(An Excerpt from an article by Dennis Waite)
What exactly is happening when we decide to do something? We might say that it is an intellectual discrimination between several options or the logical conclusion of a series of reasoned arguments. Indeed we might make a variety of similarly waffly statements but what do they actually mean when reduced to essentials? Do we not simply mean that a thought occurred to us to do something? An idea arose in our consciousness and the action followed?
Again I ask you, where do ideas come from? What do we do to initiate an idea? Do we sit down and say: “Right, I am going to have an idea about action”? Well yes, you might say, if you are writing a book in which this is one of the subjects! But even if you do sit down with this intention, what do you do to bring those ideas into the open? If you are having difficulty with the whole concept, I will tell you the answer – there is nothing that you can do. Basically, ideas come to you – when they are good and ready. Thoughts arise and that is all that you can say.
Of course you can put yourself into a particular situation and make good predictions about what thoughts you will have. For example, if you take a man who has been starved of food for several days and place him in a cake shop, you can make a pretty good guess about the sorts of thoughts that will arise. The point is not that thoughts do not follow logically from one to another but that we are unable to initiate a particular thought of our own volition. As far as thinking is concerned, we are still not doing anything. The thoughts are simply coming to us from we know not where and triggering other thoughts and arguments in a manner determined by our particular personality and nature. All of this happens quite automatically and without our conscious consent or will.