Are you cause, or are you effect, in the material world? If you still think that your actions are what make a difference in the world, then you are still an effect, but if you have learned to integrate and neutralize your emotions, and have altered or are currently altering the core mind patterns responsible for your life, then you are well on the path to being cause.
We do not wish to enter into a consideration of Free Will, or Determinism, in this work, for various reasons. Among the many reasons, is the principal one that neither side of the controversy is entirely right-in fact, both sides are partially right, according to the Hermetic Teachings. The Principle of Polarity shows that both are but Half-Truths the opposing poles of Truth. The Teachings are that a man may be both Free and yet bound by Necessity, depending upon the meaning of the terms, and the height of Truth from which the matter is examined. The ancient writers express the matter thus: “The further the creation is from the Centre, the more it is bound; the nearer the Centre it reaches, the nearer Free is it.”
The majority of people are more or less the slaves of heredity, environment, etc., and manifest very little Freedom. They are swayed by the opinions, customs and thoughts of the outside world, and also by their emotions, feelings, moods, etc. They manifest no Mastery, worthy of the name. They indignantly repudiate this assertion, saying, “Why, I certainly am free to act and do as I please–I do just what I want to do,” but they fail to explain whence arise the “want to” and “as I please.” What makes them “want to” do one thing in preference to another; what makes them “please” to do this, and not do that? Is there no “because” to their “pleasing” and “Wanting”? The Master can change these “pleases” and “wants” into others at the opposite end of the mental pole. He is able to “Will to will,” instead of to will because some feeling, mood, emotion, or environmental suggestion arouses a tendency or desire within him so to do.
The majority of people are carried along like the falling stone, obedient to environment, outside influences and internal moods, desires, etc., not to speak of the desires and wills of others stronger than themselves, heredity, environment, and suggestion, carrying them along without resistance on their part, or the exercise of the Will. Moved like the pawns on the checkerboard of life, they play their parts and are laid aside after the game is over. But the Masters, knowing the rules of the game, rise above the plane of material life, and placing themselves in touch with the higher powers of their nature, dominate their own moods, characters, qualities, and polarity, as well as the environment surrounding them and thus become Movers in the game, instead of Pawns-Causes instead of Effects. The Masters do not escape the Causation of the higher planes, but fall in with the higher laws, and thus master circumstances on the lower plane. They thus form a conscious part of the Law, instead of being mere blind instruments. While they Serve on the Higher Planes, they Rule on the Material Plane.
~The Kybalion, chapter 12, Causation