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If you disagree with my choice of words and think you know of some that better describe what I mean then you may give a suggestion.

Some determinism is true for stream entrants e.g Attainment of nibbana is guaranteed within 7 lives and definitely within 7 lives etc. Based on conditions of insight etc. So why not for others who aren't stream entrants?

If some determinism is not true then even if there is diligent striving I strive I might end up suffering severely in the next life and even more so than somebody who hasn't even an interest in the Buddha due to "free will" and forgetfulness. In fact all my striving might end up being completely forgotten and eradicated and I might end up being extremely ignorant forever and suffering forever (due to "free will"), whereas someone who had no interest in the Buddha and never does might end up suffering less overall due to "free will".

Imo it seems to undermine the whole idea of kamma and ends up simply being chaotic and random, if specific conditions don't produce specific results.

If you say "it was the person's free will" well then why didn't the kamma and insight from the practice in the past life help the person in the present life not become forgetful or ignorant? Why would a person choose to be severely ignorant besides out of ignorance? Why would a person who is at least somewhat insightful "choose" to go back to ignorance whereas a person who isn't interested in wisdom, wouldn't? Random increase in ignorance, forgetfulness?

Then it's as if for non-stream entrants there is not free will, control or determinism and instead all decisions are simply chosen due to random arising of ignorance.

(It's not my intention to make people delusional and overconfident, but I am interested in this because it seems like it would still be beneficial if one could determine whether a being can be destined for nibbana more than 7 lives beforehand. Maybe one can't be destined for nibbana more than 7 lives beforehand. Maybe it's an unanswerable question. Maybe it would provide a more complete understanding of reality and have various benefits. I don't know)

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Say, you wanted to lose weight and stay healthy. If you have no idea about Calories, Carbs, Fat, and Exercise - you may spend years randomly trying all types of foods, fasting, etc. - your weight going up and down endlessly. But once you get a clear idea of the science behind the body weight, you start eating healthy and exercising. Then you can draw a burn-down chart of weight by day and see how fast you're moving. At this point you can more or less precisely predict how long it will take you to reach your target weight. So it gets rather "deterministic" for you (wrong use of the word but I will go with you here). While for the people who are on a random diet based on their cravings and dislikes, the weight loss is pretty much never going to happen, because they don't have a methodical system in place that creates rational causes leading in the right direction.

Similarly, with stream entry. You understand "wrongness" (dukkha), the way it arises from conflict between "is" and "should", and the behaviors leading to conflict. You also understand "peace", the way it arises from the cessation of conflict, and the behaviors leading to no-conflict. Once you clearly see that, you can act accordingly. Once you act accordingly, it can be known that you will finish the process in finite time (seven lives being a figure of speech).

It's really simple, no need to over-complicate it.

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First off, although determinism was established by the Greek philosophers, during the 7th and 6th centuries BC, so around the life time of the historical Buddha, it is unlikely that this Greek concept was known in Northern India during that era. There is no direct reference to determinism in the original canon. The same goes for "free will", which is a Judeo-Christian concept. You are, as it were, looking at the concept of karma and rebirth through western spectacles.

The Buddhist concepts of karma and rebirth are heavily influenced by Hinduism, the predominant cosmology in Northern India during the Buddha's lifetime. As the concepts developed in Buddhism, in many lineages they were not taken literally anymore. The 6 realms of reincarnation were taken to mean the changing state of mind a person goes through daily (e.g. anger, hunger, delight,...). In Nichiren, this is called "Three thousand realms in a single moment of life".

Lastly, on the concept of Dukkha, can be translated as "suffering", but is also translated as "uneasy, uncomfortable, unpleasant, difficult, causing sadness". It refers primarily to the unsatisfactoriness of daily life caused by the five Skandhas, not necessarily to a "judgement day" eternal type of suffering as conceived in Christianity.

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Determinism is true for stream entrants e.g Attainment of nibbana within 7 lives and definitely within 7 lives etc. So why not for others who aren't stream entrants?

One reason may be that a stream-entrant sees the dhamma properly, and has "noble virtue" (ariya sila) -- and therefore can't (or won't) slip back into samsara nor be reborn into a lower destination (i.e lower than human, e.g. animal or ghost or hell).

I think the premise is that both of these (i.e. right view and noble virtue) are necessary for liberation.

I'm not sure where the "7 lives" comes from, perhaps it's e.g. AN 3.88 ...

If they don’t penetrate so far, with the ending of three fetters, they have at most seven rebirths. They will transmigrate at most seven times among gods and humans and then make an end of suffering.

Taṃ vā pana anabhisambhavaṃ appaṭivijjhaṃ tiṇṇaṃ saṃyojanānaṃ parikkhayā sattakkhattuparamo hoti, sattakkhattuparamaṃ deve ca manusse ca sandhāvitvā saṃsaritvā dukkhassantaṃ karoti.

... or something similar in SN 13.2.

Some people, or at least one person i.e. here, is of the view that sattakkhattuparamaṃ is referring to "seven more fetters" (as stream entrants have abandoned the first 3 of 10 fetters), rather than "seven more lives". I don't see how to be sure of what sattakkhattuparamaṃ means -- translators e.g. Ven. Sujato and Thanissaro Bhikkhu say "lives" or "lifetimes" -- but "fetters" would make sense too, in context.

I might end up suffering severely in the next life

Perhaps ... isn't it true that anyone unenlightened or only partially enlightened isn't immune from suffering?

I think though that in a partially enlightened person, "the path leading to the cessation of suffering" is seen and is being developed.

Perhaps too your perspective changes with stream entry, which the abandoning of "identity-view" and vicikicchā.

In fact all my striving might end up being completely forgotten and eradicated and I might end up being extremely ignorant forever and suffering forever (due to "free will"), whereas someone who had no interest in the Buddha and never does might end up suffering less overall due to "free will".

I don't know what "free will" doctrine you're referring to.

You seem to be comparing people ("I strive and might suffer" versus "they have no interest and might suffer less").

That kind of comparison might not be skilful -- I think it's a kind of comparison which the brahmaviharas are meant to help you to avoid.

There is one form of comparison (or "conceit") that is said to be skilful, i.e. "That person is progressing toward enlightenment, if I practice as they do then I will too".

Then it's as if for non-stream entrants there is no free will

Maybe avoid extreme views. Maybe "everything is random" is one extremity, "everything is under one's self-control" is another extremity, and both wrong views.

Speaking of "streams", perhaps an analogy might be taking a boat across a stream -- you don't control the stream (though you may observe it), but if you're skilful and diligent, well taught, and have a good boat, then you may cross it.

  • Thanks for asking -- maybe I mis-remembered, I don't find that phrase. Perhaps it's "ethical conduct is loved by the noble ones, unbroken, unflawed, unblemished, untainted, liberating, praised by sensible people, not mistaken, and leading to immersion" (SN 55.1). See also The Character of a Stream-winner which mentions "virtue". – ChrisW Nov 2 '18 at 20:15
  • It might be worth mentioning that different schools have different definitions/understandings of what it is or means to "enter the stream" -- see e.g. "equipoise" in this topic. – ChrisW Nov 2 '18 at 20:20
  • Another definition might be SN 12.15 -- truly seeing the world, not attached to a notion of self, no doubt about suffering arising and ceasing, and a knowledge of this that's independent of others. – ChrisW Nov 2 '18 at 20:39
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Puthujjanas love to claimthat

  • they know what they are doing,

  • know what is good for people,

  • know what people should do and should not do.

From this, thePuthujjanas love to create rules and chase people who appear to them to not follow those rules, in order to judge them and punish them, and educate them to their rules. Not a single good thing stems from their delusion.

But at the end of the day, a puthujjana has zero knowledge of morality, no matter what puthujjanas claim,

  • Puthujjanas do not know what is right
  • Puthujjanas do not know what is wrong
  • Puthujjanas do not know how do stop doing wrong in order to start doing right

THe only good thing a puthujjan can do is:

  • acknowledge that this puthujjana has zero knowledge of morality
  • ask a buddha what are good actions and wrong actions and how to avoid bad actions and how to act well
  • memorize word for word the reply
  • strive to do good and avoid at all cost doing bad

this what the buddha explains about karma :

  1. "Here, student, some woman or man when visiting a monk or brahman, does not ask: 'What is wholesome, venerable sir? What is unwholesome? What is blamable? What is blameless? What should be cultivated? What should not be cultivated? What, by my doing it, will be long for my harm and suffering? Or what, by my doing it, will be long for my welfare and happiness?' Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation... If instead he comes to the human state, he will be stupid wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to stupidity, that is to say, when visiting a monk or brahman, not to ask: 'What is wholesome?... Or what, by my doing it, will be long for my welfare and happiness?'

  2. "But here some woman or man when visiting a monk or brahman, asks: 'What is wholesome, venerable sir?... Or what, by my doing it, will be long for my welfare and happiness?' Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination... If instead he comes to the human state, he is wise wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to wisdom, that is to say, when visiting a monk or brahman, to ask: 'What is wholesome, venerable sir?... Or what, by my doing it, will be long for my welfare and happiness?' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.135.nymo.html

But puthujjanas prefer to base their actions on their opinions, on their views, feelings, desires, gut feelings, instinct which is precisely what makes them suffer in the first place.

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Determinism is true for stream entrants e.g Attainment of nibbana within 7 lives and definitely within 7 lives etc. So why not for others who aren't stream entrants?

A simple analogy, 2 people try to climb a mountain, one's already reached the peak while the other's still trying to reach it. For the one who already did, it's guaranteed and just a matter of time (in 7 days or fewer) to get down to the bottom of the mountain on the other side, while for the other guy, there's no guarantee at all: he can reach the top soon after or continue to climp and trip, climb and trip several times before reaching the top. Similarly, Stream-Enterers have passed one of the biggest hurdles, the accomplishment of moral virtues (AN 9.12) and that's why they've earned the warranty. "Determinism" sometimes leads to wrong connotations cuz we worldlings operate in "deterministic" mode all the time. To an untrained Puthujjhana male who's strong and lustful, putting him in a dark room with a young voluptuous lustful female, and it's "deterministic" that the two are going to engage in some interesting business.

  • Of course you can add whatever details you want. But the gist of the matter should be pretty clear. There's a threshhold to be reached, and once one's over the hump, the end result is pretty much set. This applies to everything in life, not just the state of Stream Entry. – santa100 Nov 2 '18 at 20:46
  • You definitely should check again cuz you've been doing it all the time. As a kid, once you've studied hard and done all your homeworks, passing the class is guaranteed. At work, work diligently to meet all the deadlines, and not getting fired is guaranteed (whether u get laid off is a different story due to the economy). You used to be a chain smoker, quit smoking with strong resolution, exercise and quit eating junk food, and your health will definitely improve, guaranteed, etc... – santa100 Nov 2 '18 at 22:39
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    @Angus Perhaps it isn't a matter of 10 minutes versus 11. A neighbour (a musician) said that to learn to play a new musical instrument you should practice for 5 minutes every day -- that practising regularly, 5 minutes every day, is the effective way to learn, and that half an hour of practice once per week is not -- that if you practice regularly for a short time then on some days you might practice for longer, but that the important thing when training -- and that what determines whether you continue to make progress -- is to develop the new habit. – ChrisW Nov 3 '18 at 9:03
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    So, I guess if the key point of OP question is the discrete threshold, then that's what we should address. The discrete threshold is due to understanding of the fundamental principle behind 4NT, you either get it or not. If you get it and know what you're doing, the process is finite. If you don't get it, the process may never finish. – Andrei Volkov Nov 3 '18 at 16:36
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Brain-masturbating does not lead to release but is the joy in becoming => one who put's thinks like taught into practice is one who knows and sees by himselves by time.

When ever the free-will debate arises my person encourages to following:

Point with your right hands finger to your right eye. Focus only on the finger. Now when the concentration is good fastly push the finger into your eye.

Much insight!

  • "I don't understand the finger thing" because you didn' put it into practice... @Angus – Samana Johann Nov 2 '18 at 10:57
  • "looks like the Buddha never said whether nibbana is guaranteed or not for those who haven't achieved stream entry" it's not guaranteed and less will archiv it, Nyom @Angus. Why? Because even lucky to meet, they don't put it into practice... – Samana Johann Nov 2 '18 at 10:59

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