The Riddle of Fate and Freewill

Greg Goode goode at DPW.COM
Thu Oct 2 10:02:27 CDT 1997

At 03:28 PM 10/1/97 -0700, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:
>On Wed, 1 Oct 1997, Greg Goode wrote:
>> that even make sense before one sees all is Brahman.  Consider:  the entity
>> that
>> supposedly HAS free will cannot be found.  Therefore free will cannot be a
>> characteristic of this "entity."
>Cannot be found where? The entity that is talking of free will or of fate
>is the individual *I*, however falsely constructed. That the "I" is
>falsely constructed does not make an iota of difference to that "I" so
>long as the error persists.

Cannot be found upon examination.  I'd agree that the talking happens,
but it is *attributed* to the individual *I*.  The attribution just happens,
and upon reflection, an *I* arises to take credit.  Any version of this *I*
is nothing other than a thought with a supposed object (but that object
is itself another thought).  This thought arises frequently under many
different guises.  Commonality and identity are attributed to these thoughts,
which gives the illusion of continuity, of a persistent entity.  Notice
that this phrasing is all in the impersonal, since that's how (*I* think)
it happens.

>> Also:  there is the experience of making
>> a choice,
>> but in every case the response by the body/mind mechanism is automatic,
>> responding
>> to the strongest influence happening at that moment.  These influences
>> on the characterics of that body/mind organism.  If the person is a
>Then the debate about free will and fate is also an automatic response by
>the body/mind mechanism, no?

Very good point.  Yes, even this very debate.  Nothing special about it, even
though it has inner layers of self-reference.  That's OK, even the seeing of
these layers is an automatic response.

I'd say that even cases of awakening, of the seeing of the world as Brahman,
are all automatic responses.  A personal do-er seemed to exist, and then
*poof!* that do-er ceased to exist.  The layers of superimposition covering
the Atman-which-is-Brahman disappeared in the case of that body/mind

>Okay, let us put down the arising of the impulse to a biochemical reaction
>in the brain, governed totally by the statistical laws of probability.
>Then, there is still a material basis for the impulse and the thing that
>chooses this impulse. In a purely logical argument, why should one deny
>this material basis?

Well, OK, let's speak as if materiality really were the basis for the impulse.
Then on one hand, you can say that there is no choice at all, because
doesn't choose (therefore, no free will).  On the other hand you could say
that even if you DO speak in terms of a choice, it lacks the essential element
of free will -- the freedom.  I used to believe in this freedom of the
do-er.  An essential component to this freedom is that even when all the
physical, statistical and external cirmcumstances are piled up, you can STILL
choose either (a) or (b).  But if the mind/ego JUST IS the brain and nothing
but the brain (as some Western philosophers hold), then this freedom cannot
exist.  Therefore, no free will.

I myself do believe that the jnani has freedom, the Absolute freedom of
The freedom of spontaneity in actions, unconditioned by ego.  But it's not the
freedom of any kind of will.  Will pertains to a personal do-er, and in the
of a jnani, there is no such thing as a do-er.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list