Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The restless will

It is not in the nature of the will to be free. The human will always finds something to wish, something to desire, something to support, a person or object or goal; or it always finds something to oppose, something to avoid. That is what the will does: it attaches our energies to directions and to goals, it focuses our thoughts and actions. There is, then, the restless will, the satisfied will or the dissatisfied will, but not the free will.

Look, for instance, and what the will can do to the ability to reason. This ability to think or to reason is an ability that we all have in some measure. But whenever we desire to have or to do something we ourselves think is wrong, our will gives our mind a very interesting task: tell us all the reasons why the thing we want is right. And the mind does as the will asks it to do. The mind is just as capable of working for a goal that is unreasonable as it is for something reasonable.

We can set our minds and actions on anything we want to; the problem lies in whether we can control those desires themselves. And if we cannot control ourselves as to what we want, then we are under the control of whatever is the object of our desires. Here is the root of addictions and ideologies, perfectionism and obsessions, lusts and fears and greed.

The will is an appetite, a hunger for satisfaction. And as each object satisfies or fails to satisfy, it is kept or discarded. The will always searches for what satisfies better, and its restlessness looks for the ultimate satisfaction.

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