Is there such a thing as free will?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readApr 5, 2020

We need to first look into the general concept of freedom, what does it entail? The general concept of freedom is all about being free to act as per my conditioning. ‘I want to buy that holy candle and I should have all the freedom to buy it.’ That is what I call as my “freedom,” and that is what is all the laws and all the constitutions, and all the societies and all the police systems protect. And that is what we are so touchy about.

‘I must have freedom to cast vote as per my choice.’ Now I do not even see that my choice of the president is an influenced choice. And what am I saying? That ‘It is a part of my freedom to cast my vote.’ Your vote? It is not your vote. It is your father’s vote. It is the entire locality’s vote. It is your community’s vote. But we say, ‘No! Don’t take away my freedom.’ What we call as ‘free will,’ hardly ever exists.

Real free will is something that we cannot even talk about because it is so very unpredictable. The expression of free will is such a shattering expression, and therefore so very lovable, that we cannot talk of it in advance. When free will is there, then it is just free will. It cannot be “your freewill.”

You could say, then it is the will of the free existence expressing itself through you. As long as it is “your freewill”, it is just a slave’s will because we are slaves.

A slave have been sent to the market to negotiate the best price for a good and the slave is negotiating there. If you look only at the small picture; you look at the slave negotiating the price, you might feel that the slave is displaying his free will in the negotiation. But what is the bigger picture? The fact of the matter is that he, first of all came to the market just to fulfill the wishes of his master. So there is no free will actually.

Someone asked me ,“but what about attention? Is coming to attention not a freewill?”

But is it ever our own attention? We have our perceptions. When attention comes, surely then free will comes into action. But when attention comes, it is never “your attention.” As long as you are being attentive, you will mix all your prejudices, all your identities and biases in the attention.

Then what is attention?