QUESTION: Do any Buddhists believe that people don't have free will? And what do they believe regarding the nature of the self?

ANSWER: Dear James,

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question.

Buddhist definitely believe that people have free will. However, we are also bound by our past decisions (past free will). We have the free will to choose our thoughts, actions and speech. But we are still limited by the ripples of our past thoughts, actions and speech. For example, a man in jail still has free will, but his free will is within the confines of the prison rules.

As for the nature of the self, this depends what you meant by your question. But in general, we believe the self to be a construct of the mind. Thus, our main practice is to eliminate belief in that construct and thus free ourselves from this oppression.

I hope I have answered your questions

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fecQUZ-ehKQ

I came across this guy and don't know what religion if any he practices. And although he addressed a philosophical question very subjectively I was rather depressed after watching it. I was worried Buddhists didn't believe in free will and I wanted to incorporate more of buddism into my own beliefs.

Dear James,

I do not know this person in the link you provided. Buddhism is a journey of personal understanding. Everyone in this world is at a different stage of their process. Therefore, people will go through various stages of understanding and confusion. Just like in our own lives, we start off thinking we know, then we find out we don't, so we learn, then we think we know again, then we find out at some point that we don't...

Buddhists believe in karma. Karma is the result of our actions, speech and thoughts. Therefore, they are the results of what we choose to do/be. However, some people don't make these choices consciously. Sometimes, they are so used to doing things a certain way that they continue to do so. However, they do not realize this, so it seems like they have no free will.

I am not sure what they question was, but I hope I addressed what you were thinking.


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Anandapanyo Bhikkhu


I can answer questions about Buddhist practice, Buddhist understanding and how to apply Buddhism to daily life. I can help analyze Buddhist sayings and teachings. In addition, I can help with questions Buddhism stories, fables and Vinaya(rules). I have meditated for over 10 years and can help you start with meditation. In addition, I can help provide insight into what to do when you feel that you have hit a wall with your meditation. My main area of expertise is how to think in accordance with Sammaditthi (the right view - and number 1 in the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. If I cannot answer your question, I have many able teachers with over 20 years experience to help me, so chances are I will be able to find an answer for you.


I have been practicing Buddhism since I was born, but as a serious practice since 2003. I started studying under various famous Thai Theravada masters. Finally, I met and studied under Phra Acariya Thoon Khippapanyo who has recently passed away on Nov 11, 2008 and is widely accepted as a great Arahant (fully enlightened) teacher of our time. In addition, I have personally read and studied much of the Buddhist scriptures and popular literature available. I have recently undertaken the ordination vows and have become a Buddhist monk in the theravada forest monk tradition. I reside at a temple with many dedicated practitioners and great teachers. I have been practicing training my mind to be aligned with right view (sammaditthi) for over 10 years. I have also been meditating for over 10 years. In my time spent with Acariya Thoon, I learned many things and was able to incorporate them into my life. In addition to practicing Buddhism within temples and my home, I used to own two restaurants and managed commercial real estate. I had to deal with many different and problems. I learned how to use Buddhism to fix my problems, both externally (my environment) and internally (within me).

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