Reflections on Free Will and Predeterminism

1. Predeterminism

I do believe that the world, the universe, existence, whatever we may wish to call it, is predetermined. But to explain further I’d have to define what I mean y “predetermined” as it might not be the same as someone else (even you) believe that word means.

According to different dictionaries there are two different main meanings.

The first is simply that every future event would be predictable if we had all the facts at our disposal. This presupposes that everything that occurs does so as a result of past events that, separately or together, cause the future events to happen.

The second meaning of predetermination is similar to the first, with the one major difference which is that it is a Power of some sort that causes all the events, past, present and future in order to make them create results that the Power wants to happen. This Power has been given different names and characteristics, such as God, Fate, the Universe (as a deliberate, positive power rather than simply its more common definition as just everything that is).

I believe in predetermination in the first sense of the word, and not in the second.

2. Feelings and Experiences we may have as a Result of Lowering Resistance

It is common for people to gain remarkable feelings and insights when practicing mindfulness, meditations, or simply even noticing more closely than normal what is going on around them.

This doesn’t mean our insights, thoughts or feelings are truthful in any way. I once had an astonishing experience during a meditation under the Tibetan Buddhists with whom I initially trained for six years or so. I explained it to my teacher, who simply said “That’s interesting. Just keep practicing.”

I think that was very wise teaching; to try not to jump to conclusions, great realisations, etc prematurely. The mind and life generally is very deep and multi-layered, and if we make assumptions early we can skew all our other views and impressions in that light, which can take us further and further from real insights and truths about ourselves and life.

3. Will the Universe give individuals exactly what they need?

My personal view is that the universe is neutral, neither a force for good nor for bad.

Let’s take cancer as an example.

People die of cancer, including people who believe the universe will give them exactly what they need. Few people would judge terminal cancer to be exactly what they need.

Some might argue that terminal cancer might in fact be exactly what they need, but that the individual’s mind is not wise or insightful enough to realise this in the grander scheme of things.

I don’t agree with that view.

I think that having terminal cancer is the exact opposite of what people need. People need good health.

One could make the case that some people might benefit from a major illness if this jolts them into living a more full, rich, life-loving existence. I’m not sure I accept that either but can see it as a possibility.

4. What’s the Point in Struggling if Everything is Predetermined?

The key word here is “struggling”. I don’t believe in struggling. I think, practically, it tends not to lead to the best result, except in really extreme, life or death situations, and even there, it may not be for the best.

I believe – and this is what mindfulness teaches us – that we should calmly and clearly assess each moment, and having assessed it, respond with whatever is best for ourselves and for those around us, potentially including all living things. The clarity of thinking allied to the calmness, and all within a framework of compassion for all life, helps us achieve that moment by moment decision-making process.

The word “struggling” suggests a lack of continue clear thinking, rather a blind anger or effort, certainly not a calm approach.

A second point needs raised. The idea of “struggling” implies that something wrong or harmful has arisen, and needs dealt with. So an approach of “what’s the point of struggling?” suggests we don’t respond to seemingly wrongful or harmful things.

This I would disagree with. I believe harmful or wrong incidents do need dealt with, and they need dealt with by a very clear, calm, wise mind.

So I’d agree that there’s no point in struggling, but instead there is very much a point in responding with clear, calm actions.


© 2019 by Martin Stepek.