Life is a battle between will and fear. Where will is stronger, we grow; where fear is stronger, we regress. But from where does willpower come? It is common for us to say that our actions will be aligned with our inner character when certain conditions are met. “I will be honorable when I have enough money / time / happiness / corporate success / <other creative requirements go here>.” In truth, every excuse is merely a means of rejecting or delaying alignment with our wholesome and authentic inner self. Circumstance is never the driving force behind sustainable will.
The decision to live as one’s authentic inner self is not a function of desire or commitment either; these falter when the true foundation of will is not in place, for will is not want. Sometimes we think force is the answer, and state we will because we have to. This too fails. We cannot coerce ourselves to develop lasting willpower; force does not build will.
Willpower is a function of wisdom; it lives in the realm of mind. To develop will, one must seek understanding. The greatest misconception is how the three domains of mind, body, and spirit connect and work in harmony to help willpower develop.
The essence of one’s authentic inner self is spirit, or heart. Mind exists as a means of processing and learning from lessons in life, enabling us to evolve as authentic beings. The physical realm of body is the source of experiences from which we grow. Body is decidedly not us; we are merely participants and observers with respect to the physical. Mind too, is not us; it is a tool by which we realise, understand, and engage at an emotional level. This leaves spirit or emotion, the essence of us.
We live in the heart and we live in the mind.
Suffering tells us where life is maligned.
When our authentic inner self - heart or spirit - is challenged, the mind works to resolve the discord. It processes the situation in accordance with the information it has from education, introspection on past experience, belief structures, and observation. Mind then provides guidance.
If we follow the guidance, the mind is friendly and helpful; if we reject the mind or its conclusions, we force it to continue resolving the discord. This is not a bad thing; our mind presents all possible solutions and our heart determines the fit. If the conclusion of the mind does not fit character or heart, the solution is incorrect. If the conclusion involves risk or worries the heart cannot accept, it will reject the solution until those risks and worries are addressed.
When our mind hasn’t enough wisdom or internal knowledge to develop a viable path from discord, we garner this information from our worldly choices and their outcomes. This experiential direction is in accordance with our needs. The less aligned we are, the more mistakes we make and the greater the intensity of our blowback.
When choices are not aligned with right being, worldly feedback involves much suffering. We do our best to avoid suffering, and so this feedback helps direct us. Eventually, our mind has gathered enough information on what does and does not lead to harmony; a conclusion arises and is presented to the spirit for consideration. If the solution is accepted, it comes complete with the will to align actions with character; if the solution is rejected, the wheel spins once again with mind reverting to its state of disharmony and life remaining uncomfortable. Suffering continues until clarity about alignment develops at a core level and the desire to be right becomes intense; it is by this mechanism that suffering helps us evolve.
When the critical pieces of information are present in mind, we develop understanding (wisdom) and our hearts accept the solution; it is at this point that we gain the will to advance or otherwise address our challenge; this is what willpower really is. When heart, mind, and physical action align with values and one’s righteous inner character, willpower arises as an unshakeable monument of the aligned realization.
Too often we seek to express willpower as though it were something within us… a virtue. Willpower is a function of understanding; it cannot develop unless sufficient wisdom is present. Great effort and energy are often expended in a noble but futile attempt to utilize willpower before we have sufficient wisdom, and of course it fails. We all suffer this failure until we understand the origin and nature of will. We move forward by being open to learning, accepting life’s lessons, recognizing our authentic inner nature, and aligning with right intention; these are the choices that develop our wisdom, unshakable will, and the power to be who we are.