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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smokey
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by smokey » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:25 pm

"For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear and complex. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a simple straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past. The nature of this freedom is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction." -Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:50 pm

Nice...

:anjali:

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beeblebrox
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by beeblebrox » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:07 pm

PeterB wrote:
Shonin wrote:The "person" who we think is in control is a mental construct.
The "person" who we think is NOT in control is a mental construct.

It's all self-views.

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.
following that logic Shonin the person who posted that view is a mental construct, so send me all of your mentally constructed income for the next six months. I will supply a PO box number.
Sorry, but that's just bizarre logic. Why would the self being constructed suddenly mean that Shonin should give you his income? Seems like what he posted got turned into a wrong view...

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:14 pm

It was a joke Beeblebrox, An old and running joke.

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Modus.Ponens » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:17 pm

The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.

But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us. Due to ignorance we think we are independent of the external world and of previous events in the internal world, so without knowledge of all the things that condition us we have the illusion of choice. But this illusion is real for us so we do, subjectively, have choice. That's why we must apply effort in the path to liberation.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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beeblebrox
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by beeblebrox » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:25 pm

PeterB wrote:It was a joke Beeblebrox, An old and running joke.
I like jokes as much as anyone else, but not when it confuses the Dhamma. :tongue:

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:45 pm

I apologise to the Dhamma for any confusion I caused it....

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

Post by Dharma Atma » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:03 pm

If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind.
Well, continuing the example with lightening, we proseed that we're able to know that the lightening will definitely come to an end... we can even calculate what certain moment it will happen. In this scene it's perfectly known that the lightening will be over. So, Samsara will come to its end definitely. And there are some calculations among brahmans of India. The time period when Samsara exists they call "the Day of Brahma".
But, on the other hand, can we say how any particle in the lightening conduct? Can we calculate if any electron go here or there? We can't, and there's a law in phisics, the law of uncertainty (look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ). So, as a path of any electron can't be foreseen, so how a man behaves in an hour or two we can't say. 'Cause people have a free-will. And I cannot agree with the following:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us.
The manifested world as a Whole has no free will, 'cause its end and its evolution goes according to certain laws. But - if we're "aware of everything that conditions us" or we are not - people can conduct as they like, and their behaviour will definitely be individual and unique. No one knows where the electron is in a second...

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cooran
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by cooran » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:20 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind.
Well, continuing the example with lightening, we proseed that we're able to know that the lightening will definitely come to an end... we can even calculate what certain moment it will happen. In this scene it's perfectly known that the lightening will be over. So, Samsara will come to its end definitely. And there are some calculations among brahmans of India. The time period when Samsara exists they call "the Day of Brahma".
But, on the other hand, can we say how any particle in the lightening conduct? Can we calculate if any electron go here or there? We can't, and there's a law in phisics, the law of uncertainty (look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ). So, as a path of any electron can't be foreseen, so how a man behaves in an hour or two we can't say. 'Cause people have a free-will. And I cannot agree with the following:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us.
The manifested world as a Whole has no free will, 'cause its end and its evolution goes according to certain laws. But - if we're "aware of everything that conditions us" or we are not - people can conduct as they like, and their behaviour will definitely be individual and unique. No one knows where the electron is in a second...
Hello Dharma Atma,

Could you provide traceable links to the Suttas or Abhidhamma which will support what you have stated above?

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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

Post by Rui Sousa » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:53 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:In my opinion there is will, but is it not free. It is not free because it is conditioned. But there is will. And actions, words and thoughts affected by that will.

Maybe it is just a question of gradient, because even in Christianity will is not absolutely free, because there are consequences for actions and there is the case of divine intervention guiding believers on their actions.

In my understanding of Buddhism "will" is not as free as in Christianity, which is not completely free there, and freer than in fatalist believes.
In Christianity, how can you act other than how god knows you are going to act AND how you act is a result of the very nature of the creation of that god.
The logical black holes of Christianity have always driven me elsewhere...
With Metta

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Modus.Ponens » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:00 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind.
Well, continuing the example with lightening, we proseed that we're able to know that the lightening will definitely come to an end... we can even calculate what certain moment it will happen. In this scene it's perfectly known that the lightening will be over. So, Samsara will come to its end definitely. And there are some calculations among brahmans of India. The time period when Samsara exists they call "the Day of Brahma".
But, on the other hand, can we say how any particle in the lightening conduct? Can we calculate if any electron go here or there? We can't, and there's a law in phisics, the law of uncertainty (look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ). So, as a path of any electron can't be foreseen, so how a man behaves in an hour or two we can't say. 'Cause people have a free-will. And I cannot agree with the following:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us.
The manifested world as a Whole has no free will, 'cause its end and its evolution goes according to certain laws. But - if we're "aware of everything that conditions us" or we are not - people can conduct as they like, and their behaviour will definitely be individual and unique. No one knows where the electron is in a second...
Apart from the non Theravada business, lets adress the principle of uncertainty.

the principle of uncertainty manifests only in small scales. In a large scale like the human scale, the principle of uncertainty is imperceptionable (if this word exists... :shrug: ). Furthermore there are other interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the de Broglie–Bohm theory which is deterministic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpreta ... ohm_theory" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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tiltbillings
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:45 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind . . . .
Adi-Buddha, Great ewmptiness? Products of wishful thinking, and certainly not taught by the Buddha.
>> 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 12:20 am

Wind wrote:Christians would say God gave us Free-will. Does Free-will exist? Or is it similar to Anatta where it's only an illusion?
This is a difficult quenstion to answer. Because free will can imply religious, sientific and ethical aplications.

We have to conceit free will first.

We can say that free will is the purported right of agents to make choices and actions free from any constraints.

In catholic relegion the term Free will imput that god does not assert his power over the choices and actions of any being.

So we can asked about it:
- Determinism exist?
- Does free will exist?
Or
- When one make choices or actions, could he has any physical constraints?
- When one make choices or actions, could he has any social constraints?
- When one amke choices or actions, could he has any psychological constraints?

To have a clue to this questions this quotes are necessary:
Determinism is roughly defined as the view that all current and future events are causally necessitated by past events combined with the laws of nature. Neither determinism nor its opposite, indeterminism, are positions in the debate about free will.
Free Will in Buddhism:
Buddhism accepts both freedom and determinism (or something similar to it), but rejects the idea of an agent, and thus the idea that freedom is a free will belonging to an agent. According to the Buddha, "There is free action, there is retribution, but I see no agent that passes out from one set of momentary elements into another one, except the [connection] of those elements [aggregates]." Buddhists believe in neither absolute free will, nor determinism. It preaches a middle doctrine, named paticcasamuppāda in Pali, which is often translated as "inter-dependent arising". It is part of the theory of karma in Buddhism. The concept of karma in Buddhism is different from the notion of karma in Hinduism. In Buddhism, the idea of karma is much less deterministic. This Buddhist notion of karma is primarily focused on the cause and effect of moral actions in this life, while in Hinduism the concept of karma is more often connected with determining one's destiny in future lives.

In Buddhism it is taught that the idea of absolute freedom of choice (i.e. that any human being could be completely free to make any choice) is foolish, because it denies the reality of one's physical needs and circumstances. Equally incorrect is the idea that we have no choice in life or that our lives are pre-determined. To deny freedom would be to deny the efforts of Buddhists to make moral progress (through our capacity to freely choose compassionate action). Pubbekatahetuvada, the belief that all happiness and suffering arise from previous actions, is considered a wrong view according to Buddhist doctrines. Because Buddhists also reject agenthood, the traditional compatibilist strategies are closed to them as well. Instead, the Buddhist philosophical strategy is to examine the metaphysics of causality. Ancient India had many heated arguments about the nature of causality with Jains, Nyayists, Samkhyists, Cārvākans, and Buddhists all taking slightly different lines. In many ways, the Buddhist position is closer to a theory of "conditionality" than a theory of "causality", especially as it is expounded by Nagarjuna in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.
Actually our friends Vajrayana may have a different view. With the role of Samanthabadra and Samanthabadri.

In "my" opinion I prefer to be with the view of Paticcasamupada and wold state the following:

"Either free-will or non-free-will, but a subtle freedom that is on the supramundane realesation".

You can find more in Wiki Philosphy Portal

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by acinteyyo » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:28 am

What is free-will?
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Goedert
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Goedert » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:33 am

Dharma Atma wrote:If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind.
Well, continuing the example with lightening, we proseed that we're able to know that the lightening will definitely come to an end... we can even calculate what certain moment it will happen. In this scene it's perfectly known that the lightening will be over. So, Samsara will come to its end definitely. And there are some calculations among brahmans of India. The time period when Samsara exists they call "the Day of Brahma".
But, on the other hand, can we say how any particle in the lightening conduct? Can we calculate if any electron go here or there? We can't, and there's a law in phisics, the law of uncertainty (look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ). So, as a path of any electron can't be foreseen, so how a man behaves in an hour or two we can't say. 'Cause people have a free-will. And I cannot agree with the following:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us.
The manifested world as a Whole has no free will, 'cause its end and its evolution goes according to certain laws. But - if we're "aware of everything that conditions us" or we are not - people can conduct as they like, and their behaviour will definitely be individual and unique. No one knows where the electron is in a second...
Hello friend, Padmasambhava was a Shivaist before turn to buddhism so the things got mixed-up. When one want to post Vajrayana point of view an concepts in a Theravada Forum, one must also put Hindu points of view. Because Yogic culture was different from the Sramana culture in ancient India. Not doing so, one will get a misunderstanding answer. Because this is not the early buddhist terms thought by the Gautama Sakyamuni Buddha.

See:
In Kashmir Shaivism
The concept of free will plays a central role in Kashmir Shaivism. Known under the technical name of svātantrya it is the cause of the creation of the universe - a primordial force that stirs up the absolute and manifests the world inside the supreme consciousness of Śiva.

Svātantrya is the sole property of God, all the rest of conscious subjects being co-participant in various degrees to the divine sovereignty. Humans have a limited degree of free will based on their level of consciousness. Ultimately, Kashmir Shaivism as a monistic idealist philosophical system views all subjects to be identical - "all are one" - and that one is Śiva, the supreme consciousness. Thus, all subjects have free will but they can be ignorant of this power. Ignorance too is a force projected by svātantrya itself upon the creation and can only be removed by svātantrya.

A function of svātantrya is that of granting divine grace - śaktipāt. In this philosophical system spiritual liberation is not accessible by mere effort, but dependent only on the will of God. Thus, the disciple can only surrender himself and wait for the divine grace to come down and eliminate the limitations that imprison his consciousness.

Causality in Kashmir Shaivism is considered to be created by Svātantrya along with the universe. Thus there can be no contradiction, limitation or rule to force Śiva to act one way or the other. Svātantrya always exists beyond the limiting shield of cosmic illusion, māyā.
Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will# ... r_Shaivism

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:17 am

I find it slightly puzzling that a thread discussing freewill ( ! ) on a Theravada Forum has turned into a discussion about Vajrayana notions and the possible influence pf Kashmiri Shaivism on these notions. I know this is the lounge but......

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:23 am

PeterB wrote:I find it slightly puzzling that a thread discussing freewill ( ! ) on a Theravada Forum has turned into a discussion about Vajrayana notions and the possible influence pf Kashmiri Shaivism on these notions. I know this is the lounge but......
I agree.

Back to the topic, unless you - whomever you are - feel that your are compelled to act otherwise, which means I feel compelled to delete the off-topic msgs.
>> 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: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Dharma Atma » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:02 pm

cooran wrote:Could you provide traceable links to the Suttas or Abhidhamma which will support what you have stated above?
I could have, but Buddha said that even He said something and it goes in contradiction with common sense, we must follow common sense. So, I don't think it is important where I or you take this or that. But I can say it: I wrote the combined viewpoint taken from Lankavatara Sutra, partially from the Diamond Sutra, such ideas are also situated in such books as The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky, and especially in No Boundary by Ken Wilber, known buddhist.
Modus.Ponens wrote:Apart from the non Theravada business, lets adress the principle of uncertainty.the principle of uncertainty manifests only in small scales.
I didn't mean that we have to explore physics now! :clap: It was just a metaphore...
tiltbillings wrote:Adi-Buddha, Great ewmptiness? Products of wishful thinking, and certainly not taught by the Buddha.
:rofl: Shunyata was not taught by the Buddha? You're joking maybe... He did, and did it often and everywhere.
Truth is not Theravada or non-Theravada. We must go along common sense. C'est tout! And I haven't seen any real facts against the viewpoint I wrote above (with my poor English... :cry: )...

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by PeterB » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:26 pm

Dharma Atma, The Theravada does not in general recognize The Lankavatara Sutra or The Diamond Sutra as representing the teachings of the Buddha. Neither Wilbur or Blavatsky are Buddhist teachers.
The Shunyata doctrine is not taught in the Theravada.
There is a sister forum to this one called Dharma Wheel. It might be the case that you will find discussion there more suited to your point of view.

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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Post by Snowmelt » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:47 pm

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?

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