Question on Free Will

Issued by N.O.M. 8 October 1893,
being Essays by V. H. F Quaestor Lucis (Oswald Murray) on:

(1) Free Will and the Theory of Separateness
(2) River of Life

(No official G.D Authority)

While Oriental Theosophy postulates the unity of all Life in its basic
source, it makes the attainment of conscious union between the lower of
intellectual aspect of mind with the Soul or Higher Manas dependent on
the effort of the former, or in other words of the striving of the personality.

Again in the Hermetic School, of which Dr. Hartmann is an independent
interpreter, the freedom of each person to decide whether to climb the
Mount of Initiation or to remain on the lower plane of intellectual
rational life is strongly insisted on.

The position of these schools would apparently be that Primordial Being
differentiates itself into Units or atoms, each of which contains the
potentialities of its original. Free Will being attributed to original
Being, it follows that each unit or atom possesses Free Will in
potentia. Finding himself in incarnate condition, living in the
sense-mediated planes of self ~consciousness, it may strive or decide
not to strive to attain union with its Higher Principles, or to bring
the illumination of these higher aspects of its being, into functioning
conjointly with the rational intellectual plane of normal life.

This can only be effected, according to these schools, by the outer or
personal degree of life reaching up and striving to come into contact
with the inner principles.

This is apparently one of those veils which oriental and ancient systems
considered to be necessary till the student dared himself to tear them
asunder, but its retention in the sense of the teaching of
transcendental philosophy ceases to be reasonable. It is in
contradiction also with those portions of Theosophic teaching which
condemn ‘the illusion of personal existence’ and the ‘Heresy of
Separateness It is also untenable in the face of Mr Maitland’s
theosophic teachings with the reference to the centrifugal current in
man, which returns from the circumference of Being as centripetal, thus
inferring that re-ascent is the sequential effect in continuity of
descent, that evolution is self inherent in involution, that unfolding
is implicit in involving.

To teach that conjunction with the higher principles of consciousness
may be effected by the will of the lowerpersonality, is to attribute a
vitality to the personality which Theosophy itself contravenes in its
teachings as to the illusion of personal existence, and to lose sight of
the fact that man is not the former but the formed, that personality is
but the external manifestation of the one self determinating power.

To teach that each atom or unit, differentiated from original Being
possesses Free Will, is to imply that they are separated from Original
Being and possess existence in themselves; or to fall into the ‘heresy
of separateness’ and to forget the identity of the unit and the
Universal of the self-reference which is implicit in experience and
demonstrates the permanent relation, ever present, which links the unit
with the fountain source. To imply that the lower aspects of mind have
separated off from those which are left and dwell in the higher planes,
till conjunction or reintegration has been effected by the lower, is to
lose sight of the fact that, while aspects of consciousness may
distinguished, they cannot be separated without destroying the unity of

To imply that instinctual rational man may develop his own Will power,
that he may make his own condition of life, is to arrogate to the
external personality the prerogative of disposing of that one self
determinating power which manifests through him, of which he is the
instrument or media, the expression the unfoldment.

The original plan of the Great Architect cannot be altered by the
external manifestation thereof. The successive unfolding of the inner
aspects of mans consciousness must be subject to the Law of the One
Determiner, which alone knows itself from centre to circumference, a
ground and a fulfilment.

The action of the one determinating Power on the plane of nature
illustrates its mode or process. It shows results achieved by a
continual, gradual, consecutive unfolding from within. The Sun builds up
vegetable forms of life from the seed, beginning with the root, stem,
bud, blossom, fruit. The uniformity of law manifesting in the correlated
modes in different planes is a generally accepted axiom in occultism,
so, by analogy, must our internal state be successively unfolded from
within by the rays of our Spiritual Sun or Centre of Life. So also must
the recognition of the permanent relation with our Ground of Being or
Fountain Source return Mans will to its Central Source.

If for effort of the Personality we substitute the desire to have ever
present recognition within us of the reception of all power from the
central Source of Being, the desire to be able permanently to associate
our lives, in thought, as an external manifestation of the One
Determinating Power, and thus relate our actions to the original Source
of Being, that will probably be more likely to contribute towards
unfoldment from within.

Some Considerations on the Sepher Yetzirah

Transcendental Philosophy shows that the unit is permanently related
with its Source or Fountain of Being. Experience, when analysed, is
found to bear relation or self reference between the permanent element
of Being, which is ever present, which wells up in thought and forms the
ground of cogitation on the one hand with the actual ‘I’ on the other.
Thought is a relation and the subject identity recedes ever behind the
regarding mind. Hence events may be said to be in time and knowledge out
of time. The phenomenal world is then related in experience by the
Thinker to the subjective reality.

It is this ‘relating’ present in thought, the self reference implied in
experience, which ever unites the Unit with its ground or source —its
permanent element, and this would appear in the Path, on the Tree of
Life by the Moon or reflection which unites the Microprosopus with the
Macroprosopus, its source: it would also appear to be symbolized by the
River of Life ‘Nahar’ which unflows from the Supernal Eden or Spiritual
Being or Microprosopus or Being manifested in Time.

But the permanent relation between the unit or ‘I’ and its subjective
ground must probably have an occult natural aspect as well as the
metaphysical one I have illustrated. In other words there must be a
force behind thought of which what we cognise as thought is the
manifestation and it must be that force which constitutes the real
relation between the Unit and the Universal. That permanent relation,
that Force manifested as thought I believe is the River of Life bearing
within it and unfolding the four elements of Being; Spirit, Soul, Mind,

That emanation of Life or Spirit, the Sephira, the Sepher Yetzirah says
extends through all things. Through God’s power and existence every
element has its power and source from a higher Force and all things have
their common origin from the Holy Spirit. So God is at once both the
matter and the form of the Universe, yet He is not only the form, for
nothing can or does exist out of Himself.

The suggestion arises whether we can form any concrete conception of
that Emanating Force—the ‘River of Life’ which permanently relates the
‘I’ with its source, as well as the metaphysical relation described and
which we cognise as thought. Will not the conception of the centrifugal
force in which the centripetal is inherent and inseparable, assist us,
carrying as it does that unfolding is implicit in involving, that
evolution and development is the sequential effect in continuity of

The circuit of electricity will help us further, issuing as positive
until its reaches the negative pole, when it returns on itself to its
source. In this indeed we have an illustration of a positive Universal
Ground or Brain, as it is well known that electricity is not created de
novo by the dynamo. It is generated or emanates from an underlying?1
source of which the Earth is but one reservoir or condenser. Edison’s
experiments, the similar research of Greenwich Observatory, show the
magnetic storms of Earth which coincide with and are correlated with the
Sun spots, thus showing the lives of our coal miners to depend on the
state of the Sun. It is well known that magnetism is an effect of
electricity. The passing of a current of electricity through a bar of
iron converts it into a magnet. The presence of a current in one wire
‘induces’ a current in any wire near it.

The action of the Sun on the Earth above referred to is under the same
law. The presence of electricity in our Earth, itself entails its
polarity, its positive and negative poles—consequently its attracting
and repelling force or its centrifugal and centripetal currents. The
Aurora Borealis of our Earth and the Solar Corona or photosphere are
probably similar effects with regard to these orbs. So what the magnetic
field or radiation is to a magnet, which though not seen visually is
illustrated by iron filings spread on a piece of paper and held over a
magnet—What these spheres are to a magnet, the Earth and Sun, most
probably our aura is to us. This aura Madame Blavatsky described as a
magnetic aura, a psychic effluvium partaking both of the mind and of the
body. It is Electro-vital and Electro-mental.

Have we not in these examples illustrations of the force pervading the
Universe, coexisting in the unit and in the whole, inter relating all
into one Unity, manifesting in each in accord with one universal and
all-pervading law.

We have here, I think, the illustration of the one determinating force,
the River of Life, manifesting Unity and its media, and cognised by
these units as thought.

In this connection a further reflection suggests itself for
consideration with regard to the Sepher Yetzirah. While the four planes
of Being may be viewed a distinguishable, they must be inseparable, as
the unity of Being cannot be divided, and, as the Sepher Yetzirah itself
says, the Elements of Being each have their source in a higher form and
all from the Spirit which is both Form and Substance and in which are
all things. In accord with the Law of Uniformity, these Elements must
coexist in Unity, as well as in the Universal, in the microcosm as well
as in the macrocosm. It is probable therefore that we may consider the
Four Worlds as the planes through which the unit descends from its
Fountain Source to its present circumferential state and by which
descent it obtains a vehicle in each element or relation in each place.

Is not the Wheel of Life in the door of the Vault a key to this
question? showing, as it does, all four elements coexisting in the Unit.
But this cannot be considered as an integration of four living
creatures, each separate and having to be integrated into Unity, in as
much as the Unity of Being could never be divided up and separated
without entailing annihilation and chaos. If these four Elements are
viewed as Spirit, Soul, Mind, Instinct, it is evident that these do not
co-exist in each unit. The problem suggested is or may possibly be to
attain conscious functioning of each of the elements of Being in
relation with its place or World.

These descending states in the ultimation of the Unit find their
parallel in the process of thought. Every thought has an objective
aspect, as well as its subjective aspect, and one may say, like the unit
of being, thought emanates from original Being, is produced from the
unmanifested in Atziluth, takes shape in Briah, form in Yetzirah and
ultimates in Assiah, in which consideration we return to the two aspects
of the River of Life, we referred to at the beginning of this paper,
viz. the metaphysical and the occult.

What constitutes the difference between that part of the River of Life
which takes shape in Briah, and incarnates as volition, and that which
emanates through us as thought, remaining disincarnate, and what becomes
of that River of Thought which takes disincarnate form and is ultimated
through us?

We ourselves must have been produced from the unmanifest in Atziluth,
taken soul and shape in Briah, mind and form in Yetzirah, a concrete
shell and instinct in Assiah. Yet we remain permanently attached to our
own source, by a River of Life or electricity, which conveys to us in
reflection and intuition what we cognise as thought from our original
source. Is this the continuation of the River of Life which produces us?
Does that River still flow through us its self-­deluminated vehicles,
and manifest as thought? Then is not our personality an objective
representation of the attributes present in that River of Life? Or a
reflection in form of the type on the sense mediated plane of that which
involved itself by determination and is now unfolding to our
consciousness, as the centrifugal current returns on itself as centripetal?

The conception of the Duality of Will, good and evil, must have arisen
presumably from the appearance of there being a conflict between the
‘River of Life’ flowing through man and the impediments or obstructions
raised on the circumference by the atom cells or lives used in the
construction of the outer shell or organism and which were drawn from
the animal vegetable and mineral states. But these are only
manifestations of the One Universal Life, equally with the Primum Mobile
of Man, and the relation or reaction between these lives or states of
consciousness and the consciousness of the Entity using them must in
reality be a relation of harmony though in appearance there may be
conflict, and it must not be forgotten that the Primum Mobile or Entity
using these lives on its circumference is in reality the one River of
Life, and let me now again suggest the question of what becomes of the
Thought thus ultimated? and which we find to be manifested as the River
of Life.

The relation between the cells or lives used by the Unit in the
integration of its form or its body and the Primum Mobile which has
integrated that body, has its parallel in the Greater Universe in the
relation of the Unit or outer Manifestation to the Universal, then
determination whose body they form. The ultimation of each unit is
undoubtedly in accord with the archetypal plan, of which we are parts,
manifested objectively, yet there is all appearance of revolt, of
conflict between the unity, occupying the schools of Atheism,
Materialism, Evolution and their Determination.

The conflict between these units of manifestation and their
Determination is probably as real as that between the Wills and Lives,
making up the shell or organism and its constructor or controller or
Primum Mobile. It is (unclear: it with the sun,, but that makes no
sense. RG) the same River of Life acting in the next or more external
plane, that of the shells or matter. Let it be remembered that it is the
interaction between the Unit of Life or Primum Mobile in Man and the
other units and particularization of the Universe that begets the
manifold of experience, which is the function of the unit to relate and