Question about dependent origination

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archaic
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Question about dependent origination

Post by archaic » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm

I have an intellectual grasp of dependent origination. Currently I am reading Under the Bodhi Tree by Ajahn Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, which is wonderful and delves into many of the facets of dependent origination.

My question however, is more philosophical. If everything arises from causes - everything is conditional - then would this not imply lack of free will?

Or is this a case where free will, and lack of free will form a non-dualistic relationship where both are true and yet both are also not true?

Or is my effort in striving to understand this concept misguided, and I would be better inclined to cease trying to cling to views?

I would appreciate feedback from those more permeated with the dhamma than I :thinking:

:namaste:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:41 pm

archaic wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm
I have an intellectual grasp of dependent origination. Currently I am reading Under the Bodhi Tree by Ajahn Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, which is wonderful and delves into many of the facets of dependent origination.

My question however, is more philosophical. If everything arises from causes - everything is conditional - then would this not imply lack of free will?

Or is this a case where free will, and lack of free will form a non-dualistic relationship where both are true and yet both are also not true?

Or is my effort in striving to understand this concept misguided, and I would be better inclined to cease trying to cling to views?

I would appreciate feedback from those more permeated with the dhamma than I :thinking:

:namaste:
Hi archaic,

There have been several discussions on the topic of free will here on DW over the past few years. My computer is a bit slow at the moment but if you use the search function at the top right of the screen, you should find a couple of similar questions and some lengthy and useful threads.

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cappuccino
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by cappuccino » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:49 pm

Karma is the result of free will.

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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by SarathW » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:43 pm

I would say Kamma is performed due to free will
If the Kamma is a result of ignorance there will be DO.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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DooDoot
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:59 pm

archaic wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm
My question however, is more philosophical. If everything arises from causes - everything is conditional - then would this not imply lack of free will?
While not important in Buddhism, imo, there is probably a lack of free will, given actions are conditioned by either ignorance or, alternately, wisdom.
archaic wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm
Or is this a case where free will, and lack of free will form a non-dualistic relationship where both are true and yet both are also not true?
Maybe not in the book you are reading but Buddhadasa used to teach non-duality although the Buddha didn't.
archaic wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm
Or is my effort in striving to understand this concept misguided, and I would be better inclined to cease trying to cling to views?
Yes, probably.
archaic wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm
I would appreciate feedback from those more permeated with the dhamma than I
The more enlightened the mind is, the more control over life & circumstances it "appears" to have. Yet, ultimately, this control is a produced by wisdom or knowing what is peaceful. In other words, the enlightened mind is a "slave" to peace, just as Buddhadasa considered himself the Buddha's "slave".

freedom
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by freedom » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:46 am

archaic wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:36 pm
My question however, is more philosophical. If everything arises from causes - everything is conditional - then would this not imply lack of free will?
With feeling as condition, craving comes to be.

When feeling can be used as condition, craving will come with no exception. However, this does not mean that if there is feeling then there is craving. Craving can only come when feeling can be used as condition. In other word, when there is sufficient, appropriated feeling that can be used to trigger craving then craving will come with no exception.

By wisdom, one will not let that initial feeling to be intensified or developed by dis-identifying oneself with it. That feeling will eventually cease by its nature and craving will not come. This is one's "free will". If one lets that feeling develop up to a level that it can be used as condition for craving, then craving will come with no exception.
One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm - MN 140.

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archaic
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by archaic » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:57 am

cappuccino wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:49 pm
Karma is the result of free will.
OK, so for an arahant, who produces no kamma, do they have free will?
SarathW wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:43 pm
I would say Kamma is performed due to free will
If the Kamma is a result of ignorance there will be DO.
That makes a lot of sense to me, thank you very much.
DooDoot wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:59 pm
While not important in Buddhism, imo, there is probably a lack of free will, given actions are conditioned by either ignorance or, alternately, wisdom.
Yes, probably.
Very good!
The more enlightened the mind is, the more control over life & circumstances it "appears" to have. Yet, ultimately, this control is a produced by wisdom or knowing what is peaceful. In other words, the enlightened mind is a "slave" to peace, just as Buddhadasa considered himself the Buddha's "slave".
This would agree with the concept that an arahant produces no kamma... Being a slave with no resistance to peace.
Last edited by archaic on Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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archaic
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by archaic » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:58 am


Hi archaic,

There have been several discussions on the topic of free will here on DW over the past few years. My computer is a bit slow at the moment but if you use the search function at the top right of the screen, you should find a couple of similar questions and some lengthy and useful threads.
Thanks I will check those out as well.
freedom wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:46 am
With feeling as condition, craving comes to be.

When feeling can be used as condition, craving will come with no exception. However, this does not mean that if there is feeling then there is craving. Craving can only come when feeling can be used as condition. In other word, when there is sufficient, appropriated feeling that can be used to trigger craving then craving will come with no exception.

By wisdom, one will not let that initial feeling to be intensified or developed by dis-identifying oneself with it. That feeling will eventually cease by its nature and craving will not come. This is one's "free will". If one lets that feeling develop up to a level that it can be used as condition for craving, then craving will come with no exception.
And craving comes from ignorance, which agrees with what SarathW mentioned.

However, if conditions are such that a person has let their ignorance build up very much, and not practiced restraint of their tanha, and has let their impulses rule, such as an extremely desire-driven human... Then wouldn't they, in certain situations, be compelled to follow their cravings and therefore have no choice in the matter?


Thank you everyone for your comments, this is very helpful to me. The relation of kamma to dependent origination had always been somewhat fuzzy to me.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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cappuccino
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by cappuccino » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:38 am

archaic wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:57 am
OK, so for an arahant, who produces no kamma, do they have free will?

In that case karma doesn't apply.
Last edited by cappuccino on Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

freedom
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by freedom » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:49 am

archaic wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:58 am

However, if conditions are such that a person has let their ignorance build up very much, and not practiced restraint of their tanha, and has let their impulses rule, such as an extremely desire-driven human... Then wouldn't they, in certain situations, be compelled to follow their cravings and therefore have no choice in the matter?
They always have a choice, but with so much ignorance and without wisdom they will choose to follow their cravings until they suffer so much that they could not handle it and start looking for an escape from that suffering. Once they see their ignorance, they will choose differently.
One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm - MN 140.

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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by pegembara » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:12 am

My question however, is more philosophical. If everything arises from causes - everything is conditional - then would this not imply lack of free will?
Free will implies that there is a person making all those choices. In the face of anatta, one could say that choices are being made which are driven by causes and conditions without a self behind them.

Advertisers are experts in manipulating people into buying their products as are politicians. This lack of free will is the reason why advertising and election campaign works.

https://www.placedise.com/blog/the-illu ... ing-works/

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:29 am

friend, read the long discourse on dependent origination https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
see if you still have questions
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by justindesilva » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:32 am

SarathW wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:43 pm
I would say Kamma is performed due to free will
If the Kamma is a result of ignorance there will be DO.
If kamma is a result of free will then we have to decide on which type of kamma arises. It is shown that ignorance is the root cause of akusal which creates unwholesome karma. That shows that anyone who has overcome ignorance will have a free will of skill causing good karma. ( Also please refer to avijja suttaSN 35.80).

freedom
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by freedom » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:10 pm

pegembara wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:12 am
Free will implies that there is a person making all those choices. In the face of anatta, one could say that choices are being made which are driven by causes and conditions without a self behind them.
Anatta is always a controversial topic...

To my understanding anatta is not about if there is a self (permanent, impermanent, limited, unlimited,...) or there is no self . It is not about if there is a person or there is no person. It also is not about if there is a soul or there is no soul. All of these are just clinging to doctrine of self.

Anatta is about "dispassion, relinquishment, cessation" of whatever related to the identity "I" (me, my, mine, myself). What can relate to the "I"? form, feeling, perception, mental volitions, consciousness. That's all.

When there is no "I" in form, feeling, perception, mental volitions, consciousness, there is no notion of "I have a form", "I have a beautiful body", "I am formless", "I have neither form nor formless", "I have a self", "I do not have a self", "I have a soul", "I do not have a soul", "That is not I"...

When there is no "I" in form, feeling, perception, mental volitions, consciousness, one will not run back to the past and ask if I was in the past or how will I be in the future, or what am I now? or I am not a self but I am just a stream of consciousness or I am a consciousness without feature or my true self is this or that or I am nibbana or nibbana is my true self or I am neither a self nor not-self or I am an indestructible citta that is neither self or not-self... All of these are just about that "I". They are self-view.

When there is no "I" in perception, mental volitions,... there is no notion of "I make a choice" or "I do not make a choice". However, this does not mean that there is no choice and there is nothing that make the choice, or the choice is magically happened. The absence here is just the "I, me, my, mine, myself" or we can say "the choice was made". It's about the choice, not about the "I".

Feeling caused craving to arise. However, when feeling arises, there is a choice if we should let that feeling develop or not. The choices are there, but by ignorance we often blindly let it develop into craving. With wisdom, we will choose to let it go and dis-identify ourselves from it. Without this choice, there is no hope to end our sufferings.

Therefore, the first step is "dispassion" then "relinquishment" and finally "cessation" of whatever related to the identity "I". This is what anatta is about. This is the path to end all sufferings.
One should not be negligent of discernment, should guard the truth, be devoted to relinquishment, and train only for calm - MN 140.

pegembara
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Re: Question about dependent origination

Post by pegembara » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:13 am

freedom wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:10 pm
pegembara wrote:
Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:12 am
Free will implies that there is a person making all those choices. In the face of anatta, one could say that choices are being made which are driven by causes and conditions without a self behind them.
Anatta is always a controversial topic...

To my understanding anatta is not about if there is a self (permanent, impermanent, limited, unlimited,...) or there is no self . It is not about if there is a person or there is no person. It also is not about if there is a soul or there is no soul. All of these are just clinging to doctrine of self.

Anatta is about "dispassion, relinquishment, cessation" of whatever related to the identity "I" (me, my, mine, myself). What can relate to the "I"? form, feeling, perception, mental volitions, consciousness. That's all.
To me, anatta is a characteristic of existence regardless one's opinion or clinging. In this discourse, the Buddha clearly point towards the no self doctrine based on impermanence. As in there being no permanent person.

The realisation of anatta(seeing things as arising from causes and conditions or DO and not within our control) leads to dispassion, not the other way.
“If anyone says, ‘The mind is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the mind are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The mind is self.’ Thus the mind is not self.

“If anyone says, ‘Mind-objects are self,’…‘Mind-consciousness is self,’…‘Mind-contact is self,’…‘Feeling is self,’…… ‘Craving is self’…That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘Craving is self.’ Thus the mind is not self, mind-objects are not self, mind-consciousness is not self, mind-contact is not self, feeling is not self, craving is not self.

Seeing thus, bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with the eye, disenchanted with forms, disenchanted with eye-consciousness, disenchanted with eye-contact, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with craving.

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn148
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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