Free will

I came across a new blog called Freedom or Necessity, which is an exploration into the question of free will.

It is an eternal question for us humans, and interesting to explore in our own lives.

The first thing that comes up for me is a set of additional questions: what does free will mean? For whom may there be free will? Who or what is choosing, if there is free will? Is there an entity choosing? Someone or something somehow set apart from everything else? Is that possible? On what basis are these choices made? What are the influences on these choices? What are the restrictions on these choices? If there are influences and restrictions, to what extent is it free?

My take on it is very simple-minded, and not so different from what I have explored earlier in this journal.

For any choice or action in my life, I can find innumerable influences and causes, and I can always find one more. These influences and causes come from innumerable sources, such as culture, subculture, teachings, traditions, social values and norms, family, friends, personal experiences, biology, evolution, the characteristics of this living planet, the habits and characteristics of this universe, and so on.

At the same time, it is important for me to assume that I have free will, and choose and act as if I have free will. It helps me take responsibility for my actions, and act in ways that may be a little more mature, wise and kind. (Which is sorely needed in the world, and also in my case.)

There is a lot more wrinkles to this, as usual.

For instance, when I explore what is happening in immediacy, I find that thoughts, choices, actions and so on seem to happen on their own. They come out of thin air. They seem to live their own life, on their own time.

There are of course stories about causality: This thought led to this choice, which in turn led to this action (or not). And there are lots of influences and causes for each part of that simple chain. But those are all stories, all made up after the fact to explain what happened. These stories may be very helpful and have a practical function, but I really don’t know any of it for sure.

There are also stories about a doer. There is an image of a doer, which is doing all of these things – thoughts, choices, actions. But what is that doer? What I find is just an image of a doer, located somewhere in the head area, and stories about doing and causality. All of these also seem to happen after the fact, to explain what is going on. And these too may be helpful and have a practical function, but they are also just images and stories.

And there are stories about an observer as well, similar to the stories about a doer.

When there is identification with the images of a doer, there is the appearance of an entity that thinks, choses and does, and there is only in relation to this imagined entity that the questions of free will makes sense. Does this imagined entity have free will? When I recognize all these dynamics around it – the image of a doer, images and stories of causality, all happening after the fact to explain what is going on, and so on, the question seems less significant.

Noticing this play of images and stories, and what happens when there is identification with the doer/observer and not, there is a softening of this identification, and I may notice what I really am – or just simply what really is – as that which all this, and all content of experience, happens within and as.

And here, I may notice that everything is happening on its own, living its own life, on its own time, including the images of doer and observer, the stories of causality, the thoughts, choices and actions, identification or not with the images of a doer and observer, and stories about free will or not.

I may also notice that acting as if there is free will is still very helpful. It still invites in a little more responsibility, perhaps a little more maturity in choices and actions.

When there is an overlay of stories of causality, I see that assuming free will is one of many influences and causes on choices and actions, and the assumption of free will has effects that seem reasonable and helpful for now.

Also, in exploring these topics, it seems helpful to look at what is here now. How does this play itself out in immediacy? What do I find?

Philosophy and other stories about free will, including these stories in this entry, can be helpful (or not). They do influence how we live our lives. And they can be even more helpful if taken as invitation and pointers for inquiry, for looking for ourselves at what is happening in immediacy.



  • free will
    • my own simple minded approach
      • for any decision/action, innumerable causes, and can always find one more
      • and also important to think/act as if have free will (more mature, wise, kind choices)
    • additional
      • sense of “personal will” comes from identification with (image/gestalt) of a doer
      • “free will” – only a question when that sense is there, otherwise not relevant
        • all recognized as happening on its own
        • or, if add stories of causality
          • all has infinite causes – stretching back to the beginning of the universe and out to the furthest reaches
          • all as local manifestations of the movements of the whole
    • two forms of inquiry
      • w/in stories, contemplation, reading about it, philosophy – serve as a guide, also surface effects
      • outside of stories, wordless
        • as pointers, invitation for inquiry, look here now
        • center of gravity in the wordless inquiry
        • recognize ideas as images only, as they happen


– for whom may there be free will?
– who or what is choosing, if there is free will? on what basis? what are the influences on these choices?

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