The Illusion of Free Will - A Conversation
Anonymous: Now we get to where Howard starts to make an argument. Only there appear to be some contradictions in his argument. Earlier he admitted there is a thinking/feeling organism that is responding according to it's values and beliefs. Now he says there is no "you" but only an "image" in thought. What happened to the thinking/feeling organism? Where does the "thought/structure/memories" exist if not within the energetic movement of the thinking/feeling organism? And why does each organism have different thought structures/memories if there is no "you" creating those thoughts/memories?
Howard: I'm saying the thinking/feeling is not being "done" by an "doer." Just as "digestion" is not "being done" by this "projected me." The thinking/feeling is just one aspect of "what the body does." The body feels, the body thinks, the body breathes, the body heals itself, the body digests, etc.. It's not a "me" doing any of that.. It's not a "choice" being made by a "me." The "belief" that there's a "chooser" inside the head is false. The actions the body engages in are a response to stimuli. And more accurately, it's actually false to "separate" life into "separate things." The brain may project "separation," but it's really One Undivided Movement. It's not "separate things," contrary to how the human brain "projects it" in human consciousness. This "projection" is an abstract image the brain is making of an "aspect" of an undivided energetic movement.
Howard (cont): What I observe, with regard to humans believing they have free will, generally speaking, is that the nature of the responses tend to reflect "reflexes" coming from embedded belief structures in the memory, which is largely robotic in nature. If however, the beliefs, including the belief that this ego-structure is who I am, are seen clearly as the limited abstract imagery that they actually are, then the robotic tendencies recede to the background, and the organism is then moving in-sync with life, instead of resisting it. As now it's responding out of an observation of "the dynamic changing energy," allowing for creative responses, rather than rigid robotic reflexes, that resist change when the environment reveals the necessity of "correcting the mental map."
Anonymous: So when an individual begins to see things differently, in the "now" and "move in-sync with life instead of resisting it" are they not making a choice to do that?
Howard: The "body is responding." The "separate chooser" is a fiction of thought. The brain uses the sensory input, and thought imagery, and projects an abstract picture of what we call reality. And that process is innate to the body. There's no "you or me" running that process, or "choosing to think." The thinking happens automatically. It doesn't require a "you" to think, any more than a tree requires a "me" to be a tree.
Anonymous: I can't see anything where you have shown that there is no free will Howard. All I can see is that you believe there is a better way to make choices than what many people are currently doing AND that we each have the ability to choose that different way of perceiving ourselves and the world and to act according to those new choices. You seem to be saying pretty much the same thing I'm saying, that we all have the ability (free will) to look at our belief systems and values and change them in such a way as to create a better way of perceiving each other and the world.
Howard: And as long as this "story of a me choosing" is believed to be what's actually occurring, it will likely "not be seen." And yes, apparently there is a fair amount of agreement.
Anonymous: So then we are not thinking beings by this analogy we are simply instinctive animals is what it sounds like you are saying. Animals don't think or reason. Reasoning results in choices. If so you might want to withdraw your statement that we are thinking beings.
Howard: It seems pretty obvious that these organisms are "thinking/feeling organisms," don't ya think? But that doesn't mean a "thought-projected me" is in charge of the process.
I don't really know to what extent animals think or reason, but it clearly seems more limited then the capacity these human organisms have. They don't seem to have the capacity to "think about thinking," or "play with thought imagery," to "imagine." That supposedly has to do with the frontal cortex. And again, this "imagining" isn't being done by a "me" either, it's the nature of the thinking/feeling human to do this activity.