Illusion of a Free Will

August 10, 2004

We’re free to do whatever we desire. We have a free will—or
do we?

How free is our will? Are we able to decide what are we
going to do tomorrow? We can plan things but we cannot
always guarantee that things are going to turn out the way we
have planned. Other things can happen. So where is the free

Even if we forget the future and just focus on our behavior
I’m not sure that we have any freedom at all. Pick a situation
that could happen in your life. How do you think you will
behave? What kind of decisions do you think you will make
in this situation?

For example, you’re in a traffic jam and already late for a
meeting. No big deal. You have been in the situation before.
How do you act? Do you behave differently every time? Most
likely not. You just follow the pattern or habit you have
mechanically repeated time after time. You react. Even if the
situation is a brand new one for you, you still have an idea of
how you will act in the moment when it happens. We are
stuck with our own thinking and perceptions of the world.
We are dragging our past with us, and it ties us to the behav-
ior patterns and sets the limits to our freedom of choices.
How free is a will that cannot innovate and create new
dynamic responses every moment? Repeating old formulas
does not sound so free after all. Couples who have been
together for a long time know what each other will say or do
beforehand—each has learned the other partner’s thinking
pattern. Very original and free, indeed.

Free will is an illusion. From the outset, it looks like every-
thing is possible. By observing the issue more carefully,
though, we start to realize that the true freedom of will is
mainly limited to our point of view (perception)—how we
take the events that occur in our lives. Are we sad, disap-
pointed, angry, frustrated, and so forth?

Next time you’re late for a meeting and traffic is really
jammed, instead of getting red and speeding around, try
catching yourself in the middle of getting angry and just
change your behavior. No point getting angry—you’re already
late. You cannot reverse the clock. Why not be in a good
mood and instead enjoy the ride. This will be less stressful,
and you might even avoid a ticket. Sounds more free to me.
The trick is to keep this new perception going—all the time.
Don’t follow the old thinking formulas every moment—be
awake. If you do this, you might even do something unpre-
dictable, fresh.

This is the original text, and an edited version can be found in the Fragments of Reality -book.

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