View Full Version : free will?

solomon levi
05-06-2012, 08:19 AM
I thought this would be an interesting topic to debate or share views.

An article on free will in Scientific American magazine:

A lot of views on wikipedia:

"Whatever you may think of the question of free will, the truth is that your
experiences throughout your life are determined by your assumptions… An
assumption builds a bridge of incidents that lead inevitably to the fulfillment of
itself." - Neville Goddard

"Human beings are machines. They react to experience. They do not have free will. But it is possible to attain free will, to wake up to objective reality, to reach a higher level of consciousness." Roger House expounding
on Gurdjieff's teaching

"So choice must exist only when the mind is confused. When it is clear there is no choice." Krishnamurti

05-06-2012, 08:35 AM
"So choice must exist only when the mind is confused. When it is clear there is no choice." Krishnamurti

I'm totally with Krishnamurti on this one.

The confused mind invents choices, alternatives and forks in the road, whereas what actually happens - happens and will have always happened anyway, regardless of whether it had or had not previously entered into some 'choice' equation.

So even the mind's invention of choices and alternatives (when it happens) is actually choice-less and inevitable.

solomon levi
05-12-2012, 01:37 PM
One point several authors have made -
If you have free will, try to remember yourself for 30 seconds.

Maybe some people won't know what "remember yourself" means...
so they can try to watch the second hand on a clock without any other
thoughts intruding.

I'm probably stating the obvious, but this bothers me to no end, how we sleep through
life with so few moments of wakefulness. It bothers me like suffering bothered
Siddhartha. How can we go on and not address this?
What could be more significant?

What will any of our lives matter if we weren't there/present?

There is a saying that "God" comes to everyone's house, all the time, knocking,
but we aren't there. We're not present; we're absent. Searching for this or that;
searching for the past or future; even searching for God. And all we need do is
go "home"/be present and "God" finds us.

05-12-2012, 08:25 PM
Upon examining my own life, it has very distinctively and increasingly come to my attention that I have lived it before. What I mean is, that I have 'soul recollection' prior to entering this embodiment of goals and purposes I am going to 'serve'. The people, places, things and situations seem like are free-willed add ons (like picking between chocolate or carrot cakes; but both are cakes), but the main storyline, the purpose behind the curtain has been "contracted" (like a job), it would appear. Like predestined. When I arrive at a certain "signposts" along my path, I get acknowledgements, perfectly fiting set-ups, situations, people and places for my path to continue. Some main events, I foresee it, and to my surprise, even if, from my current point of view seem very far reaching, almost impossible to comprehend, events move and twist, to meet my footpath. So, in a very real sense, it is wisest to just 'let go' and enjoy the ride.

The closer I am to my soul purpose, the more effortless and graceful life becomes, it seems. Plato, I believe, was right after all. That's my experience.

Great thread of discussions - thanks for both of you who posted!

05-13-2012, 12:43 AM
All good points to a very interesting subject, but I would like to add a few quotes myself. First one from Colin Wilson who wrote in his book The Outsider:

"Freedom posits free-will; that is self evident. But will can only operate when there is first a motive. No motive, no willing. But motive is a matter of 'belief; you would not want to do anything unless you believed it possible and meaningful. And belief must be belief in 'the existence' of something; that is to say, it concerns what is 'real'. So ultimately freedom depends upon the real. The Outsider's sense of unreality cuts off his freedom at the root. It is as impossible to exercise freedom in an unreal world as it is to jump while you are falling."

I cannot live in a cosmos that does not allow free will... even if the current world might hinder freedom and free will I still strive towards such a position. If we are not living our lives as we want, if we are not choosing our paths (if there is no option), then I don't see any point to any of it.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." - Aleister Crowley

I saw Terminator Salvation the other day and there is a quote from that film that summarize my stand on the free-will issue:

"There is no fate, but what we make."



05-13-2012, 06:02 AM
Free will is an interesting topic. Seems pretty simple/straightforward to me, which is thus:

Everyone possess the ability to choose what they wanna do/be etc - whatever. This is also "foreknown"/"predestined" - because God/All already knows what each piece/aspect/part will do/choose, as its part of itself. To sum it up:

You've already made the choice, you're here to figure out why.


A lovely tension-hold of both choice, and non-choice, since you choose it yourself ("awake"), but also choose it unknowingly (while "asleep"). :)


05-13-2012, 09:17 AM
Just a repetition of what has been said above

Everything we do and decisions we make have a butterfly effect, and as the saying goes, “you make
your bed and now you have to lie in it”. People are afraid to interfere with the status quo for fear of
‘jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire’, the fear of change.

Change is the only certainty in life. We are all aware of this, some more than others, and thus we resist
change for fear of what that change may bring. If you are able to overcome fear of change, able to cope
with and accept it, adapt to it in a positive way, then you are as close to having free will as you are going to

Laplace's demon

We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its
future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in
motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also
vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the
movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom (or quantum
particle); for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past
would be present before its eyes.

—Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

There are arguments against Laplace's demon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laplace%27s_demon#Arguments_against_Laplace.27s_de mon), however they all rely on the methods for
calculation we hold now in the cage of our limited knowledge of what may be.

If you believe in Laplace’s demon then you are absolutely free to do whatever you want and
at the same time a prisoner of circumstance for whatever you do is already preordained.

There is an oxymoron!

Free will is like a sinusoidal wave sometimes positive and at other times negative, It
depends on the position of perception along that wave of the subject at any given moment.

IMO free will is an illusion and the perplexity is how you feel within that constraint. We don’t have
the computational power of Laplace’s demon and thus every day’s a school day. This is the purpose of our
tiny world within the great expanse of the universe, to shelter us from the knowledge of what already is and
bring substance to the illusion.

Only a new born baby has the illusion of complete free will, but it soon learns to create the walls of
limitation around itself.

We are our own jailers, but we also hold the key...are you willing to step out of the cell?

"So choice must exist only when the mind is confused. When it is clear there is no choice." Krishnamurti

Vive la confusion!


05-13-2012, 12:35 PM
It feels free and it seems random.
Seemingly free and seemingly random.

It would seem that our choices are in a way pre-ordained. It would seem that we are not completely free in the choices we make. It would seem, in fact, that we are moved to have the ideas we have and to make the choices we make. This might be comforting to some but discomforting to others.

It would seem there is a path before each one of us and our task in life is to walk it.

solomon levi
05-13-2012, 08:19 PM
This, as all things, should be examined well.
Let's say one assumes free will and is incorrect -
what chance of having true free will can one have if they assume it already?
Let's say one assumes free will and is correct -
nothing changes. Your life is as free and willful as ever.

Of these two options, neither has potential for change/awakening.
However, if one assumes we do not have free will and is incorrect -
you have free will.
If one assumes we do not have free will and is correct -
one has potential to discover if one can develope a will, free of conditioning.

An open and interested "scientific" mind would examine all these possibilities/assumptions
and their outcomes.
Scientifically, one can observe that the belief in free will produces a projection with
the self-confirming/reflecting appearance of free will without being a true/objective exercise of free will.
If one is satisfied with a subjective, self-reflective, dream of free will, which we can observe in
anyone... well, this doesn't satisfy my criteria for free will.

Gurdjieff would speak of various types of man, mostly mechanical, but one having the
potential for free will if one developes a single consistent "I" as opposed to our many "I"s
that talk to eachother and conflict, judge, confuse, and struggle for the spotlight or 15 seconds
of fame (these "I"s are generally too brief/temporal for 15 minutes).
How I used to interpret that was that this consistent "I" could be unique for each person -
a dominant "I" according to which one is chosen and emphasized. But what I see now
is that there is only one possible consistent "I" which is the absence of separative conflicting
thought/mind/ego. Then we have free will - our will is free: not possessed, not mine, not yours.
But free and unconditioned and awakened.
I notice most people don't consider that because of our personal, consumeristic, aquiring,
possessive, productive, "what can it do for me? for my gain?" egoic identities.
What good is free will if I can't use it to have what I want?
Yes, it's free. What we want is not free. Want = conditioned specified thing.
Not wrong. Just not free. If freedom interests you. :)

05-14-2012, 04:16 AM
I cannot live in a cosmos that does not allow free will... even if the current world might hinder freedom and free will I still strive towards such a position. If we are not living our lives as we want, if we are not choosing our paths (if there is no option), then I don't see any point to any of it.

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." - Aleister Crowley

I am mostly with you and what you said.
Though Aleister Crowley wasn't. He had a very strong belief in a predetermined universe and that one of the goals of magic* was to connect a man with his own "True Will", which is something that acted along the lines of the predestination. In book 4 he wrote:

8) A Man whose conscious will is at odds with his True Will is wasting his strength. He cannot hope to influence his environment efficiently.

9) A Man who is doing his True Will has the inertia of the Universe to assist him.

Crowley wasn't less Fatalist than the Greek Tragedy.

So maybe the question is: Is there any way in which Oedipus can avoid killing his father and getting married to his mother?

I think Oedipus has a chance, which was explained here:

Anyway, talking about Oedipus... I was talking last night to my Girlfriend and she said: "I know your sin! Hybris!". Hybris, if you don't know it, stands for "Excess" or "arrogance" (LOL... just found that English speakers spell it "Hubris". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris ).

I told her that I didn't think that Hybris (or "Hubris") was a sin. Hybris... without Hybris there's no Odysseus. Hybris is the Human will to escape from Destiny or Fate or Predestination.

There are no Heroes without Hubris, even if the Greek Tragedy punished them (like Oedipus was punished).

After talking about the Hubris, we went to a party and I talked to a friend of us there. I asked her what is the opposite of "Hubris" according to her: she said something clever: "The State". An answer that I really liked.
Instead of talking to me about Oedipus, she talked to me about her daughter Antigone and said: "Which ones were her options? Hubris or the laws of the State!".

Zeus feeding his father Chronos with a rock is, in my opinion, a perfect example of Hubris.
To accept an Universe without Free Will is to accept Chronos or Saturn as our ruler, as our one and only God.
Then again, isn't alchemy about turning Saturn into something else?

Do you know Goya's Saturn devouring a son?

That's not my God.

Anyway: Does alchemy make any kind of sense in an universe without free will?

*I won't write it, magic, using the K... it's a horrible neologism!

05-14-2012, 07:43 AM
I am mostly with you and what you said.
Though Aleister Crowley wasn't.

Could be, I'm not an AC scholar, regardless any truth from a quote or book always lies with the reader. That is why I have always enjoyed do what thou wilt. :)

Anyway: Does alchemy make any kind of sense in an universe without free will?

Not really, to transform is a matter of choice. Many choose to remain the same, some try to transform and some fail trying (I am in either one of the two latter groups, still in the process of transforming). Then sure one could argue it is my destiny to transform (or transmute), or it is my destiny not to.

Ultimately free-will is similar to the no-god/yes-god discussions. Impossible to come to a conclusion because neither side has any proof. Although some answers (in regards to free-will) can/may be found in the theory of morphic resonance as well as Rupert Sheldrakes other work on the appearance of form (morphogenesis).

If you are interested there is a thread in morphic resonance here: http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?1538-All-things-morphic

To save you the time reading there is a video:



solomon levi
05-14-2012, 03:20 PM
Just for argument - the universe can allow free will without man
possessing it in his current state as egoic identity...
Alchemy can make sense of free will without suggesting that man
in his current state has free will.
These arguments are abstractions. All we need do is observe ourselves to see
if we have free will or not. Can you choose to not be who you were yesterday?
To what degree? A tiny difference or a grand difference?
Does a tiny difference satisfy one enough to claim free will?
Are we afraid to ask why the grand difference doesn't happen?
Are we willful because we can choose eggs or pancakes for breakfast, or is
it that we can choose to skip breakfast, or fast for 3 days... is that will?
But why can't we not think for three days? Now where is will?
Tiny difference... big difference...
Free will should accomplish both shouldn't it?
What good is it to claim free will and not be conscious over our bodies, emotions and thoughts?
It's my free will to be unconscious??
Yeah, and the sun will rise tomorrow because it is my will also.
Lightning won't strike me today because I will it not to.

How seriously do we want to know about free will?
Do we look from a safe distance through abstractions and philosophical debate,
or do we make ourselves the guinea pigs and get dirty with life?

There must be free will or life wouldn't make sense...
Shall we examine if life makes sense? :)
Is it life making sense, or mind making sense out of life?

solomon levi
05-14-2012, 05:15 PM
We may also approach this by observing our responses/reactions/rationalisations, etc
as to why our will sometimes doesn't accomplish what we want.
If I buy a lottery ticket, it is implied/inferred that I want to win.
Why don't I win everytime?
Do we answer with chance, statistics?
Or was someone else's will "stronger" than mine? They wanted it more?
This does not comply with observations... how often have we witnessed someone
in a state of surprise when they win at a casino, or have won ourselves after giving up,
surrenderring, or not even trying? When the lady reading a book wins the bingo, how
do we rationalise will or strength of will?

Has everyone thoroughly studied this?

I notice when I really press this, for me it hinges upon awareness, or lack of awareness, of the
self-reflective nature of the closed loop that is the egoic identity. If one has dug this far into oneself,
I think one must conclude that there is no possibility of free will in a closed system, but to people
within the system (fish in the water) there is the appearance of free will. Obviously that sort of
free will cannot penetrate the closed loop, and that is the free will that interests me - the one that
can penetrate the closed system.
I think that's all I can say without repeating myself on this issue. I wonder if I have the free will to
leave it at that? :)

06-26-2012, 01:04 PM
The late neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Libet) did actually famously demonstrate that our brain reacts before our conscious mind is even aware of its choice. Despite it feeling like we are making our decisions freely, we are actually living in the objective past. I have observed some interesting phenomena with dreams which seem to support the idea that our ideas, movements and choices are not a product of chance, no matter how new and free they may feel.

This calls into question the idea of punishment. Are we to be held accountable for our actions if we have no control over them? It would appear that we must be held accountable and that punishment is necessary.

Some more interesting reading on the neuroscience of free will (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will).

04-15-2015, 12:15 AM
Do we have free will?

I used to think that we had free will... or we had the choice to choose... and in a sense we do... but now I have realized that this question cannot be looked at like this:

Do we have free will/choice or do we not?

There cannot be a satisfactory answer to this question, because the answer is not a Yes or a No.

The answer is as follows (IMO):

We do not need free will/choice. The need is the root of the problem. It is not because we don't have free will, we can have it... but we don't need it. Equally if we don't have it, if we are slaves to fate... well we don't need to create will to escape the slavery because we don't need neither will nor submission.

Not sure if I am making any sense, but I'll repeat myself again in a less preachy manner...

I don't need to choose, and I don't need to follow. If my faith is to die in a car accident I will die in a car accident. If I choose to not be near cars, if I choose to live on an island somewhere, I might die from old age or perhaps die in a car accident somehow anyway.

50 % chance that my choice matter. 50 % chance that my choice has no meaning.

100 % chance that I experience!

Any other position is doomed to cause headache and spiritual anguish, in my humble opinion.


04-15-2015, 12:18 AM
This might be better (wisdom slogan style):

Is there free will? Is there no free will?

We don't need it if we have it, and if we have it we don't need it!

Direct experience is the only game in town....