Monday, November 13, 2006

Free Will or Determinism
By Don Iannone

Free will or determinism...
that age-old debate
carrying most of us
to a conceptual fork in a conceptual road.
To the left, we conceive of free will,
or the thought we possess unbounded creativity.
To the right, we conceive of determinism,
or the thought that our creativity is bound.
To conceive, in any case, is a creative act;
that is to give birth to a concept pointing to reality.
This implies, of course, there is a difference
between reality and our ideas about it.
Are we ever completely free,
in the sense our choices are infinite?
Are we ever completely determined,
in the sense we have no choice?
Is it possible that we are free within limits,
and those limits are as much self-imposed,
as they are divinely-imposed?
Here again, our ideas imply
that the divine is separate from us.
Perhaps this separation is only an idea,
and nothing more.
Perhaps our self-imposed limits stem
from our ability to conceive
of only a limited number of choices.
Perhaps our divinely-imposed limits stem
from the Creator's wish to reserve
certain possibilities for itself.
This presumes, of course,
there is a divine "it,"
that exists separate from us.
And by the way, who are we?
Perhaps, the concept of "we" is nothing more
than our conceived need to believe
that something larger than us exists,
because we fail to realize
the full extent of our own power.
Or maybe, we are indeed powerless
without the idea there is a God,
or some divine being.
Is it possible that we co-create
our lives and the universe with the Creator,
and that each of us is a spark in the Creator's flame?
I must admit I'm not convinced
there is any separation between us and God,
or for that matter,
any separation in anything
conceived of as parts of the universe.
Perhaps there are no parts,
and perhaps we as parts don't even exist.
In which case, free will and determinism
is nothing more than a feeble attempt
to exist as separate, freestanding, beings.
Perhaps we are free to determine
only in any given moment,
and that freedom is only momentary, and
ceases to exist when that moment has passed.
Then again, are the moments we experience
separated in any way,
or is it just always now,
and time is a fiction created by our minds
allowing us to separate our thoughts?
Or perhaps we are determined to be free,
but that determination rests wholly in any moment.
Yet, for a determination to be wholly
implies it exists to a complete degree.
But if we must be determined to be free,
are we really free?
More importantly, free to be what,
and free of what?
Free to be what we think we are?
Free to be more than we think we are?
And free of what...
our illusions about being free or determined?

This poem was sparked by recent posts about free will
by Rob Quick and Trinitystar.


passerby55 said...


This is a wonderful piece of creation.

very thoughtful, every word seems to be an illusion in the end.

I wonder if we are determined to be free,are we free, free of what and free to be what...

Only thing i know is i am free to breathe, to be alive/to exist.

very well written.

Don Iannone said...

Thank you Passerby for your comments. They are much appreciated. As you can tell from the poem, there are many sides to the issue, and it's hard to separate the free will-determinism issue from surrounding issues about who and what we are and why.

samuru999 said...

Hi Don
You do write some of the most amazing poetry!
This is excellent!
I'll have to come back later in the day, to read it again...

Oh, thanks for the visit...and your very kind comments...
I do appreciate them!
Have a great day!!!


Kathleen said...

Nice one Don...

I like what Bhagavan says about this:

"Find out who is subject to free will or predestination and abide in that. Then both are transcended.
Ask, to whom do such questions present themselves?"

Have a great Monday! :)

Poetry by Kai said...


i do appreciate your kind words.

thanks for visiting my blog

Don Iannone said...

Thanks Kai, Kathleen, and Margie...your comments are very much appreciated. Yes, Kathleen, I am inclined in the same direction you have suggested.

Best wishes to all!

trinitystar said...

Masterpiece of words and thoughts.
Is it possible that we co-create?
I feel yes.
that each of us is a spark in the Creator's flame
I feel yes.
Perhaps we are free to determine
only in any given moment,
and that freedom is only momentary, and
ceases to exist when that moment has passed.
If there is fear within that moment
the opportunity of freedom and choice is lost. We have placed our own limits. We no longer see a choice. And it is in these moments that we make our own separation from the power that resides within us. Yet, if in the same moment we become aware and within our awareness we realize we can make a choice ... we can reverse the whole act.
I feel that others feel they have to get to this certain point and in their effort lose track of the fact that, that point is here and now. Free will enables you to choose. :o)

Dan said...

I'm with Kathleen on this one!

Pat Paulk said...

I am definitely in the free will camp. I believe we all have responsibility for ourselves, therefore giving us choice. If everything I've ever done, or will do has been preordained, then what's the point? Puppets on strings don't have the need for cognitive thought.jmho

Rob said...

Great thoughts there Don.

I can't do justice to them but I will try to comment.

Many of our choices are less based upon free will than at first appears to be the case. Most of the time we are driven by unconscious forces. There are possibilites of free will from time to time but we often don't take advantage of them.

I do believe it is possible to attain complete autonomy in our lives with the help of a competent spiritual teacher. This will not happen without the magic ingredient of grace -as we are so confused (in my view) that we hardly know which way to turn to free ourselves.

Don Iannone said...

Great thoughts all. Thank you!

I am inclined to think that we are determined to be free of whatever we cling to. And are clinging is designed to create our permanence, which doesn't happen

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