Originally posted 05-09-07:
I was re-reading the Summer, 2006 issue of Tricycle the other day, and found myself annoyed, again, by an article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu called “Faith in Awakening.” What provoked me was this, “…we have to take it on faith that our actions are real, that we have free will, and yet that there’s a causal pattern to the workings of the mind from which we can learn…”
I agree that our actions have consequences and that there are causal patterns to the workings of the mind–and everything else–that we can learn from, but free will is an incoherent myth.
One thing the Buddha supposedly said (you can attach “supposedly” to anything I attribute to him,) was that everything arises from causes and conditions–pure science–I love it. He also said on his deathbed, “All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”
If he fully understood the bit about causes and conditions, then he knew that his final words were the product of all the prior conditions in his life, and he also knew that these final words of his would become part of the conditioning of untold future generations. His life, and his injunction, would be part of the causal chain that produced subsequent seekers of enlightenment, and their lives and words would provoke others, etc., etc. People like me read stories about these seekers, and something about their experiences resonates with our own, and because of that resonance, we find ourselves with the intention to explore and learn how our brains work, and how that working effects our perceptions of the world and ourselves–pure science; not free will.