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Free will and Buddhism - Dhamma Wheel

Free will and Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
jackson
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Free will and Buddhism

Postby jackson » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:19 pm

Greetings everyone,
I'm wondering if the Buddha ever took a position on whether there is free will or not, and I'd also be interested to hear any monks or nuns opinions about it as well.
Thanks for your time and happy holidays, :anjali:
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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SDC
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby SDC » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:48 pm



Although most of the talk has to do with freewill, he begins to discuss it specifically around 9:25. I would give the whole talk a listen to get the full context.

Hope this helps. :smile:

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daverupa
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:54 pm

Teachings on kamma are fundamentally about how there is room for the efficacious application of willpower in an environment of cause and effect. This, fundamentally, is how there can be the training of citta at all.

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Jason
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby Jason » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:19 pm

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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robertk
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby robertk » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:03 pm

Very nice analysis Jason

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reflection
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby reflection » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:45 pm

Is there free will or not? You can read the suttas and you can listen to 100 monks and nons, which all is great, but won't give you the answer. You have to try to find 'free will' inside of yourself to find the answer. If you look deeply you'll see that decisions and choices are not made by you, but are made by circumstances. As soon as you can get beyond the idea of 'you' having a choice or not, there is no more need to think about the notion of free will.

Of course, it's not easy to do. In fact, you can't do it at all, because doing is in itself caused by willing. That's why one should let go of willing to see it as it is. And the more you see will is non-self, the easier it is to let go. Then there may arise meditation states in which there is no choice at all anymore; and the question is answered. All of this is part of what the Buddha talked about when he taught non-self.

alan...
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:49 pm

check out accesstoinsight, a search of "" brought up a lot of info to explain this idea. determinism is the opposite of free will.

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Sambojjhanga
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby Sambojjhanga » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:32 pm

The flavor of the dhamma exceeds all other flavors

alan...
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby alan... » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:46 am

there is some sutta where this very issue is discussed, i struggled with the same question until i found it. it is the buddha discussing determinism, kamma and all that but for the life of me i can't remember what it was called! anyway, the buddha said that it's not predetermined so yes we have free will according to the buddha.

alan...
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby alan... » Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:13 am

"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



i still can't find that sutta though! last time i saw it it put to bed this issue for me so i just moved on without writing down the name or anything.

also:

"In this way, the Buddha points to one of the most distinctive features of his own teaching on kamma: that the present experience of pleasure and pain is a combined result of both past and present actions. This seemingly small addition to the notion of kamma plays an enormous role in allowing for the exercise of free will and the possibility of putting an end to suffering before the effects of all past actions have ripened. In other words, this addition is what makes Buddhist practice possible, and makes it possible for a person who has completed the practice to survive and teach it with full authority to others. For more on these points, see the articles, "Karma," "A Refuge in Skillful Action," and "Five Piles of Bricks"; see also the Introduction to The Wings to Awakening, along with the introductions to the sections on Skillfulness and Kamma & the Ending of Kamma in that book."

-Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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reflection
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby reflection » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:02 pm

Determinism and free will are opposites like forest and desert are opposites. There are also other possibilities: sea, tundra, fields etc. Indeterminism could be caused by plenty of other things than 'free will'. So there being no determinism doesn't really say anything about there being free will or not.

jackson
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby jackson » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:12 pm

Thank you kindly for your replies, especially Jason for his detailed reply, you guys have given me plenty to think about!
:anjali:
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

SamKR
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby SamKR » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:44 am


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Alex123
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby Alex123 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:18 pm

If there is no self, then there is no self, no agent, that can decide to do this or that.
"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: Free will and Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:26 pm


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dhammacoustic
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby dhammacoustic » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:33 pm

I would say, since there is no reality as "ego", it's pointless to debate whether there is free-will or not, as all are conditioned mental processes.

There is the mind - which conditions the kamma processes of a stream, and there is the path/fruition - which leads to unconditionality after it's attained. One will choose Nibbana over ego-existence, and this is a choice of free-will - not, it's just "realization". Once a small child realizes that fire burns, he won't touch it ever again. This means that, there is ignorance and there is wisdom. And it's all about seeking and realizing. But for that seeking to arise, one needs to be already free from certain types of defilements and states, which is unfortunately, dependent upon kamma. It's the reason why a Buddha is a Buddha, and not some other person. His kamma, allows him to be the Buddha. Dependent origination covers abouts anything - except Nibbana. When one enters Nibbana (well, actually there is no one entering it, because it reality, there is no ego-entity) it's the end of every mental concept, so you can't be talking about dependency or conditionality any more. :sage:

:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Alex123
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby Alex123 » Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:52 pm

"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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Kim OHara
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Re: Free will and Buddhism

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:39 am



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