The Riddle of Fate and Freewill

Greg Goode goode at DPW.COM
Wed Oct 1 16:57:36 CDT 1997

At 11:53 AM 10/1/97 -0700, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:
>On Wed, 1 Oct 1997, Jonathan Bricklin wrote:
>> The foundation of  the castle is the belief in the ultimate reality of a
>                                   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>> jiva self.  The foundation of that belief is a belief in free will.

Jonathan Bricklin wrote the above.  I'd agree that there is a very tight
relationship between the belief in the reality of the jiva and the belief
in free will.  But I wouldn't say that free will is foundational, that
beliving in the reality of a jiva is impossible without it.  Never
underestimate the ability of people to believe things, even logically
incompatible things!

>> A belief in fate only becomes part of the castle if it is itself such a
>> foundation or rests upon it.  There is no evidence to support free will.
>How about this? Consider the stock-market. Say I get an insider tip about
>a particular item. I have the choice either 1. to make a fortune out of
>it, or 2. to follow the rules about such things and not make a fortune. In
>either case, I have to exert my will to do one or the other. Others might
>be affected by it, and you might want to describe whatever happens as
>their fate, but given the two choices I have, I am not fated to do
>whatever it is that I eventually do.

Vidyasankar (>>) is here commenting on Jonathan's (>) statement.  My
comments below:
I agree with Jonathan, but would soften it a bit.  There is EXPERIENCE that
suggests that there is free will.  But no argument I've ever seen establishes
free will.  We THINK that we are willing whether to choose Vidyasankar's
(1) or (2) above.  But there are very good arguments to the contrary,
that even make sense before one sees all is Brahman.  Consider:  the entity
supposedly HAS free will cannot be found.  Therefore free will cannot be a
characteristic of this "entity."  Also:  there is the experience of making
a choice,
but in every case the response by the body/mind mechanism is automatic,
to the strongest influence happening at that moment.  These influences depend
on the characterics of that body/mind organism.  If the person is a
then the person will choose salad over steak.  But the choice is determined by
the person's values.

You might say, OK, there are impulsive choices.  Totally on a whim, I
choose to
go to the beach this weekend.   But the strong preference or impulse just
arose in me,
there was no one there to CHOOSE this impulse.  After the choice is made,
the ego,
that will'o'the wisp that can't be located, rushes in to take credit for the

>> There is evidence, such as precognition, to support fate.  But such
>This cannot be admissible evidence, for your precognition is accessible
>only to you.

Not admissable?  Not necessarily.  One can write the precognition down.
Also, there are some psychics who can "see" other people's precognitions.
But, as you might say, this won't be publicly available.

> Moreover, thousands of supposed precognitions do not come true.


>I would like to reiterate that where there is conventional reality,
>including the conventional jIva, there is both fate and free will. Where
>the absolute is known, there is neither fate nor will. There is no need to
>bias one's judgment and raise either fate or will to an absolute level.

There is a good point to this -- there is a strong EXPERIENCE of free will,
and also the experience of things fated.  But they can be discussed, argued
about.  It is a venerable tradition in Western philosophy to debate this
topic.  It is still popular in Western metaphysics.  As of the time I last
checked, the most persuasive arguments for free will were that without it,
ethics is impossible.  The strongest arguments against free will seem to be
that the mind is identified with the brain, and events in the brain are

Yes, I agree, neither fate nor free will can be raised to the absolute
level.  Since on that level, there is neither fate nor free will; all there
is Brahman.


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