The Clown at the Ballet: Free Will

I (whoever that is) accept there is no free will, in that everything that appears is a matter of prior conditioning and response to the environment, and innumerable physiological and psychological processes – all happening in the dark.

Let’s say from the perspective of awareness, a person is observing in a nonattached manner, and some kind of urge arises. Doesn’t matter what the urge is, just assume it is strong.

The default case for most of humanity is to to act upon the urge, and the urge is woven seamlessly into the life narrative.

An alternate case, is to notice the urge, and “choose” to engage with the urge, or not. And if engaging, to “choose” how exactly to engage with it.

Even though I’ve used the word “choose” above – to flag apparent choices that are fully visible to awareness, these “choices” are simply more stimulus and response – more conditioning. Not actually “us” doing anything. Awareness is simply watching it all unfold… including the ultimate “decision” that emerges out of nowhere.

This is where the infamous self believes it is, yes? The one who believes it is authoring everything, and unquestionably runs in the direction of every arising impulse, and believes it is the masterful decision maker.

I have heard Jean Klein quoted a couple times: to believe you are the chooser here, is like a clown who shows up at the end of a ballet performance as the curtain is falling, and takes a bow to receive the applause from the audience.

For me, this is not so much a “belief” in a path, or an idea about free will or lack thereof, as it is direct empirical observation of my own mind… over the course of many months.

Everything that arises from the brain is still worth marveling over… consciousness is the daylight where it shows up. It’s not diminishing any beauty or health from my perspective. It’s all wonderful.

“See that your experience is made of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions. Where is the ‘I’ that is orchestrating all of those? Where is this ‘I’ in the system? Take any thought that appears in you. Did you choose that thought? See if there was any entity, a chooser that decided to have that particular thought. Go slowly and observe carefully. See that there is no chooser in between each thought. The notion of a chooser is simply itself a thought appearing along many other thoughts. It’s only a thought that says ‘I was there in between each thought choosing it’. It’s the clown that wasn’t actually present but claims responsibility afterwards, and takes the bow. There is a choosing thought, but there is no chooser…”
Robert Saltzman / Rupert Spira

There is no entity present who could either have or not have free will. Experience is too intimate and immediate to admit of one who may stand back and orchestrate it like a conductor, willing, choosing, deciding, and so on. There is no time present for such a one to exist in. The idea of free will is an inevitable side effect of the belief in a separate entity. If we believe there is a separate entity, we will by definition, whether we know it or not, believe there is free will. If, as this apparent entity, we then believe there is no free will, then that is simply a belief that we superimpose onto our much deeper conviction that we are a separate doer, chooser, decider, and so on. Once the separate entity is seen clearly to be non-existent, the idea of free will dissolves. All that is left is the freedom of consciousness.”
– Rupert Spira

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