Reflections on Will
Q. It’s probably the ultimate question, but where does Will come from? Can some-thing come from no-thing? From where in me does my will arise to do anything?
A. The only conceivable answer is that Will is outside the chain of Causality which ‘causes’ everything in creation. No thing in existence is without its multiple causes, on a vast wheel of dependent originating and co-conditioned arising, as theory has it. But all that can be said of what occurs to set off any process is: 'Will arises'.
And it arises just like this in myself, mirroring the beginning of creation.
I recently heard a Buddhist teacher say that "nothing is outside causality because if anything were outside, it would be happening all the time". And he missed the point that it is happening all the time! If it were not, we would not be here. Will is itself the principle of creativity, arising, perpetually generating three forces for the furtherance of creation..... There is no behind or before or infinitely-receding source of Will, since it is a designation for that which lies outside Time, Space and Consciousness--all of which are dependent conditions.
What we are meaning by Will is not to be confused with force, desire or determination to make something happen etc. Will operates in silence, and cannot be noticed as a thing-in-itself. You notice its effects—something happens. Moreover, deep will is without effort, so it’s like: ‘How did that happen?!
Although we think we live our lives willing ourselves to get up in the morning, to work, to stop smoking, to go on a diet, to hit the perfect serve, to be nicer to our partner etc etc, most of this is conditioned by previous factors. (Therefore unsurprisingly, is often unsuccessful, for we are entangled in a web of causes). But we can will—it comes into operation quietly from ‘further back’, outside the web, outside the personal, and then we can act, or notice events unfolding, as if we are linking into Will 'at large in the universe' to use a phrase from Carlos Castaneda. We link in, and with ever such a light touch, direct according to the specific context and need of the moment. It’s acting from Necessity, the spindle of creation.
The only trick is to keep attention and to follow, to direct here and there, to maintain awareness. Experientially, nothing gives grounds for assuming there’s some Self originating this process as the source of Will. In fact, again experientially, the minute a personal Self gets involved, the unfolding process gets screwed up. Just like meditation.
But we can keep the process of generation going.......