Jed McKenna versus Free Will

There are very few places in his books where Jed McKenna doesn’t cut it philosophically, but for me, this question of free will is one of them.

I believe that this question can’t even begin to be addressed adequately except from a monistic or non-dual understanding of “Self”. Without that depth of perspective, nothing but confusion, delusion or hopelessness are likely.

The Jed McKenna character flatly asserts throughout the books that there is no such thing as Free Will- a “yes or no” response. But in fact he qualifies this statement by recommending a self generated writing exercise in order to bring one closer to the fateful and necessary breakdown process he calls “spiritual autolysis”.

So thankfully, we have a tiny bit of a paradox entering the picture.
But I don’t think that even this simple paradox-contradiction is sufficiently deep and rich and intricate to begin encompass the mysterious complexity of our reality.

Better yet might be with a paradoxical statement such as this: at least from the point of view of realization of “no-self”, it is our non-self that is determining and actively directing the destiny of the ego or soul. So we have no free will at an ego or soul level, but as our “no-Self”, we do.

Presumably, if Jed could respond he might agree and say that an action such as a writing exercise is not really of an individual’s free will but the hidden hand of ‘god’ silently directing the writer to begin clearing the decks of his beliefs and even his ego-self.

But in many spiritual and religious traditions it is stated the divine gifts and imbues the soul or person with free will. I am not much of a supporter of religious and perspectives at this point in my life but I don’t think I can dismiss this possibility out of hand.

Incidentally, in much of occult literature it is stated that the born personality has limited control over its destiny, and that it’s senior aspect of soul has the bulk of the power in that relationship.

Maybe the question of free will versus determinism is better seen as a delagation of authorship and responsibility rather than an either-or, yes or no perspective, or even a paradoxical “yes we do because we are in actuality the divine ‘no-self’ living in existence and exercising out divine prerogatives thru the vehicle of a body and mind”.

Of the three, I think the truest answer may be a cascading continuum hypothesis. That we are the divine self that cedes a certain degree of control and power to the soul that migrates from life to life, and which soul also cedes a bit of its power and responsibility to the born personality body-mind involved in that physical life.

In my life, I’ve experienced the perception that I was in control of my life. Later, I came to understand something about personal creation techniques and responsibilities, which I believe are authored from our soul level. And in the last couple years, my experience has convinced me that I really have very little control over my life, or, more to the point, to my ‘spiritual evolution’, at the level either of the born personality, or even my soul. What is the Truth about Free Will? It’s not very easy to see.

But if the divine self is ceding some control to the soul, and the soul is like-wise ceding some control to the born personality, then isn’t the born personality in some real, although a complex sense, acting freely and with significant sovereignty?

If you reach out to pick something up, does an observer have the right to proclaim that the hand is just some ignorant ‘lackey’, that is being exploited by a mean and controlling brain? Perhaps there is no distinction worth making except for the troublesome mind-makers of separateness?

Who is it that said genius was keeping two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time? Perhaps it would be in-genius of us all to maintain a healthy acceptance of the possibility of all three potentials co-existing seamlessly and simultaneously.

Perhaps what Jed is saying is that from his perspective the unenlightened person has no free will because the Non-Self has it all.

Although quite honestly, I really don’t know!



63 thoughts on “Jed McKenna versus Free Will

  1. So why speak of free will at all?
    From Jed’s TOE:
    “To re-enter the amusement park is to re-suspend
    disbelief; to accept the virtual reality of the dreamstate as
    real reality. For instance, I like to pretend that I’m sane and
    that I have free will. Might as well, right? I also pretend
    that I am my character, that my memories are trustworthy,
    and that time and space and the world are as they seem.
    Kinda gotta.
    And frankly, why not?”
    To me that’s the difference between an automaton human being raised by wolves and an automaton human being raised in our society. We have the consciously cultivated ability to pretend, and in a way to program ourselves and influence our future, which is lacking when being raised by wolves.
    Who cares about free will anyways when we get what we want?

  2. If I had been raised by wolves in the wild and didn’t use language, would I have free will? Do turtles have the free will to NOT swim thousands of miles back to the beach where they were hatched? Nature seems to be running on auto pilot. Most lifeforms seem to be doing only what they are programmed to do. Humans have the special ability to rationalize why they just said or did something, but is that just just an illusion? Was the impulse to act already received by the brain just prior to being conscious of it? Some writers speak of entering a Flow state where they just ‘get out of the way’ of a massive ‘download’ wherein a passage or an entire book just seems to write itself. Who’s ‘will’ is being freely expressed in that instance?
    Fun to kick around this stuff even if it has no practical value, but then neither does watching election returns.
    Now why did I just say that?

  3. Brian, thanks for this great website.

    Forgive my poor skills as a philosopher, or a dharma expounder, but I have some ideas.

    Someone on this blog, ChuckO, wrote a while ago about the Buddhist philosophy on the subject of Free will: Everything exists dependently and is conditioned by its dependencies. Let’s consider this:

    I “will” myself to type these words on my computer. But I recognize that the ability to do so is conditioned by having been born into a species that has limbs and hands, that evolved a culture with technology, knowledge and language. I exercise my will here: to type! But it’s a seems now to be more reasonable to call it a choice, one constrained by the options of my inheritance. I cannot freely choose to fly away because wings aren’t my inheritance, I cannot freely will planets to rotate around me because I did not inherit enormous mass. I cannot be a topless dancer because I am a middle aged male. But writing I can choose. In short, the constraints on my free will as a born human being are the attributes of my body and mind and of the world I find myself in.

    Perhaps I am a Soul as well, which is an ego of sorts, a contraction, a separate self relative to the Absolute. Perhaps I willed attributes for my born egoic body to have. But like my born self, my Soul will is also limited by my soulful inheritance, whatever angelic things they may be.

    Beyond Soul, I am very Self, the Whole, I have no inheritance, I am inheritance itself, I am Free and I am Will, because I am All. From Me separate beings are formed with their inheritances and their choices, but as far as freedom, I can’t see where they have it. They don’t choose to be born, their birth is an expression or a creation of unfathomable forces and potentials in which will is simply a Mystery.

  4. Indeed, Grant, and Prabha, you guys have got it. The basic teaching of Buddha was dependent origination. It is so obvious that it smacks you in the face when you realize that everything happens due to conditions! Yet how long it takes one to get over the illusion of free will! And after getting over it intellectually, how long it takes to uproot the tendency to fall back into the “feeling” of having free will!

    In fact, if something like “free will” did exist, then there would be no point in doing anything, because conditions would not lead to results. It is only because everything happens automatically, due to conditions, that Buddha could teach skillful vs unskillful actions on the (8-fold) path to liberation.

  5. I don’t know, brother. I’ve got a similar pain, and it hurts. My consolation it to assume that I choose this construct and if I don’t collapse under the pressure of it, some ‘human development’ will ensue that I instigated at a soul level (being apparently incapable of ‘enlightenment’!).

  6. Unfortunately, I’m too down to earth to theorize about free will. If I would just have a choice!!!
    I would be anywhere but where I am.
    As a leading authority on post-spirituality 🙂 , would you tell me please, why some people get to sit on a bench in bliss !!! in the park !!! for years !!!, and I have to eat sh*t, work 12 hours a day and wonder why I am still married. If it is my free will, I must be sadomasochist or martyr 🙂
    In my opinion, everyone who survived Dark Night deserves Nobel Prize!

  7. I realize I’m a little outdated, but, frankly, who cares. I’m still enjoying ‘spiritual enlightenment, the damnest thing’ and don’t really know anything else about Jed, than what’s in that book. (I’m at page 145 give or take) I haven’t read what you’re talking about, free will, but from what you’re saying here, I would say he means that coming from no-self, self already implies a certain degree of choice, hence “free” will, can only be of no-self. In other words, you’re choosing all the time, and you’re not holding up all the options. Every belief is simply a choice you’ve already made, and since your self implies a certain belief in self, your choice is limited in that belief. Your free will is already being used to believe in self, whatever that is for you, but that means as long as there is self, you limit your free will. So it really has nothing to do with a deterministic world or not, it’s just an observation you can easily make from no-self. He’s telling you what it’s like to view the world from no-self, so that you can’t stop until you really get there, because if you don’t understand the things he’s saying, you’re not there, keep looking, furtheeeerrr 😉

    Kindness and joy, namasté

  8. When I enter into a mystical state or an epiphany experience I often experience that the question of free will is not present, it is gone, dissolved it is redundant. On my return to ego ills however my free will is as big as the cage that I live in. It is when I beat my head on the walls of my prison, yearning for freedom that I realise I am not free and clearly my illusion of free will is just that, illusion.

  9. Do I have a choice to believe in free will..?
    When ones will is always prevalent there is no free will..
    Cant seem to create ” an other or outside force” whos will is operating..(a person or God concept)..). what is happening is happening ..including the will of something ought to be different ,does not imply an outside agency..more like a potential that maybe actualized.

  10. Free will is a concept. I see the concept as “the capacity for an object to in any way influence anything about itself”. If it exists in some way then we can do something and therefore ought to find out what to do ( even if that is that we shouldnt do anything in particular). If it doesn’t then there is nothing we can do. This is a logical correct,no ? It therefore seems very important to resolve this question, The importance of it is not necessary though. It is just necessarily important to resolve the question if we presume that we can figure out anything (a profound truth) through words and thinking ( or any other determined way). If we cant figure out the profound truths through thinking and words then there wouldnt be any use of concepts. If we instead don’t presume this ( that we can figure out anything worthwhile through words and thinking in words) , then we would be blank ( stage 0). At this stage the concept of free will wouldnt matter cause it would represent one of the many things that couldnt bring us a profound truth and therefore just have capacity to mislead us. My thoughts about this is that if we were to think about anything then we would think about the basis for why we think and wheather its necessary or if it is something we have controll over. Through socrates ” I know that I don’t know anything” one can see the weakness of thought. He has arrived at the conclusion that he don’t know anything but yet he knows that. This cuts at the core of thinking and shows that you cant say or think something that is correct. Therefore there is no use thinking because thinking is only necessary if something can be knowed through it ( keep in mind that we are chasing ultimate truths). In the same way the free will concept shows that there is no use acting. : It is only necessary to try to do something right or try anything really if free wil exists. So if it exists, then what shall we do? The answer to this question seems to me to be: how could we know? We cant think or say something that is correct then how should we ever know what to do, if free will exists.

    I have reasoned here that if we were to think in order to find the ultimate truth, then the question of free will and knowledge is the questions that should be answered first because it is the basis of action and thoughts.It does though when we start to think correctly seem like we cant say or think anything correct and it therefore also seems like we shouldnt try to think in order to find profound or ultimate truths.If this is correct then the concept of free will is unnecessary and just something that can delude us. If we don’t acepts this train of thought something else can be shown that yields the same results and that is that if free will exists, then what are the probobabilities that one acts exactly correct according to ones goals? Wouldnt it also then be most sane to dont try do do anything at all but to instead aknowledge that you don’t really know anything and therefore act as if you didnt have free will ? In this forum wich is Jed Mckenna inspired there seems to be a common ground shared that talking and reasoning is of no use and just distractions and misleading ( this is just a finger pointing to the moon- talk). This I agree with but aslong as some have wrong ideas (talks, thoughts) in their head it might block them from finding truth and therefore talk can be constructive if it is used for diminishing or destroying itself wich my argument is aiming at. If we would know nothing ( wouldnt even know that), then free will would be just as any other concept that’s not selfevident and would need to be proven before we could accept it. Should we really have to prove that we don’t have free will, instead of prove that we have free will ? Shouldnt every concept need to be proven?’

    I can’t say that what is written here is a lie because it doesnt claim to say anything about profound truths just about relative truths. I have tried to write relative truths. I can’t say that I am wrong or right about anything i wrote cause I don’t know anything and nothing of the laws of the universe. Hopefully though someone will show me some error in my argument, that would be appriciated. ( it might even be totally wrong in the relative truth-arena, it was pretty late when i wrote it )

  11. Dear Sine- This may surprise you but I totally agree with everything you said! What you seem to be missing is that I didn’t create this blog as either an expression of Truth, or even a means to achieve the same (autolysis). I did it partly as sport (of the intellectual variety, to entertain my self), and partly as service to help any others who have gotten snared in concepts of either spirituality, or even “Jed-talk,” (the further dismantling of un-truths).

    I completely agree that the whole enterprise is meaningless and absurd! I don’t even know why I don’t dismantle the whole site. What you should understand is that it is possible to chew gum and walk at the same time. My personal process is fierce and unrelenting. I seriously wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But, for awhile, it entertained me to talk with friends and strangers about the journey on this blog. Just to tune up our intellects and clarify any philosophical garbage that was still loitering in our minds, yet unexamined.

    So, go in Peace my friend, and let us trouble you no more with our silly thinkings and musings!

  12. Can you see how all this is your attempt to bring reality down to your own level rather than trying to expand to it? The need for understanding is most often a disguised need for control, rather than the willingness to surrender. That’s what your whole blog reeks of to my eyes. “Is Jed enlightened or not?” How meaningsless a question for someone who thinks for himself. As Jed maybe would have said, it is your head on the block. It is your life running out. Don’t be theoretical. You’re missing the point.
    Not saying this meaning to be demeaning. But still, it is my observation and I hope that you will see a point in it. As always, Further.

    On the topic of free will the point is that the question itself is wrong. To me the question or even the idea of free will would need a bunch of separations and distinctions that I don’t believe in. (And no, I don’t claim any enlightement.) But to me it is like there is no way to parse the idea. If I wanted to pretend that the idea makes any sense it feels like I would have to stretch down into a comic book world with its own pecualiar notions. I’m not even quite sure what is lacking. It is like the question presupposes some kind of idea of un-freedom that would make the will free. What is it free from?

    What is called will is in itself muddled in unclarity. What exactly do we mean by it? Do we mean the same thing? Do we mean “wants”? And then what is a “want”? Is it a certain fact that it would represent “your” “will” more than what is happening? Does the idea of choice itself have any ultimate meaning? Pragmatically there is no problem with it, we can use the idea and do. I feel like having a salad, and so I do. But to separate those drives from the rest of the universe seems… unnecessary.

    If you have “free will”, what are you going to do with it? If you don’t have it, what are you going to do with it? Who gave you the idea that this was an issue in the first place? Where did you get that from? Why did you believe it?
    I don’t know, nothing in this whole thing makes any sense. 🙂

  13. This question of free will seems to an extent to be just mind jacking..but since I appreciate this community, I am moved to participate a bit. I suspect it is more significant than mind jacking to some of us so it is probably still worth while to comment. I would say:

    Relatively speaking, there is freewill
    Absolutely speaking, not
    Taken alone, neither is true
    Taken together, they both are

    Or so it seems at the moment. I may be wrong :).

    What Jed is saying does seem unclear on this, but I have no idea how it looks to “Jed” anymore than I know who wrote the Jed material.

    Bless us all and thank you all,


  14. Thanks Perra J.

    You bring up something that has always bamboozled me (not a bad thing I hasten to add), but now I find full of humour. We often communicate as if we really know what we are talking about; for instance, what being ‘awake’ or ‘enlightened’ are. However, if we truly knew what either was, we would have already realised one of them! It’s like trying to describe what chocolate tastes like to someone who has only eaten carob – until they actually try chocolate, boy are they fooling themselves. So, how can we even talk about what ‘awake’ or ‘enlightened’ are if we consider ourselves to have not realised either one? If such a thing as the ego existed, that would be one of its better ploys!

    For what it’s worth, if references to an ego must be made, then I would say it is the act of separation; a process rather than a separate entity. But I would only be conjecturing because I really don’t know. Until I do know, I don’t know. I guess I must know I don’t know. Didn’t Jed say something about that? Reckon I’m going to have to once again go back to Spirituality 101 classes.

  15. Hi Eddie,

    No, I wouldn’t consider myself awakened. I am raising my consciousness, by simply looking at myself, and that makes me more able to see what it is within myself that’s not ME. And this is indeed a process. I think I am more stable, more aware. But not yet awakened.

    Well, the ego could easily become an adversary, that’s the way it often goes. Some people mean that was what Jesus meant by “a house divided against itself”.
    The ego is really an identity, but a false one. You really think it is you, and that complicates matters, in the beginning of the path.
    We can identify with almost everything, and we do it with mental structures. We close ourselves within mental oxes built of mental pictures.
    We think we want the truth, and the ego often fools us to think we do! But the ego just wants to strenghten its sense of identity, to validate itself.

    Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti describe all this brilliantly. Jed does too, but in a different way.
    ( I use to listen to not just ONE teacher, but several. Often I find things they all have in common, but they say it in different ways – and this is important, it can be just that expression that makes sense to ME…)

    The ego is an auto-pilot. It lets you avoid real responsibility.
    The correct way to handle the ego is of course not to let it become an enemy to yourself, but to let it BE as it IS. Just surrender. Then something else begins to awaken.
    If you try to RESIST the ego, it has already won! The ego feeds on conflict.

  16. In response to Perra J.

    You speak of the ego as if it is a ‘thing’ in some sort of battle with an other – an adversary. Is that what you intended?

    Also, you write about what ‘True Awakening’ is. Does that mean you consider yourself to actually be Awakened? If yes, then all blessings to you. If no, then how would you know what it is?

  17. Hi Brian,

    Thanks – glad you enjoyed the post. And thanks for your very well-written, thoughtful, stimulating (and entertaining) posts, and for your work in providing us with this forum. Re: “Dharma-Slinger” – I like it! (“You dualists best be out of town by sundown…or not. Shucks howdy, t’werent’t nothin, Maya’am… ” :^).

    One last irresistible quote:

    “If you don’t have a sense of humor – It just isn’t funny.” -Wavy Gravy

    Kind regards,

    -Chuck O.

  18. We do not have free will. Period.
    But this is the consequence of a choice. We can alter this state.
    We once chose not to be responsible for our lives, that “others” some way are responsible. We thereby fell from our true Identity, down into this hell of duality, where we still must have some sort of identity – that’s the ego.

    That’s the false self. The ego must always define itself on outer concepts, on objects, on thought. The ego was born in the duality consciousness, and it has a survival instinct. And this instinct is strong and clever. Very clever.
    Hence, the ego must keep all this reasoning about awakening outside itself, and try to convince the Spirit within us (who wants to awaken), that the ego can fix also this, that the ego can do the awakening for us!
    It accomplishes that by keeping our attention fixed on concepts, ideas, words and thoughts – everything within the duality consciousness. The ego does not want to be looked at, while maintaining ITS OWN VERSION of the awakening, which of course is a false awakening – a spiritually incorrrect awakening.

    It’s interesting to discuss this subject, but we must be aware that we are just feeding the ego. Every statement in words, every thought – no matter how interesting – is a degradation and a perversion of true awakening.
    Because True Awakening – which shines through as glimpes of the true reality from which we fell – deals with a higher frequency range than we are at right now, where the duality consciousness reigns. And the ego must survive by “downcasting” these higher-vibrational glimpses to a level it can fathom.

    I have read all MacKenna books, and they are fantastic. What I have grasped is that it’s all about Identity. We have in the western world a lousy understanding of what identity really is. We are brainwashed by mainstream religion and materialistic science, and we tend to handle the awakening as any other “project” that can be solved by objectifying, conceptualizing, defining – and (endless) discussion…

  19. Well done, Chuck. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Very humorous, nuanced and well reasoned. And thanks for the Nissargadatta quote. You sling the dharma as good as anyone! Ha,Ha!
    Stay in touch,

  20. Hi Stardustpilgrim,

    You hit the nail on the head, re: the “effort” to become enlightened or “realized”, if there is no such thing as individual “free will”, as usually concieved.

    It seems to me that the difficulty in the struggle for enlightenment revolves around a general reluctance to provide a useable/useful definition of enlightenment or realization. No doubt, there are many reasons for this, some insidious, some benign. But if you can’t say what it is, you’re unlikely to recognize it when it’s “happened” (lacking the tell-tale signs of levitation, water-walking, astral travel, etc. :^), and be able to move on.

    I would maintain that it’s more constructive to define it in a way that makes it less of a big deal – possihbly even a “fait accompli”, so that one can get past it, put it aside, and focus energy on lovingkindness, compassion, joy, good cappucinos, digging up enjoyable quotes to post in forums, or – to bring Jed back into the mix – playing Tomb Raider or skydiving. Enlightenment is everything, and nothing. But as long as it’s seen as a goal to be achieved, we can fritter away our lives looking for it, rather than focusing on what matters (see: Tomb Raider, cappucinos, et al).

    So I would submit: Enlightenment is when the body/mind *fully* realizes the implications of the fact that all realizations (including and especially the realization of enlightenment) occur *only* in the body/mind, which is conditioned, contingent, ownerless, without “free will”, and so a part of the passing show.

    Pass the popcorn.

    To be clear – the above is in no way an attempt to (even obliquely and cleverly, one hopes) claim privileged status. On the contrary, its intent is to say that I’ve found it useful to define “realization” so as to get past it – and anyone can do the same. In some ways, it would be a valid criticism to say this equates to the critiques of some theories of consciousness, that they are actually “explaining away consciousness” by (correctly, in my view) positing consciousness as purely physical phenomena in the brain. I also think that Brian’s introductory comment re: the difficulty of keeping two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time applies. Not as much fun or romantic as metaphysical speculation of non-corporeal “souls” or the internal fireworks show of Cosmic Consciousness (which can take place nowhere other than the body/mind). But if it lets you move on and work on lovingkindness, equanimity, Tomb Raider, and nice cappuccinos – with the full realization that they too, are equally part of the passing show – then it ain’t all bad.

    Kind regards,

    -Chuck O.

  21. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for your insightful comments. Re: “enough blap” – if it weren’t for recreational blapping, we’d all need to go bowling instead – and I’m not very good at bowling. Or another quote I enjoy, source (alas) not remembered – “There is no bondage or freedom. There is nothing to be attained. There is only the pleasure of expounding”.

    The obvious problem with all ism’s (incl. Buddhism) is that an ism, by definition, presents doctrine, which always begs to be taken issue with. And who knows what the historical Buddha actually said? A saving grace, at least for classical Buddhism, is that the alleged instructions to “test and verify for yourself, and accept no doctrine, no matter how esteemed the source” appear to be relatively reliable attributed doctrine, if for no other reason than it’s counter-intuitive to make an anti-doctrine proviso central to your doctrine.

    In that light, and specific to this discussion of “Free Will”, I thought the quote from Walpola Rahula might be useful – but not because it presents official Buddhist doctrine. The concept of anatta, or “not-self” which is central to Buddhism, is interpreted differently by different Buddhist scholars, some of whom interpret “not-self” as “non-self”, many of whom do not. But rather, it was presented because I thought Rahula verbalized extremely well what is, critically, confirmable via direct experience. While truth may be confirmable by all, we don’t all possess the same ability to communicate that truth, thus the pleasure and utility of finding others who have skillfully expressed that confirmable truth – not as doctrine to be accepted, but as a skillful communication of understanding.

    Brian, if I correctly understand your posting, the debate between not-self and non-self would seem to be central. And I believe I agree with you – clearly seeing the non-existence of a non-contingent, non-conditional self, and thus of the commonly accepted definition of “Free Will” that necessitates a non-contigent self, does not int turn necessitate that a universal intelligence is not at work (here I can’t help but insert a reference to Vonnegut’s ‘Sirens of Titan’ – sorry :^). Or, to make what is hopefully skillful and appropriate use of quotes form 2 other folks who’ve said it much better than I:

    “We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing. And being nothing, you are everything. That is all.” Kalu Rinpoche

    “Love says ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’. Between these two my life flows.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj

    But again – taking pleasure from quoting scholars or practitioners who have expressed confirmable reality in a skillful manner, is not a substitute for direct experience and verification. No matter how much fun to expound and quote, it is only the direct realization, the seeing, that matters (or ultimately, doesn’t :^). And understanding the nature or nonexistence of “individual”, unconditioned Free Will, whichever side of the coin you come out on, is certainly central to that seeing.

    Fwiw, another reason to resort to well-phrased quotes from scholars or acknowledged “realized” figures, is that the alternative is to “blap” unrestrainedly, with the risk of joining the game and implying (obliquely or otherwise – see above clever “ultimately, doesn’t” remark) that there’s a secret, and that there’s a “you” who’s in on it. Fortunately, it’s possible to keep some perspective, by remembering that what is seen is simply what is seen, and also remembering another wonderful quote by a “realized: authority:

    “We’re all Bozos on this Bus” – Firesign Theatre

    Enough of *my* blapping.

    Kind regards,

    -Chuck O.

  22. In reply to ChuckO …….. I’m going to have to agree with Brian. If the whole of our being is completely conditioned, and not free, then what is our hope of enlightenment? We wait and hope? The question is, can our conditioned self do anything to bring about enlightenment? No. But that does not mean nothing can be done. (And this is why I like Jed’s approach rather than a lot of non-duality teachers).

  23. Thanks Chucko for contributing that quote. Would you mind if I presumed to take issue with it though? At least for “the sake of argument”.

    It can be said that the problem with a Phenomenolgical POV such as Buddhism or Jed is that it confines consideration to a critique of all phenomena. But it ignores Source or Unmanifest Self (unlike Advaita) (or traditional Emanationist) formulations.

    I can argue back at this Buddhist source, that its premise is not proven (at least to me). The premise that = If the whole of existence is relative, conditioned and interdependent, how can will alone be free? does not ring true to me. It seems, if not dualistic, then at least separative and incomplete. It argues that the Uncreated Unconditional is not a component of ‘Existence’ and also that it doesn’t have what can reasonably be labeled as “will”.

    If we/I am an expression of a unified field of conscious-radiance, then, if I seem to have will, or free will, and if it is not my ego’s possession, then it may well be coming from ‘outside’ my perspective. So if it exists beyond conditional existence, and because it is not sourced within my limited ego frame- it may well be free.

    I respect the great traditional sources but I prefer not bow to them automatically and without testing and challenging them, even if I have to supplement my own experience and perspective with opposing and contrary traditional sources.

    Anyway, enough blap from me for one day!

  24. In reading some of the “classic” Theravadin Buddhist books, I recently read Walpola Rahula’s “What the Buddha Taught”, first published in 1959. I was delighted to find that, in regard to Free Will, his presentation of “Classic” Buddhist philosophy agreed with what I (and many others, including Jed, if I correctly understand his writings ) had discovered to be the verifiable and simply, quite clearly visible case. Fwiw – it’s always nice to feel that one is travelling in well-established company… :^)

    The below short excerpt is from that book, and is also freely available online at

    Kind Regards,


    “The question of Free Will has occupied an important place in Western thought and philosophy. But according to Conditioned Genesis, this question does not and cannot arise in Buddhist philosophy. If the whole of existence is relative, conditioned and interdependent, how can will alone be free? Will which is included in the fourth Aggregate (samkhārakkhandha), like any other thought, is conditioned (paticca-samuppanna). So-called ‘freedom’ itself in this world is not absolutely free. That too is conditioned and relative. There is, of course, such a conditioned and relative ‘Free Will’, but not unconditioned and absolute. There can be nothing absolutely free in this world, physical or mental, as everything is conditioned and relative. If Free Will implies a will independent of conditions, independent of cause and effect, such a thing does not exist. How can a will, or anything for that matter, arise without conditions, away from cause and effect, when the whole of life, the whole of existence, is conditioned and relative? Here again, the idea of Free Will is basically connected with the ideas of God, Soul, justice, reward and punishment. Not only so-called free will is not free, but even the very idea of Free Will is not free from conditions.”

  25. I chanced upon Jed’s first book a few years ago in a B & N. Loved it, couldn’t wait for the next one to come out, and then the next. Jed makes more sense than most traditional non-dualism teachers. I’ve been on the spiritual path for over 40 years.

    Why don’t we have free will? We are born living through our true essential nature, but immediately we begin forming our cultural self which is variously called our ego, personality or false self. This conditioned self is composed of layers and layers of information in our neural network in the brain. At still a rather young age, usually about 6-7, all the information the senses take in ceases to reach our essential self, and falls on our neural network, our false self.

    So, false self becomes a prison we live in. Is a prisoner really free? Can a prisoner have free will? No. The first thing we must realize is that we actually are in prison. Most anybody that has made their way to this blog has had this realization at least to a certain extent. Most of the ordinary population never come to realize that they are not free, that the self they believe themselves to be is really a prison. This state is called sleep. We are the lucky ones. We’re trying to wake up to who we really are.

    So, how do we escape the prison? The prison is our actual neural network, our conditioning, our cultural self. We have to take the energy out of the structure of self, we have to quit feeding self. Our cultural self is driven by ordinary life, the energy of ordinary life. We are pushed and pulled here and there and led around like a bull with a ring in its nose. Our awareness and attention are continually captured by life.

    So how do we end the nightmare and wake up? We begin living through our awareness instead of having it continually captured by ordinary life. This is actually not so easy to do. I think Jed called this becoming a mature adult. And then maybe some day we find out what it’s like to be free, but this can’t really be explained or described, cannot be put into words……but imagine laying down a great weight you have been carrying…….as analogy…

    Essentially, you have too see who you are to take the energy out of self and escape the prison. Autolysis is a great aid in this. The only real cure is to dissolve the prison bars.

    This can be quite a struggle and quite painful, as our pesky neural network doesn’t wish to cease to be. We have to realize we are awareness. Even so, it still takes some time for ego to quit being so troublesome, like a car out of gas still rolling down a hill…….

  26. You do not exist.

    The you that you think you are is an idea–the idea comes about because the brain looks for cause-and-effect, and since there is life, the mind believes there must be a “liver.” It’s not as if you existed and someone came by and gave you a body and a mind and awareness and life and said, here now go live your life. You never existed. There is just life, there is a body, there is a mind.

    Since you (the dreamer) does not exist, there can be no free will for the dreamer.

    Nevertheless, you can get through to the dreamer to examine this paradox. The dreamer is only a thought, but awareness can examine this and realize no-self.

  27. Read your essay on fundamentalism Brian. Enjoyed it too.
    Ahh… but… I am ‘this and that’ regardless of whether its deemed enlightened or not. I am all those things and all the things I didnt want to associated myself with. Hence the shadows came out of ‘hidden’ spaces and like zombies began to live in my world. So… I reclaim my parts, warts and all to become ‘human’ again. Life on the apex is not enjoyable, is not comfortable and isolating and cold. I think perhaps a part of me doesnt want others to suffer the inevitable defeat. So I say, go back to reality because in the end – thats ALL there is. Free will as well.

  28. Yes, once I kick the kicking as well, I might as well shut up and do it… I thought we were having fun ignoring mortality, making vain false statements about everything, always inserting an :I: as if that means something and generally thinking… You are right, unless I kick it all nothing is happening..

    Tough to kill the Buddha when my mind is still playing around with toughness as being a reality. Where am I, Who am I, and what the hell is going on… 🙂 Free will, heck I am trying to figure out how to think and act with any consistency that will create desired results while still looking at the possibility that the whole thing is a lie. I am still locked in this shit hole.. But I used to think it was nice, lately it looks like a barrel with no end… And its my barrel…

  29. You think because you read these things, because you contemplate these things that you are becoming or (even more delusional) ‘are’ enlightened… not until you kick this shit out of your house you aren’t.

  30. Reflections. Remember that in the dreamstate we are reflecting at the level of belief constantly. Layers is the key to free will, and most of us get tangled up in miss-interpreting reality, more so that is the function of beliefs.

    All meaning changes depending on the layer you are experiencing it from. The surprise I guess for all of us was that we realized (conceptually) that we do not really exist and upon logical consideration it seems to make sense.

    The only answer to the question of free will is questioning the question itself. Who is asking, to whom is this thought referring (Sri Rammana), with the obvious answer being me. At our level of interpretation free will seemed like a valid question, but be aware that you are playing a mouse and cat game. we are always late to the party since we think as means of giving meaning to the experience. Conscious thought seems to be structured after belief, and control becomes a layer issue. Remember we need not become whole but only shed that which makes us other than Not-two.

    As for various contributors of this blog going through the difficulty of no identification of the dreamstate and the various fears that we may experience through that (losing spouses, losing joy etc) remember that its a balancing act, and there are two aspects to all concepts. We starve the ego of the ability to succeed with meaninglessness and then we must surrender to the effects of that belief to balance it out. In reality our suffering derives from still being attached even though we begin to realize the pointlessness of our attachment. Keep in mind that this is a natural process and as such all struggle is but resistance. We are not dealing with reality at this point only with our belief of it. To balance out the fear and burn off the attachments, reaction does not work. Fear is the translation of that reaction at the layer of emotion. It is not an application of giving up at the level of action or logic, it is an emotional acceptance (surrender) and occurs before/after thought. This translates as appreciation for the very dreamstate we are in and allows us to balance the loss of unreal desire (fear posed as want). What is actually occurring with this fear, seems to be the burning of the inherited belief system from our parents-care givers. Rather then dwelling on that feeling, letting go of the tiller seems to even that out and allow an easy flow.

    To end with free will, free yourself from it. To free ourselves from freedom, how perfect is that?

  31. Nicely put Jane. Not that my ‘saying so’ is of any worth or difference. Perhaps one could say you’ve positively touched ‘my experience’, a reprieve.

  32. Quite a while ago I had an experience of what is called `discontinuity in consciousness` in quantum theory. In this `gap` I saw how my process works and I knew I was seemingly trapped in a `thoughtform` a kind of mental box, a limiting factor which seemingly protected me, but while it protected me from seeing the `truth` of myself, or the lies I told myself of myself it also held me captive in a mental box of my own making.
    I knew I wasn`t who I thought I was, I also saw I was always becoming and had never `Been`. It was at that moment that I saw my ego was purely a thought construct and realised I had now coming into `Being`. From that moment I started to return home to myself as the dream, or you might say illusion, or spell had broken. This` what seems like a coming home to myself ` has appeared to be costly at times, but to me it is worth everything.

  33. The mind is a computer programed by the senses via time to carry out the objective of the mechanical body to reproduce and survive. All the information gathered by the senses is recorded,then it is sorted per the pleasure/pain principal,then conclusion are made and these conclusions are identified with and become beliefs.We become identified with the content of thought. All knowledge is partial and in the past,all memories are fragmented. All this is being translated by a voice in the mind that is identified as “I”.It doesn’t take a whole lot of self observation to determine the truth of this,but most will not want to look.People want to modify this process to become something,even “who they really are”, but the identification stays the same. A computer has no free will,it just follows the program. When you see the process of this as a reality the identification is broken,the translator of sense gathered data is no longer “I”. Then the energy that animates the computer mind and biological machine body is all that is left,all that is real.I haven’t read Jed yet,but I did awake from the dream three years ago and am sure Jed would agree with this.

  34. It’s not a way of being. It is not easy or hard. There is no such thing as courage. There is no Home. There is no mind, perhaps a perspective, until that is lost too. If you’re still reading/typing then may I suggest… ‘further’…

  35. I send you this
    -although you are not placing-,
    peu importe,
    because the whole was as a comment
    on your opinions which were translated in french


    – – – In the middle of a dispute in french
    on a french blog “Perles de Bonheur”
    on ND

    I wrote an answer saying that present interpretation of
    Ramanas words were corrupting and
    equal to the Angel Lucifer’s pov and that
    that one had more Beauty and Divine IQ than we have
    -a little of the same as we discuss here, -hence reason to carbon :

    and thinking : Now they will throw me out of that Blog too
    the following happened

    and I wrote it to that group as follow in english :

    18 avril 2010 11:17
    AnkhAton a dit…

    Seconds after the above words, here in the corridor ,
    I passed an ancien book cabinet
    and there fell a little booklet out
    of it with no visuable reason.

    The title is:
    I thought flabbergasted and grateful:
    This is a message

    So I thought to do what some people
    do with the Bible
    and just open in the book in the middle.

    The text on Page 25 text 21 is :

    The scriptures declare that seeing the Self is seeing God.

    Being Single, how can one see one’s own Self?
    If Oneself cannot be seen, how can God be?

    To be absorbed by God is to see Him.

    The traduction in English by ULlADDU NARPAADU S. Cohen
    Edition : Watkins London isfrom 1978

    If ULLADU only knew this -what happened-


  36. Over some years now , the Lucifer Standpoint
    grews in popularity.
    Youtube is full of ‘teachers’; some with an impressive
    PR apparatus like tony moo, explaining Ramana’s Advaita
    but without Karma, Transmigration
    and the need to be a vegetarian.
    Quite the opposite , the blood dropping from the spiritual mouthes.
    But Jac, Rupert, Laya and perhaps Lucille and GangaJi , . . they are veggies ; no idea about JM.
    Bless them.

    This ND is coming from people who are not able to spend their next vacation
    on the Sun ( the star ) with their family.
    And the Sun is a snowflock in the creation, . . that is in the minuscule
    part of creation visible at this side of the Chakras.

    At the other site of any chakra this whole big bang is completely neglectable.
    Anybody can see that after piercing a chakra tunnel just with interest.
    I mean : on a need to know basis.

    Now these people have discovered that lots of people are
    highly pleased by entering a temporal state of semi hypno, imagining
    they are and always were The Great Almighty Creator
    and that nothing of what they thought as negative
    will count after you have this realization, . . and there are no consequences.
    To apply this hypno , which every priest, rebbe and mullah learns at school is a real piece of cake, specially at the willing, . . you can also
    and easily let them eat onions and peppers.

    Also they talk about God as if Silent, Empty, Placeless,
    Timeless ( there I can see some value ) and next year they will add loveless, compassionateless, emphatyless but for the tme being they
    say not that (they just demonstrate that)
    as do as if God is in the coffee shop around the corner
    selling weed.
    Books, CDs are there Mantras are free, –
    who knows what’s in the tea !

    If it was not dangerous, I would neglect.

    But after hearing the above declaratoins one morning, . . an hour later
    I heard on TV a likewise declaration from the war archives
    spoken by Ober Reichs Fuehrer Goering , saying :
    “You will have no single responsability when killing jewish babies
    because they are future full grown Jews and you all
    know what those did to the Ggerman people”

    and suddenly I saw the parallel.

    Yet you start diminshing the ‘Conscience’ of people whatever
    level that is in them, you open all possibilities
    and knowing this planet it will be mostly evil.

    Then those teachers at the same time give the exemple
    of Torturing Killing and eating their victims themselves
    and you start thinking : this comes straight from the devil.

    Ever since -and I am an old man- I use my last years
    for battling against this standpoint that brought
    the ex Angel Lucifer not much luck

    Since I started to react, now I am block at 80% of those Groups Blogs and Channels.
    Specially those from the meat industry promotors.

    ( op YouTube – see my song Jesus & Obama Blues))

  37. The human brain is the most amazing, damn-near infinitely complex, astounding, (insert your superlative here) thing in the known universe.

    Any “choice” that is made by my particular mind-body complex will largely be informed by the relative strengths of the neuronal connections in my brain, in all of their incomprehensible (did I mention damn-near infinite?) complexity. I say largely, because any “choice” may also be informed by more immediate external circumstances, such as the gentleman pointing the gun at me demanding my money. But even then, it’s my brain, bathed in a hormone soup provided by the other bodily organs (such as the adrenals working overtime) that will choose to surrender the wallet, or not – and whether or not I do so before – or after – I wet myself.

    If the linguistic term “Free will” is used to indicate that this brain-body complex gets to make that “choice” based on its lifetime of memories, experiences, fears, personality tendencies, intelligence, how well it slept the night before, and its ability to understand what a gun is – that its ultimate decision was not pre-written in the secret “Big Book O’Chuck” (if only I could find my way to Borges’ library & read it) – then the linguistic term “Free will” has just been defined in such a way that it is valid.

    On the other hand – if there is realization that all aspects of this particular body/mind are the result of circumstances having nothing to do with a “choice” of “mine” – that my parents chose (based on their individual neuronal connections and circumstances) to contribute some genetic material that bequeathed to me some mental/emotional/physical tendencies, that my brain next incorporated input from the environment that I happened to be born into and surrounded by, that the very *first* time I made a “conscious choice” (left or right breast?), that choice was a result of those neuronal connections arising from those genetic tendencies and external influences, and that every single neuronal connection that was strengthened from that moment forward was based on the results of that and every following “choice” made in life, each of those choices, in turn, made based on the relative strengths of the neurons that were already connected – or, for Bhagavad Gita fans, “it’s the gunas messin’ with the gunas” – then the question of “Free Will” is seen for what it is:

    A category mistake.

    I’m not knocking this brain, this mind/body – it’s (have I mentioned?) amazing, wonderful, fantastic, capable of providing hours, days, weeks – in fact, literally a lifetime of entertainment. Add interaction out in the world with *other* body/mind complexes to the mix, and you’re guaranteed a real rip-snorter. But it is also *undeniably* a mechanical/chemical phenomenon determined by a literally endless chain of prior circumstance – as are a rock, a tree, a mountain, a planet, galaxy, etc. To ask if a particular instance of meat puppet has “free will” is akin to asking if a rock likes the color “blue” (with sincerest apologies to all blue-loving rocks).

    Kind regards,



  39. The thing is, this caterpillar prefers to see oneself and the likes of other Caterpillars tending to the suffering of, among legion others, Somali and Haitian babies left in the grass. This preference overwhelms my concurrent caterpillar interests in reading the ruminations and manifestos of imaginary writers sipping Sangria and wondering how the Universe prefers this hacienda versus that one.

    Is there a genre of books called “spiritual fiction”? JM’s trilogy should be put there, along with the Celestine Prophecy, Castenada’s stuff, the Bible, etc. Great stuff! I read and will reread again all three. Food for thought, not for starving babies.

    For a look at how a caterpillar can invest their energy and demonstrate purity of intent, read Mountains Beyond Mountains. Paul Farmer makes Jed Mckenna look like a wasted thought.

  40. We have free will to choose not to have free will. It is, then, at the level of identity. And what you ARE, you defend. In that chosen identity (which of course may be the false self), we are convinced that we are free – and then we are able to look at a greater freedom with suspicion and fear.

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a number of people tried to build up the wall again, with cement and stones.
    The incest children of Austrian Josef Frietzl, after being born in, and living their whole lives imprisoned in a dark cellar with absolutely not one moment of realizing the existence of a world out there (and a greater freedom), went crazy when they were liberated.

    Confronted with freedom, we often close ourselves in again, in our familiar cells, feeling threatened. That’s the false identity, feeling its survival is at stake. I think we are all like these people, more or less.

    We have to see one thing: We have free will to BE an identity. And that identity has its own definition of what freedom is.
    But in our society, we often see it just as free will to DO!
    “Doing” is a business very much restricted by dualistic barriers – “because of this or that I must do what I do”… etc. We overlook the Identity, we see it as just some concept, and continue with our doings. We create our own idea of freedom and we defend it, we cling to it. But that’s not real freedom, it’s an illusory freedom.
    We ARE Spiritual beings. Jed McKenna does not develop that realization so much. I mean the existence of a higher dimension, an “other side”, a spiritual realm where we can choose what life we want to live here. The non-dual realm. The Absolute.
    I read McKenna’s first two books (Damnedest and Incorrect) after first reading Eckhart Tolle’s books and Conversations with God, by Neale D. Walsch. And I heard many Adyashanti satsangs. I think it’s necessary to see that not one teacher gives a complete picture.

    The existential question of the Somalian baby being consumed by ants in the grass has no explanation in a limited sense of freedom. We must just leave that question for now, and increase or freedom instead. Then the suffering becomes easier. I believe suffering is a consequence of our chosen identity and the resistance to make after that choice. We are not bodies. We are spiritual beings.
    The ego always must have 100% control. As such, it always thinks it sees the world as it is, and that there is nothing that it can’t understand. We must crash our mental boxes.
    I wrote reviews on Damnedest and Incorrect at Shvoong, read them (and criticize) if you like:

  41. I think we’re all skirting around Jed’s point here.

    Step back from his comments on free will itself for a moment. Probably the single most important thing Jed talks about (If we can, for a moment, pretense at all) is purity of intent.

    Now, lets go back to Damnedest, where Jed comments something like “The question isn’t if we have free will or not, but if we have any will at all.”

    What he seems to be saying is we can’t do “anything” as free will would imply. What we can do is more like nudging things.

    I’d agree with that view of will. Our wills are constrained by, at minimum, the various circumstances of our physical existence including physical laws, life events, culture, etc. We repeat what is familiar over and over again.

    It is very difficult to constantly do completely new things.

    The other point he makes is we can’t really know if god/universe/source/puppy is doing everything for us or if we actually have control.

    Jed also cuts the validity of the paradox by releasing the tiller. As someone (heh) whose actively releasing/released the tiller I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t much point in the distinction.

  42. Gee guys what a car load of words above? You will not grasp a fallen leave in autum with such bullshit. But then again our attachment to bullshit is a serious thing. So by all means continue. My questions are, why say it is all bulllshit when in fact jm has found his path/destiny? Why when you have overcome the dreammind you say that all is nothing to us who cannot perceive your non duality even as we try here? Why be angry at the ‘spiritual teachers’ around the planet for knowing they are a lie, and not saying it? When JM is doing exactly the same. Only he is not charging us $$ to come and see him on a white piece of cloth. But from my point of view the discussion is the same difference. When are we (dualistics) going to learn to read precisely what is written. There is no way to enlightment but once hit by the magic wand, all is bullshit. The attrocities of the second world war and the peacefull cry of a baby on a upperclass american porch somewhere, are all the same difference. Others like Neil Donal Walsh say so. And he is certainly nowhere close to enlightment. I am human and know the need to wake up because my past tells me so. The heavy load is becoming unbearable and there is no way out so there must be a way under. Under the cloack of ignorance. I am so bored with the atrocitties of humankind that i have no need to believe in anything other than there is something wrong with my realtity. Poverty vs the lot who have enough, is a good motivation to feel the need for enlightment. “And if you die trying, so what the fuck?” (JM)
    It’s the effort that counts. I now know why enlightment is hard to understand in our dreamhell and that’s because ‘they’ do not want hell to follow the human into other worlds. So to cut all the bullshit, enlightment is only for the enlighted! It’s all clear to me.
    But if any enlightend being is following this crap and feels the need to help me i am open and ready for death.
    Greetz, Ruth

  43. This is a fun topic and discussion to follow. Free will is a concept, and like at all concepts, serves to seperate/differentiate. If truth is the absence of seperation, then all concepts, as Jed and so many others have pointed out, is just another finger pointing at the moon. Free will, pre-determination, both, neither,..all concepts, all untrue. I would agree that Jed’s books have a lot of paradoxes and contradictions, but like in some of his references (Whitman, i.e.), it’s readily admitted with not an ounce of regret. “Confused/Not Confused” said it well, there is no enlightened Jed McKenna, and no Jed McKenna to have free will or not. That seems to be the point of the whole trilogy, if there is a point at all.

  44. half-truths? paradoxes? worth?

    perceiving his own thought-stream, the talker didn’t notice the treasure,
    and so never learned to walk.

    further autolysis. burn the blogger. adieu.

  45. ‘free will’ requires that the space-time mind be real. it needs location; it needs the stream-dweller to cling to the bank.

    demonstrating truth, lisa kills her results-driven inner teacher, finds the diamond, and hits the road, floating down the oblique highway of no-self/I alone am.

    she notices an egg on the passenger seat. click. cue a rush of air and flailing pages. crack. it’s the damnedest thing.

    never a now (a static word). never an is (a static word). never a will (a static word). only a big fat ‘i don’t know nuthin!’, and a raucous ‘and i don’t f’in care!!!’

    cue agape 🙂

    free will? don’t be daft. my dog chases its tail. i throw a ball, but woofer’s picked up a scent.

    to our author, thankyou!!! a million times thankyou 🙂

  46. A comment on the so called free will…
    Who could say that they are at the origin of their own conception?
    Who could say that they are at the origin of the existence of their children?
    Who could say that the breathing is their willful activity?
    Not even the words are our choice.

    Words are but sounds coming from the repetitive mechanisms of everyone around us.
    Not different from a computer, these sounds are passed on to us, by the selective mechanisms of survival, from generation to generation.

    This selectivity is put there by our society together with the ‘mean meanings’ and values added to the sounds; all of that with the intention of a better survival. So if every intention and action is survival based, is there something as free will?

    How could an action be free from this selectivity if we are but incessantly trying to survive?
    We can’t experience anything except our own interpretations and evaluations given by our memory; memory which in fact was given by others about their ‘perceived world’, which requires a ‘perceiver’, fixed on the past…

    The impossible thing for ‘a believer’ is to perceive something, because there is not ‘perceiver’ without ‘the perceived’ thing which is just a limited image, which is memory.

    Conditioned by this selective mechanism of a perceiver trickily perceiving its own images, (which is just another survival mechanism), how could we talk of free will or free activity?

    To whom the thoughts seam to arise? To whom they seam to subside?
    If there is no other but this selective activity isn’t the ‘I-thought’ just a selective activity in itself based on memory? How can memory be free from past intention or ‘have’ free will?

    Light is happening indifferently from ‘the viewer’ or ‘observer’ and/or ‘the interpreter’ of it.
    Perception is happening indifferently from ‘the perceiver-interpreter’ of it.
    The viewer, observer, perceiver and interpreter are condemned to mean or find meaning or intention to their apparent actions, because they need to believe in their survival… for ever after.

    Since that is the case, free will is just an illusion of memory happening to the desperate separate ‘I’ needing to find sense or meaning to his life in order to survive!
    – HELP!!!!How can ‘I’ survive better? How could ‘I’ avoid the void?

    Free will is in fact the intention to avoid the void… Therefore there is not free will in such an intention. It is just a pattern.

  47. These discussions are pointless stories in dreamland. Jed McKenna is no more enlightened than a rock or a dog or my grandma or anyone/anything that can be imagined. You are not even reading this, and yet there appears to be a you reading this. Amazing! Enough said…to no one at all.

  48. Hello,
    I am reading the book spiritual incorrect lightment.
    I am dutch so my english is not always perfect, but I hope you understand.
    Yesterday I begin to read this book and I don’t like it but I ask to myself what is this? And when I woke up this morning my higher self gif me the answer.
    I reconnize this energy. It is put on earth to make beliefe every person in its self.
    To come to the center of his/ her hart. The character of Jed Mckenna is given to wake up a person. He is a catalysator. I have been in this energy for 3 years, I was part of a group to heal the world, with a great ego energy. But it was good!!!
    I must feel this and make my one discission to leave them.
    After that I can open my hart to receive LOVE.
    So Jed Mckenna is a patron to shock people and his energy is also from GOD.
    Because it is part of us. And what is good and wrong?
    I hope that the writer is not the same person as in his books.
    Because his act is not easy. He is always without connection to the people he met.
    I have write my experience of the energy of this book.
    I have try to understand the mail above but its to complex for me to understand them. Why I read this book??? Because the great question is what is real enlightment. Everyone is searching for the truth. I believe everything is in your own hart to explore that. And connection is for me personal a sign that it is real. Now I understand this book with my hart. And I read it because it gives me a message.
    Greetings from Holland, Debbie Pouw.

  49. Now I know what Jed meant when he referred to caterpillars expounding on what it means to be a buterfly.
    This is all ass-talking in the dream state.

  50. Thanks Joe for your comments.

    You had me laughing with a couple of your lines, such as, “but in the grand scheme of things how does a concept like prefer get attached to a Universe?”

    You can write!

    For some reason, I myself don’t struggle with that paradox/contradiction that is bugging you there. Partly it is my familiarity and acceptance of a relatively occult understanding (belief!) about why stuff happens to people, (they choose to experience it for their own karmic eduction/re balancing), and partly because, as you correctly point out, there be paradox lurking in this matter. (I hope that that doesn’t make me (and the universe) appear to be “a sadistic racist” as you so beautifully put it.

    To my mind, Jed is indeed dancing on the edge of this paradox:
    Free of identification with his own body-mind within the dream of Maya, and therefore available to play with ‘it’ in whatever manner he chooses (pleasure over pain etc).

    Are you familiar with the Hindu cosmology as far as the Shiva-Shakti aspect is concerned? In this model, the totality of Reality has two distinct dimensions. In it, Shiva is the masculine principle of never born- never changing- can’t die Consciousness. Shakti is the emanation or Radiance side of the coin which is always flowing-always creating, always birthing- always transforming and always destroying. Energy.

    In my understanding of this view of Reality, it is but a partial realiazation (what my ex teacher Adi Da used to call a “6th Stage” realization) to be divorced from Shakti and identified with only the masculine, unmoving, unborn aspect of divinity. It is an expression of the full “7th Stage” realization to be free to play in the “Universe” (Shakti) but without being identified with it.

    That is what helps me deal with the contradictions you mention. These contradictions feel true to me, to my sense of reality.

    Kind regards,

  51. Brian,

    Thanks for your post on free will, and lack thereof. That helps clear it up for me.

    On a related topic, I’m currently reading Spiritual Warfare and have so far been surprisingly disappointed. Through the first two books I’d been digging JM’s ‘incorrectness’ and general cut-the-crap message. For one who has been on the gradualist-buddhist path for a number of years – not without incremental improvements — I appreciate his scoffing challenges. I’ve found his story of abiding non-dualism to be compelling and his style entertaining. But in this last book he’s been using terms like “the universe” “prefers” this or that – one hacienda over another, for example. Of course, from JM this could be a joke – perhaps he’s being purposely annoying? Also, he’s been using “perfect intelligence.” This has been a let-down to me and seems to smack of the sort of crap he’s been slicing previously.

    As you note, contradiction may be the hallmark of attempts to articulate ‘truth.’ Perhaps I’m getting hung up on these contradictions. It’s just that concepts like the universe preferring one trivial thing over another (not trivial to JM, for sure, but in the grand scheme of things how does a concept like prefer get attached to a Universe?) or there being a ‘perfect intelligence’ seems so anthropomorphic. One of the great things I got from Spirtually Incorrect was an introduction to UG Krishnamurti. Surely he wouldn’t have stood for such language?

    In any case, can’t we just strip away the chains of the self, leave the cave, and leave it at that? This business about rationalizing such and such events as the universe preferring one thing over another just seems like twaddle. – Especially in light of the fact that there are Somali infant-babies of pirates abandoned in the grass with ants eating their ears. Why is it that the Universe prefers to give JM his grandfather’s hacienda and to let a black African baby get eaten alive in the grass? Of course, now I’m showing my caterpillar colors, and I’m content to be incapable of knowing how the universe works. But the fact that the some people – E.G. non-white, living in the Global South, and born in abject poverty – live with events from the Universe that are extremely different than those well educated and independently wealthy white American men seems to me to show the absence of intelligence and preference. Of course, I prefer to think that the universe is not a sadistic racist, etc.

    These kind of concepts from JM seem to point to him being still bound by his cultural inheritance.

    But I read on and enjoy a lot too. I’m hoping to get better perspective on the above.


  52. Nearly all human beings are creatures totally controlled by the survival oriented dream person, in the guise of intellectual thought-memory patterns. In reality, there exists no person to exercise free will to begin with except as a false form in an imaginary dream world. No person, so no free will. Jed (in essence) is piercing that dream and speaking to the dream character saying, “use your free will to break the barrier of belief, opinion, thought.” The dreamer is invested in this belief of free will because it cannot reconcile everything it believes with no-thing or conceive of non-existence. That is, until the barrier is broken and it is seen first hand that the entire facade was totally non-existent to begin with. After that the dream being, although still present, cannot exercise it’s so-called free will (or more accurately keeping “The One” in a dream state). Abracadabra. In reality, everything that I just wrote also doesn’t exist.

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