Willpower, automatic or willed?

Right now I feel I am applying willpower. I’m writing about will, which takes more will than not writing. I see my inner argument if attuning to it: do I do this writing or not write? It’s a little painful, but I’ll work towards awakening and think this is part of that.

It feels like it’s my decision to make. When I know which side will win an inner argument, I don’t have a decision to make really. Only when I don’t know what will happen, could voluntarily applying will have value.


I see it like shooting a basketball in that I don’t know if my intention will happen, but by trying, by applying will, my agenda, my vision for the future is more likely.

Now you will immediately ask, “But do we not think? Or do we not will to do certain things?” The truth of the matter is that we do not perceive, or remember, or really act or react, by virtue of will or volition. The Will is in itself only a reaction.

Quotes from: The Mind, by Richard Rose, at: https://selfdefinition.org/rose/writings/richard-rose-the-mind.htm#attributes

We do not begin life willfully, nor live it willfully, until we are able to find out the limits of our bondage. When we find out whether we are able to do anything on our own, then it is possible to try to enlarge that ability.

Will is but a particular Reaction to various Reactions and Percepts.

Let us try to get behind the false face. We can observe, by introspection, that much of what we would like to think of as thinking, is nothing more than reaction, – and mostly automatic reaction without any volition on our part. Of course we can get into some very complicated reaction patterns, and this complexity (as is noted in the Law of Complexity) is visible life.

Next, we are inclined to look at the above analysis of the mind, and take pride in being able to “Project.” We might think for a while that our ability to project is our individuality. The truth is that we are but a channel for the projection, if we are referring to the individual mind and the Unmanifested Mind, neither of which we really are.

Likewise, we can take some steps away from illusion. We begin by recognizing that the material world presents an illusory picture. We secondly notice that we are automatons of a sort, galvanized by desire and curiosity.

But then we settle back and say, – well at least we perceive, remember, react, and project. Actually these qualities are also automatic. We cannot control these functions, unless we controlled the entire environment.

So this will, experienced as my force in the mind, could be as automatic as the forces it wants to push.

If I want to write something semi-useful and not too annoying, I have a conflict with voices wanting to spit something out quickly. I can get identified with a mental effort reacting to this.

So why does it feel like me? Like I am the one willing to assert willpower to direct the mind? Am I, as will to assert willpower, just an automaton? Identified with “Reaction to various Reactions and Percepts”? Isn’t all reaction willful?

What of this am I controlling? Is the control just a useful lie? Why can’t I control it?

Attributes of an individual mind

We experience two minds: the individual mind and the unmanifested Mind-Stuff.

quotes from: The Mind, by Richard Rose, at: https://selfdefinition.org/rose/writings/richard-rose-the-mind.htm#attributes

I’m conscious of the individual mind. I wouldn’t say I’m conscious of “unmanifested Mind-Stuff.” Not offhand, anyway. Though he seems to think human minds can experience “unmanifested Mind-Stuff” or else actually do, just don’t really think about it as having a different source than the individual mind.

The individual mind is individual in appearance only, but we will call it that, when we refer to the mind of personal observation.

I am not sure why he says “appearance only” – it sure appears individual 🙂

There’s more on that individual/unmanifested distinction later, but first the article dives into what the individual mind is composed of.


This mind has four apparent qualities or attributes. Perception, Memory, Reaction, and Projection. All human actions are contained in these four. We perceive, we retain, and we project. We are like a camera that takes pictures, and projects pictures aided by Light.

Can I see these four attributes of my mind?

I’m listening to some music, “Happy Together” played on classical instruments at the library. I perceive the music. I also perceive the lyrics in my mind; imagine them anyway. That may be another of the four, probably projection.

I hear the violins and cello. I remember the recording and lyrics as the Beatles. I react somewhat without will to “hear” the lyrics in my imagination in a British-sounding voice. I react to this by trying to remember which Beatle sang it. I project their voices as well I can on the melody, trying to figure it out. (It turns out the song is by California band, the Turtles.)

This sounds similar to what the quartet played at the library:

Obviously, if the audio is working – if you know the audio is working – perception occurred. If it sounds familiar, memory occurred. If the mind tries to remember lyrics, it reacted. And if you can imagine the lyrics sung, maybe projection occurred.

So all four arguably are occurring, but are they the only four attributes of a mind acting in this scenario? Some potentially additional attributes can be considered combinations of these four. For example, Rose states:

The Reaction of memories upon memories is imagination.

When imagining the lyrics, is this so? Could it be so? I think this definition of imagination could be when imagining a song that doesn’t exist, sure. Well, in fact, since the Beatles cover doesn’t exist, to hear it maybe requires some interaction of memories upon memories. But if continuously incoming perceptions keep moving thoughts, it seems like imagining sung lyrics that line up with memory, doesn’t involve a second layer of memory. It’s not trying to imagine a new version, just replay a remembered version. Trying to imagine a Beatles version would have memory acting upon memory. (And I argue would sound the same 😉 )

So, many attributes of the individual mind can come from a combination of these four attributes. But what about individual willpower? Choice? Decisions?

Now you will immediately ask, “But do we not think? Or do we not will to do certain things?”

I’m going to will to check spelling and post this now.

Study the mind directly

The reader can reject the whole concept if he wishes, since the object of this book is to encourage the reader to find things out for himself.

Quotes from: Richard Rose’s The Mind https://selfdefinition.org/rose/writings/richard-rose-the-mind.htm

When we’re talking about the mind, you don’t have to believe other people, you can look for yourself. Do you trust authorities to teach you about yourself, or can you be your own authority? What of what you know from others is real knowledge and what is merely concept juggling?

I think of studying my psychology as something like this image, wandering my attention and occasionally noticing manifesting features. Over time invested in the maze, its walls start to become more obvious. Its walls are its patterns. And I can talk from some degree of authority on my mind.



Many of the earlier authorities who felt obliged to define their work came up with several compartments, and seven to nine attributes of the mind.

What are the top seven attributes of your mind?

Some possibilities:

  • Cognitive functions (i.e. thinking, feeling, sensing, intuition, and the introverted and extroverted versions of those)
  • Worry, anxiety, defensive reactions
  • Desire, hope
  • Self-referential thoughts
  • Honesty & dishonesty
  • Management of competing desires
  • Perception of silence?

Those are my first seven guesses.


The eight cognitive functions Jung identified are displayed in this graph:


(Image source: http://possibilitywarrior.com/language-of-functions/)


We must approach the subject in a simple manner, until we are able to experience the mind directly – which is the correct way to study it.

Anything anyone else says about their mind came from introspection and can only help direct questions for our own introspection. It’s their truth. Freud offers a classic example. Perhaps projection explains every theory of reality.