Cool, I think I follow what you're saying. Thanks for taking the time to expound so thoroughly upon your point. I don't understand the logic though, so here is how I interpret all this which is going to sound sarcastic but isn't meant in a mean spirited way...
The notion of a doer/actor who is responsible for karma is an illusion, and we are essentially marionette puppets on strings controlled by mysterious eternal forces of conditioning until for some inexplicable reason fate decides to cut our strings and we become Buddhas outside of conditioned existence? Those of us who become aware of this, through some mysterious fate again, must pretend we are unaware and continue to act as though our decisions are acts of will? And all the talk of intention, volition, etc. in other Buddhist texts is deceptive?
To me this does not make much sense in the context of Buddhism, which stresses that we are responsible for our own actions and our own enlightenment, as well as the enlightenment of all other beings.
For example, I was reading Sutra 33 "Upasaka Precepts" when this whole conflict arose. Here are some quotes of the Buddha from that sutra that seem to support a degree
of free agency on the part of individuals who are involved in making choices and taking actions...
Shakyamuni Buddha wrote:
“All sentient beings undergo such suffering. Good man, a wise man invokes compassion because he sees that even the bliss of samādhi in Neither with Nor without Perception Heaven is like the pain in hell."
Invocation implies an act of conscious will. Otherwise the Buddha would have simply said, "In a wise man, compassion arises because even the bliss..." The whole notion of invoking
because he sees
would never be, as this implies a conscious reaction to perception. If everything is conditioned into being, then what is the purpose of discussing things in terms of perception and will?
Shakyamuni Buddha wrote:
“Good man, one who cultivates compassion, though unable to end sentient beings’ suffering, can benefit them in innumerable ways."
Again, cultivation implies a doer. One who is doing the cultivating. Were it simply a conditioned process, the Buddha might have said, "Good man, one who has such compassion, though unable to willfully help sentient beings, can hope to be fated to do so."
Does this notion of causal determinism not seem absurd at this point? Practically everything
about Buddhism flies in the face of strict determinism. Only when we allow for consciousness being an active, momentary source of karma does all this stuff make any logical sense whatsoever. Rather than saying "conditioning factors have always existed because of ignorance"
we simply say "causal consciousness has always existed and conditions experience because of karma"
. Doesn't that make more sense?