Are You Aware Of Your Unconscious Tendencies?

The question of free will versus determination is huge. In the one reality, every pair of opposites is ultimately an illusion. We’ve already blurred the division between good and evil and life and death. Is free will going to turn out to be the same as determinism? A lot seems to ride on the answer.

Free Will = Independence, Self-determination, Choice, Control over events, Future is open.

Determinism = Dependence on an outside will, Self determined by fate, No control over events, Choices made for you, Future is closed.

These phrases sketch in the common understanding of what’s at stake. Everything in the free-will column sounds attractive. We all want to be independent; we want to make our own decisions; we want to wake up with hope that the future is open and full of endless possibilities.

On the other hand, nothing seems attractive in the determination column. If your choices have been made for you, if your self is tied to a plan written before you were born, then the future cannot be open. Emotionally at least, the prospect of free will has already won the argument.

And at a certain level nobody has to delve any deeper. If you and I are marionettes operated by an invisible puppeteer – call him God, fate, or karma – then the strings he’s pulling are also invisible. We have no proof that we aren’t making free choices.

There is a reason to delve deeper, however, and it centers on the word Vasana. In Sanskrit, a Vasana is an unconscious cause. It’s the software of the psyche, the driving force that makes you do something when you think you’re doing it spontaneously. As such, Vasana is very disturbing.

Vasana is determinism that feels like free will. If unconscious tendencies kept working in the dark, they wouldn’t be a problem. But human beings, unique among all living creatures, want to break down Vasana. We crave the assurance of absolute freedom and its result – a totally open future.
Is this reasonable? Is it even possible?

Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).

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Roopak Vaidya
Roopak Vaidya4 years ago

Vasana can also mean habit or addiction or tendency...
They often come from past life actions.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

No, they stay unconscious!?

Carina Engstrom
Carina Engstrom4 years ago

Interesting. Seems Vasana is powerful. Thank you for the article.

amber c.
amber c.4 years ago

wow Thankyou Lloyd .S (and Deepak) !

Uma Chernoff
Judith Shafer4 years ago

Helen I can think of examples of Vasana as described: first simple biological imperative; The kiss...The kiss, like smell is an exchange of chemicals that determine sexual compatibility and paired fertility. You may think that there is some mystery, karma, soul mate , about the attraction while it is biological imperative. You may always be attracted to the same kind of lover who may or may not be a happy pairing for you while you are reacting to unrelated conditions unconsciously. Accepting or repelling someone because they remind you but may not be anything like what you fear or desire. Karmic attractions where you find yourself moving towards relationship, maybe potentially toxic, with someone utterly unlike your usual ideal. Actually considering that we are in negative mental mode unless we make the choice to strike out in another direction Vasana is probably the main component in attractions because analysis of why we are being pulled this way and that isn't happening since we are only in the unconscious reactive state.

Uma Chernoff
Judith Shafer4 years ago

Jarno you are correct in the usual situation where the mind and will of someone is in a negative pattern. That is describing the situation where we are like leaves flowing down stream, a completely reactive state; will is a tool of the psyche that when taken up and used deliberately marks a transfer from the passive negative state to a determined positive one. Like any other part of the psyche it functions in a certain way on it's own but is responsive to self determined action. The other mental state is called creative and that describes the position where we use the positive and negative mental modes, acting and being acted upon, to serve our purposes.

Yvette T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Love all, harm none.

Claire O.
Claire O.4 years ago

a little confusing...

Jon Wesley
Jon Wesley4 years ago

God or the Universal Spirits greatest gift to us is free will. We can make our own choices. And we always do. Weather you choose to "let go" and/or go with the flow..your making a free will choice. Letting your mind free itself of genetics or enviromental or desire's influences is a choice of free will. So is accepting predetermination and instinctive living. Conforming to cultural attitudes and /or societal expectations. EVERYTHING you do is the result of your choice to do it.
Defiance,grandoisity, addiction,kindness,compassion, the "blank space inside your mind when you meditate its all brought about by an act of free will by a human being. Question then remains- what choices will you accept?-to be made?What will you chose to do? That's answered in the "now" of every moment you breathe.
I choose to listen to my breath. And let go...let be..
oops there goes free will again...;)

Geetha Subramaniam

Thanks for posting.