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Free Will




No doubt, a large number of people will dismiss this or merely become irritated by it.  Very many of us — most all of us, really — assume that we have a free will that freely does whatever it “wants” to.  Suggesting otherwise tends to offend people, annoy people, and ruffle their feathers.  However, the decisions we are involved in are all largely governed by the chemical processes in the brain, the physiological/biological/neurological networks and systems.  Conditioning — by past sociological structures, such as education, religion, and other social networks — also, of course, plays a big part in this.  It may be that your decision to read this blog up to this point was as inevitable as hydrogen and oxygen combining at a certain point to form water.  Billions think and feel that they have free will.

It may be that any thought or any manifestation of thinking that one exists as, no matter what it is, is inevitably involved with conditioning.  So, where is freedom in all of this and is there any chance for true freedom?   Real freedom, perceptually, may come when the mind is of a stillness, a wholeness, that (at times) is beyond the sequential patterns and frameworks of thought/thinking.  It involves awareness beyond what was merely taught or absorbed.  It is of a newness that shatters all conceived and preconceived patterns.  When it occurs, there is an intelligent cessation of thought/thinking; without inevitable, conditioned thinking, there is no learned, false center as the “me” or “I” being projected.  Regarding true freedom, one cannot merely “know” that one is involved with it.  Only a healthy brain can allow it to manifest but it is not what depends upon a healthy brain.  It is not yours or mine; it is of a vastness that transcends all borders.  



Royal Catchfly (Silene regia)  This red blossomed plant is a very rare wild plant of the United States Midwest; it is very endangered in Illinois, for example. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2019

28 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I was astonished to see your photo of the Silene. There’s a beautiful one here in Texas that I’ll be posting about — Silene subciliata. Our species appears only in Texas and Louisiana, and also is rare, limited to a few counties along the border between the two states. It’s that same beautiful red.


  2. Interesting perspective on free will. I like how you worded the process of obtaining the freedom part of it. I don’t think I’ve heard this perspective. Usually it’s strictly we have it or we don’t. It wouldn’t be something we obtain. But you know what I really like this perspective. I think it’s well thought through. Do you have a favorite writer(s) or book(s) that helped you develop this perspective?


    • Thanks, Jayne! 🙂 Yes, it (i.e., free will) is definitely not something that one can merely obtain. It is not the effect of some cause, of course; otherwise, it would merely be part of the continuum of conditioning. It is a wholeness beyond any part (that cannot be attained via mere effort).
      There were many who were probably very influential for me in the very distant past (like when i was in college, and even in high school). Some include Walt Whitman, E.E.Cummings, T.S.Eliot, J.Krishamurti, and Wallace Stevens, though there were many more. I remember that, when i was in grade school, thinking and thought stopped and one was aware of something (some kind of awareness) that was far different, and more special, than what mere thinking involved.


  3. Yes, seems every thought/action is conditioned in some sense. The astute sometimes recognize the conditioning. My perception is: I am a unique part of something far larger than any categorizable entity – while I influence my actions, I am never in total control – “free will” is relative at best – but choices and actions are not totally automatic – I am a factor.
    Beautiful image!


  4. Lovely little red plant – with my eyes it looks a bit like my orange honeysuckle. 🙂
    An interesting thing about free will or decisions that I read/heard somewhere. Apparently, when we perform an action, eg pick up a coffee mug, our hand starts moving Before our brain sends the signals. Weird or what?


  5. I may have free will, but not the freedom to use it.
    I can’t walk around naked or I’ll be arrested and thrown in jail.
    I can’t go live in the woods or I’ll be charged with trespassing or vagrancy.
    I can’t go live in a box under the bridge if I choose to, because I’ll be arrested for trespassing, charged with vagrancy, and remanded to a “program” to “assist” “homeless persons” “assimilate” into our society.
    Totally free will is not necessarily always good for us in the corporeal sense, either.
    Being free to jump off the bridge or burn down the woods are good examples.
    Again, I would be charged with attempted suicide, trespass, vagrancy and arson.
    It’s not so much free will as it is freedom that eludes me.

    Seek peace,



    • 🙂 I see where you are going with this but i am sure that walking around naked or living under a bridge has nothing to do with free will; it is still part of personal conditioning in one way or other. (We once knew a woman whose brother lived under a bridge for 40 years because he refused to pay his taxes that would partially contribute to support of violent, military forces.)
      Yes, freedom can be very elusive.


  6. You make some interesting points Tom, as usual, and we have all missed your Sunday posts and meaningful ones like this one. That red delicate flower is pretty and a breath of fresh air in this wearisome Winter. I know you and I wish we were seeing flowers like this in real time – maybe another 3-4 months. We’ll just bide our time for now.


  7. Yes, Linda, i too miss the flowers and green growing things. They’ll all come in due time. I’ve been busy some with indoor aquarium plants, fish, and shrimp, and that has been keeping my “being close to nature” satisfied. You ought to look into setting up a tank with some colorful shrimp; they are easy to keep and comical! 🙂


  8. Royal Catchfly. What a name! I was completely unfamiliar with this beauty. Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂


  9. Beautifully written post. Your sentiments on free will are intriguing. I wrote a post on the same topic. I generally believe most of our decisions are not “free,” but I think that we can tap into free will during specific moments. At first I thought it was possible that there was no free will, but after reading stories of people, who made exceptional changes in their lives, I found it hard to reconcile while believing people had no free will. How do you think we can jump the gap between “determined” and “free” decisions? Here is a link to my post: I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.


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