Lessons - 2

Gregory Goode goode at DPW.COM
Fri Mar 20 15:26:47 CST 1998

At 05:45 PM 3/20/98 +0530, Swami Vishvarupananda wrote:
>>   (1) What if there were no free will on the vyavaharika level?
>>   (2) What if no one believed in free will on the vyavaharika level?
>A difference between these comes in action only when there is free will.

Beliefs can occur without the will acting as an agent.  After all, who
chooses their beliefs?  And who hasn't had a belief they'd rather not have?
 (E.g., the belief a wife has upon seeing lipstick on her husband's
collar...)  Beliefs can occur or not occur, and the will, even if it were
present in other vrittis, need not be present in these cases of belief.

>>Mass murderers running around unpunished is more a consequence of (2) than
>>of (1).  Who knows what would happen if (2) were true??  As of now, on the
>>vyavaharika level, a religious aspirant coming to the conclusion that there
>>is no free will will not cause that same person to become a mass murderer.
>>Unless it's already his dharma.  A change in the beliefs about this issue
>>doesn't cause evil actions.
>Dear Greg, aren't you contradicting yourself here? You are talking about the
>believe of no free will having an effect on the actions of a person. But
>that effect can be there only, if the person does have the freedom of
>choice. So you are admiting that freedom.

No contradiction, and no freedom either!  Not at all!  Beliefs don't either
appear or disappear because of will.  They come and go, completely
unbidden.  But this doesn't mean that beliefs can't have consequences (we
aren't discussing theories of causation here, just free will).  Beliefs can
have causes and effects.   If billiard balls on the billiard table can have
causal efficacy, if a Pavlovian experimentor can attribute causation to the
sound of the bell (the effect being the animal's salivation), then beliefs
can be said to have effects too.  Why, they can even have causes.
Mahavakyas and a sage's pointers to the Self can jar a person's belief
systems, causing a weakening of the identification with the panchacosas,

>>Sri Ramakrishna is quoted as having said, "Don't believe in free will, but
>>act as though you do."

>>From the very sentence of Ramakrishna it is obvious that he did not mean the
>jiva has no choice, but that he meant, we should surrender  the ego to God.
>If he wanted to say there is no thing as free will on the vyavaharika level,
>he could not have said "act as though you do". If he tells us to act in a
>certain way, that presupposes that we have a choice in how we want to act.
>If there was no such freedom with the jiva, no spiritual teacher would tell
>us what we should do or not. If everything was predestined, such talk would
>be like, say, telling a flower to grow in a different direction. It has no
>power over the direction it grows, no choice, so why would we tell it.

I'm not arguing (right here, at least) that there's no causation, I'm just
saying that a will is not part of the causal chain.  As for flowers, there
have been experiments that show that plants CAN be affected by being talked
to, cared for, played music to, etc.  They grow larger, lusher, don't die
as quickly.

>I'm not saying, as Gummuluruji pointed out, that we should take credit for
>our actions. But it is dangerous (for most) to say, I have no choice. Unless
>one is already a great devotee and set firmly on the path, one will use this
>as an excuse to follow the dictates of the mind.

I agree with this!  Not a teaching for everyone!  Charles Wikner said
something similar I believe, in one of his recent postings on this topic.

>>Isn't this why texts
>>such as the Mandukya Up. are taught very late in the sadhaka's path?
>But Greg, Mandukya Up. does not say there is no free will.

Just so.  In fact, I've heard that Hindi (maybe Sanskrit too) doesn't even
have a word for "free will."

But the Mandukya Up. gives convincing arguments that there is no causation.
 And if there is no causation, then there can't be free will.  For
everything is the whirling of the firebrand, nothing in phenomenality
having power over anything else.  Just like nothing in a movie really
causes anything, everything emanates from the film itself.  That's all I
meant by mentioning that Upanishad.

One teacher I heard say that from the standpoint of the jiva, everything is
determined (because the jiva doesn't choose its thoughts).  From the
standpoint of absolute consciousness, everything is freedom Itself.



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