Will (volition) denotes unpredictable, endogenous behavior. It is an intricate function of thoughts, desires, and emotions that triggers an action.
But thoughts can be inaccurate, desires short-sighted, and emotions maladaptive.
Hence the concept of the True Will, which consists of three essential aspects:
- thinking rationally about oneself and the world around,
- viewing desires from a long-term perspective, and
- having adaptive emotions.
Epistemic rationality ensures that we are on a path to truth. The long-term perspective ensures that our will is not easily diverted, but sufficiently stable over time. And the adaptiveness of emotions ensures that they are mostly positive (such as curiosity, gratitude, genuine pride, and grounded love), although they need not be (for example, grief might be adaptive despite its negative valence).
We can thus define True Will as unpredictable, endogenous behavior that emerges from an interplay of rational thoughts, long-term desires, and adaptive emotions.
The human will is an “I want”—an expression of the ego, and the ego’s goals are always the same: material possession and social recognition. These, however, are not the long-term goals of the True Will, which instead aims at creation, service, and flourishing or, in a word, at ego-transcending goods.
The True Will, removing the I from “I want”, constitutes an egoless will, a depersonalized form of willing or, rather, of knowing what to do. This inner guidance is still localized in the neural structure of a person’s brain, but it is also part of something greater: it is part of Nature’s will. Doing your True Will means letting the world do through you. It means being in line with your true nature, in harmony with the Dao.