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Things you can control

13

Comments

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason

    Yes but then are you saying that conditions are empty or independant of other factors?

    I would say conditions are also conditioned by volition while volition is conditioned by many factors.

    All is empty... even the nature of condition.

    The nature of condition depends on the unconditioned (the unborn or pure potential) to be conditioned to condition.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    To put it another way.

    All is conditional. This means not only is everything conditioned but everything is condition.

    Volition is conditioned but is itself a condition and as such it conditions our actions.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    To put it another way.

    All is conditional. This means not only is everything conditioned but everything is condition.

    Volition is conditioned but is itself a condition and as such it conditions our actions.

    Right, which is basically the position of causal determinism. Volition acts as a condition, but it too is conditioned, and arises due to causal factors, not independent of them. The appearance of it as a free choice is simply an illusion, at least from the POV of causal determinism.

    personDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    @Jason
    The nature of condition depends on the unconditioned (the unborn or pure potential) to be conditioned to condition.

    I'm not sure quite what this means. Could you elaborate a bit?

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    @Jason
    The nature of condition depends on the unconditioned (the unborn or pure potential) to be conditioned to condition.

    I'm not sure quite what this means. Could you elaborate a bit?

    Some things haven't made it to conditioning yet. They still count.

    The potential for volition was around before volition.

    If it doesn't strike a chord then it is nonsense. No worries.

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    To put it another way.

    All is conditional. This means not only is everything conditioned but everything is condition.

    Volition is conditioned but is itself a condition and as such it conditions our actions.

    Right, which is basically the position of causal determinism. Volition acts as a condition, but it too is conditioned, and arises due to causal factors, not independent of them. The appearance of it as a free choice is simply an illusion, at least from the POV of causal determinism.

    To me it does not infer that. Quite the opposite.

    What you're saying sounds like nihilism to me as responsibility for our actions, volitional karma and even having compassion is illogical. I could steal, kill, lie and all kinds of stuff and it means nothing. No true victim, no crime. Don't blame me, blame the conditions.

    The way I see it makes it all a matter of course.

    I am conditioned and am a condition however fleeting. I am responsible for my actions.

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    Every cause is also an effect from a prior cause.
    Every effect is also a cause of future effects.
    To be conditioned is to condition.
    To condition is to have an effect.
    For volition to be a condition it must also have an effect.

    Therefore, we are responsible for our actions.

    Separation is the illusion.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    To put it another way.

    All is conditional. This means not only is everything conditioned but everything is condition.

    Volition is conditioned but is itself a condition and as such it conditions our actions.

    Right, which is basically the position of causal determinism. Volition acts as a condition, but it too is conditioned, and arises due to causal factors, not independent of them. The appearance of it as a free choice is simply an illusion, at least from the POV of causal determinism.

    To me it does not infer that. Quite the opposite.

    What you're saying sounds like nihilism to me as responsibility for our actions, volitional karma and even having compassion is illogical.

    The way I see it makes it all a matter of course.

    I get that you don't see it that way, and I understand why it seems like nihilism and counterintuitive to our first person experience; but I've yet to hear a good argument for why/how volition, being conditioned (an aspect of the sankhara aggregate that's conditioned by contact), can also somehow be free of conditionality in terms of free choice/free will/or whatever you want to call it.

    As for compassion being illogical, it's certainly not from the causal deterministic POV. One has biological imperatives conditioned by evolution along with learned behaviours, ideas absorbed from family, friends, religion, society, etc. that present the idea to the individual and suggest that such a motive is right, moral, practical, socially expected, etc., which all serve to act as material and mental conditions that influence (i.e., condition) our compassionate choices. Actions are the same. They act as causes and condition effects, so there's responsibility in the sense of continuity. That said, our actions are conditioned by intentions, which in turn are conditioned by contact, which in turn is conditioned by meeting of sense media and consciousness, etc. The question here, again, is how intention, being conditioned (an aspect of the sankhara aggregate that's conditioned by contact), can also somehow be free of conditionality in terms of free choice/free will/or whatever you want to call it.

    I'm not saying you have to adopt my view. I'm simply asking how you overcome the seeming contradiction between conditionality and the idea of our choices and actions being in some way free of conditionality and independent as it were. As I said, between the concept (and reality) of conditionality and the insights of science, an independent agent of this sort doesn't seems to have a logical or observable basis. I'm certainly open to be swayed otherwise, as I used to hold quite the opposite view years ago. I've simply not found a convincing enough answer as of yet.

    personDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Every cause is also an effect from a prior cause.
    Every effect is also a cause of future effects.
    To be conditioned is to condition.
    To condition is to have an effect.
    For volition to be a condition it must also have an effect.

    Therefore, we are responsible for our actions.

    Separation is the illusion.

    I understand that (and again, thats precisely the POV of causal determinism to a T). But what I didn't quite understand was the part about "condition depends on the unconditioned (the unborn or pure potential) to be conditioned to condition." In other words, I don't quite understand where the unconditiined comes into this process. I suppose it means, like you said above, the potentiality for the interplay of conditionality. But again, that can just means we don't have the ability to see the full complexity of conditionality, and so are unable to see how things are conditioned, making then appear to be more spontaneous that it actually is. In other words, the appearance of this open potentiality doesn't necessarily mean that volition can do its own thing, independent of conditionality, because it, too, being conditioned, is susceptible to the same conditional process of arising and ceasing as all conditioned phenomena.

    personDavid
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    To put it another way.

    All is conditional. This means not only is everything conditioned but everything is condition.

    Volition is conditioned but is itself a condition and as such it conditions our actions.

    Right, which is basically the position of causal determinism. Volition acts as a condition, but it too is conditioned, and arises due to causal factors, not independent of them. The appearance of it as a free choice is simply an illusion, at least from the POV of causal determinism.

    To me it does not infer that. Quite the opposite.

    What you're saying sounds like nihilism to me as responsibility for our actions, volitional karma and even having compassion is illogical.

    The way I see it makes it all a matter of course.

    I get that you don't see it that way, and I understand why it seems like nihilism and counterintuitive to our first person experience; but I've yet to hear a good argument for why/how volition, being conditioned (and aspects of the sankhara aggregate that's conditioned by contact), can also somehow be free of conditionality in terms of free choice/free will/or whatever you want to call it.

    It isn't nor did I imply it did. We can be conditioned to make a choice through volition which is also conditioned to influence our choices.

    Volition is literally the power to enforce will. It has to be developed to be in accordance with skillful means.

    As for compassion being illogical, it's certainly not from the causal deterministic POV. One has biological imperatives conditioned by evolution along with learned behaviours, ideas absorbed from family, friends, religion, society, etc. that present the idea to the individual and suggest that such a motive is right, moral, practical, socially expected, etc., which all serve to act as material and mental conditions that influence (i.e., condition) our compassionate choices.

    Why do you think that would be? If our ability is illusion then what purpose does that illusion serve exactly?

    The illusion is separation and so compassion make actual sense.

    Actions are the same. They act as causes and condition effects, so there's responsibility in the sense of continuity. That said, our actions are conditioned by intentions, which in turn are conditioned by contact, which in turn is conditioned by meeting of sense media and consciousness, etc. The question here, again, is how intention, being conditioned (an aspect of the sankhara aggregate that's conditioned by contact), can also somehow be free of conditionality in terms of free choice/free will/or whatever you want to call it.

    It isn't. There is a Middle way here. The conditioned conditions. There is no way around that.

    The porch still gets wet even if the rain is conditioned.

    Volition is still a catalyst even though it is conditioned. There is probably an infinite ways volition can develope to unfold.

    I'm not saying you have to adopt my view. I'm simply asking how you overcome the seeming contradiction between conditionality and the idea of our choices and actions being in some way free of conditionality and independent as it were. As I said, between the concept (and reality) of conditionality and the insights of science, an independent agent of this sort doesn't seems to have a logical or observable basis.

    And again, none is implied.

    I'm certainly open to be swayed otherwise, as I used to hold quite the opposite view years ago. I've simply not found a convincing enough answer as of yet.

    I could say the same thing.

    It has to make sense.

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:
    In other words, the appearance of this open potentiality doesn't necessarily mean that volition can do its own thing, independent of conditionality, because it, too, being conditioned, is susceptible to the same conditional process of arising and ceasing as all conditioned phenomena.

    Of course... I never claimed otherwise.

    Volition is as empty as everything else which means it is conditional. To be conditional means to be able to condition as well as to be conditioned.

    If volition was not conditional... only then would it have no effect on the conditioned.

    If it had no effect on the conditioned then we wouldn't need to think it did.

    Volition may not have always been but the potential for it has.

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    Sorry @Jason, you have me on a tangent here.

    I'll try.

    As far as I understand (and obviously my understanding could be off base) the unborn is pure potential. That which has yet to be conditioned to fruition and perhaps (again, please note the italics) that which has passed.

    So the unborn or unconditioned would still depend on conditioning to bear any fruit. The absolute truth be empty.

    In my mind (and granted I have a hard time putting it into words) this explains how something like volition can come into being through conditions from the unconditioned to condition the conditioned.

    The emptiness of emptiness.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Why do you think that would be? If our ability is illusion then what purpose does that illusion serve exactly?

    It doesn't have to serve a purpose, although in the context of evolution, I suppose you could say that the 'purpose' would be increased survival/propagation of genes in a social species. That said, I think it simply reflects the way things appear to work.

    Conditionality, including things like evolution, is simply how this universe appears to operate. There need not be a purpose to it any more than there need be a creator. There may be both, mind you, but I think questions of purpose are ultimately irrelevant to this line of questioning. What's relevant as far as I can see regarding the process of conditionality are two primary questions, 1) whether our ideas about the way conditionality operates are logically consistent, and 2) do those ideas accord with observation.

    In this case, I think that causal determinism not only explains how these processes operate and is logically consistent, but it also accords with what scientists have observed thus far (I give a few examples from Stephen Hawking and Sam Harris in the thread I linked to earlier).

    It isn't. There is a Middle way here. The conditioned conditions. There is no way around that.
    The porch still gets wet even if the rain is conditioned.
    Volition is still a catalyst even though it is conditioned. There is probably an infinite ways volition can develope to unfold.

    Well, we agree conditions condition. And volition is (or at least appears to be) just as conditioned of a phenomenon as everything else. Just because feel as if we're in control of our decisions or think it makes sense within the context of our worldview doesn't mean those choices you and I think we're making aren't causally determined. The brain calculates and makes choices based upon the inputs it has, and while the choice we ultimately arrive at is likely based on a multitude of inputs, it still appears to be conditioned by those inputs and the biological and kammic data and machinery we have in the form of the aggregates and sense bases.

    It's like the experiments that have been done in which certain decisions can be predicted seconds before they've consciously been made. It suggests that, at least with certain actions, our brain decides between two options well before we've consciously made the choice. I think this is strong evidence that, while we feel as if we have control, that control is an illusion, that our choices are conditioned (and by conditioned I mean causally determined). Volition may be like a mental motor of sorts (and a complex one at that), but not one free from the general principle of causality that all conditioned things are subject to.

    personDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    Sorry @Jason, you have me on a tangent here.

    I'll try.

    As far as I understand (and obviously my understanding could be off base) the unborn is pure potential. That which has yet to be conditioned to fruition and perhaps (again, please note the italics) that which has passed.

    So the unborn or unconditioned would still depend on conditioning to bear any fruit. The absolute truth be empty.

    In my mind (and granted I have a hard time putting it into words) this explains how something like volition can come into being through conditions from the unconditioned to condition the conditioned.

    The emptiness of emptiness.

    I like how this sounds, but I also admit that I don't full understand it and am not sure it accords with things as they truly are.

    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    Why do you think that would be? If our ability is illusion then what purpose does that illusion serve exactly?

    It doesn't have to serve a purpose. It simply reflects the way things appear to work. Conditionality, including things like evolution, is simply how this universe appears to operate. There need not be a purpose to it any more than there need be a creator. There may be both, mind you, but I think questions of purpose are ultimately irrelevant to this line of questioning.

    Purpose in this sense would just be the cause. What would cause us to develop the illusion of volition? There may not be a purpose as in a key to a plan but there must be a cause if it is indeed the way. I can't think of a rational one.

    What's relevant as far as I can see regarding the process of conditionality are two primary questions, 1) whether our ideas about the way conditionality operates are logically consistent, and 2) do those ideas accord with observation.

    In this case, causal determinism explains how these processes operate and is logically consistent, and it accords with what scientists have observed thus far (I give a few examples from Stephen Hawking and Sam Harris in the thread I linked to earlier).

    It isn't. There is a Middle way here. The conditioned conditions. There is no way around that.
    The porch still gets wet even if the rain is conditioned.
    Volition is still a catalyst even though it is conditioned. There is probably an infinite ways volition can develope to unfold.

    Well, we agree conditions condition. And volition is (or at least appears to be) just as conditioned of a phenomenon as everything else. Just because feel as if we're in control of our decisions or think it makes sense within the context of our worldview doesn't mean those choices you and I think we're making aren't causally determined. The brain calculates and makes choices based upon the inputs it has, and while the choice we ultimately arrive at is likely based on a multitude of inputs, it still appears to be conditioned by those inputs and the biological and kammic data and machinery we have in the form of the aggregates and sense bases.

    It's like the experiments that have been done in which certain decisions can be predicted seconds before they've consciously been made. It suggests that, at least with certain actions, our brain decides between two options well before we've consciously made the choice. I think this is strong evidence that, while we feel as if we have control, that control is an illusion, that our choices are conditioned (and by conditioned I mean causally determined). Volition may be like a mental motor of sorts (and a complex one at that), but not one free from the general principle of causality that all conditioned things are subject to.

    Well, todays volition is also conditioned by yesterdays volition as well as todays intent. The more decisions we make, the more our past decisions condition our current ones.

    You could be right but to me, something there is amiss.

    Gradually, we hone our ability through intent and even though intent and volition are both empty it makes sense that like evolution, small changes lead to big change. Bit by bit, we develop skillful means.

    Otherwise (as far as I can reason) not only the 5th remembrance but the 4th NT and 8FP make no sense.

    Btw, thanks for the respectful conversation. Usually by now I'm called names lol.

    person
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Purpose in this sense would just be the cause. What would cause us to develop the illusion of volition? There may not be a purpose as in a key to a plan but there must be a cause if it is indeed the way. I can't think of a rational one.

    The cause could simply be the shear complexity of conditonality. We think and feel one way, that we make choices, that we have a 'self,' etc., but the reality could be that neither is 100% correct. The more we try to pinpoint a self, the more we see inconstancy, conditionality, etc. That sense of self we feel so strongly, when we peel back the layers and look closely, is like heartwood of a banana tree, empty, void, without substance. So, too, it seems with free will, choice, control, etc.

    Well, todays volition is also conditioned by yesterdays volition as well as todays intent. The more decisions we make, the more our past decisions condition our current ones.

    You could be right but to me, something there is amiss.

    Gradually, we hone our ability through intent and even though intent and volition are both empty it makes sense that like evolution, small changes lead to big change. Bit by bit, we develop skillful means.

    Otherwise the 4th NT is nonsense.

    I agree with the first statement. The rest, however, not so much.

    For one, intention = volition (both are translations of cetana), so we're really only talking about one thing here.

    Another thing is, you seem to consistently been adopting the causal deterministic POV in saying things like "small changes lead to big change" and "bit by bit, we develop skillful means" yet denying the full implications of such. Yes, causal conditions build upon themselves. That's how causality works and what makes it so complex, and what possibly makes our decisions appear to be random, spontaneous, etc. Which makes me wonder, what about causal determinism do you actually disagree with other than the appearance of control we have?

    Finally, causal determinism doesn't make the noble eightfold path nonsense. Its development is causal too, is it not? One practices it by learning about it first. And the more one learns and comes back to it, the more one is able to be mindful about their actions and their results. And this in turn develops into progress. Evolution works in the same way. Things evolve by degrees, through causes and conditions.

    There may be some spark somewhere that adds the thing you're pointing to, some choice, some freedom, some spontaneity, or what have you, the thing you feel is amiss in my understanding, but I don't know what that things is or how it operates in the context of conditionality.

    I guess what I'm asking here is, can the conditioned do the unexpected?

    personDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    Btw, thanks for the respectful conversation. Usually by now I'm called names lol.

    Same. I'm really enjoying our conversation. It's really making me think hard about this and what I feel is true vs. what I intellectually think is true. This whole topic is incredibly challenging for me.

    David
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    To me the whole debate seems a lot like the Two Truths doctrine. That there is an ultimate truth (conditionality) where cause and effect lose distinction and a conventional truth (choice) where cause and effect still meaningfully function in important though in ultimately illusional ways.

    An analogy that has made sense to me, though I don't know for sure if it holds up to Buddhist teachings, is that of the effect a mirror has on our actions. Us standing in front of a mirror and the degree to which the mirror is clear are part of the conditioned, the mirror is the unconditioned aspect of mind, it simply is. The mirror doesn't touch the conditioned and isn't effected by it in return, but the awareness that comes about via the addition of an unconditioned component into the conditioned process changes outcomes in an important way (seeing yourself in a mirror changes how you behave) that can make a small break into the chain.

    ShoshinJasonDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Otherwise (as far as I can reason) not only the 5th remembrance but the 4th NT and 8FP make no sense.

    I don't necessarily think so. For example, being pointing towards these five subjects for contemplation, we start to observe them and eventually see, upon frequent reflection, that all beings are subject to illness, aging, death, and the loss of what's dear and appealing, and that certain actions produce certain results, which can eventually lead to/condition more skillful actions (the practice) and the realization the things we cling to/are intoxicated with are ultimately beyond our control, which in turn can condition dispassion and release.

    I see this all as a conditional process, e.g., AN 11.1, where purpose = cause and effect. The Buddha himself seems to say as much when he says in AN 5.57, "When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth." One thing conditions the other.

    I'm also reminded here of SN 22.59, where the Buddha says of mental formation (sankhara), "Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to affliction and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'"

    We can't even say 'let this mental formation (volition) be thus or not be thus,' because if we could, it'd be self.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @person said:
    To me the whole debate seems a lot like the Two Truths doctrine. That there is an ultimate truth (conditionality) where cause and effect lose distinction and a conventional truth (choice) where cause and effect still meaningfully function in important though in ultimately illusional ways.

    An analogy that has made sense to me, though I don't know for sure if it holds up to Buddhist teachings, is that of the effect a mirror has on our actions. Us standing in front of a mirror and the degree to which the mirror is clear are part of the conditioned, the mirror is the unconditioned aspect of mind, it simply is. The mirror doesn't touch the conditioned and isn't effected by it in return, but the awareness that comes about via the addition of an unconditioned component into the conditioned process changes outcomes in an important way that can make a small break into the chain.

    Yes, I think this is close to what I think and am saying. Conventionally, it appears like our choices are in some way free, random, spontaneous, something we have control over and can say 'let it be thus, let is not be thus.' But ultimately, things are causally determined, empty of self and of control. And as for primordial awareness, it just is, reflecting the causal interplay, but not really of it or touched by it.

    personDavid
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    To me the whole debate seems a lot like the Two Truths doctrine. That there is an ultimate truth (conditionality) where cause and effect lose distinction and a conventional truth (choice) where cause and effect still meaningfully function in important though in ultimately illusional ways.

    An analogy that has made sense to me, though I don't know for sure if it holds up to Buddhist teachings, is that of the effect a mirror has on our actions. Us standing in front of a mirror and the degree to which the mirror is clear are part of the conditioned, the mirror is the unconditioned aspect of mind, it simply is. The mirror doesn't touch the conditioned and isn't effected by it in return, but the awareness that comes about via the addition of an unconditioned component into the conditioned process changes outcomes in an important way that can make a small break into the chain.

    Yes, I think this is close to what I think and am saying. Conventionally, it appears like our choices are in some way free, random, spontaneous, something we have control over and can say 'let it be thus, let is not be thus.' But ultimately, things are causally determined, empty of self and of control.

    Agreed, and I would say as all of us are living in the world as it seems, it matters that we act as if we have real choice and consider people morally accountable for their actions. Even while at the same time we can each try to understand the ultimate nature of conditionality and so be more understanding and forgiving of peoples actions and attitudes.

    And as for primordial awareness, it just is, reflecting the causal interplay, but not really of it or touched by it.

    Not to make you my sutta search engine but I'm primarily familiar with the Tibetan version of primordial awareness, do you know of sutta passages that talk specifically of it's nature? If you don't readily know or its a lot of work that's fine, I can try to find something sometime.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:

    @person said:
    To me the whole debate seems a lot like the Two Truths doctrine. That there is an ultimate truth (conditionality) where cause and effect lose distinction and a conventional truth (choice) where cause and effect still meaningfully function in important though in ultimately illusional ways.

    An analogy that has made sense to me, though I don't know for sure if it holds up to Buddhist teachings, is that of the effect a mirror has on our actions. Us standing in front of a mirror and the degree to which the mirror is clear are part of the conditioned, the mirror is the unconditioned aspect of mind, it simply is. The mirror doesn't touch the conditioned and isn't effected by it in return, but the awareness that comes about via the addition of an unconditioned component into the conditioned process changes outcomes in an important way that can make a small break into the chain.

    Yes, I think this is close to what I think and am saying. Conventionally, it appears like our choices are in some way free, random, spontaneous, something we have control over and can say 'let it be thus, let is not be thus.' But ultimately, things are causally determined, empty of self and of control.

    Agreed, and I would say as all of us are living in the world as it seems, it matters that we act as if we have real choice and consider people morally accountable for their actions. Even while at the same time we can each try to understand the ultimate nature of conditionality and so be more understanding and forgiving of peoples actions and attitudes.

    And as for primordial awareness, it just is, reflecting the causal interplay, but not really of it or touched by it.

    Not to make you my sutta search engine but I'm primarily familiar with the Tibetan version of primordial awareness, do you know of sutta passages that talk specifically of it's nature? If you don't readily know or its a lot of work that's fine, I can try to find something sometime.

    Not exactly. It's more something implied in the Pali Canon. The closet I know of right off hand is where the Buddha talks about the 'luminous mind' (AN 1.49-52), and where he speaks of "consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around" (DN 11 and MN 49).

    Davidperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    Purpose in this sense would just be the cause. What would cause us to develop the illusion of volition? There may not be a purpose as in a key to a plan but there must be a cause if it is indeed the way. I can't think of a rational one.

    The cause could simply be the shear complexity of conditonality. We think and feel one way, that we make choices, that we have a 'self,' etc., but the reality could be that neither is 100% correct. The more we try to pinpoint a self, the more we see inconstancy, conditionality, etc. That sense of self we feel so strongly, when we peel back the layers and look closely, is like heartwood of a banana tree, empty, void, without substance. So, too, it seems with free will, choice, control, etc.

    That doesn't explain why we would develop the illusion of choice. It explains interconnectivity, the nature of conditioning and the illusion of separation. That's kind of a big difference. To be empty of self is to be full of potential.

    Well, todays volition is also conditioned by yesterdays volition as well as todays intent. The more decisions we make, the more our past decisions condition our current ones.

    You could be right but to me, something there is amiss.

    Gradually, we hone our ability through intent and even though intent and volition are both empty it makes sense that like evolution, small changes lead to big change. Bit by bit, we develop skillful means.

    Otherwise the 4th NT is nonsense.

    I agree with the first statement. The rest, however, not so much.

    For one, intention = volition (both are translations of cetana), so we're really only talking about one thing here.

    That's why I wish Buddha spoke English, lol. They don't mean exactly the same thing. Intention is the desire but volition (noun) is the ability. With enough intent, the ability could arise and to greater degrees. Together, they make volition the verb but to do so they must work together by intent conditioning ability and ability conditioning intent.

    Another thing is, you seem to consistently been adopting the causal deterministic POV in saying things like "small changes lead to big change" and "bit by bit, we develop skillful means" yet denying the full implications of such. Yes, causal conditions build upon themselves. That's how causality works and what makes it so complex, and what possibly makes our decisions appear to be random, spontaneous, etc. Which makes me wonder, what about causal determinism do you actually disagree with other than the appearance of control we have?

    I don't know enough about causal determination to say. All I know is what the label implies which seems to be just the logistics of causality. To me, causal determination doesn't imply a lack of control at all. It seems to imply a gradual growth towards a greater degree of control.

    So as far as I know, I am not disagreeing with it exactly. What I disagree with is what it implies and how.

    What I would disagree with is absolute causal pre determination.

    Finally, causal determinism doesn't make the noble eightfold path nonsense. Its development is causal too, is it not? One practices it by learning about it first. And the more one learns and comes back to it, the more one is able to be mindful about their actions and their results. And this in turn develops into progress. Evolution works in the same way. Things evolve by degrees, through causes and conditions.

    But what is the point? We will either develop skillful means or not so due diligence is not necessary. Sufferings cessation will come about whether we adhere to the dharma or not. Nothing we do can prevent it or bring it about. Otherwise a real choice needs to be made.

    There may be some spark somewhere that adds the thing you're pointing to, some choice, some freedom, some spontaneity, or what have you, the thing you feel is amiss in my understanding, but I don't know what that things is or how it operates in the context of conditionality.

    I guess what I'm asking here is, can the conditioned do the unexpected?

    Which expectations are we implying the conditioned is limited to?

    Intention does condition volition.

    The conditioned isn't doing the unexpected if doing the unpredictable is what it is conditioned to do.

    It's hard for me too. In fact that was excruciating. I'm going to have to nurse my head for a few hours at least. Chronic migraines and constant tinnitus is a bad mix.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    My head hurts following this conversation, but I'm really enjoying it ????

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    But what is the point? We will either develop skillful means or not so due diligence is not necessary. Sufferings cessation will come about whether we adhere to the dharma or not. Nothing we do can prevent it or bring it about. Otherwise a real choice needs to be made.

    Things in life don't need a point. There doesn't need to be meaning to why things are the way they are. And you're misunderstanding causal determinism. It doesn't say x can't come about, so there's no point. It says x comes about due to certain causes and conditions. When this is, that is. So suffering has it's causes and conditions, as does its cessation. These teachings act as a cause, as does the effort we put forward. But that intent is conditioned. That effort is conditioned. Some people are exposed to the Dhamma yet still don't practice because their choices are conditioned so. Same with those who choose to practice. Or those who practice, but not very seriously. But the choices we ultimately think we're making aren't 'our' choices. There is no 'us,' and we can't say of any of these aggregates 'let it be thus, let it not be thus.' They are conditionally arisen, as with all conditional things.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    Things in life do need a cause. That is the point.

    So far I have not heard a possible cause for an illusion of control to come about that doesn't require a leap of reason.

    It is reasonable to imply volition comes about gradually as a result of conditions but not the illusion of it.

    I think we may be at a stale mate as I've heard this argument many times presented in many ways and it has yet to make sense to me.

    It seems to rely too much on conjecture and not so much on the possible logistics. Too many holes make for lack of a usable bridge between the 2 Truths.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Things in life do need a cause. That is the point.

    Exactly, even our choices. It seems to me that when you say point and mean cause, you're also unintentionally implying meaning. Like, 'If things are causally determined, what's the point of anything? What's the point of compassion? The Dhamma? It's all meaningless without control.' But things are just they way the are.

    Frogs have a cause, through long periods of evolution, much of which was simply fortuitous accidents and mutations that allowed certain species to grow and thrive so their descendants became the frongs we now see. There's no point or meaning beyond that. They didn't decide to be frogs. They are because of that process. They eat bugs because of that process. They're green because of that process. The point is the process, survival, the propagation of genes, natural selection, etc. The same for us. And that includes all the mental components we possess.

    I'm not denying cause so much as I think you're denying the full implications of causality. You say, "To be empty of self is to be full of potential." I love the sentiment. Honestly, I do. But I'm also forced to see it another way. To be empty of self is to be without control. Again, SN 22.59:

    Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to affliction and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'

    Conditionality doesn't really allow for choice in the sense of free will as far as I can see, but it does alow for growth and the ability to build upon the past and our experiences.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    One of the definitions of nihilism is that life has no meaning.

    Meaning or purpose may be made rather than absolute but without it I doubt this would work and it's not a Buddhism I know or would subscribe to.

    lobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    One of the definitions of nihilism is that life has no meaning.

    That's not a Buddhism I know. The Buddhism I know is engaging.

    Ok, I'll bite. What's the meaning of life? What is its purpose? And does that mean by extension that things like pain, aging, illness, and death have a deeper meaning in that purpose? If so, doesn't that seem a bit like an evil purpose?

    I find Buddhism engaging as well. However, what I find it to be saying is, 'Because conditionality exists, we can condition more skillful actions and even an end to suffering.' That doesn't mean I'm 'free' in this process to make decisions and have control over thing in an ultimate way. For one, there is no 'me' to decide. There are the workings of causes and conditions deciding x a d not y. There is the illusion of control in that process due to the way consciousness interacts with the six sense bases, giving rise to a feeling of 'me' and 'mine' in relation to my experience of pleasure and pain. But the 'I,' like my feeling of control, is ultimately an illusion. When you peel back the layers, there's nothing there.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    Things in life do need a cause. That is the point.

    Exactly, even our choices. It seems to me that when you say point and mean cause, you're also unintentionally implying meaning. Like, 'If things are causally determined, what's the point of anything? What's the point of compassion? The Dhamma? It's all meaningless without control.' But things are just they way the are.

    Frogs have a cause, through long periods of evolution, much of which was simply fortuitous accidents and mutations that allowed certain species to grow and thrive so their descendants became the frongs we now see. There's no point or meaning beyond that. They didn't decide to be frogs. They are because of that process. They eat bugs because of that process. They're green because of that process. The point is the process, survival, the propagation of genes, natural selection, etc. The same for us. And that includes all the mental components we possess.

    I'm not denying cause so much as I think you're denying the full implications of causality. You say, "To be empty of self is to be full of potential." I love the sentiment. Honestly, I do. But I'm also forced to see it another way. To be empty of self is to be without control. Again, SN 22.59:

    Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to affliction and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'

    Conditionality doesn't really allow for choice in the sense of free will as far as I can see, but it does alow for growth and the ability to build upon the past and our experiences.

    See, I don't like saying this but I don't think you're digesting that quite right if you think it implies a lack of control. Rather it is conditioning us for greater means of control.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    One of the definitions of nihilism is that life has no meaning.

    That's not a Buddhism I know. The Buddhism I know is engaging.

    Ok, I'll bite. What's the meaning of life? What is its purpose? And does that mean by extension that things like pain, aging, illness, and death have a deeper meaning in that purpose? If so, doesn't that seem a bit like an evil purpose?

    Good and evil are judgements. It is just the way it is. We give it meaning but we have not always been here.

    There is no real opposition as separation is illusion. The only real opposite to good is no-good but there is good.

    What makes it good is simply that it works.

    We create evil when we try to pidgeon hole good but it's just clouds obscuring the sky.

    Self awareness is the ability to distinguish between the self and the environment and it makes sense to me that eventually we see how that distinction is just the illusion of sesration or duality which is a tool if we can develop skillful means.

    It's why Buddha got up from his tree. If he saw no meaning then he made meaning.

    He could have started walking in any number of directions after standing up but he went back to Sidharthas friends and family.

    Why?

    I find Buddhism engaging as well. However, what I find it to be saying is, 'Because conditionality exists, we can condition more skillful actions and even an end to suffering.' That doesn't mean I'm 'free' in this process to make decisions and have control over thing in an ultimate way.

    Of course not. We are limited to what we have to work with. If I want to fly, I can't simply grow wings. I have to condition my ability to understand the world and make an extension of myself in the form of a plane or something.

    That is conditional will.

    For one, there is no 'me' to decide. There are the workings of causes and conditions deciding x a d not y. There is the illusion of control in that process due to the way consciousness interacts with the six sense bases, giving rise to a feeling of 'me' and 'mine' in relation to my experience of pleasure and pain. But the 'I,' like my feeling of control, is ultimately an illusion. When you peel back the layers, there's nothing there.

    This is a non-argument. What are you using to peel back the layers? You are describing a microscope trying to find itself under it's own lens. Of course you'll get confounded.

    Because you are conditional, temporary and not absolute doesn't mean you don't exist it means you don't exist except in relation to everything else.

    That is conditionality.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    Things in life do need a cause. That is the point.

    Exactly, even our choices. It seems to me that when you say point and mean cause, you're also unintentionally implying meaning. Like, 'If things are causally determined, what's the point of anything? What's the point of compassion? The Dhamma? It's all meaningless without control.' But things are just they way the are.

    Frogs have a cause, through long periods of evolution, much of which was simply fortuitous accidents and mutations that allowed certain species to grow and thrive so their descendants became the frongs we now see. There's no point or meaning beyond that. They didn't decide to be frogs. They are because of that process. They eat bugs because of that process. They're green because of that process. The point is the process, survival, the propagation of genes, natural selection, etc. The same for us. And that includes all the mental components we possess.

    I'm not denying cause so much as I think you're denying the full implications of causality. You say, "To be empty of self is to be full of potential." I love the sentiment. Honestly, I do. But I'm also forced to see it another way. To be empty of self is to be without control. Again, SN 22.59:

    Mental formations, O monks, are not-self; if mental formations were self, then mental formations would not lead to affliction and it should obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my perception be thus, may my mental formations not be thus'; and indeed, O monks, since mental formations are not-self, therefore, mental formations lead to affliction and it does not obtain regarding mental formations: 'May my mental formations be thus, may my mental formations not be thus.'

    Conditionality doesn't really allow for choice in the sense of free will as far as I can see, but it does alow for growth and the ability to build upon the past and our experiences.

    See, I don't like saying this but I don't think you're digesting that quite right if you think it implies a lack of control. Rather it is conditioning us for greater means of control.

    It's fine to say whatever you want. And you may be right, I may not be digesting these ideas quite right. I will say that I think people in general are unable to normally see how our ideas about control are false, or at least illusory, because we're so locked into our first person perspective. But materially, through science, and internally, through meditation, we can step outside of that space as it were and see things more clearly. And we do, we'll see how things arise and cease, developing insight into conditionality that in turn gives rise to dispassion and release. Dependent co-arising (i.e., conditionality) works in both directions.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    I can understand the view just fine.

    That's the problem.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @David said:
    It's why Buddha got up from his tree. If he saw no meaning then he made meaning.
    He could have started walking in any number of directions after standing up but he went back to Sidharthas friends and family.

    I think he did so knowing he could act as a positive condition in the world, a decision conditioned by his boundless compassion.

    This is a non-argument. What are you using to peel back the layers? You are describing a microscope trying to find itself under it's own lens.
    Because you are conditional, temporary and not absolute doesn't mean you don't exist it means you don't exist except in relation to everything else.

    How is it a non-argument?

    As for what I'm using to peel back the layers, I'm using scientific insights, the Buddha's teachings on causality and selflessness, and meditation.

    I never said anything about the existence or nonexistence of the aggregates or sense bases or what have you. But in terms of a self that I can point to and say 'me' or 'mine,' I have yet to find one. It's existence, I think, is an illusion, as is our feeling of control in the sense of free will.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason

    See, right now I see somebody using a tool to prove said tool has no purpose.

    Its baffling and fascinating at the same time.

    Individuality is an illusory tool. That doesn't mean it is according to any plan, just conditions.

    The temporal self is found in our actions if the 5th remembrance can be trusted. They are our only true possessions.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:
    I guess what I'm asking here is, can the conditioned do the unexpected?

    I have to head out at this point so haven't gone further in the thread, but this argument may be relevant on the way foreknowledge conditions events and the wrench the frustrator throws into the works. Plus the comment thread is helpful, philosophy channel YouTube threads are usually not so toxic.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    @Jason

    See, right now I see somebody using a tool to prove said tool has no purpose.

    Its baffling and fascinating at the same time.

    Individuality is an illusory tool. That doesn't mean it is according to any plan, just conditions.

    The temporal self is found in our actions if the 5th remembrance can be trusted. They are our only true possessions.

    Personally, I think I've been fairly consistent in saying that selfness is illusory, just conditions. That's the key point, I think, and we seem to agree at least this far. One thing I wish you'd address, though, is the scientific POV I brought up, as well as the implications of the sutta passages I've referenced above.

    One reason is that, when you say you "see somebody using a tool to prove said tool has no purpose," I'm assuming you're referring to volition. Volition is a tool/process that has its own purpose, to initiate actions. But it's like a cog in the machine of conditionality, it's purpose is its function, both of which are products of a conditional process and not under someone's control. There's no one using this tool from the POV of causal determinism, rather something conditions it, and it in turn conditions something else. The Buddha himself says that intention is kamma, and that contact is the cause by which kamma comes into play. All of this leads me to conclude that there's no doer in the ultimate sense, no decision maker behind the scenes to exert control. These process are conditional and play themselves out.

    So when you say, for example, that kamma is our only true possession, I'd counter with who exactly is it that is the possessor? In the conventional sense, we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. But from the ultimate POV, is there a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no. And this brings to mind the famous (and somewhat controversial) passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
    Doing exists although there is no door.
    Extinction is but no extinguished person;
    Although there is a path, there is no goer.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    What's funny is, about 10-15 years ago, I used to argue vehemently against that passage. And now, here I am using it to argue for what I once argued against. :lol:

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @David said:
    I can understand the view just fine.

    That's the problem.

    Sorry @Jason. I didn't think I posted that. It was strictly my headache speaking.

    I'm going to go over the last few posts and watch @person video when I get some relief.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited January 2019

    @David said:
    Things in life do need a cause. That is the point.

    So far I have not heard a possible cause for an illusion of control to come about that doesn't require a leap of reason.

    Coming back to this for a moment, one possible cause is evolutionary, and may be an accident of sorts caused by the hierarchy of consciousness corresponding with increased brain complexity, conditioned by mutations and natural selection. This process leads to animals with the side-effect of self-awareness, a conscious perspective that gives us the illusions of both self and control. As Sam Harris puts it:

    Free will is certainly a major component of the self illusion, but it is not synonymous. Both are illusions, but the self illusion extends beyond the issues of choice and culpability to other realms of human experience. ... To me, the problem of free will is a logical impasse – we cannot choose the factors that ultimately influence what we do and think. That does not mean that we throw away the social, moral, and legal rulebooks, but we need to be vigilant about the way our attitudes about individuals will be challenged as we come to understand the factors (both material and psychological) that control our behaviors when it comes to attributing praise and blame.

    As regards a point vs. pointlessness, he says:

    For me, an illusion [of self] is a subjective experience that is not what it seems. Illusions are experiences in the mind, but they are not out there in nature. Rather, they are events generated by the brain. Most of us have an experience of a self. I certainly have one, and I do not doubt that others do as well – an autonomous individual with a coherent identity and sense of free will. But that experience is an illusion – it does not exist independently of the person having the experience, and it is certainly not what it seems. That’s not to say that the illusion is pointless. Experiencing a self illusion may have tangible functional benefits in the way we think and act, but that does not mean that it exists as an entity.

    And I'd say the same applies to the illusion of choice and a chooser, which may have tangible functional benefits in the way we think and act, but that doesn't mean that it exists as a reality. Think about it this way. I could ask, what's the point of self-identity view if it gives rise to so much suffering? I mean, most of the path is about confronting this illusion in order to dispel its power. But the Buddha doesn't worry so much about the why, the point or meaning of it, he simply looked into what was its immediate cause and what was the cause to 'wake up' from it. What's important is that it is, and whether that's due to some evolutionary benefit that also has some psychological downsides or something else doesn't matter much or change the fact that seeing through self view is beneficial.

    The same, I believe, applies to a belief in control and a controller. Seeing through the illusion doesn't mean we have to entirely throw away the concept and how we live, just as we can see through self view and still come out on the other side as functioning people who still live and breathe and act out of compassion. The Buddha still had a name and personality even after penetrating conditionality and not-self.

    David
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    Thanks for the video @person. It's interesting, but I think the commentors did a good job of explaining why the thought experiment is a bit of sleight of hand.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:
    So when you say, for example, that kamma is our only true possession, I'd counter with who exactly is it that is the possessor? In the conventional sense, we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. But from the ultimate POV, is there a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no. And this brings to mind the famous (and somewhat controversial) passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    From my compatibalist point of view you are spot on on the determinism arguments. For me though I think no self being in any of the aggregates doesn't negate the conventional, contextual, interdependent, relative, functional self. And that self has an important role in giving life meaning and purpose. So it's true to say that ultimately there is no chooser who chooses, but conventionally all of those conditioned factors add up to something that makes "choices" even if it doesn't all occur within conscious awareness. I'm pretty sure you would agree with much of that, I guess I'm putting a greater degree of importance on it.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @person said:

    @Jason said:
    So when you say, for example, that kamma is our only true possession, I'd counter with who exactly is it that is the possessor? In the conventional sense, we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc. But from the ultimate POV, is there a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no. And this brings to mind the famous (and somewhat controversial) passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    From my compatibalist point of view you are spot on on the determinism arguments. For me though I think no self being in any of the aggregates doesn't negate the conventional, contextual, interdependent, relative, functional self. And that self has an important role in giving life meaning and purpose. So it's true to say that ultimately there is no chooser who chooses, but conventionally all of those conditioned factors add up to something that makes "choices" even if it doesn't all occur within conscious awareness. I'm pretty sure you would agree with much of that, I guess I'm putting a greater degree of importance on it.

    I don't disagree with you. I think that's similar to what I'm trying to say above.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:
    Thanks for the video @person. It's interesting, but I think the commentors did a good job of explaining why the thought experiment is a bit of sleight of hand.

    Yes, I read through them and my counter thought was that they were countering the specific example of the light bulb machine rather than take it as an analogy and apply it to human conscious foreknowledge and that there is a subtle difference in the way the two function. I mean I don't know if we can really become aware of what is happening in our mind and not signal it to make a future prediction. I guess someone could be very non self aware, but I would say the extent that one lacks self awareness effects the brightness of the signal bulb and at some level of dimness it no longer can make an impact on our future planning mind to generate foreknowledge.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jason said:
    Frogs have a cause, through long periods of evolution, much of which was simply fortuitous accidents and mutations that allowed certain species to grow and thrive so their descendants became the frongs we now see.

    Plus, reading through the past thread, I have to challenge you on this one. Sneaking in an n into frogs doesn't mean random mutation actually happens, I'm calling logical fallacy on that one. ?

    JasonDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @person said:

    @Jason said:
    Frogs have a cause, through long periods of evolution, much of which was simply fortuitous accidents and mutations that allowed certain species to grow and thrive so their descendants became the frongs we now see.

    Plus, reading through the past thread, I have to challenge you on this one. Sneaking in an n into frogs doesn't mean random mutation actually happens, I'm calling logical fallacy on that one. ?

    Hamberder

    Davidperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    @Jason

    See, right now I see somebody using a tool to prove said tool has no purpose.

    Its baffling and fascinating at the same time.

    Individuality is an illusory tool. That doesn't mean it is according to any plan, just conditions.

    The temporal self is found in our actions if the 5th remembrance can be trusted. They are our only true possessions.

    Personally, I think I've been fairly consistent in saying that selfness is illusory, just conditions. That's the key point, I think, and we seem to agree at least this far. One thing I wish you'd address, though, is the scientific POV I brought up, as well as the implications of the sutta passages I've referenced above.

    I'm not sure of course but by my thinking, the experiment could also show that we make choices before we are aware of it. That wouldn't say volition is illusion but that the brain works faster than our perceptions.

    Now if a bus was coming at me and I didn't see it until the last second, could an accurate prediction show which direction I'd jump if there was nothing else around?

    One reason is that, when you say you "see somebody using a tool to prove said tool has no purpose," I'm assuming you're referring to volition. Volition is a tool/process that has its own purpose, to initiate actions. But it's like a cog in the machine of conditionality, it's purpose is its function, both of which are products of a conditional process and not under someone's control. There's no one using this tool from the POV of causal determinism, rather something conditions it, and it in turn conditions something else.

    I was implying that the conventional self -once seen as illusory- can be a tool that uses itself instead of being tossed aside.

    Personally it makes sense that we are tools of exploration but that's just a competing notion in a list of possibilities

    The Buddha himself says that intention is kamma, and that contact is the cause by which kamma comes into play. All of this leads me to conclude that there's no doer in the ultimate sense, no decision maker behind the scenes to exert control. These process are conditional and play themselves out.

    We are in agreement here except I put more stock in the ability of the illusion. There is no doer in the ultimate sense but there is in the conventional sense. I think what we take as a doer is a process and so there would only be doing but a personalised doing. It's all just bits of information being shared in a progressive way.

    So when you say, for example, that kamma is our only true possession, I'd counter with who exactly is it that is the possessor? In the conventional sense, we can say it's our temporal selves, this person with such and such name, etc.

    That's ok. It doesn't have to be more than that to make it all mean something. It's odd because in my way of thinking, the temporal nature of it all gives greater meaning, not less. Emptiness is what lets a seed grow into a tree. Because of emptiness, I am able to enjoy a sunset. Without emptiness, only then would nothing be possible.

    But from the ultimate POV, is there a possessor, a doer, a chooser? I think conditionality forces us to say no. And this brings to mind the famous (and somewhat controversial) passage from the Visuddhimagga:

    For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
    Doing exists although there is no door.
    Extinction is but no extinguished person;
    Although there is a path, there is no goer.

    Yes but this is the extreme view of the absolute. The Middle Way is ĺiving in the conditional world while knowing the absolute. The conditional world seems to serve a purpose and I still think it makes sense that intent conditions volition to sometimes be unpredictable.

    So now on to the suttas.

    I am always the odd one out it seems but the foam analogy always screws with me. Buddha says that someone looking at a glob of foam would see it as empty, void, without substance. What I see is a temporary glob with no true shape filled with tiny bubbles that arise and fall.

    The water bubble that forms on the river and pops? It' simply a function of water.

    Sure, these things are empty but so is everything. If it weren't for emptiness, I would never have experienced joy. Yes, I have to experience pain as well but it is worth it.

    It's a good thing he says to see for yourself.

    The Annata Lakkhana Sutta bothers me too for the same reason as well as makes me grateful and ashamed at the same time.

    It bothers me a bit because he implies that changing is bad. Changing hurts but it also takes away hurt. It makes me grateful because we live in a more prosperous time where there is hope for sickness and disease. It makes me feel shame because as a whole, we keep each other down in a time where we know better.

    I do agree with the rest. We own no things. Only our actions. (Upajjhatthana Sutta)

    What do you think of the Mangala Sutta?

  • I actually read about the idea of inserting DNA 'letters' into parts of the DNA of even humans that are non-coding anyhow. So put your personal message there and it will still be there centuries hence (if that person has progeny). Since it is placed in a non-coding part there is no evolutionary pressure on it one way or the other.

    It was in the book The Violinst's Thumb and I might have some of it misunderstood but it's a damned good read.

    Davidperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @person said:

    @Jason said:
    I guess what I'm asking here is, can the conditioned do the unexpected?

    I have to head out at this point so haven't gone further in the thread, but this argument may be relevant on the way foreknowledge conditions events and the wrench the frustrator throws into the works. Plus the comment thread is helpful, philosophy channel YouTube threads are usually not so toxic.

    That was interesting. The first problem I think can be solved with taking a frustrated as a given. That is, I think it's possible to have something conditioned to be unpredictable. Volition could be that very frustrator.

    The second problem is not a problem. If you know your prediction will be the opposite of the outcome, you've still predicted correctly.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited January 2019

    @Jason said:

    @David said:
    Things in life do need a cause. That is the point.

    So far I have not heard a possible cause for an illusion of control to come about that doesn't require a leap of reason.

    Coming back to this for a moment, one possible cause is evolutionary, and may be an accident of sorts caused by the hierarchy of consciousness corresponding with increased brain complexity, conditioned by mutations and natural selection. This process leads to animals with the side-effect of self-awareness, a conscious perspective that gives us the illusions of both self and control. As Sam Harris puts it:

    Free will is certainly a major component of the self illusion, but it is not synonymous. Both are illusions, but the self illusion extends beyond the issues of choice and culpability to other realms of human experience. ... To me, the problem of free will is a logical impasse – we cannot choose the factors that ultimately influence what we do and think. That does not mean that we throw away the social, moral, and legal rulebooks, but we need to be vigilant about the way our attitudes about individuals will be challenged as we come to understand the factors (both material and psychological) that control our behaviors when it comes to attributing praise and blame.

    As regards a point vs. pointlessness, he says:

    For me, an illusion [of self] is a subjective experience that is not what it seems. Illusions are experiences in the mind, but they are not out there in nature. Rather, they are events generated by the brain. Most of us have an experience of a self. I certainly have one, and I do not doubt that others do as well – an autonomous individual with a coherent identity and sense of free will. But that experience is an illusion – it does not exist independently of the person having the experience, and it is certainly not what it seems. That’s not to say that the illusion is pointless. Experiencing a self illusion may have tangible functional benefits in the way we think and act, but that does not mean that it exists as an entity.

    And I'd say the same applies to the illusion of choice and a chooser, which may have tangible functional benefits in the way we think and act, but that doesn't mean that it exists as a reality. Think about it this way. I could ask, what's the point of self-identity view if it gives rise to so much suffering? I mean, most of the path is about confronting this illusion in order to dispel its power. But the Buddha doesn't worry so much about the why, the point or meaning of it, he simply looked into what was its immediate cause and what was the cause to 'wake up' from it. What's important is that it is, and whether that's due to some evolutionary benefit that also has some psychological downsides or something else doesn't matter much or change the fact that seeing through self view is beneficial.

    The same, I believe, applies to a belief in control and a controller. Seeing through the illusion doesn't mean we have to entirely throw away the concept and how we live, just as we can see through self view and still come out on the other side as functioning people who still live and breathe and act out of compassion. The Buddha still had a name and personality even after penetrating conditionality and not-self.

    It's so weird how it seems like we are saying the same thing at times. The last paragraph is where I find the meaning but I don't think volition is an illusion for a lack of a controller and that's a big difference I guess.

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