In my last post “ You are already enlightened” a definition of enlightenment was put forth where by realising that only the source exists then there cannot possibly be a “ you” separate from the source that can will and control anything much like no wave that emerges from the ocean can control the ocean. Our lives are flowing along with the direction the manifestation wants to take.
So let’s look at the ego more closely as one function of the ego is the source of all our mental suffering. The ego has two functions, one that gives us no trouble and is required for us to experience life and the other which if seen in the wrong way brings all the suffering we experience into life. The first function of the ego is to identify with a body/ mind organism that we call “ Me” this is no problem at all. The body needs to have the appearance of beginning and ending otherwise experience is impossible.
All people “ enlightened” or not have this experience. If Jesus, Buddha or any person you considered enlightened were alive today, if you were to call out their name they would respond. This part of the ego is necessary and harmless.
The second part of the ego and the part that causes all the trouble in our lives is the sense the ego has of control, free will, personal doership etc. The ego deals with choices, the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve situations of life and what are the side effect of this? Unnecessary thinking of different scenarios that could’ve played out, how our lives should’ve been, what “ I” would’ve done in that situation etc.
Also thoughts and feelings of guilt, shame, regret, jealousy, envy, judgement, pride, arrogance and the big one anger all arise due to the sense that I can control my thoughts and actions and so can others. This one single belief of control is what causes all the mental suffering and the part of the ego that evaporates when a person becomes self realised.
Am I saying you don’t have free will? To that I’d say you do have free will but it’s essentially useless. You are free to choose to do whatever you want but the catch is that every action “ you choose” is proceeded by something you saw, heard, felt, thought etc. every action you choose is also based on past preferences or conditioning.
An example, you are sitting on the couch and a feeling of hunger appears, followed by a thought “ I feel like eating pizza” at any point was there something inside you choosing to feel hunger at that moment or choosing the thought “ I choose to think the thought I feel like eating pizza” no there wasn’t.
The feeling and thought just appeared by themselves just like every other sight, sound, taste, smell etc appears. Now a couple of scenarios may have happened:
1) after the thought “ I feel like pizza” arose, you got up and ate pizza. End of story.
2) the thoughts go back and forth like a tennis match “ I feel like pizza” “ but I’m on a diet” “ yes but it’s only a small slice” etc thoughts go back and forth until one side wins but again at no point are you choosing any of those thoughts, they appear and go back and forth as long as they do until an action is performed after which the thought then appears “ I chose to eat the pizza”.
So was it your free will to eat the pizza? Sure you were free to do it but that will depended on what thoughts were running through your head at that moment in time based on knowing there was pizza in the fridge and how strict you were with your diet in that moment. May I add, how strict you were with the diet is based on previous conditioning as well and it goes on and on like this but I hope you get the point.
Thinking we control our thoughts and the actions from those thoughts are so dear to the ego and many people get defensive when their sense of free will is attacked because without control the ego loses so much of its sense of illusionary power, you are making it almost redundant without the ability to judge, feel pride, arrogance, jealously etc and again without the ability to hate and feel anger.
What’s good for our ego is bad for our sense of peace and our sense of peace is bad for that part of our ego.
When we realise only the Source, God, The Universe etc is, that nothing else apart from that can exist because the Source is existence itself then the sense of control over life has no place, it doesn’t even make sense, one substance without a second can’t control anything other than itself.
That person you love, that person you hate, all the happiness and grief we experience is nothing other than the source and that source is you. Once that is realised the topics of free will, control, ego, enlightenment or whatever don’t even make sense but we must use words to point to something beyond words.
“ Enlightenment” in my opinion means a peace of mind that is unaffected by circumstances and that can only be felt in the deepest sense when you just realise that you have never been in control of your life because it’s not possible when you contemplate deeply how your thoughts and actions arise and when that sinks in all that’s left to do is watch this drama of life unfold as it should at all times.
You aren’t functioning in life, you are the total functioning of life.
Hope this helps.