We all have the potential for free will, but we rarely use it. Instead, we often live our lives on autopilot and our so-called `freely chosen`actions are just the automatic reactions of our prior conditioning to new stimuli.
However, by cultivating mindfulness and a deep awareness of the content of our minds (e.g. aversions, clingings, preconceptions, wishful thinking, preferences, etc.) that conditions our tendencies and patterns of thought and feeling, we can come to live freer lives.
Luane Russwurm: Do you mean this only rhetorically?
Adam Pearson: No, I’m talking about actual freedom of choice independent from all of the conditioning that usually determines our actions: patterns of thought, patterns of feeling, preconceptions, limited concepts and schemas, likes, dislikes (themselves determined by past conditioning), biases, delusions, clingings, aversions, whims, desires, cravings, behaviours motivated by social expectations and conceptions of others’ wants and standards of value, judgments, values, past experiences, opinions of those we respect, etc., etc.
We have a capacity for free will, but we rarely exercise it because we live our lives on autopilot and do not usually cultivate awareness of all of the features at play in our minds that shape our actions.
Cultivating this mindfulness and deep awareness has the effect of loosening the effect of the autopilot mindset. In turn, it leads to greater freedom as well as, in most cases, less suffering, since it weakens the pull of the causes of suffering in our lives, namely, craving, aversion, clinging, and self-delusion.
Nick Govas: “I don’t think we even have the capacity for free will. We are but mindless automatons, ruled by our desires and by our institutions. all one can hope to do is be aware of this reality, and to accept it.”
Adam Pearson: “People tend to live as automatons, but this does not mean that is how we must live. Free will is for most people only a potential, not an actuality. It must be discovered by cultivating awareness of the conditioning factors within the mind and thereby learning how to move beyond them and to refrain from blindly doing what they predispose us to do.”