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gerrardthor
20 Mar 12, 03:13
I'm personally a determinist, and I come from a Christian background. I've simply come to this conclusion for certain human reasons. It goes against the immediately understood experience - we all experience what seems to be like freewill. I've just really thought far into it and came to the conclusion that I personally believe everything that happens is a prewritten script.

I am not a calvinist though. I don't believe in man's depravity. I don't believe there is a select group that is elected and made as the special group.

If I was forced to choose where I sit with the Christian side of things (as I must since I live within the culture and cannot escape it) I would be seen as a Universalist.

It's one thing that God allows suffering. I have to do some mental gymnastics to account for this with my belief in determinism. It's a completely different thing to believe that God preordains sentient beings to endure an eternity of torment, pain, and suffering.

I would be interested to see what kind of perspective Buddhism has with regards to freewill and determinism.

From what I've read so far it seems that the Buddha would just see this as speculation that has nothing to do with the alleviating of suffering in life.

Element
20 Mar 12, 18:51
I would be interested to see what kind of perspective Buddhism has with regards to freewill and determinism.

From what I've read so far it seems that the Buddha would just see this as speculation that has nothing to do with the alleviating of suffering in life.
hi again GT

actually, there are possible elements of determinism in Buddhism, however, generally, Buddhism does not emphasise them because such views can be negative & disempowering

for example, in the Tittha Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.061.than.html), the Buddha refuted determinism, including the belief a 'god' causes suffering, because such a view results in inaction:


Monks, there are these three sectarian guilds that — when cross-examined, pressed for reasons & rebuked by wise people — even though they may explain otherwise, remain stuck in [a doctrine of] inaction. Which three?

There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by what was done in the past.'

There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all caused by a supreme being's act of creation.'

There are brahmans & contemplatives who hold this teaching, hold this view: 'Whatever a person experiences — pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful — that is all without cause & without condition.'

When one can't pin down as a truth or reality what should & shouldn't be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my first righteous refutation of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold to such teachings, such views.
however, in the Maha-sihanada Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.012.ntbb.html) , the Buddha did offer some statements on the side of 'nature' or 'genetics' in the nature vs nurture paradigm


the Tathagata understands as it actually is the world with its many and different elements. That too is a Tathagata's power...

the Tathagata understands as it actually is how beings have different inclinations. That too is a Tathagata's power...

the Tathagata understands as it actually is the disposition of the faculties of other beings, other persons. That too is a Tathagata's power...
it seems possible to have some personal sufferings and to rationalise those sufferings by 'determinism'

but Buddhism strongly encourages us to explore our mind & our potential to be free from suffering (before falling back onto views about determinism)

kind regards

;D

Trilaksana
21 Mar 12, 01:08
I read A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will by Robert Kane. He covered a lot of the different philosophies on free will. I think the one that makes the most sense is compatibilism (soft determinism). Libertarianism (complete free will) is impossible in my opinion.

Yuan
21 Mar 12, 02:28
In my opinion, practicing Buddhism allows one to have free will. At some level, samsara can be about making the same decision/mistake over and over again (which makes life deterministic), and not always about rebirth/reincarnation. In Buddhism, the source of these mistakes are generally categorized as the 3 poisons (Greed, Anger and Ignorance.) If over the course of your life, you make the same choice at every juncture, the course of your life will be fairly deterministic. If we do not know the precise destination and timing, we will at least know the trajectory.

For example, if a person is always buying things that he cannot afford, then debt and bankruptcy is pretty much pre-determined. This person might think he has the 'free will' to buy or not buy, but in reality, if he cannot control his greed (to buy things that he cannot afford.), the free will is just an illusion.

Murchovski
21 Mar 12, 03:29
Hi Trilaksana.
I have'nt looked at compatibilism for a while.
As I recall I rather liked it.

I see hard line Calvinistic determinism as ridiculous as an ineffable God
is turned into a determining tyrant.

To my mind we have varying degrees offreee will in (perhaps) an ever evolving cosmos.

londonerabroad
21 Mar 12, 08:29
The further we progress along our path to enlightenment, the more freewill we will have. This is because our intentions, thoughts and actions will be influenced less and less by the three poisons - greed, aggression and delusion. With it's law of cause and effect (karma) Buddhism is not a deterministic philosophy. The reason we suffer is because we fail to follow the Buddhist path to the cessation of suffering - believing in a creator God or some divine power outside of the self really means relinquishing your freewill to this divine power. If you believe that you are creating the causes for results which will follow from them, as in Buddhism, then this is freewill.

Bundokji
21 Mar 12, 09:47
Hello gerrardthor,

Buddhism as i understand it is the middle way. In his book "Introduction to Buddhism and the Practice of Zazen" Gudo Nishijima Roshi said:


The idealistic and materialist viewpoints, and the philosophies that have emerged from those viewpoints are familiar to us all, but a philosophy based on action needs some explanation, as it forms the heart of Buddhist Philosophical teachings.

To construct a theory of the present, to understand how time works, and thus our existance itself, we have to say that we live in a succession of moments, which we can imagine as progressing rather like the frames of a film. Each moment is complete in itself, but we think of existance here and now as being linked to past moments because this is the only way we can think about it. Actually, each moment is bound by the past and yet always free. This sounds like an unsolvable paradox if we think about it. But this is the real situation in which we live, moment by moment. This is something we confirm in our existance, and especially in Zazen.

Action in the moment of the present is utterly free. This is the philosophy of action, the philosophy of present moment. And to act fully in the present moment is to throw away idealistic thinking and materialistic perceptions.

The freedom in the moment presents us with a choice: to do right or to do wrong. The choice is not an intellectual choice - it is a choice in the moment of our action - a choice we make with our act itself. Master Dogen writes in shobogenzo: "Even though the many kinds of right are included in (the concept of) rightness, there has never been any kind of right that is realized beforehand and that then waits for someone to do it".

The Philosophy of action points to the middle path between the over-confident optimism of the idealist and the deterministic pessimism of the materialist. In action we are both bound and free.

Regards,
Bundokji :hands:

ZenosTurtle
12 Sep 12, 10:06
Free will is beyond my imagination. But so are quite a few other things. Yet not having free will seems beyond my subjective experience. But that doesn't make it real.