Transforming Fate Determinism And Free Will In Buddhism

Spirituality Is there such a thing as free will? Is determinism right and free will a myth? If so, can our destiny change, thus transforming fate? What does the concept of karma in Buddhism say about determinism and free will? Surprisingly, the Buddhist answer to the question of determinism and free will is that, yes, our destiny is, to a large degree, pre-determined by karma. Buddhism therefore agrees with the fortune-tellers and scientists that circumstances present at birth controls our future behavior, and therefore our destiny. Fortune-tellers believe that our astrological birth sign influences our behavior, while science says it’s our genes. (Side-note: how interesting would it be if a study determined that our genes uniquely expressed themselves in a predictable manner in the palm, or that people born at certain times of the year had discernible gene differences!) Science believes that, in addition to genes, environmental circumstances, including culture, family and events, also influences behavior strongly. The consensus in psychology, especially, is that genes and environment serve as an explanation for and predictor of behavior. However, the trend in science is toward genes and organic causes as being the primary determinant of behavior. Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches that one’s karma determines one’s present and future life, including behavior and circumstances. This leads, naturally, to the question of determinism and free will, destiny change and whether transforming fate is possible. Science is firmly on the side of fatalism and determinism, and therefore leaves absolutely no room for free will. How could it? In science, the assumption, the belief, and, ironically, the FAITH, is that everything, including human behavior, is the result of causes and conditions, and thus pre-determined-which is, for the most part, what Buddhism also teaches. In science, the human being is nothing but a .plex .puter program, a highly sophisticated robot, the behavior of which, if sufficiently studied, can be predicted in its entirety. This is the only conclusion to be drawn from numerous scientific and psychological hypotheses. And we cannot expect science to explain something it does not believe. But free will DOES exist. (We will discuss how later) However, since science denies its existence, it is in no position to define it, and define it we must, to ensure understanding. The realm of free will belongs to religion. (Perhaps the conflict between religion and science could relax a bit if we simply allowed science to have the non-free will realm and religion to have the free will side?) The Buddha defined free will. Implicitly, he defined both the non-free will realm and the free will realm in terms of the Four Noble Truths. The first two Noble Truths taught by the Buddha are actually quite scientific: suffering is caused by craving, aversion and ignorance of how we treat non-self elements as a true, permanent self. Suffering, however, is more than this. The fact of the matter is that we are .pletely and controlled by craving, aversion and ignorance. In our present condition, we do not have free will, nor any semblance of freedom whatsoever. We really are a .plexly programmed robot. Free will loses, determinism wins. Are you shocked and annoyed right now, disagreeing? I hope you are, but more importantly, I hope you see this shock, I hope you are aware of it. It is that very awareness that is the catalyst for freedom, for destiny change. It is that awareness that leads us to freedom and brings us to the last two Noble Truths, where Buddhism splits from science. Before moving on, let’s be clear: free will is NOT the ability to do whatever one ‘wants’ to do whenever one wants to, as such acts are inevitably controlled by, and a cause and condition of, craving, aversion and ignorance. Free will, then, is defined as the ability to act independently of what one wants or craves, or of what one doesn’t want or crave. Determinism, the opposite of free will, can really be boiled down to acting in order to fulfill one’s cravings and aversions. It is determinism because the cravings determine one’s actions. Importantly, from a Buddhist perspective, one’s cravings are NOT the same as the person. I am not my cravings. They are not me. Yet, cravings control me. Science is actually great for studying phenomena up until the point of free will, at studying determinism. It also meshes quite well with Buddhist teachings insofar as science explains the causes of cravings and aversions as having genetic, organic or environmental bases. The only difference between science and Buddhism on this point is that in Buddhism the genetic, environmental and organic causes always run through craving, aversion and ignorance. Science, therefore, is the realm of causes and conditions, of, if you will, the slave condition. This makes perfect sense, of course. However, science .pletely fails when it .es to helping the slave escape-it doesn’t even recognize that possibility, as it doesn’t even recognize the enslavement. Religion is the realm of freedom. All of the sages and masters, the prophets, the messiahs-it is of this freedom, of escape from this slavery, that they speak. As for the Third and Fourth Noble Truths, this is where Buddhism moves beyond science. Science is, at this point in time, .pletely ignorant of any possibility beyond free will. (Perhaps that is because so few people have actually achieved the state of free will, and they usually aren’t willing to be studied.) The Buddhist teachings of the Third and Fourth Noble Truth teach that the end of suffering, the end of enslavement, and therefore free will, is possible by way of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is thus the cause and condition for freedom. As a cause and condition, therefore, science actually could study the Noble Eightfold Path. See the link below for Part 2 of this series. About the Author: 相关的主题文章: