Video— Free Will: An Illusion

Valeria asks Byron Katie, “What do you mean when you say ‘We’re not thinking; we’re being thought’?”

“It’s just something I throw out there to help you understand that you don’t have control—to see for yourself how much control you have over the thoughts that appear in your mind,” Katie says. “In my world, I have none. Zero.”

“That works for me,” Katie says, “because I understand that the universe is friendly. I understand our true nature. So I don’t need to have control. It’s okay not to.”

“So where is our free will?” Valeria asks.

“It’s an illusion,” Katie says.

“Wow,” Valeria says. “Then the only thing we can do is identify the thinking, question it, and then decide.”

“Yes,” Katie says, “and then see what you’re left with,” Katie says with a big smile.


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  1. It seems clear to me that I have zero control over the external world. However, it seems I do have control over myself — for instance, I can choose to do the work or not. Is this not free will?

  2. In my tradition, we are taught that what happened in the past is not the result of free will.
    But my choices in the present are.
    And regret for the past is limited to the present.
    Although this is a paradox, this is how we live.
    We are also taught that free will is a miracle, and is beyond nature, much in the way that God is beyond nature. Because the definition of God (to us) is that who is above and beyond creation, and does things without any cause, only out of inherent self will. As creatures, this is of course beyond our understanding. And free will is essentially the same. How did we decide? What prompted the decision? So it is that spark of God within us that is at work, in a way that is beyond.
    I am not asking you to believe any of this. I’m just explaining what about free will makes us take it into the realm of paradox.

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