into the arms of the hunter, nuzzling with affection and trust, he will not then fling the rabbit to the jaws of the hounds.

Truly Valuable

I will likely be writing about this topic (values) for some time to come.  It is an important one, and one I am needing to do some deep work on in my own life, as well as figure out myriad external details of what God wants me to do.  In the meantime, I hope from these writings, if anyone reads them, some help or insight can be gained as I know these are struggles that each and every one of us goes through.  It is because of this that the work that people do to promote and protect real value is so important.

Steven Stosny, PhD, is a psychologist who works with clients using a concept he calls core value. This is the idea that the most important things about us as people are values such as basic humanity, compassion, service, spirituality, and community.  When we become disconnected from our real values, we can get lost in devaluing things and people as a way to try and feel valuable, but because this behavior is in opposition to our real values, it makes us more miserable.  The way, then, to heal resentment, emotional abuse, trauma, or any other negative experience, is to do things, to take actions, that connect us to our core value, thus making ourselves into the kind of people that have value.  This is how each of us feel valuable–by being true to what is really valuable to us.

Four of the techniques used to connect us to our core value are finding ways to improve, connect, appreciate, and protect.  Automatically making these actions will make us feel better because it connects us to real values.  For example, protecting someone we care for–rather than doing something that hurts them–will increase our own feeling of adequacy and lovableness.

Today I was reading one of my author friend Bryan Davis‘s novels.  I deeply appreciate Mr. Davis’ service to the world in his Christian fantasy books–he very intentionally writes exciting fantasy stories full of dragons, legends, other worlds, characters that strive to act on and represent real eternal values, and thought-provoking moral dilemmas.

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One of the reasons he does this is to take a stand against the very prevalent mood in fantasy these days where it’s not good vs evil anymore, the way it was in The Lord of the Rings, it’s just evil vs evil vs evil.  Various factions and conditions of characters all similarly lusty, angry, and greedy, biting into each other, trying to get some pleasure and security out of the world.

“We’re all just doing our best.” “We’re all just trying to be happy.” “I’m trying to get my own life in order.” “Everyone is going to hurt you:  you can’t expect anyone to act on higher morals, you just have to pick who is worth suffering for.”

I maintain that this is a deception and a lie.  It is what the Bhagavad Gita describes as demoniac philosophy.

Bhagavad Gita 16.10-12

“Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent.

They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.”

Their end is also described in Bhagavad Gita 16.16:

“Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, they become too william-brassey-hole-jesus-meeting-with-a-demoniac-in-the-country-of-the-gadarenesstrongly attached to sense enjoyment and fall down into hell.”

There is NO peace for those who order their lives in this way.  So what is the alternative to this unfortunate end, then?

Well… let’s look at John 14:27 from the Bible.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

The peace which the world–the demoniac world of lust, anger, and greed–cannot give.  What is the source of it and how do we escape the network of pride and desire to get to it?

John 16:33 says:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

In ME you may have peace!  The Lord and Creator of all that is, the creator of the world, has overcome the world, and nothing else on heaven and earth will free one from the suffering and anxiety that pervades the pursuit of power and pleasure for one’s own self.

It is in relationship to Him that we find peace, that we find the repose of our eternal souls who hanker and lament in this temporary world.  A great soul is one who knows his identity as the servant of God… he accepts no other identity, and no tribulation or the inevitable ups and downs of the temporary world can faze him any longer.

Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Bhagavad Gita says the same in chapter 9.13-14:

“O son of Pṛthā, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.

Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.”

All things are not equal.  As human beings with free will and the power and consciousness to ask “who am I really?” and make choices and take action according to our answer, we will pay the price or reap the reward for what we choose to align our lives with.  Demoniac values, or eternal ones?  Values according to the world (and an identity as the flesh or bodily concept), or according to the laws of God (and identity as a soul, made for Him)?

That is why true good, vs true evil, presented concretely in character choices and moral decisions, in engaging fiction and media, can so powerfully affect our consciousness, our knowledge and understanding, and awaken our true identity as a soul.

What we feed ourselves with, what books, music, movies, friends, authorities we take in to our minds, makes a huge difference.

Thank you, Bryan Davis, and all those who see any glimmer of the real truth that the human soul MATTERS, that our choices and actions MATTER, and do the service to the world of showing others, by their own lives and endeavor, a possibility that can lead to real satisfaction, happiness… and peace.

vaikunta-man