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It seems to me that what we call freewill is something we have in this phenomenal existence and decreases in significance, as we become more realised and closer to liberation from this existence. All the great religions question why we suffer so if God, Allah or Buddha is so compassionate and of course they answer that it is because we have freewill to do both good or bad, produce positive or negative karma. We as Buddhists know that freewill is limited by karmic traces we have and the only way to use it for our and other's benefit is to recognise fully its existence and to change our karma by using it. Of course as we progress, using freewill - choosing happiness over suffering - it becomes diminished or less necessary, as we accumulate merit and become more open to Buddha's compassion. Once the consciousness is freed from mind and body does it become far less susceptible to freewill, which is perhaps only an attribute of mind? Does the consciousness in other bardos or purelands or other higher realms become more open to the forces of karma and the blessings of the Buddha's (and other's) compassion and even completely independent of what we call freewill?

I could go further and suggest that freewill is not only connected with our mind but also what we call ego. While we are attached to our ego, we are forced to use freewill to break free of those attachments and recognise our delusion. Later, as our attachments and ego diminishes, so does our need or even existence of freewill and we are more likely to “go with the flow†of things, accept things as they are. Freewill is necessary only for the ego, the karma-driven mind, in order that we recognise (and choose) reality over delusion.

All that we sentient beings do in this samsaric world involves freewill, which is simply attachment, because we are simply unable to let go.

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Though Rumi doesnt mention "freewill" in this poem, but it might be relevant to this question:


"This World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness


Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:

This place made from our love for that emptiness!

Yet somehow comes emptiness,

this existence goes.

Praise to that happening, over and over!

For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.

Then one swoop, one swing of the arm,

that work is over.

Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,

free of mountainous wanting.

The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw

blown off into emptiness.

These words I'm saying so much begin to lose meaning:

Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:

Words and what they try to say swept

out the window, down the slant of the roof."


i think our free will is in our free creation on the basis of our deep inner knowledge of Emptiness, or Buddha nature.

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Yes. Thank you. Perhaps freewill is some kind of safety valve automatically coming into play when our ego is rampant, providing us with a way out - "to understand its mechanism.. to change the aspect from bad to neutral to good". Perhaps as you say freewill is connected to our deep inner knowledge of emptiness or Buddhanature. I agree with your last statement "It appears that if it is not Bodhicitta that makes one act, then only samsara can be created by freewill". And yet ultimately emptiness is pregnant with form, and I think freewill definately has a connection or is dependent on form. It is only when we can perceive that emptiness is emptiness and form is form and yet emptiness is also form and form emptiness, that in some way the question of freewill ceases to exist at all.

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... that in some way the question of freewill ceases to exist at all.

It is quite different actually. While we are in samsara, bound to the law of cause and effects, what real free will do we have? Most of our decisions are predictable, because impulsed like chaine reaction from all karma we have created before.

There is still a free will, in the sens that we could act otherwise than influenced, but, we barely make any use of it.


Whereas, when you come close to Emptiness, and realize Emptiness, you are not under the bounds of karma anymore (or only at a very subtle level when you are coming out of the direct perception of Emptiness). Thus, the choices you are making tend to be a real decision, not pushed by the karma, and not under the delusion of samsara.


Makes more sense, no?

We can't invente a theory from what our deluded mind think... All is already explained and clear, by the Buddhas.


All the best

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Thank you Rinpoche. What you say is very inspiring, as I take it that the more we progress in fact the more good we can do. But I am a little confused. Is my compassion and wish to develop bodhicitta karma-driven or is it the promising freewill? I have heard of the stage of aspiring bodhisattva or aspiring to bodhiccita. How is this connected with accomplishment or accumulation of merit or good karma and how much is it our freewill coming into play? Is it bodhicitta that accumulates merit quickly or is it accumulated merit that creates bodhicitta? How are the two interdependent, especially with respect to karma and freewill?

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Hi, everybody


Regarding free will, I would like to post one story, though it talks about god, but it is its message and symbolism behind, to which my mind paid the attention. Feel free to post your comment :vieuxsmiley:



"How much do you want to know God?


Long ago in India, a man thought he would like to embark upon the spiritual path and come to know God. As he walked along a river bank one day, he saw sadhu, a holy man, seated in meditation beside the flowing water. He thought, Ah, that is the one I have been looking for! I will ask him to teach me about God. As he approached and began to bow in respect, the man suddenly leapt to his feet, seized him around the neck, dragged him into the river, and thrust his head below the surface. At first he struggled in shock, but then he thought to himself, His wisdom already understands my quest, and this is a ritual purification. How wonderful! And he relaxed.


As the immersion continued, he first thought that he must be very unworthy to require so much cleansing. When his breath began to run out, he became worried, but decided it was a clever test of his commitment and resolved to persevere. Eventually he had no air left. The iron grip on his neck didn't lesson an iota, and finally he thought, This is not a holy man; he's a madman and means to drown me! He began to struggle wildly, but his strength was soon exhausted and he became still.


The instant he ceased struggling, he was dragged from the water onto the river bank, where he lay, drawing in great shuddering grasps of air. When he'd recovered, the holy man fixed him with a penetrating gaze and asked: “What were you thinking about right there at the end?â€


The man replied: “All I could think about was how much I wanted air.â€


“Come back to me when you want God that much, and I will teach you.â€


<Quotation from 'The Breakthrough Experience' - Dr. John F. Demartini - Page 252>


My thinking is that will is very important in life, and this not only from the religious or spiritual aspect. Now, if the will is free or not, it depends on, just like Ven. Lama Shenphen Rinpoche wrote, realization of Emptiness. Till then, I personally feel that what I can do is to develop the will for virtuous thoughts, speech and actions, virtuous motivation, which could be further upgraded into higher motivation. As the will and motivation are tools to shape the future and it is this being in samsara, who will eventually experience Enlightenment and this would happen once in the future. This is how I think.

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