The ātman has no free will

First, here is a definition of free will —

Free will is the capacity to make a choice independent of any external influence.

If we strip the jīva of the mind, body,  senses and prāṇa,  what is left is the ātman. The ātman, as we have seen before, cannot hold information. It cannot think. It cannot perceive anything. Therefore it cannot have any thought-desire. It also cannot act. Therefore we can conclude that

the ātman has no free will.

Does the jīva (the ātman in the body), then, have free will? Making a choice involves information processing. Information processing is done by the mind-body complex, and not the jīva. Not being the jīva’s energy, the mind is external to the jīva.

No information can pass from the ātman to the mind-body complex because it cannot store any information, nor from the mind-body complex to the ātman, because the ātman cannot be modified in any way.

Free will does not exist. What we call ‘choice’ is an action which is a result of information processing in the mind. Even those who do bhakti, do so because they are controlled by bhakti samskaras. Their only distinction is that they were lucky enough to become controlled by bhakti – not that they were intrinsically “special”.

It follows that no ātman, nor the jīva, is to blame for anything, nor to be praised for anything.

It also follows that it is meaningless to talk about ‘original sin’.

Categories: jīva-tattva

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