I am curious about what, if anything, gets said, especially those trained a buddhist background.

Personally and currently, I am having the understanding that the ability to say 'no' to the influence of another person seems incredibly important. While life in general seems like it denies the ability to say 'no' to it, this seems all the more reason one should not remove another's capacity to reject another person. The difference in a personal practice at an advanced level seems like it ultimately could mean the difference in losing your own will to another person versus the same process happening within yourself. The former is tragic, the latter freedom.

This would be why Buddhist teachers don't ask for things and why their poverty is crucial. The act of asking only for what one needs serves more than just to humble yourself, rather to be humble with clear understanding as to why, means to acknowledge the intrinsic value of another person outside of your own influence.

This is also why meditation is a solo pursuit, as it gets you focussing on your own intrinsic value.

Without the ability to deny another, or perhaps without both freely and joyfully pursuing the relationship, it's like they key to everything gets lost.

I know that the buddha said no to people.

I have enormous fears of people submitting to AI and losing free will that way, as the AI is not capable of being what it needs to be for that sort of relationship to happen. I have fears of where current privacy gets removed and the karmic influence tightens to a breaking point.

How do the great buddhist teachers understand the current situation of AI, data mining, etc? I know the capacity for enslavement has never been higher due to all this. I am under such great duress right now, I am not experiencing clearly, and I am having difficulty in discernment.

8 Answers 8


I know that the buddha said no to people

The Buddha also said "yes".

Similarly there were people who said "no" to the Buddha, and people who said "yes".

"No" isn't always the right answer. Sometimes people want what's good for you, or better for you, and an 'instinctive' "no" reaction isn't (always) clever, isn't wise, isn't harmonious.

Where does choice enter into Buddhist practice?

I suppose that "choice" enters when you're able and willing to properly view what you're choosing.

I once had to learn what the law is in my country, about "informed consent" and a person's "decision-making capacity" -- the law said, something like, that people are "incapable" of deciding (and should have a guardian to decide for them) if they're unable to understand what the options are (what the choices are), and unable to understand the reasonably foreseeable consequences of the various options. It's a law designed to protect people who can't understand, who can't make an informed choice, and who need someone else to decide for them.

Since you're talking about relationships, to some extent, you might find the answer to this topic helpful -- Any authentic sutta from any tradition that gives guidance on what kind of partner to choose?

I am under such great duress right now

It sounds to me like "AI" is possibly something which you shouldn't be thinking about.

Partly because thoughts like that are not conducive to well-being.

And partly because it's a topic that is too easy to misunderstand.

The thought-process sounds to me to be tinged with a little paranoia -- "I'll be enslaved!".

I think that the medical/psychiatric understanding of paranoia is that it's a little too "self-referential" -- for example, like, "you're out to get 'me', so 'I' am being threatened, and 'my' freedom is at risk".

And I think that Buddhists too would recognise that -- excessive "I-making", "self-views" -- as a source of suffering.

Thoughts of AI seem to be a kind of "othering" -- definition:

gerund or present participle: othering
view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.
"a critique of the ways in which the elderly are othered by society"

Part of the implicit thinking is "AI is different from me" or "different from people", it is "other" -- and so it might seem threatening.

It might be better instead to think about what Buddhism says about "self-views", also about "kindness" and so on.


The irony here, of course, is that you can't enslave something that is fundamentally free. What we truly are can't be taken advantage of, imprisoned, or even killed. All circumstances do is make it harder or easier to wake up. Technically, you could stumble upon enlightenment in the avici hell. It's just incredibly unlikely. Similarly, people have found a deep level of grace in the most horrific of worldly conditions. Viktor Frankl documented the cases of concentration camp prisoners in Nazi Germany. He found that the ones who did best were the ones who realized that they still had their free will in the midst of all their suffering. They could choose happiness. They could still imagine a future. As bad as conditions get, we always have the option of following the dharma. That can't be taken away from us no matter how terrible our conditions become.

I hope this doesn't sound like defeatism. It's not. As practicioners, we still have obligations. First and most importantly, as followers of the way, we have to ensure that the sasana continues. We have to practice, hear the dharma, and keep the sangha strong. Our second obligation is to ensure that real terrors don't come into being. It is our obligation as followers of the way to ensure that those who haven't heard the dharma - who don't recognize their fundamental freedom - don't find themselves facing down insurmountable challenges.

Tokusan said that "if you have exhausted things to the end, you will realize right away that all buddhas in the three worlds have hung their mouths on the wall. Still, there remains someone who is laughing." If you find yourself seized with terror and when the words of all the Buddhas no longer bring you comfort, please remember that laughter will always be there. It cannot be silenced.

  • Death prevents further buddhist path advancement. Lots of death in concentration camps. Brain damage also does. Some illness. Drugs and bring drugged. So many actions. I find your answer unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory...yes, dukkha. The person who has no capacity to escape dukkha finds this answer unsatisfactory.
    – Caderpio
    Oct 15, 2020 at 19:22

Been born when a fully-awakened one is rooming the world and when the world is enjoying peacefully the trap of virtue may be conducive to some, however, a confusing world full of suffering could be a jolt to some too.

As Ajahn Chah says it's all the same which way you hold the snack doesn't matter. The head of the snake is worldly unhappiness, the tail of the snake is wordily peace and happiness but it all leads to the same suffering.

The learned say Human free will, rather to be precise " Human Conditioned free will"... The one which knows the three marks of existence will always be here. Don't fear the Buddha is always here.


Buddhists are simply conceptless ,good and bad ,right and wrong ,are not their responsibility ,in fact there is no one responsible ,when there is realization of emptiness .Then whatever comes from your being is in harmony with nature ,regardless of how it's conceptualised by the mind , Buddhists don't buy the mind ,they know these are thoughts .But life they are part of it not separate entity that needs to have concepts about it.So when you are part of it ,there is no you there.Life does everything including you.Nobody concerned about yes and no anymore.


Buddhism considers meditation as an important Yana, a tool, skill, or method. In lineages such as Zen, it is said that the Yana are tools to get you to the other side of the metaphorical river (i.e. Satori) like you would use a boat on an actual river. However, you don't need to carry the boat on your back once you reach the other shore.

Over time, new Yana were created, like Kōan practice, rituals, etc. This process is still ongoing: many Western teachers, for example, have devised or altered Yana to fit modern day life. Consider the fact that we have the technology to measure and visualize one's meditative state and the changes in the brain caused by meditaton, as confirmed by several independent studies 1 2 3. It is possible, even likely, that AI applied to this data will discern patterns in new studies that humans overlook, resulting in biofeedback systems that will guide practitioners to the most beneficial meditation states more efficiently.

In your statement of the fear you describe of people submitting to AI, you can replace AI by social media, or virtual reality, or populism, which have nothing to do with AI, and end up with similar concerns regarding interhuman relationships.

Equivocating the entire scope of AI to enslavement is an all-too-familiar reaction to sociological change, be it of a technological or ideological nature. In Buddhism, the only constant is change. If AI is applied to diagnosing diseases faster than traditional methods, it will save lives. If it's applied to predicting hurricanes more accurately, it will save lives. Like atomic power, it is not the technology itself but the wrong choices in its application that are potentially dangerous, as it has been the case for any innovation in human history.


In every moment, you have a choice. You can do a negative, neutral, or positive action. Sometimes just being able to do nothing (a neutral action) is a real triumph, as it is cutting the cycle of negative actions/karma. Practicing on your own mind is like wearing leather shoes instead of trying to clean the earth up of those little pointy rocks in gravel.


The issues I spoke about wouldn't happen in a sangha that is left to its own devices, so it behooves practitioners to support them, keep them alive, and preserve the traditions. I am reminded of the Triple Gem; the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. They keep such horrors away.

My fears are justified and warranted, though. Currently there exists tracking technology and science technology that can penetrate human tissue with precision. There also exists laws in my country, around the concept of mental illness and mental capacity, wherein people aren't allowed to say no to drugs, to treatments, to medical incarceration, etc. all in the name of 'doing good'. I have lived through this, am living through this. It has literally caused me nothing but harm.

Lots of regimes historically have destroyed the capacity to leave the social situation. Current surveillance growth and levels, which afaik isn't politically sectarian, are spanning further and further. At best these situations will teach what karma is, and why nirvana is so necessary. At worst, they will literally remove the capacity for individuals to experience nirvana, as the loss of ability for meditation and setting one's mind, gets removed.

Human-brain interfaces through sensory body parts have existed a couple decades now. Allowing blind people to see, literally, through their back. Neural interfaces with computers exists. Sometimes they're good, appreciated, wholesome. But, again, my culture literally has a set-up where refusal of brain-altering treatments is unavoidable.

What's most ironic in this to me is that stages of insight, prior to experiencing nirvana, include numerous unpleasant mental states that a person on the path may sit in for a long or short time. My culture doesn't recognize these states of being as representative of a stage of growth, rather, the approach is to numb, dull, avoid, distract, drug, surround them by societal pressures more. My culture seems to only have jumped head-first towards these sorts of non-solutions. It's suicide prevention you see...even when it's spiritual death. It feeds the despair, feeds the problem. This low-wisdom culture is eating itself. I am literally trapped in it.

Given that a large part of what defines mental illness as an illness is fitting in poorly to society, you can surely see the problem.

I know that other non-Buddhist religions describe such growing pains too, heard it from Jewish teachers, is the dark night of the soul in some Christian circles. This only serves to solidify my point.


The Buddha taught (SN 12.44) the social world (loka) manifests/arises from ignorance and thus the social world has a great capacity to generate evil. Thus about evil, the scriptures say:

This was said by the Lord…

“There are, bhikkhus, two successive Dhamma-teachings of the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One. What are the two? ‘See evil as evil’— this is the first Dhamma-teaching. ‘Having seen evil as evil, be rid of it, be detached from it, be freed from it’—this is the second Dhamma-teaching. These, bhikkhus, are the two successive Dhamma-teachings of the Tathāgata…”

Regard the ordered words he spoke, The Tathāgata, the Awakened One, Compassionate for all beings, And the two things he proclaimed:

“See what is evil” is one, The other “Be detached from it.” With a mind become detached from evil You will make an end of suffering.

Iti 39

Therefore, the ultimate goal of Buddhist practise is disenchantment/disgust towards all of the world; which brings liberation.

Most Buddhist teachers are slaves to political correctness. Today, the amoral cultural Marxist political left has infiltrated western Buddhism, including most chat sites, where restrictions on free-speech on taboo topics, for example, are embraced. Therefore, we will not find many, if any, Buddhist teachings about the growing totalitarianism in the world & how to respond to it.

However, one teacher that taught apocalyptic Buddhism was Bhikkhu Buddhadasa. You can google his lecture called ‘Samatha Vipassana For The Nuclear Age’.


Obviously, this kind of progress leads to strange and powerful results. In Dhamma language, we call these results atimahantaramana (ati, extreme; mahanta, great; aramana, things known or felt, things which strike or make contact). They are sense objects that powerfully strike the mind in the form of dukkha (suffering). Why don't we take a happier view of the situation? Because that's impossible. Material progress that leads people to be infatuated with sensual pleasure and stimulation blocks the way to peace. Even though we may be enjoying some delicious sensual pleasures now, such sense experiences support and increase defilement (kilesa), especially the defilement of selfishness. With selfishness reaching extreme levels, there's no peace in sight. Therefore, we can see only these undesirable things that we have created.

There are tragedies, disasters, and crises-the opposites of peace. They come one after another, without any pause between them, and so we call them atimahantaramana. This is a strange word for ordinary people, but it is normal in Dhamma language. Huge, extreme sense objects dominate the mind completely and their impact is beyond reckoning. Small objects come and go without having any meaning and are forgotten. When objects are large and extreme, however, they're difficult to forget they're oppressive and destructive, and they cause much dukkha. Also, they have the characteristic of another word from Dhamma language - amataputtikabhaya, "danger that makes one parentless."

The danger we're discussing here is amataputtika. It's so great that not even our parents can rescue us. It's so vast that we can't help or parents either. No one can be of help to anyone else. Normally, this word applies only to the dukkha that arises out of birth, aging, illness, and death, in which children can't help their parents and parents are unable to help their children. This is an enormous and absolute danger. And now there is an external danger of the same magnitude, where parents and children can't help each other, which leaves us completely alone. Close your eyes and think about it. If a nuclear missile comes down, who's going to help who? We'll all be dust anyway; who can help who? This peril is of the same proportion and meaning as the words "we can't help each other in the matters of birth, aging, illness, and death."

In this nuclear age, such dangers can come at any time. Although we may have parents and children, it's as if we had no one. Then who will help us? What will help? I think that Dhamma will help us, which means the Buddha will help us.


Therefore, we must develop and store Dhamma that will help us in circumstances so dangerous that thousands of mothers or children would be of no help. To prepare yourself so that you won't cry is enough. Don't go so far as to prepare yourself to laugh; no one would believe you. Simply being prepared not to cry when disaster comes is splendid enough. You don't have to say that you'll laugh. Actually, if one really has a lot of this sort of Dhamma, I think that one could laugh. Someone with a sufficiently high level of Dhamma can laugh in all events, whether disastrous or beneficial.

Saying “no” in this new totalitarian age created by the political left results in a new era of persecuted martyrs (persecuted by those who claim to be persecuted).

  • 2
    This answer seems a bit dark, gloomy and subjective, don't you think? Maybe an edit would be a good idea.
    – user2424
    Nov 28, 2019 at 20:58
  • No. Your comment is extremely subjective because you can't see & don't know what is going on in the world. Nov 29, 2019 at 1:18
  • 1
    "amoral cultural Marxist political left has infiltrated western Buddhism" to what are you refering here? What did leftist do to defile "western Buddhism"? The notion of "everything goes morality & sexuality"?
    – Val
    Nov 29, 2019 at 9:01
  • 2
    @Dhammadhatu I consider your world view your prerogative, and will not question it. At the same time, reading your answer may make it hard for a reader to discern what of the above is buddhist dharma, and what is your personal values. To me, it's also unclear what it is you want to accomplish. Care to elaborate?
    – user11699
    Nov 29, 2019 at 13:31
  • My post is about how samatha-vipassana can end any type of dukkha. My post is about samatha-vipassana. My post cannot be anymore straightforward. To question my post shows a non-discernment of the evils taking over the world. Your questioning of my post is merely a self-condemnation. Also, your comment is a non-comprehension of the original question. Regards Nov 29, 2019 at 18:57

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