Conditional Free Will

Tom Butler, 2017


An important metaphysical question is whether we have free will. It is seldom directly asked, but free will seems necessary if we are to claim personal responsibility or trust our senses. For instance, if we do not have free will, it would seem to be impossible for us to assure our ethical behavior. This essay is an attempt to understand the factors governing our free will and the degree to which we have self-control.


The assumption that we have free will is part of the foundation on which we build our sense of self. Free will is usually characterized as the ability to decide for ourselves what to do next or how to react to information. Terms that are sometimes used as synonyms for free will include self-determination and freedom of choice.

While most of us assume we have free will, it turns out that many philosophers and scientists think we might not. Here is a brief overview of contending theories (a more detailed discussion of these influences is provided under Deterministic Influences, below).:


In philosophy, the idea that the operation of reality is deterministic means our choices are possibly predetermined. Determinism is something of an umbrella term for a number of deterministic influences. (1) In terms of human behavior, it means that our present is determined by our past. Deterministic influences include our genes, prior experiences, social dynamics and cultural influences. In physical processes, it means that a process is bound by natural principles.


Is a person’s temperament predominantly the product of social, environmental influences such as growing up in an academically inclined family versus one more focused on sports (Nurture)? Or, is a person’s temperament something that is set at birth; perhaps carried in our genes (Nature)? Also see Spiritual Instincts, below.

Nature’s Habit

The blueprint for the way biological organisms are formed, a process known as morphogenesis, has considerable momentum. That is, organisms change over time but do not abruptly change. The instance of a species formed today is virtually the same as that born yesterday. Rupert Sheldrake referred to this blueprint as Nature’s Habit.

Human instincts are a behavior version of Nature’s Habit which tend to determine how an organism will behave. Just as with morphogenetic momentum, behavior also has momentum so that our human body has essentially the same guiding instincts as all humans. These instincts tend to dominate our behavior at birth and are only moderated by reason as we gain in rational maturity.

God’s Will

A widely held view is the religious one in which our fate is thought to be destined as God’s will. This would seem to argue that whatever happens to us is not our fault, but is our fate. This appears to be the ultimate surrender of self-determination, in which our only responsibility is to be a righteous believer.

Predetermined by Agreement

This seems like a New Age theory, but it is actually very similar to God’s will, in that our actions are possibly predetermined by etheric influences beyond our control once we enter into a lifetime. The idea is that, before we were born, we enter into an agreement with one or more other personalities to facilitate specific life experiences. This might be an agreement to be a mate, but there is no reason it cannot be an agreement to kill a person. In this view, people killed in a war had agreed to experience a violent death prior to being born.

This follows the argument that we must have a specific kind of experiences to gain a specific kind of understanding. If this concept is true, we may be both the benefactor of the agreement and the supporting actor. This would suggest that we have free will prior to agreeing on an action, but are deterministically guided for the life of the contract.

Some argue that we might decide not to participate in the agreement when it is time to fulfill the contract. If so, that would be an expression of free will, but also a violation of a prior agreement. There is also the likelihood that we would not have the presence of mind to consciously decide our behavior.

Spiritual Instincts

If we accept the evidence of our immortality, then God’s will and pre-lifetime agreements are not out of the question. As I will explain below, we may have entered into this lifetime, this venue for learning, to gain understanding about some aspect of reality. Our free will is how we decide to respond to instincts we inherit from our local source. I refer to them as spiritual instincts to distinguish them from our human’s instincts.

It seems pretty clear that our free will is limited to some extent by deterministic influences. If I jump off of a cliff, the natural principle of gravity assures I cannot change my mind. Being born a man predicts different actions in life than being born a woman. Human instincts dominate our behavior, especially if we do not learn to manage them. There is little doubt that some of us are very different than others in our family, but the influence of family and culture determines who we are if we do not consciously act to make it otherwise.

Each one of these possibly deterministic influences is addressed below. If you have read other writing by me, you will notice that I often address the same concepts in each essay. This series of essays is designed to explain concepts in the Implicit Cosmology (2) as they apply to different aspects of daily living. My intention is to help you understand the implications of the cosmology, and therefore, the implications of your immortality. Resist skipping over the more familiar explanations, as they are tailored in each essay to the specific question. Understanding them will help you change your perspective from body-centric to etheric, immortal self-centric.

Anatomy of a Life Field

This essay is written from the point of view that we are immortal personalities temporarily entangled with a human for this lifetime—a person. That is the essence of the Trans-Survival Hypothesis (3) which I explain in detail in Your Immortal Self. (4) The model describing our life field is included in the Implicit Cosmology, (2) which is based on implications of survival, current understanding and theory derived from our work with transcommunication. For the explanations offered in this essay to make sense, it is important that you are familiar with that model. As such, it is briefly explained here.

Please not the meaning of implication. As I use it, implication means the consequences of what has been stated must be true for the original statement to be true. If we are immortal self, the implications that must be considered include the idea that we are not our human body, we are a person for a reason and we are likely influenced in some way by our human. If you do not accept those consequences, you cannot rationally accept the idea that we are immortal.

A field is defined here as a set of elements with related characteristics which are bound into a system by a common influence. In this model, life fields are the basic building blocks of reality. (5) A hypothetical Source life field is the top field in a hierarchy of nested fields. (6) Thus, the Source life field is the body of reality.

This follows the same model proposed in the Hypothesis of Formative Causation (7) in which the morphic field organizing a human organism is proposed as the top field for all of the sub-fields representing the various components of the body. In effect, our life field is a sub-life field of Source and exist in Source’s field of influence as an aspect of Source.

A Source life field and our relationship with it is not important to a discussion about free will, except to establish a boundary for this model. The important elements of this boundary include:

  • Our real home is described here as the etheric, which appears to be a form of conceptual space.
  • Reality consists of life field and the expressions of life fields.
  • All is thought. Expression follows the Creative Process: Attention on an imagined outcome to produce an intended order.
  • Fields of influence are the conceptual equivalent of physical objects. As such, the Source life field is reality.
  • Everything in the Source life field (everything in reality) is within the Source scope of influence.
  • Everywhere is here. Parapsychologists refer to this as nonlocality; however, it is more correct to say that everywhere is local.

To understand the limits of our free will, it is necessary to understand how our mind processes information. That means understanding the anatomy of our life field. But before I explain, it is necessary to clarify that I am not a psychologist, nor am I trained in any of the mind sciences. The model I use has been developed from black box analysis based on known and hypothetical input and output signals of an imaginary container representing our life field. I sometimes use the same approach for designing electronic circuits. The result is a set of functional areas inside the container which will respond to known inputs to produce known outputs. Done right, the resulting functional areas of the model can be used to predict previously unnoticed signals.

People who are well informed about current thought concerning how our mind works will probably not recognize or accept this model. I suppose one of the reasons for this is that few people actually trained in the subject are willing to include survival or transcommunication assumptions in its design. Just be clear that this is a useful tool for understanding the concepts I wish to discuss and not one that is likely to show up in academic literature.

Life Field

The Life Field Complex Diagram represents the model which has resulted from black box analysis of our etheric anatomy. It is based on the assumption that the Trans-Survival Hypothesis is mostly correct, (3) that the Hypothesis of Formative Causation is essentially correct (7) and First Sight Theory is a reasonable model for our thought processes. (8) Supporting information includes the way we think transcommunication works and current parapsychological research results concerning psi functioning.

As shown in the diagram, the major functional areas of our life field are:

Intelligent Core – Personality, which is our immortal aspect and source of our purpose. This is our I am this. It is this aspect with which we seek to become more consciously integrated.

Attention Complex – our mostly unconscious mind which represents the memory, perception and expression processes.

Conscious Self – our conscious perspective as I think I am this. Conscious self is a traveling perspective which, during a lifetime, seems to rest in the head of our human avatar. However, when sleeping or in an altered state, our perspective is disassociated from our body and free to roam etheric space. This freedom is limited by the Principle of Perceptual Agreement, which itself, is governed by worldview. (9)

In this model, processes such as expression and perception are referenced in a very fundamental form. It is up to you to extrapolate how they apply to any one circumstance. The essays I write are intended to explain ideas that seem to be important for following the Mindful Way, such as the Hermes Concepts, (10) Prime Imperative, (11) Consensus Building in the Paranormalist Community (12) and Ethics as a Personal Code for Mindfulness. (13)

Environmental Signals

Our mind is an etheric thing. Our body is physical. Well, at least we assign physicality to all of the information that comes to us via its senses. Given this physical-etheric difference, there must be some kind of conversion of information from physical to etheric. It seems reasonable to speculate that our human brain is where that conversion occurs. The effect is that all of our body senses must be converted to etheric signals. In turn, all of our physical expressions such as speech or motion are converted by the brain from etheric to physical commands.

Environmental information consists of signals from your body and psi signals from the etheric. Here, signal is used in the sense of expressed information, more like a gestalt-like thoughtform than a stream of information. James Carpenter posited that everything in reality expresses a psi signal and that all of our expressions are accompanied by a psi or psychokinetic signal impressed into the etheric. (8) (14) His Personalness Corollary [#1] and Weighting and Signing Corollary [#6] describe how we tend to pay attention to or ignore information, depending on its importance and our interest.

Catalyst for SentienceAttention-Intention Fields

Our mind is in etheric space where concepts are things in a similar way that objects are things in the physical. To model mind, it is necessary to identify influences, functions and states as concepts. The most important state is attention because, without it, the mind functions would be dormant. Think of the attention state as a precondition for sentience. Functionally, it does little more than act as a sort of integrating catalytic influence which we would characterize as the life force. I include it here for completeness to bound the perception-expression functions.

Intention is in the model as two forms. It is an influence which we consciously express toward mind. It is also a catalyst for the perception and expression processes. It represents the intention to perceive or express.

The catalyst concept may seem to add unnecessary complexity, but not including it would leave a huge hole in the model. Once you have digested the model, you will see that these elements might point toward important realizations.

PerceptionAttention Complex

Notice that the Perception functional area in the Attention Complex is closely associated with the Visualization functional area and that both are in the Intention functional area. They are part of the Perceptual Loop discussed below.

As well as I can tell, all of our thoughts, actions and perceptions occur in response to an environmental signal; either current as in seeing or smelling something, or historical as in considering an old insult. When we are triggered to react, the intention to do so is little more than an impulse. That impulse to react initiates a process that begins with the Visualization Function. The Visualization Function creates a characterization of the environmental signal based on Worldview and submits the result to the Perceptual Loop.

Visualization is probably a gestalt-like thoughtform form of characterization, rather than a single picture. The environmental signal might be from the body’s five senses or a psi signal from either side of the veil. Physical objects exist as they are perceived by a person (conscious self-avatar). The visualization precedes the objective experience.

The characterization formed by the Visualization Functional Area is compared with the contents of Worldview to determine if it is familiar. This might be a many-tries process as the characterization is adjusted to closer agree with Worldview. If sufficient agreement is found, the characterization is submitted to the Perception Functional Area. An action in response to the environmental signal is generated as a psi signal (perhaps psychokinetic) and possibly as a signal to the brain to change the body in some way. A signal is also sent to conscious self to produce conscious awareness of the signal. Again, this is awareness of what has come out of the Perceptual Loop and not necessarily a true representation of the actual signal.

Attention LimiterAttention Limiter

The Attention Limiter acts as a filter to screen out environmental information that is of no interest to us. Environmental signals include information from our etheric personality (core intelligence), other personalities such as those in our collective, loved ones and friends on the other side. Signals from our body’s physical senses are also filtered by the Attention Limiter. Our control of this filter is limited to the extent we are able to control the Perceptual Loop to control the contents of Worldview (lucidity). The Reject outcome of the Perceptual Loop discussed below, is a signal to the Attention Limiter to ignore such information in the future.

In science fiction, a common issue is how telepaths are able to function if they are bombarded with telepathic signals from everyone. This functional area answers that worry. In principle, we are able to sense virtually every signal in reality, but our previously expressed threshold of interest protects us. The challenge is in setting that threshold. Our human instincts have it set to detect threats, food and opportunities for mating. Do our spiritual instincts have it set to detect opportunities for greater understanding?


Worldview is like a database which is populated by our human’s instincts and what we have been taught by our family, teachers, religions, media and experiences. It presumably includes a degree of understanding inherited from our collective and a sense of specific purpose inherited from our core intelligence (personality), which is described here as spiritual instinct. Worldview is the most influential aspect of our life field. It is Nature’s Habit for our life filed as described in the Hypothesis of Formative Causation (7) and the yardstick by which environmental information is measured.

Worldview has considerable momentum, in that once a decision is made, once information is integrated into Worldview, it is very difficult to change. Expect that it must be changed in small increments. Also expect that everything we consciously perceive is based on how it is characterized based on Worldview.

Perceptual Loop and Worldview

Perceptual Loop
We know that our mostly unconscious mind has a mechanism to accept or ignore some information, decide what will be allowed into our worldview, what will be presented to our conscious mind and how that presented information is characterized. We are pretty sure this is also true of what we express into the environment and the signals sent to our body. This mechanism is modeled in the Implicit Cosmology as the Perceptual Loop. Information that passes through the Attention Limiter next enters the Perceptual Loop.

The Perceptual Loop process begins with an attempt to characterize the information (visualize) based on what is in Worldview. The information comes as a gestalt-like thoughtform and must be characterized based on familiar information. An important point to keep in mind while modeling our mind is that we create the present based on the past.

The initial characterization is then compared with the contents of worldview. The visualized form is not yet submitted to conscious self as perception or sent into the environment as expression.

The process of visualization and then comparison with Worldview is probably a very rapid, iterative one resulting in many tries. Each try would produce a slight modification of the original input so that after many tries, the visualized version may have drifted quite a bit from the intended input.

There are probably many extenuating considerations involved in the comparison. For instance, was the original input accompanied by a sense of urgency? Did the signal come from a friend? Was it an ordinary signal from the body? The three primary states expected to come from the Perceptual Loop are:

Reject – if no agreement is found between what is in worldview (familiar) and what is visualized, the environmental information is simply rejected as if it never passed the Attention Limiter. That Reject outcome is probably fed back to the Attention Limiter as a modification of the filter.

Conditional Accept – a second possible outcome of the Perceptual Loop Agree decision is “Yes.” However, the incoming information is probably in the form of a thoughtform which is not a format we are able to consciously perceive. The perceptual process produces a version of that information based on more familiar symbols represented in Worldview. Thus. if there is some amount of agreement between sensed information and Worldview, a characterization of the information is offered to conscious awareness.

This is an important point. What we become aware of is not the raw information we sensed. It is a characterization of it that is in sufficient agreement with memory to be considered familiar. We consciously experience a version of the information, a result described in mental mediumship as a colored message. This argues that any information access is potentially colored by cultural contamination. This is especially true of transcommunication.

This colored result is especially influenced by expectation. We are more apt to experience what we expect. Conversely, we are less apt to experience information if we have previously expressed disbelief in the subject.

The Perceptual Loop is used for expression as well. What we intend to express into the environment, say speaking to a friend or picking something up, is colored by Worldview. In terms of the psi signals we send to the environment, our worldview is doing the speaking. All we do is express the intention. If we intend to be forgiving of an offending person, the signal that person receives may well be a drop-dead message instead, if that is how we previously informed our Worldview.

Ambiguous Accept –the sensed information may be ambiguous, meaning that it seems familiar but is not specifically defined in Worldview. In this case, it has the potential of being integrated into Worldview and submitted to conscious perception as a modified version of familiar information, but now updated with the new influence.

It is this output of the Perceptual Loop on which we have conscious influence. By consciously intending to see things as they are, consciously questioning perception and avoiding making an Accept-Reject (believe or not) decision, we are able to encourage the Perceptual Loop to be more accepting of sensed information as it is, rather than as it compares to Worldview. This is the enabling concept of Mindfulness as I speak of it in my writing, and which I explain in great detail in Your Immortal Self: Exploring the Mindful Way. (4)

Be aware that training the perception-expression processes to respond as you intend is a small change-at-a-time process that can take many years.


When we decide to speak, act or even when we think about something, we initiate a perceptual process to visualize what we want to say or do. The difference between a fantasy and an expression is the intention to make it so. As it is modeled here, the creative process is attention on an imagined outcome to produce an intended order. (15) Expression then, is a process consisting of intention initiating the visualization of what is intended, perceiving that visualized outcome and then intending to express it into reality.

This process is moderated throughout by the Perceptual Loop just as if it were sensed information. As such, expression is the outward influence of perception. We tend to think, do, speak and feel based on Worldview.

This is central to the idea that we create our reality, and we do so, based on what we know, which is contained in Worldview. The idea is that we cannot express what we cannot visualize. And the visualization process is based on what we have been taught.


To be lucid means to have clear perception of our usually unconscious mind. More to the point, it means being able to consciously sense environmental information as it was intended and not as it is colored by the perceptual processes.


It is arguable that none of us are completely lucid, so we speak in terms of degrees of lucidity. As a practical matter, the average person has virtually zero lucidity, and always senses the world as he or she has been taught. In that regard, the average person’s personal reality is essentially the same as all of the others in the community. The assumption here is that the community has a local sense of actual reality which is usually not helpful for a person seeking spiritual maturity.

Our personal reality is defined by our worldview. The process of aligning our personal reality with the actual nature of reality begins when we realize that there is a difference and consciously seek to change. The intention to change is expressed to the Perceptual Loop as increased curiosity, consciously turning attention toward things that seem real, examining consequences of beliefs and questioning every action.

Deterministic Influences

Determinism is an argument that must be considered in three parts. For physical systems, it assumes that naturally occurring principles in nature determine the behavior of physical processes. For the behavior of biological systems, it assumes that behavior is inherited by way of a genetic predisposition. Assuming the Survival Hypothesis is allowed, the third part is a set of influences emanating from our etheric (nonphysical) aspect.

Physical Principles

For the purpose of this essay, the rules governing operation of the physical world can be generalized by saying that the behavior of everything is constrained in some way by rules which are thought to apply to all of the physical universe. For instance, an important fundamental relationship in electrical circuits is known by Ohm’s Law, which states that voltage (V) is equal to the to the current I (I) times the resistance (R): V = I × R. This relationship should be equally valid on the other side of the galaxy.

I use the Mandelbrot Set to demonstrate how a simple equation can represent an infinitely complex aspect of reality. The set consists of all the numbers from -2.0 to +1.0 on the real axis and -1.5 to +1.5 on the imaginary axis. Using the simple equation:

Z n+1 = Zn2 + C, where Z0 = C

The plot shown below is produced by calculating each point a predetermined number of times using the result as the beginning value of C for the next cycle. If the result approaches infinity, the point is assigned black on the plot. Otherwise, it is typically assigned a color or intensity based on the size of the resulting value. There is a more detailed explanation in Your Immortal Self, (4) and an earlier version in The Cosmology of Imaginary Space Discourse. (16)

Mandelbrot_Set_with insets

The top figure, sometimes known as The Apple Man, is a fractal, meaning that it is repeated many times in the plot, but at different scales. By selecting beginning points of increasingly small values (for instance Real Number: -1.165, Imaginary Number: -0.288).

Inset A in the Navigating Within the Mandelbrot Set Diagram (below), is an enlargement of the area marked Inset A at the bottom of the larger figure. Inset B shows part of Inset A for which the plot has been further telescoped. In it, you can just begin to make out a miniature version of the Apple Man fractal. There are supposed to be an infinite number of such fractals visible as the formula is used like a telescope to calculate points with ever small coordinates.

The message is that the complexity of the physical world is organized by relatively simple rules. The same can be said of the greater reality, but with a different sort of rules.

Genetic Predisposition

This is an area for which I have little training. The idea is that each of our cells contains 23 chromosomes, each containing hundreds or thousands of genes, which in turn, contain our DNA. All of the characteristics of the body are dictated by the DNA within the genes. In the deterministic models, it is argued that our personality is also coded into our genes.

The research is pretty clear that the blueprint for our physical body is in our genes. It is also logical to think that much of our temperament is influenced by our body, its abilities and differences in appearance from the norm. However, it is not so definite that our temperament is determined by our genes, and evolution does not seem to completely explain how the characteristics of a species change over time.

Nature’s Habit

Rupert Sheldrake developed the Hypothesis of Formative Causation as a possible explanation for how morphogenesis is controlled. (7) Morphogenesis is the process in which a cell is differentiated into another cell. Remembering that an organism begins as a single cell, all of the cells have the same genes. How a cell knows to divide into a skin cell or bone cell, for instance, is one of the mysteries of nature that has yet to be reasonably well modeled using mainstream science.

Formative Causation holds that morphogenesis is managed by way of fields which represent each element of an organism. A human body has a field, as does its skin, bones and cell, each kind with its attendant field. The field is defined by a set of instructions which orchestrates the formation and activity of its part of the organism. This is a nested hierarchy of fields model.

The instructions are based on what Sheldrake referred to as Nature’s Habit. In other words, the attendant morphic fields (aka morphogenetic fields) cause their part of the organism to form and function by way of morphic resonance based on how that part has always been formed. This theory does allow for gradual changes based on successful, creative solution to environmental challenges which are inherited by the morphogenetic memory of the species.

In the Implicit Cosmology, each instance of a species is expected to be a complete life filed as a member of a collective representing that species. If the Hypothesis of Formative Causation is correct, the collective would share a single intelligent core containing the body image (memory and Nature’s Habit). That is, if there are a billion instances of a variety of dog, then their collective consists of a billion top dog fields integrated by one intelligent core.

The idea of a shared intelligent core is proposed to account for the mystery of what guides morphogenesis, to provide a means of transmitting evolutionary changes to all of the species and to agree with the model used in the Implicit Cosmology to explain survival phenomena.

All members of a species biologically share the same genetic code, but we do see variations in temperament amongst members of a species. As I understand it, the Hypothesis of Formative Causation’s provision for inheritance of instincts does not account for differences in temperament.

Differences in temperament remains an open question. The Implicit Cosmology was designed to model a person as a life field (who we really are) entangled with another life field (our human avatar). There is nothing in the model forbidding it to be applied to a different animal, such as a dog or bird. In that case, difference in temperament in animals can be explained using the Implicit Cosmology.

In the concept of transmigration (related to reincarnation), through many life cycles, a soul is born into increasingly complex avatars until it finally joins with a human. The idea that we might have once been a plant, bug or dog does not set will with most of us. But, most of us who accept survival, also accept that we will eventually find ourselves in a different venue for learning … not necessarily on earth, and therefore, not necessarily as a human. That is little different than transmigrating from a bug to a human. I do not know, and the subject is a little outside of this cosmology; however, be aware that our animal friends may well have been us at one time, or could be next time around.

Human Instincts

The human brain can be considered in two parts: forebrain and brain stem. According to “Brain Structures and Their Functions,” the brain stem: “is responsible for basic vital life functions such as breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure. Scientists say that this is the ‘simplest’ part of human brains because animals’ entire brains, such as reptiles (who appear early on the evolutionary scale) resemble our brain stem.” (17)

The forebrain supports rational thought, so an assumption in the Implicit Cosmology is that the brain stem has evolved to support survival of the human body and the forebrain has evolved to support the entangled personality. In this view, it is reasonable to expect that, like other animals, humans would get along pretty well without an entangled personality.

Human instincts are a behavioral version of Nature’s Habit. They become part of our worldview and dominate our behavior at birth. We spend the majority of our life trying to manage them, our success in which is sometimes known as rational maturity.

A brief Internet survey did not produce a useful list of instincts. It is pretty clear that they all relate to the urge to perpetuate the species. The challenge is to distinguish between our human’s instincts and our spiritual instincts. For instance, curiosity is sometimes included in lists for human instincts. Curiosity about the habitat is useful for survival, but it also contributes to gaining understanding through experience.

Mimicking play is an important trait for survival and procreation, as it teaches adult skills such as child care, hunting and protecting the family. We see that a playful attitude is common amongst our trans-communicators, so play may be a fundamental instinct.

Spiritual Instincts

The assumptions for my comments about spiritual instincts are that we are immortal personality entangled with a human avatar as a person. Also, that we enter into a lifetime for the purpose of gaining understanding about the nature of reality as it is expressed in this venue. Further, that each of us is a member of a collective of other personalities with which share our understanding, and in turn benefit from the collective understanding. (you and I are not necessarily in the same collective) These assumptions are detailed and justified in Your Immortal Self. (4)

We may be in this lifetime for secondary purposes, such as helping a member of our collective have a specific experience. But in every experience rests an opportunity to gain understanding. I posit here that each of us has an instinct to gain understanding through experience that came with us into this lifetime and will follow us into whatever new venue we find ourselves in after this lifetime.

When we are mindfully seeking to understand the nature of our experiences, we are going with the flow of our instincts. Life is easier in a spiritual sense. This is the path toward free will … at least freer will; certainly self-determination.

When we remain steeped in our human instincts, we are resisting our urge to gain understanding. Spiritually, life is harder. This is the path dictated by circumstance and our human’s survival instincts.

The idea that we have instincts that are concerned with more than simple human existence is addressed in the Katha Upanishad [1-III-4 through 1-III-8]. In it, the teacher explains to the seeker the importance of discernment in life’s experiences with an eye toward understanding may avoid the necessity of future lifetimes. (28)

Natural Law

The physical science view of determinism is that principles are a natural result of fundamental forces such as gravity, atomic-level influence and constants such as the natural rate of decay or the rate at which a field loses strength as one moves away from the source. Biological processes also evolve out of these fundamental principles. That is the physical view held by mainstream science.

The metaphysical view of principles governing the operation of reality is known by many as the Principles of Natural Law. Taking the metaphysical point of view makes sense if you accept the premise that reality is entirely thought and we create the physical with our mind. Before you discount this mental point of view, remember that it is an overly simple way of saying that we are immortal beings and that the physical is an aspect of the greater reality, which we and other immortal beings express according to our collective consciousness. This is the natural consequence of our survival beyond this lifetime.

One of the most important rules I follow in metaphysics is that magic is not allowed. I make a distinction between the personality of which I am an aspect created to experience the physical, and personalities that hold the physical venue for learning in their imagination. The idea is that many personalities use the physical as a school, but that there are others in charge of running the school. Every indication is that these school entities did not imagine the physical as it is today, but did so as an evolution of trial and error. Reality is very efficient, and everywhere we look, complex evolves from simple. If that is true, the best way to create the physical I can think of is to begin with a handful of simple principles and let them do the creative work.

Natural Law can be thought of as riding above the physical principles. They are concerned with the relationship of a person (personality entangled with a human) with the etheric. Think of them as something of a roadmap for the operation of a person. The degree to which a person understands and is able to live in accordance with the principles is a measure of the person’s progression, which is the degree to which a person understands the true nature of reality. The principles are thought to be everywhere the same. (11)

Historical View

My first attempt to develop a cosmology included the concept that Source expressed the experiential aspect of itself from which we evolved, and a formative aspect representing a parallel nested hierarchy of personalities. (18) I was influenced by the idea of nature spirits apparently involved in formation, care and evolution of the various aspects of reality. The concept is so deeply embedded in New Age thought that it is difficult to ignore.

The Implicit Cosmology does not specifically call for a hierarchy of formative aspects of Source. It does include the idea that the various venues, such as the physical, are imagined and maintained by probably many personalities. However, I also argue that the life field concept is the fundamental building block, and organizing principles are the formative rules for the creative process.

What differentiates a personality into a venue builder as opposed to an experiencer remains a detail to be worked out. It is clear that we are all creators, and it is our spiritual urges that guide us in our experiences. Perhaps we will spend a while holding a venue in our mind. Perhaps we are doing that now. Certainly, we create venues for our little me to try out ideas. We are both experiencers and the formative aspects represented by nature spirits in lore, as our actions are constrained by organizing principles.


The National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC) defines Natural Law as an “ascertained working sequence or constant order among the phenomena of nature.” (19) That constant order is considered the expression of Infinite Intelligence (non-anthropomorphic god, Source, Nature). The NSAC has a statement of understanding known as the Declaration of Principles. (20) Principles 1, 2, 3 and 7 are relevant to this discussion:

1. We believe in Infinite Intelligence.

2. We believe that the phenomena of Nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence.

3. We affirm that a correct understanding of such expression and living in accordance therewith, constitute true religion.

7. We affirm the moral responsibility of individuals and that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.

Hermetic Teaching

Natural Law is also an important part of the Hermetic systems of thought. The more commonly cited principles are from The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. (21) Hermes was thought to have lived in Egypt 6,000 years ago. Many believe he represents the source of many basic concepts concerning the operation of reality.

  1. The Principle of Mentalism.

The all is mind; The universe is mental. The Kybalion

  1. The Principle of Correspondence.

As above, so below; as below, so above. The Kybalion

  1. The Principle of Vibration.

Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates. The Kybalion

  1. The Principle of Polarity.

Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled. The Kybalion

  1. The Principle of Rhythm.

Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates. The Kybalion

  1. The Principle of Cause and Effect.

Every Cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to Law; chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law. The Kybalion

  1. The Principle of Gender.

Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; Gender manifests on all planes. The Kybalion

Implicit Cosmology

While developing the Implicit Cosmology (2) as it is implied by the Trans-Survival Hypothesis, I found certain concepts were involved throughout. It was evident that they are foundation concepts on which reality is formed. Thus, I defined thirty-eight organizing principles. (22) As it turns out, only a few resembled the usual Natural Laws which evolve out of the Hermetic teaching. (10) The principles are in three degrees of granularity so that concepts like Collective and Field are associated under Reality, concepts such as Attraction and Life Field are associated with Formation and concepts such as Attention and Transition are related to Personality.

Do not be overly concerned with the names of these. A different model might describe different terms because of different granularity or perspective. The underlying principles would be the same for every version of a reality model even though the nomenclature might be different.

Organizing Principles are active agents, rather than immutable laws. In principle, each life field is a creating intelligence and the principles regulate the creative process. (15) They might be able to be superseded or ignored but they are always present and do exert an influence.

That influence becomes more important when attention is turned toward an applicable characteristic. For instance, the Field Organizing Principle simply represents a fundamental characteristic of how reality self-organizes. Things exist as fields. However, life field as a formative agent does not come into play as a concept until purpose is considered.

The influence of organizing principles is always present and becomes a factor as we turn our attention toward a visualized field with the intention to express it into the environment. That is just a specific way of saying that a concept becomes a factor when a person intends to apply it in some way. If the visualization and intention are inconsistent with a concept (organizing principle), execution will be much more difficult.

The idea of immutable laws is a traditional part of systems of thought that seek to incorporate the Hermetic Principles. As I model them, they are expressions of Source’s understanding of itself. The model also holds that we are aspects of Source that exist to satisfy its curiosity about itself. If this is true, as we gain understanding about the nature of reality, and return that to Source, presumably, Source will learn a more complete self-image of itself. That would potentially result in changes in the underlying principles. As such, if Source is still learning, then organizing principles are evolving.

Here are a few examples from Discourse 3: Organizing Principles taken from Your Immortal Self (4) and a discourse of the same name: (22) (Early versions of these are in the Organizing Principles Discourse.)

In the category of Reality

Hierarchy: A hierarchical relationship exists between Source, aspects of Source and subsequent expressions of those aspects.

Prime Imperative: Aspect personalities inherit purpose from their source.

In the category of Formation

Aspectation: The influence of intention on imagined outcomes expresses aspects of reality which are a subset of personality’s personal reality

Perceptual Agreement: Personality must be in perceptual agreement with the aspect of reality with which it will associate.

In the category of Personality

Personal Reality: Perception of reality defines personal reality.

Self-Determination: Personality’s behavior is limited only by the Organizing Principles.

Worldview: Worldview is a learned response moderated by understanding.

Retro Familiar Storytelling

This is something of an undocumented problem for me. As a Sunday Society Meeting Medium, I must always be alert for new ways my mind will fool me. I define the Retro Familiar concept as Modification of an initial memory or sense based on secondary feedback from the environment.

In mediumship, this is seen when the medium elaborates on the message based on the sitter’s feedback. For instance, the medium might say “I see a big tree.” The sitter might respond with “I like to read under a big tree.” In Retro Familiar Storytelling, the feedback from the sitter might produce a response from the medium as “Yes, I see that. You like the warmth from the sun.” This is coloring based on information that was not in the originally sensed message but seems like it was in retrospect.

Any modification of how a person senses memory, a psi signal or visualization based on feedback from the environment should be considered a form of storytelling that possibly colors the original sense beyond its initial meaning. This effect is probably best seen as a sloppy mental habit that can be managed through mindfulness.

The retro-familiar response is a form of hyperlucidity. (27) It should be considered a problem for free will because the response provides positive feedback to the perceptual processes, possibly indicating an erroneous belief is correct.

To be clear, this concept does not indicate that the person is faking in the sense of “Yah, I meant to say that.” Because current awareness is being presented to conscious self in real time, the Perceptual Loop can too easily link the sitter’s feedback with the medium’s sense of the message. This may also be related to how false memories are formed.

Finding Free Will

As a practical matter, our freedom to make informed decisions about our life is a function of how well we understand the processes which limit free will, and the success we have in managing those influences. In practice, we are pretty much on automatic (no free will) until we know to take control. We then have increasing free will as we gain understanding. Here, I use the Organizing Principle of Understanding from the Implicit Cosmology which is defined as Perception of reality as it is and not as it is believed to be, with emphasis on underlying principles. (2) (22)

There is something of a threshold of acquired understanding about our personal nature, beyond which we begin to recognize the need to deliberately seek greater understanding. It is crossing that threshold which I describe as stepping onto the Mindful Way. Until we have taken that most important step, our free will remains more illusion than fact.

The Tower

The Tower Key 16 of the Tarot as illustrated by Dr. Paul Foster Case (23)

Breaking up of old mental structures to make way for greater clarity. Culmination of understanding leads to realization and possibility of further understanding. Some say the Dark Night of Soul and the Dawn that follows. (26)

Paradoxically, the less free will we have, the less aware we are of our lack of free will. Consequently, it is unlikely a person will cross that mindfulness threshold without some form of outside influence. This is typically in the form of a personal crises brought on by a growing realization that accepted truths are not so true after all. This is a concept that has been understood by spiritual teachers since the time of Hermes. Consider The Tower, Key 16 of the Tarot. I use a modified version of the Rider-Waite deck as taught by the Builders of the Adytum:

To this Key is attributed the stage of spiritual unfoldment called Awakening, because it represents the flash of clear vision which reveals to the searcher the true nature of his being which has previously been hidden from him because of the bondage of his consciousness.”(23)

Personal Responsibility

Of course, each of us must be responsible for our actions. Well, at least we must be accountable, else our society could not be based on the rule of law. But, is it possible to have personal responsibility for our actions if we do not have conscious control over our perception?

Perhaps the highest expression of personal responsibility is the sacrifice of ourselves for a perceived higher purpose. I read somewhere that our instinct for survival is hierarchical. Many of us will fight to survive, but readily sacrifice ourselves for our family. However, we will sacrifice ourselves for our country at the expense of our family. The United States depends on an all-volunteer military, which means we depend on citizens willing to sacrifice their life for the good of our country.

This paradox is pointed out by David Ropeik in his article The Greatest Threat of All: Human Instincts Overwhelm Reason: (24)

You woke up each day last year and went about your business as any human does, compelled by deep and ancient instincts to do the things necessary to get yourself safely to bed at night.

And later

We are compelled from the deepest level of our genes and survival instincts to taking more from the system than it can provide and put back in more waste than it can handle, and no amount of human brain power outwit the natural instincts that are driving us 150 miles an hour toward a cliff.

And last:

Dangerous, because the belief that our intellect can provide the tools and enlightened leadership that will ride to the rescue, arrogantly denies the inescapable truth that we are still mostly instinctive animals, each of us compelled by deep subconscious urges to do what we can as individuals to survive today; and the day after that, and everybody else, are just not as much of a concern.”

Ropeik was addressing how being controlled by instincts allow us to ignore greater, less obvious threats to our survival. This is the problem of our human’s instinctive response to cultural influences (worldview) versus our conscious self’s mindful examination of our actions.

Personal responsibility cannot be executed without examination of our every action from the perspective of understanding of Natural Law. Without that understanding, and realization that our mostly unconscious mind only lets us be aware of what we have previously believed to be true, our free will is illusion.

Taking Control of Free Will

The assumption of this essay is that we entered into this lifetime with a purpose, but because entanglement with our human is so complete, most of us have lost sight of that purpose. Probably for all of us, the dominance of our human’s instincts has overshadowed the fact that our body is a faithful servant and not our actual self.

he assumption of this essay is that we entered into this lifetime with a purpose, but because entanglement with our human is so complete, most of us have lost sight of the fact that our body is a faithful servant and not our actual self.

A common theme in New Age literature is that transcendent spiritual teachers deliberately enter into a lifetime to help we who are still in the physical. They do so knowing the risk that they might lose control of their spiritual maturity by succumbing to the belief that they are their body. The physical is a compelling temptress to whom we willingly surrender our self-determination.

Consider what has been explained in this essay, seeking to take conscious control of your thought processes is perhaps the most important step you can take to gain spiritual maturity. The essay, Consensus Building in the Paranormalist Community, (12) includes quite a lot about taking control of the thought process. Also, understanding the life Field Complex model discussed above gives you the necessary tools for relating what you have learned to other situations.

The most important thing to remember is that taking control is a deliberate, lifelong process. Done right, it will become a way of life that moves your current body-centric perspective to an etheric, immortal self-centric perspective.


  1. Doyle, Bob. “Determinism.” The Information Philosopher. 1968.
  2. Butler, Tom. “Implicit Cosmology.” Etheric Studies. 2015.
  3. Butler, Tom. “Trans-survival Hypothesis.” Etheric Studies. 2015.
  4. Butler, Tom. Your Immortal Self, Exploring the Mindful Way. AA-EVP Publishing. 2016. ISBN 978-0-9727493-8-1.
  5. Butler, Tom. “Life Field.” Etheric Studies. 2014.
  6. Butler, Tom. “Source.” Etheric Studies. 2015.
  7. Sheldrake, Rupert PhD. “Morphic Resonance and Morphic Fields.” Rupert Sheldrake.
  8. Carpenter, James. “First Sight: A Model and A Theory of Psi.” James Carpenter. 2014.
  9. Butler, Tom. “Perceptual Agreement.” Etheric Studies. 2015.
  10. Butler, Tom. “The Hermes Concepts.” Etheric Studies. 2016.
  11. Butler, Tom. “Prime Imperative.” Etheric Studies. 2017.
  12. Butler, Tom. “Consensus Building in the Paranormalist Community.” Etheric Studies. 2017.
  13. Butler, Tom. “Ethics as a Personal Code for Mindfulness.” Etheric Studies. 2016.
  14. Butler, Tom. “Perception.” Etheric Studies. 2015.
  15. Butler, Tom. “The Creative Process.” Etheric Studies. 2014.
  16. Butler, Tom. “The Cosmology of Imaginary Space.” Etheric Studies. 2014.
  17. Kinser, Patricia Anne. “Brain Structures and their Functions.” Serendip Studios. 2000.
  18. Butler, Tom. Handbook of Metaphysics: A plain English Discussion of New Age Concepts. Hanover: The Christopher Publishing House, ISBN: 0815804857, 1994. p. 385.
  19. National Spiritualist Association of Churches. February 2012.
  20. “About Spiritualism.” Spiritualist Society of Reno.
  21. Trismegistus, Hermes Mercurius. The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. Internet Sacred Text Archive.
  22. Butler, Tom. “Organizing Principles.” Etheric Studies. 2015.
  23. B.O.T.A. “Highlights of TAROT.” B.O.T.A.
  24. Ropeik, David. “The Greatest Threat of All: Human Instincts Overwhelm Reason.” Psychology Today. 2015.
  25. Waite, Arthur Edward. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot,. 1911.
  26. Coleman, Patrick John. “A Shaman’s Guide To The Dark Night Of The Soul.” Medium. 2014.
  27. Butler, Tom. “How We Think.” Etheric Studies. 2014.
  28. Panoli, Vidyavachaspati V. (Translater). “Katha Upanishad.” Vedanta Spiritual Library.

Tom Butler

Co-Director, Association Transcommunication (ATransC)

Author Your Immortal Self: Exploring the Mindful Way

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