Does soul have a free will? How it can be used or misused?

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Do we have a free will? Are our lives predestined or we have some control over them? Often we have a feeling that circumstances are controlling our life, no matter what we do. Is there a free will at all? In what way do we have that free will?
In this lecture Srila Bhakti Nandan Swami Maharaj explains the concept of conditioning and free will. If jiva, living being, is so heavily conditioned by this material nature, how is it possible to have a free will?
Maharaj explains the very nature of conditioning and free will, terms we find in the holy scriptures. As verses of Srimad Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are impregnated with such depths in meaning and different types of significance with more aspects of meanings, in order to be able to understand them one has to analytically understand many of the principal aspects.
What has been confirmed in reality is that wherever there is aspect of conditioning, it automatically implies that there has to be aspect of freedom, because freedom implies that we are free from something and being free from something implies that there also exists a state in which we are not free. Before being free, we were conditioned. Conditioning changes due to time, place and situation, so the very nature of conditioning changes too. We are in the world of duality and there is always a positive and negative aspect involved and the answer we are searching for lies somewhere in between. It is like neutral state, which is something appearing to be nothing, just like zero that connects minus and plus in mathematics.
By the self evident nature of how the truth as a whole works, we have conditioning as a part of that reality and freedom as another part of the same reality. In between there is a neutral state which allows us to move from one state to another. And there lies the free will. There is a potency that conditioned jiva soul can get rid of conditioning and pass through that neutral state and be in the world of free choice.
Also, concept of conditioning is not that full as we are thinking. We are only partly conditioned, otherwise we would be imprisoned and isolated and there would be no hope for freedom and liberation. If we were unconditionally conditioned, Maharaj states, there would be no real meaning of life and no real meaning of terms of liberation and freedom and therefore truth and divine freedom.
We are living beings and unlike dead matter, in a world of a living being there is much movement and activity. Although we are conditioned by time, place, situation and environment, there is still position for „I, me, mine“ in a limited way though, that can be explained by „I am here, I am thinking, feeling, willing. I may or may not do. I can do, cannot do.“ Some kind of choice is there. The very term „condition“ is by itself limited, otherwise it would not be a condition, but that what it is. Condition implies change and therefore its limited nature and no matter how heavy it seems to be, in the end it is temporary.
What is the function of our free will? It is in our free choice. How much there will be free will and how much conditioning there will be depends on time, place, situation, law of present and past karma.
One of the basic fundamental characteristics of life is finding freedom, by free thinking, feeling and willing. The nature of the life is characterized by some free choice, free thinking, feeling ,willing, otherwise it wouldn’t be life. Life means movement, feelings, experience, unlike the dead matter. Where there is feeling, thinking, feeling, there is a flow, something creative and new.
For the whole lecture, please watch the video.
Text by Indulekha devi dasi