Social Conditioning Can Influence Our Personal Perspectives

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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Fate or free will is a continuing conundrum in human society as is the philosophical rhetoric about evolution or creationism. I am going to tackle both in this article. Why? When studying a subject that has a prophetic nature, fate or free will is a central point. When studying the cosmos as your field of possibilities, it is natural to wonder how it all came about. If you have a firm belief system in one or the other of either pair under discussion, such belief system negates the possibility of examining all avenues of approach. It does not make you right, it just makes you rigid. We all come to the table with preconditioning, religious or philosophical beliefs, and experiences that have directed us in a specific manner. Since life is so varied and complex, one experience or belief system just does not cover all the possibilities. Sure, you can explain it all with a blanket statement of your personal beliefs. But again, this does not make you right and you will not convince others who lack your conditioning, beliefs or experiences.

What I have been describing is our personal perspective, that which has been produced by the influences from our society and family, our growing and becoming, the insights and realizations, the fears and frights, and the group activities that capture our beliefs. The first 31 years of my life were a valid description of my history based on what I just described. At that time, I had a startling awareness, a glimpse into experience that my prior conditioning could not support or explain. A tiny hole appeared in what I had held to be absolute. Being a curious type, I asked questions. The answers slowly but surely illustrated that I was rigid but not necessarily right in some of my preconceptions. To many of the questions that were raised during that period of my life I held to my previous answers as valid. However, many other questions poked more holes in my rigidity as I discovered I was not always right, even when I fervently believed I was right. I learned not to be afraid to question. The world as I knew it would not totally fall apart just because I asked a question. I could remain healthy and still in charge of my personal world. If I could have that kind of releasing experience, anyone could – if they truly wanted to. They just have to be willing to trust themselves.

As an astrologer and a metaphysician, I have learned the value of being open to all the experience provided by the universe, employing discernment for what belongs to and with me, recognizing that I am a growing, changing, work in progress and that it is okay. Does that mean I am always open? No, but I have learned to be more open. I have learned that I am not always as smart as I think I am and that the universe has far more answers than I have questions. To question one’s existence and personal place within that existence is natural. It should not be frightening, should not be termed a crime and can actually be fun. One by one I have examined many of my own points of rigidity and have learned to relax more and trust myself in my choices. Needless to say, I have changed over the years, and that has not pleased those around me in all instances. That is okay as well. After all, it is my mind, my beliefs and my life.

What about fate and free will? The conditioning of our society (USA) is that we have free will. That is not necessarily true of other societies. As I studied metaphysics, I learned that we have far more ability to direct our individual lives than we realize. That has added to my recognition of free will. I do feel that our free will is dependent on our awareness at any moment and that it is not ultimate for every person. If you are not aware of possibility, it is difficult to move awareness to probability.

As I have studied astrology and learned about the cycles and the timing of events in people’s lives, I have discovered there is a pattern at work…which, as pattern, could be considered fated. As I have experienced a long life, I have seen the concept of fate and/or destiny at work in my life and the lives of many others. Just how do you reconcile these two points of view?  I believe there is room for both.

We do not arrive on earth with an instruction manual or at least one that is identified as such (your astrology chart does help). We seem to come in with a reasonably clean slate and our experiences write on that slate as we become. What if we arrived on Earth purposefully? What if we have life to grow and become… for a purpose?  If there is purpose to our existence, does that not lend itself to a more fated concept?  Yet, what we do with ourselves and our life is continually based in free will choices.  Can you see both viewpoints operating simultaneously? Is it not possible that my life has purpose but that I get to make choices in whether or not I serve that purpose? Choice implies just that. I may have come with intent, but I may choose not to serve that intent and that is my choice. The two terms, fate and free will, are not mutually exclusive.

This is where I have arrived in my thinking. Yes, there is a lot more to my thinking on this subject, but this does illustrate this one point. Reason this pair of words through in your own mind to see where you personally see life. Is it fated? Is there free will?  Or…is there room for both?

Our next conundrum is evolution or creationism. I am not going to get into a protracted religious discussion, because to me it is not just about religion. Let us start with the big bang theory, the current favorite in the scientific community. Everything we see and that which is still invisible to us – everything – came into existence from a singularity, all at one time. It came from an indescribable nothingness and spread in every direction, but not uniformly. There are thick areas and empty areas of the cosmos.  The thick areas are filled with galaxies, nebula, solar systems, and all sorts of cosmic material… and us. We are not sure if there is anything in the empty areas, they only look empty to us. We cannot get close enough to be sure.

Religion believes that a deity spoke or acted in some way and everything came from nothingness, the act of creation itself. Are you seeing any similarity between the two theories because theories are what they each are? If I say the cosmos exploded into being or the Creator created, the big bang concept fits both theories. I truly do not see an argument here.

Belief in a creator or deity is a personal perspective. Belief in no such possibility is a personal perspective as well. Science is an intellectual frame of mind. Religion is an emotional frame of mind. Both intellect and emotion are valuable facets of human beings, probably equal in value. If you live and experience both intellectually and emotionally, you will have a reasonably balanced set of experiences. If you exclude one and live totally in the other, you are experiencing only half of the possibilities of life and it does not matter which is experienced and which is excluded. Both are valuable, exclusion simply halves your possibilities, yet this is a common practice. To practice such exclusion is a personal choice and preference, but that is all it is.

Science looks around at life and the relics of the history of our world in particular and the cosmos in general. Based on those relics and related research, science reaches conclusions as to the age of the universe, our planet and humanity. Science includes the concept of evolution based on natural selection. Based on this understanding and the archeological evidence, this is an intellectual approach.

People of a book, those that believe in a specific holy book, story or legend, or holy figure, follow that book, story, legend, or holy figure as a way of life. Their conclusions come from a community of belief that naturally filters through their emotions, and which are quite powerful. Who is to say which is right and which is wrong? Both have value, both are strongly felt and held. It is truly a matter of personal preference. Unfortunately, these two seem to be mutually exclusive for their adherents.

I have been around a long time. In my long and busy life experience I have never found a spot where the creative principle that formed this cosmos (whatever it is) left a message carved in stone and signed to dissolve any doubt. I have room in my consciousness for both evolution and deity. I am not limited. I like feeling my emotions and I enjoy the exercise of my intellect. I prefer to experience all of life that is possible to me, emotional and intellectual, scientific and inspiring, evolutionary and creative. I prefer to live a life that is not just rigid or with selected parts based on conclusions that are really not my own. This is my personal perspective and you have a personal perspective of your own.  Enjoy your journey.

First published on Ezine website January, 2010, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.