WIKNER at NACDH4.NAC.AC.ZA
Fri Mar 20 02:06:52 CST 1998
On Wed, 18 Mar 1998, Jonathan Bricklin <brickmar at EARTHCOM.NET> wrote:
> 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.
Dear Jonathan, what you are speaking of is called vairaagya or
dispassion (from the fruits of action, here or hereafter): this is
the detachment which you describe as "witnessing begins to develop."
It is usual to approach vairaagya through devoted service or through
realising that all benefits derived from actions are temporary (e.g.
whatever has a beginning has an end), but you seem to have reached
that understanding from a different path. I salute you!
Where your statement is prefaced with "Subtract the belief in free
will ...", Advaita would preface it with "Subtract the belief that
actions produce lasting benefits ..." or "Subtract the belief that
the world is real ..." etc.
With increasing detachment, the world is seen as mechanical, a play,
a dream, and so on: this is the praatibhaasika level (between vyaava-
haarika and paaramaarthika). If you "recognize" Gita 5:8-9, then you
will enjoy -- and derive benefit from -- reading the Yoga Vasi.s.tha
(if you aren't already doing so).
The confusion (and heat) that arises on the list through the denial of
free will, is because free will is only meaningful at the vyaavahaarika
level, and your illustrations have been at that level (electrons,
neural currents, chemical responses), whereas you are really speaking
of detachment or vairaagya. Now there are many levels of vairaagya,
from suppression to an active expression of faith in accepted authority:
the highest form is indifference to the gu.nas through direct knowledge
Of course vairaagya as suppression is very willful indeed: but this
is often where the student begins. He believes in free will, so the
teaching will use that very belief as the instrument to lift him
beyond that belief: through positive and negative reinforcement
(as well as through the sheer frustration of suppressed desire) he
becomes detached. When the student sees for himself that there is no
free will, then the subject is dropped (as far as his own development
is concerned): this is the proverbial thorn to remove a thorn, and
then both are discarded. Now he still believes that there is an
external world, so the teaching will use that very belief as the
instrument to lift him beyond that belief ... and so on.
However, should he attempt to teach the next generation of students
(who believe in free will) that there is no such thing, then he does
not help them at all, but merely sows confusion and holds them back.
It is necessary to meet the student where he is, with all his beliefs
and ideas and baggage from the past.
No, that wasn't a sermon, just an explanation of why the denial of
free will is treated as flame bait. Advaita (Vedaanta not Perennial
Philosophy) is a comprehensive, practical, and systematic teaching
that has stood the test of time: follow it.
And remember that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
No free will? Nonsense! It is obvious to even the most dense of people!
That is accurate, isn't it? :-)
Hey, don't take me seriously: this is only a figment of your imagination.
So is the belief in free will. So is the belief in no free will.
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