Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby robertk » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:
robertk wrote:I think the Buddha taught causality based on his knowledge of complex conditions. Determinism sounds like a philosophical viewpoint that the old philosophers debated about.
Yes, the Buddha taught causilty, but to refine the question: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice within the causal context in which we find ourselves?

Titlt could you change the title of this thread to what you rephrased it, they are somewhat different questions.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:17 am

robertk wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
robertk wrote:I think the Buddha taught causality based on his knowledge of complex conditions. Determinism sounds like a philosophical viewpoint that the old philosophers debated about.
Yes, the Buddha taught causilty, but to refine the question: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice within the causal context in which we find ourselves?

Titlt could you change the title of this thread to what you rephrased it, they are somewhat different questions.
Thanks. Actually, that is a far better question.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Hanzze » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:34 am

"Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?"
Yes, we just need to leave our habits. Caught in our habits, we have no choice. We are just moved by cause and effect. So its up to the monkey to calm down. Just give him a chance or let him run wild till he is tired.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:49 am

The original debate could only have occured to western consciousness influenced no matter how indirectly and how unconsciously by Calvinism and so arriving at a doctrine of the division between the Predestination of the Buddhist Elect and those who are eternal incarnation fodder.

I hasten to add I meant by the original debate the one that Tilit linked to.
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby plwk » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:35 am

Reminds me of the many debates on icchantikas.... :coffee:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby piotr » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:00 am

@Tiltbillings, I think that the most straightforward answer to your question is found in Kusala Sutta (AN 2.19).
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Nyana » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:Did the Buddha teach that we have functional choice within the causal context within which we find ourselves?

Cetanā is volitional intention, the will-to-do, the intentional directing of the mind. It is functional choice. Just because a particular mind-stream doesn't have all of the optimal requisite causes and conditions in place to always make the most optimally efficacious choice doesn't mean that cetanā isn't functional choice.

Contact is concomitant with volitional intention. The path includes developing fundamental attention (yoniso manasikāra), right effort (sammāvāyāma), and right exertion (sammappadhānā), which condition desire (chanda), volitional intention (cetanā), and so on. Functional choice isn't independent of other causes and conditions -- it operates within the same conditioned mind-stream. But it does operate, and it does so in consort with desire and attention, etc. Hence there is no need for Cartesian notions of free will or Upaniṣadic notions of a permanent, unchanging Self for there to be functional choice. In fact, these non-Buddhist systems are not sustainable precisely because of the interdependence of phenomena: i.e. an unchanging agent cannot engage in actions, etc.

    There are these four right exertions. Which four? There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen... for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen... for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. These are the four right exertions.

    Just as the River Ganges flows to the east, slopes to the east, inclines to the east, in the same way when a monk develops & pursues the four right exertions, he flows to Unbinding, slopes to Unbinding, inclines to Unbinding. [SN.49.1]

    There are these four exertions. Which four? The exertion to guard, the exertion to abandon, the exertion to develop, & the exertion to maintain.

    And what is the exertion to guard? There is the case where a monk, on seeing a form with the eye, does not grasp at any theme or variations by which — if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye — evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the eye. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the eye. (Similarly with the ear, nose, tongue, body, & intellect.) This is called the exertion to guard.

    And what is the exertion to abandon? There is the case where a monk does not acquiesce to a thought of sensuality that has arisen [in him]. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, wipes it out of existence. He does not acquiesce to a thought of ill will... a thought of violence... any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen [in him]. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, wipes them out of existence. This is called the exertion to abandon.

    And what is the exertion to develop? There is the case where a monk develops the mindfulness factor for Awakening dependent on seclusion... dispassion... cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the investigation of qualities factor for Awakening... the persistence factor for Awakening... the rapture factor for Awakening... the serenity factor for Awakening... the concentration factor for Awakening... the equanimity factor for Awakening dependent on seclusion... dispassion... cessation, resulting in letting go. This is called the exertion to develop.

    And what is the exertion to maintain? There is the case where a monk maintains a favorable theme of concentration — the skeleton perception, the worm-eaten perception, the livid perception, the festering perception, the falling-apart perception, the bloated perception. This is called the exertion to maintain. [AN 4.14]

    And how is a person ardent? There is the case where a monk thinks, 'The arising of unarisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he arouses ardor. 'The non-abandoning of arisen evil, unskillful qualities... The non-arising of unarisen skillful qualities... The ceasing of arisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he arouses ardor. This is what it means to be ardent.

    And how is a person concerned? There is the case where a monk thinks, 'The arising of unarisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he feels concern. 'The non-abandoning of arisen evil, unskillful qualities... The non-arising of unarisen skillful qualities... The ceasing of arisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he feels concern. This is what it means to be concerned. This is how a person ardent & concerned is capable of self-awakening, capable of Unbinding, capable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage. [SN16.2]

    [W]hen an individual with an internal blemish discerns, as it actually is, that 'I have an internal blemish,' it can be expected of him that he will generate desire, endeavor, & arouse persistence for the abandoning of that blemish. [MN 5]

    If, on examination, a monk knows, 'I usually remain covetous, with thoughts of ill will, overcome by sloth & drowsiness, restless, uncertain, angry, with soiled thoughts, with my body aroused, lazy, or unconcentrated,' then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities, just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head.... [AN 10.51]

Moreover, just because there is no permanent undying self as the agent controlling the aggregates or within the aggregates does not mean that there is no conscious, functional, volitional self-agency operating. AN 6.38 Attakāra Sutta:

    "This, master Gotama, is my my doctrine; this is my view: There is no self-agency/acting (attakāra); there is no other-agency/acting (parakāra)."

    "Never, brahman, have I seen or heard of such a doctrine, such a view. How indeed can one step forward, how can one step back, yet say: 'There is no self-agency/acting; there is no other-agency/acting'? What do you think, brahman, is there such a thing as initiative?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "That being so, are beings known to initiate?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Well, brahman, since there is such a thing as initiative and beings are known to initiate, this among beings is self-agency; this is other-agency."

    "What do you think, brahmin, is there such a thing as stepping away ... such a thing as stepping forward ... such a thing as stopping ... such a thing as standing still ... such a thing as stepping toward?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "That being so, are beings known to do all these things?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Well, brahmin, since there is such a thing as stepping away and stepping forward, and the rest, and beings are known to do these things, this among beings is self-agency/acting; this is other-agency/acting. Never, Brahmin, I have seen or heard of such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How indeed can one step forward, how can one step back, yet say: 'There is no self-agency; there is no other-agency'?"

All the best,

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

Postby tinhtan » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:55 pm

Hello tiltbillings, all

tiltbillings wrote:In this thread http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6234 in the general meditation section was a back and forth about the role of determinism within the Buddha's teachings. It is a battle better fought here for those who are interested.

Edit: Yes, the Buddha taught causilty, but to refine the question: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice within the causal context within which we find ourselves?


I think the problem comes from the understanding of the anatta.
The argument often shown is the "beyond-control" or "out-of-control" or "no-control" aspect of the anatta dhamma. So there is no choice possible.

As Alex argue :
Alex123 wrote:ayoniso or yoniso manasikāra belongs to the aggregates (especially Saṅkhāra khandha).

In MN35 The Buddha defined anatta as 5 aggregates being beyond control when he was talking to Saccaka (Aggivessana). Anatta is similarly defined in SN22.59. One cannot control any aggregate "let it be thus, let it not be thus".

Saṅkhāra Khandha includes such thing as wisdom, ignorance and intention toward sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, mental objects - SN22.57.
So one cannot control intention "let me put wisdom or anger toward" sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, mental objects. One cannot choose to have only yoniso manasikāra toward things. If I could, I would do it


This is not the way that I understand the meanings of "no control" aspect of the anatta dhamma.

Why one cannot control any aggregate ? well , it is just because of the anicca-impermanence of every phenomenon. It is never be permanent due to the ever changing nature of every phenomenon. It cannot be the same permanently. It will change according to the natural law of anicca-impermanence.

It means that what one have seen arising as kusala dhamma, it will be falling away, disappearing, and if one is influenced (conditionned) by bad stimuli, akusala dhama will arise and fortunately then will also fall away.
The arising/falling of each conditionned dhamma leaves place for the best as the worst to happen.

This anicca law is a chance, a real opportunity for one to change one's life. Now what is missed, it is the way to use this anicca law for one's benefit. Fortunately, this is teached by Gotama Buddha summarized in the 4NT (which is also a brief summary of the Paticcasamupadda).

The first thing to know is to identify what is dukkha (that is to discern or to feel of what are kusala/akusala dhammas). The cause of dukkha. Finally the path to realize the cessation of dukkha.
Kusala dhammas are conditions that lead to the cessation of Tanha, that is also the cessation of Avijja.

So the only way to keep one to maintain, to accumulate kusala dhammas (that are arising/falling away all the time) is to repeat the process in the direction that allow kusala dhamma to arise frequently.
The fact to see/go in a good direction means making a good, skilfull choice - yoniso manasikara (also called appropriate attention).

The suttas MN19, MN20 are very clear on how the Boddhisatta processed on the path.
Here is another basic/fondamental sutta about yoniso manasikara (translated in this sutta as "appropriate attention" ) : MN2 : Sabbasava Sutta: All the Fermentations. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Surely that there will be another mental qualities that we need to cultivate for the progress on the spiritual path (atapi, sati, sampajanna, faith, samadhi,panna..)
It is meaningless to say :
"mental-qualities" belong to "sankhara khanda"
but "sankahra khanda" is beyond control
so "mental-qualities" are beyond control !!! Yeah, and what's else ?

It is counter-productive to have such views missing the role of the 8 Noble Path in short or the 37 Boddhipakiyadhammas in large.

"choice/no-choice", "control/no-control" .. whatever one calls that, but because of the arising/falling of all conditionned phenomenon, there is room to make conditions for kusala dhamma arised.
- But WHO makes conditions ?
- BAD question, there's no who, but panna makes conditions
- really ?? but it is sankh....
- oh dear... :tantrum:



Thanks tiltbillings for your amazing kind wolf.


just my other two cents :toast:
best wishes
metta
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:25 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote:I have not read the other thread as it is way too long.

Pure determinism is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality, which is a principle I think the Buddha thaught. However, only a person completely aware of the laws that run the universe and what the present state of the universe is would be devoid of choice. Anyone who is not in this condition is unable to completely understand the causes that made him act in a way and therefore has the illusion of choice. The conclusion is not that one should not care for one's actions because all is predetermined and choice is an illusion. The conclusion is that we should care for our actions because that illusion is the reality to us and we got to make the best out of our reality.
Good post? Image If it made sense, maybe it would be, but pure determinism leaves us as leaves blowing in the winds, having no choice. What difference is there in what we do, since what we do is has nothing to do with anything I imagine I want, since imagining that I want anything and can do anything of my own accord is just an artifact, a side effect, of impersonal mechanical cause and effect, meaning there is not a thing I can do? Is that what the Buddha taught?


Hi tilt.

What exactly didn't make sense in my post?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby kirk5a » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:54 pm

tinhtan wrote:The suttas MN19, MN20 are very clear on how the Boddhisatta processed on the path.
Here is another basic/fondamental sutta about yoniso manasikara (translated in this sutta as "appropriate attention" ) : MN2 : Sabbasava Sutta: All the Fermentations. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Thank you for this. This is the sutta I had in mind when I mentioned in the previous thread that the Buddha said contemplating "Who or what makes choices" is "inappropriate attention." I would like to highlight that section. As it is such a commonly recommended "method" even by some Buddhist teachers... something to consider. As I said earlier, I tried this way extensively, and quite frankly, it messed me up. For awhile. :smile:

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... 'This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views....
...
"He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Viscid » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:56 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Good post? If it made sense, maybe it would be, but pure determinism leaves us as leaves blowing in the winds, having no choice. What difference is there in what we do, since what we do is has nothing to do with anything I imagine I want, since imagining that I want anything and can do anything of my own accord is just an artifact, a side effect, of impersonal mechanical cause and effect, meaning there is not a thing I can do? Is that what the Buddha taught?


I believe 'choice' and 'determinism' are compatible concepts. We are given choice, and to us, the choices we make are real and have consequence. If we were to believe that we had no say in the matter, then we would be fatalists and do nothing but react. From our perspective there is choice, to a neutral observer (if such a thing exists) there is strict determinism.

Did the Buddha teach that we have a choice? It sure sounds like it.
Does that mean he'd advocate this ill-defined notion of 'free will?' I doubt the Buddha would be so vague.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:43 pm

Hello All,

In MN35 and SN22.59 (for example) The Buddha defined anatta as 5 aggregates being beyond control. One cannot control any aggregate "let it be thus, let it not be thus". The will, intention, kamma, choice, make up those aggregates (primarily saṅkhāra khandha).

The causes and conditions for 5 aggregates are also Anatta. They too are beyond control. - SN22.20

“Bhikkhus, form is non-self. The cause and condition for the arising of form is also non-self. As form has originated from what is non-self, how could it be self? “Feeling is non-self…. Perception is non-self…. Volitional constructions are non-self…. Consciousness is non-self. The cause and condition for the arising of consciousness is also non-self. As consciousness has originated from what is non-self, how could it be self?
SN22.20 (9) Non-self with Cause BB Trans.


So not only 5 aggregates are anatta, but so are their causes.


There was an article posted by someone where the free will was discussed. An important section there was saying that in cause-effect world there can be free will IF...
Besides the absence of constraint, the compatibilist definition of free will requires also an agent that is capable of monitoring wishes in order to execute actions.


Compatibilist position COULD allow for real choice within cause-effect stream, if and only if there was an Agent above conditionality who could choose.

Buddha denied an agent, Atta. Kamma or intention is caused by contact (AN6.63), not by an Agent or will or some wish. As the Buddha has said about the World: "it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self:" - SN35.85.

There are cause-effect stream, but no Agent above and beyond it to be able to freely chose.


With metta,

Alex
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:53 pm

Hello Mike, Viscid, Tinhtan,

Viscid wrote:I believe 'choice' and 'determinism' are compatible concepts.


mikenz66 wrote:I think M.P. sums the issues up well. I found the article
Federman, Asaf (2010) What kind of free will did the Buddha teach? Philosophy East and West, Vol.60 (No.1). ISSN 0031-8221
http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/3142/
that was already referred to on the other thread very interesting (though now my head hurts...). In particular the distinction made between determinism and fatalism...

:anjali:
Mike


But that article that you, and other have posted has a serious flaw. For the possibility of free will within cause-effect nature of the world (compatibilist position), one would require and Agent to choose. This appears to be an attempt at sneaking the Atta into Buddha's teaching. Even the Buddha explained Anatta to be absence of mastery, absence of control.

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self... "Bhikkhus, perception is not-self... "Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...
"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html



Even putting in conditions and choices would still involve the same aggregates that cannot be controlled as "'Let my aggregates be thus, let my aggregates be not thus.'"

tinhtan wrote: I think the problem comes from the understanding of the anatta. The argument often shown is the "beyond-control" or "out-of-control" or "no-control" aspect of the anatta dhamma. So there is no choice possible.


But this IS what the Buddha has said in SN22.59 and MN35 for example.


With metta,

Alex
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby Nyana » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:51 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tinhtan wrote: I think the problem comes from the understanding of the anatta. The argument often shown is the "beyond-control" or "out-of-control" or "no-control" aspect of the anatta dhamma. So there is no choice possible.


But this IS what the Buddha has said in SN22.59 and MN35 for example.

It's important to understand the object of negation. SN 22.59 is negating the notion of a permanent Self which is not subject to affliction/dis-ease. It is not negating functional choice. The Self which is being negated in SN 22.59 is a Self which would be:

    1. permanent
    2. satisfactory
    3. not subject to affliction/dis-ease

This Self is refuted: a permanent, satisfactory Self which is not prone to old age, sickness, and death. As SN 22.59 states:

    Bhikkhus, form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness is not-self. Were form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness self, then this form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness would not lead to affliction/dis-ease.

This criterion of affliction/disease is context for the following statement that:

    none can have it of form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness: 'Let my form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness be thus, let my form... feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness be not thus.'

This in no way negates functional choice.

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:37 pm

Alex123 wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:I think M.P. sums the issues up well. I found the article
Federman, Asaf (2010) What kind of free will did the Buddha teach? Philosophy East and West, Vol.60 (No.1). ISSN 0031-8221
http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/3142/
that was already referred to on the other thread very interesting (though now my head hurts...). In particular the distinction made between determinism and fatalism...


But that article that you, and other have posted has a serious flaw. For the possibility of free will within cause-effect nature of the world (compatibilist position), one would require and Agent to choose. This appears to be an attempt at sneaking the Atta into Buddha's teaching. Even the Buddha explained Anatta to be absence of mastery, absence of control.

Yes, I understand that that is your key disagreement with that article, and other discussion here. But the article makes it clear that the agent is not self and is constrained by conditionality.

:anjali:
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:06 pm

Hello Geoff.

You've provided some interesting ideas. In fact your argument seems to be one of the best so far. Thank you.

Ñāṇa wrote:It's important to understand the object of negation. SN 22.59 is negating the notion of a permanent Self which is not subject to affliction/dis-ease. It is not negating functional choice. The Self which is being negated in SN 22.59 is a Self which would be:


In SN35.193 the Anatta of consciousness is explained as consciousness arising due to causes and conditions. While I certainly do agree that what is dukkha and anicca is also anatta, these are not ALL reasons for something to be Anatta. See SN35.193

If consciousness is dependent on causes, then causes cause it to arise or to cease. That way there is anicca. Causes make it experience painful or pleasant objects. If consciousness could be totally unconditioned by space, time, objects, anything - then it could be permanent. If there was control over consciousness, the it is natural that one would make it to be desired, never undesired.


So I understand that "and none can have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus." - SN22.59 and MN35 teaching on not being able to wield power over aggregates to include all kind of control. If there was control, then ALL would experience only what they want to experience, not what they don't want. Lack of control on other hand, could lead to unwanted things, which is stressful.



On one occasion Ven. Ananda and Ven. Udayin were staying near Kosambi in Ghosita's Park. Then in the evening, Ven. Udayin emerged from his seclusion and went to Ven. Ananda and exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Ananda, "In many ways the body has been pointed out, revealed, and announced by the Blessed One [with these words]: 'For this reason the body is not-self. Can consciousness in the same way be declared, taught, described, set forth, revealed, explained, & made plain [with these words]: 'For this reason consciousness is not-self'?"
...
Doesn't intellect-consciousness 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



In MN35
Aggivessana, you that say, matter is your self, do you wield power over that matter, as may my matter be thus, and not otherwise? No, good Gotama.
http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ta-e1.html
[Alex: same with other aggregates]


Thank you for your post,

With metta,

Alex
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:16 pm

Hi Mike, Geoff, Tilt,

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, I understand that that is your key disagreement with that article, and other discussion here. But the article makes it clear that the agent is not self and is constrained by conditionality.


If the so called agent is not self, and is constraint by conditionality, then how is it different from cause-effect stream? Is that agent totally part of cause-effect stream?

If that "agent" is totally part of cause-effect stream, then that agent and the choices are fully and totally conditioned. There is no free will. That agent is like the puppet being moved by conditions. What has happened, has happened in the only possible way that it ever could have possibly happened. That is why it has happened in this as opposed to that way.
If there are conditions for X, then X occurs and never Y.
If there are conditions for Y to occur, then Y occurs, and never X.

Imagine what would be if there were conditions for X to occur, but not-X would occur instead. That acausality and chaos would totally negate the progression along the path because the development of wholesome qualities would not result in permanent eradication of unwholesome tendencies and fetters. If the next moment one could totally revert to what one was before, then sure progression would be impossible.


With metta,

Alex
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:58 pm

I think if one were to read some scriptures with a very literal mind then one can make a good case for determinism and that we have no choice.

However I don't think the Buddha intended his teaching to be understood as a collection of doctrines to be believed, rather as a process of awakening to be followed.

So the key for interpreting any teaching is primarily what affect does it have on the process of practising the path to awakening.

Establishing an awareness of all the different causes and conditions that push or pull our decision making process is an important part of awakening, this awareness gives us many more options to choose from, gives us much more freedom to choose what is right.

However to say everything comes down to causes and conditions and therefore we have no real choice to me is the antithesis of what the Buddhist path is trying to achieve, it's downgrading us to the level of animals living on instinct rather than upgrading us to enlightenment where we are no longer slaves to causes and conditions. If that were true Buddhist teaching then I wouldn't choose to be a Buddhist.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:13 am

Alex123 wrote:If that "agent" is totally part of cause-effect stream, then that agent and the choices are fully and totally conditioned. There is no free will.

No-one is saying that there is "free will" in the Cartesian or Upanishadic sense, they are saying that choices are made.
Alex123 wrote: That agent is like the puppet being moved by conditions. What has happened, has happened in the only possible way that it ever could have possibly happened. That is why it has happened in this as opposed to that way.

Yes, but the actions that the agent make, even though conditioned, do affect the future. From the article I quoted.
The fact that there is only one future may seem to imply that reality
controls agents, and that there is no real freedom.
However, Dennett argues, there is a substantial conceptual error in this argument.
Control is something agents do. Reality, not being an agent, does not control anything.
67 Arguments for inevitability usually overlook the fact that the one possible
future already includes the agent’s predictions, considerations, wishes, decisions,
and actions. These are usually inaccessible in advance simply because they are the
agent’s making.

I think a key point is the distinction between determinism and fatalism:
The Buddhist rejection
of [Makkhali’s view that purification happens without cause (hetu) or condition (paccaya)]
is not a rejection of a deterministic theory of causality but a rejection of
fatalism. The confusion between fatalism and determinism lies at the heart of the
above-mentioned objection (that determinism implies that agents are controlled by
causality).

It seems to me that that confusion over these distinctions can lead to a fatalistic attitude that "it's all predetermined so there's no point in trying to do anything". I agree with Goofaholix that this would be a mistake.

Finally, it's worth remembering that:
The Buddhist treatment of free will has to be extracted from the doctrine, as the
doctrine is by no means a systematic philosophical treatise. Nevertheless, it is clear
that the Buddha saw that freedom has a negative correlation with compulsions.
While the Western tradition tends to emphasize external compulsion and social freedom,
Buddhist doctrine tends to emphasize internal compulsions and psychological
freedom.

It is certainly interesting to pursue a philosophical enquiry into the doctrine, but I'm not convinced that it is particularly useful to one's progress. Particularly if the Buddha's instructions for development are misunderstood as encouraging fatalism.

:anjali:
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:14 am

Goofaholix wrote: I think if one were to read some scriptures with a very literal mind then one can make a good case for determinism and that we have no choice.


Quite the opposite. IMHO it is too easy to read about Buddha and Arahants talking "I go, I think, etc" and forget about 5 aggregates, 12 sense bases, 18 elements, Dependent Origination, Anicca-Dukkha-Anatta and so on.


However I don't think the Buddha intended his teaching to be understood as a collection of doctrines to be believed, rather as a process of awakening to be followed.


Actually it is wisdom that liberates, not ritualistic actions. There were many cases where a non-Buddhist, such as Suppabuddha who stumbled upon a Buddha's lecture and became a stream-enterer in that seat.
have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Rajagaha at the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Now at that time in Rajagaha there was a leper named Suppabuddha, a poor, miserable wretch of a person. And at that time the Blessed One was sitting surrounded by a large assembly, teaching the Dhamma. Suppabuddha the leper saw the large gathering of people from afar and thought to himself, "Without a doubt, someone must be distributing staple or non-staple food over there. Why don't I go over to that large group of people, and maybe I'll get some staple or non-staple food." So he went over to the large group of people. Then he saw the Blessed One sitting surrounded by a large assembly, teaching the Dhamma. On seeing this, he realized, "There's no one distributing staple or non-staple food over here. That's Gotama the contemplative, sitting surrounded by a large assembly, teaching the Dhamma. Why don't I listen to the Dhamma?" So he sat to one side right there, [thinking,] "I, too, will listen to the Dhamma."

Then the Blessed One, having encompassed the awareness of the entire assembly with his awareness, asked himself, "Now who here is capable of understanding the Dhamma?" He saw Suppabuddha the leper sitting in the assembly, and on seeing him the thought occurred to him, "This person here is capable of understanding the Dhamma." So, aiming at Suppabuddha the leper, he gave a step-by-step talk, i.e., a talk on giving, a talk on virtue, a talk on heaven; he declared the drawbacks, degradation, & corruption of sensual passions, and the rewards of renunciation. Then when he saw that Suppabuddha the leper's mind was ready, malleable, free from hindrances, elated, & bright, he then gave the Dhamma-talk peculiar to Awakened Ones, i.e., stress, origination, cessation, & path. And just as a clean cloth, free of stains, would properly absorb a dye, in the same way, as Suppabuddha the leper was sitting in that very seat, the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye arose within him, "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

Having seen the Dhamma, reached the Dhamma, known the Dhamma, gained a footing in the Dhamma, having crossed over & beyond doubt, having had no more perplexity, having gained fearlessness & independence from others with regard to the Teacher's message,
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html



Bahiya became an Arahant through listening and deeply understanding Buddha's teaching.


Goofaholix wrote:
However to say everything comes down to causes and conditions and therefore we have no real choice to me is the antithesis of what the Buddhist path is trying to achieve, it's downgrading us to the level of animals living on instinct rather than upgrading us to enlightenment where we are no longer slaves to causes and conditions. If that were true Buddhist teaching then I wouldn't choose to be a Buddhist.

[/quote]

Suppubuddha the leper was not a Buddhist. He was looking for food and mistook the crowd for people receiving the food. He then decided to listen to the Buddha, and through the lecture he became a stream-enterer.


There are many suttas which talk about understanding of anicca-dukkha-anatta of 5 aggregates, 12 spheres, etc, leading to Awakening.
Seeing thus[alex: anicca-dukkha-anatta], Sona, the instructed noble disciple becomes disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with volitional constructions, disenchanted with consciousness. Being disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion (his mind) is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘It’s liberated.’ He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what
had to be done has been done, there is no more for this world.’”
SN22.49 (7) Sona (1) - Ven BB Transl.

Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees as impermanent form which is actually impermanent: that is his right view. Seeing rightly, he becomes disenchanted. With the destruction of delight comes the destruction of lust; with the destruction of lust comes the destruction of delight. With the destruction of delight and lust the mind is liberated and is said to be well liberated. [same for other aggregates]
SN22.51 (9) Destruction of Delight (1) - Ven BB Transl.


Again, it is knowledge that liberates.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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