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

Post by clw_uk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:57 pm

Hey Alex

first of all thanks for the debate :thumbsup:


Now to argue :jumping:

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


Alex - 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.
So is this DETERMINED BY PAST CAUSES

Yes or no?
You had no choice given your wisdom (paññā), and other many causes to choose to believe in anything other than 4NT
You said

(such as belief in Zeus).

Ok so say I live with abusive parents (i dont) who believe in Zeus. They tell me everyday to worship him, tell me he is real and make me attend religious services in his name for 30 years. However I dont believe in Zeus

Why would this be so? Determinism cant work because "I" had been determined since birth to worship Zeus but yet I choose not to


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

Alex - Being :hello: determined :cry: for Parinibbāna is great news.
Sorry Alex but you show your card here.

Makkhali Gosala also thought in terms of being determined for release (in whatever way he saw that)

And so do you

Hard fact is that the Buddha was also a pragmatistThe determinsim you speak about is a wrong view that damages many
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:02 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
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?
If you want wholesome and pleasant results then do good deeds. If you want more suffering then do bad deeds.
What kind of kamma occurs, does matter. There are good and bad actions. There are good and bad choices".

The doing is, but no doer.

If there is sufficient paññā, the conditional process will develop toward Awakening.

Responsibility belongs to impersonal stream of causes and conditions.


But all of this happens due to causes and conditions, and happens the only way it ever could given those set of internal or external 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 10:04 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
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?
If you want wholesome and pleasant results then do good deeds. If you want more suffering then do bad deeds.
What kind of kamma occurs, does matter. There are good and bad actions. There are good and bad choices".
But according to you, there really is no choice to do good.
>> 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 10:07 pm

Alex123 wrote: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.
Does not sound like you are describing choice.
>> 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 clw_uk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:10 pm

Alex I really would like to stress that your view is quite dangerous


I will give you an example from my own life


I was a cocaine addict for quite a while, then I read the four noble truths

Now I had a choice when I read them, continue shoving shit up my nose or practice

The view your expound would have me snorting my nose away, since my past experience and conditioning was cocaine = good (think pavlov's dog)

However there was a choice to go against that and choose a different path (which was f*** hard btw :jumping: )


But in your teaching I would be determined to coke and not Buddhadhamma


WWhy should I try to change if all is determined, I mean what the heck there is no morals (morals depend on choice) or no hope and everything gets worked out in the end anyway, right?
Last edited by clw_uk on Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:10 pm

Hi Clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote: So is this DETERMINED BY PAST CAUSES
Yes or no?
past and present causes.

Paññā makes liberation possible. With more paññā, liberation occurs faster.
Avijjā obstructs liberation and keeps one in samsara. One doesn’t escape samsara due to merely wondering on. Escape from samsara happens because of developed Paññā that cuts off 10 fetters.

Makkhali Gosala did not teach about Paññā and Avijjā. He didn’t teach that these are key causes that can either keep one in samsara or cause escape from Samsara.

clw_uk wrote: Ok so say I live with abusive parents (i dont) who believe in Zeus. They tell me everyday to worship him, tell me he is real and make me attend religious services in his name for 30 years. However I dont believe in Zeus

Why would this be so? Determinism cant work because "I" had been determined since birth to worship Zeus but yet I choose not to
There could be many causes such as:
Because you had sufficient wisdom not to believe in him. Or because you didn’t have the evidence of existences of Zeus. Or because you wanted to be contrarian and rebellious and refuse to believe what your parents believed. Of because you held other views (learned from others, such as media or peers).
clw_uk wrote: Sorry Alex but you show your card here.

Makkhali Gosala also thought in terms of being determined for release (in whatever way he saw that)

And so do you

Nobody is determined for release just for transmigrating on. Only when there is sufficient Paññā are there conditions for Nibbāna.

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 10:12 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote: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.
Does not sound like you are describing choice.

"Choice" occurs. But it happens due to conditions the only way the conditions would condition it to occur.


Just because the "leaf is blown by the wind is powerless to alter the course", it is still being blown by the wind. Same with choice. Conditions dictate what choice will occur and what choice will not even be considered.


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 10:16 pm

Hi Clw_UK,
clw_uk wrote:Alex I really would like to stress that your view is quite dangerous
Thank you for your warning. But anything in the wrong hands can be dangerous. It is not the screwdriver's fault that someone uses it as a weapon.

If there is sufficient paññā and no avijjā, then bad actions simply cannot occur.
clw_uk wrote: I will give you an example from my own life. I was a cocaine addict for quite a while, then I read the four noble truths. Now I had a choice when I read them, continue shoving shit up my nose or practice.
The reason you quite was because you had sufficient understanding and qualities to quit your addiction. Many people cannot. Why not? Because they didn't have the sufficient conditions to quit (craving, ignorance, etc was too strong).

clw_uk wrote: The view your expound would have me snorting my nose away, since my past experience and conditioning was cocaine = good (think pablos dog)
However there was a choice to go against that and choose a different path. But in your teaching I would be determined to coke and not Buddhadhamma.
WWhy should I try to change if all is determined, I mean what the heck there is no morals (morals depend on choice) or no hope and everything gets worked out in the end anyway, right?

Because you sufficiently see the drawbacks of cocaine and benefits of 4NT that you have no other possibility but to give up cocain and take 4NT.
Determinism does not mean that you are free to do what you want. Good actions lead to good results, bad actions lead to bad results.

If sufficient paññā is present, then wholesome actions will inevitably occur.


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 10:21 pm

tilt wrote:
Alex wrote: 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.
Does not sound like you are describing choice.
"Choice" occurs. But it happens due to conditions the only way the conditions would condition it to occur.
But what you describe does not look like choice.

Just because the "leaf is blown by the wind is powerless to alter the course", it is still being blown by the wind. Same with choice. Conditions dictate what choice will occur and what choice will not even be considered.
While past conditions will dictate that there will be a choice, past conditions do not dictate the actual choosing.

Your position here is at best confused, but most likely actually means there really is no choice, according to you.
>> 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 clw_uk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:25 pm

Alex

Thank you for your warning. But anything in the wrong hands can be dangerous. It is not the screwdriver's fault that someone uses it as a weapon.

Ok so

"When this was said, Purana Kassapa said to me, 'Great king, in acting or getting others to act, in mutilating or getting others to mutilate, in torturing or getting others to torture, in inflicting sorrow or in getting others to inflict sorrow, in tormenting or getting others to torment, in intimidating or getting others to intimidate, in taking life, taking what is not given, breaking into houses, plundering wealth, committing burglary, ambushing highways, committing adultery, speaking falsehood — one does no evil. If with a razor-edged disk one were to turn all the living beings on this earth to a single heap of flesh, a single pile of flesh, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the right bank of the Ganges, killing and getting others to kill, mutilating and getting others to mutilate, torturing and getting others to torture, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the left bank of the Ganges, giving and getting others to give, making sacrifices and getting others to make sacrifices, there would be no merit from that cause, no coming of merit. Through generosity, self-control, restraint, and truthful speech there is no merit from that cause, no coming of merit.'

So this can be good in the "right hands"?

Or does it influence people in a negative way (influence not determin) :woohoo:
This you need to answer

The reason you quite was because you had sufficient understanding and qualities to quit your addiction. Many people cannot. Why not? Because they didn't have the sufficient conditions to quit (craving, ignorance, etc was too strong).
But why should I quit?

According to your Ajivaka teaching all is determined, lets add that to your other metaphysical view that there is rebirth after physical death as a rat and what do we get


"All is determined so eventually there will be nibbana" which is the ball of string rolling on

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.'

looks like I should snort that line :toilet:


I mean whats the point

There are no morals since any action is pre-determined

There is constant "rebirth"

So hey lets snort the night away since I will be liberated sooner or later
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:34 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
tilt wrote:
Alex wrote: 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.
Does not sound like you are describing choice.
Alex wrote:"Choice" occurs. But it happens due to conditions the only way the conditions would condition it to occur.
But what you describe does not look like choice.
It depends what you understand choice to mean. This is why we had a long discussion on what it means.

As a fully conditioned phenomena it is.

But if by choice you mean that Choice X can occur despite all the conditions being set for Choice Y, that I reject.

tiltbillings wrote:While past conditions will dictate that there will be a choice, past conditions do not dictate the actual choosing.
The actual choosing happens due to conditions. It is fully conditioned. If there are causes for choosing X, then choosing X and never choosing not-X will occur.

This is what conditionality of everything means.


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 10:39 pm

Hi clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote: So this can be good in the "right hands"?

Or does it influence people in a negative way (influence not determin)
This you need to answer

Wrong teaching influences in the wrong way. Right teaching influences in the right way. This is why this discussion is very important. Under wrong views any practice is wrong practice.


clw_uk wrote: But why should I quit?
Why should you put your finger into the fire knowing fully well that there will be lots of pain? Same question. You don’t want to get hurt snorting cocaine. You have enough wisdom to see the drawbacks of cocaine and enough wisdom to see advantages of 4NT.



If sufficient paññā is present, then wholesome actions will inevitably occur that will help to get out of samsara.

Nobody is determined for release just for transmigrating on. Only when there is sufficient Paññā are there conditions for Nibbāna.

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 10:40 pm

But if by choice you mean that Choice X can occur despite all the conditions being set for Choice Y, that I reject.
Why cant there be a dhamma that chooses between x and y


It was hard for me to quite coke


There was extreme past habits for X (coke) and little for Y (4NT's)


In your view the coke should have won, since it was so reinforced and determined yet the unlikely choice was taken, the 4NT's


However I will say again, if you say it was already determined then why should I bother

Say I accpet your view then you have determined me to accept fate

If i accept your metaphysics on rebirth as well then one day there will be nibbana since "I" am just a string rolling on

Anyone got a rolled up note? :toast: :roll:
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:54 pm

Alex123 wrote:As a fully conditioned phenomena it is.

But if by choice you mean that Choice X can occur despite all the conditions being set for Choice Y, that I reject.
Then you are obviously not talking about choice, even in the barest defintions of the term.

tiltbillings wrote:While past conditions will dictate that there will be a choice, past conditions do not dictate the actual choosing.
The actual choosing happens due to conditions. It is fully conditioned. If there are causes for choosing X, then choosing X and never choosing not-X will occur.

This is what conditionality of everything means.
That is what it means to you, which means no choice. Choice does not happen.

Choice, while being a conditioned process, happens when there are viable conditioned options from which to choose. Within a particular conditioned context, this could be chosen or that could be chosen. Choice is not dictated by the past, though the past has influences, obviously. No choice, as you advocate, no moral responsibility.
>> 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 10:54 pm

Hi clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote: Why cant there be a dhamma that chooses between x and y
And based on what would it choose between x or y? What would be the criteria of choice and what would be helpful or hindering factors for that choice to occur?
clw_uk wrote: It was hard for me to quite coke
Such was the complex conditioning.
clw_uk wrote: There was extreme past habits for X (coke) and little for Y (4NT's)
The quality of one set of many causes was greater than another set of many causes. That is why Y side won.

clw_uk wrote: In your view the coke should have won, since it was so reinforced and determined yet the unlikely choice was taken, the 4NT's
There is difference between quality and quantity. Furthermore as I've said, the causes for accepting 4NT were greater, that is why you accepted 4NT and not coke.

clw_uk wrote: However I will say again, if you say it was already determined then why should I bother
Would you stick your finger into a fire? Why not? Because you are not crazy, you see the drawbacks. Same with "why should I bother to do good and avoid evil".

When you fully see the harm of doing evil, then the action is avoided like avoiding sticking your finger into a fire.

When sufficient paññā is present, then the fully conditioned choice will be to develop wholesome qualities and never unwholesome.


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 10:56 pm

Choice is not dictated by the past

Tilt its not often we agree but bravo :anjali:



Alex

There is influence but not dicatorship
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by Alex123 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:01 pm

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:As a fully conditioned phenomena it is.

But if by choice you mean that Choice X can occur despite all the conditions being set for Choice Y, that I reject.
Then you are obviously not talking about choice, even in the barest defintions of the term.
Not the choice as "free will" type of choice. This is why we had a long discussion about "choice".

tiltbillings wrote:
That is what it means to you, which means no choice. Choice does not happen.
Choice does not happen without requisite set of many complex internal & external conditions. But as conditioned process it does occur.
tiltbillings wrote:
Choice, while being a conditioned process, happens when there are viable conditioned options from which to choose.
These "viable conditioned options" are fully conditioned and happen in the only possible way that they could ever occur given those set of many complex internal & external conditions.
tiltbillings wrote:
Within a particular conditioned context, this could be chosen or that could be chosen. Choice is not dictated by the past, though the past has influences, obviously.
Do you propose that:
Despite there being conditions for Choice X to occur, Choice Y occurs instead ?


tiltbillings wrote:
No choice, as you advocate, no moral responsibility.
That's your idea not mine. As I've said, good kamma leads to good results, bad kamma leads to bad results. Do good kamma and avoid bad kamma.


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 11:02 pm

Hi clw_uk,
clw_uk wrote: Alex
There is influence but not dicatorship
Do you mean that: Despite there being conditions for Choice X to occur, Choice Y 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 clw_uk » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:05 pm

Alex

clw_uk wrote:
Why cant there be a dhamma that chooses between x and y


Alex - And based on what would it choose between x or y? What would be the criteria of choice and what would be helpful or hindering factors for that choice to occur?

the dhamma of choice would be influenced but not told what to do, i.e. chess determinism would be "C4 to A9"

Influenced choice would be C4 would be better than A9



The quality of one set of many causes was greater than another set of many causes. That is why Y side won.
No Alex actually the quality of coke was greather than the 4NT's at first

I understood the 4NT's rationally but didnt know really know them (which would make them greater)

the dhamma that chooses the 4NT's despite coke calling me back
Would you stick your finger into a fire? Why not? Because you are not crazy, you see the drawbacks. Same with "why should I bother to do good and avoid evil".

When you fully see the harm of doing evil, then the action is avoided like avoiding sticking your finger into a fire.

When sufficient paññā is present, then the fully conditioned choice will be to develop wholesome qualities and never unwholesome.
But I didnt really see the drawbacks of coke at first

Also if you teach determinism and rebirth as a deva then, as I said, whats the point?

There are no morals (since these rely on choice)

BEINGS DONT DEFILE THEMSELVES OR OTHERS - GOSALA

Also liberation is certain at some time or another during the metaphysical round of "samsara"

BALL OF STRING ROLLING ON - GOSALA

Thought experiment here :

I accept your:



A) Determinism (in your buddhaistic Ajivakaistic form)

B) rebirth



So therefore why should I try, why should I choose

Why Should I have SHAME

lets just sit back and let the string roll on people :meditate: :twothumbsup:
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:14 pm

Alex123 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:As a fully conditioned phenomena it is.

But if by choice you mean that Choice X can occur despite all the conditions being set for Choice Y, that I reject.
Then you are obviously not talking about choice, even in the barest definitions of the term.
Not the choice as "free will" type of choice. This is why we had a long discussion about "choice".
You are simply not talking about choice.

tiltbillings wrote:
That is what it means to you, which means no choice. Choice does not happen.
Choice does not happen without requisite set of many complex internal & external conditions. But as conditioned process it does occur.
Not that you have shown.
tiltbillings wrote:
Choice, while being a conditioned process, happens when there are viable conditioned options from which to choose.
These "viable conditioned options" are fully conditioned and happen in the only possible way that they could ever occur given those set of many complex internal & external conditions.
And they are viable, actual options of action. If they were not options, there would be no choice.
tiltbillings wrote:
Within a particular conditioned context, this could be chosen or that could be chosen. Choice is not dictated by the past, though the past has influences, obviously.
Do you propose that:
Despite there being conditions for Choice X to occur, Choice Y occurs instead ?
You really do not listen. The point is, Alex, clearly is that at the point of choosing the conditions for this and that and maybe the other thing to occur are present, giving us the viable options of choice. No viable options, no choice.
tiltbillings wrote:
No choice, as you advocate, no moral responsibility.
That's your idea not mine.
It follows from your no-real choice stance.
>> 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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