The notion of free will is such a hot potato*. It scalds the hands as it’s juggled around mind-space. Yet when it’s at home in its spacious place it makes delicious eating!
You don’t actually need science or experiments, philosophy or religion (although their conclusions can be fascinating) to find out for yourself all you need to know about the dynamic called free will or volition. The process couldn’t be simpler. It’s as easy as ABC, but not necessarily in that order.
Let’s take B first and let it stand for body. Let’s be very careful: can I honestly say that as a body I have any kind of free will? If I did, would I choose to fall down steps, get sick, be ugly, be fat, go bald, be hungry, grow old, die?
Let’s take C next and let it stand for cerebral activity. Mind: thinking, feeling, perceiving and all that stuff. Can I say that I have control over the things that happen in my mental world? If I did, would I choose to repeat unwanted thoughts endlessly, to have nightmares, to fixate on past events, to grieve, to compare myself unfavorably with others, to suffer?
If I’m convinced I’m a body and a mind it hardly seems sensible to claim free will for myself – it’s both masochistic and illogical. Yet if I can’t find my free will in them, where will I find it?
I will have to look elsewhere. This implies finding out exactly where ‘I’ am located. For some reason this prospect is frighteningly uncomfortable for many. The potato is burning their hands so they drop it and turn away from the inquiry. Which is a pity because clarity is only a question away, and Life is begging its asking.
It’s this: I have the feeling of autonomy. I feel as though I make choices. I feel responsible for the things I do, from picking up my cup of tea to abandoning my college course. Yet my experience refutes this. I cannot find volition in my body or my mind, which indicates that I am not my body or my mind. So what am I?
Sitting with this question and ticking off the what-I-am-not boxes unpicks the problem. Why is this so difficult? Wouldn’t you think any intelligent human being would leap at the chance to find out what they actually ARE?
There’s a story. It’s called ‘me.’ It’s scared. It knows it’s only a thought-up story and that if thoughts get looked at too closely it will be exposed. It’s afraid of extinction. Ticking off the I-am-not-the-story box takes some doing for most folk. I suggest ticking it off just to see what might happen – with an eraser handy. What happens? The eraser isn’t needed, for when you tick off the I-am-not-the-story box, you notice that there’s still something present that is aware of what’s happening – and weirdly enough, it feels just like dear old You.
Which brings us to A. A is for Awareness. Awareness is what’s left after all the boxes in one’s entire repertoire of imaginings have been ticked off and there are no options left. No way out. The ‘I’ sense is home in spacious Aware-ing and the potato is a gourmet delight. Down it goes, never again to whet mind’s appetite.
The View opens up, vast and free. Awareness reigns as the sole player in the Game. What does that mean? It means … you’re IT. Awareness is free to do and be and know and experience whatever it wishes, and it does, as You. You are its built-in modus operandi.
You, aka Awareness, are free to believe that you are a body/mind with volition. You are free to believe that you are an autonomous, separate entity. Or an awakened one. Or a striving-to-be-enlightened one. No worries! You as Awareness are also free to be a hot potato, to juggle them or to eat them boiled, mashed or hashed. How awesome is that?
You, as Awareness, are free will in eternal flow and flux.
– miriam louisa
*Hot potato? – If English isn’t your first language you might not know that this is a term for a very contentious and often non-negotiable idea or issue. I know, it’s weird, but no doubt all languages have a term for the ‘no-go’ areas of belief and fixation.