Perhaps we limit ourselves by our concept of “control.” Maybe, if there is such thing as (karmic) cause and effect, we do not so much control our actions as much as understand them; nor do we control anything, nor is there such a thing as control, the way we generally use that word. Maybe we can only hope to understand how we are controlled, or rather how things work, how things are and how they relate (or do not relate) to each other. Perhaps free will, or freedom, comes from knowledge, from understanding.
Perhaps, then, control is the opposite of being controlled by that which we need not be controlled. Perhaps ignorance is being controlled, and to not be ignorant—to be aware, awake—is to have “control.” In a Kantian sense, the ultimate “cause” of our will, our volition, our value-priorities, is the way our minds work, the way our brains work, the way we process the data of reality—in other words: context. We are under the control of the way we think and the way in which we can act. No thought, no act, no choice within this system, within this process, is wholly free, but is rather free within a context.
An animal can be free to move around within a cage, it can choose what it does within the confines of that cage, it has freedom of movement, and even has will within the cage, but it is still in a cage. It is free, but within limits.
Our cage is our conditioned existences, and perhaps the hard-wiring of our logical, reasoning, and willful minds.
Control is imposed and given. Control (or, at least, being controlled) requires concession. Without concession there can be no “control.” Control, like responsibility, is perhaps an illusion that we impose upon nature/reality, at least in the way we understand and use it. Do we control things and ourselves, or do we only think we have control? What does “control” mean? We live by the concepts we create, not by nature as it really is. We depend on these concepts, we need them in order to feel that we have a semblance of control over our lives and the world around us; but the control we seek is an illusion.
We live by the laws of our own making as well as the laws of nature, if there are really such things as laws at all. We think we are free to think whatever we want, but if freedom is the absence of limiting forces, then we are not free, for as long as we impose a duality of ego on our existences, we cannot be free of context. Context, whatever it is, both limits our thoughts and provides them with the venue in which to exist at all.
Perhaps we do not ultimately have control, but what we do have a semblance of control over is that by which we allow ourselves to be controlled.
Perhaps it is not that that which happens is “meant” to or “not meant” to happen, but that it happens. Everything else is imposed by us.
I think that people cannot control each other, nor can we control that which “happens” to us, unless we can control putting ourselves into the situation in which such a thing happens. Your car may break down and ruin your day, but no one forced you to buy that car; if you did not have the car, it would not have broken down and ruined your day.
I think we create the contexts of our discontent. We have control over our attitude, which decides how we think of, and about, anything and everything.
If a person does not allow herself to be controlled, then she not only will not be, but can not be. We are only controlled by that which we allow ourselves to be controlled, and this includes our beliefs. Control can only be taken and exercised if it is first given. If it is not given, then it can not be taken, for there is nothing to take. Thus, in this sense, we cannot choose that which we control, only that by which we are controlled. “Spiritually” (as opposed to “physically”) speaking, that which is not given cannot be taken.
Most people are controlled by their ignorance, their close-mindedness and credulity. The way to gain control is to make the effort towards less ignorance and more open-mindedness, more awareness. The less you are controlled the more free you are. To be ignorant of and in the prisons that keep and control you is to not be free.
Just as reality is the absence of illusion, freedom is the absence of ignorance.
Understanding/awareness is freedom.
From my personal notes, 9/11/99.