Once, while meditating upon my actions, a reverie occurred where I found myself wondering about whether I was the source of my movements, or the world around me was manipulating me into those movements.
From one perspective, I was deciding to move my arm, shift my centre of balance, place my gaze in a certain direction.
From another, my physiology was reacting entirely to external cues, both those present immediately in the environment around me, and those stored in my neurological patterning and muscle memory from previous situations.
So which of these was correct? To keep you reading this essay, I shall withhold the answer until a later point.
This meditation, wondering about where the causal motivation arises from in a situation, has become a habit for me since then. Spending time trying to attribute initiative frees one from other trains of thought, in itself an interesting output of this methodology. Other questions become apparent as one ponders: What do I understand as ‘external’? Do chance fluctuations in the biochemical electric soup that ‘is’ my mind affect my choices? Or that flicker in attention when the sunlight falling in the room alters, as the wind moves a branch outside the window; deos that make me think differently?
The old puzzle of (individual) free will vs (divinely ordained) destiny presents a similar thought process, though my version is more materialistically science based. But, they share the same base question of “Do I do this because I choose to or, because outside forces make me do it?”.
The answer of course lies firstly in considering where the border is between oneself and the outside. Once this has been identified, the scoresheet of factors originating in either domain can be drawn up.
My own conclusions to this part of the meditation are ongoing, my choosing of boundaries altering as I investigate further. Some days I can’t quite even believe there are any.
I have found my own satisfactory resolution to this, a kind of flow state where the push/pull are illusory perspectives meaningless in any context other than the human animal’s desire for narrative. Holding on to this perception for more than a short time proves tricky, and tbh I don’t know that it actually helps! Such is the way with enlightenment results/processes. They are, as my daughter would say, a thing.
And then I start to wonder, whether the urge to question this kind of thing; does it arise within me, or from external cues…?