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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
20 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY It’s for the sake of this freedom that, instead of simply taking a position on free will, the Buddha taught how you can free your will from the unskillful limita tions that keep it bound. Even if you don’t make it all the way to full awaken ing in this lifetime, you’ll find that by developing the skills he recommends, you broaden the freedom you bring to the culinary art that is your life. TRUNGRAM GYALWA RINPOCHE: In my under standing of the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, while there is no absolute free will, there is absolutely free will. The course of your life is not predetermined; through your actions you have the ability to alter it—whether for better or worse. Let us first consider the idea of abso lute free will. Can you take any action you want, whenever you want? Can you walk naked in the street anytime you feel like it? While physically you could, you probably wouldn’t—and so your free will has been tempered. It is not absolute; you choose not to do precisely what you want because of cultural, societal, or legal constraints. From a broader, more holistic point of view, this same ability to make deliberate Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche is head of the Trungram lineage in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism choices (conscious or unconscious) in how you respond to both your desires and your circumstances is what enables you to exert free will and shift the course of your life. Here’s how it works: throughout life, every action you take causes a result, unless there is some external intervention that occurs before that result has fully materialized. First, you can provide the external intervention, manipulating the course of an action. The success of your intervention is somewhat contingent on time. Think of a continuum: the action happens at Point One, and the result solidifies at Point Ten. It is easier to inter vene at Point Two than it is at Point Nine. If a seed has just begun to sprout, it is easy to pull it up with your fingers; by the time it grows into a tree you may need a whole team of people to uproot it. Of course, you rarely know exactly where you are on the continuum. All you can do is try your hardest to intervene if inter vention seems appropriate. By Point Ten, when the result is fully matured, your reaction to the experience initiates a new cycle of cause and effect. This is your second opportunity to inter vene—and this is when you absolutely TEERAWEEAREERACHAKUL