Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:20 pm

bodom wrote: There is no one doing anything. Only intention rising and falling.

:anjali:
And can One control the intention such as "let me intend like an Arahant. Let me not intend things that a worldling does!". ?
"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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Viscid
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Viscid » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:23 pm

bodom wrote: There is no one doing anything. Only intention rising and falling.

:anjali:
How can you justify the existence 'free will' if intention is as mechanical as the float ball in a toilet tank?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

Kenshou
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Kenshou » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:26 pm

Viscid wrote: And yet all of these factors produced the decision to make that post.
This right here is more or less what I've been trying to say. That decision (and consequential action and result) came about due to many other conditions. When I say choice, decision, or intention, I'm not referring to something exactly the same as what people tend to call "free will", since in most people's minds "free will" does sort of defy causality. My fault for being too vague maybe.
Alex123 wrote:What it means is that things happened due to causes & conditions. Because of that, there is no such thing as free choice. If there are causes for X to arise, it arises no matter what, and if there are causes for X not to arise, then it will not arise, no matter what.
I don't disagree. Sankharas, and intentions among them, arise due to conditions.

But that doesn't mean that choice doesn't exist. It's just conditional. Is that wrong?

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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:46 pm

Kenshou wrote:
Alex123 wrote:What it means is that things happened due to causes & conditions. Because of that, there is no such thing as free choice. If there are causes for X to arise, it arises no matter what, and if there are causes for X not to arise, then it will not arise, no matter what.
I don't disagree. Sankharas, and intentions among them, arise due to conditions.

But that doesn't mean that choice doesn't exist. It's just conditional. Is that wrong?
Choice (I think word intention is better) is there, but it is fully conditioned and without any free will. The choice that has arisen is the only possible choice that could haven arisen given those circumstances and would always be that choice if those circumstances were 100% identical.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:51 pm

Hello Bodom,
bodom wrote:
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
:anjali:
If there is no freedom of will and whatever happens, happens due to impersona; causes & conditions... Then there is no such thing as control, oe easier/harder situation to control, and things happen the only possible way that they could have happened given those conditions.


For free will there must be an Agent, a Self, that has the power to change things.



As for kamma. The quote above only says that it is not linear and 100 units of kamma don't always have to give 100 units of vipaka. If one becomes an Arahant, 99.99% of kamma goes defunct or is attenuated to play out in the remainder of this, the last life of an Arahant.
"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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bodom
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by bodom » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:54 pm

"Having approached the priests & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. - Tittha Sutta: Sectarians
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:00 pm

bodom wrote:
"Having approached the priests & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. - Tittha Sutta: Sectarians
He was talking about past Kamma not 100% determining what happens in this life. Killing, etc, is a choice and action that happens due to certain set of circumstances, all of them fully conditioned.

"Bhikkhus, determinations [saṅkhāra khandha] are not self. Were determinations self, then these determinations would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of determinations: 'Let my determinations be thus, let my determinations be not thus.' And since determinations are not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of determinations: 'Let my determinations be thus, let my determinations be not thus.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
So, there isn't a Self that can choose in a free-will fashion to kill or to abstain from killing. Or to think X or not to think Y during meditation.

I hope there is no contradiction between SN22.59 and Tittha Sutta.


Another interesting sutta

Doesn't intellect-consciousness (manoviññāṇa) arise in dependence on the intellect & ideas?"

"Yes, friend."

"And if the cause & reason for the arising of intellect-consciousness were to cease totally everywhere, totally in every way without remainder, would intellect-consciousness be discerned?"

"No, friend."

"It's in this way, friend, that consciousness has been pointed out, revealed, and announced by the Blessed One [with these words]: 'For this reason consciousness is not-self.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
So in other words, one can't choose to have this or that state of mind-consciousness (to kill or not to kill, to be or not to be distracted during meditation) to arise.
Last edited by Alex123 on Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Viscid
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Viscid » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:03 pm

"Having approached the priests & contemplatives who hold that... 'Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past,' I said to them: 'Is it true that you hold that... "Whatever a person experiences... is all caused by what was done in the past?"' Thus asked by me, they admitted, 'Yes.' Then I said to them, 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... a harsh speaker... an idle chatterer... greedy... malicious... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.' When one falls back on what was done in the past as being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort [at the thought], 'This should be done. This shouldn't be done.' When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. - Tittha Sutta: Sectarians
Sutta copy-pasta cop-out.

The sutta is discouraging a defeatist attitude which may result from seeing 'choice' as strictly deterministic. A determinist could say "Well, if all the unwholesome actions I've done in my past determine my future, then there is no point in attempting to change my behaviour and attitude, because I can't change anything." Which is silly.

If you know and value your own capacity to change your behaviour, you can do so, and doing so will result in future contentedness. But you do not choose to know and value your own capacity to change. We are a self-regulating system, but we did not choose our capacity to self-regulate.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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bodom
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by bodom » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:07 pm

A determinist could say "Well, if all the things I've done in my past unwholesome actions determine my future, then there is no point in attempting to change my behaviour and attitude, because I can't change anything." Which is silly.


Right. There is choice, there is free will. This was my only point to begin with. Where is the problem and what do we disagree on?

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:10 pm

bodom wrote:
A determinist could say "Well, if all the things I've done in my past unwholesome actions determine my future, then there is no point in attempting to change my behaviour and attitude, because I can't change anything." Which is silly.


Right. There is choice, there is free will. This was my only point to begin with.

:anjali:

What about Anatta-lakkhana sutta that says that one can't control the 5 aggregates, one of them being saṅkhāra khandha (where choice, intention, will) is included?

Doesn't the teaching on Free-Will go against conditionality and proposes an Agent that can do things regardless of conditions?


Recently today I did try to "crush mind with mind" and force the mind onto the breath. It didn't work! There is no Agent that can do these things out of free will.

If attention was really mine, then I could latch it onto anything I would wish. But this can't occur.

This, btw, is one of the reasons for dukkha, the 1st NT. You can't control the aggregates so that only good stuff ever happens for ever and ever. Things happen due to impersonal causes & conditions and not due to Self Agency of the Agent standing behind 5 aggregates.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:31 pm

Alex123 wrote: Doesn't the teaching on Free-Will go against conditionality and proposes an Agent that can do things regardless of conditions?
Clearly there is choice that functions within the context of conditions, but there is 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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bodom
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by bodom » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:31 pm

To hold the view that there is no choice is fatalism.

I ask you again, how and why did Gotama become the Buddha? Was it by mere chance? Was it an accident?

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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Alex123
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Re: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:37 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote: Doesn't the teaching on Free-Will go against conditionality and proposes an Agent that can do things regardless of conditions?
Clearly there is choice that functions within the context of conditions, but there is choice.
If that choice functions within the context of conditions, then it is not a free choice. It is fully conditioned and if those conditions would repeat 100%, the resultant choice would be the same. If it weren't the same resultant choice, then it would be acausal or random.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by Alex123 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:38 pm

bodom wrote:To hold the view that there is no choice is fatalism.

I ask you again, how and why did Gotama become the Buddha? Was it by mere chance? Was it an accident?

:anjali:
It was due to impersonal causes & conditions. Fully conditioned, fully not-Self.
"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: Meditation, conditionality, and anatta

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:43 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote: Doesn't the teaching on Free-Will go against conditionality and proposes an Agent that can do things regardless of conditions?
Clearly there is choice that functions within the context of conditions, but there is choice.
If that choice functions within the context of conditions, then it is not a free choice. It is fully conditioned and if those conditions would repeat 100%, the resultant choice would be the same. If it weren't the same resultant choice, then it would be acausal or random.
But it is choice. If it were not choice, there would be no kamma nor awakening. As for the 100% thingie, You are assuming a mechanical universe, but the reality is, you don't know that.

You are sounding a bit like Makkhali Gosala. Well, actually, a lot like Makkhali Gosala.
>> 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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