Control, Free Will, and the Ego

Simple And Slow And Natural

Simple And Slow And Natural

JOHN DAY DAM, WA—A few years back I was discussing/arguing free will with my mother and brother. My opinion (though I stated it as a fact, not an opinion), is that if you could go back 10 minutes into the past, you would do everything exactly the same as you did the first time through. Why? Because everything else would be “reset” and with nothing changed (you wouldn’t remember what you did last time), you’d do the exact same thing. Free will was an illusion. QED.

Makes sense right? To bad it’s all BS. Pure mental fantasy. You can’t go back in time which nullifies the rest of the scenario… ie BS. See how the mind messes with you? Stupid minds. They are your own worst enemy.

Anyway here is what I believe now:

In Genesis—which I see as a parable—God gave Man free will to do as he wanted with the exception of eating from that one tree over there. Man of course couldn’t resist the temptation so he ate from the Tree of Knowledge and bazinga, instantly grew an ego (became self aware).

Man. Was. Screwed.

My interpretation of this story:

  • TaoGodHer won’t mess with your free will—do whatever the hell you want, She’s not going to interfere. That’s Her deal with you.
  • The “you” and “your” in the sentence above is the ego brought about by the Tree of Knowledge (self awareness).
  • The less there is of “you” the less there is of self will and the more there is of Divine will.

You see, free will is all about control, and control is the antithesis of surrender and surrender is the direct path to the Divine. The more free will you think you have, the more there is of “you.” The more you surrender, the less there is of “you” and the more there is of Her.

From Michelle’s post to me earlier today:

Had a nice experience this morning at work… Just of seeing myself as secondary, as not really in control, and walking and moving and talking from spirit… Controlled by spirit… Of course my ego self is scared to not be in control… But when I think about it, how could it be? If my ego actually controlled my world, all would go according to its plan. And that’s just not what happens. It spends a lot of its time on damage control from its own resistance, really.

That’s a perfect example of the way I live—of the way I’d love others to live. Who’s in control? That is just a mental game, based on a world of “Or’s.” It isn’t a choice between the Wayne-thing OR the Divine. It’s not a this OR that.

The Mystic doesn’t live exclusively in the world of Man or the world of the Divine. The Mystic lives in the Threshold. The Mystic lives between the two worlds.

For the Mystic, it’s not “my” free will or God’s free will.

It’s both.

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10 thoughts on “Control, Free Will, and the Ego

  1. Great post as usual Wayne. You pinpoint what may be the biggest problem, in my mind, about free will, which is, what is the self that would supposedly have that free will? If there is no separate self, then how can an imagined “me” have free will. But we don’t create our thoughts either – and our thoughts precede our actions, dictate what we do. And if they’re not ‘my’ thoughts…..I liked this take by Rupert Spira:
    We take credit for our thoughts in hindsight, it’s after they’ve appeared that we claim them as our own. It’s all a bit unsettling in a way….
    (BTW, thanks for including one of my comments in your testimonials 🙂

  2. First thanks to Michelle and Wayne for such transparency and detail. This level of discussion is very helpful, at least to me.

    Next, there is scientific evidence that the brain prepares for action a measurable time before we consciously “choose” to act. This may be interpreted to mean that free will is just as much an illusion as the “separate self” as pointed out int the post by Jim H and by Rupert in the great link by Jim.

    See here

    • “Next, there is scientific evidence that the brain prepares for action a measurable time before we consciously “choose” to act.”

      As soon as I read this, I thought, “You could wake up on that sentence alone if you just look at what the ‘we’ is in it.”

      And I hadn’t looked at the Rupert Spira video yet and that is almost exactly what he says in his first sentence. SHE apparently thinks alike through Rupert and I. 🙂

  3. Hmmmm…. I’m usually in agreement with much on this blog, and have commented about that agreement in the past. On this issue, however, I’m not sure. (And not intending an ad hominem, let me say I am a philosopher and have both studied and lived these issues of free will and the mind-body problem for over 30 years…) It boils down to a few things: If human’s actions are determined then we’re not culpable nor responsible. Meaning is drained from our “decisions” because they’re not actual decisions. Fatalism rules which means I can throw a baby into a dumpster to die and that’s just what happens–I don’t chose it. There are other ramifications.

    The only think that makes sense is that God/Tao/Her is not omnipotent. We co-create (process theology–Whitehead, Griffin, Cobb) reality by accepting the Divine Lure. This means that God lures us through persuasive power hoping that we’ll do the right thing rather than ruling us through coercive power.


    • I think we’re in more agreement than you realize. SHE gives us free will, and doesn’t override it. And I like your idea of the Lure—sort of reverse temptation—and I agree with it. The less there is of you, the more powerful the “aroma” of the Lure because it’s really HER will. (If I’m understanding you correctly).

      “I’m out!” as Kramer once shouted. Enough of this philosophizing for me. I’m just relating my experiences. Nothing to do with you aliman, nor anyone else here, but I always regret trying to theorize why I experience these things, because I always seem to get dragged down into mental belief systems. Yuck. Pretty much the exact opposite of everything I try to “teach.” 🙂

      • Wayne,

        Yes, you have it right about the divine lure in process theology. The more you surrender to the divine lure (the less there is of you), the more in line with Her will you are (the more there is of Her).

        You said you don’t want to “…get dragged down into mental belief systems. Yuck.” That’s certainly true when talking and thinking replace action and experience. The point is to experience Her rather than only talk about Her.

        Also, as a teacher, the theory is important to me, too. One thing I’m trying to do is bring my experience to my university students and to the AIM folks that do the spontaneous moving meditation. The students come into the classroom as MARS scientists (“MARS” stands for Materialistic, Atheistic, Reductionistic, Sensationistic). They have a naive, unexamined, childish idea of God and religion. By sharing with them the more sophsiticated ideas of process theology and quantum mechanics, their small belief structures are at least fractured. Some are blown wide open. This is the first step for most of them to some kind of life and awareness that you’re sharing on your blog.

        I tell you this because this blog helps me think about these issues, and I hope you don’t abandon talking about theory.


      • Aloha Rob,

        Yes, I agree, there are many views inbetween hard determinism and free will idealism. Also, my saying “God is hoping we do the right thing” is just a way of talking. I’m not religious and I don’t believe in anything that succumbs to anthropomorphism. My point was that I don’t believe in some kind of omnipotent God making decisions and creating ex nihilo. This view leads to a host of problems. The main problem is that it’s contributory of a huge amount of suffering in the world.


      • Wayne, also, I was partly reacting to other’s comments, not necessarily on your specific ideas. I think we’re pretty much in agreement.
        Aloha, Aliman

  4. aliman,
    I have been a scientist for as long as you have been a philosopher. What astounds me whenever the free will argument comes up is that it always deteriorates to the same old dichotomy, freedom vs determinism. There is a third, verifiable, alternative: reality unfolds spontaneously, powered by the creative will of the Tao but based only on probabilities. Consider a chemical reaction – the exact yield cannot be “predetermined” but only expressed as a probability based on the presence and quantity of many (perhaps infinite) factors. Same is true in quantum physics experiments. The only person that has explained this clearly is Thomas Campbell (himself a nuclear physicist). Perhaps this is a less romantic way of saying ” We co-create (process theology–Whitehead, Griffin, Cobb) reality by accepting the Divine Lure”. However “…hoping that we’ll do the right thing” goes too far into anthropomorphic religiosity.

    And to Wayne’s point, this is not just philosophy. For me it has been a realization that has stimulated clarity because if you see that everything happens in an unpredictable way due to chaotic but systematic interaction of infinite factors, then you must surrender any sense that you are doing it OR that anything else is doing it beyond providing the raw power to create. This destroys belief systems, rather than supporting them. It pulls the plug on thinking about past or future and plants you right here, right now.

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