If there is no free will
then I can just sit back and wait…

Jan Koehoorn

There are many Advaita teachers who claim that there is no free will. And there are many students who then think that they can just lean back in their chairs and wait. When I was still busy with my self investigation, sometime between my 25th and 30th years, I carried out a small experiment.

That went a bit like this: What would happen if I indeed do that? So, just get out of bed in the morning and immediately go and sit on the couch. I don't think I was able to maintain it for even one day. It was impossible. I saw how many different actions have to be undertaken. For example I forgot to go to the WC .during my walk from the bed to the sofa. A bit later the phone rang and after that a child began to cry upstairs. For that matter the shopping had to be done. In short, doing nothing appeared to be undoable.

Did the experiment fail? Because I had read often that I should do nothing. could that maybe mean something other than patiently sitting and waiting? Isn't that just laziness? I assumed that the so-called gurus also still needed to go to the toilet. Or imagine that the whole world became realized and everyone would spend the whole day sitting on the couch. Everybody would go hungry. Sitting still didn't seem all that natural to me,

So, it must mean something else. A few years later (I was a rather slow student) I discovered what it meant. If there is no free will that means I can't do anything. That does not mean that an I exists, who can do or not do something, It means that the 'I' is itself an illusion. If I go sit on the sofa there is still a bit of a plan for that little I. And then doing nothing is the same as doing something, only just the other way around. In both cases I expect a reward for that I. But, when it is seen that there is nobody who or can not do something, then it is also immediately clear that I in any case never 'do' anything. All kinds of things happen, there is eating, drinking, laughing, love making, choosing, only: there is no eater, drinker and so on.

When the illusion of the doer is seen through, you immediately see that everything always happens spontaneously. The NOW is the only possibility. There are no alternatives for it. So there is actually nothing about which you could make a choice. Sometimes you can see that choices are made, but all that happens in the film of which I am the audience. Thinking that I could make a choice means that I identify myself with one of the actors in the film, or with the choosing itself.

Jan Koehoorn