Is there free will or is there no free will?

Whether in the dreaming or waking world, I hope we can agree that there is a happening and events.  I do not deny the world’s existence (or the existence of dreams…they happen).  Those events are not predetermined and it is not fate and it is not clockwork/mechanical.  There is a will creating what is in the moment…ad-libbing and doing improv.  There is only the eternal now, which is the Self, and even the Self does not know what will happen.

Whose will?  The Self…which is none other than who/what you really are.  Yet, there are multiple perspectives or points of view in the world because of multiple body-minds with different memories and experiences.  The current situation and past memories only relate to individual beings.  So this body-mind (named Eric) knows/understands exactly what Eric would know.  The body-mind reading this post only knows/understands what it would know.  The beingness for both is the Self.  What I deny is that there is duality or separation beyond the illusions of the mind.  There are not two Selfs.  The actual will of each body-mind is also both of the same Self.

Like in a dream, you are only aware of the one dream character you are playing in the dream…and yet the whole dream is a creation of one mind.  All the different objects and people are really all one…they are not really separate.

I once had a dream in which “I” moved from one dream character to another.  It was a very interesting experience.  “I” started out in this dream as one character and “I” knew everything about this character – my/his life, memories, desires, thoughts, feelings, etc.  But then I/he encountered another character in the dream and we were having an argument.  “I” then rose out of that character’s body-mind and as “I” did “I” forgot the specifics of that body-mind (memories, thoughts, feels, etc.).  “I” watched the two argue from a floating third point of view for a while.  “I” didn’t know what “they” where each thinking about or feeling…it was like watching two others argue.  “I” then descended into the other dream character.  As this occurred I became this other character and suddenly knew his life, memories, desires, thoughts, feelings, etc.  Some part of “me” had a vague memory/feeling of being the “other” person earlier, but it didn’t make much sense to me/him and “I” had none of the original character’s memories.

I found this to be an interesting experience in that it showed there are clear demarcations between beings.  You can only know, think, feel, etc. what you could.  In being something specific, you can only know what that specific thing could know.

For an analogy, it is like a great actor who is playing multiple parts in an improv.  He or she has to keep track of what each character being played could know and has to keep them separate (different voices, different personalities, etc.) – otherwise the game/play falls apart.  Each character must have clear demarcations…so they can not bleed into each other.  If the actor messes up and mixes one character up with another…the game/play is ruined.  My dream showed me this.  Each character had its own beingness that was strictly demarcated.

As children we understood this very well.  I remember that when I was very young, I used to play with stuffed animals and dolls with my younger sister.  We lived far out in the country, and she was my only playmate for many years.  If I wanted her to do something I wanted to do…I also had to do things she wanted to do too.  So I played with dolls when she insisted.

Perhaps you remember a situation where you played two dolls – one in each hand.  Maybe they were having a fight.  One doll would shake and I would say for him, “how dare you do that to me!”  The other doll would shake in response, “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean anything by it.”  You could have a whole fight.  Each would have their own viewpoint as a character.  It was not scripted…so I never really knew ahead of time what would happen.  It was not predetermined, fated, etc….it was ad-lib and improv.

The Self does this too, but does it so well that it removes itself from the equation (so to speak).  So instead of two dolls…two people.  Instead of someone holding the dolls…just the subtle and almost invisible Self – who for fun and greater effect fully plays each character from its own viewpoint.  Plays every being from its own viewpoint…but keep the beings as separate beings (in order to play them) has to keep clean demarcations.  What fun!

Again, this is like a dream too.  You play your dream character…but all the other characters in the dream (which all come from one mind) also appear to be making decisions and thinking/feeling.  What if all the characters are thinking, feeling, etc.?  But just to keep each dream characters intact and the play of the dream continuing…each can only be aware of and know, think, feel, etc. what that dream character would know.

And so back to the original question – is there freewill or not?  There is one will, but playing multiple parts…each part is unknowing of the other’s point of view, thoughts, feelings, etc. in order to keep the game going.  That would make your will and the Self’s will identical.  The Self is playing “you” (person/character).  So whatever you want to do is exactly what the Self wants to do as you.  If you have someone who is against you (an adversary of some kind), that is also you (the Self) and what they are doing is exactly what the Self wants to do as them.

Ultimately, there is a will…a doer…and it is you.  As the person/character you play…you can do whatever you want to do in this life.  What you want to do is what the Self wants to do (as you).  In this way, you could say have freewill.

I know this could be confusing, but I want to point out that as the sole doer…there is no difference in what you do and what happens to you (as a person).  Both are done by you.  There is no difference between voluntary and involuntary…both are done by you.

Egoically, we only want to only claim ownership of what is voluntary and what we do personally/willfully.  This is an illusion of the mind.  We also are what happens to us and what is involuntary.  Like our hearts beating or the pancreas creating insulin.  We don’t will it to happen…it just happens.  It is not a voluntary action (we can’t stop at will)…it is involuntary.

However, there are many things that are voluntary at times and involuntary at times.  Take breathing.  You can willfully inhale and exhale…controlling the breath.  But when you are not thinking about it…breathing still happens.  So is breathing voluntary or involuntary?  How about we just dispel all the concepts and say it is not voluntary, nor involuntary, nor both, nor neither.  Voluntary and involuntary are just illusions of the mind…a mind believing in duality.

Duality is a fiction of the mind…the world is already (and always has been) nondual in nature.  As such, there never has been any such thing as voluntary or involuntary (they are illusions of the mind).  You are the doer and everything done is by your will.

As a person in the world (egoically) you may say there are wrongs to be righted and things to be fixed.  Well, whatever you want to do is exactly what the Self wants to do as you.  So if you feel the need to protest, start a charity, or whatever…go do it.  You are free to do whatever you want and it is in accordance with the Self, which you always already are and have been.

Nonduality does not mean non-differentiation and homogeneity of experience.  Think of the ocean.  Under water it is all ocean…there is no other…and yet there are different currents, hot and cold spots, etc.  The hot and cold spots are not separate or other than the ocean.  The various currents are not other than the ocean.  So even in endless water…there is variation and happenings.  The world is even more complex of an appearance and happening…and yet there is no separation.  There is the Self and no other.

Published by


Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is; living in peace, contentment, and joy.

4 thoughts on “Is there free will or is there no free will?”

  1. Thanks for sharing your exploration of spirituality with me and others. I’m looking forward to more involvement I am 65 years old and have wasted many years getting to this point, I envy your quest from an early age.

    1. Hi Russell.

      Thank you for the comment. There is no such thing as “wasted many years”. Those years and that experience got you to where you are now. Besides, what you have done all these years is exactly what the Self wanted to do (as you). Don’t say you should be somewhere else by now and make it a burden.


  2. Hi Eric,
    I have been loving your posts since you started this blog. Beautifully clarified confusion. Gracious thanks.

Comments are closed.