5 Jan. Free will. Freddy Mercury.

I watched Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. It got me thinking about free will. I came across this article that states:

Many neuroscientists, armed with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other brain scanning tools, argue that, now that we can peer into the brain, we can see that there is no “agent” there making choices.

Is Buddhism and the idea of free will not compatible? If our ego is an illusion and there is no core self – how can there be free will? But if we don’t have free will then, how can we be held responsible and suffer karmic consequences of our actions?

I also watched Bohemian Rhapsody. I came across this article about Freddy Mercury’s last recording session just a few months before his death:

This is hard to explain to people, but it wasn’t sad, it was very happy. He was one of the funniest people I ever encountered. I was laughing most of the time, with him. Freddie was saying [of his illness] ‘—- that. I’m not going to think about it, I’m going to do this.’

I got this idea a few days ago. I hoped it would go away. But it stayed with me. Sometimes, I think it is a good idea. Other times – utter nonsense. And very dangerous. And stupid. I thought – if meditation was so important to me then why would I stop meditating for long weeks or even months every now and then? If I was convinced that Dharma was true then there wouldn’t be any room for half-assing. So the idea was… I will either meditate every day – or, if I missed even one single day, I will stop practising altogether.

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10 thoughts on “5 Jan. Free will. Freddy Mercury.

  1. Adrian,

    Sounds like Mara talking. Why not make a different wager altogether? Why not resolve to keep practicing until you see for yourself rather than speculating about it? It’s not easy but even if you decide to give up the ghost in this life, odds are that you’ll pick it back up again eons in the future and you’ll be at the same place.

    I can see how this might not be convincing but I want you to know that even if you were meditating every day there’s no guarantee that you would feel any differently. Take it from me since I have been for the last 558 days or so and I still get down and feel discouraged. But, with an eternity of ignorance, greed and hatred behind us why would we expect it to be easy?

    So, brother, stick with it and tell the voice of Mara to shove it. Wishing you every good blessing and success!

    Metta,

    Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike, I think you are right, it was nothing more than my own vanity talking… I can see it now. Thank you very much. Isn’t it scary – this effort to put out the eons of greed, hatred and delusion with just 20 minutes of meditation per day? Even if we sat 24/7 for the rest of our lives – would it even mean anything in comparison to our countless past lives? That’s one of the great mysteries of Buddhism I am still puzzled with. All the best to you, Sir! Adrian.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Adrian,

        I always like to reflect on the following passage when I get discouraged about my practice. I hope you find it useful:

        “Just as when a carpenter or carpenter’s apprentice sees the marks of his fingers or thumb on the handle of his adze but does not know, ‘Today my adze handle wore down this much, or yesterday it wore down that much, or the day before yesterday it wore down this much,’ still he knows it is worn through when it is worn through. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, he does not know, ‘Today my effluents wore down this much, or yesterday they wore down that much, or the day before yesterday they wore down this much,’ still he knows they are worn through when they are worn through.”

        https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.101.than.html

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Meditation is an enigmatic lover. It’s great to meditate everyday at the same time each day, but whenever I try to infuse it with some kind of goal, then I usually fall flat.

    It doesn’t matter what the goal is, whether it’s to push myself to sit for 10 minutes or stumble on nirvana and be free of suffering – goals tend to make meditation impossible. So I was taught to meditate just to meditate. If I can do it everyday, that’s fine, if not that’s alright too. One goalless sit a month is better than 30 days of goal-orientated sitting.

    And it’s actually easier to sit everyday when sitting everyday isn’t a goal; and it’s easier to sit through those 10 minutes or half an hour when we’re doing it without a firm reason. I’m not sure why that’s the case in either case.

    Free will is a tricky one. Will is the 4th aggregate and 2nd link of dependent origination, the source of all karma/experiences, but who’s will is it? Who inherits these experiences? The Mahayana teachings would say that both determinism and free will are just ideas, that in reality it’s neither nor.

    Take care,
    John Lee

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi John, thank you so much! I keep forgetting this is not a race. I knew it. But I forgot. Thank you for reminding me. There must be free will – otherwise there can’t be any morality. I am probably making a mistake of taking a term created by the Western philosophy and trying to find it in Buddhist philosophy. Most likely, it is indeed something in between or different altogether that allows us to make choices and be held accountable without the need for existence of the core Self. I don’t know… Thank you John!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Adrian,

    I am going to agree with Mike on this. It’s a voice in your head you don’t have to listen to. I made myself sit every day after I first left the monastery, but I ended up feeling as self-righteous about it as when I stopped drinking altogether for a while while out with my friends in London, and that didn’t feel good. You can take that question about why would you be half-assed about it and keep it as a koan. It looks from here like there are other important elements in your life too, like your family. As for the free will, probably the best thing to point to is the twelvefold chain of causation. We do get tossed around a lot by karma, and causes and conditions, but we’re not just puppets, even if the ‘self’ is nowhere to be found.

    Deep bows

    Shundo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, thank you so much! I think I should be more relaxed about my practice. I often use meditation as a stick to beat myself over the head with. I thought about free will a bit more. And I figured that in this world of illusion we rather should be using term: “what we perceive as free will” instead of “free will” – the same way very often what I perceive as happiness is not happiness at all, what I perceive as misery is often not really a misery. They are just words. Symbols. Thank you again! I am extremely grateful that you, John and Mike took time to help me out. It means the world to me!
      Adrian

      Like

      1. I know I’m a little late to the party commenting on this, but I look at it like this. What you said about missing practice and then stopping altogether, is like the person who is determined to lose 10 lb in goes on a diet in. One day they eat a couple cookies and decide the heck with it I messed up I’m not going to die at all and ends up gaining 30. You are a human being, the minute you make meditation a chore or an obligation, in my opinion, it ceases to be beneficial. I know this is kind of what the other guy said on this thread, but I’m just adding my thoughts in there as well. As someone who has gone long periods without meditating, I used to feel very guilty about it, and wonder if I should even do it at all. But I keep coming back to it. Because I know that it is something that is beneficial to me, even in small doses, even once in awhile. I’m sure after making this post you know that, but was just hoping hearing one more voice adding to that mix would help.

        Liked by 1 person

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