I ponder now if the ancients had it wrong when declaring motivelessness and renouncement of desires as the best path to enlightenment and peace.
That is, rather than expecting things to go our way, we should accept that attachment to desires brings pain to the soul.
Yet is this the truth of the matter?
My question is not whether motivelessness is superior to feeling the urge to keep up with the Jones’, because I do believe detachment from the fruits of actions does help bring peace.
Yet is this the best way?
The real problem that I see with the texts of the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching and Zen Buddhism is that they seem to posit that one actually has control over one’s life. Frankly, that’s just not so.
The universe creates and the universe is. The epiphenomenon of the mind is nature playing itself out.
The universe constructs the brain which allows the mind, and the mind is inseparable from the universe.
What is an illusion? It is a fiction that deceives us into believing it is real.
Now, I am all in favor of believing whatever makes you happiest. No axiom, not matter how obvious, is provably true. At the core, you can only assume, never know. This means that you should choose what will aid you in your quest for inner peace.
Yet let us think deeper on this issue: If inner peace comes from detachment from desires and living in the moment, how do we do that? How do we experience the Now instead of living in imagined stories of good versus evil?
It seems to me the illusion is only broken (or most successfully broken) when we accept that nature is going the way it will go, and we get to experience it, rather than force it into a predefined box.
So what does this tell us?
Well, it informs the awareness that is digesting these words that freedom from suffering comes from acceptance of natural will.
The libertarian notion that we control our destinies is hurtful fantasy. Do we imagine molecules control their destinies? Do we blame them if they “fail” to?
If we spare ourselves from the belief in control we actually can watch our bodies and minds exist in-place, rather than being unconscious to the fact of there being no free will.
When we accept our bodies and minds and environments are happening naturally, we allow ourselves inner peace.
By realizing it’s not necessity to renounce the fruits of action, we can grow to realize that our minds are happening because of natural processes.
Our brains run on the math of the universe. Buying into notions of what should or shouldn’t happen can cause us suffering.
Zen and the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita seem to presume that free will is possible in this universe.
The mind is not separate from the brain: it is the process of the brain.
This is what nondualism means: the brain and the mind are one, and so the universe is one.
Some might say that evil is objectively wrong, that theft and wars and violence are always and forever damnable offenses.
Yet how true can that really be if our actions are proceeding naturally?
Is a computer program responsible for its actions? No, it is an output of a natural environment.
This is not to say that imprisoning destructive programs or violent people is wrong, just that their behavior and our imprisoning are both completely natural. The behavior is out of the hands of any one person, or even the hands of the galaxy.
The universe is unpredictable, and in that sense we go down many different paths. We, even as self-aware animals, have no idea which path we go down.
So what’s the point of all this chatter?
The point is that suffering comes from belief in free will, not from attachment to desires.
We are totally natural experiences.