beoman

no-self and free will

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How does the concept of anatta or no-self interact with the concept of free will? As I understand it, in Buddhism at least, there is free will. Karma will influence your life, and you can be a complete slave to it, but you can also influence it by your actions (and especially by becoming enlightened).

 

When meditating I can maybe start to see some aspects of no-self. Correct me if I'm mistaken, which I may well be, but it's like how a sensation that "I" feel isn't necessarily connected to me, but could just be a sensation somewhere that is perceived. Like how sensations just arise from a sequence of causes and effects, one of the effects being it is felt somehow.

 

But I can't perceive this with a voluntary action, like when I shift my weight a little. Sure there are causes and effects which cause me to shift my weight, and then the weight shifts, and there are those sensations.. but it seems to have interacted at some point with "me" wanting to shift my weight, and commanding "my" muscles in some way to move.

 

I could see how it could all be no-self if it's just purely cause and effect, and there wasn't any entity or anything that had any say in choosing to shift the weight - that is, the feeling that I wanted to do it, and did it, were just there as perceptions with no "entity" having a say in them. But then how can any "entity" or "conglomeration of sentience" as xabir put it have free will? And if we don't have free will then... you could just sit back and watch life unfold eh? What would be the point of trying to become enlightened? Unless that's just how it plays out and we don't really have a say in anything. I guess that would make it easier to not worry about anything =P.

 

Anyway, I have mostly a "rational" understanding of anatta now, not a direct perceptual one, which you can probably tell from my questions. But can someone try to explain it?

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I will consider this to be a Buddhist discussion because of the 'no-self' concept and probably won't say much else.

 

But I did want to say that I hold to the concept of free will.

 

Peace & Love!

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I will consider this to be a Buddhist discussion because of the 'no-self' concept and probably won't say much else.

 

But I did want to say that I hold to the concept of free will.

 

Peace & Love!

 

It isn't strictly a Buddhist term is it? I did use the word for it, anatta, but it seems like non-affiliated non-duality is the same thing (like from a site like http://www.nonduality.com/ ). But thanks for your vote! I like the idea of free will in any case. It would be boring if we didn't have any, although also very interesting in what an illusion we have created for ourselves if it doesn't exist.

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It isn't strictly a Buddhist term is it? I did use the word for it, anatta, but it seems like non-affiliated non-duality is the same thing (like from a site like http://www.nonduality.com/ ). But thanks for your vote! I like the idea of free will in any case. It would be boring if we didn't have any, although also very interesting in what an illusion we have created for ourselves if it doesn't exist.

 

Hehehe. I had to laugh at the last phrase of your last sentence. Yes, I would have to be very creative if free will really didn't exist. And illusional!!! WoW!!!

 

As far as I know all Taoists have a self. We don't consider 'no-self' a valid concept.

 

But yes, we do try to hold to the concept of non-duality when appropriate. But as I have said other places on this forum, our brain operates according to the concept of duality. If we are to remain 'true to our nature' we must observe things of the Manifest in dualistic terms.

 

Peace & Love!

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As far as I know all Taoists have a self.

Chuang Tzu:

 

"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame."

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How does the concept of anatta or no-self interact with the concept of free will? As I understand it, in Buddhism at least, there is free will. Karma will influence your life, and you can be a complete slave to it, but you can also influence it by your actions (and especially by becoming enlightened).

 

When meditating I can maybe start to see some aspects of no-self. Correct me if I'm mistaken, which I may well be, but it's like how a sensation that "I" feel isn't necessarily connected to me, but could just be a sensation somewhere that is perceived. Like how sensations just arise from a sequence of causes and effects, one of the effects being it is felt somehow.

 

But I can't perceive this with a voluntary action, like when I shift my weight a little. Sure there are causes and effects which cause me to shift my weight, and then the weight shifts, and there are those sensations.. but it seems to have interacted at some point with "me" wanting to shift my weight, and commanding "my" muscles in some way to move.

 

I could see how it could all be no-self if it's just purely cause and effect, and there wasn't any entity or anything that had any say in choosing to shift the weight - that is, the feeling that I wanted to do it, and did it, were just there as perceptions with no "entity" having a say in them. But then how can any "entity" or "conglomeration of sentience" as xabir put it have free will? And if we don't have free will then... you could just sit back and watch life unfold eh? What would be the point of trying to become enlightened? Unless that's just how it plays out and we don't really have a say in anything. I guess that would make it easier to not worry about anything =P.

 

Anyway, I have mostly a "rational" understanding of anatta now, not a direct perceptual one, which you can probably tell from my questions. But can someone try to explain it?

I think Lucky7Strikes will be the best person to reply you because he struggled a long time over this question.

 

Nevertheless, here are some things for you to consider:

 

From: J

Sent: Friday, April 10, 2009 8:46 AM

To: (xabir2005)

Subject: On Free Will from Dharma Dan

 

 

(xabir2005),

 

I wrote to Dharma Dan and asked the question about Free Will. Below is his reply for your inforamtion:

 

============================================================================

Dear J,

 

 

Thanks for your email. I have been working a lot so it took a little while to get back to you.

 

Hello Daniel,

 

 

I just read your blook. Your chapter on No-Self vs True Self is very good. I feel it is much better than the chapter on the same topic in the book Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield. Could you allow me to ask you a couple of questions here?

 

 

According to this chapter, basically you don't agree with Advaita's concept of True Self and Oneness. Is this correct?

Second, all Advaita people basically assert that humans have no free will. Here is a sample short article to show what I mean:

http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/freewill_balsekar.htm

 

I think this view is closely connected to their another view which is seeing this world completely as an illusion and dream. I think Buddhism's dependent origination is a better description for perceived reality. As I read some Buddhism books, when they talk about Karma, they all say humans have a choice to change the future course. I interpret this as saying that humans have free will in Buddism's view. Is this correct? If so, how does this reconcile with no-self/ego teaching?

 

 

 

 

Best regards,

 

I am a pragmatist, so I think that concept that help people are key.

 

 

Tbe Buddha addressed this topic, and I agree with his answer. He said that when training in Morality assume free will, as it helps. Thus, you presume that you can make healthy choices about how to speak and act and think, and so you proceed with the notion that you are in control and can make yourself and your world better.

 

 

When doing Insight practices, you do the complete opposite as much as possible. You assume that sensations arise on their own in a causal, natural way and as much as possible you try to see that aspect of things. That said, until concentration, mindfulness, and continuity of practice are strong, one makes a lot of effort to see things as they are and stay with the natural arising and vanishing of sensations.

 

 

From an ultimate point of view, and from a strictly Buddhist technical point of view, there is no free will. All the sensations of effort and will are themselves causal, and thus, while there are definitely the impressions of free will, these themselves are made of moments that arise and vanish on their own according to the laws that govern causality.

 

 

Helpful?

 

 

Daniel

 

------------------

 

(comments by Thusness on Konomonte's questions)

 

Thusness says:

 

*komomonte cannot understand the question of free will this way.

 

*he must first experience no-self and understand how subject/object view affect us then when he look at the question of free will, he will be able to understand better.

 

*because when our mind and experienced are shaped by inherent thoughts, we see 'free will' as a form of freedom. Once we are able to go beyond dualistic and inherent views, we see otherwise. But we must also not lead to the wrong understanding of determinism for both free will and determinism are extremes.

 

Me says:

 

*oic..

 

Thusness says:

 

*what did u write to him?

 

Me says:

 

*u mean previously

 

Thusness says:

 

*yeah

 

Me says:

 

*basically i said what u said, that things do not happen by chance or ramdomly or determined, but due to conditions. so there is no control, but there is influence by intentions and imprints.

 

Thusness says:

 

*yes

 

*Dharma Dan's answer i also along that line.

 

*It is causal.

 

Me says:

 

*icic..

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I also have an intellectual understanding of "no-self". Mainly I came to it via several routes. The main one lately is that I started a thought experiment of Buddhist "emptiness". Whenever I saw the word "emptiness" I would substitute the word "non-inherency" since that's how the Buddhist texts I read would often use to help explain it.

 

Well a few days ago I began a thought experiment. Since Buddhism maintains there is nothing in the Universe that doesn't have some other causes and/or conditions I decided to try to see how far out this would go. I quickly came to realize non-inherency has the same tendency as counting numbers. That is...think of the largest number you can but it will never be enough for you can always add one to it and make it larger still. Numbers are infinite in this regard. So too non-inherency. That mountain is empty of inherency. Illusions are obvious examples to non-meditators of non-inherency.

 

That's when I finally understood why Buddhism says reality operates like an illusion. Or as I prefer to think of it - much like virtual reality worlds like MMOs. MMOs are 'worlds' and yet can be traced back to computer code. Which traces back to machine code. Which traces back to numbers. Which traces back to humans...which traces back to... well...you get the idea. It's the idea of non-inherency pushed to it's logical extreme. There's no end in sight. It's not saying that "reality" (or for Marble) or the "mountain" doesn't exist. It's just saying that it exists non-inherently. Try as you might you will never be able to discover an ultimate cause or condition that itself had no prior cause or condition.

 

Edit: When this happened I immediately saw everything drained of it's existence as I traditionally subconsciously understand it. It really *IS* empty if you push non-inherency to the extreme.

 

And getting to the subject of freewill I think it makes such a discussion more interesting. Because our free will is part of this reality Buddhism says it too must fall within this framework of ad infinitum prior causes and conditions. In such a case...do we really have free will at least as most people generally understand it?

 

I confess I'm boggled by my thought experiment.

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How does the concept of anatta or no-self interact with the concept of free will? As I understand it, in Buddhism at least, there is free will. Karma will influence your life, and you can be a complete slave to it, but you can also influence it by your actions (and especially by becoming enlightened).

 

When meditating I can maybe start to see some aspects of no-self. Correct me if I'm mistaken, which I may well be, but it's like how a sensation that "I" feel isn't necessarily connected to me, but could just be a sensation somewhere that is perceived. Like how sensations just arise from a sequence of causes and effects, one of the effects being it is felt somehow.

 

But I can't perceive this with a voluntary action, like when I shift my weight a little. Sure there are causes and effects which cause me to shift my weight, and then the weight shifts, and there are those sensations.. but it seems to have interacted at some point with "me" wanting to shift my weight, and commanding "my" muscles in some way to move.

 

I could see how it could all be no-self if it's just purely cause and effect, and there wasn't any entity or anything that had any say in choosing to shift the weight - that is, the feeling that I wanted to do it, and did it, were just there as perceptions with no "entity" having a say in them. But then how can any "entity" or "conglomeration of sentience" as xabir put it have free will? And if we don't have free will then... you could just sit back and watch life unfold eh? What would be the point of trying to become enlightened? Unless that's just how it plays out and we don't really have a say in anything. I guess that would make it easier to not worry about anything =P.

 

Anyway, I have mostly a "rational" understanding of anatta now, not a direct perceptual one, which you can probably tell from my questions. But can someone try to explain it?

I had a lot of trouble with free will in the past too. Here's my 2 cents...

 

Free will assumes an independent entity in an experience who chooses and interacts with his surroundings so it is not compatible with the dependence model of Buddhism. Will is also a skhanda, and the 5 skandas are clearly set to be empty and without a self. Yet to those who still cling to the false idea of "I" or a doer, there will automatically be the idea of a "will" because his experience is dual and feels like he is in the world to do things.

 

So one should view free will just like we view the "I," a conventional concept that is nonetheless illusory and not ultimately real. When one begins to drop the sense of "I" it is like the "I" realizing its own non-existence or awareness becoming free from a centered source, it is the last step the "free will" makes to end itself. And this is not an easy process because our habit of identifying an "I" is very strong, cunning, and relentless. Non-dual insight into awareness as a non-separate aspect of phenomena gradually dissolves the "I" into simply changing manifestations. But it is really is the final choice, only to realize that there has never been such a thing in the first place.

 

Contrary to what people might believe about this, when both the "I" and "free will" are slowly let go of, one actually is inclined to deeper practices, like setting in motion the process towards enlightenment. It is seeing into our Buddha-nature, that enlightenment is the final destination. Practice becomes very natural as if it is the only thing one wants to do, since with the dropping of the "I" one becomes much more free "of" (which is better than thinking in terms of free "to").

 

The trouble arises when one does not see the empty nature of "I" and "free will" at the same time and instead holds on to the concept of "me" and uses a conceptual misunderstanding of "no free will" to justify their actions. Or rather from the perspective of "I" begins to judge the value of free will. So instead of focusing on free will, I think the emphasis is rightly on dropping the "I," and naturally the meaning of free will reveals itself.

 

Another problem I ran into this is the whole thing about morality and karma. To anyone holding onto an "I" or a dualistic perspective there will be a chain of events that come about from grasping, the cycle of samsara. Yes you will have your "free will" and your "I" not realizing their true nature and suffer very accordingly with whatever "you" do with your choices. Give and take, suffering and pain, and a whole world of dualities will consume you because the very basis of your experience is the "I," which is clinging. Cling, cling cling. From one extreme to another. But we are practicing to escape from this cycle so by cutting off the root of "I", we escape both the need for choice and hence karma altogether.

Edited by Lucky7Strikes

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You know what really boggles me? The idea that consciousness and awareness also possibly have non-inherency. I'm still such a noob at meditating. The thought that if I meditate long enough that I can actually confirm whether the Buddha was right or not certainly piques my interest.

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Chuang Tzu:

 

"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame."

 

Chuang Tzu might have messed up on this one.

 

BTW I don't know of any Perfect Man.

 

Peace & Love!

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There are all sorts mind benders or blowers out there ... so do not be discouraged when your mind gets blown.

 

Buddhism among other paths can easily blow your mind if one is coming from western traditions. Alan Watts (his material is rather dated but still fine imo) explains some of this stuff quite well for those coming from such (Abrahamic) traditions.

 

If one looks at the depiction of Tibetan Wheel of Life and its outer borders, who has free will inside and outside of those borders; what if one is bound by karmas to somewhere inside the wheel - how far then does one's free wheel extend under the circumstances of those various realms?

 

Just throwing some questions out there for possibe consideration. :)

 

Btw, there is an old Buddhist saying that goes something like this,

"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

Edited by 3bob

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There are all sorts mind benders or blowers out there ... so do not be discouraged when your mind gets blown.

 

Here... this blew me away, Bob! And it definitely was not in any way discouraging.. au contraire! :lol:

(a friendship between Noself and Freewill) - http://www.kechara.com/support/resources/inspiration-corner/this-is-what-life-is-all-about/

 

 

(better not 'kill the Buddha' before one learns enough to step out of the wheel, i'd hazard a guess...) :D:P

 

 

 

 

Good evening!

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Here... this blew me away, Bob! And it definitely was not in any way discouraging.. au contraire! :lol:

(a friendship between Noself and Freewill) - http://www.kechara.com/support/resources/inspiration-corner/this-is-what-life-is-all-about/

 

haha that is awesoome! true friendship indeed

 

 

(better not 'kill the Buddha' before one learns enough to step out of the wheel, i'd hazard a guess...) :D:P

mm unless you're trippin on acid.. maybe killing him in your mind would be some symbolic meaningful thing-y...

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From an ultimate point of view, and from a strictly Buddhist technical point of view, there is no free will. All the sensations of effort and will are themselves causal, and thus, while there are definitely the impressions of free will, these themselves are made of moments that arise and vanish on their own according to the laws that govern causality.

 

...

 

Thusness says:

 

*komomonte cannot understand the question of free will this way.

 

*he must first experience no-self and understand how subject/object view affect us then when he look at the question of free will, he will be able to understand better.

 

 

The first part I quoted is confusing. If there's no free will and it's just causes and conditions then what exactly am "I" doing by "setting in motion" the path to my enlightenment?

 

The second part answers the question. Practice, gain a non-dual perception first-hand, then these questions will make more sense =). In the meantime I think talking about all this is just mental masturbation... all these discussions leave me with a "hmmmmm..... maybe...." feeling, which is hopefully the best one to have in these matters =P.

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Contrary to what people might believe about this, when both the "I" and "free will" are slowly let go of, one actually is inclined to deeper practices, like setting in motion the process towards enlightenment.

 

Man this is why human language sucks... cause you say as the "I" and "free will" are let go of, *one* actually is *inclined* to deeper practices. But those starred words directly contradict the quoted words right before them.

 

So instead of focusing on free will, I think the emphasis is rightly on dropping the "I," and naturally the meaning of free will reveals itself.

Ya I'll just practice till I can do that =).

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Well a few days ago I began a thought experiment. Since Buddhism maintains there is nothing in the Universe that doesn't have some other causes and/or conditions I decided to try to see how far out this would go. I quickly came to realize non-inherency has the same tendency as counting numbers. That is...think of the largest number you can but it will never be enough for you can always add one to it and make it larger still. Numbers are infinite in this regard. So too non-inherency. That mountain is empty of inherency. Illusions are obvious examples to non-meditators of non-inherency.

I had a similar feeling when trying to determine who "I" am. I thought, it must be whatever is watching everything. Then I noticed that I was watching what was watching, so maybe I'm that watcher of the watcher. Then I noticed I was watching that, so I'm the watcher-watcher-watcher. Hey let's use some notation. I watched that, so I'm the 4-watcher. No, the 5-watcher. No, ..... , etc. Maybe you can say "I'm the thing that watches all those". So I'm the meta-watcher. But then you have 2-meta-watcher, 3-meta-watcher, etc... so I think that's the same problem.

 

About large numbers, the book "Godel Escher Bach" had an awesome conversation about it, though I can't find a link now. Also here is a really interesting article about large numbers: http://www.scottaaronson.com/writings/bignumbers.html .

 

And getting to the subject of freewill I think it makes such a discussion more interesting. Because our free will is part of this reality Buddhism says it too must fall within this framework of ad infinitum prior causes and conditions. In such a case...do we really have free will at least as most people generally understand it?

 

I confess I'm boggled by my thought experiment.

 

Yea it's quite boggling. but I think insight meditation helps penetrate the bogglement. just gotta practice

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When we refer to the "doer" of actions or "thinker" of ideas, we must not forget that it's just a word or name for it to make a conversation easier but does not represent a permanent entity. For example, we have a name for a river to make it simpler. But the river is actually an accumulation of water (another name for something else...)

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I had a similar feeling when trying to determine who "I" am. I thought, it must be whatever is watching everything. Then I noticed that I was watching what was watching, so maybe I'm that watcher of the watcher. Then I noticed I was watching that, so I'm the watcher-watcher-watcher. Hey let's use some notation. I watched that, so I'm the 4-watcher. No, the 5-watcher. No, ..... , etc. Maybe you can say "I'm the thing that watches all those". So I'm the meta-watcher. But then you have 2-meta-watcher, 3-meta-watcher, etc... so I think that's the same problem.

 

Ooh! Good one! I had not thought of that. I have not tried doing the "I am" practices. I have tried a little bit of Noting and it has a similar effect. Try as I might I have not been able to catch a Self/Me in all the attempts I've tried. So where the hell am I?! As I type this I certainly feel like there is a Me. So how come it is so seemingly impossible to find? More importantly - where the hell did my idea that there is a Me come from if upon actual investigation it can not be found?

 

The few times I've tried noting it had a dizzying effect of dissolving the Me out of everything. I was not my emotion because I was watching it. I was not the watching because of what you said. I am not the thoughts because I note those coming and going too. I am not my scratching because I'm watching my finger scratch my leg. But I'm not the scratch because I'm noticing it. I'm not my leg or finger for the same reason. I'm not my body because I'm watching it. I'm not my consciousness because I'm watching that! And that's only from doing Noting very sporadically - like maybe 10 minutes every few days or so. I can't begin to imagine the effect it must have on someone who diligently practices it daily.

 

My question is - is the I a thing which can possibly exist yet never be 'caught'?

 

About large numbers, the book "Godel Escher Bach" had an awesome conversation about it, though I can't find a link now. Also here is a really interesting article about large numbers: http://www.scottaaro...bignumbers.html .

 

I love science books. I've heard good things about that book but never gotten around to reading it. I might check it out from my local library if they have it.

 

 

 

Yea it's quite boggling. but I think insight meditation helps penetrate the bogglement. just gotta practice

 

Very true.

 

Hey beoman this is a little bit off topic but...have you had any weird things happen to you since you began meditation or chi kung practices? I'm very curious about this although you don't have to answer if it's too personal.

 

Right now I'm in a weird place. If you had asked me 5 years ago I would've staunchly stood right by guys like Dawkins and Shermer and their worldview. Not anymore. But I'm in limbo now. Daniel Dennet refuses to explain how Consciousness arose in a Universe that supposedly didn't have it when it began. Not good for an author who has a book that claims to explain Consciousness.

 

The upshot now is that I'm flakey. My views shift and flow with the wind. I question even the Tao now! I'm beginning to think that "that which can not be named" too is a flakey philosophy. But humans don't seem to do well without having something to hold onto to guide their lives - even if they insist whatever IT is can not be grasped.

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Hey beoman this is a little bit off topic but...have you had any weird things happen to you since you began meditation or chi kung practices? I'm very curious about this although you don't have to answer if it's too personal. I've had some highly weird things happen to me since doing both. Enough so that I now not just believe but actually KNOW that the Physicalist/Materialist world-view is wrong.

 

mm I don't know what those view are. But I have definitely had weird things happening to me since I started meditating, that I'm sure wouldn't have had I not. I'll list some here:

 

* probably the biggest one that made me convinced there is something else is when I was lying in a bunk bed on a cruise ship. I just had my eyes closed, was listening to some rap, nothin special. Then all of a sudden I felt like the blackness that my eyes was seeing expanded greatly. like it was 2 dimensional before, and it became 3 dimensional. it was pretty fascinating. a few seconds after it happened i was wondering what it'd be like if I moved, so I sat upright (from lying down) and my body felt really heavy. it disappeared a few seconds after that. I'm not sure what it was but my current theory is that I stumbled into a jhana.

 

* after meditating, if I lie down, I notice rapid white flickering when I close my eyes. this goes away a few mins after I meditate.

 

* while meditating i sometimes get the sensation that the blackness before my eyes is expanding (i meditate w/ eyes closed). not to the extent as on the cruise ship, but something interesting is happening. not sure what, yet.

 

* o once while meditating i got this extremely intense head rush that left my ears ringing and me not being able to see for a few seconds even w/ eyes open. i was doing some qi gong meditation w/ moving qi around so that mite be why.

 

Anyway, stuff like that. now whenever I meditate I'm pretty sure somethin interesting will happen, mostly just feeling lots of little body sensations i never would before.

 

note I wouldn't read into my experience as anything particularly special.. except for the cruise ship thing maybe. but the rest I feel like could happen to anyone. i know if I read these things a few months ago i'd be like "woa [email protected]!!##" but now it's like "ah just some stuff happening".

 

and yeah lots of questioning on my side as well. that's why I started this post eh? what kinda stuff has been goin on w/ you?

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The first part I quoted is confusing. If there's no free will and it's just causes and conditions then what exactly am "I" doing by "setting in motion" the path to my enlightenment?

You are practicing to gain enlightenment, except that there is no 'you', only 'practicing'.

 

There is walking, but no walker. There is thinking, no thinker. There is perception, no perceiver.

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You are practicing to gain enlightenment, except that there is no 'you', only 'practicing'.

 

There is walking, but no walker. There is thinking, no thinker. There is perception, no perceiver.

 

Hi Xabir,

 

The Zen-ish like, mind blowing stuff is nice but I think your submission/reply several

strings back (in the S.N. Maharaj topic) was one of the best I've come across at the site so far.

 

Anyway, imo a lot of this stuff is getting way ahead of the game...

For instance, I have trouble finding my car keys - yet here we often talk about

and for many of us over-extend into abstractions, instead of going step by step.

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Will seen and felt as an aspect is not so problematic imo.

 

Overly discounting such aspects is really no better than overly asserting such aspects.

 

Will is a great jumper, and leaps must be made, then even if will is then no longer needed

after one lands it did serve a purpose. ;)B)

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Nice posts and discussions.

 

My understanding has been stated so I have nothing further to add at the moment.

 

Well, okay, one more thing.

 

If there is an effect there was a cause. Things don't just happen out of the blue, whether it be serene or chaotic.

 

3bob's car keys are exactly where he put them unless someone else has moved them. The fact that 3bob cannot remember where he put them does not change the location of the keys.

 

Peace & Love!

Edited by Marblehead

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Nice posts and discussions.

 

My understanding has been stated so I have nothing further to add at the moment.

 

Well, okay, one more thing.

 

If there is an effect there was a cause. Things don't just happen out of the blue, whether it be serene or chaotic.

 

3bob's car keys are exactly where he put them unless someone else has moved them. The fact that 3bob cannot remember where he put them does not change the location of the keys.

 

Peace & Love!

 

...expcet for where my wife put them :P;)

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No central core, like a soul, can be discovered that contains a being's true, absolute and unchanging Self. How does it follow that we cannot exercise free will? There's simply no contradiction between no-self and non-determinism.

 

The most you could say is, it follows from the view of DO that events must be at least partially conditioned by the environment, the storehouse of karmic causality, which is perfectly true. Causality is real, but it doesn't have to imply a wholly deterministic mechanics. I'm aware that I've posted this more than once before, but I find Alfred North Whitehead's metaphysics of prehension a clear and coherent picture of how non-deterministic causality works: http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=2736&C=2474 (this is a theologian's description; for more info, see: http://www.iep.utm.edu/processp/ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/ http://www.forizslaszlo.com/filozofia/folyamat_es_valosag/Whitehead_PR_Part5_Final_Interpratation.pdf ; book: http://books.google.co.in/books?id=USetoelBRewC&dq=Quantum+Mechanics+and+the+Philosophy+of+Alfred+North+Whitehead&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=aDtlTP-TMYPZcYrPyNgK&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false )

 

Quantum Mechanics, not Black-Hole-In-Your-Brain Mechanics, but real Quantum Mechanics fully supports this view of reality. Quantum systems behave in a manner that's both causally conditioned and non-deterministic at the same time. As a simple example, an isolated neutron is an unstable particle that decays to form a proton, radiating a W- boson. In this case, a neutron that isn't involved in some kind of stabilizing relationship with other particles is a necessary condition for the process of weak decay to take place. On the other hand, there's no telling when the neutron is going to undergo decay or why each instance of degeneration takes place. In fact, the "why" question is ontologically meaningless in this scenario. The neutron has an unstable energy field that has the freedom to undergo a breakdown, and at some point, this eventually happens. The weird part is, you can "reset" this tendency towards collapse simply by routinely confirming that the neutron is still intact: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Zeno_effect What's predictable in this process is that out of a statistically large sample of neutrons, around half tend to decay within the first 15 minutes, (half life) half of that within the next 15 minutes, and so on indefinitely. These statistics are the only determined aspect of subatomic radiation, even which half undergoes deterioration being inherently unknowable, because it's undetermined.

 

BTW, remember what I said about some researchers suspecting that organic brains might be non-deterministic quantum devices? Quantum computers don't merely operate by means of an entirely new paradigm which can solve problems that classical computers, no matter how fast, have trouble with, but it turns out they also have a sense of intuition, even those that only perform simple calculations with handful of qubits. Here's one example: http://www.physorg.com/news11087.html

Edited by nac

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