The Illusion of Choice

A very long time ago, an old friend asked me if there really was such a thing as free will. I answered simply, only if you think there is. Choice and free will; while entirely necessary, are also pieces of the vast illusion of perception prescribed to human life. Often in our culture, the man who can make all his decisions based on nothing but thought alone, is the one most respected. He has as it were, mastered himself. Of course in being master of himself he is also subject to himself, but for the purposes of this discussion we can agree on this phrases meaning. He has found a way to logic his way through everything, to take the most practical decision at every turn. Every second of our lives is decision, every moment brought to us in the simple dualism of yin and yang, yes or no. Of course, black and white thinking in this way must certainly be of use to no one, it fails to see the shades of grey that life has to offer; but what is is it that makes grey? Black, and white. We believe that every choice is something done of our own volition; in the arrogance of the intellect, we assume that the ego has the capability to choose one thing or the other. Despite what we have been told, and what is easy to believe, this is entirely false. Everything one does, one way or another, is what you always wanted to do in any given situation. Even in a case of people making horrible choices, choices that are not good for them nor anyone on their lives, they are still choosing what they want. It is always much easier to take the view that life pushes us around like a bully in a schoolyard, and that little old me had nothing to do with this addiction. I had nothing to do with my alcoholism. I had nothing to do with my addiction. I had nothing to do with the horrible crime I have committed. This is the view of many who, under the guise of the fact that life is cruel; which it very well can be, tell others, and most of all themselves that they are not responsible. But one always gets what they want, without exception. A retreat into addiction, or into anything which causes the haze of pleasure to override that of the illusion of perception, is a choice. Instead of facing life's incalculable suffering, instead of accepting the unconscious traumas and seeing what needs to improve in our lives; it is much easier to fall into the choice of addiction.

Having said this, I realize that it sounds altogether insensitive and arrogant to take this view. Allow me to clear the air. Life is a barrage of suffering and pleasure, it is so overwhelming that thinking about it all at once can be too much to bear. It is the privileged few, who are able to come away from our culture unscathed; in fact I believe that to be impossible for one to fully realize his responsibility without great, incomprehensible difficulty. All human beings are guilty of this sort of thinking, it is part of our illusion as a collective. There is no choice. One will always have chosen what they want, even if that thing they have chosen is horrible. It is always what is perceived by the individual, to be the lesser of two evils.

This brings me to the question of free will. If one believes it exists, then it does, because they are under the impression they have chosen the fact that it exists. It gets altogether more complex when one does not. One who chooses to believe that free will only exists in the mind, is of this sort of opinion: Free will is of the mind, in the mind exclusively. And so, if you believe that such a thing exists, you are fulfilling the mind's will. However, if one does not believe it exists, then they are still enacting the will to choose that it does not exist. But how can it, if the ultimate result of what is said to define free will; choice or decision, is always what the individual wants? Because they are using their supposed free will to choose what they want. But how can choice exist if the result is always the same? See the cycle of thought that one must break free of. Free will, and choice, is whatever one chooses it to be. The human being has the privilege of having access to the middle position of decision, for it is from this point true action can be taken. This middle position, is similar to the nature of free will's existence. It exists, and also doesn't, but only if one believes it does. Thus is the nature of perception under the illusion of free will.

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