A no-free-will issue

Intfere S., modified 8 Years ago.

A no-free-will issue

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/22/12 Recent Posts
Hello all,

I wanted to find a place to describe my experience and ask my question and found this site. Please share your thoughts!

Originally I don't come from a buddhist tradition, but somehow meditating led me to a conclusion that contradicts my own tradition and resembles the buddhist doctrine of anatta, which I used to consider ridiculous. While meditating I got a strong certainty that I do not have an "I", or free will, or identity, and that others do not have it, either. I tried to find it outside of meditation, ascribing my meditation-induced ideas to random alternative states of consciousness, but failed to find any counter-evidence.

At first I tried to solve the problem by ascribing free will only to what is commonly referred to as "consciousness", or sometimes "the witness", i.e. a thought process witnessing everything happening, including itself. But after investigating it I walked away more certain than ever that this consciousness is not conscious at all, it's as unconscious as everything else.

The natural thing to do after that was to stop fighting and to go with the flow of life, considering all evils and goods inevitable, rather than earned or directed. And that's what happened, I started to go with the flow. Now, I do not mean it in any higher sense, it means what it says and nothing else.

But I've reached an impasse. In the world and life that isn't conscious and lacks free will, what is the point of meditation or anything of that nature at all? I try to do things well and just experience them until they last, but something is lacking. It's going with the flow making me feel that life is just a one-ticket ride, the only point of which is to be experienced, and it doesn't matter in which manner you take this ride. Everything is sort of equal.

It's not a bad attitude to life at all, and my life has changed drastically to the better with it. But I want to find other points of view. What does it mean for any effort of "spiritual" nature? No matter how you try, you won't get free will out of nowhere, you can't gain what you've never had. Still, I know there are some people who do consider it possible, that really puzzles me, and I'd like to know how they came to their conclusions and how they discovered their "real me". And there are other people who think that there's no other "I", buddhists (as far as I understand them).

So I came to this forum, hoping to meet both types of people and to get from them something that I failed to find elsewhere, mostly in books. Usually books only speak of which mantras you need to chant and how you should meditate or, if they're theoretical, they push their own doctrine forward, hinting that once you get a revelation you will know everything on your own. But now I have a small revelation of my own, btu I still don't know if it's right or wrong and want to know it. With help from real people who lived through similar experiences and perhaps drew different conclusions eventually or discovered different ways to accomodate them in their lives.
Cloud A Vitale, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
People do not have a definite solid, separate "I," but unenlightened people still have a habitual reoccurring pattern of interdependent phenomena/sensation that is conceptually labeled as "me" or "I." Like how you would label a cloud a cloud, when it is really made out of gaseous water particles doing their thing (and those water particles are made out of other "stuff" doings its thing, etc).

When this is examined more closely then the knot/tangle will begin to unravel on its own. As long as these patterns of sensation continue without awareness (by conceptually overlaying them with "me") then suffering will persist. Worrying about whether one has or does not have free will is simply part of the above process of calling the water particles in the cloud "me, my thoughts, my ideas."

Philosophizing about free-will and understanding why there is or is not free-will is not really worth doing as this will become clear with meditation/practice.
Intfere S., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/22/12 Recent Posts
Hello, thank you for all the posts, I'll reply to the first one, because right now I've got not enough time.

Cloud A Vitale:
As long as these patterns of sensation continue without awareness (by conceptually overlaying them with "me") then suffering will persist.

Let me ask what you call awareness. It's a question that puzzles me most now, because everybody strives for awareness, but awareness is something that has free will (as I understand it). Is what you call awareness simply unconscious knowledge of the illusion of "I" that was cemented onto your thoughts and feelings by repetitive realizations?

Cloud A Vitale:
Philosophizing about free-will and understanding why there is or is not free-will is not really worth doing as this will become clear with meditation/practice.

I am not interested in it from a philosophical point of view and especially in WHY. The question of why can only come to you if you believe in your independent free will or in god's existence.

From a practical point of view something is not alright, though. If there is no "I" and no "awareness", then right now as I feel like this, it has no meaning to life if you meditate or not, whatever you do, in which way you live your life, everything is equal. And there are people who say that there is a real "I" behind the illusion somewhere, which confuses me a lot. Should I look for the real one or not? I cannot see it, but maybe I miss something important.
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Intfere S.:
And there are people who say that there is a real "I" behind the illusion somewhere, which confuses me a lot. Should I look for the real one or not? I cannot see it, but maybe I miss something important.
It depends on your path. Check out http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

Also, I wrote:

"Some people may wonder: must I, or should I go through all the steps I have described above? Can I just skip to Anatta instead of going through I AM first? The answer is yes, people have done so, some schools or teachers don’t even mention about I AM, but I usually advise going step by step which does help in clarifying the degrees of no-self (from impersonality to non-dual to anatta), thus allowing you to more fully appreciate the doctrine of Anatta. My highly awakened friend Simpo however has a different opinion, he thinks skipping I AM and going straight into Anatta can ‘save time’. I consulted Thusness for his opinion and his reply was this, “This is one area I have been thinking. The main issue is the degree of luminosity. But in no mind or AF, we see such experience too.” However it is also my experience that after realizing I AM, the progress to other phases of insights happen much more quickly – sort of like entering a fast track, since I AM easily leads to non dual with right investigation since you are able to see the ‘taste’ of NDNCDIMOP and apply it to everything, non dual easily leads to anatta with right investigation and right view (at least in my experience). Well not exactly ‘easily’ but ‘easier’ (since one can still get stuck unless right view and right understanding is very deeply implanted on day 1). Also, another point that Thusness made before was that hypothetically, if he were to start a new sect or school, he will teach people to start from self-inquiry, since that is the path he walked and therefore he is in a better position to advice accordingly, which is something I agree."

(source: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.sg/2011/12/experience-realization-view-practice.html )

Also, Thusness (2009) on the old DhO:

“Hi Gary,

It appears that there are two groups of practitioners in this forum, one adopting the gradual approach and the other, the direct path. I am quite new here so I may be wrong.

My take is that you are adopting a gradual approach yet you are experiencing something very significant in the direct path, that is, the ‘Watcher’. As what Kenneth said, “You're onto something very big here, Gary. This practice will set you free.” But what Kenneth said would require you to be awaken to this ‘I’. It requires you to have the ‘eureka!’ sort of realization. Awaken to this ‘I’, the path of spirituality becomes clear; it is simply the unfolding of this ‘I’.

On the other hand, what that is described by Yabaxoule is a gradual approach and therefore there is downplaying of the ‘I AM’. You have to gauge your own conditions, if you choose the direct path, you cannot downplay this ‘I’; contrary, you must fully and completely experience the whole of ‘YOU’ as ‘Existence’. Emptiness nature of our pristine nature will step in for the direct path practitioners when they come face to face to the ‘traceless’, ‘centerless’ and ‘effortless’ nature of non-dual awareness.

Perhaps a little on where the two approaches meet will be of help to you.

Awakening to the ‘Watcher’ will at the same time ‘open’ the ‘eye of immediacy’; that is, it is the capacity to immediately penetrate discursive thoughts and sense, feel, perceive without intermediary the perceived. It is a kind of direct knowing. You must be deeply aware of this “direct without intermediary” sort of perception -- too direct to have subject-object gap, too short to have time, too simple to have thoughts. It is the ‘eye’ that can see the whole of ‘sound’ by being ‘sound’. It is the same ‘eye’ that is required when doing vipassana, that is, being ‘bare’. Be it non-dual or vipassana, both require the opening of this 'eye of immediacy'”

and

“Hi Gozen,

I fully agree with what you said. It is just a casual sharing with Gary as he seems to be experiencing some aspects of the direct path.

To me both gradual and direct path will eventually lead us to the same destination. It is rather the degree of understanding we have on a particular teaching. If we practice wholeheartedly, whatever traditions will lead us to the same goal.

Frankly without re-looking at the basic teachings of Buddhism about the dharma seals and dependent origination, I will be leaving traces in the Absolute. In vipassana, there is the ‘bare attention’ and there is the mindful reminding of impermanence, no self and suffering of the transience. It is a very balance and safe approach.

Like in Zen tradition, different koans were meant for different purposes. The experience derived from the koan “before birth who are you?” is not the same as the Hakuin’s koan of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” The five categories of koan in Zen ranges from hosshin that give practitioner the first glimpse of ultimate reality to five-ranks that aims to awaken practitioner the spontaneous unity of relative and absolute are meant to prevent leaving traces. (You should be more familiar than me ) My point is when we simply see the Absolute and neglect the relative, that ‘Absolute’ becomes dead and very quickly another ‘dead Absolute construct’ is being created. In whatever case, we can only have a sincere mind, practice diligently and let the mind figure the rest out.

The mind does not know how to liberate itself.
By going beyond its own limits it experiences unwinding.
From deep confusion it drops knowing.
From intense suffering comes releasing.
From complete exhaustion comes resting.
All these go in cycle perpetually repeating,
Till one realizes everything is indeed already liberated,
As spontaneous happening from before beginning.”
Aman A., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 797 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
"In the world and life that isn't conscious and lacks free will, what is the point of meditation or anything of that nature at all?"

"It's going with the flow making me feel that life is just a one-ticket ride, the only point of which is to be experienced, and it doesn't matter in which manner you take this ride. Everything is sort of equal.

It's not a bad attitude to life at all, and my life has changed drastically to the better with it."

The point of meditation is to make the life better as you yourself know that it makes it so and make it go with the flow easily. You wouldn't have come to this realization without doing meditation, would you have?
An Eternal Now, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Intfere S.:
Hello all,

I wanted to find a place to describe my experience and ask my question and found this site. Please share your thoughts!

Originally I don't come from a buddhist tradition, but somehow meditating led me to a conclusion that contradicts my own tradition and resembles the buddhist doctrine of anatta, which I used to consider ridiculous. While meditating I got a strong certainty that I do not have an "I", or free will, or identity, and that others do not have it, either. I tried to find it outside of meditation, ascribing my meditation-induced ideas to random alternative states of consciousness, but failed to find any counter-evidence.

At first I tried to solve the problem by ascribing free will only to what is commonly referred to as "consciousness", or sometimes "the witness", i.e. a thought process witnessing everything happening, including itself. But after investigating it I walked away more certain than ever that this consciousness is not conscious at all, it's as unconscious as everything else.

The natural thing to do after that was to stop fighting and to go with the flow of life, considering all evils and goods inevitable, rather than earned or directed. And that's what happened, I started to go with the flow. Now, I do not mean it in any higher sense, it means what it says and nothing else.

But I've reached an impasse. In the world and life that isn't conscious and lacks free will, what is the point of meditation or anything of that nature at all? I try to do things well and just experience them until they last, but something is lacking. It's going with the flow making me feel that life is just a one-ticket ride, the only point of which is to be experienced, and it doesn't matter in which manner you take this ride. Everything is sort of equal.

It's not a bad attitude to life at all, and my life has changed drastically to the better with it. But I want to find other points of view. What does it mean for any effort of "spiritual" nature? No matter how you try, you won't get free will out of nowhere, you can't gain what you've never had. Still, I know there are some people who do consider it possible, that really puzzles me, and I'd like to know how they came to their conclusions and how they discovered their "real me". And there are other people who think that there's no other "I", buddhists (as far as I understand them).

So I came to this forum, hoping to meet both types of people and to get from them something that I failed to find elsewhere, mostly in books. Usually books only speak of which mantras you need to chant and how you should meditate or, if they're theoretical, they push their own doctrine forward, hinting that once you get a revelation you will know everything on your own. But now I have a small revelation of my own, btu I still don't know if it's right or wrong and want to know it. With help from real people who lived through similar experiences and perhaps drew different conclusions eventually or discovered different ways to accomodate them in their lives.
Hi, consider what I wrote here and the conversation with Thusness:

......

...not to be mistaken that will has no part in all these. The teaching of anatta or no self does not deny will or the aggregates... The buddha teaches that a sentient being is simply a convention for five aggregates: matter/body, feelings, perception, volition, consciousness. Notice that volition is part of it. This will/volition can be directed towards a wholesome or unwholesome path. However, also remember that the five aggregates are empty of self - and are without agent. Does that mean there is no free will? In a sense yes, but neither does it imply determinism: another dualistic extreme. Free will means subjective controller determines action, determinism means objective world determines subjective experience. In reality there is no subject and object - in thinking just thought, in hearing just sound. But there are requisite conditions for every manifestation. Those conditions can be changed if there is a correct path.

A concrete example: if you ask a beginner to run 2.4km in 9 minutes with an unfit body, that is asking for the impossible. No matter how hard willed is he, he is never going to make it. Why? The current requisite conditions of his body is such that the result of running 9 minutes is impossible. Control, agency, doesn't apply when manifestation always arise due to conditions.

It however also means that if you exercise regularly for months or years, there is no reason the body (conditions) cannot be improved to the degree that running 9 mins is definitely possible. This is what I mean by working with conditions.

So those teachers who say meditation are useless are not understanding latent tendencies and conditions. They mistook no doership with some kind of fatalism. Every proper practice has its place in working with one's conditions.

Just because there is no self, no doer, doesn't mean my body is fated to be unfit and I can't reach the 9 min. Just because I exercise regularly doesn't mean I am reinforcing the notion of self or doership. In any case, action is always without self.

It also does not mean that "will" has no place at all. "Will" is often misunderstood to be linked to a self or agent that has full control over things, whereas it is simply more manifestation and conditions. Yes, sheer will going against conditions isn't going to work – this is not understanding no-self and dependent origination. But if will is directed properly with correct understanding of no-self and conditionality, at a proper path and practice, it can lead to benefits.

That is why the first teaching of Buddha is the four noble truths: the truth of suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, the way to end suffering. This path arises as a result of his direct insight into no-self and dependent origination.

Like a doctor, you don't tell your patients "you are fated to be ill and sick and in pain, because there is no individual controller, everything is the will of God". That is nonsense. Instead, you diagnose the illness, you seek the cause of illness, you give a treatment that eliminates the cause of illness. There is no self, there is no controller, but there is conditions and manifestation and a way to treat bad conditions. This is the way of the four noble truths.

........

(November 2010)

(4:49:42 PM) Thusness: therefore i do not want u to misunderstand and falls into fox zen
(4:50:03 PM) Thusness: there must be clear understanding of the supporting conditions...
(4:50:17 PM) Thusness: not everything is the universe causing it...
(4:50:29 PM) Thusness: u have no choice...knock ur head
(4:50:34 PM) AEN: haha
(4:50:50 PM) Thusness: in fact that is one of the disease of non-dual and desync of views
(4:51:00 PM) AEN: so there is choice?
(4:51:07 PM) AEN: there is intentions right
(4:51:09 PM) AEN: and choice
(4:51:11 PM) Thusness: yes
(4:51:14 PM) AEN: ic..
(4:51:16 PM) Thusness: there is no control
(4:51:30 PM) Thusness: there is influences of the outcome
(4:51:40 PM) Thusness: no perfect control...
(4:52:08 PM) Thusness: it is no different from having a self
(4:52:17 PM) Thusness: except that there is no division
(4:52:36 PM) Thusness: no someone standing out apart from the flow of phenomenality
(4:53:05 PM) Thusness: the inter-dependencies are too complex and subtle to penetrate
(4:53:26 PM) Thusness: and this moment of whatever arises are the result of such dependencies
(4:53:58 PM) Thusness: chanting has its effect
(4:54:05 PM) Thusness: do merit has its effect
(4:54:33 PM) Thusness: insights are transformational
(4:54:51 PM) Thusness: the path of practice has their effect
(4:55:03 PM) Thusness: self enquiry help u to realize "I AM"
(4:55:14 PM) Thusness: no-self lead u to realize non-division and anatta
(4:55:30 PM) Thusness: allow the direct experience
(4:55:35 PM) Thusness: of the transient
(4:56:15 PM) Thusness: what you wrote and ur summary provide u the penetrating insight of non-duality
(4:56:22 PM) Thusness: and insight into anatta.
(4:56:38 PM) Thusness: how is it that there is no way to impact?
(4:57:22 PM) Thusness: it just does not manifest the way the dualistic and inherent mind perceive it to be
(4:57:54 PM) Thusness: means reality is not what it seems to be
(4:58:08 PM) Thusness: not the way dualistic and inherent mind sees it
(4:58:24 PM) Thusness: DO and emptiness is the way to correctly understand it
(5:00:32 PM) AEN: oic.. yeah everything impacts everything... even right view is important and the right practice... the notion that 'theres nothing to do for enlightenment' or that enlightenment is some random event is really off the mark
(5:02:31 PM) Thusness: if u practice chanting a billion times, ur consciousness in the 3 states will be affected
(5:03:35 PM) Thusness: mere will in the conscious state will be able to stop the momentum
(5:03:43 PM) Thusness: that is self view...get it?
(5:05:18 PM) AEN: yeah
(5:05:28 PM) Thusness: even in deep dreamless sleep
(5:05:30 PM) AEN: u mean 'will not'
(5:05:39 PM) Thusness: yeah
(5:05:47 PM) AEN: yea
(5:05:52 PM) AEN: what do u mean by even in deep dreamless sleep
(5:06:14 PM) Thusness: even in deep dreamless sleep...ur mind/body rhythm, heart beats are affected by this practice
(5:08:20 PM) Thusness: if penetrate anatta deeply...from moment to moment...thoroughly letting go of self and grasping and vivid presence, how is it that such practice will not affect the 3 states?
(5:14:39 PM) AEN: hmm
(5:14:53 PM) AEN: but in deep dreamless sleep if there is no conscious awareness how can there be an ongoing practice?
(5:16:26 PM) Thusness: the entire movement is not a matter of conscious awareness
(5:17:13 PM) Thusness: the momentum continues...the body, the cells are imprinted too. emoticon
(5:17:19 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:17:35 PM) Thusness: much like ur deep held attachments
(5:17:47 PM) Thusness: all inter-penetrates
(5:18:37 PM) Thusness: ur body can contract unnecessarily. emoticon
(5:19:24 PM) AEN: ic..
(5:22:09 PM) Thusness: so u may have the experience but u have to refine ur understanding.
(5:22:24 PM) Thusness: there are still some good pointers
(5:23:12 PM) Thusness: when u practice dropping, it will help
(5:23:27 PM) Thusness: when ur insight deepens, it will help
(5:24:10 PM) Thusness: so the mind can be clear
(5:25:19 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:25:57 PM) Thusness: thoughts create fear... the mind engages in story has fear
(5:26:07 PM) Thusness: this is true
(5:26:43 PM) Thusness: and being thoughtless, fear does not arise at that moment when we do away with thoughts and stop engaging in stories
(5:26:55 PM) Thusness: but the cause is the 'attachment'
(5:27:33 PM) Thusness: if the holding is there, there is no overcoming of the problem
(5:27:52 PM) Thusness: get it?
(5:28:43 PM) Thusness: knowing that it is just a thought, engaging in stories helps as a form of practice... ultimately, that deep held tendency must be relinquished.
(5:30:25 PM) AEN: ic.. so u mean the main focus is not thoughtlessness but relinquishing the tendency of holding?
(5:30:44 PM) AEN: and thats by insight and dropping?
(5:31:16 PM) Thusness: yes
(5:32:12 PM) Thusness: and because there is no holding, no attachment, there is thoughtlessness
(5:33:12 PM) Thusness: as I said certain teachings are good to certain point... after u arise the insight, u have to have other pointers
(5:33:41 PM) Thusness: before that, it can be helpful to get u there...they are good 'supporting conditions'
(5:33:49 PM) AEN: oic..
(5:34:56 PM) Thusness: but some of the expressions are beautiful. Some times just few of these beautiful phrases help to articulate expressions...
(5:35:13 PM) Thusness: and that is what i look for because it is so hard to express.
(5:35:39 PM) AEN: ic..
(5:36:25 PM) AEN: "Learned Audience, when we use Prajna for introspection we are illumined within and without, and in a position
to know our own mind. To know our mind is to obtain liberation. To obtain liberation is to attain Samadhi of Prajna, which is 'thoughtlessness'. What is 'thoughtlessness'? 'Thoughtlessness' is to see and to know all Dharmas (things) with a mind free from attachment. When in use it pervades everywhere, and yet it sticks nowhere. What we have to do is to purify our mind so that the six vijnanas (aspects of consciousness) , in passing through the six gates (sense organs) will neither be defiled by nor attached to the six sense-objects. When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to 'come' or to 'go', we attain Samadhi of Prajna, or liberation. Such a state is called the function of 'thoughtlessness'. But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be Dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view."
(5:36:27 PM) AEN: - hui neng
(5:37:53 PM) Thusness: yes
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D Z, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 346 Join Date: 9/18/11 Recent Posts
Intfere S.:
Hello all,

I wanted to find a place to describe my experience and ask my question and found this site. Please share your thoughts!

Originally I don't come from a buddhist tradition, but somehow meditating led me to a conclusion that contradicts my own tradition and resembles the buddhist doctrine of anatta, which I used to consider ridiculous. While meditating I got a strong certainty that I do not have an "I", or free will, or identity, and that others do not have it, either. I tried to find it outside of meditation, ascribing my meditation-induced ideas to random alternative states of consciousness, but failed to find any counter-evidence.

At first I tried to solve the problem by ascribing free will only to what is commonly referred to as "consciousness", or sometimes "the witness", i.e. a thought process witnessing everything happening, including itself. But after investigating it I walked away more certain than ever that this consciousness is not conscious at all, it's as unconscious as everything else...

...What does it mean for any effort of "spiritual" nature? No matter how you try, you won't get free will out of nowhere, you can't gain what you've never had. Still, I know there are some people who do consider it possible, that really puzzles me, and I'd like to know how they came to their conclusions and how they discovered their "real me". And there are other people who think that there's no other "I", buddhists (as far as I understand them).


These are good realizations, let me make a few points*

1) In my experience it is difficult to simply let go of these beliefs without swing the pendulum too far towards Nihilsim / Fatalism. Which is what I suspect you are doing here.

You do realize that although you don't have 'free will' as in independently arisen agency, your actions / experiences are influenced by your beliefs, including your belief in free will. Now this belief is influenced by your past actions. Ad infinitum.

Hence a lack of free will is not fatalistic. Free will and Determinism are compatible from a moral standpoint.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

2) Most people in the traditions where they consider the 'witness' or 'brahman' realization to be final just describe the realization of no free will as surrendering to God's will. It is not clear from your writing whether or not you have had that realization in the past. But Annata would include a negation of that experience rather than mere lack of free will.

3) As far as the purpose of the spiritual path. Do you still have any suffering or stress in your life ? Any sense of anger / fear or even a mere adrenaline rush when confronted with sticky situations ? It is possible to eliminate these in the spiritual path and improve your own experience of reality

4) And as for doing daily stuff..., its for curiosity, fun, solving challenges, learning how to be more skillful etc.

* Personal opinion, nothing authoritative.
Intfere S., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/22/12 Recent Posts
Hello again,
Aman A.:
The point of meditation is to make the life better as you yourself know that it makes it so and make it go with the flow easily.

D Z:
3) As far as the purpose of the spiritual path. Do you still have any suffering or stress in your life ? Any sense of anger / fear or even a mere adrenaline rush when confronted with sticky situations ? It is possible to eliminate these in the spiritual path and improve your own experience of reality

My motivation for the things spiritual has been a little different. I don't care to improve my life, I want to find access to knowledge about how the world really works, it's been the goal of my meditation. Improving life and searching for the truthful state of affairs aren't necessarily similar directions, you can't know if truth is horrible or pleasant. And I would absolutely agree to make my life worse if it helped me find it.

D Z:
2) Most people in the traditions where they consider the 'witness' or 'brahman' realization to be final just describe the realization of no free will as surrendering to God's will. It is not clear from your writing whether or not you have had that realization in the past. But Annata would include a negation of that experience rather than mere lack of free will.

I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't believe in higher powers or god. There is no evidence that they exist, and there's no point to speculate about the unseen and unknown.

As far as I understood from your link, compatibalism allows free will to exist in regards to doing unrestrained predetermined actions. So it seems to separate external influences and internal, as if their nature was different. I agree that extrernal influences might not be predetermined, we can't know that, for example, it's silly to talk about wind directions being predetermined. Determinism only makes sense in regards to something that was considered to have an individual center and full control over itself!

Otherwise, for me it's just as you describe. Everything follows from the past or, to put it differently, from the habit. Ad infinitum. Even the "witness" is merely a shadow whose appearance is caused by repetition. And there's suddenly no point in setting goals for practice, you can just go with the flow of life, whatever that flow happens to be, pleasant or unpleasant. It's even of no matter if that "witness" observes everything or not, because there's no particular witness to experience something, there's only "the stream of experience". But still, I have an interest in finding out the true state of affairs. So what happened is disappointing, in regards to search for truth it led to stagnation and to the place without definite directions.
Aman A., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 797 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
Intfere S.:
My motivation for the things spiritual has been a little different. I don't care to improve my life, I want to find access to knowledge about how the world really works, it's been the goal of my meditation.


I think that you will find out how the world really works only when you stop all the push and pull that is happening inside of you and you start to go with the flow. But the thing is when all the forces that are inside you stop pushing and pulling you, will you still need to find access to knowledge about how the world really works?

Looking for some answers is another form of suffering and when that suffering goes away, so do the questions. It may appear that finding the answers to those questions is more important than removing suffering but it is not true.
Intfere S., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/22/12 Recent Posts
Aman,

Isn't it true that buddhists consider ignorance the cause of suffering? It's a matter of what we call knowledge or ignorance, too. Obviously, knowledge about horses is useless, but I feel like knowledge about the true nature of the world (which includes the "I") is important.

Anyway, the crux of the matter now is that my experiences contradict my own chosen tradition. Maybe if I was a buddhist I'd be congratulating myself and happily proceeding with what's going on. But when your realizations are supposed to be wrong, you start wondering which ones are true and which direction to choose.
Aman A., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 797 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
"But I've reached an impasse. In the world and life that isn't conscious and lacks free will, what is the point of meditation or anything of that nature at all?"

I don't think that there is any point of meditation if you don't want to remove suffering from life.
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D Z, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 346 Join Date: 9/18/11 Recent Posts
I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't believe in higher powers or god. There is no evidence that they exist, and there's no point to speculate about the unseen and unknown.


I think you misunderstand.

The reason I am asking is that Buddhism doesn't consider the the Witness experience or the concept of God to be the final experience, Annata includes giving that up. But I was checking to see if you had experienced it before because you mentioned you were from a different tradition.

The other point is that people without the Annata insight, can still experience a lack of free will. And they have their own subjective interpretations of what it means with regards to reality.

One interpretation of a full insight into Annata can be seen as moving past the witness experience into a non-dual state of sensory experience and then further seeing that there is no-self, no center. In seeing just the seen, In hearing just the sounds heard etc.

This type of Annata insight necessarily includes a lack of free will and also big increase in inner peace and well being.

But a lack of free will doesn't necessarily imply Annata or an increase in well being. I have heard it argued somewhere that certain types of 'surrender' practice can result in realizing the lack of free will, without an increase in well being or insight into Annata.

Hope that makes sense.

Otherwise, for me it's just as you describe. Everything follows from the past or, to put it differently, from the habit. Ad infinitum.


You probably have something resembling intent, even if it is seen as being dependent on the past or your immidiate environment rather than independent. Right ?

I might post more details when I have more time. Rather than writing something quickly and confusing you more.

But basically 'intent', 'the self' etc don't have any inherent or independent attributes, but rather they are aggregates or 'formations'. To deny they exist at all is nihlism / fatalism, to see them for what they are is the middle path.
Intfere S., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/22/12 Recent Posts
D Z:
The reason I am asking is that Buddhism doesn't consider the the Witness experience or the concept of God to be the final experience, Annata includes giving that up. But I was checking to see if you had experienced it before because you mentioned you were from a different tradition.

It went like this: at first while meditating my own tradition's meditation I experienced lack of individuality or consciousness in myself and others. I called it lack of free will, because free will is dependant on having consciousness and because people I talked to about it would find the idea of having no consciousness ridiculous, while they responded to the idea of no free will. But it was not about free will per se, but about a lack of a "center", "individuality", "consciousness" that could produce free will.

Later when I started searching for it outside of sitting meditation, in a normal state of mind, I thought that probably the self-observing ability that we've got is that center and that it's got no free will, but still can be our "center of being". And I started using it full-force to observe all the time, however, I came to the conclusion that this "center of consciusness" is of the same nature as everything else it observes.

So where would you categorize all this? It's true that all this led to some drastic changes in my life, which I would normally consider impossible, but it's hard to judge whether such changes could come from something other than anatta or couldn't. Maybe they could, why not. Regardless of whether it is or isn't full anatta or anatta at all, I don't remember about it all the time, what happens is that I go with the flow, without having to remember. I.e. there is some sort of duality (wrong word, but...) in the "stream of experience": one side of it can feel anger, another side of it feels joyful and detached, and often curious about emotions such as anger. I don't remove any feelings because this is what going with the flow entails for me, no "fighting" with illusions, so it's like experiencing different incompatible feelings and attitudes at once, but somehow they're fully harmonious.

Other effects are stronger, one of them was about a full change of usual emotions a few months ago. I just woke up one day and felt very differently, with no traces of habitual emotions. They never came back, although I was waiting for them for months. They got replaced by a feeling of something I would call joy existing on its own, without any reason, as if you feel joyfully energetic. It's a fully internal mood, not extrenal, so I don't go around smiling all the time, I just feel very good. This mood never leaves even for a second no matter what I do, it co-exists with any other emotions, as if they were flying by it. With anger, crying, whatever. Although it's a different crying, something in you cries, but something feels good and welcomes all the experience, including the experience of crying. Like it's a passing wave that doesn't disturb the depths of the ocean.

You probably have something resembling intent, even if it is seen as being dependent on the past or your immidiate environment rather than independent. Right ?

How can one direct this something resembling intent? By repetition is the only idea that occurs to me, because the only thing that could possibly change the past is the stubborn repetition of something new, to the point when it overrides the strenth of the past.

I'll wait till you have more time to talk about it. This is probably the most important point.
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D Z, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: A no-free-will issue

Posts: 346 Join Date: 9/18/11 Recent Posts
Not sure if you are still following this thread, but here goes nothing...


Intfere S:

Other effects are stronger, one of them was about a full change of usual emotions a few months ago. I just woke up one day and felt very differently, with no traces of habitual emotions. They never came back, although I was waiting for them for months. They got replaced by a feeling of something I would call joy existing on its own, without any reason, as if you feel joyfully energetic. It's a fully internal mood, not extrenal, so I don't go around smiling all the time, I just feel very good. This mood never leaves even for a second no matter what I do, it co-exists with any other emotions, as if they were flying by it. With anger, crying, whatever. Although it's a different crying, something in you cries, but something feels good and welcomes all the experience, including the experience of crying. Like it's a passing wave that doesn't disturb the depths of the ocean.


This is pretty good to hear, as it indicates some great reduction in suffering. I know what you are talking about here the body still cries, but you don't suffer.

Intfere S:


I came to the conclusion that this "center of consciusness" is of the same nature as everything else it observes...

So where would you categorize all this? It's true that all this led to some drastic changes in my life, which I would normally consider impossible, but it's hard to judge whether such changes could come from something other than anatta or couldn't.


This is annata in some sense, but basically you need to realize that there is no 'center of consciousness'. i.e. the tension that you feel there should ease to centerlessness.

In any event you do sound like you have had some drastic reduction in suffering, which is the important thing. IMO.


Intfere S:

How can one direct this something resembling intent? By repetition is the only idea that occurs to me, because the only thing that could possibly change the past is the stubborn repetition of something new, to the point when it overrides the strenth of the past.


Its not that different from changing a habit when you did have the illusion of free will.

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