Free-will is it an illusion?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:30 am

PeterB wrote:The person is real but transient. The person stubs her/his toe. The person loves and is aversive. The person laughs and cries. They are real.
The idea that they will have existence permanently in whole or part is the construct. Not just a mental construct but a psycho -social construct among psycho- social constructs.
What arises when you clench your hand is a fist. When you open your hand the fist does not arise. Nevertheless for the duration of your clenching the fist had reality as a fist. As that which in the English language is named "fist". Which is an action not a thing. A person is an action not a thing. It does have existence however while the conditions for its arising are present..
Yes.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:36 am

Here's the wrong view of Makkhali Gosala mentioned above:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
... Makkhali Gosala said to me, 'Great king, there is no cause, no requisite condition, for the defilement of beings. Beings are defiled without cause, without requisite condition. There is no cause, no requisite condition, for the purification of beings. Beings are purified without cause, without requisite condition. There is nothing self-caused, nothing other-caused, nothing human-caused. There is no strength, no effort, no human energy, no human endeavor. All living beings, all life, all beings, all souls are powerless, devoid of strength, devoid of effort. Subject to the changes of fate, serendipity, and nature, they are sensitive to pleasure and pain in the six great classes of birth.
...
"'Though one might think, "Through this morality, this practice, this austerity, or this holy life I will ripen unripened kamma and eliminate ripened kamma whenever touched by it" — that is impossible. Pleasure and pain are measured out, the wandering-on is fixed in its limits. There is no shortening or lengthening, no accelerating or decelerating. Just as a ball of string, when thrown, comes to its end simply by unwinding, in the same way, having transmigrated and wandered on, the wise and the foolish alike will put an end to pain.'

Mike
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Shonin » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:41 am

tiltbillings wrote:Except the reality is that until we have the insight to see it as it is, we need to work with the "me," which is the purpose of the precepts, of sitting practice, etc. It is a matter of starting where we are. We might want to tell the "constructed self" where to get off, to put it in its place, but it really does not work that way. Being recalcitrant, stubborn, and persistent, we have to work with it, cultivate it with the precepts, thin its walls with generosity and metta, to gain insight into it via mindfulness.


Yes. We need to start with where we are and move towards greater insight. However, ruminating over metaphysical questions which themselves are founded on delusion will not move us in that direction.
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:43 am

In my opinion there is will, but is it not free. It is not free because it is conditioned. But there is will. And actions, words and thoughts affected by that will.

Maybe it is just a question of gradient, because even in Christianity will is not absolutely free, because there are consequences for actions and there is the case of divine intervention guiding believers on their actions.

In my understanding of Buddhism "will" is not as free as in Christianity, which is not completely free there, and freer than in fatalist believes.
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:46 am

Rui Sousa wrote:In my opinion there is will, but is it not free. It is not free because it is conditioned. But there is will. And actions, words and thoughts affected by that will.

Maybe it is just a question of gradient, because even in Christianity will is not absolutely free, because there are consequences for actions and there is the case of divine intervention guiding believers on their actions.

In my understanding of Buddhism "will" is not as free as in Christianity, which is not completely free there, and freer than in fatalist believes.
In Christianity, how can you act other than how god knows you are going to act AND how you act is a result of the very nature of the creation of that god.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Shonin » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:48 am

PeterB wrote:
Shonin wrote:The "person" who we think is in control is a mental construct.
The "person" who we think is NOT in control is a mental construct.

It's all self-views.

Phenomena just are. 'Me' being or not being in control doesn't come into it. It's a kind of clinging. The Buddhist practice is to see that and thus let go.

following that logic Shonin the person who posted that view is a mental construct, so send me all of your mentally constructed income for the next six months. I will supply a PO box number.


You have misunderstood me. I didn't mean that human beings don't exist, that there are no bellies to fill or that the non-payment of bills will not lead to future pain and suffering. But human beings don't have a real self - there is no real owner of their bodies, their mental states, their choices etc, except as a human convention.

What I posted is in line with what the Buddha taught.
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Shonin » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:54 am

PeterB wrote:The person is real but transient. The person stubs her/his toe. The person loves and is aversive. The person laughs and cries. They are real.
The idea that they will have existence permanently in whole or part is the construct. Not just a mental construct but a psycho -social construct among psycho- social constructs.
What arises when you clench your hand is a fist. When you open your hand the fist does not arise. Nevertheless for the duration of your clenching the fist had reality as a fist. As that which in the English language is named "fist". Which is an action not a thing. A person is an action not a thing. It does have existence however while the conditions for its arising are present..


Good description. I think part of the problem is the definition of 'person' - whether we are referring to a person in the philosophical sense - the abstracted agent of choice and subject of experiences, (ie a self) which is what I meant - or whether we are referring to the aggregate of ever-changing physical and mental phenomena we call a 'human being' which is what you are talking about.

Otherwise I think we're in agreement.

What does not exist except as a mental construct is an ultimately real self - a fixed, agent of action and subject of experience. And only in regard to views about such a self do metaphysical questions about freewill or the lack of it make any sense.

I'm surprised that you don't know me better than to think I would claim the literal non-existence of human beings or other real phenomena Peter.
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:12 am

I did of course notice your inverted commas around "person" Shonin. But not everyone reading the message boards as as familiar with that idea as are some others... :anjali:

Anyway does that mean you wont be sending me your dosh ? :smile:
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Shonin » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:29 pm

PeterB wrote:I did of course notice your inverted commas around "person" Shonin. But not everyone reading the message boards as as familiar with that idea as are some others... :anjali:

Anyway does that mean you wont be sending me your dosh ? :smile:


My dosh is non-existent... literally
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:53 pm

I could lend you a few bob.
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Shonin » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:07 pm

Thanks - but we'll get by. :)
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby smokey » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:25 pm

"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

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... karma.html
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:50 pm

Nice...

:anjali:
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:07 pm

PeterB wrote:
Shonin wrote:The "person" who we think is in control is a mental construct.
The "person" who we think is NOT in control is a mental construct.

It's all self-views.

Phenomena just are. 'Me' being or not being in control doesn't come into it. It's a kind of clinging. The Buddhist practice is to see that and thus let go.

following that logic Shonin the person who posted that view is a mental construct, so send me all of your mentally constructed income for the next six months. I will supply a PO box number.


Sorry, but that's just bizarre logic. Why would the self being constructed suddenly mean that Shonin should give you his income? Seems like what he posted got turned into a wrong view...
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:14 pm

It was a joke Beeblebrox, An old and running joke.
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:17 pm

The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.

But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us. Due to ignorance we think we are independent of the external world and of previous events in the internal world, so without knowledge of all the things that condition us we have the illusion of choice. But this illusion is real for us so we do, subjectively, have choice. That's why we must apply effort in the path to liberation.
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: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:25 pm

PeterB wrote:It was a joke Beeblebrox, An old and running joke.


I like jokes as much as anyone else, but not when it confuses the Dhamma. :tongue:
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:45 pm

I apologise to the Dhamma for any confusion I caused it....
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby Dharma Atma » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:03 pm

If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind.
Well, continuing the example with lightening, we proseed that we're able to know that the lightening will definitely come to an end... we can even calculate what certain moment it will happen. In this scene it's perfectly known that the lightening will be over. So, Samsara will come to its end definitely. And there are some calculations among brahmans of India. The time period when Samsara exists they call "the Day of Brahma".
But, on the other hand, can we say how any particle in the lightening conduct? Can we calculate if any electron go here or there? We can't, and there's a law in phisics, the law of uncertainty (look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle ). So, as a path of any electron can't be foreseen, so how a man behaves in an hour or two we can't say. 'Cause people have a free-will. And I cannot agree with the following:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us.

The manifested world as a Whole has no free will, 'cause its end and its evolution goes according to certain laws. But - if we're "aware of everything that conditions us" or we are not - people can conduct as they like, and their behaviour will definitely be individual and unique. No one knows where the electron is in a second...
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Re: Free-will is it an illusion?

Postby cooran » Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:20 pm

Dharma Atma wrote:If we have a look at this question out from more wide prospect that we'll get some more facts to be observed and discussed. We people are only the faint manifestations of the Great Emptiness. This Emptiness is so-called Absolute, the unmanifested Adi-Buddha. It's shunyata. And at the same time it is the only and the ultimate Subject.
The manifested world, Samsara, looks like a lightening in a night sky. It is... and in one moment it is not... Samsara is only one subtle and hardly visible thought into this Emptiness, or Subject, or Big Mind.
Well, continuing the example with lightening, we proseed that we're able to know that the lightening will definitely come to an end... we can even calculate what certain moment it will happen. In this scene it's perfectly known that the lightening will be over. So, Samsara will come to its end definitely. And there are some calculations among brahmans of India. The time period when Samsara exists they call "the Day of Brahma".
But, on the other hand, can we say how any particle in the lightening conduct? Can we calculate if any electron go here or there? We can't, and there's a law in phisics, the law of uncertainty (look, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle ). So, as a path of any electron can't be foreseen, so how a man behaves in an hour or two we can't say. 'Cause people have a free-will. And I cannot agree with the following:
Modus.Ponens wrote:The fact that there is, objectively, no choice is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality.But subjectively we do have a choice because we are not aware of everything that conditions us.

The manifested world as a Whole has no free will, 'cause its end and its evolution goes according to certain laws. But - if we're "aware of everything that conditions us" or we are not - people can conduct as they like, and their behaviour will definitely be individual and unique. No one knows where the electron is in a second...

Hello Dharma Atma,

Could you provide traceable links to the Suttas or Abhidhamma which will support what you have stated above?

with metta
Chris
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