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I am 100% certain that free will does not exist. For me, it is not a matter of belief, but rather of direct experience. Allow me to explain.
I first began to notice this while practicing zen meditation. I soon realized that I am not in control of my own mind — rather, thoughts are simply arising spontaneously. There is absolutely no control over thoughts. And therefore free will cannot possibly exist. Because all choices and decisions are thoughts. And since thoughts arise spontaneously, there is no control over what decisions are made.
If you disagree, and believe that you have free will, then I challenge you to exert your free will by making the choice to stop thinking. Can you choose to stop thinking? And if you cannot turn your thinking off, then clearly you are not turning your thinking ON either. And if you are neither turning it on nor off, then how can you say that you have any control over your thoughts? And because all choices are thoughts, how could you possibly be in control of making choices?
If you believe that you are choosing your thoughts, then tell me, HOW are you choosing your thoughts? If you are choosing your thoughts then surely you must be able to explain HOW you are choosing them.
By what mechanism do you make choices? If you watch your thoughts very carefully you will see that all thoughts arise spontaneously. There is no control center in the mind. All you will ever find is more thoughts–how can a thought control other thoughts?
The only way to stop thinking would be to kill yourself. But even the decision to kill yourself would be a spontaneously arising thought. And therefore the act of killing yourself would be a spontaneously arising action.
someone wrote: “While you can’t control your thoughts you can definitely control your actions, you may think about punching someone but it would be a conscious choice to physically throw a punch. ”
My response: That “conscious choice” would be a thought. What is prior to thought (and therefore choice, since all choices are thoughts) that chooses the choice? Where is the little person that’s pushing buttons and pulling levers?
All of the answers to my question so far have COMPLETELY missed the point.
A conscious choice is a thought. What is prior to thought (and therefore choice, since all choices are thoughts) that chooses the choice? Where is the little person that’s pushing buttons and pulling levers? If you look for the controlling entity you only find more thoughts. How can a thought make choices?
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