I had a short discussion about meditation today. A good friend referred to meditation’s purpose as being about quieting the mind. I feel that’s not a good frame to have for meditation.

Meditation primarily is about observing the mind, your inner world, and understanding it. We have thoughts, narratives, in our mind. A voice talking to what is aware. And we claim ownership of those thoughts. We ascribe them to ourselves just like we do with our actions. Those are our thoughts and actions. We exercise our free will to have them. To create them out of thin air.

But just follow a thought back. Where did it come from? It just appeared. It sprang into being in our minds. But from where? There is no awareness of the process underlying the thought that ‘we’ had. Then how can the ‘we’ that we claim ourselves to be, be responsible for the thought that ‘we’ had?

You don’t take responsibility for hearing a bird sing. You couldn’t not hear it sing if you decided to. And so it is with thoughts. They appear.

Meditation makes this very clear. Just sit and observe the breath. You will have thoughts. And there is no awareness of their source. You didn’t think anything. You heard the thoughts appear perhaps, but claiming ownership is just greedy.

Try it. Sit on a cushion and observe your breath. See what happens. Try to not have thoughts if you want.

Thoughts will just appear.

How can that be? If you have free will…

At the very least, what does it tell you of the outcome of exercising your so called free will? How is it, that you take all that responsibility through a mechanism that is so hard to make sense of and apparently so ineffective?

It doesn’t make sense because if you just look inside for once and do this simple test. You will not find it there. Free will does not exist. And meditation shows this so, so simply.

In fact, it is so obvious that we have to wonder why we so consistently fail to see this? Even long-time meditators fail to see the problem with what they set as their intention for their meditation and what the outcomes are.

I have a sense that the reason why we overlook the obvious is because we simply don’t want to change our view. We think we like it. We think the good outweighs the bad. But that’s nonsense because wanting something doesn’t make it so. And we aren’t talking about opinions here. There is zero evidence for free will.


Meditate. Once. Look and you will see.

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