Is the future predetermined

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Is the future predetermined

Postby Stephen K » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:13 pm

There is the prediction of Dipankara Buddha that Gautama (then Sumedha) would become a Buddha, and even predicted Gautama's chief diciples. There is the prediction of Kondanna when Gotama was a baby that he would become an Enlightened person rather than a Cakkavattin. There is the prediction about Metteyya. There is the prediction that King Ajjatasattu, after his stay in hell would become a pacekkabuddha, same for Devadatta.

So does this mean that the future is predetermined/predictable/knowable? Or just some of it?

Yet, If I look back at my own life, I can see that I could have made other choices and decisions than the ones I did, which would have led to totally different outcomes. So this makes me a strong believer in that the future cannot possibly be predictable, and that it is not predetermined.

Any thoughts?
Last edited by Stephen K on Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:33 pm

The recent movie, Knowing followed the idea that possibly everything is pre-determined. It was pretty good and entertaining and some good discussions on determinism and free will.

I think like you do, that not everything is pre-determined. Certainly many people are pretty predictable, such as those who make little progress and conversely, some like the Bodhisatta, who have made much merit. For those, their futures are probably easy to see if you are an arahant or sammasambuddha. But for those in the middle, I think there is some mix where there can be some choice and volition.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Stephen K » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:39 pm

TheDhamma wrote:The recent movie, Knowing followed the idea that possibly everything is pre-determined. It was pretty good and entertaining and some good discussions on determinism and free will.

I think like you do, that not everything is pre-determined. Certainly many people are pretty predictable, such as those who make little progress and conversely, some like the Bodhisatta, who have made much merit. For those, their futures are probably easy to see if you are an arahant or sammasambuddha. But for those in the middle, I think there is some mix where there can be some choice and volition.

Thanks! Interesting view.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Jechbi » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:27 pm

Stefan wrote:Any thoughts?

I think the only practical way to understand this question is with regard to oneself. In which case, the question also includes some assumption about an imagined future situation one might face. And fundamentally, the question is: Does it make any difference what I do right now in this moment?

To which the answer is an emphatic yes. It makes a difference what you do right now in this moment. The underlying question is not so much whether the future is predetermined, but rather whether you are an automaton right now in this present moment. It's fundamentally a question about self-identity.

Here's one approach to the question: There's a way to the cessation of dukkha. What is that way? And regardless of whatever self-identity view one holds, does that change the task at hand?
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:04 am

I think the future is completely predetermined. I think the universe is a like a machine, moved by the laws of physics. Knowing all the initial conditions of the universe and its laws we can predict everything. It is our inability to know all initial (or present) conditions that produces the ilusion that some things are random or not predetermined. Subjectively we have the feeling of free will but objectively, we don't have that free will. But since we live in our subjective mental world free will is real for us and thus we create karma and so on. This is my opinion.

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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:48 am

Greetings,

If everything were pre-determined, would the Buddha have bothered teaching for 45 years and finished with "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

Pre-determination renders any spiritual pursuit meaningless.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Guy » Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:07 am

Hello Stefan and All,

Quite a tricky question indeed...

On one level I believe the will has been conditioned by various factors including culture, brain chemistry and physics. We may feel like we are making choices but perhaps that feeling of choice has been conditioned also.

On another level, I believe that there is a possibility to "transcend" the will and the conditioned world through the Jhanas and the Immaterial States. This is a matter of faith since I have not yet entered Second Jhana where the will has supposedly ceased.

However, when we look at the issue from a moral perspective I believe the most pragmatic approach is to believe that we do make choices, otherwise we might fall into the trap of blaming the world for our moral wrongdoings and making no effort to become better people.

Maybe we have no choice other than to make an effort to become better people?

I simply don't know conclusively. I think this is one of those things which is perhaps better to put to one side and maybe if/when we reach nibbana it will all become apparent.

With Metta,

Guy
Last edited by Guy on Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby clw_uk » Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:18 am

I brought this up recently, mawkish has something interesting to say, that quantum mechanics does away with ideas of determinism or predeterminism (he could probably expand more)



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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:39 am

clw_uk wrote:I brought this up recently, mawkish has something interesting to say, that quantum mechanics does away with ideas of determinism or predeterminism (he could probably expand more)



metta


Hi clw_uk

Regular quantum mechanics destroys the notion of causality and establishes a probabilistic paradigm. However there is a modern theory that reproduces the results of QM but mantains causality. I prefer to believe the modern theory.

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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby adosa » Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:51 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

If everything were pre-determined, would the Buddha have bothered teaching for 45 years and finished with "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

Pre-determination renders any spiritual pursuit meaningless.

Metta,
Retro. :)



Right. And isn't pre-determination one of the wrong views the Buddha warned about?

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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby acinteyyo » Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:11 am

The Buddha said:
But, Udāyi, let be the past, let be the future, I shall set you forth the Teaching: When there is this this is, with arising of this this arises; when there is not this this is not, with cessation of this this ceases. (Majjhima VIII,9 <M.II,32>)

all conditioned phenomena are determined but not pre-determined! it is said: "with arising of this this arises, with cessation of this this ceases" and not "with cessation of this, this arises". determinism is wrong view, unfortunately I don't know the Sutta exactly but I think it was DN 1.
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Individual » Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:53 pm

Stefan wrote:There is the prediction of Dipankara Buddha that Gautama (then Sumedha) would become a Buddha, and even predicted Gautama's chief diciples. There is the prediction of Kondanna when Gotama was a baby that he would become an Enlightened person rather than a Cakkavattin. There is the prediction about Metteyya. There is the prediction that King Ajjatasattu, after his stay in hell would become a pacekkabuddha, same for Devadatta.

So does this mean that the future is predetermined/predictable/knowable? Or just some of it?

Yet, If I look back at my own life, I can see that I could have made other choices and decisions than the ones I did, which would have led to totally different outcomes. So this makes me a strong believer in that the future cannot possibly be predictable, and that it is not predetermined.

Any thoughts?

The future will unfold as it can be expected to if we do nothing to stop it. Often, we might think we have resolved on changing our actions, only to find later that we falter again, as we have a hundred times in the past.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby chownah » Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:29 pm

From a personal point of view I think that it is not possible to know absolutely if the future is predetermined or not. I can not imagine any method or test which could conclusively determine the answer....if anyone knows of one please post it...i won't hold my breath waiting for a foolproof method to appear. I think the Buddha would say that this is out of range and that we are limited to the six sense doors and their objects to make up the entirety of our experience..and these tools are not adequate to settle this question about the future. And to go one step further...if this question can not be settled in any way then of what value can it be to discuss it?

From a Theravada Scriptural persepective it seems that the Buddha indicated on several occasions the importance of efforts in following the path and the exertion of effort seems to only make sense if the view accompanying the effort is that the effort will have an effect on the future outcome. So it seems to me that the Buddha was teaching that we should at least from time to time have the view that the future is not determined.

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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby Individual » Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:16 pm

chownah wrote:From a personal point of view I think that it is not possible to know absolutely if the future is predetermined or not. I can not imagine any method or test which could conclusively determine the answer....if anyone knows of one please post it...

Highly advanced physics in which the origins of universes (the origin of our space-time) is more clearly understood (that is, discovering the multiverse, delineating several timelines, creating a neutral bubble outside our space-time so as to allow scientists to study the ebb and flow of space-time objectively, by being independent of it). It's speculative and maybe just fantasy, but who knows?

The probabilism of quantum mechanics are said to have already debunked pure determinism.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby chownah » Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:13 pm

Individual wrote:
chownah wrote:From a personal point of view I think that it is not possible to know absolutely if the future is predetermined or not. I can not imagine any method or test which could conclusively determine the answer....if anyone knows of one please post it...

Highly advanced physics in which the origins of universes (the origin of our space-time) is more clearly understood (that is, discovering the multiverse, delineating several timelines, creating a neutral bubble outside our space-time so as to allow scientists to study the ebb and flow of space-time objectively, by being independent of it). It's speculative and maybe just fantasy, but who knows?

The probabilism of quantum mechanics are said to have already debunked pure determinism.

I think that quantum mechanics has not (and in principle can not) debunk pure determinism....it can only show us that if the the world is purely deterministic then this determinism displays itself in ways far more complex than we have so far imagined. My view is that it is good to remember that all science can at best only test whether a principle conforms to the accepted paradigm for the scientific discipline which subsumes the experiment....quantum mechanics is interesting in that it seems to strongly disagree with certain principles in the accepted paradigm for the physics of very very small things. I think that to jump to the conclusion that it has debunked pure determinism is simply to indicate that one has not yet conceived of any other explanation for the phenomena observed. Also, I think it is good to remember that probabilism is a way to describe outcomes but it does not in and of itself explain why the outcomes are probabilistic...i.e. it does not construe that the probabilistic nature of events is caused or not caused by a deterministic or non-deterministic universe...or anything else...I guess.
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Re: Is the future predetermined

Postby BlackBird » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:02 pm

Buddhism is not fatalistic.

I don't think the future is predetermined, more like past kamma provides a framework and conditions current behaviors. It ain't called volitional activity for nothing. As I'm sure has been said, if everything was predetermined there would be no way to achieve liberation, to achieve Nibbana.

:anjali:
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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