School Talk 23 - Free Will
(choosing our own inner state)
(playing the victim role)
(thinking we're old)
(rejection vs liberation)
[brackets for clarification]
(audience participation in parenthesis)
Ok, we have a title for our talk--free will-is it belief, actual, or fact. Free will, is it a belief or a fact.
Now if you talk to folks, everybody tells you that a human being has free will. So we experiment a considerable amount about having somebody do something with their free will; and usually they can't do it. So I don't think we have near as much free will as we have just an idea that we have it--the belief that we already have free will. So if one had free will, he could do anything that he liked.
Now I don't think very many people are sick by their free will. I don't think so. Now they're sick from some of their own activity, no doubt, or some behavior or some action they do; but I don't think they've become sick from they're own a free will.
I don't think people of their own "free will" are very unhappy. I don't think people of their own "free will" are usually living in a chaotic situation; but nevertheless, considerable number of people in the world are, or I wouldn't be as busy as I am.
So, let's kinda consider for a few minutes that maybe we could discover that we don't have any free will--or very little. It might be the best discovery we ever made because then we could begin to go to work to have some. As long as you believe you already have it, you don't put any effort to have free will, is that correct? As long as you believe you have free will, you won't put forth any effort or do any activity to take charge.
So possibly the easiest way you could determine, for you, to discover whether or not you have free will is that we will give some little assignment. We gave an assignment the other day to quite a number of people. We put it in the newsletter that goes out all over, that said,
"I refuse to react to other people's reactions."
We sent that out, and we've had a lot of people call and say that this was a very interesting concept to them. They had decided they would do that--by their own free will. Of course, after some weeks of time, several days of time, they found that they were still reacting to everybody's reactions just as unconcerned [non-observant] as you please.
Now their free agency or free will had demonstrated that it did not exist. They couldn't do it because they never thought of it. They never came up with such an idea.
Now one or two people said they did it for an hour or so and life was really beautiful-everything calmed down around the house. There was no more chaotic situations-- nobody was reacting. One young man told me that he did it for a whole week and revolutionized his business, his home life, and everything about it. Now he managed some way or other, so apparently he had a little bit of free will, but about ninety-nine per cent of the people who called, said they could not do it at all. Some said they could do it for a few minutes here, there and elsewhere (a little bit); but that basically, there wasn't any at all. So now let's all take some little peculiar little thing, whatever you want, let's say that you refuse to react to reaction.
Did you take that on John? Did you work at it? How did it do? How long were you able to do it?
(About 30 minutes.)
All totaled? That's when we talked about it, is that right?
(Off and on, more or less.)
Off and on, a little here or there, but for about 30 minutes you managed to remember. And how did things go that 30 minutes.
But for some reason or another, you didn't do it all the time, is that right? Is this because you didn't have free will, or is it because you forgot. What do you think you could attribute it to?
(Probably just didn't place that much value on it.)
Probably you forgot.
You forget you don't have free will, is that correct? So, if you forget that you don't have free will, then you don't have it for the time you're forgetting about it, is that right?
So sometimes we talk about major ideas of the teachings. One, of course, is self knowing, and the other is self remembering. Now in self remembering, it would be an act of your own will, is that correct? You can remember what you are, where you are, what's going on here and what you can do. Now if you had free will, you could remember, but if you don't have free will, you would forget, is that correct? Forgetfulness then, is something that we all do, I'm quite sure-quite easily, right Regina? Can you forget real easy?
Very easy, and it takes no effort at all, it just happens, is that right? Because if you really tried to forget something-if you willed to forget it, I think you're stuck with it.
Going with it-forgetting on purpose
So possibly we could use the reverse approach. We're going to forget that we have free will. We're going to make a strong effort at forgetting that we have any free will at all. Now they told me a long time ago when I was a little kid, if I tried not to think of elephants, that I would get kind of messed up because then that would be all I would think of. Did you ever try to not think of elephants? Now ordinarily you don't think of elephants; but if you took it on as a chore--that you were not going to think of elephants--what are you probably thinking about?
Yes, the elephants. So maybe we need to use a real reverse on all these things, recognizing that we have very little, if any, free will. We forget all the time. While we have read and heard a lot of teaching ideas, and we know the words (and at the appropriate time we can quote them all), but when it comes down to the action of it (which is what makes it really you) there's very little of it gets into effect. Just a very little of free will gets expressed. So we go on reacting--we go on complaining--we go on sticking up for our rights--we go on blaming--we go on trying to improve ourselves; and all of these we do mechanically. So instead of having free will, we might say we're reactive machines. We react to stimuli quite freely in about the same way we've been reacting for however many years old we are, is that about right?
If you're 30 years old, you've been reacting about the same way for about 30 years. If you were 40 years old, you've been reacting about the same way for 40 years. God forbid that you were 50 years old, you would be reacting that way for 50 years.
In fact, I find that people react to the idea of how old, "old" is. You know if you're 40, why then 50 is old; and you can dread becoming 50. And if you're 50, then of course, 60 is old and we begin to dread that. If you're 20, well then those 30 year olds are looking a mess-- you know-they're over the hill--that's all there is to it. When you get 30, well then, 40 is over the hill. So we can worry over that for many years.
Now can any of us just use the free agency and decide that we're not getting any older?--huh? We just are. Now really, not a person in this room has any cells in the body--other than bone cells and teeth--that are more than three months old. All the soft tissue cells-there's not one that's over three months old-we don't have a skin cell three months old. You don't have a muscle cell three months old. You don't have a liver cell three months old-anything. So we are all brand new. So how come we all decide to look decrepit?--because we all decided a long time ago that anything older than a certain number is "old"; and of course, we just sit around in dread. I've known people that go into psychotic situations on their 50th birthday. Fifty is half a century, you know, and that begins to sound terrible.
I knew one young man who was about 32 when I met him, and he was in utter panic. He stayed that way-best I know he still is-but some fortune teller had told him that he would not live to be over 36 because everybody in his family. . . . . . .the oldest son had died at age 36. Well, he lived with that. Now did he have any free agency to think what a bunch of poppycock fortune tellers are? You know, they'll tell you something. They make a suggestion to you, and if you act upon it, why it comes around. I did a lot to keep that man from being dead at 36. I'll tell you it took a lot. He's still around and that was more that 36 years ago, so he's kicking 70's around these days, but he's still hanging together. He died a thousand deaths between 32 and 36. He died literally a thousand deaths. He was in utter panic at all times.
So now, how much free will do we have? If we discover we have none, basically we could just about say none-you know-just about say none. Now, if we find we don't have any, we could begin to work to have some. Now I think possibly that free will would be one of the greater assets that a human could have.
If you could have free will to think about whatever you wanted to, would you spend any time worrying?
If you could have free will to decide you were going to act like you felt a lot better than you do at any given moment, you wouldn't have a lot of illness, right?
(I'd like to try that.)
But how come you don't? Now why not try it?
(I don't have the free will, Bob)
You don't have any free will, none whatsoever? Ok, if you know you don't have it, you could begin to work to generate a certain amount of free agency. It's really not all that difficult or hard to do, if you decide that free will is something that a human being potentially has. You don't have it, but, potentially, you do have it. Then you could begin to do something to bring it about.
Everybody would probably use a slightly different method to express free will. One person would do one thing, another would use a different way; but only when you found out that you were merely reacting to various and sundry stimuli that come by. If somebody comes in and tells you a funny story, you laugh. Did you have free agency over whether you laughed or not? Somebody comes in and calls you dirty names for instance, or finds a lot of fault with you, do you laugh about that? Why not? I think that's a big joke.
Everybody knows what I'm like except me. I know I'm a big joke, so I laugh about it. If they want to have fun rejecting me, let them have fun. We even try to convince people, as you all know, that you don't ever get rejected, you're merely liberated from something.
(Laughter from the audience.)
So, you see, you can laugh over seeing it as liberation rather than rejection because it comes out a little different. But you see, that's what it really is.
A certain lady told me that if a man rejected her, she was really liberated because she now didn't have to go into dieting to lose weight to please him. She didn't have to quit smoking so he would like her. She didn't have to do a whole bunch of things. You see, she was liberated, but how have you looked at it all your life-rejection, terrible, "in the pits", being miserable.
And hate and resent and cry and all these things.
Now does this indicate any free agency or does that indicate merely reacting to a stimuli, huh? Now if we all discovered, in no uncertain terms, that we were purely reacting to various and sundry stimuli; therefore, we have no free agency whatsoever-no free choice-then we would begin to see definitely I needed to have it, is that right? And then I would go to work to get it. But as long as I kid myself, thinking, I'm a human being, and all human beings have free agency--it's a lah-dee-dah -- here we go, just as happy as little larks; when we have absolutely no ability to choose our own inner state at any time.
Now if you could always choose your inner state, the outside stuff wouldn't matter. I'm not capable of choosing what comes out of the mouths of people around me. I'm not capable of choosing whether it's going to rain tomorrow or whether it will rain tonight. I'm not capable of choosing what the temperature is going to be today. If I could, I'd lower it about 20 degrees. I don't have the capability of choosing what the humidity is. I'd lower that a whole lot today.
But I can choose my own inner state. I can choose how I will feel about the temperature, or choose how I will feel about the humidity. I will choose how I feel about people coming up and saying various and sundry things to me. So what! You can choose how you feel about what they say if you get in charge of your inner state.
Now if you could always choose your own inner state, what else would you really need to choose--come to think of it? But if you can't choose your own inner state, you're bouncing around like a chip on the ocean when the hurricane comes. You were bounced around like that, is that correct? So it would appear that one of the more useful things we could do for ourselves would be to:
Number one, we can recognize that we have little, if any, free agency, free choice; and then number two, we could develop it.
If I recognize that I don't have any, I could go to work on that. You see, when we find our necessity is increased, we do something. All right?
If you are grounded, [hit bottom either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually] you're necessity is increased-you're going to do a little struggling to at least put forth some full effort to get out of there. If you didn't have anything to eat and you get very very hungry, you're going to put forth some effort to go out and get some food, is that right?
So possibly the greatest thing that happens to us is for "necessity to be increased" along a given line. Now if our necessity was increased and we saw we had no free choice, we would put forth some effort to have it. We would remember! It's like we tell people about some of the little things that most people do.
The girls carry their lipstick, and some of them carry cigarettes. A lot of men carry cigarettes with them; and a very few, I notice, carry lipsticks-thank goodness. But I even know some of those too. But, the point is, when there's something that you're putting a real value on and know that you intend to have it, you don't have too much trouble remembering it.
Now, Bonnie, In much of your discussion, you say that you don't have much free agency. I notice that you don't forget your cigarettes or your lipstick, is that right? That's something you've decided on, ok? But if you think you have free agency, then you don't bother to increase it-you don't bother to look after it or recall it or remember it? But if you know that you're subject to forgetting, and that if you forget your cigarettes, that you will be having a nicotine fit before long--you remember to get them, is that right?
. . . .or you go buy some. You're going to do something about it right now because to you, your necessity has been increased.
Now let's say that our necessity is increased decidedly. Let's say that we see it's dangerous to exist in this earth world we live in without having a reasonable degree of free choice. Let's say that you could see that it was valuable to, at least, choose your own inner state of being.
Now if you feel very discouraged and "put out" about something, you couldn't very well accomplish much, right John? But if you feel very confident, you can go out and whip your weight in wildcats, huh? That right? So if you could choose your own inner state at any time, you wouldn't have much of the problems and troubles that most human beings seem to have. You can do that just as easy as you can recall to take your cigarettes with you or your lipstick or your pager.
I saw a man yesterday and he was from far out of state. He had his pager on; and I said, "What have you got that on for?" Well, he didn't know, but maybe it was habit. Stand up Duke-let's see your pager.
Well, you couldn't ring it--there's no earthly use for it right now because it won't hook up, but now he never forgets that because that indicates a mark of a man about town, you know, that you got a leash on you so that you're never out of touch with the telephone. So you remember that.
But how many of us remember to choose our own inner state of being right now? Huh? How many choose their own inner state of being 50 per cent of the time would you say-10%, 4%, 2%, huh?
One? But we have to go backwards on the numbers like trying to get an opener at an auction or something like that you know.
So when we see the necessity for something, we do it. And I hope we have done a little bit here to remind you of the necessity of having free agency, or otherwise you have no control over the inner state of your being.
Now if the inner state of being should be whatever the last stimuli was--feeling whaah, whoa, woe, poor me, I'm a victim of all kinds of things--then how are you going to function? You're going to function as a victim, huh? You're going to feel victimized. And a victim, of course, can do nothing because he's already a victim. He or she is totally controlled and there's absolutely nothing one can do as long as one feels one is a victim. It's the other side of the coin of blaming. Because if I blame somebody, there's nothing I can do until that person dies or does something else, cause I can't do anything about it as long as I'm blaming.
If I'm blaming, I'm saying I'm a victim, is that correct? I'm a victim of whatever I blame for it, so I have no free agency.
I go fumbling around,
feeling a victim,
feeling a victim,
and this goes on year in and year out until something mercifully releases the person, and I think it's probably called death-- that looks like a hard release to me, I don't know.
I'm not in a hurry to find out if that's an adequate release or not. I'm not in any hurry to find it out. I'm better acquainted here on this earth world than anywhere I can think of, and I kind of enjoy the folks around. I know enough to holler "Hi" to quite a few of them across the country, so I'm better acquainted here, so I'll just stick around.
I'm in no hurry to check that liberation out; but I doubt if we're very liberated if we did die. I doubt it. I don't imagine we get very liberated from our conflicts and our struggles and our reactions and so forth. I doubt if we're much liberated from them. We still don't have any free choice as to choosing our inner state of being.
And can you think of any more freedom for being liberated than to be able to choose your own inner state of being regardless of what circumstances are coming down the road. Can you think of anything that would be more delightful or more valuable to you regardless of whether a hurricane hits or an earthquake hits or a depression is on or boom times are on. If you could choose your own state of being, wouldn't it be the most freedom you could conceive of, is that right?
Now everybody can choose their own inner state of being if they have developed free choice, but if we're still mechanical, go bumbling along, and we merely react to the latest stimuli, we don't have any charge of it.
Now thank goodness there's a few funny people comes through the world that gets you to laugh now and then, but otherwise how often would you laugh if they didn't stimulate you to laugh, huh? Probably never. So thank goodness there's a few funny folks in the world; and incidentally people that make other people laugh are highly paid. Now can't you just laugh on your own without having to be stimulated. Can't you just decide well, it feels good, I'm just going to have a good laugh?
In the first place you don't have to look very far for something very funny. That's the main thing. You don't have to look very far for a very good interesting thing. Somebody invited me, one time out in California, to go with them to the comedy scenes one night. I said, "Why do I want to go down there?" "I can sit right here without paying admission and have more fun than they can." You know there's jokes all over the place. You look at somebody and they're all sad and beautiful. It looks like the sad clown out of the worst movie that ever was. What for? Nothing? Just happened to be that way, nobody thought of it.
But if you notice that if you smile and keep it going for a little bit, you feel different than you were when you were----"Ohhhhhhhhhh, poor me". "It's that woe-be-gone--the victim of the nth degree hung out here and so there is nothing much that we can do".
Now if you will see that you can take charge of your own inner state and realize that you don't have much free agency, you will go to work on it. You don't have to have a victimized fit--that's worse than having a nicotine fit, you know. So it really hurts, and I notice that most people every day seem to have a lot of victim fits through the day. Did you ever notice that they're acting victimized? It's all over the place.
One guy was victimized yesterday because he couldn't steal something down at the auction. He said, "You know, you ought to be investigated here!" "I want what I want, and I want for next to nothing." But you see, he didn't have charge of his inner state. I thought it was funny, so I laughed a little bit, but I didn't laugh in his face. I didn't think it was most appropriate at that moment. I choose when to laugh, and when to have other people laugh. Sometimes it's not appropriate to laugh when somebody's in a given state of misery. They don't like any laughing about it. It shows that you simply don't understand the seriousness of the situation. So I think it would be well if we just decided-"Well all right, I see that they don't have free agency." "I see that they can't choose, but I can also see that free will would be the most valuable thing I could have."
If you had it, you could make a lot of money probably--you could have a job--you could have friends--you could have companions--you could have about anything. If you don't have it, then about all you got is a feeling of being victimized. You feel that you are a victim. There's nothing that can be done about it.
Let's go, I've talked long enough. Let's have questions. Please ask your questions out clearly and I'll try to repeat it so that it will be on tape-so then you can remember you asked the question later when you listen to the tape.
Now everybody has free choice of what question you will ask. Miss Regina, you going to start?
(If you try to forget that there's an elephant……..)
(How about if you say there isn't any such thing as free will--there just isn't any such thing.)
Well, you could say that, but you probably wouldn't do much more but escape the idea. [then you would escape the responsibility of working to achieve some free will for yourself.] You would have a hard time saying there's no such thing as an elephant, wouldn't you?
(Yes, that would be hard.)
That's hard. Did you ever feel that you experienced doing what you wanted to for a minute or two?
Ok, then it would be hard to tell yourself you hadn't experienced doing what you wanted to for a minute or two. It's just that you don't do it very often, is that right? Ok? So there are elephants and there is free will. You don't see an elephant very frequently, do you?
Probably, about the same amount of the time as you use free will, but there are elephants. I know that, I've seen one or two. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico one morning and I happened to look out towards the street. There was three or four guys dreading going to work, and we were sitting there drinking coffee in order to put it off as long as possible. I look out the window and see a herd of elephants coming up the street. There was nobody with them, just elephants--a long string of them-I guess there was 20 or 30 of them. I turned around to the other guy and said, "Look I haven't had a drink in years, but I think I see elephants coming up the street and nobody is coming with them." "Would you look out the window and see what you see?" He looked out there and said, "I see elephants too."
The circus was held at the fairgrounds which is about six miles straight out Central Avenue. Well, it turns out that elephants have a very good memory. When they unloaded the elephants from the railroad cars in downtown Albuquerque, the elephants headed for the fairgrounds. Now nobody was with them, but they walked on the right hand side of the street heading for those fairgrounds with one elephant right behind the other one--trunk to tail, trunk to tail. Thirty of them were headed for the fairgrounds. When they got to the fairgrounds, they went for the tent that used to be there and turned around in a circle. Now if a poor beast out there can remember that-well, surely to goodness we can remember that we could take charge of our own inner state if we wanted to-is that about right? Ok, that's about all for this one.
[Another way of looking at the parable of the elephants is that they were conditioned to their circus duties. They acted mechanically. We also act mechanically reacting to various stimuli of what people say to and about us that we don't like. We react to ideals that we've created or accepted in our minds. We then find ourselves in conflict-trying to fulfill those many ideals throughout our everyday life often going in five different directions at once…….from Marsha]