A silent mind is a thousand times better than a thinking mind, so I would like to avoid this question so much. However, my body and mind are also conditioned to think and I still cannot dissolve thoughts, that I do not want to pursue, at the moment of arising and pondering. It is because I am not fully aware at every moment of arising of thoughts.
I think there is a free will to choose our actions. We can make decisions about what to do at the moment of arising of a thought. Whether to act or not act according to a thought is at will of our mind. But there is a caveat, that ‘will’ to perform certain action can be attributed to mind only if we are fully aware at that moment.
Sometimes, thoughts arise in mind and we ponder or take some actions without being fully aware. What happens there? Thoughts come to us and we perform actions without being aware. In such cases, we cannot say we exercised our will because we were not aware. Then who decided for us to do stuff without us being aware? Something for more thinking.
One area where I think we do not have free will is on what thoughts come to our mind. In fact, we can never tell what thoughts will come to us in next 20 minutes or tomorrow morning. Yes we have free will to pursue the thought or reject it at arising if we are fully aware at that moment. But the arising of various thoughts themselves, that we do not have control over. We cannot originate a thought because that would be thinking inside thinking. So, we rely on thoughts that come to us. And what thought comes to us when is not something we can choose.
I do think that it benefits us if we are fully aware as much as we can so that we can dismiss ‘bad‘ thoughts and pursue ‘good’ thoughts. This may lead us to good karma. Good karma in turn may lead to good results and even better thoughts coming to us. May be meditation, good food, exercise, service to others, charity, etc also help in bringing good thoughts? May be we should watch, listen, and say only good things so that only good thoughts come to us. That way, even if we cannot be aware all the time to accept or reject a thought, ensuring that only good thoughts are coming to us will help? Who knows?
Enough thinking already!