Did the Buddha teach we have choice? (aka The Great Free Will v Determinism Debate)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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PeterB
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:20 pm

I cant speak for the mods Snowmelt but in my view there is nothing wrong with the topic, but on a forum which which exists "for discussion of the Dhamma of the Theravada " discussion should I would suggest happen within the parameters set by that Theravadin Dhamma.

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Goedert
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Goedert » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:46 pm

Snowmelt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Shonin wrote:
Phenomena just are. 'Me' being or not being in control doesn't come into it. It's a kind of clinging. The Buddhist practice is to see that and thus let go.
Except the reality is that until we have the insight to see it as it is, we need to work with the "me," which is the purpose of the precepts, of sitting practice, etc. It is a matter of starting where we are. We might want to tell the "constructed self" where to get off, to put it in its place, but it really does not work that way. Being recalcitrant, stubborn, and persistent, we have to work with it, cultivate it with the precepts, thin its walls with generosity and metta, to gain insight into it via mindfulness.
Or is it the case that thoughts about this topic are to be let go of, not to be pursued and elaborated on? Considering such questions as whether the universe is finite or infinite do not lead toward Nibbana. Is the question of free will another such distraction from the path?
Friend,

It has to do with dhamma. Because free-will directs involve Dukkha, Anicca, Anatta and indirect involves Paticcasamuppada. One can gain insight from this contemplation.

Any topic, including the Dhamma, that some relate to it in a ego-clinging way, of course it will be a barrier to nibbana.

See what you have said:

The universe is finite or infinite do not lead toward Nibbana. (Yes, but the universe exist).

The question to topic is free-will exist or not exist. (So, we are discussin different things here. We are not discussing if free-will is infinite or not infinite, mesuring it).

This is called Non sequitur Falacy because your conclusion can't be sustained by it premisses.

Kind regards.

chownah
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by chownah » Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:16 pm

AS always, like an echo from the past.....the Buddha advises to have no doctrine of self whatever....

I guess that what this means is that if you have to have some belief in some "self" which has or exercises this "free will" thing then it is probably best to just pass on conceptualizing this "free-will" thing altogether.......is it important to ask or answer this question?.....it can in principle not be proved one way or the other anyway....there can never be a true resolution of the issue.
chownah

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Dharma Atma
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Dharma Atma » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:04 pm

PeterB wrote:The Theravada does not in general recognize The Lankavatara Sutra or The Diamond Sutra as representing the teachings of the Buddha.
Really? Didn't know that.
PeterB wrote:There is a sister forum to this one called Dharma Wheel.
Thank you. Do you mean this - http://www.dharmawheel.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ? I'll visit it :smile: But as I had stated before (the thread "Hi from Russia") I am here with purpose to know the point of view of Theravada.
PeterB wrote:The Shunyata doctrine is not taught in the Theravada.
Does Theravada have to contradict to the common sense? I guess, it doesn't. So it'd be very interesting to know why Theravada rejects the Emptiness, the empty space in which all the objects exist? Anyone can explain (by logic... not by writings)?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:19 pm

chownah wrote:AS always, like an echo from the past.....the Buddha advises to have no doctrine of self whatever....

I guess that what this means is that if you have to have some belief in some "self" which has or exercises this "free will" thing then it is probably best to just pass on conceptualizing this "free-will" thing altogether.......is it important to ask or answer this question?.....it can in principle not be proved one way or the other anyway....there can never be a true resolution of the issue.
chownah
Until one has enough vipassana, one is going to "believe" in a self and believe in non-self. One has to start from where one is.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Goedert
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Goedert » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:59 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:
PeterB wrote:The Theravada does not in general recognize The Lankavatara Sutra or The Diamond Sutra as representing the teachings of the Buddha.
Really? Didn't know that.
PeterB wrote:There is a sister forum to this one called Dharma Wheel.
Thank you. Do you mean this - http://www.dharmawheel.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ? I'll visit it :smile: But as I had stated before (the thread "Hi from Russia") I am here with purpose to know the point of view of Theravada.
PeterB wrote:The Shunyata doctrine is not taught in the Theravada.
Does Theravada have to contradict to the common sense? I guess, it doesn't. So it'd be very interesting to know why Theravada rejects the Emptiness, the empty space in which all the objects exist? Anyone can explain (by logic... not by writings)?
Tathagata once said: "This kind of teaching only conduce to the reappearing in dimension of nothingness/emptiness" - He learned it with his first teacher, Alara Kalama.

Theravada focus in Anatta, the no self doctrine.

Ānanda, Buddha's attendant asked, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?" The Buddha replied, "Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ānanda, that the world is empty." He goes on to explain that what is meant by "the world" is the six sense media and their objects, and elsewhere says that to theorize about something beyond this realm of experience would put one to grief.

This emptiness doctrine in fact comes from Anatta by

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Rui Sousa » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:22 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:Does Theravada have to contradict to the common sense? I guess, it doesn't. So it'd be very interesting to know why Theravada rejects the Emptiness, the empty space in which all the objects exist? Anyone can explain (by logic... not by writings)?
:offtopic:
This is way off topic, and maybe it deserves thread on its own on the discovering Theravada sub-forum.

But I believe your source for the "common sense" issue to be the Kalama Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html) namely the following passage:
Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.


I believe that the Kalama Sutta is widely misunderstood as a call for the use of "Common Sense", but in my interpretation that is not the case.

First I would note the difference between "common sense" and "good sense". Common sense is the same as popular knowledge, or shared knowledge, which is not always our best guide. Good sense is an exercise of a pondered use of our logical abilities, with a good outcome.

I believe the Buddha has invited to neither, instead he has invited the Kalamas to investigate reality in accordance the Dhamma, and determine which qualities are good and skilful, as well as praised by the wise (i.e. the Arahants -> Bala-Pandita Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html). In a more extensive understanding of who the wise are, you may include the four Aryan types, or even the ordained monks. But the bottom line is that whatever the results of our investigation it should be validated with the wise, in order to be sure that we are not eluding ourselves.
With Metta

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tiltbillings
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:24 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:
PeterB wrote:The Theravada does not in general recognize The Lankavatara Sutra or The Diamond Sutra as representing the teachings of the Buddha.
Really? Didn't know that.
PeterB wrote:There is a sister forum to this one called Dharma Wheel.
Thank you. Do you mean this - http://www.dharmawheel.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ? I'll visit it :smile: But as I had stated before (the thread "Hi from Russia") I am here with purpose to know the point of view of Theravada.
PeterB wrote:The Shunyata doctrine is not taught in the Theravada.
Does Theravada have to contradict to the common sense? I guess, it doesn't. So it'd be very interesting to know why Theravada rejects the Emptiness, the empty space in which all the objects exist? Anyone can explain (by logic... not by writings)?
If you are serious about these questions, please start a new thread.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Dharma Atma
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Dharma Atma » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:If you are serious about these questions, please start a new thread.
I'm on the top of seriousity :sage: And am gonna follow your advise, sir... :smile:

PeterB
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:23 pm

I would advise you tp repost your inquiry in the General Theravada Forum Dharma Atma. That way you will get a reply which is from a Theravada perspective. Posting in the Dhamma Free For All you may not.

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Nibbida
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Mindfulness & Autonomy: Buddhist Theory of Free Will

Post by Nibbida » Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:37 pm

An interesting talk on the topic:

http://www.youtube.com/user/aaaricuny#p ... aHtmm46OP0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The introductory explanation for the talk:
"I argued in my dissertation that the 'hard' metaphysical problem of free will may be explained in simple, metaphysically 'easy' causal/functional terms as a product of the mechanics of metacognitive mental causation: There seems to be a causal connection between the extent to which the mind can "go meta-", or loop back in reflectively on its own processes (e.g., think about its thoughts, prefer its desires, etc.), and self-regulation (autonomy, free will), evident in sensory-motor agility, biofeedback, and a host of related phenomena of an equally mundane nature.

The present research explores two new directions to this line of thought: (1) the extent to which mindfulness and other meditation practices increase self-regulation or autonomy, and (2) the extent to which one may develop a cogent version of a Buddhist theory of free will based on these ideas.

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Sobeh
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Re: Mindfulness & Autonomy: Buddhist Theory of Free Will

Post by Sobeh » Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:46 pm

Interesting, but I'm unable to locate the remain 5/6ths of the talk.

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tiltbillings
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Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:34 am

In this thread http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6234" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; in the general meditation section was a back and forth about the role of determinism within the Buddha's teachings. It is a battle better fought here for those who are interested.

Edit: Yes, the Buddha taught causilty, but to refine the question: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice within the causal context within which we find ourselves?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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retrofuturist
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:40 am

Greetings,
Strict determinism means complete predictability of events and only one possible future.
Source: http://www.informationphilosopher.com/f ... inism.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Kim OHara
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:58 am

Strict determinism rules out free will.
The Buddha taught us to *choose* between skillful and unskillful actions.
Therefore the Buddha did not teach strict determinism.
... I think.
:namaste:
Kim

alan
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by alan » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:09 am

Obvious answer is no. But, this being a forum, I suppose we will hear from someone who insists on arguing the opposite. For what reason, I cannot conceive.

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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:17 am

What does "free" in "free will" mean?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:24 am

Sherab wrote:What does "free" in "free will" mean?
That is the question and it was discussed at length in this thread:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6234#p98275" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:48 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Sherab wrote:What does "free" in "free will" mean?
That is the question and it was discussed at length in this thread:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6234#p98275" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I noted that "free" was defined as unconditioned. So what does an unconditioned will mean?

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octathlon
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by octathlon » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:19 am

That thread was way too long and complex for me to catch up on, but what I did read was interesting. I thought one of the problems was people having different ideas of what free will means. I don't think saying that free will is an illusion means you are saying that there is strict determinism. IMO it's the same false dichotomy as eternalism vs. annihilationism. We make choices with our will, but the choices we make are based on our exact state and conditions at that moment. It's not free will nor is it strict determinism.

Any two beings with the same exact kamma-- same exact body, mind, and life history (if that were possible) in a given situation would react, feel, think, consider and deliberate in the same way and their resulting deliberate decision/action would be the same. For that not to be true would require something that could exist or act independently of causes and conditions.

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