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Did the Buddha teach that we have choice? - Dhamma Wheel

Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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tiltbillings
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Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:34 am

In this thread viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6234 in the general meditation section was a back and forth about the role of determinism within the Buddha's teachings. It is a battle better fought here for those who are interested.

Edit: Yes, the Buddha taught causilty, but to refine the question: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice within the causal context within which we find ourselves?

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retrofuturist
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:40 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Kim OHara
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:58 am

Strict determinism rules out free will.
The Buddha taught us to *choose* between skillful and unskillful actions.
Therefore the Buddha did not teach strict determinism.
... I think.
:namaste:
Kim

alan
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby alan » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:09 am

Obvious answer is no. But, this being a forum, I suppose we will hear from someone who insists on arguing the opposite. For what reason, I cannot conceive.

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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:17 am

What does "free" in "free will" mean?

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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:24 am


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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:48 am


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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby octathlon » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:19 am

That thread was way too long and complex for me to catch up on, but what I did read was interesting. I thought one of the problems was people having different ideas of what free will means. I don't think saying that free will is an illusion means you are saying that there is strict determinism. IMO it's the same false dichotomy as eternalism vs. annihilationism. We make choices with our will, but the choices we make are based on our exact state and conditions at that moment. It's not free will nor is it strict determinism.

Any two beings with the same exact kamma-- same exact body, mind, and life history (if that were possible) in a given situation would react, feel, think, consider and deliberate in the same way and their resulting deliberate decision/action would be the same. For that not to be true would require something that could exist or act independently of causes and conditions.

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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:25 am


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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:43 am

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:02 am



Relationship of Cause to Effect

The fourth aspect of Dependent Origination is the one-to-one correspondence between cause and effect (evam dhammatā). Every cause leads only to the relevant effect; it has nothing to do with any irrelevant effects. In other words, every cause is the sufficient and necessary condition for the corresponding effect. This leaves no room for chance or moral impotency (akiriya-ditthi). However, as the Visuddhimagga says, for those who misunderstand it, it provides the basis for rigid determinism (niyatavāda). Meditators clearly see the relationship of each effect to its cause, so they have no doubt about their one-to-one correspondence and the truth of moral responsibility.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:16 am

I have not read the other thread as it is way too long.

Pure determinism is an inevitable consequence of the principle of causality, which is a principle I think the Buddha thaught. However, only a person completely aware of the laws that run the universe and what the present state of the universe is would be devoid of choice. Anyone who is not in this condition is unable to completely understand the causes that made him act in a way and therefore has the illusion of choice. The conclusion is not that one should not care for one's actions because all is predetermined and choice is an illusion. The conclusion is that we should care for our actions because that illusion is the reality to us and we got to make the best out of our reality.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:35 am

I think M.P. sums the issues up well. I found the article
Federman, Asaf (2010) What kind of free will did the Buddha teach? Philosophy East and West, Vol.60 (No.1). ISSN 0031-8221
http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/3142/
that was already referred to on the other thread very interesting (though now my head hurts...). In particular the distinction made between determinism and fatalism...

:anjali:
Mike

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Viscid
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Viscid » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:55 am

"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:27 am


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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:30 am


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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:39 am

As a matter of clarification Is the the subject of this thread. Is strict determinism what one finds the Buddha teaching in the suttas?

Edit: shifting the focus:

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Sherab
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby Sherab » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:55 am


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robertk
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Re: Did the Buddha teach strict determinism?

Postby robertk » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:03 am

I think the Buddha taught causality based on his knowledge of complex conditions. Determinism sounds like a philosophical viewpoint that the old philosophers debated about.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Did the Buddha teach that we have choice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:08 am



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