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#3459 - Tuesday, March 3, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz


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Gamal Gabr sent a paper on free will entitled Inescapable Spontaneity. It's 22 pages on Word and I have included the entire paper. Gamal would like comments, which may be sent to gamal.gabr at hotmail.com

 

I have included excerpts of the article, which are followed by the full article.

 


 

 

INESCAPABLE SPONTANEITY- BY GAMAL GABR

 

Excerpts

 

This paper seeks to evince the fact that we are not the author of anything that occurs within the mental domain; namely that we are not in charge of the production of thoughts, feelings/emotions or decisions. Rather, this paper endeavours to expose the fact we do not control or even remotely influence the activities of the mind; rather than being controllers of the mind, our solo function in relation to the mind is that of knowing or knowledge. ... More importantly, every moment or momentary unfolding manifests the undeviating revelation that one cannot do differently.

 

If we were genuinely in a position to choose which mental events we encounter, would not all forms of neurosis easily be a thing of the past, vanquished instantaneously by a simple switch of the will? By merely deciding not to mobilize and dwell upon thoughts of a neurotic nature, a neurosis of any form would assuredly be bereft of life!

 

Some readers may rebound, "Yes….of course, much of what our mind does is unconscious, reactive, reflexive and spontaneous, however…… it is possible to train the mind and consequently gain control over it!" In response to this, I would reply, "Yes, most certainly the mind can be disciplined and thus stabilized, if the mind were to meditate single-pointedly on an object for a prolonged period of time, the mind would progressively attain ascending levels of quiescence, nonetheless, even this type of accomplishment is beyond our command, as we are not the one controlling the mind.

 

That which we have termed the mind or ego is not an inflexible, unmalleable and crystallized locus, on the contrary, it is in an ongoing and infinitely variable process, in perpetual transition possessing tremendous plasticity; one moment it is desiring an object, in another it is reminiscing, in another it is deciding, in yet another it is theorizing about itself, and so forth.

 

What I aim to establish in this essay is that all aspects of the minds functioning, including the thinker/intender, strategist/planner, enforcer/implementer, the censor/ /commentator/ evaluator, the feed-back mechanics , the deliberator/critic, the controller, the regulator/ rectifier are all correspondingly  spontaneous in their operations.

 

When we experience a mental event, there is solely the mental event, the purported I is fallacious, the I has no existence apart from the mental event (whether it be a thought, intention, decision, etc).

 

The language which we customarily employ has led us far adrift, language structured in the subject-verb-object fashion implies that there is an I over and above, disjoined from thoughts, intentions, feelings and decisions; however there is no I segregated from them who is, or can, implement or even intervene with the respective actions/functions of thinking, intending, feeling and deciding; there are solely thoughts, intentions, feelings and decisions issuing forth with no divided I.

 

Thoughts and feelings of choosing and being in control are simply that; thoughts and feelings which suggest that a self possesses choice and is in command- it is the net outcome of conceptualization, feeling and the conjuring nature of language and imagery operating as an astute coalition.  However genuine control is ostensive; 'controlled control' is truly an illusive appearance, all we have is 'uncontrolled control'.

 

"there is no 'being' behind doing, effecting, becoming: the 'doer' is merely a fiction added to the deed-the deed is everything" Friedrich Nietzche

 

'Whatever you may be, you are being 'lived.' You are not travelling, as you think: you are being 'travelled.' Wei Wu Wei

 

The error with regard to free will lies in the erroneous distinction that the mind designates between thoughts regarding objects/intentions ( which are differentiated and taken to be non-decisions; whereas they should be equally classified as decisions in themselves ), and the will to physically translate an intention/idea (a decision to physically act). The thought/idea of doing something is as equally choiceless as the will or decision to physically translate or not translate an intention. Regardless of whether one acts reflexively as in the instance of ducking to avoid being struck by a fist, or is alternatively carefully deliberating as to whether to purchase a new garment of clothing, spontaneity is the common denominator.

 

The feeling of free will is especially heightened in situations in which there is the presence of conflicting feelings and strong indecision, decision making processes in which there is intense vacillation between the perceived options. However each instance, whether it is a muscular contraction, a fleeting impulse, or an intense urge are spontaneous in their emergence. The internal battles which often ensue when addressing difficult decisions - "maybe I will", "maybe I won't", "No...No...No I just can't", "it's too great a gamble; I've taken risks like this before and paid the price",   "what if I don't……. I may well regret it for rest of my life!", "what have I got to lose, am I alive or dead? "Why not…I should just do it", "everybody is advising me not to, but what do they know!?", "The outcome could be horrendous"  "Oh…oh…I don't know!!!!",   "……….screw it- I'll do it!"-the gentleman declares "All in!" whilst in engaged in a game of poker! All of the considerations and feelings that transpire in decision making sequences arise spontaneously without necessitating the presence of a preceding deliberative process; there is no pre-deliberation phase whereby we deliberate upon what we will deliberate on. Indeed, if this type of process were necessitated it would yet again eventuate in an infinite regression of controllers. Thought is the very instrument through which we deliberate, however thought cannot deliberate upon itself. Is it not true that the thoughts/considerations which serve to condition any decision spring  forth without a precedent phase of pre-thought/pre-deliberation as a prerequisite? We do not have foreknowledge of a thought prior to it being thought, thoughts hurtle forth without deliberation.

 

Whilst it is certainly true that at a given moment one may reflect (think) and moreover feel strongly that with reference to a previous instant (s), one could have considered or acted differently; this does not detract from or even marginally daunt the truth. And even if this instance of reflection were to occur; it would be unchosen, and if it occurred, could be no different, for there is nothing which can intercede its emergence.

 

'deluded by his identification with the ego, a man thinks, "I am the doer."', Bhagavad Gita

 

...in actuality, there has never been a self observing a thought, a self acting on a thought, a self producing a thought, a self detaching from a thought, a self selecting a thought; a self repressing a thought, the self is merely a conceptual reification of thought, the I is not a genuine referent.

 

A proceeding instant may or may not be tangibly related to a predecessing instant.

 

We do not know a thought, intention or decision until it is occurring.

 

Every new moment is effectively a surprise.

 

Even if thought is reflecting on preceding thoughts; this is a fresh and present occurrence; it is not the actual observation of a predecessor (s), we only ever know a present cognition.

 

With every new moment we are entering the unknown

 

We are continually meeting destiny, moreover we are inescapably aligned with destiny

 

"No amount of looking in any direction could help you to see what is looking" Wei Wu Wei

 

"the perceived cannot perceive" Huang Po, Zen Master

 

EXERCISE

 

Whilst this exercise may seem somewhat crude, it is nonetheless highly effective. To verify this; simply allow a mental sequence to unfold as it always does; this is beyond prevention anyway.  Does this for approximately 30 seconds, now make an attempt to record all that has just transpired. Of course, endeavouring to recall what had unfolded will be accurate or it won't, the recall will take the form of further thoughts of what had unfolded. Notice, that before a new thought/image/decision arises one has no inkling as to what form the subsequent moment will assume, for one is not the chooser. I initially tried this exercise with a tape recorder, however if one tries this, one will no doubt find that whilst one is preoccupied with orating thoughts, images and words, activity is occurring too swiftly to verbally express and record every thought, feeling, event- of course, thoughts that were missed may, or may not, be remembered. Many cognitions do not assume discrete, concrete forms; some are obscure and non-descript; with this in mind label cognitions of this nature as non-descript (or whatever you will). The order in which the sequence is recalled is not ones choice either- the order will be completely unknown until it occurs.

 

BRINGING TO A CLOSE

 

"Tao abides in non-action, yet nothing is left undone" Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

 

To bring to a close, ordinary experience consists of unique sequences of continually unfolding observations; images, memories, intentions, concepts, ideas, feelings, decisions, volitions and the cognition of differing sensorial impressions.

 

The mind cannot control itself for the very reason that it is itself. We cannot control the mind for we do not exist extrinsic to the mind as an entity. Regardless of whether one is an erudite scholar with a sharp intellect who experiences lofty and ostentatious notions or a non-educated individual who routinely encounters thoughts of a prosaic nature:  mental events emerge equally causelessly and beyond control. Perhaps, an educated individual could provide an eloquent explanation of how mental phenomena are produced, in opposition to a simpleton who would no doubt be somewhat bewildered if presented with such a question. Irrespective of both education and intelligence, both are equally ignorant. I am not renouncing the notion that we are not the I on one level of identity, most certainly we are the I on the stratum of the mind; however we do not direct this I.

 

If the view asseverated in this paper is true, the implications are potentially vast and far reaching. I feel that the conclusions contained herein raise significant questions in relation to what it means to be human.

 

... with regard to freedom, whilst we do not control the mind, this is far from the eradication of freedom, on the contrary, everything is resultantly effortless, we are not necessitated to be effortful to be effortful, all of our movements are spontaneous and uncontrolled.

 


 

 

INESCAPABLE SPONTANEITY- BY GAMAL GABR

 

[The article in full]


In this paper, I shall endeavour to demonstrate that the notion of possessing the ability to act other than as one acts, and has acted, is unmitigatedly erroneous and does not accord with reality, moreover, it is a blatant and startling error- free will is an ancient mirage. I have not written this paper to be merely consumed as just another piece of barren and verbose rambling; I sincerely believe that the findings contained within this paper are highly justifiable and are founded on robust and verifiable grounds.

 

I am acutely aware of the repetitive and somewhat cyclical nature of this paper; this was far from intentional, however upon reflection and review of the paper I deemed it particularly fitting given the controversial and perhaps counter intuitive nature of the view articulated. The reiterative nature of this paper is not intended in a conditioning and indoctrinating manner, rather this repetitive nature I consider to be reflective of my own subjective process of examining and re-examining the points presented, it is my hope that this reverberative effect will allow for the emergence of greater clarification of the points presented.

 

This paper seeks to evince the fact that we are not the author of anything that occurs within the mental domain; namely that we are not in charge of the production of thoughts, feelings/emotions or decisions. Rather, this paper endeavours to expose the fact we do not control or even remotely influence the activities of the mind; rather than being controllers of the mind, our solo function in relation to the mind is that of knowing or knowledge. I believe I have employed coherent logic and fluid reasoning throughout this paper to exhibit the invalidity of free will. More importantly, every moment or momentary unfolding manifests the undeviating revelation that one cannot do differently.

 

I am not at any rate proposing that the findings contained within this paper are by any means novel. Many contemplative traditions  have touched upon these findings via realizations gained through the medium of various meditative practices , however the accent has inclined to be on the attainment of mental freedom (moreover, freedom from all mental constructs) , the issue of free will tending to be relegated to being of secondary importance . Subsequent to a fairly prolonged period of meditation, a particular and moreover pertinent question energetically emerged, 'Can I control my mind?'  Following a relatively extensive explorative period with my mind, I became increasingly convinced that the mind or the apparent centre of control commonly referred to as 'me' or 'I' was extrinsic to my field of control. This very question instigated and spurred an exhaustive investigation into my internal workings. I wanted to validate and engender this truth intellectually visible by utilizing the instrument of logic, and indeed this paper is a condensed representation of my working toward this end. As a consequence of the unornamented simplicity of the findings; I feel that this paper is perfectly tailored for our contemporary consumer culture of instant fixes, highs and insights.  These are not teachings or theories as such, rather they are living, lucid, visceral and above all immutable observations, it for this very reason that no-one can purport ownership. I envision that for those who have, and will immerse themselves in a methodical and analytical meditative practice(s) for a substantial period of time, the transparency of the minds autonomous nature will be an irrefutable and given truth, and on this note, I must add that I am of the opinion that there is no substitute for the perspicacity of meditative insight.

 

This paper turns the conventionally conceived notion of individuals as free and independent agents on its axis. In the following section I shall try and allow you to intellectually taste and feel the texture of the topic in question. Rest assured, I am not in any way suggesting that what is presented in the subsequent section is by any means a form of tangible proof, nor am I trying to illicit a particular response, the following questions, which are purposely left unanswered, are purely aimed at stimulating and engaging your sense of inquisition in relation to the subject matter.

 


NB; throughout this essay I use the words self, mind, I, chooser, controller and ego interchangeably.
The word 'cognition'  refers to the knowledge any mental event

 


INTERESTING CONSIDERATIONS

 

The type of thoughts and feelings which we encounter is axiomatically a subjective affair. In light of this, I have endeavoured to acknowledge and discuss a comprehensive range of potential psychological scenarios in this section; some of which you may, or may not be able to relate to. 

 

 If we were the playwright of our mental experiences, why would a self supposedly endowed with intelligence ever spiral into excessive negative ideation? Given the colossal volume of individuals in the Western world currently being prescribed medication for the alleviation of depression, I think it is fair to infer that abounding numbers of individuals are plagued with an overwhelming prevalence of depressing thoughts and feelings; if one were in control, surely, one would not voluntarily venture into depressing ideation?

 

Time and again, subsequent to an action which is beyond reverse, our minds are subjected to a torrent of apprehensive thoughts and feelings in relation to that which has transpired. This type of retrospective thinking does not alter that which has occurred, and despite our wish for their subsidence, if not their total abeyance, all too often reflective thoughts of condemnation still persist. Perhaps, we have recently taken an extremely important exam, we reflect, consequently afflicting our frame of mind, perhaps upon reflecting on certain questions; "oh, I wish I had written this…as opposed to that", "I should have studied that particular topic more in depth", "I am an idiot, I should haven been far more studious." Surely, a self who purportedly possesses control would not anguish over that which is done and finished?

 

Individuals experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder often ruminate over the event (s) which have led to their disorder, albeit inadvertently. Effectively the individual is regurgitating and hence reliving (psychologically) the associative mental pain. Why one would one who had formerly encountered happenings of a traumatic nature voluntarily ruminate upon the associative distress of those former events? Brooding over bygone events only serves to exacerbate and perpetuate the wounds of the incident(s) in question.

 

From time to time, an individual will be perturbed by the recurrence of a certain vexatious thought (s). Often, in response to this, the individual endeavours to control or subdue the respective bothersome thought (s). Ironically, this is habitually a vain pursuit, all too often only culminating in the amplification of the very thought(s) from which they are so diligently trying to flee. For when the mind is trying not to think of thoughts, it is unwittingly feeding attention into, and hence longevity, to those very thoughts. This type of process or plight can swiftly escalate to a stage whereby the individual becomes recurrently entangled within a cyclical, web-like and vicious thought formation. Would a rational agent intentionally configure and ensnare themselves within a thought process of this nature?

 

If we were in a position to dictate which paths our minds assume, surely we would elect to believe that all of our life situations were flawless? Would we not gracefully accept, and further still cherish, all that life has to offer us? Would we be obligated to endure regret and guilt, would we need ever disparage ourselves? Would we indefatigably agonize over what we didn't accomplish in the past, and fret over what may unravel in future times?  Would individuals frequently subject themselves to negative, unconstructive and stagnating forms of ideation such as excessive embarrassment, prostrated self-esteem, self-doubt, paralyzing fear, and so forth?  Would one not perpetually elect for feelings of an upbeat and promising nature?

 

In no way am I trying to undermine the value and often advantageous application of emotions such as regret, guilt, embarrassment, fear and so forth. Of course, they can be and are most certainly often invaluable, in that they help thwart the arising of undesirable and precarious scenarios. They allow us to intelligently modify the way in which the mind acts and reacts in relation to a whole array of situations. However, often individual's experience these type of emotions and thoughts on unprecedented scales, moreover, contrary to their will, to the extent that those thoughts and sensibilities evolve to increasingly irrational levels. Would someone willingly be of an irrational disposition if they could just as easily elect to be of a rationally minded orientation?

 

If we were genuinely in a position to choose which mental events we encounter, would not all forms of neurosis easily be a thing of the past, vanquished instantaneously by a simple switch of the will? By merely deciding not to mobilize and dwell upon thoughts of a neurotic nature, a neurosis of any form would assuredly be bereft of life!  For instance, consider an individual who is experiencing a deplorable form of body dysmorphia; perhaps an anorexic who is tortured by a grossly distorted body image (a mental image!) which disposes them to think, and moreover ardently believe that they are grotesquely overweight; despite the presentation of substantial evidence to the contrary. Can this really be considered a choice?

 

Consider an individual who is desperately striving and more importantly yearns to recover from a perilous chemical addiction. Let us suppose that the individual concerned has descended to his lowest ebb. Furthermore, let us presume that he has been presented with an ultimatum. If he does not abandon his addiction; his beloved wife will leave him, he will lose custody of his precious children, his final savings will plummet and his long term friends will be a willow o wisp of a distant past. Despite having descended to execrable depths of this nature, many individuals still fail to triumph over all sorts of addictions. If the individual had transcended the physiological component associated with their respective addiction; would the individual not easily evade relapse by merely electing not to contemplate the drug, and hence not crave the very thing that had enslaved them? The activation of memory is in essence the direct re-impregnation of addictive tendencies. One may counter that it is the influence and re-association with fellow addicts which reawakens the desire of the addict. However I would counter this by querying "Is it not the mind which drives the addict to seek their company?" All mental ills and addictions would be easily conquered if one were the captain of the mental spectrum!

 

If we are objective, I think we can easily recognize that many of the thoughts and emotions that we experience are wholly illogical, in fact, routinely unnecessary. Illogical in the sense that they do not serve a transparent and constructive rationale, moreover they are generally detrimental to the immediate tranquillity of our mind and body. I would struggle to believe that anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to jealous, frustrated, tense, irritated, bored, unmotivated, depressed or angry frames of mind. Of course, it is far easier to discuss an emotion objectively whilst we are not in the midst of its company.

 

There are many individuals who possess remarkably similar forms; some are perfectly content with their appearance, whilst others are overtly discontent.  The primary differentiating component is evidently that of their mindset. Often individuals will engage in activities of an exceptionally precarious nature in order to satisfy the yearnings of their idealized self image; these activities can often have calamitous health and lifestyle implications. Consider a perfectly healthy and well proportioned individual who is dissatisfied with their appearance who thereupon opts to undergo a costly and hazardous cosmetic surgical procedure for solely aesthetic reasons; perhaps complications unfold as a result of the respective operation. Let us suppose that the individual is left with permanent facial disfigurement and/or any number of health related issues. In hindsight, if psychological healing occurs, the irony is that individual will often realize that everything was fine prior to undertaking such radical measures; they had formerly acted in response to a distorted mental image which they had held of themselves. If the individual was in a status of control, the individual dissatisfied with their present appearance/self-image could and surely would instantly modify the way in which they perceive themselves; thereby eliminating all forms of arduous physical and mental torture stemming from the shackles and demands of their idealized self image. Unfortunately, we cannot transpose the way in which we think and feel in a given moment (s).

 

Of course, our beliefs, our image of ourselves, our patterns of thought are in continual flux, often altering subtly and unnoticeably as time etches ever onwards, whilst at other times mutating dramatically and suddenly. 

 

Often, we do not do the things we desire because we are overly self-conscious, we are too concerned of how others will perceive us; perhaps we do not indulge in consuming one more biscuit at a friends house despite the presence of a copious supply. Our own self-consciousness can easily rob us of doing as we please and ultimately relaxing. If we were in the control seat, surely, we would be able to 'not' think about what others thought of us? I am not implying that one should not care for how we are perceived by others, of course, we must implement perceptive discretion; how we are perceived by others is incontrovertibly important; after all we live in a society where harmonious relations are near enough indispensable.

 

Ask yourself; when today did I opt to commence the process of thinking, furthermore do I ever voluntarily switch off the process of thought and feeling, besides, can I? Do I need to remember to think and feel? How do I produce and create mental/self events; do I intentionally and voluntarily orchestrate and harmonize the functioning of specific neural pathways and actuate intricate arrangements of specified chemicals?  Is the act of thinking and feeling something I do punctiliously, an activity that I was taught as a procedure, a step by step process, or is it something that requires no conscious effort and just happens automatically? When we were toddlers, did our guardians/mentors accompany us to within the deep interior of our brain and provide instruction on how to operate the instrument of thought, feeling and volition?  Do I programme, manufacture and stipulate the fine and intricate characteristics of each mental moment; the precise level of lucidity of a thought, the specific duration of a thought, the exact timing of a thought/decision, the specific number of thoughts in relation to a certain topic, the exact sequence of thoughts, the precise calibration of tension/impulse/craving/impetus in relation to feeling, the distinct and infinitesimally subtle variations of an emotion, the specific class of a thought- whether it be a memory, an imaginative thought, a reflective thought, a fantasy, a visualization, a verbalization (the specific words, syntax, etc) and so forth ? I think most us are aware that mental events are occurring, but the question as to 'How?' I think is somewhat perplexing.

 

Our experiences, our environment, our language structures and neurochemistry are just a number of the factors which serve to condition, form and colour our thoughts.

 

Right now, reflect on your thought stream for the previous ten minutes; are you able to accurately recall each thought, moment by moment, are you able to chronicle the precise sequence with which thoughts, intentions and feelings arose?  If you are choosing, surely, you will recall what you have chosen if it is a conscious and intentional act? Consider your current thought, did you 'choose' it? Of course, by the time you have considered your current thought, it has elapsed and disintegrated, a new thought has issued forth, perhaps an interpretation of the predecessor (formerly current thought) has arisen; again, did you opt for the respective successor to be that specific  thought? Were you simultaneously presented with a whole series of alternative possibilities in that given moment, and further did you simultaneously discard all the possibilities that you didn't want and simultaneously select that specific thought? If you assert that you did indeed reach the selection of the thought through this type of eliminative process, did you elect to behold the option list? Regressing from that, did you elect to elect to view the option list, antecedent to that did you elect to elect to elect to view the list? The regressions from hereon in are indeed innumerable and boundless.  Or did it simply emerge uncaused?

 

If we were in control of the desires that we harbour, would we not cease to desire things/objects that we cannot have, and only desire objects that are readily obtainable? Do we really elect our desires and preferences? Is it not true that our desires, fascinations, appetites and preferences are given to us? Think of something that you do not desire, can you metamorphose your feeling, and 'authentically' desire it right now?  All too often individuals yearn for objects which are near impossible to obtain; this ineluctably only eventuates in despondence and frustration.

 

Can an artist, musician or a poet truly decide when inspired and exalted material will gush through their mind stream? Does a writer actually foreordain the precise moments in which their celebrated ideas will issue forth, and conversely choose when to experience the oft quoted 'writers block'? Does an inventor really decide when an innovative idea shall voyage through their mental space?

 

Our external circumstances are unwaveringly in the process of modification, with which the feelings of our minds tend to correspondingly modulate. If were in control of the thoughts, sensibilities and emotions which we behold, would we allow external situations to determine, dictate and degrade our mental states? After all we are still I/the mind, regardless of which outer circumstances present.  I am not referring to physiological changes which inflict pain and discomfort upon the individual concerned; I think that it would be incongruous to propose that this would not have adverse ramifications upon the state of their psyche. I am specifically referring to situations in which our mental assimilation of a circumstance (s) exasperates our frame of mind, for the circumstance(s) presenting do not parallel what we envision/believe our circumstances should be. If we are indeed privileged enough to be in a position of psychological free choice, would it not be the height of idiocy to allow the fluctuating course of external events to afflict us?

 

Rest assured; I have not fallen prey to naivety. I acknowledge that our thoughts, beliefs, self-image and feelings in relation to ourselves and others and all manner of things are capable of being actively modified (conceptually) with the application of a whole host of methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnosis, psychotherapy, visualization  to name but a few of an ever growing body of self-improvement disciplines. However, as will be shown, this active modification is also beyond choice, it is something the mind does or attains, but not us. Some readers may rebound, "Yes….of course, much of what our mind does is unconscious, reactive, reflexive and spontaneous, however…… it is possible to train the mind and consequently gain control over it!" In response to this, I would reply, "Yes, most certainly the mind can be disciplined and thus stabilized, if the mind were to meditate single-pointedly on an object for a prolonged period of time, the mind would progressively attain ascending levels of quiescence, nonetheless, even this type of accomplishment is beyond our command, as we are not the one controlling the mind. I shall of course elaborate upon this in due course.

 

All too often we hear statements echoing "I just can't stop worrying", "I cannot switch my mind off', 'I cannot stop mentally beating myself up'.

 


A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE MIND AND ITS OPERATIONS

 

"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found.
The deed is, but no doer of the deed is there.
Nirvana is, but not the man that enters it.
The path is, but no traveller on it is seen."   Visuddhi Magga, Buddhagosa

 

That which we have termed the mind or ego is not an inflexible, unmalleable and crystallized locus, on the contrary, it is in an ongoing and infinitely variable process, in perpetual transition possessing tremendous plasticity; one moment it is desiring an object, in another it is reminiscing, in another it is deciding, in yet another it is theorizing about itself, and so forth. The disposition of the mind is that of being restless and active, at times verging on ferocious, it is incessantly thinking, analyzing, strategizing,  compartmentalizing ,conceptualizing  and obsessing over all manner of things. Thought serves as the foundational ground for a whole series of elaborate notions; however, the principal construction which it is accountable for is the artificial bifurcation of thought into a thinker and thought, mind and not-mind, decider and decision, chooser and chosen, observer and observed, visualizer and visualized, operator and operated- broadly speaking self and not-self. Thought and feeling, working in close collaboration, have conceived of an independent and free self, a self who can operate, manipulate and govern the contents of the mental sphere as it is separate and sovereign to them. However, this is a monumental misconception, there is no thinker disunited from thought who performs the act of thinking, there is no separate entity that is independent of mental objects, there is no controller disunited from control, there is no actor independent from action itself. Thought has projected a self which is of a different substance from itself; thought further conceptually congeals this self to be of a fixed and unyielding stature. Thought has envisaged a self which resides in a higher echelon than itself and is inherently existent, a self who overshadows itself, a self who is enduring and immovable.

 

 Over time, the mind tends to formulate a multi faceted image of itself drawing on select elements from its library of memory, this image, which is subject to continual revision, tends to spawn objectives, which if attained, will secure and further stabilize its projected self image. From here on in, the mind devises various strategies and endeavours to construct and coordinate circumstances which it considers will offer the best odds for manifesting its objectives.  Furthermore, the mind tends to superimpose its level of happiness and wellbeing upon the attainment of these objectives, in so far as rewarding emotions such as pride, self-satisfaction and self-worth increasingly arise if one remains on course and objectives are successfully met.  Conversely, feelings of dissatisfaction and guilt are liable to correspondingly arise if the mind strays from its proposed course. Of course, everything is relative and ever fluctuating.

 

Certainly, minds vary incredibly, some are practical- whereby meeting the elemental requirements of the body are of primary concern, whereas others are less pragmatic and more extravagant where the pre-eminent concern is that of obtaining the latest high street fashion wear. The mind tends to possess a collection of self-images which are utilized fittingly dependent upon the respective environment, situation, culture, company and so forth. There tend to be a multitude of selves, sub-selves if you will, where one is a friend, a brother, a son, a lover, a reserved self, a confident self etc; these selves can vary noticeably, whilst often selves contrast subtly, and possess overlapping attributes to varying degrees. Furthermore, the habitual thinking grooves vary patently from mind to mind, some are critical, calculating and deliberative and by and large make only informed and rational decisions, whereas others are more impulsive, erratic and unfastened in their display.  The mind is interminably in the quest for continuity and subsistence; forever trying to evoke and recreate moments in which it felt at its most contented. It envisions idealistic future scenarios, projects various hopes and aspirations into hypothetical futures, delineating idealized scripts via the instrument of  imagination. It is perpetually seeking diverse forms of gratification and states of pleasure through any number of avenues, and diametrically seeking to avert pain and dissatisfaction, whether it be through the medium of recreational drugs, the latest vogue diet, new and exhilarating relationships, self-improvement projects, and so forth. Of course, it is not just instant fulfilment that it quests for, it seeks security via long term investment projects; 'if I remain disciplined-I shall acquire my perfected figure', 'if I perform enough meritorious deeds,  grace and blessings shall be bestowed upon me' . The mind is recurrently formulating new perspectives in relation to topics which interest it, and mounting new belief systems which serve to regulate its principles, morality and conduct.

 

The mind is inclined to develop a series of conceptualized, proficiency orientated systems; a strategist formulating plans, a reporter serving as a feedback mechanism/loop, concepts of censorship are conceived and formulate, comparative analysis processes evolve, succeeding comparative analysis; appropriate re-adjustment and regulatory measures are implemented if deemed necessary, which serve to modify and govern future reactions, thinking and behaviour. The conceptual frameworks tend to be constructed by an amalgamation of the minds conditioning in addition to the mind utilizing its innately kaleidoscopic nature. The respective mechanisms are relatively straightforward in their function or operation. The mind fragments itself to serve a myriad of functions. Of course, these systems or frameworks vary markedly from mind to mind. For instance, a mind which places import on its cultural and societal conditioning, and perhaps the cultures respective religious beliefs will have very different programs or structural outlays in operation in contrast to that of a mind which is not fraught with a whole host of religious viewpoints, perhaps a mind where hedonism and self-gratification are rudimentary components.

 

All of these systems and frameworks have been concocted and fashioned by thought itself.  What I aim to establish in this essay is that all aspects of the minds functioning, including the thinker/intender, strategist/planner, enforcer/implementer, the censor/ /commentator/ evaluator, the feed-back mechanics , the deliberator/critic, the controller, the regulator/ rectifier are all correspondingly  spontaneous in their operations.

 

THE CONTROLLER

 

The conceptual controller has the propensity to govern the mind in a course which is calculated to be within the best interests of the mind. Its objectives are generally unadorned; to increase that which it considers satisfying and profitable with reference to its current egoic or self image, and to diminish that which presents danger and is potentially threatening to its sense of self. The controller derives its knowledge from reflective knowledge (memory); it can intentionally circumvent potentially jeopardous situations, and can conversely quest for  situations which will help facilitate the attainment of its longings. The controller serves to intervene with thoughts, intentions, impulses and decisions, by redirecting  and manipulating the mind, repressing and suppressing unwanted cognitions, sublimating innate and unhealthy drives. The controller further endeavours to seize and cling to thoughts and feelings of interest and utility. The controller reacts and guides the mind in a direction which it discriminates to be the most appropriate. The controller is designed to subdue and moreover subjugate harmful thoughts, impulses and deeds; reciprocally the controller ventures to effectuate the multiplication of positively charged thoughts, feelings and actions.

 

There are many instances in which the cascade of control commands directly contradict the desire (s) of the mind, this often culminates in the frustration and agitation of the mind. Perhaps, whilst in a bar, a pronounced desire to approach an individual of the opposite sex arises, however an influx of control commands surge forth counteracting and consequently constricting the desire, effectively sabotaging the efficacy of the ability to act; fear and incertitude swamp and preclude the desire, perhaps, resultantly one does not act and do as one had wished. Proceeding this, the mind gravitates into regretfulness, for the opportunity has ceased, essentially we had nothing to lose, moreover we may never see the person again. Lamentably our fear of rejection had debased our ability to act. There are many other instances in which the presence of the controller is undesirable, however we are not the controller of the controller, we are powerless to prevent its emergence and movement. We are no doubt only too happy to claim that we are in control of the controller in instances in which the movement of the controller accords with our desires. For instance, whilst we are in an exam hall the urge to sneeze emerges, however we do not wish to disturb our fellow students, the controller intervenes and successfully subjugates the compulsion to sneeze. In this instance, the presence and undertaking of the controller corresponded with our wish. On the other hand, when the presence of the controller obtrudes and effectively negates our desire to act; dubiety is aroused; the assumption that we voluntarily control the controller becomes somewhat rocky. We are indeed beginning to glimpse the uncontrolled and spontaneous nature of the controller.

 

REASONING 1-THE FORMULATION OF 'ONE' DECSION

 


Detailed below is my working in relation to deciphering the mechanisms entailed in the formulation of one decision. Fairly swiftly, I realized that the processes necessitated by the act of choosing were somewhat problematic; I realized that the concept of 'genuine' choice was riddled with discrepancies.  The working which follows commences and revolves around the hypothesis that choice is possible.

 

The following diagram or case represents a typical choice related scenario in which a set of physical choices are firstly known, then in response to the options available, a choice is made. Please note that the choices referred to in 'Diagram 1' (below), are choices that are available within the physical domain, in this case A, B and N (where N represents all other options), which in this example refers to multi-choice options in an examination paper where only one letter is the correct answer . This type of choice scenario occurs frequently in daily life

 

Key for following scheme;

 

N- all other possibilities,     I (n) - the number contained within the bracket refers to the number of self, so
                            I (2) - would denote the second self, or the second chooser

 

 

 

 

 

DIAGRAM 1
Physical choices                                               Mental choice

 

A
                                                I (1) choose B
B

 

N……..

 

 

 

Please note here that it does not matter what the choice is, of course, hypothetically, the response to the options could have been anything, perhaps the choice might have been "I (1) don't choose any of them" or " I (1) do not choose A" or  "I (1) like A" ; however, for just now we shall assume the choice to be "I  (1) choose B".

 

In order to determine the selection or choice of option B or any other option for that matter, we require a separate or independent chooser (independent of the physical choices) who can act upon them, which in this case is the self or the mind (mental agent, mental operations, I (1)).

 

Now, if we are to hold that the choice "I (1) choose B" is chosen, we are obliged to inquire, by whom is it chosen?  If it is postulated to be a controlled  and chosen decision, we must propose yet another chooser or operator who is independent from the decision or mental operation 'I (1) choose B' and  the alternative choices from which it is chosen in opposition to.  In much the same manner in which I (1) is separate from option 'B' and the other multi choice options, we now require an agent whom is separate from I (1).

 

Let us designate this other chooser as the second self/chooser  (which is a higher self; in that it can govern the first). 

 

In order to allow for the possibility of choice; we necessitate a second separate chooser whom is independent from the operations of I (1), whom can deliberate over the possibilities of I (1)  (the first chooser) ; without this independent chooser, there is no-one to represent (know, like, dislike, consider prefer, feel neutral), discard, control and choose the operations of I (1). 

 

I (1) in itself is akin to the multi-choice options which  cannot deliberate over themselves, nor choose themselves.

 

Generally, when a choice is made, we tend to assume a free choice has just been actualized, and if we had desired, could have made an alternative choice in that same instant; however, this is a bold assertion.

 

DIAGRAM 2
Choices                                                Choice

 

I (1) choose A
                                             I (2) choose "I (1) choose B"  
I (1) choose B

 

N………..

 

Again we must enquire; if the decision "I (2) choose I (1) choose B" is claimed to be a choice (selected) , we are necessitated to postulate yet another independent chooser, whom is independent from the operation 'I (2) choose I (1) choose B'  and the other respective choices/operations from which it is chosen in opposition to.

 


DIAGRAM 3
Choices                                              Choice

 

I (2) choose I choose A
                                            I (3) choose "I (2) choose I (1) choose B"
I (2) choose I choose B

 

N…………….

 


With the continuance of this scheme, every time we regress we are proposing the presence of a separate chooser/self/agent that is independent from the former chooser and the respective options; so that the respective options can be represented and acted upon. Clearly, if we were to extend this scheme we would be forced to regress infinitely (endless division).

 

However, in actuality we do not encounter this type of predicament as 'choice' is merely a fictional supposition - there is not a series or hierarchy of ascending selves (of which we have knowledge) .  There is no separate chooser to influence, bring about or determine a mental event.   The reconciliation of this unfathomable model lies in the truth that all mental events are spontaneous and beyond pre-meditation.
.
.If we were to expand upon the scheme detailed above by assuming that we do have access to a multitude of selves from which we can act, we shall term this aggregate of selves as the 'Comprehensive Self'. The 'Comprehensive Self' would need to accommodate every imaginable possibility in the choice section (left hand side); including I (1), I (2)…I (N). Literally any Self possibility that we can conceive of would  need  to be encompassed by the list of 'Comprehensive Self' possibilities/options; whether it be a higher self acting on a lower self, a decision to discard a particular possibility, a decision to choose one option over several others, a higher self deliberating over certain options, and so forth. Consequently, as every imaginable possibility is subsumed by the 'Comprehensive Self' possibilities/choices section, there is nothing exterior to the list of ' Comprehensive Self' to function as a chooser and choose. The dichotomization of a chooser and choices is no longer, in fact, it never was.

 

DIAGRAM 4
Choices  for the 'Comprehensive  Self'                                            Choice

 

I (1) choose B
I (1) like A
I (1) prefer B
I (2) choose "I (1) choose B"                           
I (2) like "I (1) choose A"                                
I (3) choose "I (2) choose I (1) choose B"       
I (N) choose " I (N-1) choose (N-1) choose B"

 

 

 


Please note that the choice section (right hand side) is empty in 'Diagram 4' for the possibility of making a choice has been rendered invalid for we are devoid of an external instrument to represent, interact and choose an option from the list of possibilities (left hand side).

 

If there is nothing separate from the options presented, no option can be actualized as a choice, for there is no actor to act on what is present, all we would have is a series of options ( not even options, as dualism is absent).  Resultantly,  nothing would be differentiated from the options to know, relate, interact or choose them. Just as the multi choice options displayed in Diagram 1 (on the left hand side) cannot choose themselves for they are themselves and are henceforth undivided from themselves. Analogously, the chooser is undivided from itself and cannot elect one of its possible operations.

 

The movements of the mind are uncaused.  With regard to any mental event, there is solely the emergence of the mental event. However there is no independent self who can effectuate a mental event, nor control one, the separate I/chooser who apparently executes choices is merely a conceptual notion.

 

When we experience a mental event, there is solely the mental event, the purported I is fallacious, the I has no existence apart from the mental event (whether it be a thought, intention, decision, etc).

 

The language which we customarily employ has led us far adrift, language structured in the subject-verb-object fashion implies that there is an I over and above, disjoined from thoughts, intentions, feelings and decisions; however there is no I segregated from them who is, or can, implement or even intervene with the respective actions/functions of thinking, intending, feeling and deciding; there are solely thoughts, intentions, feelings and decisions issuing forth with no divided I.

 


REASONING 2-INTEGRATION OF REASONING 1

 

In typical choice related scenarios; we tend to have the division between the self (the mental operator/chooser) and the respective physical options- a relationship between the self and the physical. By virtue of this divide, the self/chooser (mental operations) are able  represent and further determine that which is chosen in the physical (for example which physical multi choice options A, B or C is selected).  However, when we are evaluating the options/ possibilities available for the self/chooser/I as the self/chooser/I- division of any sort is non-existent; consequently, there is no chooser exterior to the self/ chooser/I (from the perspective of the self/chooser) to determine that which the self/chooser does (thinks, reacts, feels, decides, etc).

 

SIMPLE ANALOGY

 

Let us contemplate the control systems exercised in the flying of a remote controlled plane. Fundamentally, we have the mind, the body, the remote control (joystick) and the plane. The mind governs the movements of the body (hand and fingers), the body (hand and fingers) dictates which direction the joystick assumes, and the joystick controls the movements of the plane. Each control system is controlled by control operations extrinsic to its own system. The plane moves spontaneously (involuntarily) from its particular stance, the remote control manoeuvres spontaneously from its unique stance, the body moves spontaneously from its particular perspective and similarly the mind moves spontaneously and involuntarily from its own frame of reference. The plane does not move/control its self, the remote control does not direct itself,  the body does not manoeuvre itself, and likewise the mind does not operate and manoeuvre itself. Each control system/station is reliant on a governor exterior to its own system/self. We cannot attribute responsibility to any of the control systems in themselves for their respective movements/directions; they are dependent upon on an external operator/controller.

 

Let us equate the mind with the plane- the plane is not divided from itself and thus cannot choose/control the direction which it assumes, analogously the mind is inseparable from itself and consequently cannot control itself.

 

As previously stated, the movements of the plane are dependent on a control system extrinsic to itself. Conceivably, if the plane were cognizant of the movements it encountered and additionally deluded, it would perhaps, mistakenly attribute itself to being the governor of its own particular movements.  Continuing to equate the mind with the plane; the plane ( again, on the supposition that it was self-conscious and deluded, analogous to the mind) presumes that it is  coordinating its own movements from a position beyond the plane, perhaps as and from the joystick. Even if there were an I (which we were) independent of the mind controlling it, in a position akin to the joystick, we would still be lacking free control, as the joystick is controlled by an exterior operator, the hand.

 

Whilst the joystick is a controller on one stratum; it is also ultimately 'controlled' by a system exterior to itself and is thereupon spontaneous in its control movements from the perspective of its own function. The joystick is undivided from itself and thus cannot actualize its own possibilities/potentials; we are not at all dissimilar to a joystick which does not and cannot orchestrate itself. In direct experience, all we have knowledge of are uncontrolled mind movements, which we have farcically misconstrued as our own self-initiated and self-controlled movements.

 

The language which the mind conventionally employs, structured in the subject-verb-object format, infers that there is an I (ego/controlling self, which we supposedly are) independent of the mind. The mind conceptually dichotomizes itself into a controller and controlled, where the controller is commonly refereed to as the ego and where mental objects (thoughts, intentions, feelings, decisions etc) are the controlled. The mind imagines that it is this illusionary controller and  further surmises that it is being coordinated by it.  Henceforth, the mind having fabricated an independent identity becomes convinced that it is in control of the various mental faculties. However, this bifurcation of the mind into a controller and controlled is an egregious misconception, all we have is the mind, the independent controller, a chimera.

 

There is no chooser whom chooses the operations of the conceptual chooser. The mind/I/chooser unceasingly functions spontaneously from its own frame of reference. The mind is not exterior to itself, accordingly it is powerless to transport its self into existence, it cannot forestall or determine the appearance of its self, nor can it modify itself or its function.

 

Even if we postulate that we, as I, are independent of mental objects (the mind) and can interact, control, influence and act directly upon them; perhaps as an independent non-mental or spiritual agent, we would still be devoid of the control of our self (and hence destitute of free will), as we would not be external to the independent  non-mental/spiritual agent (our self), therefore, would be powerless to govern our own movements/operations.

 

Thoughts and feelings of choosing and being in control are simply that; thoughts and feelings which suggest that a self possesses choice and is in command- it is the net outcome of conceptualization, feeling and the conjuring nature of language and imagery operating as an astute coalition.  However genuine control is ostensive; 'controlled control' is truly an illusive appearance, all we have is 'uncontrolled control'.

 


HOW THE NOTION OF FREE WILL ORIGINATES AND IS FUELLED

 

"there is no 'being' behind doing, effecting, becoming: the 'doer' is merely a fiction added to the deed-the deed is everything" Friedrich Nietzche

 

'Whatever you may be, you are being 'lived.' You are not travelling, as you think: you are being 'travelled.' Wei Wu Wei

 

I conjecture that one of the primary reasons for countless individuals believing that they possess free will and can act differently is a direct upshot of the phase of deliberation that frequently occurs antecedent to physically acting or 'not acting' on a thought/intention. However, what is normally overlooked or not questioned is whether one is the one considering; for if free will were so, then each consideration,  or deliberative thought relating to 'what if I did…" would also have to be considered a decision within ones domain of control. The error with regard to free will lies in the erroneous distinction that the mind designates between thoughts regarding objects/intentions ( which are differentiated and taken to be non-decisions; whereas they should be equally classified as decisions in themselves ), and the will to physically translate an intention/idea (a decision to physically act). The thought/idea of doing something is as equally choiceless as the will or decision to physically translate or not translate an intention. Regardless of whether one acts reflexively as in the instance of ducking to avoid being struck by a fist, or is alternatively carefully deliberating as to whether to purchase a new garment of clothing, spontaneity is the common denominator.

 

The feeling of free will is especially heightened in situations in which there is the presence of conflicting feelings and strong indecision, decision making processes in which there is intense vacillation between the perceived options. However each instance, whether it is a muscular contraction, a fleeting impulse, or an intense urge are spontaneous in their emergence. The internal battles which often ensue when addressing difficult decisions - "maybe I will", "maybe I won't", "No...No...No I just can't", "it's too great a gamble; I've taken risks like this before and paid the price",   "what if I don't……. I may well regret it for rest of my life!", "what have I got to lose, am I alive or dead? "Why not…I should just do it", "everybody is advising me not to, but what do they know!?", "The outcome could be horrendous"  "Oh…oh…I don't know!!!!",   "……….screw it- I'll do it!"-the gentleman declares "All in!" whilst in engaged in a game of poker! All of the considerations and feelings that transpire in decision making sequences arise spontaneously without necessitating the presence of a preceding deliberative process; there is no pre-deliberation phase whereby we deliberate upon what we will deliberate on. Indeed, if this type of process were necessitated it would yet again eventuate in an infinite regression of controllers. Thought is the very instrument through which we deliberate, however thought cannot deliberate upon itself. Is it not true that the thoughts/considerations which serve to condition any decision spring  forth without a precedent phase of pre-thought/pre-deliberation as a prerequisite? We do not have foreknowledge of a thought prior to it being thought, thoughts hurtle forth without deliberation.

 


Of course, our internal experience, is not exclusively verbal, generally a whole assortment of miscellaneous and sporadic muscular contractions are encountered, varying surges of impulse and propulsion course through us, modulating levels of tension and relaxation are experienced, flickering images of potential outcomes emanate, feelings of indecision, undulating levels of uncertainty and closure like feelings are inclined to occur in the stream of decision making sequences- ALL, are spontaneous. Deliberation may condition decisions in much the same way that a thought can condition subsequent thoughts. However, there is not a deliberator deliberating, or a decider deciding, the separate deliberator and decider are fig mental inferences.

 

In addition, I hypothesize that the ability of the mind or thought to modify, moreover polarize its perspective further contributes to the delusion that one can direct and control the mind in way they see fit. However, whilst it is most certainly true that we can and do experience differing thoughts/cognitions/feelings/decisions- for example the vast chasm of difference between a thought such as "I am a helpless and hopeless victim", in opposition to a thought akin to "I am fully empowered; I am the controller of my destiny". At each specific instant, in that instant, ones mode of thinking cannot be different -however, it may and does change in subsequent instants. Perhaps, the mind executes a decision to perform a particular action, perhaps one is playing a slot machine, a decision arises to press a particular button, as the arm, hand and fingers collectively motions toward the respective button, an abrupt decision to override the original decision arises and in effect intercepts the movements of the arm, hand and fingers; both decisions emerge spontaneously. However, whilst the mind has altered its stance, change occurs in separate instants , in the previous instant the thought/decision that occurred was the only possibility, moreover the fresh thought/decision is now the only known. We confuse the instants by conceptually coalescing them, imaging that the different thoughts/decisions which occurred in successive instants, could have occurred within the same instant. That which presents in a given instant is the sole possibility, each moment is alternative less.

 

Consider the process of thinking whilst we are engaged in conversation; words, moreover sentences are continually flowing into awareness; now, is it we who vigilantly and scrupously assemble the appropriate words into comprehensible sentences, or do sentences just appear fully formulated?  One may counter, "Yes no doubt potential sentences arise. However, succeeding the arrival of a sentence, I often edit or rearrange the sentence prior to verbalizing it, in order that it is aptly modelled for person with whom I am conversing." However, is it not true that the arising of the original sentence, the decision to edit it, and the new deliberately refashioned sentence, are all spontaneous in their appearance? From time to time, whilst we are immersed in conversation, we mention something which in hindsight we regret having uttered ( letting slip) , for instance, suppose you are conversing with a close friend and you state "Last Friday was an amazing night out with my friends, I wish you had been there!", proceeding having uttered those words, you abruptly remember that last Friday you had wittingly misinformed this particular friend that you were 'having a quiet night in' as you were 'not feeling quite yourself!', if the controller had interposed prior to blurting the sentence out, it may have interrupted the arising of the decision to tell him/her about Friday night- in hindsight, we retort to ourselves ' I wish I had thought before I spoke!' Which thoughts, control operations and decisions that arise is quite simply not within our control.

 

In addition, thought and feeling functioning as a close alliance possess an astonishing capacity to induce formidable scales of deception; it can coax itself into the conviction that it is anyone or anything. Consider an individual who is categorized as being a schizophrenic; a schizophrenic can zealously believe that they are any number of things, perhaps a prophet, an archangel, a mythical creature, etc.  However, even individuals who are not classified as mentally ill are pr-disposed to a major delusion, albeit on a far greater scale; thought and feeling have convincingly enticed, and cunningly beguiled the vast bulk of us into the conceited belief that is we who are orchestrating the show. We should approach suggestions emanating from the sphere of thought with unerring caution.

 

Whilst it is certainly true that at a given moment one may reflect (think) and moreover feel strongly that with reference to a previous instant (s), one could have considered or acted differently; this does not detract from or even marginally daunt the truth. And even if this instance of reflection were to occur; it would be unchosen, and if it occurred, could be no different, for there is nothing which can intercede its emergence.

 

'deluded by his identification with the ego, a man thinks, "I am the doer."', Bhagavad Gita

 

RECONIZING THE MECHANISM

 

I shall identify several moments that I believe commonly occurs within our consciousness that I think most people shall be able to immediately relate to, which directly exposes the very process I am referring to in this paper. For instance, imagine you hear a song and recognize the voice of the singer, the specific tones, instrumentals etc of the respective band; however at that instant you cannot recall the name of the artist/band. A number of endeavours are made to conjure up the name of the band, yet to no avail. Please note that even the mental exertions to retrieve the information are spontaneous, perhaps the mind effortfully endeavouring to salvage information from its subconscious recesses, which may be experienced as a sort of blankness, or perhaps an image of an empty vacuity, of course, how the mind experiences effortful thinking will be entirely subjective.

 

Later, at an unknown instant, suddenly and spontaneously the answer to the question previously asked springs to awareness. The typical claim is something along the lines of "Oh, I remember", however it must be noted that there is no I as a subject or agent remembering- there is no I separate from the remembering performing the function of remembering (which is ultimately a thought) - all that occurs is remembering with no self/I remembering. In view of our deeply entrenched belief of being a self-governing and independent self, this may be very difficult to accept initially; especially if thought is defending itself and responding from the perspective of assumed, inferred and instilled beliefs. Parenthetically, if remembering were a function I was in control of I would be necessitated to remember to remember, antecedent to that remember to remember to remember, and of course I would be compelled to extrapolate this process immeasurably. We can of course extend this logic to all mental functions. It is precisely this spontaneous and unbidden appearing of thought that is in actual fact occurring with every single thought/intention/decision. Thought customarily prevaricates and is prone to conceptualise and operate within this type of dualistic framework with regard to the predominance of thoughts; in actuality, there has never been a self observing a thought, a self acting on a thought, a self producing a thought, a self detaching from a thought, a self selecting a thought; a self repressing a thought, the self is merely a conceptual reification of thought, the I is not a genuine referent

 

This spontaneous mechanism can be clearly observed in instances whereby the solution to a problem suddenly surfaces in ones mind; one often speculates, 'why did I not consider that formerly?'  Perhaps, efforts to resolve a particular problem are undertaken, the solution, which will likely assume the combined form of thought, sensation and feeling, if it indeed appears, appears at an unspecified and unknown time. Frequently, we hear people saying, oh, "It just occurred to me". Often, upon recall of a previous incident we wish that we had thought and acted differently; for instance, perhaps earlier in the day we had attended an interview, and when asked a certain question we were unable to respond appropriately at the given time; however, later in the evening whilst we are sitting in front of the television, suddenly a stream of thought detailing a perfectly appropriate response ripples through our consciousness, and we wonder why we hadn't thought of it and expressed whilst in the interview. Why- we are not the thinker or the controller! 

 

TRIGGERS OF THOUGHT

 

Thinking is inclined to be triggered by

 

A) Sensory impressions/stimuli; perhaps we encounter a long lost friend- stored data in relation to that particular friend is liable to be abruptly unlocked and stream forth into conscious processing, information pertaining to the name of the individual, our former relationship with them, our mutual acquatiances, and so forth- each of the sense gates can act as  trigger for thought; olfactory, visual, auditory, tactile, tasting

 

B) The mind activating  spontaneously; even in the absence of sensory impressions the mind will prompt itself, often thoughts will arise linking associatively in a chain reaction like fashion 

 

 

 


THE NATURE OF THINKING AND DECIDING

 

Firstly, a specific thought is not there at all, and then it is there suddenly spouting forth as an object of knowledge, or expressed differently unknown then known, or non-existent then existent. The important point to extract from this phenomenon is that the occurrence or appearance of a thought, intention or decision is unselected. There are no conscious processes which precede their advent. In actuality, what is commonly termed thinking, is not the act of thinking by a principal and central agent, rather it is the knowledge or knowing of thought- or the observation/awareness/knowing of a thought (s). If we observe the thought or mental process with careful precision, we shall recognize that is an autonomous process- thoughts, intentions, feelings, sensations and decisions, etc suddenly emerge, uncontrolled

 

With regard to the stream of mental activity; it often appears as though we have a mixture of involuntary and voluntary thoughts and decisions, however, the truth is that all mental events are equally involuntary from our stance. Mental events which are differentiated and labelled 'voluntary or conscious decisions/actions', are erroneously interpreted, as from our perspective, they are all and always involuntary, we become aware of them as they manifest. The mind is preposterously gullible; when mental events which are deemed to be of a positive nature occur, the mind will often, incorrectly, surmise that these mental events are voluntary,  as positively textured mental events complement its desires, antithetically when mental events which are considered to be of an antagonistic temperament emerge, the mind will correctly infer these events to be involuntary as they oppose its wishes.

 

It often appears as though we are acting upon or interfacing with thoughts, however this is a subtle and equally conspicuous illusion, thought is conceptually dichotomizing itself  into a thinker and a thought (operator and operated) , however this division is a mere fabrication, it is just a thought 'imaging' that a self is acting on a thought. Perhaps, a particular thought arises, subsequent to which a thought and certain feeling arise that one is interacting with the respective predecessor, however this type of occurrence is a fresh and separate thought instant, the predecessor has terminated. The separate I is merely an inference possessing no authentic legitimacy. Now and then it appears as though we are voluntarily bringing specific thoughts forth, it may be accompanied by a cogent feeling of being very much in command. However even this form of phenomenon is unpremeditated, it is an appearance streaming forth spontaneously in the moment.

 

Thoughts succeed and supersede one another at an astonishing rate, just as quickly as they appear, they evaporate, they are evanescent in nature; innumerable and eclectic processions of thoughts journey through us on a daily basis.

 

Thought imagines that it can govern and discipline itself, however it is not extraneous to itself and is assuredly bound by its own mechanism; thought cannot alter, evade or arrest its own function or movement.  Thought has endeavoured to empower itself by fabricating the presence of an overseeing governor, a master who can inhibit and regulate its function; however this controller is nothing more than a phantasm. Thought and the sense of self are co-emergent.  When mental constructs/thoughts are withdrawn and cease, the self is not merely deconstructed and unsupported, it is in fact the instantaneous obliteration of the self. Thought and the I are synonymous and unitary. The I does not exist independently from mental constructions, for the I is itself a mental construction. Have we ever observed this I in isolation, segregated from thought/images/concepts/words/sensations?  With this I that you apparently are, endeavour to isolate and detach it from all thought constructions. This is a fruitless venture; one will invariably find that one is locked to a thought /image/concept/word (for they are quite simply inseparable). Of course, the I/ego can be conceptually abstracted from thought. There quite simply is no I to disunite, there is no I to stand alone. Thought cannot separate itself from itself. We have never known an independent/ego/I/perceiver/agent/subject. Thought is the mother and the sole sustainer of the I. Thought conjures and imagines a self who is isolated and who exists out with the stream or flow of thoughts, an entity who observes thoughts, becomes caught up with them, a self who is endowed with the sovereignty to repress, reject, quash, seize, review, change and alter the rhythm and flow of thoughts.

 

 

 

THE WAY IT ACTUALLY IS- EXPERIMENTAL VERIFICATION

 

I quickly realized that the conclusions that I had derived through the application of logic, must, above all, be supported by direct and immediate experience. I logically surmised that if I am not in charge of electing which mental or self events are unfolding, indubitably, with the arrival of each new cognition or mental event, I would be anticipating the unforeseeable.  In other words, if I'm not choosing, I won't know what will materialize next.  In the instance of anticipating the subsequent cognition, of course even the anticipation itself would be choiceless.

 

Instant A                                      Instant B                                          Instant C

 

 Knowing of instant A                Knowing of instant B                       Knowing of instant C
 Instant B unknown                    Instant C unknown                           Instant D unknown                                                                  
 All other instants unknown       All other instants unknown              All other instants unknown          

 


It turns out that this is in fact the fashion in which the mind is continually operating. That this is occurring unceasingly, is a most astounding phenomenon to become acquainted with. When a thought occurs, it is the only occurrence in the entire universe of which we have knowledge in that given moment. Our experience is continually vacillating between the mind/thought and the five sense doors; thinking or thought does not occur simultaneously with conscious knowledge of a sensorial impression(s); they occur in such proximate succession that it appears as though they are simultaneous; however they occur in separate instants. Bear in mind that the next cognition may not even be a thought/mental event. It is thinking which implies that thought can simultaneously occur consciously with the knowing of a sensorial impression. I am not denying that we do not simultaneously process a whole multitude of objects on an unconscious level, however by virtue of definition it is unconscious, and hence quite simply beyond our conscious reach. If we knew the following instant or any other future instant, we would be experiencing it now; prior to its scheduled occurrence.

 

All mental events cascade and choicelessly materialise in our consciousness, and we have no choice but to embrace and catalogue their manifestation; sometimes it appears as though we can control the arrival or modify the configuration of a thought, but this notion of a controller controlling incoming thoughts is just another mental event, a control mechanism beyond our control. Thoughts, intentions and decisions emerge uncontrollably and more or less invariably. We have never been in a position whereby we have engineered and organized the contents of consciousness; we are,  and have always been, in a state of reception to that which unfolds; we are always the receiver of cognitions and never the selector. Countless thought and image sequences are almost uninterruptedly emerging. Imagine if one were a controller; would it not be the case that one would be necessitated to be choosing at a stupendous rate, taking into account the incredible speed with which thoughts arise? Nay! Impossible rate! We cannot obstruct or even intervene with the contents of consciousness. In truth we are the recipients of thoughts, intentions and decisions as opposed to generators and originators as the conventional view would have us suppose. As we are not governing and manoeuvring the mind, a mental event is not known until it is occurring.

 

As opposed to being the producer or chooser of mental/self events, we are solely the knower of mental events. Thought and decision making processes are inclined to assume linear, systematized and sequential patterns. For instance if a decision regarding a particular subject is in the process of being formulated; thoughts regarding all options will perhaps arise, perhaps oscillating feelings in relation to the respective options will present, subsequent to this evaluative period, a preference and decision will perhaps ensue. The mind or thought operation may precipitously switch to an unassociated subject, a subject which is not perceptibly related to the antecedent train of thought. Whether the mind switches topic, is not dependent upon oneself. The mind tends to fixate and become pre-occupied with a particular topic for haphazard spans of time, prior to abruptly hurdling to a different area of ideation.

 

With regard to what the following object of consciousness will be: that which is occurring now; if it is a presumption, is merely that, a presumption. Of course, anticipation can and does occur, however what will unfold can only be known when it actually does. Perhaps, a question may issue forth "what will be cognized next?" At the moment the question is posed, the question itself is the only known- the next moment/thought is completely unknown in relation to the moment in which the question is posed, and will only be revealed when it occurs.

 

Perhaps, an intention may arise, 'In the next moment I will lift my right arm', perhaps the next moment will indeed be a decision to lift the right arm, it be a re-intention, it may be a strong surge of impulse to move the right arm, it may be neither, lifting the arm may no longer offer much appeal, it may well be something totally unconnected; we do not know until that moment occurs.

 

Some mental sequences are seemingly foreseeable. From the perspective of probability and the habitual nature of the mind this is valid; however, from the standpoint of the knower, our inescapable and concrete position, they are always unpredictable. We literally only have knowledge of our present cognition. Similar type thoughts are liable to habitually appear which creates a pronounced sense of predictability. Occasionally the mind assumes a stance of humility and alludes to its lack of control; as in the instance whereby we speculate as to how we might react in a crisis type scenario, often acknowledging that we will not know until we are faced with such a scenario (if we are unfortunate enough).  We only have our past reactions to go by. Indeed, we may react as we had suspected, or we may not.

 

Many thought sequences are conditioned procedural configurations; for instance the thought sequences that are liable to arise from the subconscious storehouse of inculcated programmes when one is about to cross a busy road; 1. Stop, 2. Look both ways, 3. Listen, 4. Is it safe 5? Yes/No etc. We have many programmes that are intermittently and frequently employed respectively, especially conditioned procedural sequences, ingrained within the subconscious, which have been embedded through the medium of education systems, peers, culture, etc. However, even if the thoughts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 emerge in precisely that order when about to cross a busy road, it will not be dependent on us for we are only the knower in relation to what arises. Alternatively, consider an actor reciting their lines; the actor may recite their lines without error, however, the actor cannot tell if perfect recitation will unfold; perhaps, the thought "Oh…… I cannot remember what I am supposed to say now" may display at an unspecified time.  Perhaps, a decision arises "I shall count from 1 to 100"; we may presuppose that we shall experience the thought one, the thought two, the thought three sequentially and so on. If this does occur, it will be dependent upon the mind which is not controlled by us; we do not know until the respective thoughts arise (which are the future). However, the mind will likely veer off to another unrelated subject, perhaps it will suddenly start thinking about ' dining with friends in the evening', whilst the mouth and vocal mechanism may orate the numbers 1 to 100, this does not in any way imply that the mind is actively or consciously thinking about numbers.

 

The methods and modes of thinking that our minds exhibit and employ are predisposed to be largely conditioned phenomenon.  For instance, when an ordinary mind is reasoning and drawing conclusions there is the predilection for the mind to operate from pre-programmed strategies; thoughts are structured by various conceptual frameworks; for instance whilst the mind is engaging in a problem solving operation, the mind is inclined to employ certain established programs and apply them to the context of the particular problem. The mind may well begin to structure thoughts around questions such as: What is the problem? What is known about the problem? Where can I access data in relation to the problem?  Has it been solved before? What are the alternatives?  Is there anything that has not been tried or considered?  The mind seems to unconsciously operate by employing systematic flowchart like structures. The mind is adept at drawing on specific aspects of memory, integrating them with other specific elements of knowledge (memory), and conglomerating them in order to germinate novel ideas.

 

The mind of a young child will be ill-equipped to deal with a difficult problem as the foundational infrastructures of the mind are feeble, the mind has yet to be implanted with sufficiently diversified knowledge (conditioning), in contrast to an educated and mature mind which possess firm and reinforced foundations derived from various education systems, peers, its own experiences, etc.

 

Our minds are disposed to develop habitual tendencies; it is for this reason that we can often accurately predict the behaviour of individuals in any number of given situations. As I have previously mentioned, whilst on reflection it may appear as though we could have predicted and have correctly known which mental/self events were going to emerge at a given time and their sequential arrangement, this is only seeming, in truth we could not have, for thoughts or mental objects are unveiled moment by moment.

 

 Perhaps a decision will emerge whereby the mind will endeavour to hold one thought/image to the exclusion of all other cognitions. Perhaps the mind will aspire to hold the image of a small blue coloured square. The mind will promptly shift to alternative thoughts. In subsequent moments the mind will perhaps conjure up a similar yet 'distinct' image of the blue square. The mind may enlarge the square, it may metamorphose the original shape it into something radically dissimilar, it may alter the intensity of the colour, it may begin to think about the words 'blue square' as opposed to the visual representation of a blue square.  The verdict is rather straightforward; it not we who control that which presents, including the decision to hold the picture of a blue coloured square.

 

Even if the mind is given specific instruction on what to think as in the instance of a guided visualization, we do not know how the mind will conceptualize or represent those instructions until it actually represents them. Of course, the mind may completely disengage, and not even endeavour to represent the  instructions.

 

 
PRIMARY POINTS OF THIS SECTION

 

A proceeding instant may or may not be tangibly related to a predecessing instant.

 

We do not know a thought, intention or decision until it is occurring.

 

Every new moment is effectively a surprise.

 

Even if thought is reflecting on preceding thoughts; this is a fresh and present occurrence; it is not the actual observation of a predecessor (s), we only ever know a present cognition.

 

With every new moment we are entering the unknown

 

We are continually meeting destiny, moreover we are inescapably aligned with destiny

 


EXERCISE

 

Whilst this exercise may seem somewhat crude, it is nonetheless highly effective. To verify this; simply allow a mental sequence to unfold as it always does; this is beyond prevention anyway.  Does this for approximately 30 seconds, now make an attempt to record all that has just transpired. Of course, endeavouring to recall what had unfolded will be accurate or it won't, the recall will take the form of further thoughts of what had unfolded. Notice, that before a new thought/image/decision arises one has no inkling as to what form the subsequent moment will assume, for one is not the chooser. I initially tried this exercise with a tape recorder, however if one tries this, one will no doubt find that whilst one is preoccupied with orating thoughts, images and words, activity is occurring too swiftly to verbally express and record every thought, feeling, event- of course, thoughts that were missed may, or may not, be remembered. Many cognitions do not assume discrete, concrete forms; some are obscure and non-descript; with this in mind label cognitions of this nature as non-descript (or whatever you will). The order in which the sequence is recalled is not ones choice either- the order will be completely unknown until it occurs.

 


REALIZING THE ACTUAL STANCE-CLARIFICATION

 

"No amount of looking in any direction could help you to see what is looking" Wei Wu Wei
"the perceived cannot perceive" Huang Po, Zen Master

 

Commence this meditation with the firm and clear intention: I shall completely cease all mental activity ( including the discontinuation of the thinking and attentive faculties) for the next three minutes. Subsequent to this, I shall re- activate the process. Here we are we commencing with the premise that I am the controller, and that the mental process is voluntary and within my jurisdiction.

 

Anything which appears/occurs is not voluntary (on the supposition that we undertake and commit to objective of the exercise; to suspend all mental activity for the subsequent three minutes).

 

Furthermore, in the instance of any 'involuntary' thoughts arising within the designated three minutes- intend: I shall not endeavour to react/control/ suppress/obstruct/manipulate, nor shall I censor, comment upon or analyse any thoughts which arise within this time frame as this shall only perpetuate the process of thought/mental activity that I am attempting to transcend. So do not intend not to intend, which of course is a contradiction in terms, as this is of course is still intending,  and again only leads to the continuation of the mental/thought process.

 

Furthermore, do not remind oneself of original intention of the meditation; "remember to just stop thinking and let go", "just observe", "remember…don't get involved", "don't think, simply witness", "remain detached, and don't get involved", "simply suspend all mental activity"- as by remembering the motive or objective of the meditation, inadvertently, one is ensuring the continuation of the thought process. Despite the command for these self-control efforts to halt, you will no doubt find that they still prevail regardless

 

The mind may well attempt to conceptualise quietude (mental silence, absence of activity) , and indeed in itself can merely conceptualise its own demise, but cannot genuinely escape or relinquish its own function. The predisposition of the mind is to deceive itself by imagining silence, it will perhaps project a conceptualized image of a thought free state, or it may imagine a stationary mind- however it is cunning conceptual imagery and very much within the realm of thought, which yet again only serves to maintain the process of thought. If this occurs, note that it is contrary to ones will as one has requested the temporal discontinuation of mental activity. If one is conscious of something, one can be sure that mental activity is very much still in operation. Thought can very easily allege that it is absent.

 

 One will quickly realize that thoughts and intentions still arise of their own accord- despite the wish or command for their non-arising. Secondly, conditioned reflexes invariably proceed the arising of former thoughts- thoughts and control mechanisms such as " remember….don't control",  "let go….let go….forget thinking", " don't think along those lines…think of something completely different" , "ignore that thought" "just remain empty" "just observe….don't get attached to thoughts, remain aloof", "don't get involved with this thought stream" etc

 

Again, the almost inevitable arising of control mechanisms within the designated timeframe for supposedly suspending all mental activity, only further goes to demonstrate that one is clearly not the controller of the controlling entity- as despite intending for control mechanisms not to arise, they still arise. When this is contemplated deeply, it shows us that we are not the in control of the controller/governor/censor/observer; in other words, we do not control mental activity.

 

One will further swiftly realize that one continues to experience fluctuating levels of attention and inattention, despite the command for the attentive faculty to be switched off. One cannot control or halt the attentive faculty, attention is effortless.

 

Bear in mind that if a decision like "I decide not to do anything" emerges, it is still a form of deciding. Despite the instruction for the functioning of the mind (thinking/attention/willing/intending/deciding) to cease, it continues. If the mind/ego still claims that it is in control and denies non-control, this is no more moronic and senseless than a man who implores a river to stop flowing, only to find that it still flows in spite of his command, who then endeavours to flee from reality by entering denial, and further, to add insult to injury, arrogantly proceeds to claim that he is the governor of the river.

 

We end up in a situation where the mind begins attempting 'not to govern'; this is assuredly control (controlling activity). We as the mind are not extrinsic to the mind, therefore cannot control it. 

 

It may feel as though it is I who is controlling, directing and becoming enmeshed with various thoughts and ideas, but this not the real I, it is occurring spontaneously and involuntarily, we are solely Knower of the mind/I's movements.

 

Please note that this meditation may be interrupted by mental reactions sparked from the cognition of sense impressions. Perhaps, the sound of someone outside is heard (when this happens, as with the cognition of any sensorial impression, the thought process is 'momentarily' suspended) in response to which a series of interpretative thoughts may arise. If this occurs, notice that the proliferative nature of the mind is involuntary.

 


. Realize that one can only observe
. Realize that all control mechanisms, thoughts of doing, feeling, any thought, etc are not at all within ones control, as efforts to not control (which is control), think, pause etc still emerge despite the command for their intermission
. Realize that everything is being observed, including intentions to observe and concepts of observing "I am observing myself"; only the clarity of the observation varies, however the ego/mind cannot observe itself,  the Knower is observing
. Realize that one has no operation or influence over the content of awareness
. Realize the fixed stance of Observer/Knower only; realize that one cannot not know and observe
. Realize that the structure of this meditation has not altered ones stance- there is just greater clarification of ones stance as an observer
. With this type of exercise, temporal suspension of mental content may occur; however, this cannot be induced by an act of volition (the I cannot do this, the very presence of the I is the very obstruction to 'freedom from thought')
.Realize that what emerges is a series of uncontrolled presentations

 

If this exercise is diligently pursued, I think one can gain much insight into the functionality of the mind and our relationship with it. One can never observe ones actual Self/The Knower, as one is the one The Knower. Our actual Self, on no account, can be known or perceived as an object of knowledge; we cannot literally objectivize the observer/knower, the Knower can only be conceptually objectified, for it is the definitive Subject. Anything which it knows is assuredly not its Self. Soon, one realizes that what one had formerly assumed to be ones self is in fact a spurious self,  the ordinary self who apparently thinks, observes, analyses is in fact an observation and is not an authentic Knower/Observer.

 

Perhaps a recurring image of a self resting in a detached mode of observing thoughts will occur recurrently; if this occurs, is this apparent self really watching  thoughts? Or is this self not just another thought formation?  Is it not being watched known by something else?  The mind is powerless to modify its status. This exercise/meditation may help facilitate understanding the nature of the mind and our relationship with it; consequently dis-identification may commence. Rather than being the being/ ego/ self behind the mind, the concept of the ego is actually an object of observation of which we are aware. The self that I apparently am (the self which I am reputedly in control of) continues to function despite the command for its non-functioning; how interesting!  Perhaps, we can apprehend that the ego, the apparent core of our subjectivity, which apparently undergoes all of our subjective experiences, is merely a notional subject, an ephemeral and ever mutating subject, a memory based chemical formation.  Endeavouring to find ourselves will forever prove elusive for we can never locate and know the Knower that we are.

 

The mind (ego) is movement, it is almost continually in motion- thinking, intending, self controlling, self-regulating, deciding-this is what the mind does when functioning, in all states of consciousness- conversing with friends, playing football, sitting down, meditating, reading a book- we are only the observer of those movements. We have always been solely an onlooker; however we have misconstrued our real identity as being that of the ego/mind. It is not we who are moving. The ego is ephemeral and fleeting, and ever new. It is not a question of somehow altering our position so that we can observe the mind, we have always being doing this; we only need to realize that this is in fact our actual state of affairs. Perhaps the mind will rubbish this and not believe that this is the case, if this occurs we are watching the thought/feeling of disbelief.  It is a simple, yet significant shift of viewpoint.

 

CONCENTRATION

 

Much insight can be acquired from concentrative meditation. This form of meditation is a core feature of Buddhist meditative practice. In this form of meditation one endeavours to focus and concentrate on a specified object for as long as one feasibly can. The mind will recurrently drift off and forget the object, however when it is noticed that the mind has wandered, one is asked to re-remember the object and return the attention to it, further one is instructed to repeat this process in a cyclical fashion. The preliminary objective of this form of exercise is to extend the length of time with which the attention abides on the chosen object. The apex of this form of exercise is attained when the mind becomes wholly absorbed in the chosen object (the thinking process/mind becomes temporarily defunct whilst in absorption).

 

Take a visual object, perhaps a cup. Now place the attention upon the visual object and endeavour to sustain the attention upon the cup for as long as you feasibly can, furthermore, adjourn the process of thinking. In the instance of realizing that the thinking process has reactivated, return the attention to the visual impression of the cup.

 

Notice that you cannot control how long the attention attends to the object. Notice that when the mind wanders, thoughts arise consecutively in haphazard sequences; further recognize that you cannot chose when you notice that the attention has become inattentive. Attention arises, endures, vanishes and re-asserts  when it so desires.  The attention will often become languid and inactive, a phase in which thoughts seem to reel and commingle in a captured, almost unconscious fashion, before suddenly re-emerging (at an unknown moment) when it wishes, not I.

 

The thoughts which arise may be related to the cup, the mind may begin to conceptualize the experience-'I am looking at a beautiful cup', 'The dimensions of this cup are nothing short of sublime', 'Who could have designed such a wondrous object!?', as soon as conceptualization commences we are no longer in direct contact with the visual impression of the cup, we are not consciously registering the visual impression of the cup , the attention needs to be redirected to the visual impression of the cup for us to become re-aware of it. The distractive thoughts which emerge may well be wholly unaffiliated with the cup. We do not govern which thoughts emerge.

 

If I were in control of the attentive faculty I would be able to notice the diffusion of attention immediately.  By virtue of comprehending the mechanics of the mind entailed in the process of concentrative meditation; it becomes unequivocally obvious that all of the operations of the mind are extrinsic to my field of control. If I could control the attentive faculty I could easily remain attentive for as long as I wished, if I could control the thinking process I could voluntarily suspend its movement, if I could determine when I chose to remember the object, I would never forget it.

 

 If this type of exercise is consistently undertaken, the mind remembers the object with increasing frequency, additionally, the attention becomes increasingly acute and observes diffusion and scattering of attention increasingly hastily, and similarly the attention remains on the object for increasingly extended periods of time. In the initial stages of participating in this form of mental exercise it is very easy to recognize the uncontrolled character of the respective mental faculties. If one perseveres with this exercise for a sustained length of time, the sensation of control is decidedly heightened, however there is still no I conducting any it. If one omits analysis, one can only too easily be misled into supposing that one is the controller.

 


ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
 
In this paper, I have scarcely touched upon the attentional or mindful aspect of the mind. However, with regard to its relevance in relation to this paper, it must be noted that its arising is also spontaneous and beyond conscious control. Selective attention and all-encompassing  attention (which is a kind of objectless, motiveless and non-discriminatory attention, which possesses the characteristic of openness to all sensory and mental phenomena) are the chief forms of attention.

 

We either find ourselves in attention or the mind prompting the arising of attention / mindfulness- perhaps, an intention may spurt forth 'Pay attention to your mental faculties', or 'Place your attention upon the sensorial domain'. The attentive faculty has the effect of impeding the fluid and reactive flow of the mind, as it is predisposed to halt the associative, linking and fixating nature of thought; occasionally it results in the complete suspension of thought, albeit momentarily.

 

The attentive faculty can be intentionally placed on a number of aspects of our ordinary experiences, for instance bodily sensations, a specific sensory form (as in the concentration exercise above), etc.  The mindful or attentive aspect of the mind has the tendency to be dormant and inert, however arises spontaneously in much the same fashion as a thought issues forth spontaneously. The presence of the attentive faculty is no way detrimental to the overall logic applied in this paper; the attentive faculty would only need to be added to a list of self possibilities, which would entail an infinite regression of deciders for it election. We do not know when we will try to pay attention until we are trying. The attentional faculty is cultivated in much the same way that a muscle develops with repeated exercise. There is no I who pays attention, there is just attention.

 

In addition, I have barely remarked on our experience of the senses; I have never implied that mental cognitions constitute the whole of our experience, far from it- there is the almost continual interplay between the senses and the mind; even right now as you are reading and interpreting these words this yo-yo ing process is very much in operation.

 

BRINGING TO A CLOSE

 

"Tao abides in non-action, yet nothing is left undone" Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

 

To bring to a close, ordinary experience consists of unique sequences of continually unfolding observations; images, memories, intentions, concepts, ideas, feelings, decisions, volitions and the cognition of differing sensorial impressions.

 

If one has ascertained the implications of this essay; I imagine that one will comprehend that spontaneity is not something that can be reached or accomplished via a system or technique. We are unremittingly in a state of spontaneity. Whilst it is certainly true that the mind can control many aspects of experience; for instance, the mind can elect to think along specified lines, the mind can elect what to place its attention on, it can revolutionize its habitual tendencies, additionally,  physical actions can be controlled by the mind simply deciding to do, or not do respectively, furthermore the mind can make deliberate and informed decisions, the mind can control and regulate certain  physiological functions, however the mind itself cannot be controlled for there is no controller of it . The mind cannot control itself for the very reason that it is itself. We cannot control the mind for we do not exist extrinsic to the mind as an entity. Regardless of whether one is an erudite scholar with a sharp intellect who experiences lofty and ostentatious notions or a non-educated individual who routinely encounters thoughts of a prosaic nature:  mental events emerge equally causelessly and beyond control. Perhaps, an educated individual could provide an eloquent explanation of how mental phenomena are produced, in opposition to a simpleton who would no doubt be somewhat bewildered if presented with such a question. Irrespective of both education and intelligence, both are equally ignorant. I am not renouncing the notion that we are not the I on one level of identity, most certainly we are the I on the stratum of the mind; however we do not direct this I.

 

If the view asseverated in this paper is true, the implications are potentially vast and far reaching. I feel that the conclusions contained herein raise significant questions in relation to what it means to be human. I am deeply aware that this paper evokes numerous and indeed serious questions pertaining to the origins and properties of thought, the nature of the subjective self, to name but a few. However these questions are beyond the bounds of this paper. I'd like to stress that I am in no way am I an advocate or even marginally in support of the development of a belief system whereby the concept of 'no free will' is utilized as a device or vehicle to justify any and every form of conduct. High standards of morality are indispensable and assuredly imperative within any framework in which conscious beings reside. Free will is a redundant and fallacious concept. However, with regard to freedom, whilst we do not control the mind, this is far from the eradication of freedom, on the contrary, everything is resultantly effortless, we are not necessitated to be effortful to be effortful, all of our movements are spontaneous and uncontrolled.

 

INESCAPABLE SPONTANEITY- BY GAMAL GABR

 

The author would like your comments. Send comments to gamal.gabr at hotmail.com

 

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