Updated: Sep 7, 2021
First, the idea of freewill may be one of those things that will forever remain unanswered. This is partly because it is a concept that our discursive mind likes to wonder about as it tries to understand something that, by definition, is beyond the ability of the discursive mind to understand. Kind of like when that same discursive mind insists on trying to “understand” meditation, when meditation is about experiencing how our awareness exists prior to anything our thinking mind comes up with!
Second—whether freewill exists or not--our real job is to know ourselves deeply, so that when things are rough, we can respond to them with as much wisdom and creativity as we can. That way we allow ourselves a lot more choices compared to when we are lost in reactivity and can only see a narrow range of (usually self-nullifying) options.
Finally, it is worth considering how we tend to judge people as though everyone else has freewill, but we don’t. When we see someone blowing their top at the service desk, we shake our heads thinking how they should mellow out and do more equanimity practices or something. When we blow our top, we have a whole bunch of reasons why our only option was to blow our top. Being lost in reactivity magically disappears a host of wiser responses with a wave of the mind.
Make no mistake. I’m not suggesting there is no utility to wondering about freewill. But, for me, the challenge is to work on figuring out how my neurotic mind is more than happy to get in the way of whatever freewill I have by blinding me from seeing options I didn’t know were there.