Perhaps a useful way to approach this subject of will is to “pop the hood” so to speak, and look at the machinery inside a little; to take a look at the wheels-within-wheels and to seriously pose the question: “Do I have free will?”
When I look into this for myself, I find that from early childhood, I have never had free will; that, in truth, I have always reacted from fear, from a deep need to be someone, to be confirmed, safe, respected. At bottom, I was afraid to know that I didn’t know, afraid to not belong – to confess I didn’t have a clue about what’s goin’ on.
This fear has fueled my activities, fired my ambitions and decades of hot spiritual pursuits. In business and relationships, fear was always at the wheel driving my few successes and all of my failures. Out of fear, I looked to others, to teachers, to methods and myths, symbols and intellectually appealing theories (including Nonduality, if it remains theory) to find “the Truth”. (BTW None of this was wasted or wrong)
What I have found is I have no control – not over my next thought, let alone my next action. Everything in life happens exactly the way it does, sometimes in a way that I like and sometimes in a way I don’t like. So it’s important here to really see what we like. Do I “like” or “dislike” what happens because my body/mind conditioning, individually and collectively, craves and favors certain outcomes over others? Do I think the world should be other than it is?
In truth, I find that this conditioned “me” is nothing but pre-programmed preferences and denials. I find in everyday living that there is no “me” inside or outside, to have any control or will whatsoever. That all we “do” is re-act according to the beliefs installed in the software called “James” or “Doly”, ”Jacques” or “Jill”. And?
And I also find that there is a greater Will that is free and freeing! That that Will is not mine, but it is “me”, in the sense that I am the will-force of all LIFE. “I” have no living identity (except as thoughts in my dead, conceptual mind) I am nothing but ALL this vast life! So this greater Will flows free as life, right? All my ideas and questions come to rest Here, in this simple knowing beyond words: “Thy Will, not My will”.
This is free and freeing because it is true, and it is known to be true, but not by a mind-made “me”. How can you and I know this?
That’s where we must find our own way, consult our own map-maker. The key for me is to be OPEN AND OPENING. To not settle for any outside authority, to look and listen not only with limited definitions we call “understanding,” but ALSO to unlock our own authority by tuning into our Knowing Self.
Indeed, it takes One to know One. And that Self knowing is love.
Love is the light for seeing ourself. Love is the key to freeing our Self from notions of not being free, already.