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Philosophy 06: Free Will vs Fate

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Philosophy 06: Free Will vs Fate

Posted on 2021 June 1 by Mark Macy
Free will and fate are at the crossroads of a lifetime.

What plays the bigger role in shaping our lives:

  • Free will (the conscious choices we make in this lifetime), or
  • Fate (being subtly, relentlessly pulled toward a preordained life path)?

Well, that might just depend on what we consider to be more important—the tangibles or the intangibles.

  • Tangible things that shape our lives (brain, hormones, DNA…) are generally associated with our free will.
  • Intangible things (mind, karma, soul purpose…) are generally associated with our fate.

Generally speaking, scientists and doctors deal with the tangible, mystics and metaphysicians deal with the intangible, and psychologists stand at the crossroads to unravel “consciousness,” where the intangible (mind) meets the tangible (brain).

I suspect that the more we acknowledge and understand all of those forces associated with our fate and free will, the more meaningful our lives can be. After all, they’re almost entirely responsible for who we are, what we do, when we do it, why we do it, and how well we do it.

(Incidentally, I believe there’s one ultimate force that can optimize our lives regardless of those tangible and intangible forces and their effects on us. We’ll consider that at the end of the article. Meanwhile…)

How about a quick look at all of those tangibles and intangibles to get a sense of the profound impact they have on us?

The Science of Human Behavior

Science today explores the tangible things that shape our lives, especially our brain, hormones, and heredity (DNA). To get a better understanding of how they all work in the body, we can compare them to the way familiar things work in the world:

  • The brain is the government that monitors all the nerves that spread through the body like an internet, sharing information with all the major organs. So the nervous system is a government-controlled internet.
  • Hormones are millions of squishy little flash drives that travel through the bloodstream and plug into the nervous system to tell the brain and nerves what to do under certain conditions. So hormones are like expert government contractors working on special projects… maybe assigned to a crisis task force.
  • DNA is the operating system for the entire body, like Microsoft Windows or Apple’s macOS or Google’s Android. Nearly every cell in the body has an identical copy of the operating system, just as every computer or smartphone in the world has an operating system that’s identical with others of its ilk.

Brain and Nerves—the Body’s Government-Controlled Internet


The nervous system is like an internet inside us that connects all the major organs, most importantly the brain. The brain is, literally, the “head honcho.” 🙂 It’s where the biggest decisions are made.

In fact, as scientists delve deeper and deeper into the amazing, intricate, lightning-fast communication among the brain lobes and among the neurons (nerve cells throughout the network), there’s a growing consensus at the ardent core of mainstream science that…

  1. the brain wields complete control over all of our thoughts, memories, and dreams (Read more: researchgate/brain-Implants… ), and
  2. the mind and brain are one and the same thing (Read more: verywellmind/biopsychology… ).

(Suppositions like that can stir debate. It’s like saying the hardware and software in a computer are one and the same thing, which isn’t true. A computer’s hardware (chips and circuits) and software (coded instructions) are very different, designed by different engineers. On the other hand, if we argue that the physical body with its brain is a living computer that writes its own software, then suppositions like these begin to make sense. That’s something we’ll try to sort out by the end of the article.)

Hormones and Neurotransmitters—Squishy Little Thumb Drives

Glands leak hormones (chemical messengers) into the bloodstream that tell the brain and nerves what to do. (Read more: lumenlearning/endocrine… )

If the brain and nervous system are the body’s government-controlled internet, then hormones are specialists, often part of a crisis task force. They’re mobilized by the glands and sent through the bloodstream whenever they’re needed. They’re made of molecules that contain instructions that are delivered to the brain and nerves.

We have about 50 kinds of hormones coursing through us, delivering their unique instructions at important times—such as when we 1) grow through adolescence and adulthood into old age, 2) face a threat, 3) want to have sex, or 4) need something to eat or drink. (read more: tutor2u… )

Behavioral endocrinology is the study of how hormones and behavior influence each other. Hormones can stimulate certain behavior, and our behavior can stimulate hormones. (Read more: noba/hormones-behavior… )

For example, our happy moments can cause glands to release happy hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. When we’re angry or afraid, our glands release fight-or-flight hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Then, those hormones stream through us to stimulate even more happiness or anger or fear, in a sort of snowball effect. And we react accordingly. Hormones affect many of our emotions but not all of our emotions, as we’ll consider in a moment.* First, though, a note about neurotransmitters, a sort of sedentary cousin to the itinerant hormones.

06d-neurotransmitters.png.ccf6fc61a3ad11afec522ad42b8bd072.png Neurotransmitters move information across the synapse (gap) between neurons (nerve cells).

Neurotransmitters are like mini-hormones that work from home. They’re chemically similar to hormones—often identical—but instead of traveling through the body in the bloodstream, they live at the contact points (synapses) between neurons. They simply deliver information from the axon of one nerve cell to the dendrite of the next nerve cell.


So the brain, nerves, hormones, and neurotransmitters are mostly about communication—the distribution of information throughout the body, whether it’s in the form of energy impulses streaming through the “bio-internet” of brain and nerves, or whether it’s in the form of molecules delivered to the nerves like squishy little thumb drives (hormones and neurotransmitters).

Lots of studies underway in neuroscience, endocrinology, and neuroendocrinology are quickly unraveling the mysteries of the brain and hormones and their impact on our behavior. (read more: frontiers in… )

(*Mainstream scientists lean toward the notion that all of our emotions are produced by our brain, or at least by our brain and hormones together. (Read more: amrita.edu… ). However, intangible influences like karma and soul purpose, if they’re real, suggest that some of our emotions might come as part of the package before we’re born, or before we’re even conceived. More about that in a moment, but first…)

Heredity and DNA—Humanity’s Operating System

There’s another science that studies not just our behavior and emotions but also our personality and physical traits. That’s the science of genetics.


Geneticists study our DNA, long strands of molecules that can be found—packaged up elaborately inside chromosomes—in each of the 30 trillion cells in a human body (except red blood cells and dead outer skin cells, which don’t have DNA).

DNA is identical in all humans. Well, 99.9 percent of the DNA is identical. It’s called the “human genome” and is essentially humanity’s operating system. It defines the basic structure and behavior of every person on the planet. (read more: genome… )

So if everyone’s genome is the same, then why don’t we all look like identical twins?

That’s where the other 0.1 percent of DNA comes into play. That tiny proportion of the DNA is a massive set of specialized, personal apps that work directly with the operating system to define you and me individually.

The personalized DNA apps carry the blueprints for much of our individual behavior, physical structure, and personality. Many of those traits have been inherited from our parents, since we get our chromosomes from them.

Here’s just a small sampling of traits that are determined by our DNA apps—that 0.1 percent of the DNA molecule:

  • Tolerance for pain and spicy food, sneezing at bright light, distinctive facial expressions, love or hate of exercise, whether we like to sleep at night or during the day, insomnia, vulnerability to addictive substances such as nicotine and alcohol and heroin, sweaty palms, infidelity, sense of adventure, what foods are good for us personally, aggression, tendency to trust, ability to smell sulfur in asparagus pee or to taste bitter PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) in brussels sprouts, craving for sugar, optimism or pessimism, earlobe attachment, tongue-rolling, cleft chin, hairline shape, dimples, freckles, curly or straight hair, right- or left-handedness, hand-clasping, bent little finger, allergies, color-blindedness, skin color, eye color, early onset myopia, poor driving skills, fear of dentists, popularity, procrastination, how fast we age, empathy, sweatiness, musical ability, musical taste, diabetes risk in men, attractiveness in women, athleticism, and intelligence.

Whew! Our DNA molecules (along with our brain and hormones) have a huge influence on who we are and how we behave. They actually shape much of our “free will.”

In fact, some scientists wonder if there really is such a thing as “free will,” since most of the choices we make from day to day aren’t really made by “you” and “me” per se, but by our brain, hormones, and DNA. (read more: scientificAmerican… )

The Spirit of Human Behavior

Mind, karma, and soul-purpose are intangible forces that accompany us into a lifetime on Earth and seem to nudge us relentlessly toward a preordained life path. They’re sometimes lumped together under the term fate.

Mind—Timeless Software

The mind is multidimensional… a timeless software package that apparently works with and monitors the brain and DNA during a lifetime. (read more: sand… )

George W Meek, founder of Metascience, liked to say, “Our mind, memory banks, personality, and soul survive death of the physical body.”

(Statements like that rattled me back in the early 1990s when I met George in his final years and agreed to help him document his extensive metaphysical research. My solid agnostic worldview had been shaken recently by a brush with death (colon cancer in 1988), so those kinds of afterlife descriptions had an exotic (if rather scary) appeal. It was an exciting time for me, and it planted a seed that would sprout into all of the afterlife research I’ve done since then. — MM)

While mainstream scientists suggest that the mind and brain are the same thing, I prefer George Meek’s implication that the mind and spirit are the same thing. The mind is the living essence of you and me, and it exists with or without the physical body and brain. When we fall asleep and the brain shuts down, the mind enjoys adventures in dreamy spirit realms close to the Earth in vibration. When we die and the brain dies, the mind bids the Earth good-bye and gets settled into a spirit world.

Karma and Reincarnation—Refining our “Ship’s Log”

The source (God, Allah, Brahman…) emits a life-energy that creates and nourishes everything in many parallel universes (fine, white circles), which can be divided into seven arbitrary levels. The interactions between our physical self (level 1) and our subtle selves determine our fate. Karma is one of those interactions.

As we navigate a lifetime on Earth, karma is the ship’s log—a record of important events along the journey. Our every significant action or reaction is noted in the ship’s log and compared to what a “perfect” action would have been in that situation.

“Perfect” behavior is simply behavior that resonates with the source. If we could be motivated only by such things as love, truth, generosity, and service to others, then we would rarely harm anyone or anything, and never intentionally.

I believe we all try to live that way as best we can because we have the source at the center of our being, always urging us toward perfection… but day-to-day living gets in the way.

Earth (at level 1) is far removed from the source (which is beyond level 7). Our world is full of predators, parasites, and competitors. Not only are they all around us, but we all share some of their dark symbiotic compulsions inside us. So we’re far from “perfect,” at least on the biological “outside.”

We can’t help but feel hurt or repulsed or angry or afraid once in a while… to act with deception or aggression or selfishness or callousness sometimes. It’s in our blood… (literally, in the form of hormones). We need some of those dark compulsions just to adapt and survive in a world full of harsh surprises.

All of our thoughts and feelings spin off the Earth—the nice ones drifting into finer universes closer to the source, the naughty ones getting trapped in Earth’s shadow, which is a repository for all our dark thinking, since there’s nowhere else for it to go. And all of those thoughts and feelings get recorded in the ship’s log. They become our karma. (read more: huffpost… )

Our karma determines our afterlife experience to a large degree, since our ship’s log is part of the baggage that we lug along into the spirit worlds after we die:

  • On one hand, it makes sense that if most of our lifetime thoughts and feelings had drifted into finer realms, then that’s where our spirit or mind is likely to be pulled after we die. If most of our thoughts and feelings had been of the darker symbiotic kind, then we’ll probably be drawn into Earth’s shadow for a while… until we can work through our karma and clean things up a bit.
  • On the other hand, our spirit friends implied (in ITC contacts in the 1990s) that they try to get as many people from Earth as possible settled into the paradise world at level 3, and they try to help us polish up our karma—clean up our ship’s log—during a rejuvenating sleep that typically lasts about six weeks of Earth time. The regenerating sleep happens right after we die, and it helps us get settled into paradise living. (read more… through the afterlife experience of the late scientist Konrad Lorenz.)

Usually it’s easier to clean up our karma while we’re still alive on Earth—before we die—and that’s where reincarnation comes into play. If we get a little morbid in this lifetime and can’t get comfortable in paradise after we die, then we can try again. Our mind or spirit gets lots of opportunities (lifetimes) to polish up the karma that we’ve accumulated on Earth.

At the center of everything is the source, depicted here as the three primordial forces of Hinduism: Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), and Shiva (destroyer). Simply put, we humans emerge from the source, live a lifetime, then return to the source. Then we do it all over again (and again and again…) until the cycle of reincarnation is complete.

Reincarnation. Members of our INIT group (1996-2000) received several illuminating messages about reincarnation. Our spirit friends say they’re living in a world called Eden or Marduk at level 3 (see the “Life-Energy” diagram above). Most people from Earth (level 1) awaken at level 3 after they die, according to our spirit friends. Here’s what they say about reincarnation:

Reincarnation involves levels 1-3 (described by spirit friend Swejen Salter). While the third spirit plane is a product of the human mind, it is as much a reality as is planet Earth. People whose ideas and beliefs agree with each other come together here in groups and form one unity. This unity is the stepping stone to the fourth dimension. After crossing into the fourth dimension, also called The Summerland, the human being is relieved of the laws of reincarnation. We live along the banks of the River of Eternity along with those who were once living on Earth. There are animals here. Vegetation varies from algae to mammoth trees. Many buildings are made of wood. Some people or animals wake up here already reborn into bodies at the prime of life. Others come to us as old people and turn young again after the regenerating sleep. Why there are such differences, we do not know. At the end of the growth or rejuvenation process most people will be 25-30 years old (in appearance). Animals also will be at an age of vitality and well-being, since ethical factors are not involved here. Damaged tissue or broken bones regenerate just like wounds heal in your world but much more perfect. Lost limbs will regrow. The blind will see again, and so on. The color of your hair and skin cannot be changed and will be the same as it was during your Earth life. (Read more… )

Laws of reincarnation (explained by a higher being). The human soul returns to Earth often enough to learn all human life experiences…. Reincarnation is a constant evolution that moves forward, beginning with minerals, moving to plants and animals, then to human beings. There is no backwards evolution. The human soul does not return to Earth in the body of an animal. Nor is reincarnation always a process of reparation in this life for a past life. If people around you are hard hit by fate, do not always assume that they have to make up for past transgressions. Never judge! You may be wrong and are burdening yourself by your judgment. There are people whose grief and sickness were not imposed on them because of past karma. They used their own free will (at the spiritual or subconscious level) to select a more difficult road (during a physical lifetime) to reach their goals faster. (read more… )

Techniques of reincarnation (phone call between Maggy Fischbach on Earth and Swejen Salter in spirit, at level 3).

Maggy: What comes next when they make up their mind (to return to Earth)? Are there special locations for re-embodiment?

Swejen: When a person of our group has finally decided on reincarnation, higher beings consult with each other about his thoughts and wishes which led him to this decision. When higher beings have consented to a new reincarnation or have motivated a being for such a decision, the person is led to a special building provided for reincarnations.

Maggy: That reminds me a little of dying on our side. Describe the procedure for me, please. Does the person concerned take leave from close spiritual sisters or brothers?

Swejen: The procedure is similar to people’s arrival here, only this time it is a going back. The person is placed in what looks like a bathtub. His body, which on this level usually takes on an average age of 25-30 years, begins to change and becomes increasingly younger and smaller. It returns to the state of a child and then to a baby and finally to a small cell. By the time the body has become a cell, it is no longer present here among us. The cell has meanwhile arrived in the female body of a human being. (read more… )


So, if we can accept the validity of ITC contacts like these that were received by our INIT group (as I certainly do), then we now have a better understanding of why and how reincarnation and karma affect a lifetime on Earth.

Soul Purpose—Back To the Source

06i-daybreakparrish-soulpurpose.png.b60ac438058892681a62ad53091392a1.pngSoul-stirring creations like this come from people who follow their soul purpose. Daybreak, by Maxfield Parrish (1922), the most popular painting of the 20th Century, based on the number of prints sold.

Our soul purpose is both simple and complicated.

  • Simple: Every soul purpose is essentially the same: To resonate with the source in our thoughts, words, and actions. That is, to flourish with such noble motivations as love, truth, generosity, and service to others. (Knowing that we’re always connected to the source makes life easier, as we see near the end of the article: There is no separation, only oneness at the spiritual level.)
  • Complicated: As life spreads through the omniverse and follows its free will, it diverges from the source—especially in outlying worlds like ours where there evolve parasites, predators, and competition. Once we’re born into a divergent world like Earth and grow up acclimated to it, our soul purpose then is to find our way back to the source by making inspired life choices that give us peace and joy and, well, just make us “feel right.”

So our soul purpose during a lifetime on Earth is determined by how far we’ve diverged, personally, from the source—to what degree we’ve allowed our self to feel separated… adrift. And that depends on both:

  1. The tangibles—the health and integrity of our brain, endocrine system (hormones), and DNA, and
  2. The intangibles—the condition of our mind (spirit) and the karma that we bring into this lifetime from previous lifetimes.

Whether we’re born rich or poor, gifted or challenged… or attractive, adventurous, trusting, or vulnerable to addiction… we all have a deep-down desire to find our soul purpose and follow it. We all want, more than anything, to return to the source, even if we don’t realize it consciously.

Finding our soul purpose for this lifetime isn’t easy for most of us. We’re not all child prodigies, who seem to know from infancy why they’ve come to Earth with special gifts.

If our own soul purpose for this lifetime seems elusive, we can ask questions like these to try to find it (composed by Diana Raab; read more: psychologyToday… ):

  • What am I good at?
  • What part of my day is joyful?
  • What brought me joy as a child?
  • What in my life no longer serves me—emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
  • Are there any synchronistic events that could be a clue to my soul purpose?
  • Have I had any accidents or illnesses that served as wake-up calls for me?
  • Who are my role models and icons?
  • What do I often teach others?
  • What are my dreams and desires?
  • How do I help others transform?
  • If I had one year to live, what would I do?    

Answering these questions can help remind us of our own soul purpose for this lifetime.

Conclusion: the Big Picture

Let’s cut to the chase, then tie up a few loose ends.

The Key to Everything: Conscious Contact with the Source


While we’re alive on Earth, many of us are never completely satisfied with who we are, what we have, and what we’ve accomplished.

The surest way to overcome that niggling insecurity is to foster conscious contact with the source that rests at the center of our being… at the center of everyone and everything. Awareness of that connection restores peace and well-being.

Even when it feels like our life is unravelling (for example, with a serious illness or an addiction in the family), or when our country is unravelling (with riots and divisiveness), or when the whole world is unravelling (with wars, plagues, and environmental destruction)—especially in those difficult times—we can still find the greatest peace and happiness by fostering conscious contact with the source.

After all, the source creates and nourishes all of the countless universes and everything in them with its relentless stream of life-energy. Once we start opening ourselves up, we begin to feel changes inside us. A growing peacefulness lets us experience life and its circumstances with ever-greater understanding, humor, and grace.

Meditation is one great technique to foster conscious contact with the source, especially a good heart meditation (which I’ve described elsewhere… )

Setting aside a few minutes each day to meditate with the clear intention of making conscious contact with the source—especially at those times when troubles weigh heavily—can slowly and steadily push aside those tangible and intangible forces that stir up our emotions, pull us toward darkness, and otherwise block our connection to the source. The more we meditate, the smoother it gets to purify the connection—that is, to establish conscious contact with the source.

Conscious contact with the source is the key message of most enlightened mystics, including (recently):

  • Joel Goldsmith and his “Infinite Way” (read more… ),
  • Marianne Williamson and the “Course in Miracles” that changed her life (read more… ),
  • Wayne Dyer with his “Power of Intention” (read more… ), and
  • All traditional “12-step” programs—the 11th step being, “Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God….”

Brilliant Hardware and Timeless Software

The body is a brilliantly designed machine, and the brain is a supercomputer that runs the whole operation as best it can.

What makes the supercomputer so smart, though, isn’t the hardware with its limited lifetime warranty. What makes the brain brilliant is the timeless mind or spirit that comes into a lifetime to use the brain and body as a vehicle in which to navigate the Earth with all of its exotic symbiotic relationships.

It’s quite a trip, a lifetime on Earth, with so many captivating illusions for the mind to experience, especially:

  1. a stressful sense of being adrift—separated from the source (which, of course, we are not), and
  2. a scary sense of duality—good and evil—as though the dark, deviant dramas that spin out of predatory, parasitic, and competitive behavior actually have any real power (which, of course, they do not).

The reality is:

  1. we are eternally connected to the source, even if we don’t consciously remember the connection from day to day, and
  2. the only genuine power in the omniverse is the source and its life-energy that creates and nourishes everything.

Source Motivations and Earthly Emotions

During a lifetime our emotions and behavior are always pulled in two general directions—outward into the world (which is illusory), and in-beyond toward the source (which is real).

The source is at the center of our being, compelling us toward fine and noble thoughts and feelings such as love, truth, generosity, and service to others.

The world is all around us, urging us to get a well-rounded education in tough-love classroom Earth… to feel not just those brilliant source emotions that come from “mutualistic” behavior, but also their dark opposites (such as fear, deception, selfishness, and callousness) that spin out of competitive, parasitic, and predatory behavior. (read more about Earth’s symbiosis… )

There are lots of complex rules and laws about how to get along in this complex world, but there’s only one way to find a true and lasting peace on Earth despite its complexities, and that is:

To simply clear and cultivate our personal lifeline to the source.

Gradually, then, we begin to detach emotionally from the brutal, illusory aspects of terrestrial living and to feel less and less suffering from its effects. We begin to feel more pain from the suffering we ourselves have imposed on other living things, so we carefully try to avoid doing that. These are natural, healing side-effects of fostering conscious contact with the source while living on Planet Earth.


Most of our ancestors and late loved ones have gotten settled into a paradise world at level 3 since their death, and some of them will probably be there to greet us when we “go home” at the end of our own lifetime.

Their world is like a copy of Earth that’s had most of the competitive, parasitic, and predatory behavior polished away. Diseases, deformities, and old age also disappear at level 3, where people look and behave much as they did on Earth in the prime of life but in a healthier, kinder, more trusting, more refined way.

They can eat delicious foods and live in luxurious homes made of wood, although these things are sort of mentally fabricated. No animals or trees have to die to provide food and building materials at level 3. They can even have sex, though no one gets pregnant. At level 3 there’s no real need for this sort of thing—food, shelter, or sex—but people can enjoy it in paradise (if they wish to) simply because it had made them happy on Earth. After all, paradise is about happiness, as well as service and community. (read more… )

Eventually a person at level 3 (maybe after many lifetimes on Earth) will ascend to finer levels toward the source. At level 4, most earthly pleasures like food, shelter, and sex hold no meaning as a person becomes more inclined toward finer things such as love, trust, generosity, and service.


So these are the things that have the biggest impact on our quality of life and state of mind here on Earth:

  • Tangible things like the brain, hormones, and heredity, which are sometimes lumped together as “free will,” and
  • Intangible things like mind, karma, and soul purpose, which help determine our “fate.”

The tangible things lead us out into the illusory world. The intangible things lead us in-beyond toward the source and its timeless truth.

The only way to bring a lasting peace and happiness more and more into our lives is to cultivate conscious contact with the source, which is at the center of the “all-that-is,” constantly creating and nourishing everything everywhere.


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