Free Will & Concept of Design

by stewart

The canvas is the world.

You are the artist.


Pick-up the brush;

Create your own life.


Q:       Can you elaborate on free will and how this interplays with the concept of design?

What distinguishes man/woman from other creations is the capacity to make our own decisions. Within specific parameters, travelers can choose aspects of their lives and if they wish to serve God.

In establishing a life-plan, we decide what areas we would like to further develop, i.e., learn about and accomplish and how this will assist us in our journey back to God.  In order to accomplish the learning that is required, we bring along with us certain skills and abilities.  All of this is freely chosen and if we choose not to reincarnate, at this time, we are mostly free not to do this as well.

When we get to this plane of existence, daily we make decisions based upon our temperament, life plan, the skills we brought with us and the designs that are emerging.  According to certain traditions, the number of designs, or patterns available, is fixed and everything that occurs in the earth phase is a variation of basic patterns and themes.

The Chinese Book of Changes, or I Ching, operates under the premise there are 64 basic patterns, with multiple layers and variations. The concept of design suggests that we are able to pick and choose, only within an emerging pattern.  Our choices have to be made within specific boundaries and we cannot exceed the potential of the situation (design).

Within Islam there is a Sufi Order called the Nasqbandis or Designers.  Here the concept of design is presented using an octagonal (8 sided) shape and within this form, there is an intricate lined pattern, that changes dimensionally, as you focus visually upon it.  Similarly as with the I Ching, our movement or choice is within a design; without severe consequences, we cannot cross any of the lines breaking the pattern, and our choices are multi-level and shift, depending the specifics of the present situation (variations presented).

To further illustrate, let us present an example of a young man who has entered the earth phase, to learn in part about self-sacrifice.  His life plan calls for him to get married and have four children. This will require saving money and consume most of his time away from work, helping guide the members of his family. The skills he has brought along with him, to achieve this learning goal, are an innate sense of salesmanship and likeability.

However as he approaches the age to enter a career and eventually marry, the country that he has chosen to live in has entered a period of recession.  Positions as a salesman are difficult to find; the few that are opening are in the computer industry and our young man has never been very good at math or understanding computers.

Yet in order to follow his life-plan, he sub-consciously knows he must take the position and enter the computer field, which had economic times been better, he would not have chosen. In order to become successful, further he enrolls in Business College to increase his knowledge about computers; in time, with hard work and perseverance, he becomes one of the company’s top salesmen.

In the process of enrolling in Business College, he meets his future wife, and learns about perseverance, sticking to something that is difficult to accomplish; another of his life’s learning goals.

All along this fellow was free to make his own decisions.  Yet these decisions were influenced by the emerging economic design (a period of recession), and his own, inner sense (life-plan) of what he wanted to accomplish.  This fellow could have chosen not to accept the position as a computer salesman, but because of hard-times, he realized he was lucky to have this opportunity.  Accordingly he voluntarily raised his skill in understanding computers through the decision to enter Business College; while he worked, and raised a family, these life events helped him move toward reaching other goals.

The outcome of our lives is not pre-set; moment by moment, it is a potential that we create ourselves, work toward and interplays with the higher destiny of the universe.  However we cannot wake-up one day and decide to be a brain surgeon, unless this was a latent potential (part of our life-plan).  There are requirements of the situation.  Do we have the scientific temperament and educational background necessary for medical school?  Are the financial resources in place for us to carry this out? Will we be any good at this work?

Yes we are free to choose, but only within the potential framework of a situation.  Also we do not know the outcome, unless we try; remember as we turn toward God, God is all Merciful and anything becomes possible.

*              *

As spiritual travelers, we are born into the same design.

We are born; we live and then die;

Traveling onto the next place. Yet within this pattern

There is tremendous variability and much freedom to choose.


In the main, how we live our lives is up to us.

*              *

Consider the options before you:

Why do you select this or that?

Are you merely a product

Of someone’s conditioning;

Or do you select based upon free choice?


Foolish is the traveler who believes

Their choices are unaffected

By the influence of other travelers,

Family, and social factors.


Check-out my two books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream.  Both books are available through or local bookstore.


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