Willpower: A Silent Force for the Awakening of Consciousness
It is interesting to investigate and reflect upon the subject of willpower, as it is such a crucial aspect when it comes to moving towards spiritual awakening. When we do something, we can say that we use our will to do it, and that is true. In this sense, our will is related with conscious intention, although we also do things that does not come from our consciousness, but rather from our instincts, impulses, drives, and other things of the subconscious mind. This means that the will is not only coming from the spiritual part of us (the essence or consciousness), but also from the animalistic side, from the subconsciousness.
In the teachings of Samael Aun Weor, this issue of unconscious will is explained in his book the Revolutionary Psychology, where he writes that there are three types of action: the first one is the one corresponding to the law of accidents, the second corresponds to the law of recurrence, and the third are actions coming from the conscious willpower.
This means that all of our unconscious actions, which unfortunately are the ones done most often, are part of predetermined laws of nature, served to shape up rough essences through the process of evolution, and hopefully make them ready for the path to liberation.
“Unquestionably, only persons who have liberated their willpower through the death of the “myself” shall be able to accomplish new acts born from their free willpower. The common and current acts of mankind are always either the result of the Law of Recurrence or the mere product of mechanical accidents.”
“Whosoever truly possesses free willpower can originate new circumstances.Whosoever has his willpower bottled up in the pluralized “I” is a victim of circumstances. No one can arrive at “real illumination” nor exercise the absolute priesthood of conscious willpower, if he has not first died radically in himself here and now.”
~ Samael Aun Weor
In the Gnostic teachings it is explained that our consciousness is only partly free (around 3% of it), whereas the rest of it (97%) is bottled up in various aspects of the subconscious mind, in things which in Gnosis we refer to as egos. The verification of the above quoted text is something that anyone can do for themselves when they start “dying to themselves”, or in other words, when they start eliminating their egos. The results of the latter are numerous, but at the base of it all is our increased awakeness, perception, and ability to make conscious choices. This means that we are able to utilize our will increasingly from our free consciousness, and as a result of that we are able to stay detached from mechanical, egoic reactions. Such mechanical reactions are produced by our bottled up will, the will that is trapped in the conditioned consciousness.
“The exercise of powers is possible when the marvelous power of the will is radically liberated. Unfortunately, since the willpower of people is absorbed in each “I,” obviously their willpower is divided into multiple wills that process themselves in virtue of their own conditioning.
“It is clear to comprehend that each “I” possesses its own particular, unconscious will. The innumerable wills engrossed in the “I’s” frequently clash with each other, making them impotent, weak, miserable, victims of circumstances, incapable, due to that reason.”
~ Samael Aun Weor
The egos have our will trapped, just as they have trapped many other virtues of the consciousness, such as love, intelligence, psychic perceptions, conscious faith etc. All of these virtues are important to have because they all have their role to play in the battle against the inner oppressor; they all contribute towards the ultimate victory. We could say that all those virtues are not just part of the consciousness, but they are the consciousness itself. The consciousness is will, and it is with this will that we perform actions of the spiritual work, be that related to practices and techniques for our own liberation, or by serving the humanity, etc.
The problem is that most of our will is bottled up within the egos, within the conditioned trapped consciousness, which is the reason why obstacles to reach the path seem insurmountable for many people. However, when we begin the work and decide to give our all, we can see that even with the little amount of consciousness that we have available we can do marvels, because the will of the free essence is still somewhat dominant over the egos, provided we do what it takes to keep that free essence psychologically awake and well fed, so that it is always active and present. We also, in those early times, receive enormous amount of help from divinity in order to reach levels where we have liberated a certain percentage of consciousness, and thus increased our willpower. Each percentage of consciousness freed counts a great deal on our journey to liberation.
Further ahead in the chapter of the above mentioned book, Samael mentions something interesting regarding the liberated will:
“The Essence is “conscience-willpower,” unfortunately processing itself in virtue of our own conditioning. When our willpower is liberated, then it blends or fuses itself with the Universal Willpower. Thus, as an outcome of this, when integrated like this, our willpower becomes sovereign. The individual willpower fused with the Universal Willpower can accomplish all the miracles of Moses.”
~ Samael Aun Weor
This statement about the universal willpower seems more esoteric and profound, but that too can be directly experienced when we do the work on the awakening of consciousness. The teachings about the universal mind and the universal consciousness have already been mentioned by various teachers. If the universal mind relates to the mental matter out of which the Universe was created, then the universal consciousness relates to the awake divine substance that permeates our Universe with its life-force (although the consciousness itself is beyond the duality of life and death). In the esoteric teachings it is explained that the separation between living beings increasingly lessens as we move up in dimensions, which culminates with the state of no-separation in the highest of planes of existence, or rather that the illusion of separation is non-existent.
Interestingly, when we start to work on the expansion of our consciousness, we begin to notice less and less separation between ourselves and what is around us. We still feel ourselves as an individual, but on a deeper level we experience things in another way. We could say that we start to feel everything and everyone within ourselves, and as the process of the awakening continues we feel our consciousness more fused with the external world, through our expanded inner world. This is mostly noticed in a peaceful environment where life-forms abound, such as somewhere in nature. And so when we start to experience this connection to the universal consciousness, we realize that we can draw energy from it for our own inner work. We can draw willpower from it through humility, right conduct and love.
And finally this brings us to the question: “What is the will in the first place?” In an attempt to answer this to a small degree, I will quote from the book The Seven Rays, where a theosophist Ernest Wood describes quite beautifully the nature of conscious will:
“Sometimes people think that the big, blustering, dominant person is the man of will, but that is not so; such a man uses that method because he thinks it is an effectual way to make others obey him, and he thinks so because he semi-consciously knows that he himself can be moved by blustering things acting upon him from the outside—a thing to which the man of will never submits. No, the will is the quietest thing in the world. And the man of self-control will not think of his austerity as an end in itself, but merely as the good life of the pure self whose purity is sacred not as a possession or an achievement, but as his very being.”
~ Ernest Wood
This description of will as the “quietest thing in the world” invites us to reflection on the difference between the conscious will, and the will that is used for mechanical, subconscious actions. It is worthwhile to try and discover this teaching within oneself, and we can do it by having more and more experience of consciousness, through which we learn about the nature of consciousness and by extension, the nature of will.