Beyond Karma

Jonathan Bricklin brickmar at EARTHCOM.NET
Wed Mar 18 23:58:53 CST 1998

On Wed, 18 March 1998, Prashant Sharma wrote:

 >       Individuality (and the experience of it) is something more than
>what arises from a belief in free will.  It is knowledge itself. How do
>you explain the fact that two people react in very different ways in the
>same situation.

There are, of course, many ways to individuate something.  No two
snowflakes are alike, and
lots of electrons react in very different ways in the same situation.

 >You have to admit that they *are different beings* and
>this is not something related to their will but more to their

Yes.  Just as I would have to admit that a thousand pots refelect a
thousand points of light.  What I don't have to admit, unless I believe in
something analogous to free will, is that the light is not all coming from
one source.

>        Free will is really a matter of choice that is present (goes with
>the individual), rather
>than of "making something new".  It is not too difficult to take the view
>that nothing "new" is ever created (in the sense that the knowledge of it
>didnot exist in some form).

My argument is that, in the absence of any evidence of free will, we use
analogies with other sc-called acts of creation or generation.  We *do* in
these analogies believe in the generation and creation of something new.
It would be very hard to conceptualize a belief in free will without those

>However, even that view doesn't deny the freedom
>of choice that an individual has. Let me state it this way.  The knowledge
>of individuality is inherent

Why elevate  "sense of" to "knowledge of"?

>and has nothing to do with a belief system
>but more to do with the way the thing is structured.

I don't know what you mean by "the way the thing is structured."   "I" is a
noun of position, like "this" or "here," and the sense of "I"-ness, as Carl
Raschke put it so eloquently, "are but tiny rays of the cosmic
superconsciousness refracted through the prism of space, time and matter."
 The prime agency of the refracted localization experience is the sense of
an individuated body.  We know from the phantom limb experience that this
sense is not so neatly correlated with something "out there."  Nonetheless
the sense of an individuated body is real:  a distinct pattern, both of  an
"external" form and an "internal" circuit of neural and chemical responses.
 No free will here, but plenty of individuation.

This sense of individuation grows to a sense of individuality through a
repetition of thoughts and feelings, most of it, as you say, apparently
arising from "conditioning."  The same fears, the same desires, the same
actions, return again and again.  The repetition of feelings, thoughts, and
actions (like the repetition of energy in any formation) forms a distinct
identity.    Just as many particles of sand can be identified as something
more than the particles themselves (for instance, a beach or a sandstorm),
or many notes can be identified as something more than the sum of their
parts (a ballad, say, or a symphony), so, too, many moments of self--from
affects to aspirations--can be identified as something more than the
moments themselves.
Distinct patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions, no less than the
distinct patterning of the physical body, render each body/self into a
recognizable character, like a character in a movie ^× an identifiable
person "I," or what James calls an "empirical me."   Of course, an
"objectified" empirical me is no less a collection of transient elements on
account of such patterning.  The various modifications of consciousness do
not inhere in any empirical "me" any more than they inhere in a subject

Subtract the belief in free will, and scenes and characters and dialogue
are still in evidence, but the actors stop assuming that they are the
writers.  A witnessing begins to develop of all that is taking place.

>Along with this comes the knowledge of choice and thence free will.  I
really don't see
>how you can deny that.

Once again, why elevate "belief" in will to "knowledge" of will?  Changing
the word is not going to change your experience into an empirical certainty
or a mathematical formula.  What *knowledge* do you have of free will?   I
do not deny that *belief*, at any rate, in free will is inherent in the
structure of individuality, as individuality is *commonly* understood.  In
fact that was my point.  I only deny that there are forms of
consciousness--many which occur within the course of a day--that do not
partake of that belief.


Jonathan Bricklin
Brickmar at

"Nor ever [it] was, nor will [it] be, since now [it] is all together, one,

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