Reading the book by Nietzsche he poses the idea that there is something beyond good and evil in our actions. He taunts with the idea, that ideas are not our own but instead there is a thought and a consequence of thought. Such as we have no control over the subconscious and thus when a thought goes from being subconscious to consciousness its not out own and we can not then freely act upon the thought, all that is done is predetermined by the brain in a stream of actions and consequences of actions. Does “free will” or “free thought” then possible to exist?
I am aware I may be reading into this completely wrong but I’ve heard similar theories before and would like someone to expand and better explain this theory.
I would suggest that what Nietzsche was intimating is that we are all programmed and indoctrinated from birth. This multi-layered form of indoctrination is what forms the ego personality. When people accept these layers of indoctrination, their minds are not their own, but become nothing more than instruments of the ego’s control over our consciousness. Most of this indoctrination is on the subconscious level and the presumption of free will becomes non-existent because our choices are shaped by ego indoctrination. The ego feels it is making free will choices, but those choices are governed in each individual by the form of indoctrination they have received that shapes the ego personality in each one of us. As such, there is no true free will, only the appearance of free will from a limited number of indoctrinated choices. Until one can free their mind of ego control, there is no free thought and no free will, for it is the indoctrination that the ego program accepts that shapes all of our thoughts and choices.
From my studying into the Buddhist/Yogic traditions, it seems to me that they have a remedy to this conundrum :)
I’m guessing that what you’re trying to summarize – your interpretation of Nietzsche (I’ve never read anything by him, only alot about him :P) is that because all thoughts were at one point subconscious, and because we don’t have control over the subconscious – then by extension we have no control over our thoughts. And thought leads to action, etc, so essentially we have no control at all. So no free will.
The Buddhist & Yogic traditions try to free us from Karma. Karma is doing, and I think they would agree with Nietzsche’s point here, and say that these uncontrollable subconscious impulses (called samskaras in Yoga/Buddhism) and their resultant thoughts/actions are all part of our Karma.
Their solution is to become as conscious as possible of the habits/patterns in our Karma. If through practice we learn about our own programming, then eventually we will be able to identify our old scripts as they play out in the moment. If we can catch ourselves acting out of old programming, then we have the possibility of choosing an action different than the one our programming is sending us towards. Recognizing one’s programming and choosing to live differently is freedom from Karma.
But would Nietzsche argue that to practice Buddhism or Yoga, and to try to become free, is just another layer to our programming? I don’t know :) That’s a tricky one.
In response to your observations let me first say that
karma, as it is taught in Hinduism and later adopted by Buddhism, is a belief
in a system for religious reinforcement. The concept of karma as it is taught
is little different than the concept of Hell to the Christians. Live a good
life, good karma, live a bad life, bad karma. A different philosophical spin on
‘the devil’s going to get you if you don’t watch out.’
Karma as it is taught is simply a belief system not unlike
most other belief systems. Karma, as you express it seems to be a matter of
predestination, although behavioral modification can change the predestination
of karma. I disagree with this premise as I’m sure Nietzsche would.
into true freedom of consciousness one has to remove all the constraints on
that consciousness by adopting and believing the ideas created by others.
Following Buddhism or following Jesus both amount to a person following someone
else’s ideas and not cutting their own path to their own higher level
awareness. One can’t attain this higher level state of cognitive awareness when
they are walking in the footsteps of Buddha or any other. One has to trod their
own path and walk in their own footsteps to achieve true freedom of
consciousness. So long as anyone is a follower of any doctrine or creed, their
consciousness is bound by the belief in that creed.
Recognizing one’s programming and simply altering that
behavior is not what leads one to ultimate cognitive awareness, it is simply
altering how the ego reacts to any given situation. Every self-help book on the
market offers the same type of ego reprogramming. Reprogramming the ego to react
differently does not transcend the ego, it just alters one’s ego habits, and
that is no progress at all where advancing one’s consciousness is involved
To answer your final observation, to adopt Buddhism as the ‘answer’
does amount to just another level of programming. One adopts Buddhism (or any
religion for that matter) as a form of ego self-identifier and as such, it is another
layer to the ego programming, as it is through adopting any belief. To put it
more succinctly, rather than follow Buddha, Nietzsche put it this way in Thus
“A light hath dawned upon me: I need companions—living ones; not dead
companions and corpses, which I carry with me where I will. But I need
living companions, who will follow me
because they want to follow themselves—and to the place where I will.”
To become totally free in one’s consciousness they
have to follow themselves, not walk in the footsteps of others. We can further
discuss this if you are interested