Dzogchen and Free Will

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Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:23 pm

Karma is a misperception based on the illusion of personal "doership". No one makes choices nor does anyone act. All is the flow of dependent origination in which no "doer" or "chooser" can be found. That being the case, free will is impossible. (Jax)


My sincere apologies in advance for asking a question that may be common knowledge for many here - but I sincerely have no idea about this, and it's something that I'd really like to understand... Also, if there is a thread here that covers this, then I've missed it - then once again, pls. point me in the direction of Sherwood Forest. I've been diligent in reading almost everything in this forum that is even remotely interesting to me and I haven't seen any definitive discussion about this w/ regards to Dzogchen.

So having said that - How does free will, or the lack thereof thereof correspond to Dzogchen view?

I understand, conceptually at least, the idea of absolute vs. relative truth - but still have no idea whether or not it is as Jax says in the view of Dzogchen, even with the idea of realtive vs. ultimate.
(Jax - I'm *not* knocking you, or doubting you a priori, I really enjoy your posts and I'm glad you're back and that you brought this up)

I've heard this idea - of no individual will b/c there's no self etc. etc. expressed many times in Advaita and Neo-Advaita circles - but I've never heard this from my teacher - in fact - the opposite insofar as I understand this idea - He has made comments like:

"If there is nothing to do, then why not just go to the beach, why are we here on retreat?" (While on the Isle of Margarita, one of the most beautiful places in the world) -

Granted - this is in response to the idea that some people who follow Dzogchen teachings misunderstand - i.e. - The idea of "nothing to do" - Which of course, does not mean that there's literally nothing to do for a rank beginner who isn't able to relax in awareness of the base - but all the same, it (to me) also speaks to the law of cause and effect - and the need, at least until our understanding is perfect, to apply methods, observe assiduously the law of karma, etc. etc. etc.

If my teacher, in whom I have complete trust, says there is something to do - then to me, that of necessity indicates that there is choice on some level, in that doing. Even if it is only on the level of appearances.

But then, if is true that on even on the level of appearances we really have NO choice, and everything is the "flow of DO" as Jax neatly put it, then seriously, why not just relax and enjoy the ride b/c then there really is nothing to be done whatsoever - if I (false imputation or not) can't even effect that chain of Dependent Origination.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Paul » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:40 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:So having said that - How does free will, or the lack thereof thereof correspond to Dzogchen view?


The Dzogchen view is that the mind is a cognitive error, so how can it have either free will or not? I suppose you can say that the question is basically flawed.

Although I was told this last week by one of my root teachers that you can indeed choose when in rigpa - although of course the experience of choice is just like any other experience when in rigpa.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:50 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:
So having said that - How does free will, or the lack thereof thereof correspond to Dzogchen view?



Free will is of concern only to those who are trying reconcile sin with creation by a creator.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:52 pm

I suppose you can say that the question is basically flawed.


All due respect, and I mean that sincerely Paul, but that's a thought stopping technique.

http://mindcontrolwiki.com/thought-stopping/

Which is something that I saw a lot of as I left a fundamentalist religion and was bombarded daily by little pearls like "You need to pray harder", or "you must have committed some grave sin or else you wouldn't be asking questions like these!

I guess someone could make a joke and say that going beyond thoughts is the entire point of practice, so the joke is on me for calling this out as thought-stopping - but in all seriousness, one of the only reasons I was able to follow my teacher initially, until there was no more doubt about the connection, is because he stressed from the very beginning that one needs to believe nothing in approaching Dzogchen.

The assertion that we're a cognitive error (I spoke to that at the end of my post - did you get that far, or fire off your answer as after reading 1/2 way - fair question and just askin') and thus the question is flawed is just doesn't cut it. If the transmission lineage is working, and I have no doubts about this, then there are apparent beings with enough clarity and understanding that this question has been addressed at some point.

Here's hoping!
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:01 pm

Free will is of concern only to those who are trying reconcile sin with creation by a creator.


OMG, now it's on! :) Well, dear Namdrol, you know very well I'm not far removed from this position - So I can of course look carefully at what you're saying here - but please, throw me a bone here and explain *why* this is so... I sincerely apologize if this tries your patience... But I honest to god (yes, I've referred to her 2x now b/c I really do think it's both funny and clever) don't see why this isn't something that would interest someone who understands (at least in theory) dependent origination and who doesn't believe in any way in a supreme being, or creation, or a creator.

I'm calling thought stopping here too, unless there is more to the story - Why does the question of free will necessarily require a creator (I can see that point, in the sense that a creator necessitates *something* to get the chain of DO rolling, and there is no need for that, nor a creation dependent on a creator in the view) and where does sin come into this?
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Dronma » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:04 pm

Very good question and very well placed, CapNCrunch! :smile:
In fact, the law of cause and effect (karma) itself is giving us the only option of free will.
Because we can plant today the seeds for the flourishing of our potentialities in the future.
Of course, we need wise discrimination for understanding what is really beneficial for us and the others, and what is not.
I don't know about Advaita and Neo-Advaita, and I am not really interested in knowing, since I have neither the time nor the energy to follow and practise in more than one paths simultaneously in this short life.
This idea of "nothing to do" which is very much celebrated by some people in Dzogchen, is only a misinterpretation of what qualified teachers are saying. In fact, it serves exactly what it claims that is denying: the EGO, who likes to be free from any discipline and limitation in order to enjoy its own majesty!
"My view is as vast as the sky, but my actions are finer than flour"
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Paul » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:12 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:
I suppose you can say that the question is basically flawed.


All due respect, and I mean that sincerely Paul, but that's a thought stopping technique.


And so is Dzogchen. Read nearly any book by Tulku Urgyen and you'll see that he says there are never, ever conceptual thoughts (namtok) in rigpa.

            All the different thoughts we can have are either of the past, present or future, so they can be called past thought, present thought, or future thought. The Tibetan word for thought is namtok. Nam means the perceived forms of the five senses and the mental objects. Tokpa means the concept formed about what is perceived. Sentient beings are constantly busy producing namtokk, making one idea after the other about what is experienced. This thinking of your own mind’s thoughts is exactly what hinders and obstructs liberation and enlightenment.

If we try to stop thinking it only gets worse. You cannot shake off or throw away the thinking. Can you throw away your shadow? Can you somehow cut the flow of thought created by your own mind, maybe by detonating a nuclear bomb? Will this stop the mind from thinking? It will kill you, sure, but your thoughts will continue in the bardo and into the next life. Is there anything else in this world that can stop the mind from thinking?


To stop thinking, you need to recognize your essence. It’s like seeing the sun in the sky just once—forever after, you know what the sun looks like. If you chase one reflection of the sun after the other, you’ll never be able to see all possible reflections. There is no end to that. The sun in the sky is the real sun, and without it, there would be no reflections. Its reflection in the water is only an imitation.


        
    If you believe there is a thing called mind, it is just a thought. If you believe there is no thing called mind, it’s just another thought. Your natural state, free of any kind of thought about it—that is buddha nature. In ordinary sentient beings, this natural state is carried away by thinking, caught up in thought. Involvement in thinking is like a heavy chain that weighs you down. Now it is time to be free from that chain. The moment you shatter the chain of thinking, you are free from the three realms of samsara.



http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?o ... 6&Itemid=0

FWIW I read your post about 3 or 4 times - I am only replying as I think it may be of help. If it's not, ignore it.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:19 pm

I don't know about Advaita and Neo-Advaita, and I am not really interested in knowing, since I have neither the time nor the energy to follow and practise in more than one paths simultaneously in this short life.


Me neither. Having said that, if I am guilty of what Loppon calls "crypto Advaita" then I come by it honestly. I can saw truthfully that I've done my very best in 10 years since rejecting my fundamentalist roots to understand. I've done this first (because I met my teacher immediately afterwards) by studying Dzogchen specifically, and Buddhism in general, daily from the texts that are available to me in English, the only language I've (giggle) mastered.

If I'd have known how precarious it is to conflate systems, I'd have been more careful, but that train has left the station - so I'm doing my best to understand properly. Please be patient with me, dear.

In fact, the law of cause and effect (karma) itself is giving us the only option of free will.
Because we can plant today the seeds for the flourishing of our potentialities in the future.


Okay - but you're not explaining how this is possible or not, just asserting it - Of course, if one has free will at some point in the chain of DO, then it will bear fruit further down the chain - but that's just assuming that the agent has the choice to act in the first place.

Jax says no. No choice. Namdrol says it's irrelevant and somehow equivalent to the need to justify sin, creator and creation. Paul says flawed question. Grrrrr. I have *yet* to see a question as basic like this with such import, not be answered by at least one school of Tibetan Buddhism - Even the things that the Buddha didn't comment on, are answered precisely - why is this one so unclear? Makes me feel like a dog who just got ahold of a bone for that reason alone.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby dakini_boi » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:24 pm

You might find this helpful:

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... light.html


He directly addresses the question of free will in Buddhism.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:42 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:...where does sin come into this?


Free will.

Sin is meaningless unless we have free will to choose to sin or not.

This issue is a complete non-starter in Buddhism.

Determinism is also irrevelevant in Buddhism.

We make our own karma, and we can put an end to it too.

Thus, the philosophical context for the question of free will never arises and thus it was never an issue for Buddhists and the issue never comes up as a topic of philosophy in Buddhism.
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Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Dronma » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:02 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:Me neither. Having said that, if I am guilty of what Loppon calls "crypto Advaita" then I come by it honestly. I can saw truthfully that I've done my very best in 10 years since rejecting my fundamentalist roots to understand. I've done this first (because I met my teacher immediately afterwards) by studying Dzogchen specifically, and Buddhism in general, daily from the texts that are available to me in English, the only language I've (giggle) mastered.

If I'd have known how precarious it is to conflate systems, I'd have been more careful, but that train has left the station - so I'm doing my best to understand properly. Please be patient with me, dear.


My train has also left the station a long time ago, my friend. So, nor I can go back and wait for the next one anymore...
This is due to karmic reasons as they say in Buddhism, and I also feel it is true according my own experiences.
I am always patient with decent gentlemen.... Don't worry! :namaste:


CapNCrunch wrote:Okay - but you're not explaining how this is possible or not, just asserting it - Of course, if one has free will at some point in the chain of DO, then it will bear fruit further down the chain - but that's just assuming that the agent has the choice to act in the first place.


Well, I think we have to talk with terms of relative and absolute truth here.
For beings who are lost deep down in ignorance, there is no free will. They follow randomly the winds of their past karma, and they cannot distinguish anything for creating good causes for the future.
For completely realized beings, there is no limitation due to the past, present or future. Hence they can manifest realizations which are considered miracles for common beings, like hide termas for future generations, not manifesting death etc.
For the middle class (in which we dwell most of us), we may have glimpses of awareness which are showing us which is the best action each time. In any case, we have to lean upon a teacher and follow the path until the fruit will ripe completely.
As kalden yungdrung said to another thread, we cannot start from the roof. We have to climb the stairs first.... :meditate:
"My view is as vast as the sky, but my actions are finer than flour"
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby heart » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:10 pm

Paul wrote:
CapNCrunch wrote:
I suppose you can say that the question is basically flawed.


All due respect, and I mean that sincerely Paul, but that's a thought stopping technique.


And so is Dzogchen. Read nearly any book by Tulku Urgyen and you'll see that he says there are never, ever conceptual thoughts (namtok) in rigpa.


Rigpa is free from thought, freedom means not getting caught in thought. The continuous recognition of rigpa is the spontaneous and natural self-liberation of thoughts (sem). But if you follow thoughts then you are a slave of cause and effect. So the question everyone have to ask themselves is this; are you following thoughts right now or are you recognizing rigpa and self-liberating the natural occurrence of thought?

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Jax » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:36 pm

I think Magnus has put this topic into practical perspective. But again in Dzogchen "practice" itself, there is no concept of mindfully avoiding following thoughts nor a practice of self-liberating thoughts as both actions are still within the tight grip of ego. Thoughts are primordially empty and require no further liberation. They self-liberate upon the arising in every case, whether "you" like it or not. So there is nothing to do regarding thoughts, their self-liberation is already assured. The micro and macro universe runs on dependent origination. Free choice would mean that there is some independently existing thought, our "choice". But in Dzogchen free will doesn't even exist at the level of Rigpa, because the Rigpa Mandala arises spontaneously (lhundrub). Applying "free will" by carrying over a confused notion of dualistic conceptualizing and trying to transplant it into void space is a hopeless endeavor,theres no possibility of it taking root there. As Namdrol so skillfully pointed out. There is however Intelligence that functions at all levels, even within sem. That is the All Pervasive Rigpa. It is that Intelligence that guides our actions in such a way that the Great Perfection is seen to be working it's perfecting on all levels. When that inherent Intelligence is recognized and self-validated, our practice then truly goes on effortless "auto-pilot". The magic unfolds spontaneously from moment to moment... without the least intention from something you could define as a "doer"...
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:51 pm

FWIW I read your post about 3 or 4 times - I am only replying as I think it may be of help. If it's not, ignore it.


It's worth a lot - Thank you very much for considering my post so carefully, and then responding from a sincere motivation to help. Please ignore my question as it is, of course, my projection and lays bare my proclivities rather than being a commentary on yours.

I enjoy your posts, Paul, and the fact that you often link to interesting books as well. Also, your sage re: being of help or not, are, as I'm sure you're aware, almost the exact words spoken by HH The Dalai Lama, which I just love. "If it helps, great. If not, forget it!"

And so is Dzogchen. Read nearly any book by Tulku Urgyen and you'll see that he says there are never, ever conceptual thoughts (namtok) in rigpa.


I love Tulku Urgyen and am familiar with his explanation that you refer to - and it raises a very interesting point - one that I'd love to be corrected on if I'm missing it.

I don't think Tulku Urgen means for a second that in our recognition of the basis, thought can't arise, and that this is the point of Dzogchen - i.e. Stopping thoughts. One aspect of the basis is compassion, responsiveness, energy - however you translate it - and it doesn't stop.

I tried to pre-empt this answer you've given in my post - but knowing that you read it carefully, I understand that your response in spite of my efforts, is because this is how you see it. So I'd love to be corrected if I've misunderstood what seems to me an important point.

My understanding is that thoughts arise continually, extroverted expressions of the dynamic energy of the basis, as Tulku Urgyen puts it IIRC. If there is recognition of the basis, then thoughts arise as wisdom, if not, namtok.

But if cognition couldn't arise while in the state of contemplation, then how could we function? Are our teachers, who are pretty much (if not continually) in the "state" or recognition of the basis devoid of thoughts while they are teaching, editing texts, etc. etc.?

My understanding is that the key point, is whether or not this dynamic energy has the power to distract us and suck us back into ordinary thought patters with all of their darkness, diffusion and endless capacity to create karma.

So, having said that - I really do value your input, and would love to further discuss (especially if I've misunderstood, I would like to be corrected so I can learn) the role of thoughts in the process of contemplation - but unfortunately, with regards to the question that spawned this thread, I'm no closer to understanding whether or not freewill exists in Dzogchen.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:56 pm

CapNCrunch wrote: freewill exists in Dzogchen.


Yes. Why? Because you have a will (cetana,volition), and you can direct it wherever you want, including the path of freedom.

No. Why? Because as long as you continue under the power of the five afflictions you will never escape from samsara.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:40 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:
"...where does sin come into this?"

Namdrol:

"Free will.

Sin is meaningless unless we have free will to choose to sin or not."


Granted. But it doesn't necessarily follow that free will is meaningless whether the concepts of sin & reconciliation to some deity, real or imagined, enter the picture, or not. The question of free will arises every time one decision is made over another - at least in the sense I'm using it, which most def isn't in the context of god and sin.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/ "“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives."

I only have the money to go to Margarita one time this year. Rinpoche is giving 3 different retreats. It appears that I must make a choice of one over the other 2. If I have free will, then I can (apparently) weigh the options and if everything works out, choose one over the others. Or I can stay home and pound sand - if I choose. If I don't have free will, then my "choice" is a complete illusion - and never enters into the picture.

I could deal with that, if I knew it were the case - Based on my intellectual, not (very) experiential understanding of the lack of a real identity or separate self, it makes sense.

You're saying it's a non-starter, which is very different. I can deal with that too, but how am I to proceed with confidence that it's true, if it's left on the level of mere assertion? There are enormous implications, even for a Buddhist IMO if we don't have free will - And Jax is saying that's the case. I think my question is fair.

We make our own karma, and we can put an end to it too. Thus, the philosophical context for the question of free will never arises and thus it was never an issue for Buddhists and the issue never comes up as a topic of philosophy in Buddhism.


Right. It certainly appears as if this is so. I also cited my experience w/ Rinpoche saying what amounted (in my mind) to the same thing - But I asked the question b/c Jax has been saying definitively that there is no such thing as free will - and in order to make karma and satisfy the 3 conditions for it, there must of necessity be free will (satisfaction). Ergo, both positions can't be correct - unless there is some "relative" versus "ultimate" explanation.

But you saying it's a non starter "because we make and can end our own karma and thus the issue never comes up in Buddhism" isn't very helpful in my understanding of the question.

If it's a given that we make our own karma, by choice, then why not state that we have free will, or the ability to act as agent when making decisions and be done with it? I can accept that, if this is definitive and supported by scripture because beings who have completely realized the truth have indicated whether it is one way, the other, or irrelevant.

I'm being completely sincere when I say that I understand why you wouldn't explain this in detail- I really do get that. I've lurked long enough on message boards from the Trike days until now to understand that if you took the time to pay attention to every git like me that asks close-to-rhetorical questions, your head would explode.

Yet here I am. All I can do is ask my questions and hope everyone continues to be patient with me - answering my questions and taking the time to correct me when I'm out in the night.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:40 pm

Sorry - Double post. I'm such a noob. :twothumbsup:
Last edited by CapNCrunch on Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:43 pm

Yes. Why? Because you have a will (cetana,volition), and you can direct it wherever you want, including the path of freedom.

No. Why? Because as long as you continue under the power of the five afflictions you will never escape from samsara.


Thanks - This is why I don't post. I simply can't keep up. By the time I can respond to one post, things have moved along very quickly. I'll carefully consider everything you've said, and then respond to other posters before I pop off again.
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:53 pm

CapNCrunch wrote:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/ "“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives."


Well this definition itself is flawed since it presumes there are such things as "rational agents" and arguably by this definition anyone who knowingly engages in afflicted conduct is irrational and therefore incapable of free will even though they may be making all kinds of choices.

From a Dzogchen perspective sentient beings are fundamentally irrational since they are entirely products of ignorance and deluded appearances.

In other words, this western philosophical concept is entirely irrevelvant to Buddhism, including Dzogchen (which is a form of Buddhism, or rather, an a proposed solution to existential questions found in Buddhism).
Last edited by Malcolm on Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Dzogchen and Free Will

Postby CapNCrunch » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:54 pm

You might find this helpful:

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... light.html


He directly addresses the question of free will in Buddhism.


Thank you very much DB. I've read some of Berzin's archives, but never read this. Funny enough - in the first paragraph or so he talks about the question being a non starter b/c it goes deeper than the binary proposition I made when I posed the question the way I did (tip of the hat to Paul and Namdrol).

With the answer (with a whole lot of explanation and background, which is what I was looking for) that, like so many things (thank you Loppon, this is what you were indicating in your 2nd response) it is beyond the 4 extremes.

Sincere thanks to those that took the time. I'll read, reflect, process, respond to those I haven't had time to respond to, and if necessary, ask more questions for clarification.
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