Are we volitional beings or not?
In the past couple weeks I've probably made 4 or 5 posts relating to reading Maharj's works, but I think this guy really had it all figured out, and he maintains that we are not volitional beings. Reguardless of your beliefs about what you truly are (an objective person, consciousness, or pure subjectivity), do you think you are volitional or not?
I think ultimately we arent volitional. We are a purely physical state effected by our environment. It's a constant equation, one thought always preceded by another in destinys path. Everything is fate... since its all an equation, everything was always going to eventuate this way.
It's ironic though, the system that provides no free will is naturally designed to make you believe you do have free will. Probably essential for ego health. Since I am not a practising Zen buddhist, I do like to live in the fantasy that i have free will.
To explain further, saying “do you think you are volitional?” is the same as saying “do I think I am volitional?”. You’ll note there are two references to identity there (“I”). The letter “I” is representative of something -- who you believe/think you are.
But that aside (as you requested in your post), based on my current beliefs, I’d say that it’s not as simple as black or white, yes or no. I’d say that it’s more of a “yes, but...” situation, where there are levels at which we have free will, and levels that we do not. If anything, there definitely seems to be some universal constants that we can't really get around, free will or not.
From my current perspective it certainly seems like I have free will, however I’m aware of how limited my perspective is compared to the vastness of the universe (whatever that is), so I think it would be foolish for me to adopt a belief that wasn’t flexible. So my final answer is: Based on my current perspective/knowledge, yes, I do think I am a volitional being, however I’m open to changing that belief if I feel it would be intelligent to do so, and suspect that there's a good chance I'd have to do that if I expanded my understanding far enough.
I think I’d have a better chance of answering that question with more certainty if I had a better idea of what happens after death (I’d want answers to questions such as: is there any reincarnation? If so, why do we reincarnate? Do we have some divine or universal will to carry out? Are there universal rules that bind us even in the non-physical?), but at the moment, I’m quite happy to be ignorant and toil away at life. No need to get off the ride when it's not finished -- it could be hazardous to your health. ;)
Of course if you bring in the whole “reality is subjective and beliefs have creative power” into the equation things become even more interesting (and tricky), but lets not go there. :rolleyes:
I think the confusion lies in mixing levels of truth.
At the highest level, we are all One/God, so who is there to have free will? But at our current level, we are individual beings/souls with free will to choose our spiritual destiny, as limited by karma (past choices).
After reading the last chapter of the book (which was a commentary on Maharaj's teaching), I think I understand. Whoever wrote this really summed it up well:
"The fundamental question therefore is: Can the individual, an illusory entity, decide independently as by choice that he wants to be 'liberated'? No, he cannot. Would it not be wiser for him and, incidentally, more practical too, to accept passively what is as part of the total funcitoning, and look at whatever happens in wondrous admiration of the working of Nature? The prompt but thoughtless reaction to this suggestion often is: If everyone adopts such a 'fatalistic' attitude, no one will work or make any progress. Maharaj's immediate answer to such a reaction is: Well, try it and see if Nature works this way. How long can you sit still without doing anything, ten minutes?"
This makes sense to me, and it explains, in my mind at least, how we can not be volitional beings but believe that we are. True action, true thought, and true intutition arises spontaneously, but for most of us the ego takes credit for what happens. I also think there is what the author calls "deliberate efforts from the pseudo-entity," which is when our ego creates thoughts, takes action, and tries to gain "intelligence" for superiority, all of which is hazardous and causes suffering.
Which book and author please?
The book is here but Maharaj is most famous for the book I Am That.
Aye, I Am That was an amazing read.
I was just wondering what book you were referring to, thank you.
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