A discourse on the unfreeness of the “free-will”, and the lack of consciousness in the “consciousness”!
The expression “free-will” is misleading, because there is no true freedom in the exercise of a spontaneous will. Arising and fading away, by itself, according to external causes and conditions, our will is not our own, does not belong to us, does not remain with or emerge from any “self”, but is only triggered or spurred to function in response to external or internal, physical or mental, stimuli. Through the vast repertoire of memory and stored data of past experiences (sañña), extending back across incalculable lifetimes it is said – the will arises established on and conditioned by that karmic foundation.
the only true freewill is that which arises through renunciation: dispassion, non-desire, and non-attachment. every other form of action is in its origination dependent, conditioned, and triggered, and in its nature spontaneous, unchosen, self-unconscious, and unfree. Therein lies the difference with regard to kamma; its diminishing and extinction, or its propagation and intensification.
And the greatest renunciation is that of truly realising the spontaneity, non-self of all action. There lies in this renunciate realisation of the spontaneity of will the realisation also of our ultimate freedom and lack of a self: “this is spontaneous! This arises spontaneously! This is not up to me! This is not under my control! This is not freely-willed! This is not willed at all! This is just happening! This just arises!” Through this renunciate realisation _for any truly honest and sincere heart_ there grows estrangement, alienation, dispassion, non-attachment and non-identification, with regard to one’s own entire life of action, to which one would otherwise _that is, without such renunciate realisation_ be habitually profoundly attached, physically, emotionally and conceptually.
The problem here is that, before one attains the final goal of full emancipation, this renunciate realisation does not cause the human conditioned consciousness and will to cease themselves! The consciousness continues, and it keeps presenting its habitual findings ceaselessly: “this is pleasurable, that is painful. This feels good, that feels bad. This resembles good, that resembles bad. This is loved, that is hated. This is this, that is that. This is not that, that is not this.” Thus it rolls like thunder in the sky, never to stop, not even during sleep. And it is precisely that which makes our striving very hard, in that as we strive to remove the delusion of selfhood (represented here in viññāna), or to liberate ourselves therefrom, we do not see any evidence, that we are being likewise liberated from “existence” (bhava) as well! However much we endeavour to become estranged from consciousness and will, and however much we do become estranged from consciousness and will, this nāmarūpa, our being in this existence, subject to contact with its utterly futile forms, impressed by such contact – does not in itself cease or even diminish.
This is the finest case of vibhavatanha; our striving is lacking pañña when what we seek is the destruction of existence (or experience) itself rather than the destruction of delusion regarding existence and experience! The consciousness and will themselves cannot be destroyed, and until parinibbāna, they will never stop! And through the practice of estrangement and dispassion with regard to them, the only thing that ceases is their spontaneity and subjection to external conditions. That which is being uprooted here is the emotional attachment with regard to the experience of contact and its impact, and Nibbāna is only perfection, unshakability, of such estrangement and dispassion respecting the automatic, conditioned, and spontaneous consciousness and will.
Then as we strive with pañña, we view this aversion regarding what we have to alienate ourselves from (viññānupādānakhanda), to be a product of precisely what we strive to alienate ourselves from! I call it “punishment”, that which lovers inflict upon each other, precisely when all love is lost! Our aversion against “self”, against spontaneous and conditioned consciousness and will, arises due to our continued dependence on precisely consciousness and will! Again, it is only a case of love, being turned into hate – having been for so long so profoundly attached to and identified with this ceaselessly buzzing and active consciousness and will, when the time comes for us to alienate the mind with respect to them, we hate their very continued existence and manifestation altogether.
But let all these mental, verbal, social, and bodily actions – let it all arise, let it happen, let it “come to be” – only, never surrender the sustained attention, estrangement, and dispassion, regarding all that arises!
Avijjā, may well be viewed as a true transcendental force in this world, something of a cosmological nature, an ungraspable original condition of the existence of sentient beings. Nevertheless, this view may in the end be merely the creation of the imagination, of avijjā itself! It is crucial to develop yet a down-to-earth experiential understanding of avijjā, not as a thing or force out there that is imposed upon one’s reborn mind and heart, but rather as a natural spontaneous process of the conditioned mind, particularly and predominantly, a process of glueing together a world and a self, out of the amalgam of the six elements, multiplied by time.
For everything experienced is made up merely of the six elements, an amalgam of the six elements, and all experience is made up of a series of successive moments, through which contact between the senses and environmental objects is established. The ultimate reality revealed by the Buddha is one in which our experience is already lacking any durable substance or essence beyond those six elements, and that all these moments of experience, necessarily cease after having been arisen. Every moment and every sense experience cease and become merely memories. Yet the mind, born with avijjā and moha, and a heavy inheritance of kamma, continually glues moments and elements together, resolving in the process to the karmic impressionable memory (sañña) and imagination (kammasankhāra), to create durable and substantial realities, relationships, entities, and identities, including the self.
On a momentary basis this world and our experience of it are empty of any kind of substance or essence whatsoever. On a momentary basis the heart _out of blindness and desire_ is fabricating all sorts of substances and essences out of the world and experience. It may well be the case, that the truth of Suññata, is so hard to bear, or to face, by a heart that is still fully plunged in the habit of grasping tightly to existence and being.
The problem is that we are alive! We are already alive! Yet that does not mean that “there is something” for us out there! And indeed it is so much easier to spend our lives “making something out of life”, than to spend it restraining the mind from doing just that, and instead to simply behold the bare truth: existence, empty!
However much we insist that or act as if there is something; the truth and the reality is that there is nothing.
The natural (kammic) cognitive manner through which we emerge from the womb to make sense of this world is at striking odds with the way the world truly is. Whereas everything that happens, that “comes to be”, that arises in this world, is a necessary result of a cause, conditioned by a cause, arising supported by a cause, we come to regard conditions and phenomena as independent and self-justifying. Whereas everything is on a momentary basis bound by decay, headed to dissolution, destined for disappearance, we come to regard conditions and phenomena as stable and lasting. And why do we do that? Because our survival (bhava!) depends on it! Because only by so doing that it becomes possible for the self to emerge as a distinct and unique jewel of the world, ‘the’ point of reference, a true home, through which the ignorant and blind living organism may live, regarding this world and its existence in it with such obsession for reasons and sentiments which exist only in its imagination; it loves this and wants it, it hates that and rejects it.
Some other place, and some other time, simply do not exist apart from the imagination, and a desire for them is ever conditioned by the arising of aversion (vibhavatanha) regarding the here and now. Aside from this, no other places and times really exist; but only when one is actually there, when one physically moves in space and time, those previously “other” place and time cease to be as such, and become only here and now again! And again we experience vibhavatanha and imagine some other places and times of escape, and so on! What is the problem with the here and now? What is the problem with life “as it is”, as it arises and presents itself to us on a momentary basis?
Perhaps the problem is that we give too much importance to life, or rather, give the wrong kind of importance to life! We value it more than anything else, love it so completely and unconditionally, even though it is an incomparably miserable state of existence! We expect too much from life, we expect no less than happiness, even though it only offers anxiety, strife, restlessness, fear, ageing, sickness, misery, suffering, separation, and death! Thus is the Truth!
Making a lightly matter of life, of being alive, taking life easily, frequently recollecting the eventuality of death, inclines the heart to perceive the sporadic and unsubstantial nature of experience, of our existence, of all existence, of bhava. Cultivating this perception of the sporadic nature of our entire existence, we arrive at the foot of the great mount of seclusion, where we grasp the Dhamma, realise saddha, incline the mind toward nibbida and virāga (estrangement and dispassion), and find the single possible meaning, value, or purpose of human life: bhavanirodha!
We are not come here to get truly happy! We are here only due to grace! A great opportunity, a golden chance, of final understanding, acceptance, endurance, and transcendence of all present and future suffering. Abandoning the self that suffers in experience and seeks happiness in “another” experience, that grows sickly and suffocates of this here and now, and seeks escape to “another” here and now, another world, another life. abandoning that self which has preferences about every aspect of life, which rejects and welcomes a thousand time a day. spitting-out that self without remainder, this is Nibbāna.
In this way, we niether celebrate nor condemn life. We do not view it as a phenomenon that is inherently valuable or meaningful, because this celebration could only be based on ignorance, desire, and attachment to bhava or to our experience of life, and at the same time this hinders the development of true transcendental understanding and dispassion with regard to bhava and our experience of life. At the same time we recognise that our life is necessary _a great chance in fact_ in order to accomplish the task of transcending both life and death, and continual rebirth.