Free Will

Exploring the idea of Self brings up questions about the idea of free will.  Free will is one of those things that we take for granted.  We go to a restaurant and look at a menu and decide what we want to eat.  If there were no free will, why would there be menus? Case closed. When you start delving into the nature of your existence, the first thing you do is doubt everything. If what you have always assumed was you is not you, then all bets are off.  The question of free will becomes, what is the entity that is choosing?

The simplest way to refute the idea of free will is to look at time backwards. When you look back, everything you have done is done exactly as you did it. You cannot have done it in any other way.  Maybe you could have done it differently, but you didn’t. You did it the way you did it. Done.

Similar to looking at time backwards, you can imagine that you are at the moment of your death and reliving your life in a flashback. Everything is done to the end of your days and you are experiencing it all again, just as you did the first time. In that case you get the impression of sweating over all of your choices again, but the decision has been made.

Finally, when you examine the idea that what you think of as you is your ego, and you are something more expansive, then you wonder what informs your decisions. Your decisions are made in your subconscious and you act according to information processed behind the scenes.  After you make the decision your conscious mind can come up with the rationality for the choice. The bottom line is that you do everything you do because you feel like it. Even if you think you don’t want to do something you do it, because you feel like it is the thing to do. Whether or not you have free will, depends on whether it is you that manufactures these feelings, or whether you just act upon them.

You may be in charge of all of your decisions or you may be riding a roller coaster with the tracks already laid.  If you can choose what you want to believe, you can think about which explanation is more comforting, which helps you be to be kinder to others, or which helps you accept the circumstances of your life. Believe what you will.

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