The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

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Salem
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The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Salem » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:07 am

"I did my best. For that time and place in my life, it was the best I knew how, even though now if I could redo it I'd do better."

During self-enquiry I'm coming to see that the mind is a lot like a computer, which is to say very reactive. Everything we do or think has been programmed at some point in our lives. Even the change of opinions comes from programming from other parts of our environment.

It makes me wonder, do we have control over our actions, or are we mostly just along for the ride? This also makes me wonder, how does growth happen? Something within us must spur it onwards, thus affecting our minds, that's the only conclusion I have yet come to.

But when I think about this, I'm not sure if I should feel relieved or depressed: If everything we do is the result of programming, then taking that to it's conclusion, we don't really have control over what we say, who we marry or befriend, whether we are self-disciplined or not, unless the impetus comes from within.

So, regarding my example quote above, we often feel like we could have done something differently. But maybe, at that time, we really could not have. Maybe we were acting from what level we needed to be at. Maybe yes we "knew" better: know not to start smoking, knew to get out of bed instead of hit the snooze button, knew we should have done this or that (or not have done it), but perhaps at a deeper level we didn't yet know better. Is that the truth, or a cop-out?
"The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love." — Meister Eckhart

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smiileyjen101
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by smiileyjen101 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:25 am

Is that the truth, or a cop-out?
Both, neither, yes and no. :lol:

In Conversations with God there is a wonderful discussion about how 'natural consequences' will flow from every decision and from those consequences we will learn and become wiser. That is the purpose of life.

But, that humans and societies of humans become impatient for the outcome of those consequences so they created punishments from outside the naturally occuring consequences. So instead of learning the core lessons, we learn about the punishments or how to avoid them. We learn to 'separate' and 'judge' ourselves and one another.

Let me share one of my most favourite quotes, attributed to a wise character in the third book of the Ancient Future trilogy by Traci Harding.

"Wisdom is knowledge gained through experience, and implemented with love."

The three parts of this phrase are all important.

1. If you don't know you've realised something different to what you knew a moment ago there is no knowledge. Without knowledge you cannot become wise.

Most scriptures will tell you you will be judged according to your knowledge - but in my opinon based on my nde, it is only within you that you will 'see' this and 'realise' a better choice might have been available. So if you have no knowledge you cannot even 'judge' ...let's call this one be judicious with... yourself. (judicious = having, applying, or showing sound judgment; wise and careful).

Whereas in human laws ignorance (of a law whether of your culture or 'ken' or not) is no defence and punishment will be meted out whether or not you had that knowledge. This is fraught with judgement not of the judicious kind. This is also the way many beat themself up or make judgements about others without having had their choices to make, or experiences.

2. Whether directly or indirectly the shift will come from knowledge you've gained through experience - even the experience of sharing another's experience with love and compassion, which allows your heart to open to them, rather than your ego separating from them.
With this knowledge you then have the opportunity to choose differently, or make amends, or forgive, to choose more judiciously in the future, or whatever.

3. Wisdom though is when we take the knowledge gained through experience and implement it with love. If we say, beat ourselves or others up with that knowledge we're likely making another, even if different, mistake.

If we take away the rights of others because we have that knowledge, then it is an abuse of the power of knowledge, and therefore also not wise as it too will have natural consequences. (but no doubt is common)

None of us are the person we were a moment ago. Every moment we start anew. Every moment we get to choose again whatever it is that we choose. Whatever we choose will have natural consequences, from which we will also learn and hopefully become even more judicious. But, no choice is wrong, it just brings a different experience, which brings a different opportunity.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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enigma
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by enigma » Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:33 am

Salem, your post resonates. The human is acting from conditioning all the time, thinking, feeling, responding and choosing entirely to those conditions. The question of free will or no free will is actually misconceived. It assumes the reality of a separate individual who either does or doesn't have some control over his own life, but if nothing is separate nobody can lay claim to any life as their own.

If you know yourself to be this One expressing in all these various forms, of course the issue of control doesn't arise. They are, after all, your expressions to begin with, and whatever is being experienced has an inherent beauty and perfection that typically cannot be seen from with the belief in 'my life'. There is a wonder in the movement of the body, leaves blowing in the wind, light glimmering off the water, the dancing of shadows. Everything sacred somehow, everything in love with its own expression, enamored by it's own reflection, freedom in a deep mysterious form; Earthy, courageous and unbridled. Innocent and unfettered.

This is the unmoved mover just beneath the fearful mind. This mind is as the twinkling of a star and the raging inferno of the universe moves on, barely noticing.

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Salem
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Salem » Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:37 am

I especially liked your last paragraph, smileyjen. Very beautifully said.
"The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love." — Meister Eckhart

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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by HandfullaMinerals » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:37 pm

I have a quote I found a few days ago which might be appropriate:

GOD gave you the time, space, cause, material, idea, skill, chance and fortune. Why should you feel as if you are the doer?

(Sai Baba)
It is the ego which raises difficulties, creating obstacles and then suffers from the perplexity of apparent paradoxes. Find out who makes the enquiries and the Self will be found.

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smiileyjen101
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by smiileyjen101 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:45 am

enigma »

If you know yourself to be this One expressing in all these various forms, of course the issue of control doesn't arise. They are, after all, your expressions to begin with, and whatever is being experienced has an inherent beauty and perfection that typically cannot be seen from with the belief in 'my life'. There is a wonder in the movement of the body, leaves blowing in the wind, light glimmering off the water, the dancing of shadows. Everything sacred somehow, everything in love with its own expression, enamored by it's own reflection, freedom in a deep mysterious form; Earthy, courageous and unbridled. Innocent and unfettered.


YUM!! ^

There is also the notion of 'Thy will, not my will be done' that resonates for me. In order for the oneness to work this has to include everything, not just God's will as depicted, unless of course you read 'the all' when you read God, in which case it makes perfect sense lol!!
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by enigma » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:58 am

It's 'Gods will' that one would say "Thy will, and not my will, be done," :lol:

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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Natalie » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:21 am

Hello Salem,

Your post resonates with me too and enigma’s answer feels very right. Sometimes I read things here, on other sites, or hear things on youtube, that do not set well, they feel labored or contrived. Enigma’s answer seems to have settled something for me concerning the very same issue you address. I have oscillated between Wayne Liquorman’s notion of the FSA or false sense of authorship and other notions where free will is given a more important role, but always felt more ‘attracted’ to Liquorman’s take, which if I remember correctly, he shared with his guru, Ramesh Balsekar, and Balsekar with his, Nisargadatta Maharaj.

Just like you, I sometimes wonder if my attraction to this concept of predestination is rooted on the emotional comfort provided by the fact that it completely lets me off the hook or absolves me from pretty serious stuff I struggled with up until my realization that the struggle was all mind-made. Enigma’s post allowed me to see that it does not matter one way or the other because my signals were crossed to begin with, making the wondering pointless. Not that my realization that nothing is separate is of the ‘abiding variety’ as Adya likes to call it, it certainly is not. But when I reflect on the few and fleeting moments when I have transcended little ol’ me , I can totally see that he question of free will or no free will is definitely misconceived.

Thanks Salem for posting the question and thank you so much enigma for the clear answer.

Natalie

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Salem
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Salem » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:40 am

I'm glad it's resonating with people here. Let me ask enigma this though: Am I to understand we are like - to choose one of many possible metaphors - like fruit growing on a tree? We just grow from a seed, to a sapling, to a flower, to a fruit, to a ripened fruit that falls to the ground and continues the cycle?

Or that we are just like a wave in a river, flowing along?

Of course, this means no free will. ;-) However at this point in my life I'm starting to feel that such things are not such a big deal.
"The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love." — Meister Eckhart

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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by enigma » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:37 am

Salem wrote:I'm glad it's resonating with people here. Let me ask enigma this though: Am I to understand we are like - to choose one of many possible metaphors - like fruit growing on a tree? We just grow from a seed, to a sapling, to a flower, to a fruit, to a ripened fruit that falls to the ground and continues the cycle?

Or that we are just like a wave in a river, flowing along?

Of course, this means no free will. ;-) However at this point in my life I'm starting to feel that such things are not such a big deal.
It may be a good sign that it doesn't seem like such a big deal. The human isn't much different than any other sentient creature; a portal through which this singular Intelligence can constrict it's focus in such a way that an experience can be had, but the human is the constriction, or a focusing lens if you like, and not the experiencer.

Beyond that, it gets very difficult to talk about, which is why there is a plethora of metaphors used like the one above. This formless Intelligence is what You are. It's where you are viewing from right now as you watch the human form develop, ripen and fall. You were never born and you're not going to die.

It's common in nondual circles to point at this human form and say this is not what You are, and yet You are the intelligence which forms every perception, every thought and feeling, and performs every action, and all of this is occurring within You, and is inseparable from what You are. This can be confusing because it may imply that You (as Consciousness, Awareness, Beingness, Intelligence, God, wahatever) ARE in control, but it's necessary to understand how undifferentiated Intelligence forms differentiated thought, and then it will be clear that, while You are the cause of everything, You control nothing. To get slightly poetic about it, God does not know his next thought until it appears to him. This is the nature, and the wonder, of Self creation.

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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Kutso » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:55 am

In Advaita Vedanta one talks about truths at the Absolute level and at the relative level. And in an Absolute sense, there is no free will. Everything is deterministic. However, at a relative level there is free will. Since few individuals have realized the Absolute truth, it could be good to start at the relative level.
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by enigma » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:49 pm

Kutso wrote:In Advaita Vedanta one talks about truths at the Absolute level and at the relative level. And in an Absolute sense, there is no free will. Everything is deterministic. However, at a relative level there is free will. Since few individuals have realized the Absolute truth, it could be good to start at the relative level.
If one is just starting, free will is going to be assumed anyway. The title of this thread implies somebody is ready to take a closer look. We can and do talk in various contexts but free will never becomes true at any level.

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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Plorel » Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:13 pm

And in an Absolute sense, there is no free will. Everything is deterministic.
While it maybe true that there is no induviduum to have free will, the conclusion that everything is predetermined is not so easy to draw. Predetermination is a very humane concept. It says that every state in the future could be foretold accurately from a known present state.

In that predetermination assumes the existence of (linear) time and cause and effect. These concepts don't apply accurately on a subatomar level though, where it is impossible to predict the outcome of a event with certainty, even if all parameters of a state were known.
Imho thats why it is said that "prior to an event there are infinite possibilities but after it, there was only one".
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by snowheight » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:31 pm

There is One but is there One without the perspective on that One? We may live outside of ignorance but we still live!

While the choice is not that of little-me, the choice remains. While this earth will eventually be a cinder some of the life forms which evolved here may or may not continue on elsewhere after and THAT is the question. THAT is the ultimate question about "free-will" ... is that outcome pre-determined? While that question is conceptual, and therefore not absolute, I offer the viewpoint that from a practical perspective it might as well be absolute.

Plorel gives us the mechanism by which the probable answer to this question may be discerned.

Would the survival of the species beyond the timeframe of the Earth be a movement toward the Love that enigma and 'jen have expressed so well?
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

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Salem
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Re: The Nature of the Mind: Where is the Free Will?

Post by Salem » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:56 am

Plorel wrote: In that predetermination assumes the existence of (linear) time and cause and effect. These concepts don't apply accurately on a subatomar level though, where it is impossible to predict the outcome of a event with certainty, even if all parameters of a state were known.
Imho thats why it is said that "prior to an event there are infinite possibilities but after it, there was only one".
I've heard this but I don't know how it can be so. Can you explain this please?
"The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love." — Meister Eckhart

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