In my first book, published in 2016, I dedicated a complete chapter to free will.
Or the non-existence of it, to be precise.
I was still in my post-nonduality ‘There Is Only Oneness’-vibe, and somehow I felt the need to prove and assert that free will is not real.
And I guess I even did a pretty decent job.
But what I didn’t realize back then, is that it doesn’t really matter.
What is way more important, at least that’s how I see it right now, is how we experience this crazy life and all that it makes us think and feel.
And within that wild ride, free will is very much a thing.
If I am choosing between pizza or ribs, I am not at all interested in the fact that it’s not really a choice, that my preferences were given to me, that everything I can think of and want or hate or dismiss, is the result of endless previous lessons and experiences, of subconscious processes, of millions of things I have nothing to say about.
I just want to eat something, not lose my appetite over endless reflections.
The fact that it LOOKS like we have a choice, that it totally seems that way AND that it’s a pretty practical starting point, is really enough for me.
Trying to understand life and make sense of everything is a really cool human game (and I love to play it), but we could very well do without it.
Because you will never succeed.
There is no intellectual finish line waiting for you, no ultimate bag of knowledge you can find or fill, no way that we, earthlings, can ever truly comprehend all of this, this… I don’t even know what to call it.
Does that mean that you should give up and throw your hands in the air in total surrender or despair or both?
Well, sure, if that’s your inclination.
Or you do the opposite and dive straight into it, no control, no expectations, just childlike fun and joy.
Because none of our experiences and ideas and thoughts make sense in a definitive, ‘provable’ way, and because none of what we think is The Ultimate Truth, we can believe and do whatever we want.
We really can!
As long as we’re in these beautiful, fragile bodies, roaming the earth looking for sex and Wi-Fi and money and enlightenment, we can believe in nothing or in everything, in good or in bad, and the only thing that changes is the very personal and incredibly subjective way we experience it.
And that is cool, really cool.
It means that we can trust our intuition and believe in love and souls and angels and waking up, and we can also commit our lives to the black and white, materialistic, scientific understanding of everything.
We can even try a cheeky combination of those.
The thing is: it’s your path, your choice, even if there’s probably not really such a thing as paths and choices (you have my permission to hit people who proclaim that and try to convince you; I realize my radical evangelization totally sucked).
It’s up to you, it really is.
So what about ‘the meaning of life’?
Well, how about:
‘Whatever meaning we give it.’
Dark, light, big, large, bad, good, or drifting somewhere in between.
Devastatingly nihilistic, or flamboyantly grand.
Sweet today, sour tomorrow.
It’s up to you.
We can believe that it’s all worthless, and we can believe that EVERY bit of it is totally priceless and tremendously valuable.
And even if science came up with a way to measure the meaning of life (which it will never do, of course), I couldn’t care less.
More and more I realize that understanding stuff is mostly a detour, a sometimes interesting distraction, and that the experience itself is way more important and insightful.
The effect of intellectual knowing on our daily struggles and our level of wellbeing is tragically minimal, so you better start believing anything that enriches your life, that makes you happy, that makes sense to you.
And if you don’t want to, that is cool too.
I don’t need to be right.
(Photo by @brucemars, for Unsplash)