Thursday, August 18, 2005

Freewill vs Destiny

A friend of mine asked this intresting question.

Question: Surya, there is a saying that everything happens in ones life according to what Brahma has written on his forehead, or everything happens as it is destined. But on the ther hand, we see that every moment we feel we are doing this and soing that. Also, Swami Vivekananda says that man is the creator of his own destiny. Which of these two contradictary ideas is correct?

Answer: Both the ideas- that we act according to what God wants us to, and the other idea that man is the creator of his own destiny are true.

Let us take one example: You throw a projectile into air. As you know the initial velocity, angle, gravity etc, you can calculate exactly where it will go and fall. Or to say in other words, you have formulated beforehand exactly which path it will go; the ball will simply obey it.

But see it from the point of ball. At each point in the path, the ball will calculate what is the ratio of horizontal and vertical velocities, and then decide the angle at which it has to go. The poor ball does not know that you have already determined its projectile. It feels that it is determing its path, velocity at each point, and proceed thus. It goes as if it is doing everything.

In the same manner, at each point of our life, we decide which way to go, depending on the condition we are in. At the same time, the entire sketch of our life is made, and we just enact that play. The law that governs the projectile motion is KARMA, or law of cause and effect. Purva Samskaras or past impressions of the previous births are the initial velocity, angle etc.
In reality, nobody sees the future. 'seeing the future' is a contradiction in itself. You cannot combine present with future. They are always different. What is really meant by that statement is that we 'forecast' the future. Even some yogis who foretell future do not 'see' future, but they see the present, and they are aware of the laws governing this world, thus they forecast the future.

But the question is do you know what the future holds for you? Are you aware of you future? Obviously NO. Then it better to proceed as if you are the boss, and the final authority to decide. This is what is meant by the Swmaiji's statement "man the creator of his own destiny". And I beleive this attitude is the best, as it puts onus of being Dharmic on the individual, and he thus brings out his best. This is what the future may have store for him. Why think of things that are not in your control, first make the best use of chances you already have.

Karma -neither freewill nor destiny

Swami Vivekananda gave great confidence to the ppl with his utterances like "You are the maker of your own destiny" etc. True we do have power to make our future. But the real catche is that we do not have the power to make it at that very instant. If I want to be a Buddha, I can surely be. But I cannot be a Buddha immediately, it will take some time, this time being dependent on my previous karmas. And I beleive it this TIME CONSTRAINT that we call Destiny.

Let me explain by one more analogy: Two persons X and Y are there. Both start working, and used to get 10k per month. X used to spend away this money, while Y used to carefully spend it, and also work harder and earn more money. After the end of one year, X has nothing as saving, but Y has more than one lac. Our X now starts crying foul that by destiny he has no money, but Y has so much money. He conviently forgets the past, but only remembers the present. But in reality, it is their own makings that left them there. The destiny of today is the cumulative of yesterdays freewills. Sister Nivedita in her Aggressive Hinduism book says "Karma is no longer a destiny but an opputunity". This idea sums it all.

But again, if X wants to earn big money, it IS possible for him by FREEWILL. But he cannot do it immediately, and some time is required for it. I guess this limitation of time is what we can term as destiny.

There is also one more way of looking at the whole thing: As the inner world and outer world.
In the inner world, I am the master, I have full power over my destiny. If I want to be good, I can be I can be, if I want to be bad, I can be.

But with respect to the outer world, we do not have that power. If want want to be a female, it is not possible. Here my free will does not work. Nor does my free will have power to change the external circumstances. We have only power over how we react to it.

More elaboration:

Having said "And I beleive it this TIME CONSTRAINT that we call Destiny." previously, let me substantiate it a little.

Destiny means our limitation to make choices -->limitation to make choices -->lack of freedom -->bondage -->world -->duality

SO, we can say that destiny and duality are inter-related, and can be used one for other. If one is there, the other should be there.

Freewill means freedom to do what we want to do -->freedom-->No limitations -->limitless -->infinite -->Brahman or Oneness

So, on the other hand freewill and Absolute are interchangable terms.

The Absolute seen through Time, space and causation becomes the universe. That is to say, the ONE seen through Time, space and causation looks many. Time came first, then came space and then came causation as the product of time and space. So, all these ideas are related to time and one cannot exist without the other two.

The moment time has come, the Absolute has become dual. Or, the moment Time came, the Freewill has become destiny (from the above interchangebility). So, it is this time constraint that tries to put the limits on Freewill, making it appear as destiny. But mind you, the Abolute 'appears' to be bound, but in reality it is always free. In our case also we feel we are bound, but actually we are all the time free.

The Swamiji's words "You are the creator of your own destiny" can be better understood in this way. The 'you' here is not surya, but the Atman. So I am absolutely correct when I say 'I am completely free' with the 'I' here referring to Atman- it is perfectly true. But if you say 'I am completely free' with the 'I' here referring to Surya, then it is not true. You have already bound yourself in duality with name and form.

Hence, to conclude, WE ARE FREE. But to enjoy this freedom, you should come out your little self, and ASSERT YOUR DIVINITY/INFINITE NATURE.


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