Rime Buddhist Center
Monastery & Tibetan Institute of Studies
"Achieving Peace Through Compassion"
700 West Pennway
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
Lama Chuck Stanford
The following is Lama Chuck's monthly
column that appeared in the Kansas City Star
newspaper on Saturday, April 23, 2005.
QUESTION: "Do we have free will? If
so why do some people seemed compelled to do things they
know are wrong?"
ANSWER: The question you asked is one philsophers
and theologians have asked since ancient times. Free
will, sometimes referred to as self-determinism, implies
that the choices we make are up to us. The opposite of
free will would suggest that our choices somehow are
up to something else. Some argue that the opposite of
free will is determinism which is the theory that all
human actions are not free, but are dictated entirely
by past events.
Most religions and even governments believe that each
of us has free will and are responsible for our actions.
Then why do people do things they know to be wrong? From
the Buddhist perspective we call these impulses "kleshas." Kleshas
are anything such as negative emotions and/or habitual
patterns that defile or confuse the mind, such as anger,
fear, greed, and resentment. The kleshas are what bind
us to the cycle of re-birth. Attainment of enlightenment
signifies the extinction of all kleshas.
Each of us has choices to make every day. However, these
choice are not completely indendepent of past causes
and conditions. So while we are free to chose, our choices
are conditioned by our past. The further along you are
on the spiritual path, the more you realize the range
of your choices. Therefore, our spiritual goal should
be to eliminate the kleshas that keep us stuck and poisons
our ability to have free will. Once we can do that, we
can see that every situation is workable.
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