23 – The Illusion of Free Will


We want to win and we don’t want to lose. The problem is that there is no winning without losing. There is no good without bad, no right without wrong. This is the basic understanding of non-duality. We are free to be what we are free to be but that also means we are not free to be what we are not free to be. In this episode, I will discuss the illusion of free will and how the greatest sense of freedom you will ever discover is the freedom to become what you already are. You!

Subscribe to the podcast on:
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/secular-buddhism/id1071578260
SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/secularbuddhism
TuneIn – http://tunein.com/radio/Secular-Buddhism-p823114/
Stitcher – http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=80132&refid=stpr

Transcript of the podcast episode:

Hello. You are listening to the Secular Buddhism Podcast and this is episode number 23. I am your host Noah Rasheta and today I’m talking about non-duality and the illusion of freewill. Welcome back to the Secular Buddhism Podcast. A weekly podcast that focuses on Buddhist concepts, topics and teachings presented for secular-minded people.

The Dalai Lama has said, “Do not try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist. Use it to be a better whatever you already are.” Please keep that in mind as you listen to this episode. If you enjoy the podcast, please share it with others. Write a review or give it a rating in iTunes. If you’re in a position to be able to help or contribute, I would encourage you to make a one time or a monthly donation to the podcast by visiting secularbuddhism.com.

Now, let’s jump into this week’s topic. This week, I wanted to talk a little bit about the topic of non-duality. I’ve addressed this in the past, but I wanted to get a little bit more clear about some of the implications of the understanding of non-duality when applied to normal day-to-day living.

We live in a society and in a time in which we have been so conditioned to see the world in the lens of duality. Duality is this versus that, right versus wrong, winning versus losing, good versus bad. These are all examples of of dualistic understanding. Our society is very dualistic in its way of looking at and interpreting the world. This is very evident even now.

In an election year, you can look at the way that the supporter of one candidate looks at the supporters of the other candidate and you’ll see dualistic thinking is very much us versus them. If I support so-and-so, I hate the opposition. Whoever is the opposite choice. Then maybe you hate both, but I want to talk about non-duality.

The understanding of non-duality is that rather than seeing the world through this lens of this and that, right and wrong, black and white, good or bad, we start to see that all of this is blended. There are shades, but there’s no inherent source of good or bad, or right or wrong, or even the concept of evil in the sense that there is an inherent source of it. It’s always based on perspective and based on space and time.

We say in terms of space, all things are interdependent in terms of time. All things are impermanent, so this understanding of interdependence and impermanence has a profound impact on how we understand the world as not being dual. It’s non-dualistic. That’s what I want to address.

One of the typical questions I get about this understanding of non-duality is what do you mean that all things are one, because the opposite of non-duality is oneness. This understanding of oneness. Buddhism I think does a really good job of promoting the understanding or the concept of oneness applied to day-to-day living.

Let’s look at a couple of things just to get an idea of this. We’ve been conditioned to think, for example, we chase after the idea of winning. Winning is something we want and losing is something we don’t want. We avoid losing and we want to be winning.

This can apply to games or to really anything. We have this conceptual understanding of what it means to be winning in life and it’s completely illusory. It’s just a conceptual understanding of life that somebody created and then we get trapped in it.

The problem isn’t necessarily that we want to win. The problem is that we want to win and never lose. We create the dichotomy between good and bad. Winning is good, losing is bad so we want more of one and less of the other and yet there cannot be winning without losing. By its very nature, winning has the opposition of winning is losing and you can’t have one without the other.

Because you can’t have one without the other, you can never just win and guarantee that you’ll never lose. If you’re going to play the game of wanting to win, you have to also play the game of understanding that at some point you’re going to lose, because, by the very nature of winning, there is losing. If you get rid of losing, then there’s no longer winning. That’s the dualistic understanding there. Where that gets problematic is wanting one and not wanting the other.

I think one of the most relevant examples of this dualistic way of living is found in the idea of wanting to live and not wanting to die. You can’t live without dying. Death and life are one and the same. They’re part of the same. Very much like winning and losing are part of the same. The dualistic tendency of how we view life is that we want life and we don’t want death.

As long as I don’t want death and I only want life, I can never actually have life because there cannot be life without death. That’s the nature of the cycle of life is the cycle of life and death. In Buddhism, it’s commonly referred to as birth and rebirth. I’m not talking about reincarnation. I’m not talking about the idea that you’re this and then you die and now you’re that. I’m talking about the idea that the nature of reality is that there is life and death and you don’t have one without the other.

If you understand the nature of change, you understand that the nature of destruction and creation is that they are one and the same. There cannot be creation of something new without the destruction of what once was. On a big scale, we see this. We see this with political entities, political kingdoms, countries. Things that exist and then they collapse and then new things form of them.

What we’re seeing is the nature of constant change or continual change. This is why you can take a look at history and what you’ll find is that there’s never ever been one single thing that becomes permanent and never changes. It’s just a matter of time whether that be the Roman Empire collapsing or the British Empire. Britain is still around but the British Empire as it was no longer is. That’s the very nature of change.

We can assume that the way things are now with time will change because that’s the only constant is that all things are continually changing. We become attached to the way things are and then that’s where problems arise. We don’t want things to ever change and yet the only thing that we can ever depend on is that things will change. The nature of change is the nature of reality.

I’ve talked about this previously with podcasts on the topic of impermanence. The nature of impermanence is that all things are changing. Because all things are changing, nothing is constant and that is the very underlying understanding of non-duality is that I can’t have this or that because the moment I have this, it’s become that. Things are continually changing. There is no permanent fixed thing.

Let’s look at this just applied to the concept of time. We say in terms of time that all things are impermanent and what that means is that things are constantly changing, so we only exist in the present moment. This is really powerful to think about because it will only ever be now. It will never be anything other than now, because the moment that we’re waiting for then to arrive, then arrives but it’s now. It becomes now. It’s always now.

We have the tendency to want to arrive at a future moment but the future moment never arrives. It will always just be the present moment. It’s in this present moment that we have anxiety of what’s to come or hope for what’s to come. Yet, once it arrives, it’s just manifested in the present moment. It’s only ever now.

If you think about the past, we have regrets about the past or we can have fond memories of the past or memories that we don’t like about the past, but we tend to be in the present thinking about the part or thinking about the future and it becomes very difficult to simply be with the present moment. To be aware of the present moment and yet the present moment is all we ever have.

The present moment consists of everything that has ever taken place in the past. Every thought, every word, every action that has ever taken place in the past has resulted in the present moment being exactly what it is. In this sense, the present is linked to the past and they are one and the same way that I am one with my parents for example. I exist in the present moment because of actions that were taken in the past by my parents. That’s what brings me into existence. Their actions created me.

here I am and I exist suddenly and I’m one with them in the sense that I do not exist if it were not for them. What’s interesting here is it doesn’t matter if you like your parents, if you don’t like your parents. None of that matters, but you do not exist without your parents. This is the understanding of interdependence. I simply do not exist without the causes and conditions that allow me to exist. That applies to me, but it also applies to the present moment.

The present moment can only be what it is in the present moment because of everything that has taken place in the past. It culminates into this singular moment that is called the present. It’s constantly changing. The moment I say this is the present moment and now I say this is the present moment, well, this one is different from that one because that was five seconds ago. It’s just constantly changing.

The moment you think you grasp it, it’s gone because it’s gone. Now it’s a new present moment. It’s this continual process of becoming. Therefore, it’s always now. That’s in terms of space or in terms of time. It’s always now. In terms of space, we say it’s always here. It’s always here. It’s always here and it’s always now because I can look at something there and say, “I want to go stand there.” The moment I stand there, there is no longer there. There is here. Wherever I am it’s always here and whenever I am it’s always now.

There’s this non-duality in the understanding of it’s always here and it’s always now. They can never be then and it can never be there because the moment I’m there, there is here. The moment it’s then, then is now. This is non-duality. At this point maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, this is getting a little crazy.” What does all this mean? What are the implications of this understanding of non-duality?

I think the main one is the understanding that free will, the way we think of free will I think is illusory. I want to elaborate on that a bit, because you’re probably thinking, “Well, of course I’m free. I have free will or free agency. I’m free to do whatever I want.” That may be true, but it’s not entirely true. I think it’s more appropriate to say you’re free to do anything that you’re free to do.

On the flip side of that, you’re not free to do anything that you’re not free to do. You might be thinking, “Well, what does that mean?” Think of it this way. All of the instances of the past, the causes and conditions that allowed the present moment to be what it is, what I’m ultimately free to be is to be in this present moment just the way that I am.

However, I’m not free to be anything that is not what it currently is. For example, I’m free to be me because my parents created me but I’m not free to be you, because my parents created me and I’m not you. There’s this sense of freedom to be what I am but I can’t just decide. I’m not free to be a bird. I’m not free to be anything other than what I am.

There’s a saying I really like that says, “The only limitation of the rose is that the rose is not a daisy, but the rose doesn’t care so it’s not a problem.” IF you think about what this simple phrase is actually teaching is that the Rose is completely free to be itself. It’s not free to be anything other than what it is. The rose can’t just decide I’m a daisy, but like I said, the rose doesn’t care so it’s not a problem.

For us, it’s the same. I am completely free to be what I am, to be who I am when I am and where I am, but I’m not free to be anything outside of that, because I can only be who I am. Where this I think gets really powerful is in the world of non-duality, we’re caught up in this thinking of, “Here’s who I am. Here’s who I should be or here’s how I ought to be.”

That’s dualistic thinking because who I am and who I think I should be are two different things. I’m completely free to be who I am and the only time that becomes a problem is if I think that there’s a way that I should be and now I’m living in the world of duality because there’s who I am and there’s who I think I should be. All of my problems reside because of this limited perspective I have that I cannot see who I am because I can only see who I think I should be, but I’m not that. I’m only who I am.

You may be thinking, “Well, wait a second. If I’m only free to be the things that I’m free to be and I’m not free to be the things that I’m not free to be, it doesn’t sound like I’m very free.” Yet it’s beautiful because you’re free to be the very thing that you are. You’re free to be you and what more could you be? What more would you want to be than what you are?

In this concept that’s talked about in Buddhism is becoming who you are. This process of discovery and discovering who you are. The big breakthrough in this discovery is that you discover you that are who you are and you couldn’t possibly be anything other than who you are. That’s the most beautiful thing. Very much like the rose discovering that the rose is free to be the rose because the rose is what it is. It doesn’t have to worry about trying to be the daisy. It doesn’t have to worry about trying to be any other flower. It’s the rose.

For us, it’s the same. We become free to be who we are. You have all the freedom in the world to be you because you is who you are and it’s always here and it’s always now and you’re always you. What more could we possibly want? I think it’s so empowering to make this discovery and to realize that you’re free to be you.

If you think about this, you are the most unique thing that there’s ever been. There’s never been another you and there will never be another you experiencing the present moment the way you’re experiencing it now, because you are the only you that’s here and now. You are the only you that can be you and you exist in the here that can only be here and in the now that can only be now and that makes you absolutely incredibly unique.

This reminds me of Alan Watts when he says, “When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique.” When you make this discovery that you can only be the you that you are and you are not bound by the definition of you that others have given you, you are at once universal and unique.

I don’t know if any of you have experienced this, but when you’re growing up … Let’s say it’s common for kids as they start interacting with other children and start getting the feel for who they are and how they are. Let’s say you’re out playing with your friend and you come home and you say something to your mom an expression that you picked up from your friend and your mom says, “Oh, that’s not you. That’s how so-and-so speaks, but that’s not how you speak.”

We create this idea of who you are by telling you, “Well, that’s not who you are.” At a very young age I think we get tricked into this thinking that, “Wait a second, if that’s not who I am, then who am I? Well, I am who everyone says that I am and what says that I am the way that I am?” Our families and our society and our religious backgrounds, all these things dictate this image in our head of who we think we are and how we think we should be.

Most often, that’s not who we are. We are who we are and then we’re caught up trying to be who we think we should be. That’s really the danger of dualistic thinking or existing in a dualistic world. WE experience a lot of suffering when we aren’t allowing ourselves to be who we are.

For most of us, the problem here is that we don’t even know who we are. We don’t even know what we are because we’ve only been conditioned to be how everyone else thinks that we should be whether that be society or your religion or your family. It doesn’t matter, but you’ve been conditioned to think that there’s a way that you’re supposed to be and that’s what you model your whole life aspiring to be what you think you should be. In the meantime, you’re blinded to who you actually are.

A lot of the Eastern traditions like Buddhism and like Hinduism, what they’re trying to do is get you to realize who you actually are. They do that by mostly getting you to understand that you are not who you think that you should be. They don’t tell you who you are because that’s what the world has been doing all along telling you, “This is who you are. This is what you should do. This is what you should think. This is what you should say. This is what you should not say.” On and on. In the middle of all that, we lose the essence of who we really are.

In these Eastern traditions like Buddhism, the answer to who we are is a non-dualistic approach to life is that you are who you are and there’s a sense of oneness with discovering that I just am what I am. I am who I am and that I exist. It’s always here and it’s always now and you’re it. All that you are is what you are.

There’s an expression. I’ve shared this before that I am the sum total of all the things that make me me. That’s who I am and I cannot be anything other than that. The sum total of all the things that make me me are many things. The thinking of my society, the thinking of the time in which we live, my family. From DNA to ideologies to you name, I’m all of the things that make me me and yet I’m none of those things alone. I can’t be any of those things alone. I’m the sum total of all of the things that make me me.

This is where the understanding of free will I think gets a little bit twisted. Again, like I mentioned before, I’m free to be everything that I’m free to be and I’m not free to be any other things that I’m not free to be. A really good example of this is just in the fact of how we communicate.

We learn to communicate at a very young age and we acquire language and words and then certain combinations of words give across certain things. If I’m thirsty I can tell you that I’m thirsty but I can’t say pizza, doll, mountain, tree and expected that you’re going to give me a glass of water. I’m not free to just express whatever I want. I’m free to operate within the realm of the unspoken rules that society has placed on me.

At least in terms of language, I’m free to communicate according to the rules that I cannot break. You’d think if you’re free to do or say anything at any time, I think that’s slightly an illusion, because I’m free to say whatever I want to say, but if I want you to understand what I’m saying, I’m not free to say it however I want to say it. It has to fall within the realm of the rules that are generally understood by all of us who communicate in the same way.

For any English speaker, I’m bound to those rules. It doesn’t matter what language it is. It can be a different language. It can even be cross languages from one language to another or sign language or doing gestures. We can communicate using signs and gestures to each other and yet those also fall under the same rules. If I want you to go grab that for me, I can point at it. I’m free to point at it to have you get me, but I’m not free to point at the sky and expect that you’ll understand that means go get that cup of water.

I hope that that makes sense because this can be a little crazy when you really start thinking about it, but that’s the sense of freedom that I’m talking about. I’m free to be everything that I’m free to be and that does imply that there are things I’m not free to be.

I think communication is a really good example of that and so as thought. I can think the way that I think because I’ve been taught how to think the way that I think, but I can’t just think in a way that I haven’t been taught to think because I don’t know how to think that way. I’m not even programmed. Thinking about programming, it’s like taking a computer and programming it to be a PC. It’s not free to just act as a Mac because it’s not programmed to be a Mac.

A Mac is free to be a Mac and a PC is free to be a PC and I know that you can run one software on the other. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the programming that goes into software whether it’s an operating system or even just software. Photoshop is completely free to be Photoshop and it’s free to operate all of the features and functions that Photoshop is capable of doing. The sense of free will for Photoshop is that Photoshop is free to edit an image. It’s free to erase the background or add a background. It’s free to do all those things.

What it’s not free to do is to be QuickBooks. Photoshop is not QuickBooks, so it’s not free to be QuickBooks and we’re the same way. We are human and we’re free to be everything that we’re free to be but we’re not free to be all of the things that we can’t be because we’re not those things. Does that make sense?

In that same way, I like to internalize that and imagine that I’m free to be everything that I’m free to be in the present moment because it’s always here and because it’s always now. I feel this sense of interdependence with the past like I mentioned before because everything that happened in the past is contained in this present moment. At the same time, it’s in the present moment that every possible scenario or future outcome of what the future will be is found contained right here in the present moment.

The here and now is every infinite combination of what the future will be and all of that is determined by the things that I think and say and do right here right now in the present moment. There’s a sense of power and responsibility with understanding this, but it comes first from accepting that it’s always here and it’s always now. If something is going to change in the future, it’s not going to change in the future, it’s going to change in the present.

It’s the steps and the actions that we take in the present that shape the future so the present and the future are also one. Then in the same way that the past and the present are also one. If the past and the present and the future are all one, what do we end up with? Well, that’s the understanding of non-duality. It’s not that there’s here and there and there’s now and then. All there is is now and all there is is here. It’s always here and it’s always now. This brings an incredible sense of power and responsibility to how I exist in the present moment.

I’ve mentioned this quote before about Pablo Picasso. The way the story goes is that this quote says, “My mother once told me if you decide to be a soldier, you will become a general. If you decide to become a monk, you will become the Pope. I chose to become a painter and I became Picasso.” This is a quote by Pablo Picasso.

What I love about this quote if you look deeply into the significance or the meaning of what he’s saying is that of all the things he could be, he chose to be him. He discovered who he was. He did what he felt was his choice to be was to be a painter and in that process became who he was, Picasso. Of course he was Picasso. How could he be anything other than Picasso? Picasso is who he was.

That understanding applied to us is that in our journey, in our search, in our attempts to get there which we’ll never get there because it’s always here or in our attempts to reach then, whatever future moment then is, we’ll never get there because it’s always now. There’s a process of discovery that takes place in which we realize that we discover ourselves.

We discover that we are, I am who I am. The same way that Picasso became Picasso, I can become Noah because that’s who I am. That’s the only person I can be and I have a huge sense of freedom in what that means because I can be so many different things, but they only happen here and they only happen now.

I like to think of actors when I think of this. You see, what’s cool with an actor is a really good actor takes on a role and they’re so convincing in portraying that role that we believe that that’s what they are or who they are. It’s not that they’re tricking us, it’s that they literally become that. That is who they are.

If it’s in a movie when you’re watching it for however long they’re playing that role, they’re not pretending to be that, they are that. They are the role that they take on. Then when a new role comes along, they take that role on. They’re really good at taking on different roles.

The only difference between actors and the rest of us is that the rest of us don’t realize that we’re also actors. We actually believe that what we are is fixed and permanent. They’re a step ahead of us because they figured out there is no permanent them. They can be the them who they are when they’re under this role and then they become the person that they are whether under this role, because they’re all just roles. There is no permanent version of you.

For us, the mistake we make is we go through life thinking that we’re this fixed permanent version of ourselves that can’t change. Yet, nothing can be further from the truth because the only thing we can rely on is that there is change. If you look at your own life and compare who you are now to who you were five years ago versus who you were 10 years ago versus who you were 20 years ago and on, on and on, what you’ll find is that you’re not the same you that you were when you were young. The toddler version of you is not the same you that is the adult version of you because you change. That’s the nature of change.

Yet, we have this tendency to look back at the old version of me and to be angry at something that I did in the past and yet that’s not me. That was the old me that did that. I think back to certain things I did in high school for example and things that maybe now I would definitely never do. Cheating on a test, for example, was something I had no problem doing in high school and I can’t look back at that and think, “I can’t believe I did that,” because I’m projecting that from the perspective of who I am now.

That would be accurate to say who I am now would never do that back then because I view the world differently, but that’s different than to be angry at myself for what I did in the past, because that’s not me. I should be mad at an entirely different person, because I was an entirely different person back then.

In the world of duality, we forget that. In the world of duality, there’s a way that things are and there’s a way that things were and there’s a way that things will be and these are all separate things. Then there’s who I am now and who I was then and we keep …

The misunderstanding with all of this is that we view this in the sense of permanence. There’s who I am and that never changes and then I apply this to all these scenarios that do change and now I’m living in a dualistic world where there’s me as I am now doing what me back then did. It’s just not the same. If you understand the nature of impermanence and interdependence, what you understand is this constant process of becoming. There’s this fluid movement of change and evolution.

The evolving nature of life is that it’s always here and it’s always now. If I understand, I can detach … I don’t have a strong sense of attachment to the past or to the future or clinging. I guess clinging is a better word there thinking this is the outcome I have to arrive at and if I don’t, I failed. We do this all the time. We’re always chasing after whatever it is. Whether it be money or fame or power or just this is the future that I want.

Then I’m trapped by that mental image, that mental construct of how I think it should be in the future. If I don’t get it, if that never arrives, I think I failed. If it has arrived, I don’t even realize it because the nature of change is that I’ve already got a new future that I’m going after. You never actually get there.

The dualistic thinking has you trapped. The moment you can let go of that dualistic thinking, you can feel a sense of letting go. There’s a sense of becoming much more soft with the way we view ourselves in the present, in relationship to the past and in relationship to the future because we understand it’s a fluid thing. It’s not just this linear thing that has milestones. If I get this, good. If I don’t get that, bad. Good, bad, right, wrong, that’s all dualistic thinking.

How do we apply this just our day-to-day living? Because that’s something I want to start addressing in these podcasts is we can get into these concepts and they might make sense, they might not make sense but still what does that mean for day-to-day living?

Non-dualistic thinking, what that really means is that in the present moment, I’m always free to be here and now. I’m free to exist in the present moment with whatever set of circumstances that I have. It’s like playing a game of cards. When you’re playing a game of cards in terms of free will, you’re free to play whatever hand you’ve got, but you’re not free to play the hand that you don’t have.

In that present moment, I’m free to be exactly where I am doing anything that I can within the limitations of what I have in the present moment. As I do that, it’s shaping what the future will look like. This isn’t so that I can manipulate the future in the sense that here’s how the future should be, so I’m going to get to that, but I try to work the very best that I can with the cards that I have.

In making this in a way that is more applicable to day-to-day living is there can be a little bit of letting go or a sense of detachment from the outcomes that we expect. What that means is I can be okay with how life is because I understand that how life is is different than how I think life should be. That’s dualistic. There’s how life is and there’s how I think life should be.

I don’t want to get caught in the scenario of how I think it should be because they can only ever be what it is because it’s always here and because it’s always now. Then we work with the present moment in the best way that we can enjoying at the best way that we can because we cannot have anything other than here and now.

Dualistic thinking would be … We’ve all pictured this. The idea of a donkey that has a stick tied to its neck with a carrot dangling at the end. There goes the donkey chasing the carrot and it goes on and on and on and we know that it can never catch the carrot. It can’t. It’s impossible. It can chase it all it wants but it will never actually catch the carrot.

Yet, that’s exactly how we go through life constantly chasing after something. Sure, go ahead, you can chase after whatever you want and chase and chase and chase as long as you recognize you’re never going to get it, then you’re going to experience a lot of suffering because you’re chasing something that cannot be caught and you’re thinking, “Why am I not catching it? What must be wrong with me?”

When you understand that there is nothing to catch, you can stop chasing and then you can just enjoy what is. Maybe you stop chasing the carrot and look down and realize you’ve been running in a field of grass. “Well, I’ll eat some of this grass.” That’s the sense of detachment and this comes from the understanding of non-duality.

What I would invite you to do this week is to try to look at what carrots do I have dangling in front of me that I’m always chasing. What is the carrot that I spend time chasing. For some, this is, I’ve mentioned, it could be happiness. It could be the chasing after fame or money or power. Those, I think, most of us recognize, “Oh, I shouldn’t chase after.” Even though we probably all tend to chase after those to some degree or another.

Happiness is a big one. I mentioned this in a previous podcast that the trap of happiness is that we chase after it as if it’s this thing that you can catch. Once you have it, you think, “Good, I got it,” and It will never go away. The reality is that you can’t catch it. It’s just there and then it’s not there in the same way that hunger is there and then hunger is not there.

When the causes and conditions are right to be hungry, you’ll be hungry. When those causes and conditions are satisfied, hunger is gone and then it comes back and it’s the cycle. It goes on and on and on. Happiness is the same way. You don’t catch it and then never let go because you think you’ve got it and then it’s gone and then it’s there again and then it’s gone again.

Same with all of the emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger, all of these emotions, they arise, they linger and then they go away because they’re impermanent. Look at your own life and think what are the carrots that are dangling there that I’m chasing after and what would life look like if I stop chasing after the carrot.

I’m not saying, “Okay, never have goals anymore. Don’t aspire to anything.” That’s not what I’m saying. I think it’s healthy to have goals and to have hopes and dreams and aspirations. As an entrepreneur, that’s a vital part of how I function and perpetuate the growth of my business. We have to have goals but the difference is I don’t rely on any of these things thinking once I get them, that’s it. I finally did it. I’ve achieved the goal because there is no goal. It’s constantly changing. The moment I reach one milestone, I just recognize, “Okay that means now I’ve got another one.” That process goes on and on.

It’s different to chase the carrot thinking you’re going to actually catch it versus recognizing, “Oh, I can follow the carrot as long as I know I’ll never actually get it,” because there’s always another carrot. Think about that in your day-to-day living this week. That’s the challenge that I’m going to give you. I’m doing this myself is what carrots am I chasing after. What carrots are you chasing after in a dualistic way.

If I view the world from this understanding of non-duality that it’s always here and it’s always now, what could I see now that I couldn’t see before because I was busy looking off at the carrot instead of looking down and realizing it’s here and it’s now, this is it. This is all it will ever be is here and now. What will that do to my day-to-day living and to the experience I have with how I interact with life the way it’s unfolding right here and right now?

That’s my invitation to you. If you guys have any questions or want further clarification on the concept of non-duality or this understanding of free will, please reach out to me. I try to respond to all emails. We have a Facebook discussion group. If you search for Secular Buddhism, you’ll find there’s a Facebook group called Secular Buddhism.

There’s also the Facebook page called Secular Buddhism and that’s just a general page where I post stuff, but the group is meant to be more interactive, so find that and joint that if that’s something that you’re interested in. Then of course by way of news or announcements, remember next year in January, I am hosting a mindfulness humanitarian retreat to Uganda. This is something I’m doing with a separate group but I’ve been invited to go and teach a mindfulness component to this trip. That’s going to be January 26 through February 4th. If you’ve ever been interested in going to Africa to do humanitarian work, I highly suggest you check this out. It’s going to be a cool trip. Go to mindfulhumanitarian.org.

Then if you’re interested in doing any mindfulness retreats, I’m doing some mindfulness workshops. An upcoming one is Salt Lake City on August 20th. September 3rd, we’ll be doing one in the Seattle area. September 18th is a Sunday. There will be a workshop in London and the UK. If any of those are close to you, feel free to visit secularbuddhism.com and then you can look under workshops and see the event pages for these and sign up to join us.

As always, thank you very much for listening. I truly believe that if we want to contribute to making the world or society a better place, it starts by making ourselves better people. That’s honestly why I do this podcast. I don’t feel that there’s something that needs to be taught that I am a teacher or a guru who is trying to impose wisdom on you as the listener. I really don’t feel that.

I feel like the topics that I discuss are things that I enjoy from my own studying of Buddhism. I like to present them in the same way that a bird would just start to sing because it’s what a bird does. A bird doesn’t sing with the goal of getting you to listen to it. It just sings because that’s what it enjoys doing. I like sharing what I’m sharing on the topic of mindfulness and Buddhism because it’s what I enjoy.

I hope that it’s something that if you enjoy listening to that it’s beneficial to you, but it’s not shared with the goal of getting you to convert to something or to convert away from something. If anything, it’s just with the goal of maybe the topics or the things that are shared here could help you have a more peaceful life like it’s done for me. That’s really the only goal. I feel like more mindful individuals will make more mindful families and more mindful society, so that’s really my only goal with this. I have no ulterior motive with what I’m doing with sharing this information in this podcast.

I mentioned before if you’re in a position to be able to donate to the podcast, your generous donations are going to allow me to continue producing weekly content for this podcast as well as the content I’m trying to produce for workshops, retreats, and seminars. Along with eventually an online program that will teach mindfulness for anyone interested.

If you’re in a position to be able to help, please visit secularbuddhism.com and consider making a one-time donation or sign up as a monthly supporter of the podcast. Thanks again for all of your continued support and for taking the time to listen to this. I really enjoyed doing this podcasts and I hope you enjoy the content that I’m sharing and listening to this. Thanks again and until next time.

  • Taosophy

    Great quote by Alan Watts. It reminded me of my favorite Walt Whitman quote on the same topic:
    “I exist as I am, that is enough,
    If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
    And if each and all be aware I sit content.
    One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself,
    And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
    I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.”