The color of the mirage
If we identify with our person, with the concept that we think we are, then we are naturally also bound by the laws within which these concepts manifest themselves. Our entire story succeeds or fails with this. Searching for an answer to the question, 'do we have free will or not?', is typical for the person who believes in himself. And that is where the shoe pinches.
If we see a little lake in the middle of the Gobi desert surrounded by a few palm trees, we could indeed try to study it.
And when we come close we suddenly see that it is not a lake. In a flash it becomes completely clear that there are no palm trees. Without any trouble whatsoever it is suddenly crystal clear that there is no lake at all. We have 'seen' suddenly that the water was only an illusion, a mirage.
But what is it like from the standpoint of the mirage itself? How can that little lake examine itself? Can an illusion discover that it is an illusion? And does it make any sense to assign properties to that 'I'? In other words, asking ourselves if we have free will or not is just like a mirage asking itself if the water in 'her' little lake is blue or orange. As long as we have no insight into the mirage being an illusion it makes little sense to examine it further. How can an illusory I go in search of its illusory properties? And what do we hope to reach that way? And who is so eager to know all that? Thus, if we want to be honest with this material, we have to admit that every investigation and every possible proof, take place in the very illusion where the mirage finds itself. It is as if the actor in a video film that we are looking at in our home begins to ask himself if he has free will. He has just committed murder and begins to ask himself if he has done wrong, if he had any choice at all to do anything else. Naturally there is no free will for the actor, it is just a video tape being played in a video player. But the actor does have full right to think that he has free will. Thinking and believing are independent. Feeling guilty about the murder, or feeling proud because it served a higher purpose, it is all independent. Believing is independent. Perhaps in this sense we are free: we are free to believe that we have no free will, or that we do have it. At a certain moment we believe that we have free will and then it seems to be so. And at another moment to believe that everything just happens, as if we are lived by consciousness. And at that moment it is also so. Isn't that fantastic? Our illusory I following its own belief or fantasy makes its 'own' world at a certain moment that seems to be very realistic; with free will, or without free will. Both visions are finally concepts that appear on an empty screen. Clouds floating past in a blue sky. And every time we make these clouds ourselves again.
The more clarity we get about all our superstitions, the more it becomes really very clear that all the concepts that our society finds it so important to load us up with suddenly lose their value. For most people that is a bit frightening, because what should we do then with all the values that we are so attached to like honesty, justice, charity, etc? If our person is an illusion, then the world in which the person lives is also an illusion. The all the concepts about past and future, good and evil, egoism and altruism, are just pictures on a screen. Then the inner voice, the voice that always wants to make commentary becomes very quiet. Then it is suddenly clear that all out patterns of expectation, all our longings, all the belief systems, all the political systems, are no more than clouds drifting past. And that is not only true for theoretical concepts, but also for what we normally experience as very personal and close by. Also the idea of being bound to another person is like a cloud drifting by. A mirage that under closer investigation has no existence. If this is all clear, there is no need anymore to carry out discussions about free will or bondage.
This article is based on a chapter in the book Coming Home',
Inspiration Publishers, 2001 ISBN 90 802503 41