By Charles Feldman (Prana)
Most monotheists believe in free will. They think that Adam and Eve knew that they were doing something bad, and that they were deceived into thinking that they could get away with it. Correspondingly, fundamentalists think that people who do not adhere to their particular brand of religion know that they are doing something bad.
My contention is that in all religions and ideologies, people who sincerely believe in them believe that they are doing the right thing. So, if they are being deceived, they are being deceived into believing that they are doing the right thing. If that is the case, they do not have free will, because if someone is deceived into doing something that they sincerely believe is right, and they are actually doing something bad, they are not doing bad of their own free will, because as far as they know, they are doing the right thing. This defeats the argument that the reason for suffering is that God loves people so much that He gives them free will. Even if you were to say that the devil is deceiving people, the fact that they are being deceived means that they do not have free will, unless they are knowingly doing something bad, which, from my experience, is not the case for sincere believers in all faiths. I know intellectually that fundamentalists do not have the free will to see this, even though it feels like they should be able to. It seems so simple.
This leaves the idea that suffering comes from Maya, in which there are inevitable contradictions (being the nature of duality), and that the way to end suffering is to attain God-realization. It is not desire itself that causes suffering. It is the inevitable backlash that comes along with desire that causes suffering. In Samadhi, there is no lack and no gain, because, if there is nothing that you lack, there is nothing at all that you need to gain. This is what the mystics call bliss.