The word freedom gets thrown around a bit. The whole idea that we have the right to choose in life appears to be one of the most important things to us. BUT!!! Do we actual have free will?
This question takes us down many different paths. Are we just a brain or are we the controller of the brain? In many ways this question can be thrown into the science V’s spirit conundrum, which of cause is this philosopher’s wet dream. So let’s get talkin…
If I was to say that we are the brain then I would explain it like this:
Before we are even born we have genes which dictate much more than just how we look. They also affect traits that we have throughout life. Yet it is not just the genes that affect us, it’s everything. The subconscious brain is running from the moment we open our eyes, and from there it is like a sponge when it comes to information. Every mistake, every thought, every experience and every trauma has some affect within the brain.
These experiences from our environment give us all the knowledge we require to make a decision within the present moment. It doesn’t matter if you are using your conscious mind or your subconscious mind. Regardless, your knowledge comes from the neurotransmitters within your brain that have stored a life’s worth of information. And this is so you can decide what you want for dinner tonight. It is these memories (mixed in with your genetic makeup and possible chemical changes within your body) that decide your life for you. What you think as being free will is nothing more than a sum of your experiences.
Based on the above premise, it is then fair to state that every choice you make in the present moment, is a choice not based on the present moment, but rather, a choice predetermined by a brain full of experiences from your past.
If this all sounds a little bland for you, maybe you will like the opposing point of view. Let’s look at having free will.
If we were to have free will we would have to be more than just the sum of our experiences and brain. There would have to be a higher consciousness aware of itself. This is where the ‘soul, self-awareness and being present’ part of our society comes from. In many ways it’s spiritual.
To believe that we are more than the sum of our own thoughts would mean that it doesn’t matter what we have been through in our life. Essentially through dedication, focus and/or practice we can rise above our primitive instincts and our conscious/subconscious self to be self-aware.
A great example of this would be to say that ‘thought’ does not exist. Sure, we have neurotransmitters and electricity within our brain yet a thought is not a physical thing. It can’t be held, physically seen, nor could you ever know what is going through someone else’s head. Therefore you exist because of something that doesn’t exist. And there lay’s the magic of it all.
We will be going over much of this within the chapters about ‘the present’, ‘the ego’, and ‘the observer’. Yet hopefully I have done enough to spark some interest in the meantime.
So, what do I think? I myself have been through what many call an ‘awakening’. Once I went through this experience I did feel disconnected from my ego and like an outside observer into my thoughts. I currently zip in and out of them like a fly. In many ways it felt spiritual… This experience was a life changer for me and I have never been the same since. I am trying to find my spiritual side, though, a part of me wonders if my ‘experience’ either brought me to a higher awareness of myself, or just to a simpler way of operating within my brain.
It is this conundrum that gives me a zest in life to keep searching for more answers. In many ways it brings us back to our chapter on perception. We will never truly know within our lifetime whether or not we have free will, but it is our right to choose our own beliefs based on what we feel is right for us. The power is in our hands to believe in a higher level of existence if we wish.