Inner Peace: Volition / Free Will

The realization that volition is an illusion is understandably uncomfortable for everyone at first, but it also has a powerful transformative effect that removes self judgment and judgment of other and paves the way for genuine inner peace.

The question as to whether or not we have free will is actually a misconception resulting from the assumption that there is a separate personal self located in the body. free will Based on this idea, the question naturally arises as to whether or not this separate self is volitional. In fact it neither is or isn't because the notion that you are the mind or body is not correct.

While philosophers have debated this question for centuries, and spiritual teachers have declared that free will is an illusion, science has only more recently demonstrated that a choice is actually made at deeper levels of consciousness before the conscious mind is aware of volitionally choosing. In one brain scan experiment it was shown that what choice would be made could be determined as much as six seconds before the subject was consciously aware of making the choice.

The fact is, we cannot know any thought until it occurs in our conscious awareness and we observe it. That being the case, we have no control over what options present themselves, which of the options will be chosen, or what actions follow from those thoughts.

What typically happens is that the conscious mind notices a choice as it occurs, ignors the fact that it was not known until it appeared, and then claims authorship over that choice, thereby reinforcing the illusion of being a volitional chooser.


While this gives us a sense of control, this control is likewise an illusion, and so this realization doesn't result in a loss of control since one never had it to begin with. It also doesn't mean that one cannot choose or act, since choosing and action continue to occur spontaneously just as it always has.

However, the belief in free will implies personal responsibility, which likewise implies guilt and blame when you or another is perceived to have not acted correctly. There's actually no way to avoid judgment of self and others completely while still believing in the volition of the personal self. Conversely, it becomes impossible to blame anyone when it's clearly seen that one could not have done other than what they did. It doesn't mean that we don't attempt to correct errors and do whatever is necessary to make it right, but there can be no guilt, and no judgment involved. This is true forgiveness and acceptance, and removes a tremendous burden that compromises the happiness of everyone caught within the illusion of free will.

What thoughts occur in our conscious awareness depend only upon our conditioning; the cumulative effect of all of our past experiences. There is no other basis for decision making, and no separate mind that can choose between the options presented by the first mind. It must be understood that the reason the mind/body is not volitional is that you are not the mind/body. What you are is clearly prior to the movements of the mind/body or you could not observe them moving. If, in fact, you were the mind, you could not observe the thoughts occurring, since what we call mind is nothing more than the movement of those thoughts.

You are, at this moment, beyond mind, observing life as it spontaneously unfolds before you.

Phil Beaumont

To Happiness Home
Return from Volition to Inner Peace

More Inner Peace Articles:

Suffering and it's Causes
Finding our Sense of Self
Roller Coasters, Billy Shakespeare and Head Banging for Happiness.
The Simplicity of Dissolving the Questions
Finding Inner Peace: Looking for Peace in all the Wrong Places.(part 1)
Finding Inner Peace: Looking for Peace in all the Wrong Places.(part 2)
The Wave Who Searched for the Ocean
Acting with Virtue Vs Being Virtuous
Ground of Sadness

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Inner Peace

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"All that is actual is that Intelligence that is presently imagining everything, and yet is nothing. The choiceless dreamer of choosing. The thoughtless dreamer of thinking. The unborn dreamer of birth, and immortal dreamer of death. "

Phil Beaumont

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