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The Significance of Free Will in Spirituality and How It Relates to Popular Ideas of No Agent


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#1 Lucky7Strikes

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 10:33 PM

I have always struggled with the idea that if there is no-self there is no free will, which seems like the most logical conclusion. And often you will encounter teachings that say, "there is no one, and therefore was no one to choose in the first place." Ideas such as, "there is just things happening with no one there," are abundant.

But in direct experience it is not like this. The less you identify with a self, the stronger your sense of choice is. Why? Because when you believe you are something, such as the body or the mind, you are constantly reacting as that object you identify with. For instance, patterns build up around a mental personal identity and form a personality. When you are engrossed in a personality, an idea of a self stuck to these thought patterns, or in attachment to the body, actions don't arise from a conscious choice, but a conditioned reaction.

So the purest way to express free will is when I am perfectly present, and without identification with any "thing" in experience as a self. How can any-"thing" in existence have any choices anyway? It will always be conditioned. But if I begin to see life in it's immediacy, seeing everything as they are, then the choice is true. You are creating a new situation that is not a reaction, but a creation.

Note: I'm not saying there is no-self or a Self or a background consciousness or whatever. I am speaking from what I perceive. And from what I perceive, acting with this sense of free will is much more rewarding than convincing yourself there is no free will and only scenery of life happening.

Edited by Lucky7Strikes, 24 July 2012 - 08:24 AM.

A thousand petals
Drift into an empty house.

Though the sound of the herder's flute passes by,
The man and the ox are no where to be seen.

-Suh Sahn

#2 xabir2005

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:16 PM

Me: my understanding of will is rather similar to richard, an entirely impersonal and causal having nothing to do with a thinker, I, or mine, but nonetheless a necessary process of all (empty) body-mind organisms, but nothing to do with a disembodied universal will. it is an intimate thought happening without a thinker as part of a mind-body process.


[Co-Respondent]: ‘Apperception is awareness without any motive, it is immediate.
[Richard]: ‘I would not say ‘without motive’ ... but it is certainly immediate. It is immediate and direct, unmediated by any feelings whatsoever. The bodily needs are what motivates will and will is nothing more grand than the nerve-organising data-correlating ability of the body and it is will that is essential in order to operate and function ... not a self. Will is an organising process, an activity of the brain that correlates all the information and data that streams through the bodily senses. Will is not a ‘thing’, a subjectively substantial passionate ‘object’, like the self is. Will, freed of the encumbrance of fear and aggression and nurture and desire, can operate smoothly, with actual sagacity. The operation of this freed will is called intelligence. This intelligence is the body’s native intelligence ... and has naught to do with Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s disembodied ‘intelligence’. [endquote]



Thusness: Yes...what u hv to understand is how such an interdependent thought becomes isolated and made believed to be independent.

#3 xabir2005

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 11:24 PM

I think creativity and choice does not contradict dependent origination but neither does it become a kind of determinism. Similar to Emergence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

So what manifest as an act of creativity, or a choice, is a result of complex conditions including our very "own" thoughts and ideas and patterns. Now these patterns CAN be changed, for example if your mind is always afflicted by anger, by desires, through Buddhism we CAN remove those afflictions, or what Buddha calls the latent tendencies towards craving and aggression and delusion - we can terminate them forever. And there is a path which we can practice and reach that goal, which is the noble eightfold path. So it is not saying 'these conditions are fixed'. They are not determined or fated in the sense that "that's just what is going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it". As Richard pointed out, "Will, freed of the encumbrance of fear and aggression and nurture and desire, can operate smoothly, with actual sagacity."

However, thoughts, including intentions, do not manifest as a result of an agent, thinker, controller, it is not independent of causes and conditions*. Everything including intentions and choices are the result of causes and conditions. Those causes and conditions can be changed, however, for were it not able to be changed, there would be no point in practicing anything including Buddhism or spirituality.

(Tron: Legacy):

Kevin Flynn: The Miracle...You remember. ISOs, isomorphic algorithms, a whole new life form.
Sam Flynn: And you created them?
Kevin Flynn: [Laughs] No, no. They manifested, like a flame. They weren't really, really from anywhere. The conditions were right, and they came into being. For centuries we dreamed of gods, spirits, aliens, and intelligence beyond our own. I found them in here, like flowers in a wasteland. Profoundly naive; unimaginably wise. They were spectacular. Everything I'd hope to find in the system; control, order, perfection. None of it meant a thing. Been living in a hall of mirrors. The isos, shattered it, the possibilities of their root code, their digital DNA. Disease? History! Science, philosophy, every idea man has ever had about the Universe up for grabs. Biodigital jazz, man. The ISOs, they were going to be my gift to the world.



*Check this out: http://exploringthem...fore-you-decide (Brain Scans Can Reveal Your Decisions 7 Seconds Before You “Decide”)

"I wouldn't call it a hostage situation, because thinking about it as a hostage, implies a dualism between your conscious mind and your brain activity. But the conscious mind is encoded in brain activity, it is realized by brain activity, it is an aspect of your brain activity. Also your unconscious brain activity realizes certain aspects of you, it's in harmony with your beliefs and desires. So in most cases it is not going to force you to do something you do not want to do."

Edited by xabir2005, 23 July 2012 - 11:41 PM.


#4 silas

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 02:06 AM

>>I have always struggled with the idea that if there is no-self there is no free will.... But in direct experience it is not like this. The less you identify with a self, the stronger your sense of choice is. Why?


There have been plenty of scientific studies suggesting that free will does not exist, but individually, people do perceive free will - just as you say. The reason is that perceiving free will is necessary, because without that belief, people become selfish, and selfishness does not benefit the species as a whole. This 2011 study confirms the need to believe in free will - EVEN IF it is an illusion:

Free Will May Be An Illusion

>> if your mind is always afflicted by anger, by desires... we can terminate them forever.... So it is not saying 'these conditions are fixed'. They are not determined or fated in the sense that "that's just what is going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it".

In classical Taoism, it is always balance that matters, not too much of this, not too much of that. Even desires have their purpose, because we use them to perceive and navigate the real world, the manifestation of Tao (see this article Recognizing The True Form Of Things). In cases where a person polarizes, the treatment goal would be to restore balance with wu wei training.

Edited by silas, 24 July 2012 - 02:39 AM.


#5 Mokona

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 03:17 AM

I have always struggled with the idea that if there is no-self there is no free will, which seems like the most logical conclusion. And often you will encounter teachings that say, "there is no one, and therefore was no one to choose in the first place." Ideas such as, "there is just things happening with no one there," are abundant.

But in direct experience it is not like this. The less you identify with a self, the stronger your sense of choice is. Why? Because when you believe you are something, such as the body or the mind, you are constantly reacting as that object you identify with. For instance, patterns build up around a mental personal identity and form a personality. When you are engrossed in a personality, an idea of a self stuck to these thought patterns, or in attachment to the body, actions don't arise from a conscious choice, but a conditioned reaction.

So the purest was to express free will is when I am perfectly present, and without identification with any "thing" in experience as a self. How can any-"thing" in existence have any choices anyway? It will always be conditioned. But if I begin to see life in it's immediacy, seeing everything as they are, then the choice is true. You are creating a new situation that is not a reaction, but a creation.

Note: I'm not saying there is no-self or a Self or a background consciousness or whatever. I am speaking from what I perceive. And from what I perceive, acting with this sense of free will is much more rewarding than convincing yourself there is no free will and only scenery of life happening.


I used to think this way also. The more real spontaneity you add into your life, and passion - the less things will feel that way.

Wouldn't you think, that in a work enviroment you couldn't jump up on a desk and kick a computer? You could, free will exists, just act on it. Although you don't have to get yourself in trouble to feel it.
Reality is awesome.

#6 thelerner

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 05:57 AM

I generally choose not to get involved in Free Will debates.

But

If you believe there is no free will, does that change the way you live and make decisions?
Push hard to get better, become smarter, grow your devotion to the truth, fuel your commitment to beauty, refine your emotional intelligence, hone your dreams, negotiate with your shadow, cure your ignorance, shed your pettiness, heighten your drive to look for the best in people, and soften your heart. A creed from Pronoia

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#7 silas

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 06:41 AM

If you believe there is no free will, does that change the way you live and make decisions?


No, not if you practice wu-wei, if you follow Tao currents.

#8 Stosh

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 07:58 AM

*Check this out: http://exploringthem...fore-you-decide (Brain Scans Can Reveal Your Decisions 7 Seconds Before You “Decide”)

"I wouldn't call it a hostage situation, because thinking about it as a hostage, implies a dualism between your conscious mind and your brain activity. But the conscious mind is encoded in brain activity, it is realized by brain activity, it is an aspect of your brain activity. Also your unconscious brain activity realizes certain aspects of you, it's in harmony with your beliefs and desires. So in most cases it is not going to force you to do something you do not want to do."


Interesting but I dont think there is enough described there about the experiment.
You I and everyone can make considered decisions in fractions of a second,
That a person chose subconsciously even before that, and then had to wait a
very long time before executing just means that taking ownership of the
decision was postponed until action, new data might have arisen in the meantime,
it just makes sense that a person would hold things in abeyance.
Stosh

#9 Stosh

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:12 AM



The less you identify with a self, the stronger your sense of choice is. Why? Because when you believe you are something, such as the body or the mind, you are constantly reacting as that object you identify with. For instance, patterns build up around a mental personal identity and form a personality. When you are engrossed in a personality, an idea of a self stuck to these thought patterns, or in attachment to the body, actions don't arise from a conscious choice, but a conditioned reaction.

So the purest was to express free will is when I am perfectly present, and without identification with any "thing" in experience as a self. How can any-"thing" in existence have any choices anyway? It will always be conditioned. But if I begin to see life in it's immediacy, seeing everything as they are, then the choice is true. You are creating a new situation that is not a reaction, but a creation.

I think thats very rational and points at the benefit - personal truth
that wu wei is supposed to bestow
But I dont think one needs to not-have a sense of self,per se, just dispose of the
preconditions surrounding the maintenance of the identity-persona we each have

for instance, one doesnt have to be serious today because they were serious yesterday
they dont have to protect their feelings because they were told they were shy, etc.
or reenact unconscious scenarios and solutions retained from earlier times.

They free themselves up to react to the best of their discernment toward any given
situation rather than corral themselves to a few limited and possibly outdated
choices.
It doesnt make one superhuman, or correct all the time, or flow with some
imaginary tide. It opens your options and enriches your sense of being personally
involved -responsive
Stosh

#10 White Wolf Running On Air

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:15 AM

Can one observe different levels of consciousness within oneself?

Sometimes when the ordinary mind/self is quiet... one senses the direction of the superconscious self? Is this the Guru within?

This self being an expression of the superconscious? so ordinary mind / this personality is an illusion of sorts... though still an expression of ones superself?

like the drop in the ocean kind of thing... though still the ocean? ... though most being oblivious to this? and totally identifying as the ordinary self...?

Posted Image

Edited by White Wolf Running On Air, 24 July 2012 - 08:17 AM.


28bcw47.jpg


#11 Lucky7Strikes

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:40 AM

Me: my understanding of will is rather similar to richard, an entirely impersonal and causal having nothing to do with a thinker, I, or mine, but nonetheless a necessary process of all (empty) body-mind organisms, but nothing to do with a disembodied universal will. it is an intimate thought happening without a thinker as part of a mind-body process.


[Co-Respondent]: ‘Apperception is awareness without any motive, it is immediate.
[Richard]: ‘I would not say ‘without motive’ ... but it is certainly immediate. It is immediate and direct, unmediated by any feelings whatsoever. The bodily needs are what motivates will and will is nothing more grand than the nerve-organising data-correlating ability of the body and it is will that is essential in order to operate and function ... not a self. Will is an organising process, an activity of the brain that correlates all the information and data that streams through the bodily senses. Will is not a ‘thing’, a subjectively substantial passionate ‘object’, like the self is. Will, freed of the encumbrance of fear and aggression and nurture and desire, can operate smoothly, with actual sagacity. The operation of this freed will is called intelligence. This intelligence is the body’s native intelligence ... and has naught to do with Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s disembodied ‘intelligence’. [endquote]



Thusness: Yes...what u hv to understand is how such an interdependent thought becomes isolated and made believed to be independent.

Will is immediate, it's not part of a process, just as presence is not part of a process. I would go as far as to say that presence and free will are inseparable, just as they say emptiness and infinite potential are inseparable in dzogchen. It doesn't belong just to the body and mind. The body and mind just function according to the conditions, more like a machine. But you can alter it. Will is only part of a process when it is a conditioned reaction within the mind and the body. It is certainly not a brain process. I can be outside of by head-mind at will. My brain is within my will and not the other way around.

As for your second post, imo, you can't change patterns while admitting that your will is also part of a cause-effect chain. You just develop another pattern at best, which is like changing bad karma to good karma. It's better to just drop karma altogether. Just drop the patterns and live immediately as everything is. Then whatever you do emerges from clarity.

Edited by Lucky7Strikes, 24 July 2012 - 08:45 AM.

A thousand petals
Drift into an empty house.

Though the sound of the herder's flute passes by,
The man and the ox are no where to be seen.

-Suh Sahn

#12 Lucky7Strikes

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:47 AM

>>I have always struggled with the idea that if there is no-self there is no free will.... But in direct experience it is not like this. The less you identify with a self, the stronger your sense of choice is. Why?


There have been plenty of scientific studies suggesting that free will does not exist, but individually, people do perceive free will - just as you say. The reason is that perceiving free will is necessary, because without that belief, people become selfish, and selfishness does not benefit the species as a whole. This 2011 study confirms the need to believe in free will - EVEN IF it is an illusion:

Free Will May Be An Illusion

>> if your mind is always afflicted by anger, by desires... we can terminate them forever.... So it is not saying 'these conditions are fixed'. They are not determined or fated in the sense that "that's just what is going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it".

In classical Taoism, it is always balance that matters, not too much of this, not too much of that. Even desires have their purpose, because we use them to perceive and navigate the real world, the manifestation of Tao (see this article Recognizing The True Form Of Things). In cases where a person polarizes, the treatment goal would be to restore balance with wu wei training.

This is only if you believe you are limited to the brain organ. Do you make choices just in your head? Because sometimes I choose to use my brain and other times I don't.
A thousand petals
Drift into an empty house.

Though the sound of the herder's flute passes by,
The man and the ox are no where to be seen.

-Suh Sahn

#13 Lucky7Strikes

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:50 AM

I generally choose not to get involved in Free Will debates.

But

If you believe there is no free will, does that change the way you live and make decisions?

Actually it does! You become like a blob. A wave in the ocean. Until you get smacked up side the head. :lol:
A thousand petals
Drift into an empty house.

Though the sound of the herder's flute passes by,
The man and the ox are no where to be seen.

-Suh Sahn

#14 konchog uma

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:58 AM

This is only if you believe you are limited to the brain organ. Do you make choices just in your head? Because sometimes I choose to use my brain and other times I don't.


right.

even if you resign consciousness to the corner of neural activity, there are neurons in the heart, the gut, and throughout the entire body so the brain is not the end of the road here.

and then there is mind, free of brain. i imagine not everyone tested had developed minds, and were mostly stuck in their own heads, as people tend to be (at least in the western world).

interesting thread, thanks for posting

edited for grammar and punctuation

Edited by anamatva, 24 July 2012 - 09:10 AM.

"All the philosophical theories that exist have been created by the mistaken dualistic minds of human beings. in the realm of philosophy, that which today is considered true, may tomorrow be proved to be false. No one can guarantee a philosophy's validity. Because of this any intellectual way of seeing whatsoever is always partial and relative. The fact is that there is no truth to see or to confirm logically; rather what one needs to do is to discover just how much the mind continually limits itself in a condition of dualism." -Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

#15 konchog uma

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 09:13 AM

in my experience there are times when one can exercise free will, and there are times when ones hands are tied so to speak. the fluctuation between the two poles of the spectrum seem to define the experience of humans as far as free will goes.

so in my model there is room for both free will and determinism, and some people are more actualized (in free will) while some people are more like blobs, but the seeming contradiction of fate/destiny and free will is not an issue of mutual exclusivity IMO/IME

just wanted to throw that out there, its not one way or the other. life i really diverse, complex, and strange. there is room for both free will and determinism
"All the philosophical theories that exist have been created by the mistaken dualistic minds of human beings. in the realm of philosophy, that which today is considered true, may tomorrow be proved to be false. No one can guarantee a philosophy's validity. Because of this any intellectual way of seeing whatsoever is always partial and relative. The fact is that there is no truth to see or to confirm logically; rather what one needs to do is to discover just how much the mind continually limits itself in a condition of dualism." -Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

#16 silas

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:24 AM

Lucky7Strikes>> This is only if you believe you are limited to the brain organ. Do you make choices just in your head? Because sometimes I choose to use my brain and other times I don't.

anamatva>> Teven if you resign consciousness to the corner of neural activity, there are neurons in the heart, the gut, and throughout the entire body so the brain is not the end of the road here.


In classical Taoism, one follows the Tao flows by listening to one's chi, which interacts with both the inner self and the outer world. One listens not only to the brain but to all organs of the body, which respond to internal conditions and to the world by impacting the chi coursing through the body. By listening to one's chi (we connect to it via our center of Te by meditating), one listens to all aspects of the self and the surrounding Tao currents to guide one's way.




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