The argument Nature vs Nurture is so old and poses so many questions: Is my life pre-destined? Or were my choices programmed by my parents through the conditioning experiences of my early upbringing? Most importantly, do I have any free will at all?
The answer to all of these questions is Yes, Yes and Yes. Life is one third destiny, one third parental conditioning and, of course, one third free will. In what follows, I explain how that works and how all of life can gradually be transformed into 100% free will.
Nature, nurture and free choice
Imagine life as a painting by numbers. Importantly, we are talking about a painting by numbers, not about a blank canvas! Each of us came here with a unique painting and a set of color pencils to work with to color our own painting. Each small painting (representing a person’s roadmap for a given life time) is part of a bigger picture and all paintings are connected into the bigger picture (though we don’t normally see that because our brains are too narrow-minded and self-centered to notice such beautiful things).
Now, let’s consider a few very important things continuing to use the painting metaphor. Firstly, we each have a different painting to work on, and we each have all the pencils we need to finish coloring our own painting by the time we die. In other words, you come not only with your destiny (your own painting by numbers) but you also come with all the tools you need to fulfil your destiny (all the color pencils you need are already given to you as a unique potential that you have inside you). Secondly, you may or may not finish coloring your painting during your life time – for instance, you may get confused and go work on someone else’s painting; or you may not find the pencils you need to color your painting (this can happen if you keep looking outside of yourself and/or try to steal someone else’s pencils); or you may spend your life trying to get a different painting to color thinking you don’t like yours.
On the face of it, a message to all parents out there: please work on you own painting, not on your children’s. This is 100% “do it yourself” job. So help your child discover the pencils they need for their painting and resist the urge to paint it yourself or to try and replace it with a different (better, easier, happier) painting. Lastly, watch out for ambitions you may be projecting onto your children. Not everybody came here to do things; some came here to watch (so their paintings are fairly uncomplicated).
Now, even though it looks like you don’t get to choose your painting and it is simply your given destiny, it was your own soul that chose said painting as well as the color pencils, so there is your free choice right there on soul level. Importantly, you can transform this situation into free will today simply by consciously accepting the destiny that your own soul already chose. Choose today to work on your own painting with your own colors (your unique potential). This is called “aligning with destiny” or “hearing the call of your soul”. How do you do that? Practice introspection, contemplation, meditation and prayer. Quiet the mind. Be grateful. And don’t forget to go to therapy as that can help immensely when everything else fails.
Interestingly enough, your soul didn’t only choose your painting by numbers. It also chose the parents for you to be borne to and to be conditioned by. Your parents (as well as every other significant person you meet later in life) are simply showing you how to love yourself (because they truly reflect you). Our conflict with our parents is an externalization of our inner conflicts (including such from past lives); our love for our parents is our love for ourselves. By accepting fully our parents (who we already chose on a soul level anyway), we accept fully ourselves (with all of our shadows and dark places). So there is your second step to practicing conscious free will today: choose and accept your parents and love them for who they are, for they represent you and all of your shadows that conditioning tries to mask; they are here to teach you how to love all of yourself (not only the “good” parts that you often put on display). Again, how you do that is by practicing introspection, contemplation, meditation and prayer. Quiet your mind and listen to your soul. And if you can’t do it by yourself, go to therapy, ask for help.
Accepting your parents will not only help you love yourself; it will also dissolve the conditioning because conditioning is nothing else but an attempt to mask the shadows (of fear, anger, jealousy, inadequacy, etc.). And when you start to dissolve your conditioning, there is your final, third part of the free will. Now you can color your painting any way you like. If your parents told you the sky should be blue but you see it partly pink and partly orange, you have the free will to make your sky pinky-orange (as long as you have those color pencils in your tool kit, of course, but remember that you can also make pink by mixing red and white; likewise, you always have access to orange by combining red and yellow… infinitely possibilities some might say, as long as we are free of our conditioning).
To conclude, you don’t get to pick a different painting for this life time or different parents, but it’s totally up to you how pretty your soul-chosen painting will turn out at the end of your life. You can choose which color goes where, and you can mix your colors and create new ones any way you like. Only this free choice is not where you start. Rather, you start with dissolving the conditioning by loving what is first. And the more you love what is, the more free will you have to do things differently. So don’t resist (for what you resist, persists). The only way to get full access to free will is by first accepting and loving what is.