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Re: Free Will or Not

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  • robmoult
    Hi James, ... post ... maybe ... submit ... Before 2002, I used a variety of texts in my Abhidhamma class. In 2002, I provided handouts in each class. At the
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 1, 2004
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      Hi James,

      --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "buddhatrue"
      <buddhatrue@y...> wrote:
      > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "buddhatrue"
      > <buddhatrue@y...> wrote:
      > > Hi Rob,
      > >
      > > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "robmoult"
      > <rob.moult@j...>
      > > wrote:
      > > > Hi All,
      > > > <snip> PS: I have posted this article before, but decided to
      post
      > > it again
      > > > as it was relevant to some current threads.
      > >
      > > I like this article very much! Add a few more ancedotes and
      maybe
      > > some Canon quotes and submit it to "Tricycle" or "Shambhala Sun"
      > (you
      > > could probably spice up some of your Abhidhamma articles and
      submit
      > > those too ;-).
      >
      > Oops typo...ancedotes is supposed to read 'anecdotes ('ancedotes'
      > sounds kinda like antacids! ;-))

      Before 2002, I used a variety of texts in my Abhidhamma class. In
      2002, I provided handouts in each class. At the end of 2002, I
      consoldiated all of these handouts (this is my Class Notes file
      available in the download section of DSG). About 70% of the content
      of the class notes was my summary of other people's works. This
      became the class textbook for 2003. In 2004, I am not using these
      notes as my class textbook any more. I am writing my own mini-essays
      based on various subjects adding diagrams wherever possible and
      handing them out each week. In class, I use the mini-essays as a
      structure but insert my own experiences, etc. as "colour commentary".

      In December 2003, I plan to print my collection of mini-essays into a
      book. The minimum print run is 1000 copies, which is far more than I
      need for my class, so I will distribute the remainder for free.

      My "Free-Will" mini-essay was originally written as an article for a
      Buddhist Magazine, "Eastern Horizon". This magazine covers all three
      schools (Theravada, Mahayana and Vajarana) and I wanted to keep the
      piece less technical as it was for a more general readership. "The
      Internet Sutra" was another piece that I wrote for this magazine. It
      also has a lighter style than my normal mini-essays. My mini-essay on
      Anatta that I recently posted is closer to my "textbook style".

      James, I welcome your input. Having explained how I intend to use my
      mini-essays, I seek your advice as to how my writing style could be
      more effective.

      Metta,
      Rob M :-)
    • robmoult
      Hi Ken H, ... reality . ... ===== I agree. The Franciscan nuns also were able to achieve the same states but but they described them as talking with God . One
      Message 2 of 14 , Feb 1, 2004
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        Hi Ken H,

        --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
        <kenhowardau@y...> wrote:
        > RM: > When interviewed later, the
        > subjects indicated that at the times that the blood flow to the OAA
        > was dramatically reduced, they were experiencing a "higher
        reality".
        > The illusion of self may be hardwired, but we can overcome this
        > hardwiring through correct practice.
        > ----------------------
        >
        > Back in the 1960's people like Timothy Leary and Baba Ram Das
        > thought LSD could fix the same hardwiring problem. However, they
        > agreed that the meditation practices of their Indian gurus did the
        > same thing without drugs. I say, why bother with meditation? If it
        > is a simple matter of re-wiring, then take the drugs and have done
        > with it!
        >
        > I might add that right understanding can never be accomplished by
        > either method.

        =====

        I agree. The Franciscan nuns also were able to achieve the same
        states but but they described them as "talking with God".

        One must start with a mundane "right understanding". With this
        perspective, right thinking naturally flows. This is manifested
        through right speech / action / livelihood / effort. These practices
        lead to right mindfulness and right concentration. Right mindfulness
        and right concentration lead to experiences that support a
        supramundane form of "right understanding". This supramundane form of
        right understanding allows the other path-factors to arise naturally
        and consistently by weakening the latent blockages. (at least this is
        my understanding).

        =====
        > RM: > Habits are developed and nurtured through concentrated
        > repetition.
        > Another word for "concentrated repetition" is "practice".
        > --------------------
        >
        > I think the practice you proceed to describe is purely conventional
        > (not ultimately real).
        >
        > As a boy, I was a keen surfer but I was not as `naturally good at
        > it' as some other kids were. After considerable practice, in the
        > intervening forty years (almost), I am reasonably good (although my
        > knees aren't quite up to it). But what has changed in ultimate
        > reality? What qualities have been accumulated through this
        > practice? I suspect that, the next time I am born as a human being,
        > I will be just as lacking in natural surfing ability as I was this
        > time around.

        =====

        I'm not so sure. I believe that because of your practice in this
        life, that you will be naturally drawn toward surfing in your next
        life. This is natural decisive support condition at work. However,
        there is nothing to say that your body in your next life will be more
        suited to surfing than your body was in this life.

        Because of expriences in their past life, my kids are drawn to music.
        They both have perfect pitch and started composing music at the age
        of 6. Their talent was a gift from their past lives, but their
        results in this life will depend on the self-discipline and goal-
        setting ability. A predeliction to self-discipline also comes from
        previous lives, but it needs to be nurtured and supported in this
        life to be effective.

        Many of the people on DSG, including myself, were born as Christians.
        What has drawn us to the Dhamma / Ahidhamma? I believe that we had
        been exposed to the Dhamma in a previous existence and therefore were
        attracted to it when we discovered it in this existence. Of course,
        had conditions supporting our contact with the Dhamma not arisen in
        this existence, many of us would still be Christians.

        =====
        >
        > -----------
        > <snip>
        > RM: > That is why the Buddha emphasizes, so strongly the need to be
        > mindful of every action, of every choice.
        > ------------
        >
        > I would have thought it was of this `present' action (or choice).
        Am
        > I being pedantic?

        =====

        You are not being pedantic and I will insert the word "present". On
        the other hand, how can one be truly "mindful" of anything else other
        than the present? :-)

        =====
        >
        > ----------------
        > . . .
        > RM: > Formal meditation is one form of "concentrated repetition".
        > Sitting each morning and radiating metta, develops a habit of metta
        > in the mind.
        > ------------------
        >
        > You bet it does! And I wish it were as simple as you make it
        sound.
        > But where is the self, the free will, that can say, "Let there be
        > metta?"
        >
        > When I sit down and `radiate metta,' there is pleasant feeling
        > (usually) and lots of conceit, but is there any metta? No –
        because
        > my actions are motivated by subtle wrong view (of a controlling
        > self) and by attachment and by other, unwholesome, worldling-like,
        > notions.
        >
        > As you say, this can create a habit; but I would say, not a good
        > habit.
        >
        > ----------------
        > <snip>
        > RM: > Vipasanna meditation develops a habit of seeing things as
        they
        > truly are; impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self.
        > ---------------
        >
        > By `vipassana meditation,' you don't mean satipatthana do you? You
        > mean a practice that leads up to satipatthana. I would say; when
        > there is a moment of kusala consciousness that hears Dhamma,
        > considers Dhamma or speaks Dhamma then there is a practice that
        > leads up to satipatthana (the practice of Dhamma).
        >
        > If we could decree, "Let there be vipassana practice," then there
        > would be free will: there would be a `supervising self' and the
        > world would be totally different from the way the Buddha described
        > it. (And the way you described it; except for the bits I disagreed
        > with:-) )

        =====

        Your last comments fall into the category of "value of meditation".
        This is one of those subjects that I need more time to reflect upon.
        However, in the interim, I will continue my meditation.

        Metta,
        Rob M :-)
      • buddhatrue
        Hi Rob M, Rob: My Free-Will mini-essay was originally written as an article for a Buddhist Magazine, Eastern Horizon . This magazine covers all three
        Message 3 of 14 , Feb 1, 2004
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          Hi Rob M,

          Rob: My "Free-Will" mini-essay was originally written as an article
          for a Buddhist Magazine, "Eastern Horizon". This magazine covers all
          three
          schools (Theravada, Mahayana and Vajarana) and I wanted to keep the
          piece less technical as it was for a more general readership.

          James: I thought it seemed like a magazine article; that is why I
          made the comment I made. With some spicing up it could probably work
          for a more mainstream Buddhist publication. I'm not familiar
          with `Eastern Horizon', but really, the audience doesn't matter a
          great deal. Write from the heart and the audience will respond,
          regardless of their Buddhist school affiliation.

          Rob: "The Internet Sutra" was another piece that I wrote for this
          magazine. It also has a lighter style than my normal mini-essays.

          James: I don't recall this piece. Perhaps you can send it to me off-
          list?

          Rob: My mini-essay on Anatta that I recently posted is closer to
          my "textbook style".

          James: Okay, then by `textbook style' you mean pretty bare-bones with
          little commentary.

          Rob: James, I welcome your input. Having explained how I intend to
          use my mini-essays, I seek your advice as to how my writing style
          could be
          more effective.

          James: For the purposes of your class your writing style is just
          fine. However, your mini-essays will be by necessity very `teacher-
          oriented' rather than `student-oriented' since you provide almost all
          of the filler and background information in class. This is fine if
          you want to limit your essays to `in-class' use only. If you want to
          make them appeal to a more general audience, then you would have to
          make some changes. You can contact me off-list about this as we are
          probably starting to get off-topic. I am not an expert in this
          regard but many people seem to be attracted to my writing style and
          writing sense.

          Metta, James
        • kenhowardau
          Hi Andrew, ... be like if there were a self. It would be so different from the world ... the world be like if there were a self? ... I was hoping you would
          Message 4 of 14 , Feb 2, 2004
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            Hi Andrew,

            I wrote:
            ------------------
            >> and it is interesting to imagine what the world would
            be like if there were a self. It would be so different from the world
            > we know. It is probably even harder to comprehend than anatta. (At
            > least anatta is real.)
            -----------------

            To which you replied:
            -----------------
            > Perhaps you would like to expand on this point, KenH. What would
            the world be like if there were a self?
            ------------------

            I was hoping you would tell me :-) Despite giving it a lot of
            thought, I haven't reached any startling conclusions.

            A self would have to be similar to an almighty god, wouldn't it?
            (Except, the one we were taught about, never seemed particularly
            happy with his lot.) A self wouldn't be impermanent or
            unsatisfactory (but that sounds like not-self) . . Sorry, I've
            got to stop thinking about it: I'm like a dog chasing its tail.

            Kind regards,
            Ken H
          • kenhowardau
            Hi Rob M, Thanks for the rundown on Path factors; it s not quite the way I m used to reading it but I won t try too hard to pick holes in it. A ... RM: One
            Message 5 of 14 , Feb 2, 2004
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              Hi Rob M,

              Thanks for the rundown on Path factors; it's not quite the way I'm
              used to reading it but I won't try too hard to pick holes in it. A
              couple of comments though:

              -----------------
              RM: > One must start with a mundane "right understanding".
              ------------------------------

              Sorry if I'm taking you too literally, but I wonder where one
              really `starts' Dhamma practice. Remembering that the practice
              is; "lovely at the beginning, lovely at the middle and lovely at the
              end,' (sorry; no ref.), we can safely say the beginning is kusala.
              However, I wouldn't say it was with `right understanding.'

              In the ultimate sense of hearing, considering and discussing Dhamma,
              only kusala moments are involved. Mundane right understanding
              might accompany such moments (in which case there is satipatthana),
              but only if we're very lucky. Our intellectual understanding would
              have to be very comprehensive, I would think.

              Perhaps mundane right understanding (at the level of satipatthana)
              is what the sutta regards as `lovely at the middle.' (?) (Perhaps
              not.)

              On the subject of surfing; I was saying that no amount of practice
              would improve my accumulated tendencies (natural ability) for my
              next human life:

              -------------------
              RM : > I believe that because of your practice in this
              life, that you will be naturally drawn toward surfing in your next
              life. This is natural decisive support condition at work. However,
              there is nothing to say that your body in your next life will be
              more suited to surfing than your body was in this life.
              --------------------

              Yes, that sounds right. I might come back as keen as ever but my
              surfing attributes (both physical and mental) will depend on
              wholesome and unwholesome kamma. There's not a lot of wholesome
              kamma involved, unfortunately – we surfies are a rough mob.

              -----------------

              On the subject of whether the Buddha taught us to be mindful
              of `every' action and `every' choice, you wrote:
              ----------------
              RM: > You are not being pedantic and I will insert the
              word "present". On the other hand, how can one be truly "mindful"
              of anything else other than the present? :-)
              ----------------

              Exactly! Ambitious aspirations to `always practise Dhamma' may do
              wonders for our ego, but it is only the present moment that counts.
              When we consider what we actually understand about the present
              billionth of a second, the ego is not so outspoken :-)


              Kind regards,
              Ken H
            • Andrew
              ... A: Perhaps you would like to expand on this point, KenH. What would ... of ... Ken H I feel let down! :-) I thought you were going to show me a fresh new
              Message 6 of 14 , Feb 2, 2004
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                --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
                <kenhowardau@y...> wrote:
                > Hi Andrew,
                >
                > > -----------------
                A: Perhaps you would like to expand on this point, KenH. What would
                > the world be like if there were a self?
                > ------------------
                >
                > Ken H: I was hoping you would tell me :-) Despite giving it a lot
                of
                > thought, I haven't reached any startling conclusions.
                >
                > A self would have to be similar to an almighty god, wouldn't it?
                > (Except, the one we were taught about, never seemed particularly
                > happy with his lot.) A self wouldn't be impermanent or
                > unsatisfactory (but that sounds like not-self) . . Sorry, I've
                > got to stop thinking about it: I'm like a dog chasing its tail.
                >

                Ken H
                I feel let down! :-) I thought you were going to show me a fresh new
                angle, a perspective I hadn't thought of before!
                Since we live in a world of illusory self, surely a world of self
                would be rather similar to that we think we already inhabit?? It
                would be a world of permanence and there would have to be some
                explanation of dukkha other than the unsatisfactoriness associated
                with impermanence. It would be a world where you really COULD say "I
                was the Queen of Sheba in a past lifetime" and not get frowned upon!
                LOL
                Andrew
              • buddhatrue
                Hi Ken H. and Andrew, ... lot ... new ... say I ... If you would like to have an idea of what it would be like to have a `self , I would suggest you watch the
                Message 7 of 14 , Feb 3, 2004
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                  Hi Ken H. and Andrew,

                  --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "Andrew" <athel60@t...>
                  wrote:
                  > --- In dhammastudygroup@yahoogroups.com, "kenhowardau"
                  > <kenhowardau@y...> wrote:
                  > > Hi Andrew,
                  > >
                  > > > -----------------
                  > A: Perhaps you would like to expand on this point, KenH. What would
                  > > the world be like if there were a self?
                  > > ------------------
                  > >
                  > > Ken H: I was hoping you would tell me :-) Despite giving it a
                  lot
                  > of
                  > > thought, I haven't reached any startling conclusions.
                  > >
                  > > A self would have to be similar to an almighty god, wouldn't it?
                  > > (Except, the one we were taught about, never seemed particularly
                  > > happy with his lot.) A self wouldn't be impermanent or
                  > > unsatisfactory (but that sounds like not-self) . . Sorry, I've
                  > > got to stop thinking about it: I'm like a dog chasing its tail.
                  > >
                  >
                  > Ken H
                  > I feel let down! :-) I thought you were going to show me a fresh
                  new
                  > angle, a perspective I hadn't thought of before!
                  > Since we live in a world of illusory self, surely a world of self
                  > would be rather similar to that we think we already inhabit?? It
                  > would be a world of permanence and there would have to be some
                  > explanation of dukkha other than the unsatisfactoriness associated
                  > with impermanence. It would be a world where you really COULD
                  say "I
                  > was the Queen of Sheba in a past lifetime" and not get frowned upon!
                  > LOL
                  > Andrew

                  If you would like to have an idea of what it would be like to have
                  a `self', I would suggest you watch the movie "Everlasting Tuck". It
                  is about a family that drinks water from a magical spring and as a
                  consequence they develop a `self'; they never grow old, never die,
                  never get sick, and never change. It is a very interesting movie
                  with some strong Buddhist lessons.

                  Metta, James
                • Andrew
                  Hi James Thanks for this tip - I will definitely look out for this movie. Not likely to be in the local video shop as I live on the edge of a village of 500
                  Message 8 of 14 , Feb 3, 2004
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                    Hi James
                    Thanks for this tip - I will definitely look out for this movie. Not
                    likely to be in the local video shop as I live on the edge of a
                    village of 500 people and, it has to be said, their taste in videos
                    leaves something to be desired. :-)

                    You wrote:
                    > If you would like to have an idea of what it would be like to have
                    > a `self', I would suggest you watch the movie "Everlasting Tuck".
                    It
                    > is about a family that drinks water from a magical spring and as a
                    > consequence they develop a `self'; they never grow old, never die,
                    > never get sick, and never change. It is a very interesting movie
                    > with some strong Buddhist lessons.
                    >
                    James, I think your search for a Buddhist discussion group in which
                    everyone shares your interpretation of Dhamma is a bit like the
                    search for the Holy Grail. But I do hope that some of the other
                    meditators give you encouragement on and off list. It may interest
                    you to know that the strictest and pushiest meditator I have ever
                    come across, someone who frequently suggested I was lazy in
                    my "meditation practice", was a chap who now goes under the name
                    of "Ken H"! :-)
                    There's a lesson in anicca for you!!
                    I have no control over what other people think, so I just enjoy the
                    ride!
                    Best Wishes
                    Andrew
                    PS a bit cheeky, I know, KenH - but you've said as much before - and
                    good on you for sharing your Dhamma journey with us!
                  • buddhatrue
                    Andrew: Thanks for this tip - I will definitely look out for this movie. Not likely to be in the local video shop as I live on the edge of a village of 500
                    Message 9 of 14 , Feb 3, 2004
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                      Andrew: Thanks for this tip - I will definitely look out for this
                      movie. Not likely to be in the local video shop as I live on the edge
                      of a village of 500 people and, it has to be said, their taste in
                      videos leaves something to be desired. :-)

                      James: Well, I am now living in Cairo, Egypt so I have even less
                      selection than you do! ;-)) Also, I think I miswrote the title
                      before; it is actually "Tuck Everlasting".

                      Andrew: James, I think your search for a Buddhist discussion group in
                      which everyone shares your interpretation of Dhamma is a bit like the
                      search for the Holy Grail.

                      James: LOL!! You got that right. I used to be pretty naïve about
                      such things; I have wizened up since then.

                      Andrew: But I do hope that some of the other meditators give you
                      encouragement on and off list.

                      James: Not really, but I do find a lot of encouragement in the
                      various articles on the Access To Insight web site. I especially
                      like the writings of Ajahn Lee. I try to read some of his stuff
                      everyday! (And I meditate some everyday).

                      Andrew: It may interest you to know that the strictest and pushiest
                      meditator I have ever come across, someone who frequently suggested I
                      was lazy in my "meditation practice", was a chap who now goes under
                      the name of "Ken H"! :-)

                      James: Oh really. Actually, this doesn't surprise me. I can sense a
                      lot of disgruntled ex-meditators in this group. I wrote an entire
                      post about it titled "The Ups and Downs of Meditation".

                      Andrew: There's a lesson in anicca for you!!

                      James: Yep!! ;-))

                      Andrew: I have no control over what other people think, so I just
                      enjoy the ride!

                      James: Good attitude! Thanks for writing! You have really brightened
                      my day! ;-))))

                      Metta, James
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