Most of us will have heard of having an Open Mind. It can be difficult to practice when a deeply held belief or value is challenged, however we recognise it as a useful way of being. Similarly, many will have heard of having an Open Heart. Our capacity to empathise and act with compassion and kindness will always serve us well. However, it is far less common in everyday speech to hear talk of having an Open Will.
What is it to have an Open Will? What might be the benefits and impact of being Open Willed? How do we do Open Will?
I have been living with this enquiry for the past 3 – 4 years and whilst I have no definitive answers, I am present to the importance of the questions and have some rich experiences upon which to reflect.
I first came across the idea of Open Will when I studied with Otto Scharmer in November 2011 at Cape Cod, MA. He suggested that to address the deeply broken, systemic issues in our world we must learn to lead from the emerging future. To do this requires a U journey of Observing, Presencing and Activation whilst accessing new ways of seeing, being and acting. In order to Presence from the emerging future, we must Let Go to Let Come and this requires an Open Mind, an Open Heart and an Open Will.
Whilst excited at the prospect of doing all of this with others to change the world, I sense that the real work began at the personal level. I figured I would bring these ways of being into my daily meditation. For the next couple of years, I would spend a few minutes near the end of my sit endeavouring to open my mind, then to open my heart, and then to open my will.
Being the least familiar to me, practising Open Will was a bit like trying to pick up a wet bar of soap while wearing a blindfold. I wasn’t sure where to locate my personal will, but figured it was in my gut (or in the chinese Qi system, in the lower Tantien). I imagined the feeling of personal will, (which had always occurred to me as an energetic drive or desire to act and make something happen arising from this part of my body) and then imagining opening this out so that this energy was interfused with the will of the world around me.
As time went on and I picked up fragments from others about this idea of universal will. In his book ‘Source; the Inner Path of Knowledge Creation’ Joseph Jaworski describes Source as an underlying field of energy and creation containing all possibilities. A friend who trained as a Jewish Rabbi told me that for thousands of years his lineage described this as Divine Will. And recently while reading Dr Joe Dispenza’s ‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself’ I came to understand this as the Quantum Field.
So I was imagining opening my personal will to this energetic or perhaps spiritual field of possibility. At times, I became concerned. I wondered if living with Open Will meant to live as a fatalist, where I would surrender completely my own desires and intentions, and just let this Divine or Source Will do its thing.
My next stage of experimentation involved bold action, and began about 2 years in. I had a growing sense that I was being called to move on from my business of 18 years. I wanted to make a difference in addressing this wicked problems we face as humans, and it was time to lean more fully in to what I was going to to about that.
I remember the night I decided to finally let go of the business. I had a deep conviction that it was time to embody Open Will, to Let Go in order to Let Come. The next day, I began the actions of separating from my business.
This was the first of a series of letting go actions. I let go of important relationships in my life. I let go of my involvement in a volunteer based organisation I had been instrumental in founding. These weren’t the frenzied actions of someone deliberately wielding a sharp knife to their lives. Instead, as I continued to embody Open Will, these arose naturally as my awareness grew of blockages or things that were no longer serving me.
It is now 21 months since this period began, and almost 4 years since commencing my practice of Open Will. More recently, my letting go has taken more subtle, internal form. I have noticed a letting go of significant aspects of my identity. I am unlearning who I have been as I come to recognise habit patterns of my mind and body that in many cases I have carried with me for large chunks of my life. The clearer I become, and the less cluttered my life is, the more I am moving with Open Will into the unknown. Just recently, I recognised that I was pursuing this whole journey with an expectation of discovering a new found purpose, and a bold project to take up and take out to the world. I am now also letting go of that attachment.
As this letting go has occurred, there have been many unexpected gifts. Over many years I have had the pleasure and fortune of experiencing synchronous moments. Since reading the Celestine Prophecy, I have been aware of these not as coincidence but as what I now understand to be acts of Divine Will. Well, since beginning to enact Open Will, I have noted a clear moment of synchronicity, DAILY! Sometimes it is just a repeated reference to a book, idea or person from the day before, and at other times far more powerful chance encounters, such as bumping into people from the distant past shortly after remembering them or seeing their name. I take these to be sign posts from Source to continue in flow.
What else has come?
Without looking for it, two opportunities to contribute to bold endeavours to bring about systemic level transformation. A new marriage with my same wife. New ways of seeing, learning, thinking and being that are giving access to the interconnectedness of all things. An experiencing of love as the essence of Source. And a deep trust that Open Will is a doorway into understanding and transforming systems; those of our inner being, and those in the outer world.
Open Will is still a slippery game. However the blindfold is off, and when the wet bar of soap slips out of my hands, I am learning to let that go.
The story as it stands leaves open the question of how Open Will exists alongside the strong desire many people see to manifest tangible results and practical solutions NOW, to the many challenges we face as individuals and as a species. Occasionally, my rationale mind still grabs me by the the shirt and gives me a good shake. ‘You’re kidding yourself. Look at what there is to be done, and how little you are contributing to that. You are disappearing into a bottomless pit of introspection and navel gazing!’. Yes, that may be so. Time will tell. A clue I look for to confirm what might be so is how I am energised to act. I am less inclined to just swing in to action, to appease the rational mind’s craving for me to comply with our busy society. I am more inclined to continue being with Open Will, continuing to listen and sense the Divine, and continue learning to make this the Source of my being and activation.
I expect my story is nowhere near complete. However, I was moved to write this down as a marker, pointing to the possible benefits, the mystery and the challenges of learning to be with an Open Will.