Do we have free will?

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pael
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Do we have free will?

Post by pael » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:06 pm

Do we have free will?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

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Ayu
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Ayu » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:38 pm

Do we have anything?
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

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Losal Samten
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Losal Samten » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:48 pm

Free will assumes there's something that can exist independently of causes and conditions and can operate on its own terms.

As I understand it, cetana in Mahayana Abhidharma is in itself the karmic impulse.

"Karma is volition and that which proceeds from volition".
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:51 pm

I have posted it in another thread, but it merits reposting:

https://jaygarfield.files.wordpress.com ... _word1.pdf

Short answer: no we do not (but more importantly the question is a wrong one).
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Malcolm
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:59 pm

pael wrote:Do we have free will?

Does not apply in Buddhadharma. The question only applies in theistic traditions.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.


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Rick
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Rick » Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:44 pm

Ayu wrote:Do we have anything?
Does anything "have" anything? Is there anyone/anything (ultimately) there?
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pael
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by pael » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:08 pm

Malcolm wrote:
pael wrote:Do we have free will?

Does not apply in Buddhadharma. The question only applies in theistic traditions.
This question arised when I tried to prove there's no God by using theodikea (problem of evil) as argument. Friend said 'God gave free will to man' as objection. Are there any material/text/sutra against assumption of free will? Do we have conditioned will?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Jesse » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:49 pm

I think alot of people overlook the very easy answer to that question.. if you are able to ask whether or not you have free will... then there is definitely free will.

The question then becomes how much free will do we have? We can't escape causality, but within causality, we may choose to go a number of ways if that makes sense. Basically, causality takes us to a fork in the road, and we get to choose between them.

You might say that isn't entirely free will.. except it is. Even if the number of forks is limited (the choices you can make in any given moment/situation), these forks are ALL the result of all of YOUR previous choices.
Ayu wrote:Do we have anything?
And there you have both relative, and ultimate.
“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire” – Epictetus

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:11 pm

Jesse wrote:I think alot of people overlook the very easy answer to that question.. if you are able to ask whether or not you have free will... then there is definitely free will
Not at all, if you think of what "free will" has meant in Western philosophy.

My being able to ask whether or not I have free will does not even prove that I can actually make meaningful choices.
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by DGA » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:23 pm

OK, but we have the skandha of mental formations, which constitutes all the stuff the predicates volition (intentional action), and what is volition if not choice-making?

for clarity, I'm not claiming that the capacity to make choices is the same as having freewill in any particular sense.

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:38 am

Malcolm wrote:
pael wrote:Do we have free will?

Does not apply in Buddhadharma. The question only applies in theistic traditions.
If I may, I think the underlying motivation behind the question, regardless of theistic or atheistic framing, is "is salvation or damnation achievable or inevitable", or "is practice futile". I think those are the underlying premises. With those framed, perhaps a "Buddhist responce" is possible that applies in Buddhadharma?
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmāḥ. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmāḥ. The conventional truth establishes all dharmāḥ.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Astus » Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:05 pm

"I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?"
(Attakārī Sutta)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:48 pm

DGA wrote:OK, but we have the skandha of mental formations, which constitutes all the stuff the predicates volition (intentional action), and what is volition if not choice-making?
I would readily concede that volition = choice-making in general but -- assuming Garfield is right (I can only assume it, I am afraid) -- cetana is volition in a special sense of the word only (one which precisely fails to entail choice-making):

"Cetana is indeed a difficult word to translate (see Meyers 2010 on this), but there is a broad consensus that its central meaning is captured by intent, intention, intending, volition, etc., none of which implicate the idea of choice. Even if one were to translate cetana as choice, though, it would be a further task to argue that a Buddhist, as opposed to libertarian, doctrine of choice, would require our choices to be causeless, a hard row to hoe, as noted above."

So if cetana means something like volition, the volition spoken of here would be tantamount to intention or intending -- and not choice-making. If Garfield is correct, then translating cetana as volition is, IMHO, very misleading. Ju Mipham explains cetana in the following way (rendered by Erik Pema Kunsang and Kathy Morris, who translate it as attraction):

"Attraction describes the process of mind [attention] moving towards and becoming involved with an object. In terms of support, there are six such as attraction upon the meeting of the eye [i.e. between object, sense faculty and consciousness], and so forth." (Gateway to Knowledge I: 22)
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Lazy_eye » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:42 pm

Don't see how there could be "free will" without a concept of Self. Without a self, whose "will" is it, exactly?

I would think that from a Mahayana perspective all volitional action reflects causes and conditions, i.e. karma. Karma is at the wheel -- we only think we're driving the truck.

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:09 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Don't see how there could be "free will" without a concept of Self. Without a self, whose "will" is it, exactly?

I would think that from a Mahayana perspective all volitional action reflects causes and conditions, i.e. karma. Karma is at the wheel -- we only think we're driving the truck.
That stands to reason. However, to put it like that is to risk ending up impaled on the other prong. If "what is at the wheel is karma and nothing but karma" is understood as meaning that all our intentional actions are determined by our previous intentional actions -- then our choice-making is just a misunderstanding, and we live in a wholly deterministic universe, one in which liberation becomes as much of an enigma as is salvation in Puritan theologies.
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:43 pm

Yes, there is free will.
No, there is not free will.
There is and there is not free will.
There neither is, nor is there not free will.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by DGA » Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:10 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
DGA wrote:OK, but we have the skandha of mental formations, which constitutes all the stuff the predicates volition (intentional action), and what is volition if not choice-making?
I would readily concede that volition = choice-making in general but -- assuming Garfield is right (I can only assume it, I am afraid) -- cetana is volition in a special sense of the word only (one which precisely fails to entail choice-making):

"Cetana is indeed a difficult word to translate (see Meyers 2010 on this), but there is a broad consensus that its central meaning is captured by intent, intention, intending, volition, etc., none of which implicate the idea of choice. Even if one were to translate cetana as choice, though, it would be a further task to argue that a Buddhist, as opposed to libertarian, doctrine of choice, would require our choices to be causeless, a hard row to hoe, as noted above."
working backward...

Our choices are not causeless. Choices are legible in actions. Actions follow from intentions. Intentions emerge from [the complex of mental processes and sensory inputs that predicate intention]. Which is to say that it is easy to discern a Buddhist doctrine of choice, especially in light of different indices of ethical conduct that are given for lay and ordained people.

What is the Vinaya if not a catalogue of choices one is not to make? Similarly for the Brahma Net Sutra precepts? Precepts themselves presuppose the inevitability of choice in that they aim to limit the range of one's choices preemptively. To my mind, the fact that Buddhism offers precepts to its followers is the measure to which it assumes the existence of some kind of choice (murder or not?).

Finally, the lexical question. I cannot imagine a definition of the word "volition" that does not at least open onto a concept of choice, and I am far from a libertarian. Perhaps "volition" is a poor gloss for "cetana," but that is a separate issue.

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Lazy_eye » Sat Jun 24, 2017 3:50 am

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:Don't see how there could be "free will" without a concept of Self. Without a self, whose "will" is it, exactly?

I would think that from a Mahayana perspective all volitional action reflects causes and conditions, i.e. karma. Karma is at the wheel -- we only think we're driving the truck.
That stands to reason. However, to put it like that is to risk ending up impaled on the other prong. If "what is at the wheel is karma and nothing but karma" is understood as meaning that all our intentional actions are determined by our previous intentional actions -- then our choice-making is just a misunderstanding, and we live in a wholly deterministic universe, one in which liberation becomes as much of an enigma as is salvation in Puritan theologies.
I agree this is a risk. but it becomes less of a problem if we consider that not all the causal factors are known to us. Karma is complex. The precise workings of karma are said to be "unconjecturable." An omniscient being, in theory, would know all the factors and be able to predict everyone's behavior, but we aren't that kind of being. Fatalism is a wrong view, then, because it assumes knowledge that we don't actually have.

To my mind, liberation in Buddhism doesn't suffer from the same problems affecting salvation in Protestant theology. The problem in Protestantism is how to explain why a wise and loving God would predestine some people to heaven, and others to Hell. There's no such paradox in Buddhism -- everything flows logically from the basic premise that sentient beings are caught in samsara. Because of the powerful effects of greed, delusion, and hatred, beings suffer. Because beings suffer, they seek a way out. Because some have found the way out, there are Buddhas. Because there are Buddhas, liberation is possible.

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:06 am

Astus wrote:"I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’?"
(Attakārī Sutta)
Could you expand on what 'other-doer' refers to?

Incidentally, I don't understand at all why the question is only of relevance 'to Christians' as stated above. The question really came into focus in Western culture, due to the idea that human action can be understood solely in terms of material causes - neurons, evolution, history, culture or whatever. In that context, those who deny that humans have free will, are typically materialists of various kinds, like Dennett, or Dawkins, who say that everything humans do is a consequence of 'the selfish gene'.


I think the parallel view in Buddhism would be the idea that 'all human actions are bound by karma, nobody can act in any way other than what their karma dictates.' And that is not what Buddhism teaches, obviously, because if it were true, then there would be no point in teaching!
DGA wrote:To my mind, the fact that Buddhism offers precepts to its followers is the measure to which it assumes the existence of some kind of choice (murder or not?).
Agree!
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Do we have free will?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:11 am

Another thought that springs to mind, is that there is no free will in any spiritual sense, because will is (in Krishnamurti's words) 'the instrument of desire'. So what I will, is essentially what I want, and what I want, is always dictated by craving/ignorance (as also argued by Schopenhauer). So in that sense, will is not free - but that is nothing like the criticism of 'free will' that is generally made by determinists. Spiritual liberation is matter of the laying down or putting aside of the will; but, paradoxically, one has to be willing to do it
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

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