Author Topic: Free will and/or destiny - II  (Read 959 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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Free will and/or destiny - II
« on: June 26, 2015, 07:01:34 AM »
Laws of Actions and Results:
One cannot but act as that is the essential expression of Life itself. As a human being I only have the choice of action. The results are dictated by the laws of nature that is beyond my control. If I have a stone in my hand, I can throw it this side, that side or up into the air and pray that it does not fall on my head, or not to do anything with it. But once I throw the stone, its trajectory is determined not by me but by the laws of nature such as gravitational force, the frictional forces, etc. Lord Himself expresses in the form of creation, and thus the laws too, says Vedanta. Hence He is called karmaphaladaata or giver of fruits of actions. The factors that frame the results that I have no control on are grouped under daivam or in normal parlance may be considered as ‘luck’. Hence Krishna’s statement – maaphaleshu kadaachana – you have no choice in the results, once the action is performed. You can perform another action to counter the effects of previous action – like saying I am sorry when you made a mistake. That is called repair action or prayaschitta karma; the result of that action also does not depend on you. Another way of looking at this law of action and result is that action can be performed only in the present, including the planning of future action. The result follows the action and hence future to the action. I have no control on the future. Thus Krishna provides an absolute law of action. I cannot act in the past, since past is gone; and I cannot act in the future, since future has not come. I can sit down and ‘brood over’ my past actions or worry about future. These two only dissipate my energies and make me inefficient in the present action. Life involves action in the present. We can only live in the present since past is gone and future has not come. The irony is that most do not live in the present since their minds are always thinking about either their past or the future. Hence efficacy in the action comes by involving completely (body, mind and intellect) to the fullest extent in the present action. To arrest the habitual tendency of the mind to run to the regrets of the past (or glories of the past) or worry or excitement about the future result and devote entirely in the present action requires the mind that is disciplined. A man of success lives in the present and enjoys the present. Another way to live in the present is to surrender the past and future at the feet of the Lord, and perform the action to the best that I can do as an offering to the Lord, that is, become a karmayogi. Krishna says – yat karoShi yad ashnaasi ... tat kuruShva madarpaNam –
whatever you do, offer it to me with devotion. When we offer something to the Lord, a) it should be our best b) it should be dhaarmic – otherwise He would not accept it. Hence a karmayogi is one who becomes very efficient in action, says Krishna – yogaH karmasu koushalam dexterity in action follows karmayoga, and he also becomes a righteous or dharmic person, which are essential ingredients for evolution of the mind. Hence Vedanta says for proper action in the present one has to follow the four purusharthas, namely, dharma, artha, kaama and moksha.

Four Purusharthas:

artha involves earning money and kaama involves fulfilling the desires but these two are bounded one side by dharma or righteousness and the other side by moksha – a freedom from all limitations. Thus one should earn the wealth as much as one can but by the right means or dhaarmic way, and also enjoy the life in dhaarmic way. In the marriage one takes an oath – dharmecha, arthecha, kaamecha naati charaami – I am taking this woman as my wife for fulfilling my dharma, and enjoy life in dhaarmic way, with the wealth acquired in dharmic way. Moksha is left out in the marriage vow since it involves Vedanta sharavana, manana and nidhidhyaasana that require individual sadhana at personal level. Moral Laws Governing Action: Dharma forms the fundamental basis for life itself and hence Hinduism is actually called Sanatana dharma or that which is followed by time immemorial. Dharma has several connotational meanings; the most prominent one is that which supports the life itself. The whole Geetopadesha starts with dharma (dhrma kshetre..) and ends with mama meaning mine. Thus it involves discussion of what is my dharma or swadharma, with Krishna stating that it is better to do one’s own dharma than to follow that of others- swadharme nidhanam shreyaH. The basic foundation for dharma is accountability for one’s own action. We have legal laws that we need to follow in any society, and ignorance of the laws is not defense for violation in any court of law. For example, I have to pay taxes on time, otherwise I can be prosecuted. Thus legal laws of the land have to be followed; that forms the local dharma. There are subtle dharmas that need to be followed at individual level which can be considered as moral laws. A simple example is I have to do what I expect others to do towards me and I should not do what I expect others not to do towards me. For example, I expect others to be kind to me, help me when I am in need, forgive my mistakes, etc. Then these become my dharma or duties towards others. Similarly I do not want others to lie to me, steal my property, hurt me or abuse me, etc. Then there are my dharmas to follow with respect to others. Some of them are called universal values that are independent of time and location. Any violation of these will leave marks in the mind for which I have to bear the consequence. Religions call this as sin. Swami Chinmayanandaji defines sin beautifully. Sin is defined as the divergence of mind and intellect. That is intellect or buddhi knows what is the right thing to do, while the mind or manas feels like doing something opposite. For example, the intellect knows one should not steal. Even a notorious thief also knows this since he does not want his stolen property to be stolen by others. He is ready to compromise the value for his benefit. While legally he may escape but morally he gets bound. He has to bear the consequence of this violation of moral law in this life or in the next life. This is the basis of theory of karma in Hinduism. One is accountable for one’s action, here or in the life after. That karma account is expressed as praarabda karma or destiny which is nothing but deliberate compromises against moral laws committed in the past. These are absolute laws that govern the birth-death cycles of all life forms. Hence one’s birth, in terms of the type of life form (human, animal or plant etc), place and time, gender, parents, siblings, etc. are all determined by one’s karma as well as the karmas of those who are affected by that birth. System is well governed by laws beyond human intellect. The karma of all being put together becomes the cause for the creation, says Krishna.

Hence dharma forms the essence of purushartha or determining factor for Freewill. Krishna calls this as eternal wheel of action and results that is set in motion from time immemorial or sanatana dharma – which forms the essence of Hinduism, nay the very foundation of the creation. This does not depend on one belief system or opinion. Krishna says - evam pravartitam chakram naanuvartayateeha yaH, aghaayurindriyaaraamo mogham partha sa jiivati. Whoever does not act in accordance with this eternal wheel of dharma that is set in motion from the beginning-less creation, he suffers. The choice is ours and we are accountable for the choice we make.

Thus freewill and destiny play together reminding ourselves – what we have is destiny and what we do with what we have is our freewill. The Free-will is there until we are free from will –which forms the essence of the fourth purushartha, namely moksha, which in essence is freedom from will. Freedom from will involves understanding that I am never a doer or enjoyer. The prakRiti itself does all actions –the prakRiti includes the Body, Mind and Intellect and the whole jagat or the world.  prakRityavacha karmaaNi kriyamaanaani sarvashaH –declares Krishna in Getopadesha.

Hari Om!


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Re: Free will and/or destiny - II
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2016, 05:26:00 PM »
Dear Swamiji,

I hope you are well.

I did a search in this Forum and I believe this is the latest (although over a year old) thread on the topic of *free will*.

As you have mentioned at the bottom of your post, and as Krsna eludes to in the Bhagavad Gita, all actions are actually performed by the three modes of material nature i.e prakriti. If this is the case, how is it that we have free will?

In my personal opinion, we do have some form of free will, but I can't seem to justify it through reason. Genetics seem to be our 'initial conditions' if you like, these genes determine our physical and possibly mental characteristics or at least tendencies. Then it is our environment, which we also have no choice over (at birth and childhood anyway), this then can also go on to shape us. So finally, we arrive at adulthood, our mental and physical conditions being an accumulation of all experiences and actions since birth, where is the room for free will? Is it that the *mind* is so vast, it has the capacity to stretch beyond as it were, the limitations imposed on it by all the things I just mentioned and that is what we ultimately call free will i.e when the mind goes beyond the restrictions imposed on it by the three modes of nature (from birth).

I have watched your videos on youtube on your lectures on the Yoga Vasistha, they were incredibly enlightening, thank you very much for posting them. You used an analogy in one of those lectures which fits quite well I guess into this discussion.
The analogy was that when you are lying on your bed sleeping and are in a dream state, you are also a subject in that dream alongside all the other things we experience in life. Now, the one lying in the bed sleeping is the one projecting all of this, and so effectively everything in that dream world is actually just the dreamer (the one sleeping), there are no different people or objects. It's only a projection of the dreamer. If we say the reality we experience now is like that, the projector of the dream is Iswara. Can we really have any free will in this dream? isn't it all ultimately the will of Iswara. Is the concept of free will therefore only applicable to the ego, i.e once one has awakened to the truth, he realises he was never a doer or enjoyer.

apologies for the long post, please feel free to point me to articles or posts where you may have already addressed this issue.

best regards,