Many researchers believe that a person in a normal state has free will. They believe that this is a gift of the Lord owing to which humans may choose to commit endless sins or, the opposite, rise over into holiness. However, upon a closer view, it turns out that this so-called free will is not so free and independent. In fact, all of its manifestations are desire-dependent in one way or another.
The first manifestation of the “will,” a positive one, is the pursuit of a desire dominant at the moment. For example, a person wishes to get rich. This desire takes one a long time to fulfill. Over a period of time, the person will stay persistent, determined, and demonstrate the wonders of hard work and diligence. Behind the scenes, the person will experience bouts of anger and occasional depressive episodes. If he nails it, then his biographer will write a story about a man of exceptional willpower. But we have to understand that pursuing a desire is not a manifestation of the will, although the person’s external activity creates an illusion of having one. If another desire becomes dominant at some moment, the person’s behavior will undergo a miraculous change, and his ego will invent a logical explanation for that immediately.
The second manifestation of “will,” a negative one, is stacked against desires. It is highly valued in totalitarian societies, because an individual suppresses personal desires for the sake of supreme goals set up by their leaders. As a matter of fact, the principal part of child-rearing in any society is to teach children to control their desires. The one who mastered this skill better than others is considered a strong-willed individual, while those who did not are rendered as spineless.
The more a person is conditioned by the ideas of duty towards their society, homeland, and family, the deeper they suppress their desires. The person will be seen as righteous and strong-willed but sad, because such manifestation of will is always accompanied by deep sadness.
As long as the mind is in control of a person’s actions, it can’t be otherwise. All acts of “free will” are guided either by desires or by opposing conditioning coupled with fear. Rationalized by the ego, these interactions and oppositions create the impression that humans have free will.
When consciousness begins to separate into an independent center, the process of non-identification with external and internal objects brings to life a new force: the will that is unfettered by momentary desires, not associated with them in any way, and doesn’t need their presence in order to manifest itself. It develops as a result of efforts on non-identification, and the closer one gets to actualization of their true Self, the stronger becomes his will and the ability to act outside of his desires. The more power, which is the true willpower, a person has, the more chances he has to give up their will to God and accept His Will as his own.
Comment. It should be added here that outside of desires, a person has needs and necessities. However, the needs of a person with a high level of self-awareness are different from those normally present in common life. For example, such a person no longer needs to get lots of new experiences in the outside world, because is replaced with internal fulfillment which produces experiences of its own. The need for knowing and experiencing God may emerge and grow stronger. Further, it comes not in the form of a desire but as the deepest need that requires filling.
As for a strong will, it is manifested in the ability to endure discomforts and act with totality. The higher the level of awareness, the less the internal splitting created by doubts and self-identification with desires and energies conflicting with each other. As such, one can invest all of his energy into action that adds power and effectiveness. A conscious person won’t take on a decision he is not going to follow. He is wholesome and his actions are of equal quality.