Personal will mortally wounded


Several people – including Barry – suggests that what I am going through is a transformation of the will (aka “dark night of the soul”).

Where there used to be a very strong will, and others said I was a strong willed person, there is now very little. I seem unable to make clear choices (apart from on rare occasions), unable to follow up on plans, and unable to know what will happen with me even in the short term future in terms of what will feel right, how much energy and clarity I will have, if I will be able to follow through on something, and so on.

My personal will seems mortally wounded, and almost not there. What’s left of the personal will is the resistance to what’s happening. A struggle with what’s happening in my life, with the lack of personal will, with the absence of ability to plan and follow through on plans, plans falling apart and hopes dashed.

So how do “I” navigate in this new terrain? How to navigate if there is little or no personal will? How to navigate if there is little or no identification as a doer, a being, a planner?

In a sense, it’s familiar territory. And in another way, for the emotional levels of me, it’s very unfamiliar. It’s familiar at a global and awareness level. It’s very unfamiliar where beliefs are still held at an emotional level. That’s where the struggle seems to be.

All I can ask for is to be show the way, to be shown the next step, to be shown how to navigate this terrain, to consciously align more closely with love and reality.

And all of these are labels and interpretations. Is it true it’s a dark night? That it’s a transformation of the will? Is it true something is going wrong? Is it true I am not up to the task? Is it true I am making a mess of it? Is it true I should be over it now? Is it true I am making a mistake? Is it true I am holding onto resistance?

Free will?



I listened to a science podcast with a snippet from a norwegian scientist talking about fruit flies and humans. Fruit flies are driven by biology and instinct and have no free will, in contrast to us humans who have free will since we think and make choices.

It is easy to see this as a little naive. Why draw the line between free will and no free will there?

When I explore free will for myself, where do I find it? I look at thoughts, and find that they happen on their own. I bring attention to choices, and find the same. I notice a thought, a choice and an action, but cannot find causality. I notice a thought, choice and action, and a story that “I” did it, but this “I” (the doer) is just a conglomerate of sensations and images.

I can also take any simple choice or action, explore its causes in a conventional sense, and find that there appears to be infinite causes for any choice or action. Always one more. And one more. Stretching back to the beginning of universe and out to the widest extent of the universe. Can I find room for free will? Is free will neccesary?

But there is also wisdom in talking about free will since it helps us take responsibility for our chocies in a conventional way. It makes good sense to act as if we have free will, at least until (if) that story falls away on its own through thorough and repeated investigation.

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Aware = free will?


I read a Discover article called could an inner zombie controlling the brain?

The topic is interesting, and the article also reminded me about a few things.

First, journalists don’t always trust that stories are interesting enough on their own, so they give them a helping hand. In this case, by pretending that something we all know from daily life is a new discovery, and by using metaphors more for attracting attention than accuracy. (Nothing wrong in that. It does attract readers, at least for a while, until they catch on and some chose to go to publications that treat their readers in a more fair way as more intelligent. But good to notice.)

The gist of the story is that we sometimes go on autopilot. When a task is familiar to us, and simple enough to go on autopilot, it often does, and that frees our attention to go elsewhere. At times, it may go into daydreaming or spacing off, but other times, it may go to something quite practical and functional.

We all know that from daily life, so that part is not new. But the research mentioned is interesting and sheds more light on it.

Then, a couple of other things. For instance, the word consciousness is used to mean content of experience, and in particular some of the workings of the psyche. This seems a little odd to me. It is unnecessary, for one, since we have perfectly good words for those dynamics. And also, it uses up the word for content of experience so it is not available for that which content of experience happens within and as.

And then another assumption: Autopilot means no free will (fair enough), and bringing attention to something means free will (hm…).

There is no denying that bringing attention to certain dynamics and workings of our mind can (apparently) lead to real life changes in how we chose and act. It has a very practical value.

I may notice I go to the fridge when I am stressed, and by noticing this, I can (apparently) chose another strategy to deal with that stress. I may go for a walk instead. Talk with a friend. Deal with a situation I have put off dealing with. Find a belief and inquire into it.

So there may be a sense of free will here. Attention is brought to a particular dynamic. There appears to be a choice between going on autopilot again, acting in familiar ways, or acting differently. Then choosing and acting on that choice. Or not.

But is there really a free will there?

When I look for myself, I find infinite (plausible) causes for any actions and choices, whether on autopilot or not, so no free will is needed. (This assumes causality, of course.)

Also, I find that it is all happening on its own, so again no free will. There seems to be no “one” needed with a free will.

And that the sense of a doer, which may seem so real and substantial, is a gestalt, a combination of sensations and images. That any connection between a choice or action and this doer is yet another image and story. And that any idea of causality is just that, an idea. I can find correlations, but no causality anywhere.

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Let Your will be done


What are some of the ways of working with let Your will be done?

In general, it makes sense to do what needs to be done in a conventional sense. Acting in ways that seem appropriate to whatever situation we are in, with whatever kindness and insight is available to us.

And within this, nurture an attitude or orientation of let Your will be done, and also notice that it is already so.

I can use it as a prayer, in a sincere and heartfelt way.

And I can take it as a pointer, a starting point for inquiry, and maybe notice that it is already so. God’s will is already done, in everything that happens, including that which I take as initiated by a doer here.

I can notice that through the headless experiments or the Big Mind process.

I can inquire into causality, finding infinite causes to everything that seems initiated by a doer, leaving the doer as nothing at all.

I can explore the sense of a doer as it appears in the sense fields, maybe finding it as a gestalt made up of sensations and images. And finding only a story saying that this gestalt initiates anything.

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Personal and God’s will


There is of course thoughts, choices and actions, and when a story of a separate I is placed on it, there is also the appearance of a doer.

What was just thoughts, choices and actions, happening on their own, now has become the appearance of a separate self, and someone thinking, choosing and doing. There is now the appearance of an individual, or personal, will. And this personal will appears to sometimes be at odds with life itself.

Thoughts are innocent questions about the word, but when believed in, and belief in a doer is placed on top of them, they appear to quite often be at odds with what is, with how life manifests. It even looks as if personal will is at odds with God’s will.

Of course, that too is just happening. That too is life manifesting. That too is doing without any inherent doer. That too, is God’s will.

The only way to surrender personal will, is to see that it is not there in the first place. To see, clearly, that any sense of a doer comes from a belief in stories… independent of their content. (Any belief creates a sense of a split, of an I here and Other there, which in turn creates the appearance of a doer.)

Trying to surrender personal will, while there is a sense of a separate self, only adds to the drama. It reinforces the original misidentification. But at the same time, although it comes from misidentification, it may also bring everything a little closer to how it is. If done skilfully, it may nudge the system a little closer to recognizing that there was no doer there in the first place. I surrender my personal will to God’s will, to what is, and then gradually come to see that that’s how it is anyway. It is all God’s will. That is all there is. And this (possibly) sets the stage for a more full shift to happen, where any sense of an I with an Other falls away.

The bhakti approach is to surrender personal will, gradually seeing that it wasn’t there in the first place. And the jnana approach is to inquire into the whole sense of a doer, also gradually seeing that it wasn’t there in the first place.

Meanwhile, it is good to follow any conventional guidelines on this… To align (what appears as) my will with what is good for the larger whole, as much as possible. Exploring and trying out goals and strategies that appear life-supporting and effective at all levels, for myself, those close to me, my community, the larger social and ecological systems, and future generations. (There are lots of them, from eating local and organic food, living close to work, buying used clothes, using bike and public transportation, vacationing locally, to working with beliefs and shadows so we are a little more easy to be around and we see ourselves in others.)

And if my will is at odds with what is, then reconsider goals or strategies, and also find more peace with what is (which happens through both the bhakti and jnana approach).

Of course, any of that too, in whatever form it takes, is also God’s will.