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Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
Blogs about inhabiting this present moment

Choice - Level III: The "Will" without a Willful Doer Chooses

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 3rd 2013

It is your will which decides the direction your ego will go.
— Ernest F. Pecci, Meditative Insights

So when the 'Who cares?" arises from the depths of your being-I don't really care a damn whether enlightenment happens or not; it's not my business; I'm not the seeker-enlightenment is very, very close indeed.
— Ramesh Balsekar, Who Cares?!

3D figure with 3 paths to choose fromWhen you don't care about the outcome and are needless is precisely when you are free to be, tell the truth and wrap it all in palpable love. Franklin Merrell-Wolff calls this awareness "high indifference," while spiritual teachers refer to this as "benevolent indifference" and "welcoming." Referring to the fiercest gurus, sage Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche observes, "They could do it because they have no agenda. Their only agenda was to enlighten. They didn't care what people said, what other people thought-I call it CCL: couldn't-care-less-ness. That holds the biggest power." [Italics in original]  When there is no one present to take anything personally in authentic detachment, not "giving a rip" about desires and results shows a growing maturity and freedom. One sees clinging as simply making no difference, not even a ripple in the sands and waters of time.

Indian sage Ramesh Balsekar refers to the attitude of "who cares?!", in a book of the same title, as showing the absence of any doer and thus very close to enlightenment. Balsekar is suggesting "who cares?!" is a fitting attitude of the seeker of spiritual progress, not an attitude to cultivate in everyday living. When one surrenders any way it has to be, any agenda, goal or plan, any "one" who feels gratified or depressed, only then can you honestly give yourself to care about another human being on the deepest level.

In this awakened aware space, you naturally claim being one with our ground of being, unbridled Truth and whole-hearted Love. This quality of "caring enough" is being non-attached, that is, not letting the ego get involved with an agenda to gain something. Can you care so little about the ego to inhabit the True Self's vision of authentic caring?

It is purely the "impersonal will", that is, a Will without a willful doer, the "Self" without any separation, that chooses whether one follows the ego or not. What some call "conscious choice" must be purely an illusion given the pre-conscious mechanisms in our brain-our neurology or genetic predispositions, environmental conditioning or mentality, the impact of the unconscious, and just how present we are. Author Paul Watzlawick described the attitude in a book title: The Situation is Hopeless, But Not Serious. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called this "the wisdom of no escape" in facing reality. As mind-body mechanisms, we are an instrument, not the source or author or authority, of experiences of disconnection and bonding, separation and oneness, nothing and everything.

The "Will" does not refer to a "personal will"; rather to a complete surrender to the Will of God, the only will that exists-the divine or spiritual will. Wisdom and miracles abide here. Beyond false self's deciding is a flow of life and energy navigating our direction, what is helpful to call "apparent choice." Will we listen, honor and follow?

Ken Wilber refers to the impersonal will as "the self"-the sixth element in the Integral Map and theory of everything using all five elements of AQAL (All Quadrants, All Levels), including quadrants, levels, lines, states and types. Wilber says that the "self" or "self-system" is of the highest importance in the psychology of development given it is the seat of will, intention and integrity, and responsible for integrating all the five elements.

With its own structure and characteristics, the "self" is the source of will, identity, and navigation in daily life and healthy defense, such as how the immune system functions.1 The "self" or "will" makes the limited "apparent choice" to blithely listen to, blindly believe and automatically follow the ego, or not. Where one places one's life and attention is precisely the "self" or "will". Watch the ego to see how it operates, with its own agenda using deception, fear, hubris, and distortion, for here is freedom from all this.

While the ego is the apparent block to awakening, at the same time it is True Nature's ally in offering the ability to experience Consciousness in human form in the duality of the world. Without shadow there can be no light. The opportunity is for a conversion from the ego's fear and self-hatred to the soul's Joy and Love with all that encompasses the human experience. The more one awakens, the more the ego's personal will is seen through and dissipates, leaving only divine, impersonal will or Consciousness -That which single-pointedly calls us forth without division or conflict, That which is adept and adaptive in riding the flow of Life, That which beckons us to build our whole souls, embrace the Love we are, fulfill the Good in actions, and express who we truly are. Our limited "apparent choice" is this: our life or the ego's imitation of our life.


1. Ken Wilber: "The Guru & the Pandit: Andrew Cohen & Ken Wilber in Dialogue-A Living Experiment in Conscious Evolution: Dialogue XIV," What is Enlightenment?, 35, January/March 2007, pages 47-50, 52-58, ref: page 53-54; Ken Wilber, Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy. Boston, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2000.


Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician in private practice in Pleasanton, CA in the East San Francisco Bay area. Licensed as a psychologist in California since 1987 and in the field since 1976, he specializes in Presence-centered therapy principally with adults and couples. Presence-centered therapy is a conscious attuning to the richness of this present moment (sometimes called mindfulness or wakefulness) along with witnessing, that is, observing what the mind is up to now by looking from outside of it. His practice is centered upon inhabiting this present moment, witnessing and "buying out" of the ego-mind's unworkable patterns, desensitizing root emotional charges, and gaining effective tools to thrive in the world. He specializes in providing therapy for adults facing anxiety, significant stress, work issues, relationship challenges and depression as well as couples with marital issues, communication issues, self-defeating behavior, divorce mediation, co-parenting and pre-marital counseling. Core to his approach is installing, building and developing strong internal resources, an enhanced capacity to hold, bear and tolerate strong emotions, and highly adaptive tools to better thrive in the world.He can be reached directly through his website (featuring over 215 articles, 27 YouTube videos and pages upon pages of highly practical annotated resource links) or by email at . Dr. Friedman is available for business consulting, business training and executive coaching (detail on his home page).

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