Wednesday, October 29, 2008

DETERMINISM AS OPPOSED TO CHOICE, LOGIC, AND REASON, Part Three

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FROM A SITE VISITOR: [Received 25 October]: What did you mean in today’s post when you talked about varieties of determinism rather than choice and logic and reason? Sounds interesting in a way but I have no clue what you’re talking about, Thank you, Stephen.


FROM ANOTHER SITE VISITOR [Referring to the book CASTING LIGHT ON THE DARK SIDE OF RELATIONSHIPS]: My girlfriend read your book and found herself having a VERY strong reaction to it--she found it biologically deterministic but is willing to consider its questions.


F.: Yesterday’s post ended with this: the Advaitin pointer regarding “no single cause” will be examined in more detail.


In the book FROM THE I TO THE ABSOLUTE, the following from a transcript of an exchange during a recorded satsang session addresses the “no single cause” teaching:


F.: “Upon realization, another duality disappears: the credit-blame duality. The realized know that assigning credit to one source or assigning blame to one source is to ignore the reality of an infinite chain of happenings. Here’s a simple example that might be relevant. Last week, driving along the road that leads out here, the rear tire of a car ahead of me threw a pebble against my windshield and cracked it. You’ve all probably had a similar experience? [Nods in agreement] What caused that?”


Questioner: “The rear tire of the car ahead of you.”


Questioner 2: “Actually, the driver of the car was responsible. I think people who do that should have to pay for the cost of the repair.”


F.: “I’m glad you said that since your comment will let us see how wrong that type thinking is and let me offer the pointer about ‘cause’.” [Participant displays a mock frown. Laughter from group] As I passed that car and drove farther along the road, I caught up with a truck that was hauling gravel…and spilling it all along the roadway. The pebbles in the road, one of which was thrown into my windshield earlier, most likely came from that truck. Now who’s to blame for my cracked windshield?”


Questioner 2: “The driver of the dump truck.”


Questioner 3: “The manager of the hauling company who allowed the truck to haul gravel without a cover over the top to prevent slippage.”


F.: “The manager? Or could it have been the owner of the hauling company who was too cheap to provide covers or too negligent to be certain that covers were being used?”


Questioner 4: “I’ll play along: it was the fault of the highway patrol that is not efficient enough to pull over those creating hazards on the road.” [Laughter from group]


F.: “Or the legislators who misappropriated funds to their pet projects and underfunded the highway patrol? [More laughs] Okay, enough. You get the picture. A series of events evolved in a way that, at a particular moment, a particular set of circumstances also evolved that resulted in a broken windshield on my vehicle. And if we wanted to play this game a little longer, you’ve already shown that we could trace the cause back millions of years to the circumstances that resulted in a boulder being broken down into pebbles, one of which millions of years later struck my windshield. But billions of years before that, an atom appeared in a vacuum, maybe even spit forth from an adjacent universe. And that atom split and then split again and then formed a mutated atom and those two collided and…bang…that collision caused a chain reaction that resulted in our boulder being formed billions of years later. And then millions of years after that, the boulder atrophied into huge stones and then rocks and then pebbles, and because of that happening and because of a truck and an owner and a manager and a driver and a construction project and an inefficient highway patrol and a driver and a car ahead of me, my windshield broke. Ha. Look at the billions of events that had to occur over a period of billions of years in order for my windshield to be damaged. Yet arrogantly, persons want to claim that they know exactly what's causing any particular happening. Persons want to tell you the one cause that they think is behind whatever is happening. They want to credit one thing or one entity or one power. Or they want to blame one thing or one entity or one power.”


Questioner: We’re back to the pointer you offered before.”


F.: “Specifically?”


Questioner: “About over-simplifying the ‘cause’ of anything. You said something like ‘the cause of everything is everything that’s happened before’.”


The point being offered there is that to limit cause or to assign blame to one factor is to ignore the many deterministic factors that drive events or that drive human thoughts and words and deeds. If persons would be freed from being driven (a condition which removes choice) then they must understand the expansive assortment of contributory sources that drive them to think and talk and behave as they do.


Recently, a person in the news said that understanding the cause of global warming doesn’t matter…that we just need to solve the problem. How can any problem be solved without knowing the cause? How can a repetition of the same problems be prevented if the cause of the problem is not known?


To say, “I don’t care how the car got in the ditch, just get it out” is a setup to allow the same circumstances to be repeated and to allow the car to continue ending up in ditches.


So too is the case when persons do not understand what determines (what drives) their thoughts and words and deeds. If one would move beyond the levels of determinism that rob the non-Realized of choice and logic and reason, then they must understand the varieties of determinism that control the non-Realized on the planet. Please enter the silence of contemplation. (To be continued)
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