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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mikenz66
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:39 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote: You are going to have to draw out from the article what the "agents" in fact are; otherwise, Alexis going to choose to distort what is being said here.
Sure:
Although the Buddha denied ultimate agency—the singular point from which soul
ultimately controls the body—he acknowledged moral choice and personal retribution.
The agent in this case is nothing but a collection of physical and mental processes,
but as such it can still choose what to do.
There is action... Not dust...

Mike

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Alex123
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:40 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote: If there is control of the senses, it is because a series of choices to practice in a way, as the Buddha taught, altering our conditioning. Choice, meaning that one could opt not to do the what the Buddha taught. The Dhammapada texts point to clear choices of action between this or that. It is up to the individual to choose to act this way of that way.
And those choice arise because there are requisite conditions for them to arise. One has enough wisdom to see the benefit of sense restraint, the drawbacks of sensuality, and knows what to do in the first place. If there are too much negative qualities and not enough faith or wisdom, then one may not even think

If there are causes for sense restraint to occur, sense restraint occurs, never non-restraint of the senses.
causes = plural.

tiltbillings wrote: Conditioning is hardly a singular "cause" thing, thusly giving us options.
And I wasn't talking about a single cause. I was talking about many.


tiltbillings wrote:
Alex wrote: If there are causes for wholesome kamma to be made, wholesome kamma is made, never unwholesome.
If there are causes for unwholesome kamma to be made, unwholesome kamma is made, never wholesome.
Since when is there simply a singular bit of conditioning - and only that - at play during a moment of choice? This may be so in your simplistic world of dead mechanical causality.
Alex wrote:Or do you propose that despite there being causes of wholesome kamma to be made, unwholesome kamma can occur instead?
Your usual trotting out of
Tilt, I was not talking about a single cause. I was using causes in plural. And what kind of convincing response is "Your usual trotting out"?


Do you propose that: Despite there being many complex causes for wholesome kamma occur, unwholesome kamma can occur instead ?
Note: causes = plural.

With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Alex123
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:43 pm

Hello Mike,
mikenz66 wrote: There is action... Not dust...
Do you agree with:

Whatever action arises, it arises in the only possible way that it could ever arise given those set of many complex internal/external, past or present, set of conditions. If additional conditions were added, the different action would arise in accordance with those additional conditions.

You can answer is simple "yes or no" .

With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:45 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote: You are going to have to draw out from the article what the "agents" in fact are; otherwise, Alexis going to choose to distort what is being said here.
Sure:
Although the Buddha denied ultimate agency—the singular point from which soul
ultimately controls the body—he acknowledged moral choice and personal retribution.
The agent in this case is nothing but a collection of physical and mental processes,
but as such it can still choose what to do.
There is action... Not dust...

Mike
But be prepared for the march of the
ImageImage
>> 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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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:53 pm

Alex123 wrote:If there are causes for sense restraint to occur, sense restraint occurs, never non-restraint of the senses.
causes = plural.
Sure, but before the choice was made, there would be the option to not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. It is making of the choice that is the deciding condition, which means it could have gone differently. If it could not have gone differently, there would have been no choice.
tiltbillings wrote: Conditioning is hardly a singular "cause" thing, thusly giving us options.
And I wasn't talking about a single cause. I was talking about many.
Now you are.
>> 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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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:59 pm

Alex123 wrote: Tilt, I was not talking about a single cause. I was using causes in plural. And what kind of convincing response is "Your usual trotting out"?
It simply points out that, despite what is being said by others here, you very frequently trot out your straw-man argument that does not address what the other said.

Do you propose that: Despite there being many complex causes for wholesome kamma occur, unwholesome kamma can occur instead ?
Note: causes = plural.
I have addressed this more than once. The complex of causes is most likely a mixture, which is why the individual could act this way or that way. It is the action of choosing - kamma - among viable options that is the determining condition.
>> 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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Alex123
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:12 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex wrote:If there are causes for sense restraint to occur, sense restraint occurs, never non-restraint of the senses.
causes = plural.
Sure, but before the choice was made, there would be the option to not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. It is making of the choice that is the deciding condition, which means it could have gone differently. If it could not have gone differently, there would have been no choice.
If there are causes for "option not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching" to occur, then option of not acting in accordance with the Buddha's teaching occurs.

Or do you propose that Despite there being many complex causes for "option not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching" to occur, option to act in accordance with the Buddha's teach can occur instead ?

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: Conditioning is hardly a singular "cause" thing, thusly giving us options.
And I wasn't talking about a single cause. I was talking about many.
Now you are.
Tilt,
In SN35.193 the Anatta of consciousness is explained as consciousness arising due to causes and conditions.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p100072" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
notice "due to causes and conditions". I started posting from page2 of this thread. And even there I've used causes and conditions. Plural.

In my 2nd post on page 1 in the "Meditation, conditionality, and anatta" thread I've mentioned multiple causes. So straw man is all yours.
Some say, "put in the required causes and the effects will follow". But even "putting in the causes" is still beyond control, fully conditioned, and not-Self. There isn't any Self-Agency that can do things...
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... t=0#p98280" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
With metta,

Alex
Last edited by Alex123 on Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Alex123
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:18 pm

Hello Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex wrote: Do you propose that: Despite there being many complex causes for wholesome kamma occur, unwholesome kamma can occur instead ?
Note: causes = plural.
I have addressed this more than once. The complex of causes is most likely a mixture, which is why the individual could act this way or that way. It is the action of choosing - kamma - among viable options that is the determining condition.
Thank you for answering!


So just because there is a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes doesn't alter the fact that this mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes is the cause for wholesome rather than unwholesome kamma to occur.

"The action of choosing - kamma - among viable options" happens due to a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes. When these many causes are, the specific result occurs. If these causes were absent, "The action of choosing - kamma - among viable options" would not occur or would be different in accordance with differences of causes.


If there are causes for X to occur, X occurs, never not-X. Tilt, Do you agree?

causes = a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes
X = "The action of choosing - kamma - among viable options" , or anything else


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:22 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex wrote:If there are causes for sense restraint to occur, sense restraint occurs, never non-restraint of the senses.
causes = plural.
Sure, but before the choice was made, there would be the option to not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. It is making of the choice that is the deciding condition, which means it could have gone differently. If it could not have gone differently, there would have been no choice.
If there are causes for "option not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching" to occur, then option of not acting in accordance with the Buddha's teaching occurs.
If that is one of the options presented by the mixed bag of conditioning present AND only if the choice - the deciding condition - is made in that direction.
Or do you propose that Despite there being many complex causes for "option not act in accordance with the Buddha's teaching" to occur, option to act in accordance with the Buddha's teach can occur instead ?
If acting in accordance with the Buddha's teachings is also an option, that realistically it could be a choice of action.

In SN35.193 the Anatta of consciousness is explained as consciousness arising due to causes and conditions.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 20#p100072" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
notice "due to causes and conditions". I started posting from page2 of this thread. And even there I've used causes and conditions. Plural.
But if you look at your overall language it comes across as singular.
>> 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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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:31 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hello Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex wrote: Do you propose that: Despite there being many complex causes for wholesome kamma occur, unwholesome kamma can occur instead ?
Note: causes = plural.
I have addressed this more than once. The complex of causes is most likely a mixture, which is why the individual could act this way or that way. It is the action of choosing - kamma - among viable options that is the determining condition.
Thank you for answering!
And it would be nice if you would do the same.

So just because there is a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes doesn't alter the fact that this mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes is the cause for wholesome rather than unwholesome kamma to occur.
What?
"The action of choosing - kamma - among viable options" happens due to a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes. When these many causes are, the specific result occurs. If these causes were absent, "The action of choosing - kamma - among viable options" would not occur or would be different in accordance with differences of causes.


If there are causes for X to occur, X occurs, never not-X. Tilt, Do you agree?
No. I really find your presntation a bit off. I am not going to accept your attempt at re-wording, and actually reframing, of what I clearly said.
causes = a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes
You really don't get it, or you are just trying to be difficult.
X = "The action of choosing - kamma - among viable options" , or anything else
Damdifino what you are talking about here.
>> 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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Alex123
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote: If that is one of the options presented by the mixed bag of conditioning present AND only if the choice - the deciding condition - is made in that direction.

If acting in accordance with the Buddha's teachings is also an option, that realistically it could be a choice of action.
The options are fully conditioned. When there are all the requisite trillions of complex and interrelated conditions for set of options X to occur, set of options X occur never the other set. Tilt, do you agree with this?

The choice of action occurs because there are all the requisite trillions of complex and interrelated conditions for that as opposed to other choice of action to occur. Tilt, do you agree with this?

tiltbillings wrote: But if you look at your overall language it comes across as singular.
I am sorry if my communication was less then ideal. Since page 1 of the original topic
Alex wrote: Some say, "put in the required causes and the effects will follow". But even "putting in the causes" is still beyond control, fully conditioned, and not-Self. There isn't any Self-Agency that can do things...
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... t=0#p98280" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


I’ve talked about multiple causes and conditions. Multiple could mean trillions and trillions.


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:33 pm

If new causes are inputed (having heard true Dhamma) then the cause-effect stream will change. So the situation is not un-changeble. Also what happens now dependent on past causes and what happens now. The Buddha taught us out of compassion so that his wisdom would insert the causes for Arhatship to occur
.

So things that happen now are determined on past causes yes?

Is my acceptence of the 4NT's determined by past causes or was their a choice in accepting them?

Yes or no


So the situation is not hopeless.

If it is determined then it is "hopeless" since their is no choice, there is just the ball of string
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:39 pm

Hi Tilt,
Alex wrote: So just because there is a mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes doesn't alter the fact that this mixture of many trillions of complex interrelated causes is the cause for wholesome rather than unwholesome kamma to occur.
tiltbillings wrote: What?
The teaching of conditionality doesn’t alter in principle if by causes one includes trillions of causes rather than just one cause. Neither does the complexity and interrelatedness of non-dynamic and functional causes alter the basic principle that

Certain set of causes leads to certain set of results.


Alex wrote: If there are causes for X to occur, X occurs, never not-X. Tilt, Do you agree?
tiltbillings wrote: No. I really find your presntation a bit off. I am not going to accept your attempt at re-wording, and actually reframing, of what I clearly said.
So are you saying that:
Despite there being the causes for X to occur, not-X occurs instead?


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:40 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: If that is one of the options presented by the mixed bag of conditioning present AND only if the choice - the deciding condition - is made in that direction.

If acting in accordance with the Buddha's teachings is also an option, that realistically it could be a choice of action.
The options are fully conditioned. When there are all the requisite trillions of complex and interrelated conditions for set of options X to occur, set of options X occur never the other set. Tilt, do you agree with this?
Too vague.
The choice of action occurs because there are all the requisite trillions of complex and interrelated conditions for that as opposed to other choice of action to occur. Tilt, do you agree with this?
Way too vague.
I’ve talked about multiple causes and conditions. Multiple could mean trillions and trillions.
Do you choose among trillions and trillions when you are choosing tyoe what you type. Are you aware of them all? I think I understand your hypebole here, but I am not going to respond to it.
>> 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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clw_uk
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by clw_uk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:41 pm

If there are causes for X to occur, X occurs, never not-X. Tilt, Do you agree?
So you are an ajivaka

'Though one might think," "Through this morality, this practice, this austerity, or this holy life I will ripen unripened kamma and eliminate ripened kamma whenever touched by it" — that is impossible. Pleasure and pain are measured out, the wandering-on is fixed in its limits. There is no shortening or lengthening, no accelerating or decelerating. Just as a ball of string, when thrown, comes to its end simply by unwinding, in the same way, having transmigrated and wandered on, the wise and the foolish alike will put an end to pain.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Which would mean wrong view, wrong intention .. wrong effort .. wrong insight
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:42 pm

Alex123 wrote: The teaching of conditionality doesn’t alter in principle if by causes one includes trillions of causes rather than just one cause. Neither does the complexity and interrelatedness of non-dynamic and functional causes alter the basic principle that

Certain set of causes leads to certain set of results.
But as we see here, for you there really is no choice. Just X alway giving rise to Y.
>> 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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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:46 pm

Hi Clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote: So things that happen now are determined on past causes yes?
Things happening now are conditioned by past causes (could be trillions of causes).
clw_uk wrote: Is my acceptence of the 4NT's determined by past causes or was their a choice in accepting them?
Yes or no
Your acceptance of 4NT is due to many causes:
a) Knowing the fact of 4NT. This required you to hear or read about them.

b) If you found out about them from someone else, there needed to be specific causes for you to be at the right place and the right time to hear or read about 4NT.

c) Not only is hearing/reading about them is required, but sufficient paññā is required to accept 4NT.
Some people do not have required paññā to make a choice to accept 4NT. Some believe in Zeus, Jehovah, the "World is Nice", etc.


You had no choice given your wisdom (paññā), and other many causes to choose to believe in anything other than 4NT (such as belief in Zeus).

Alex wrote:So the situation is not hopeless.
clw_uk wrote:If it is determined then it is "hopeless" since their is no choice, there is just the ball of string
Being determined for Parinibbāna is great news.


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:50 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote: But as we see here, for you there really is no choice. Just X alway giving rise to Y.
This is not what I've meant.

Whatever choice arises, it arises in the only possible way that it could ever arise given those set of internal/external, past or present, set of trillions of complex conditions. If additional conditions are added, the different choice would arise in accordance with those additional conditions. If some conditions were missing, the choice would be different in accordance with present or missing conditions.


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:50 pm

Alex123 wrote:Being determined for Parinibbāna is great news.
And you then do not have to take any responsibility for where and how you find yourself. Things are just going unfold by impersonal causes. I don't need to do anything because there really is nothing I can do. Do you agree?
>> 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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Alex123
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:56 pm

Hi Clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote: So you are an ajivaka
Please describe exactly what Ajivikas believed in, and I'll say if I agree or not.

From what I've read:
ajivaka did not believe in Kamma. I do.
ajivaka did not believe in Buddha. I do.
ajivaka (or any non-Buddhist schools) did not believe in role of paññā or drawbacks of avijjā - I do.

'Though one might think," "Through this morality, this practice, this austerity, or this holy life I will ripen unripened kamma and eliminate ripened kamma whenever touched by it" — that is impossible. Pleasure and pain are measured out, the wandering-on is fixed in its limits. There is no shortening or lengthening, no accelerating or decelerating. Just as a ball of string, when thrown, comes to its end simply by unwinding, in the same way, having transmigrated and wandered on, the wise and the foolish alike will put an end to pain.
Paññā makes liberation possible. With more paññā, liberation occurs faster.
Avijjā obstructs liberation and keeps one in samsara.

Fool will not get out of samsara until paññā has been sufficiently developed.


Mere transmigration is not a cause for escape from samsara, paññā is primary cause.


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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