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Determinism

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Determinism (niyativāda) is the belief that an individual’s destiny is fixed and that he or she must act accordingly. The Buddha said there are two types of determinism,

(1) theistic determinism (issaranimmānahetu)which claims that God knows and controls everything and thus has determined everything before it has happened and

(2) kammic determinism (pubbekatahetu) which says that everything we experience, pleasant, painful or neutral, is due to our kamma, that is, how we have acted in the past. According to the Buddha, both these ideas are not just false but also pernicious (A.I,173). Determinism means that the individual cannot choose one course of action over another, cannot make an effort to change anything and is not responsible for anything he or she does. Such a belief can only lead to irresponsibility – ‘Don’t blame me, it is the will of God’ or inactivity – ‘What can I do? It’s my past kamma.’ See Free Will.

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