The illusion of free will: Why you have never really made a decision in your whole life
A bold title, I know. Yes, I want to get your attention. I want to get your attention because I am aware that the lesson I am teaching in this post will change the way you view your life and the people around you if you can understand it fully.
If you truly understand what I am saying here, you will find it impossible to stay angry at anyone or yourself, impossible to feel guilt or regret, impossible to hate or resent anyone really.
There are few core beliefs that our society holds at large which are perpetuating the high levels of stress, disease, and violence in our world. These core beliefs exist within various religions, philosophies and cultures alike. Being widely accepted, they are taught to us from a young age by family, friends, and media.
Perhaps the most erroneous of all these foundational philosophies is the belief that free will exists.
The idea of free will suggests that we have the power to choose what we believe and how we think and act. The idea that we always have choice and control over our mind. This idea also suggests that poor behavior results as of someone making poor choices. The only problem is that we don’t actually choose. This is an illusion of the mind.
To claim that free will exists is to claim that our decisions are ungoverned; this concept completely fails to acknowledge that our brain operates via beliefs and belief systems.
You see, the human organism is somewhat of a machine. A machine that is self-aware.
Our machinery runs via its unique cognitive software; software created via the person's completely individual life experience. Every little experience, every little bit of data that you have ever encountered throughout your whole life, has added up, bit by bit, to form your operating system. Whenever you encounter a situation, you respond via this operating system. What you think is decision-making taking place, or the application of free will, is actually you observing your own operating system in action, processing a situation via your belief systems.
I sometimes refer to it as “the observer perspective” within the brain itself. From the observer perspective, you are actually watching your own operating system make a series of many, many calculations via its programming (belief systems). Some of this activity remains subconscious, and so the process and perspective create an illusion that we are intentionally involved in the decision-making process.
Here lies the hardest truth to accept. We have never, ever, in our entire lives, actually made even one decision. Instead, we have made millions and millions of reactions via our operating systems. This seems scary at first, but is actually liberating upon further reflection. That means we have always made the best reactions we possibly could in any given situation, due to our current level of operating system. Any poor behavior was the result of faulty software that needs updating, and not due to someone making bad decisions, being lazy or even evil.
To be frustrated with your own behaviour or that of someone else, and expecting that they could have chosen different or better, is somewhat like expecting a computer to complete a task that requires software that is not installed on its system. It's impossible.
1. Free will does not exist.
2. We think we are making decisions, but we are actually making reactions.
3. Each reaction we make in life is governed via our belief systems or operating system.
4. Each person's operating system is unique and created via their individual environment and life experiences.
5. Expecting someone to operate outside of their current operating system is foolish.
6. If you take the time to consider this lesson whenever you or someone around behaves erroneously, understand that is simply a reflection of their current operating system, and changes in their behavior require an update in software or the addition of new understandings about life.
7. Understanding point #6 eliminates all anger, guilt, and regret.
8. If this concept was widely understood and accepted, we would use education instead of punishment; understanding instead of violence.
I know this is a lot to process. I hope I have explained the information in a way that most people can understand. If you found this post interesting or helpful please share it with others and post any related questions down below.