Dhamma and causality

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Dhamma and causality

Postby JackV » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:40 pm

Through the course of my practice it is becoming clearer to me how thoughts and ideas arise, the relationship of cause and effect.

I am curious from seeing this in practice (as basic as the understanding I have is) as to what the position of free will is?

Also If all things arise because of their causes which we inevitably follow round and around without being able to alter our path (when ignorant of causes) what does this make the Dhamma? It seems like the Dhamma (and I suppose specifically Sati) is like something outside of this cycle - bolt cutters to break the chains and their links (I know this isn't the most apt simile but I hope you understand my point)

So is there free will? How does this affect the view or place of Viriya as well.

Apologies for the very unspecific and general way in which I have asked this question but I am having some problems verbalising it properly or formulating it clearly in my head :/
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby chownah » Sun Feb 05, 2012 2:40 pm

Consider that if we discuss free will then we must decide what it is that has freedom to do the willing....is it your "self"?
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby JackV » Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:29 pm

chownah wrote:Consider that if we discuss free will then we must decide what it is that has freedom to do the willing....is it your "self"?
chownah


Hi Chownah.

Thats what I'm on about. If there are simply elements working in conjunction and reacting to causes (which seems to be the case) then it would seem that there is no Free Will at all, there is only an ongoing cycle of dhammas arising and ceasing. This means, to me at least, that our progression or potential to realise the Truth and see things for how they are is dependant not on how skillfully we practice (since skill itself is under no ones control but the factors which allow it to arise) but dependant on impersonal factors and conditions of which there is no way to alter unless its a natural change over time. This then also seems to devalue Viriya.

I know all of this seems silly really. I mean it's not really going to affect me really if I know one way or the other, I will still continue my Dhamma practice, and that even by saying things like, "it's dependant on impersonal factors" is pointless as this is kind of jhist of Dhamma we knew when we began but.... I'm still stuck on trying to get it out properly. It doesn't seem to be clear cut. Free Will or not? Maybe it's the view of the Self (the aggregates) and concsiouness that complicates things in asking this question - as you pointed out with, "...what it is that has freedom to do the willing....is it your "self"?"

I just have always had the belief that if one is to commit themselves to the path, to truly letting go then there is the potential of achieving liberation either in this life or at some point further. My emperical observations seem to lead me to thinking (currently) that it seems that effort (of the right kind) is useless until the factors which determine the result are ripe. We must continue to practice just in order to wait for it all to fall into place at some later date, that there is no Knowing or realisation to be had, simply a natural progression (or maybe regression) or change that then is the Extinguishing.
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:30 pm

chownah wrote:Consider that if we discuss free will then we must decide what it is that has freedom to do the willing....is it your "self"?
chownah


You are very right. If there is No Atta who posseses a choice, who can choose?
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:31 pm

JackV wrote:I know all of this seems silly really. I mean it's not really going to affect me really if I know one way or the other, I will still continue my Dhamma practice, ...

How it can affect you is if not-self and causality are wrongly grasped and you head down the path of nihilism and/or annihilationism.


The Buddha taught a middle way that avoided annihilationism (and eternalism). E.g. see:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11269#p169966

:anjali:
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:28 pm

:goodpost:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Sam Vara » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:31 pm

Hi JackV,

You ask an extremely important point. If it is conceded or understood that there is no Atta (or self, or substance, or uncaused element which can cause other things to happen) then what is the status of cetana, or intention?
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:24 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
JackV wrote:I know all of this seems silly really. I mean it's not really going to affect me really if I know one way or the other, I will still continue my Dhamma practice, ...

How it can affect you is if not-self and causality are wrongly grasped and you head down the path of nihilism and/or annihilationism.


Or one can believe in ownership of will and thus develop Self View (even if one doesn't admit to that).
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:30 pm

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:Or one can believe in ownership of will and thus develop Self View (even if one doesn't admit to that).

Be careful here not to conflate self-view, which is a metaphysical proposition removed with (or prior to) stream-entry... with phenomena such as asmi-māna ('I am'-conceit, 'ego-conceit'), mama ('mine'), and the anusaya (tendency) towards false perception of self... all of which are finally broken only with arahantship.

Until you're an arahant, if you're going to own anything, it may as well be your actions... then you'll take accountability for them in accordance with Right Effort. Increasingly wholesome formations are the support for attaining the final cessation of all formations.

metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:44 pm

Greeting Retro,

Just because one can have tendency to feel "I am" and "mine" until Arhatship, it doesn't mean that the will is really "mine". It is delusion that it is mine.



With best wishes,

Alex
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:55 pm

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:Just because one can have tendency to feel "I am" and "mine" until Arhatship, it doesn't mean that the will is really "mine". It is delusion that it is mine.

True, but since you are often falsely perceiving a self, it would be wrong at such time to believe that your false perception of self does not own that kamma. No amount of "self-denial" on your part is going to cause the Buddha to take back this teaching...

AN 5.57 wrote:"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...

"[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained...

"Now, based on what line of reasoning should one often reflect... that 'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'? There are beings who conduct themselves in a bad way in body... in speech... and in mind. But when they often reflect on that fact, that bad conduct in body, speech, and mind will either be entirely abandoned or grow weaker...

"A disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one who is owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator; who — whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Alex123 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:46 am

retrofuturist wrote:No amount of "self-denial" on your part is going to cause the Buddha to take back this teaching...


But isn't implying that Kamma (as aggregates) can be "owned" and this controlled?



AN 5.57 wrote:"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...


Surely "'I am the owner of my actions (kamma)" is said conventionally and doesn't imply Atta that owns them. Kamma is not external action, it is internal.

how does self-identification come about?"

"There is the case, friend Visakha, where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form (the body) to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

"He assumes feeling to be the self...

"He assumes perception to be the self...

"He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self...

"He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. This is how self-identification comes about."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:12 am

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:Surely "'I am the owner of my actions (kamma)" is said conventionally and doesn't imply Atta that owns them. Kamma is not external action, it is internal.

Who said anything about "atta" owning anything? Not me. Not the Buddha...

Stay ardently with the Buddha's words in AN 5.57, without retreating into the convenient and erroneous assumption that they're underpinned by false metaphysical views concerning atman.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby contemplans » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:21 pm

JackV,
Free will is the beginning of the path, in the sense that you are the owner of your actions, heir to your actions. You craft your experience. So the path is your effort. You need to make an effort and apply your desire to be free from stress and suffering. While you're creating karma, you are also creating an identity. The path is about making that more skillful on both ends. The two are very much intertwined. Once you reach a level of dropping karma, the self drops.
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:43 pm

hi Jack
JackV wrote:So is there free will? How does this affect the view or place of Viriya as well.


There is intentional action, we choose to go for some things and run from others, there is skilled and unskilled action, the four upright efforts are skilled action, the opposite of these is unskilled. it is your choice to pick up a burden or to put it down. no one forces you, it can seam like there is no choice, but each action is a volitional, we choose to do it based on causes and conditions pressent, be it part of the DO sequence directly, or other.

Upright Perspective (right view) is the forerunner and Upright Effort & mindfulness accompany this.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby JackV » Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:25 pm

Cittasanto wrote:hi Jack
JackV wrote:So is there free will? How does this affect the view or place of Viriya as well.


There is intentional action, we choose to go for some things and run from others, there is skilled and unskilled action, the four upright efforts are skilled action, the opposite of these is unskilled. it is your choice to pick up a burden or to put it down. no one forces you, it can seam like there is no choice, but each action is a volitional, we choose to do it based on causes and conditions pressent, be it part of the DO sequence directly, or other.

Upright Perspective (right view) is the forerunner and Upright Effort & mindfulness accompany this.


Ah ha! So there is free will based upon causality, both work together and are not at the exclusion of the other. This makes far more sense to me now. In terms of train of thought when meditating (formally i.e. in a sitting session etc) I am mindfull of all the arisings - and there are many - then I select the one which is most skillful form the bunch. However when I am in daily life and at work for example - whilst I continue to practice Sati it's not to the same level - I see that thoughts simply snowball and move like water flowing down a path with cracks. On observation it looks as though they follow a natural and predictable path that could be (if one had the skill and time) discerned in advance of their occuring. Obviously this is when I am not being as watchful and as such it's the reactive or subconcious "ignorant" parts of Mind choosing.

Thanks Cittasanto. As I said it was merely a philosophical question but was really itching the ol' brain. (^_^)
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:33 pm

JackV wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:hi Jack
JackV wrote:So is there free will? How does this affect the view or place of Viriya as well.


There is intentional action, we choose to go for some things and run from others, there is skilled and unskilled action, the four upright efforts are skilled action, the opposite of these is unskilled. it is your choice to pick up a burden or to put it down. no one forces you, it can seam like there is no choice, but each action is a volitional, we choose to do it based on causes and conditions pressent, be it part of the DO sequence directly, or other.

Upright Perspective (right view) is the forerunner and Upright Effort & mindfulness accompany this.


Ah ha! So there is free will based upon causality, both work together and are not at the exclusion of the other. This makes far more sense to me now. In terms of train of thought when meditating (formally i.e. in a sitting session etc) I am mindfull of all the arisings - and there are many - then I select the one which is most skillful form the bunch. However when I am in daily life and at work for example - whilst I continue to practice Sati it's not to the same level - I see that thoughts simply snowball and move like water flowing down a path with cracks. On observation it looks as though they follow a natural and predictable path that could be (if one had the skill and time) discerned in advance of their occurring. Obviously this is when I am not being as watchful and as such it's the reactive or subconcious "ignorant" parts of Mind choosing.

Thanks Cittasanto. As I said it was merely a philosophical question but was really itching the ol' brain. (^_^)

Try reading the Dhammacakkha sutta
within it there are 'duties' to do regarding the Four Noble Truths
picking the most skilful maybe useful but choosing the most prominent, and a) getting to know it and seeing the Dukkha within it, as Dukkha is to be known b)then understanding it, how does it operate, what is it trying to kid you with... as Dukkha is to be understood, c) see if this applies to others and how, as this confirms the understanding. as Dukkha is to be known as understood
from memory there so apologies if I am incorrect or misleading the true dhamma.

The Dhamma is a complete path, it is Upright, Noble and perfect, no two parts are dissident to another part, any dissidence is through the intellectual swamp; an office with all the files shuffled together can not operate, and it is the same with the teachings if you know allot of the teachings but not connecting them properly there is dissidence, and even if they are connected properly if you have a poor understanding of the meaning they are still dissident in a different way.

Although I have venturing into my own understanding here which I do not like doing, and I am truly far from any path and fruit to have any authority on the matter, it is just my thoughts and I may well be wrong.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:33 pm

JackV wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:hi Jack
JackV wrote:So is there free will? How does this affect the view or place of Viriya as well.


There is intentional action, we choose to go for some things and run from others, there is skilled and unskilled action, the four upright efforts are skilled action, the opposite of these is unskilled. it is your choice to pick up a burden or to put it down. no one forces you, it can seam like there is no choice, but each action is a volitional, we choose to do it based on causes and conditions pressent, be it part of the DO sequence directly, or other.

Upright Perspective (right view) is the forerunner and Upright Effort & mindfulness accompany this.


Ah ha! So there is free will based upon causality, both work together and are not at the exclusion of the other. This makes far more sense to me now. In terms of train of thought when meditating (formally i.e. in a sitting session etc) I am mindfull of all the arisings - and there are many - then I select the one which is most skillful form the bunch. However when I am in daily life and at work for example - whilst I continue to practice Sati it's not to the same level - I see that thoughts simply snowball and move like water flowing down a path with cracks. On observation it looks as though they follow a natural and predictable path that could be (if one had the skill and time) discerned in advance of their occurring. Obviously this is when I am not being as watchful and as such it's the reactive or subconcious "ignorant" parts of Mind choosing.

Thanks Cittasanto. As I said it was merely a philosophical question but was really itching the ol' brain. (^_^)

Try reading the Dhammacakkha sutta
within it there are 'duties' to do regarding the Four Noble Truths
picking the most skilful maybe useful but choosing the most prominent, and a) getting to know it and seeing the Dukkha within it, as Dukkha is to be known b)then understanding it, how does it operate, what is it trying to kid you with... as Dukkha is to be understood, c) see if this applies to others and how, as this confirms the understanding. as Dukkha is to be known as understood
from memory there so apologies if I am incorrect or misleading the true dhamma.

The Dhamma is a complete path, it is Upright, Noble and perfect, no two parts are dissident to another part, any dissidence is through the intellectual swamp; an office with all the files shuffled together can not operate, and it is the same with the teachings if you know allot of the teachings but not connecting them properly there is dissidence, and even if they are connected properly if you have a poor understanding of the meaning they are still dissident in a different way.

Although I have venturing into my own understanding here which I do not like doing, and I am truly far from any path and fruit to have any authority on the matter, it is just my thoughts and I may well be wrong.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby reflection » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:12 am

As said, free will exists... namely will free of a self.. :tongue:

If there is no-self, it's a bit of a silly question to ask if you have the freedom to choose. You are just a soup of 5 aggregates, body, feeling, perception, volition, consciousness. The will can be seen as part of the volitions. Therefore you have no will, but you are party will.

At times it may be quite clear that we have no freedom of choice, often we don't even have the power to stop your mind from thinking... See deep and you may see will comes after an action. You do/think something and then afterwards the will kicks in claiming it was voluntary.. which it wasn't.

I personally like this simile:
http://media.bswa.org/documents/Brahm60.pdf
Page 39. (for some reason I can't copy/paste it here)

Freedom from will is better than 'free of will'. It's very peaceful to let yourself be taken by the river of life. Also, it makes forgiving yourself and others much more easy.

However, fully embracing this is not so easy, so maybe don't bend your mind too much over this, you may go crazy. :rolleye: When I once asked a monk, he replied by saying something in the lines of "it does not matter whether there is free will or not, as long as you practice".

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: Dhamma and causality

Postby contemplans » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:30 am

reflection wrote:As said, free will exists... namely will free of a self.. :tongue:

If there is no-self, it's a bit of a silly question to ask if you have the freedom to choose. You are just a soup of 5 aggregates, body, feeling, perception, volition, consciousness. The will can be seen as part of the volitions. Therefore you have no will, but you are party will.

At times it may be quite clear that we have no freedom of choice, often we don't even have the power to stop your mind from thinking... See deep and you may see will comes after an action. You do/think something and then afterwards the will kicks in claiming it was voluntary.. which it wasn't.

I personally like this simile:
http://media.bswa.org/documents/Brahm60.pdf
Page 39. (for some reason I can't copy/paste it here)

Freedom from will is better than 'free of will'. It's very peaceful to let yourself be taken by the river of life. Also, it makes forgiving yourself and others much more easy.

However, fully embracing this is not so easy, so maybe don't bend your mind too much over this, you may go crazy. :rolleye: When I once asked a monk, he replied by saying something in the lines of "it does not matter whether there is free will or not, as long as you practice".

With metta,
Reflection


I don't believe no-self, nor the go with the flow thing, are Buddhist teachings.
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