The problem with free will is that it is easily confused with its delusional cousins, conditioning and indoctrination. For example, a person, let us say his name is Fred, may represent his choice of pink slippers over yellow slippers as an exercise of his free will, but careful investigation will reveal that pink slippers were the habitual footwear of his doting mother, a fact that he has forgotten.
So is his choice of pink slippers a coincidence, or is there some psychological conditioning in his mind that predisposes his attention to desire pink?
Do you know this word “predisposed”? In psychology it means to have unconscious reasons for favoring a certain choice even before the choice is offered. In another sense it means the outcome is highly predictable.
If you have ever gambled at a casino, you could say that the odds of winning are predisposed in favor of the casino. You might win occasionally, but the longer you play the more predictable the outcome of your losing will be.
A predisposition is an even deeper programming than conditioning, which is simply the association of some reward with some action. Animal consciousness, and we all have some, can be conditioned by selectively rewarding behaviors. But this tendency of animal consciousness to respond to conditioning is a predisposition. You could set up an abstract scale of distinctions between free will behaviors (responsible and appropriate), conditioned behaviors (habits), and predisposed behaviors (addictions). And you would discover that without some effective education, people will insist that their behavior, regardless of how senseless or destructive, is really an exercise of their free will.
Here you will find the smoker who insists that she smokes by choice, the alcoholic who insists that he could quit any time. (Insistence upon a viewpoint is not a characteristic of free will. Rights are being confused with reason.) The smoker and the alcoholic are under the delusion that they are operating according to free will choices. They aren’t. These are predisposed behaviors masquerading as free will. The first thing that must be overcome in any recovery program is this delusionary impression of free will.
So back to Fred. Is he predisposed to choose pink slippers?
The answer can be determined by observing how consistently Fred chooses pink slippers. Imagine some magic that would allow you to offer Fred the same choice over and over without his remembering. How often would you expect Fred to pick the yellow slippers over the pink slippers? If he always picks the pink slippers, then this really is a predisposition rather than a free will choice. If Fred’s choice is a free will choice, and all else being equal, you would expect a 50-50 split. Fifty percent of the time he will choose yellow slippers.
Let’s say you discover that Fred, under the same circumstances, always chooses pink slippers, insists upon pink slippers. So you know that Fred is predisposed to choose pink. Maybe the predisposition comes from karma, or indoctrination that pink is right, or habitual reinforcement, or some other form of mental conditioning. But the fact is that while Fred’s belief is that choosing pink slippers is a free will act, it is really not an exercise of free will at all. For some reason, Fred’s mind has a predisposition to desire pink slippers. Fred experiences the illusion of free will simply because he is unaware of his own predispositions.
And even if Fred can give hundreds of good reasons for choosing pink, for instance they match his pink bathrobe, the idea that bathrobe and slippers should match is another predisposition.
This may lead you to wonder how many of Fred’s personal preferences and desires are really nothing more than predispositions of mind? Are all of Fred’s personal preferences and desires predispositions? Does Fred have any free will at all?
As long as you’re experimenting on Fred, imagine that you could teach Fred to shut his mind off completely. Fred-the-being (Avatar state) is fully present, aware, looking around, but not influenced by the contents of his mind. In other words, any predispositions that he might have are off-line. Transcendent Fred looks the same, but he acts differently.
Now you offer Fred the choice between yellow and pink slippers and you’ll find that as long as both fit and keep his feet warm, he doesn’t care about the color. He has achieved the ability to make a free will choice, but he no longer has any subjective preferences. Ironic, isn’t it? Free will doesn’t really appear until the hidden preferences of the mind go off-line.
Now you know why it is called free will and what it is free of- free of the influences of predispositions. Free will is free of any hidden mental preferences. It’s not delusionally free; it really is free. This natural ability of the being, so often lost in a maze of predispositions, is what Avatar restores.
If you talk with Fred in the Avatar state, you will find him intelligent, logical, ethical, and free of any asserted opinions or viewpoints. As he gains some experience with this state, he will begin to recognize and discreate his own predispositions. You will also discover that his life and his environment have suddenly become much more happy and peaceful.
Books about Avatar:
Living Deliberately: The Discovery and Development of Avatar
Resurfacing: Techniques for Exploring Consciousness
Reprinted with permission from Starís Edge International. This article appeared in the Avatar journal Summer 1999 Volume XIII, Issue 1. Avatar is a registered trademark of Starís Edge International.
For more information on Avatar visit: Starís Edge Internationalģ
It will look like this: Predispositions And The Restoration Of Free Will