[Advaita-l] Re:A Conversation between Divine Will and Free Will

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 17 07:18:41 CST 2005


Continued from where we left at

DDW: We were raising the doubt whether the Free Will that
is enjoined to obey God’s injunctions through the vedas, is
itself under the influence of the Divine Will.

DFW:  I was thinking of this problem last night and I have
a fundamental doubt before you all proceed further in this
discussion. The philosophy of advaita that we all adhere to
claims that there is only one absolute brahman and
everything else is only an appearance that comes and goes.
If that is so, where is the question of a divine will? 
Does brahman, the attributeless, have a will for Itself?

DDW:  Hey! Where do you get all these questions? They cut
the ground under my feet!

TD: But it is a legitimate question. I suggest we take it
up first.

DFW:  I feel if you grant that the attributeless brahman is
the only Absolute Truth, then there can be no divine will.
If you want to have divine will as an entity, then advaita
is contradicted.

DDW. But if  you grant free will absolutely, then that
means there are choices to choose from. All this means
Duality and multiplicity, which is against advaita.

TD:  May I correct your qualification 'asolutely'? Even if
there is one instance of free will, that is enough to imply

DFW:  If there is only one Consciousness  everywhere and
all the time, where is the question of free will? Free will
of whom? Free from what? 

TD:  The problem comes because we are making the standard
mistake of mixing up two different levels of our awareness.
 If we want to stay at the level of the Absolute brahman,
then there is nothing else to talk about. Only Silence.
Remember Dakshinamurti concept. But the moment we think of
God or Ishvara, we have descended to the level of the mAyic
world and in this vyAvahArika world, there is God, 
 -- who is now nothing but Saguna brahman, i.e., brahman on
whom we have superposed several attributes -- there are
creations, there can be talk of free will, divine will etc.

DDW:  I see.  It is really a subtle point.

TD. This subtlety is usually missed in arguments. Now let
us come back to the question of  whether free will itself
is under the influence of the divine will.

DFW: In fact that is exactly where I have another question.
I  would like here to come down to the ordinary  concept of
bhakti or devotion rather than the abstract injunctions of
satyam vada and dharmam chara. Now all religion says “Be
devoted to God. Pray to Him”.  This is bhakti. If God, your
saguna brahman,  is the Almighty that He is supposed to be,
why not He Himself grant me, by a wave of His magic, that
bhakti which I find it difficult to cultivate by my free

DDW: Good question! I appreciate you, DFW, for the way you
articulate your questions. But God does grant you that
bhakti. Only you have to receive it. The rain may pour, but
if a vessel is upside down no water will collect in it. 

TD:  Well said. Our minds are free. So by our own free will
we have to decide to receive what God gives us. By our own
volition we must decide to trust in God and surrender to

DDW: If by supplanting our will, God has to give us what we
need, then there need be no creation, no existence of the

TD: That is the mystery of God’s leelA, sport or play of
creation. Creation is where God allows beings to have the
feeling of separateness from Him and then waits and waits
until the beings that have emerged from Him come back to
Him.  If they don’t want to come back to Him, He allows
them to go their own way and take their own time to
discover that that is the Want which will rid them of all
other wants.

DDW: This is what Sathya Sai Baba calls ‘The agony of God’
in this great cycle of creation. His anguish is that beings
do not want to get out of this cycle. So sometimes He gives
them all the petty things they want, so that in due time
they would want what He wants to give them.

TD: As Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘Breeze of Grace is always
blowing, but you have to set your sail to catch that
breeze’.  In other words He allows us to go our ways and
learn by our own experience and come to Him by our own

DFW: Then is this experience ours or is it given by Him?

TD: He does not give us these experiences. Because, we have
already programmed it for ourselves by our own past

DDW: The one thing He assures us however, is that once we
take even a minor step towards Him He comes forth with both
hands to receive us, as would a mother in welcoming a lost
child. As Sathya Sai Baba would say: ‘You take one step
towards Me; I will take ten steps towards you’!

DFW: So let us come back to the question of whether Free
Will itself is under the influence of Divine Will or not.

TD: I am happy you are recognising the existence of Divine
Will to that extent. When we say that everything happens
according to the Will of God, are we specifically referring
 to Nature and Nature’s doings? 

DFW: When an event happens to a human being and this is
referred to as God’s Will, is this not just another way of
saying  that it is one’s past karma that has brought about
this event?

DDW: But the average psychology is different. When a bad
thing happens to somebody we rush to say it is God’s Will.
When a good thing happens to us we would rather ascribe it
to our own effort.

TD: That is where the teaching of religion is important.
Either learn to accept both as God’s Will, or in the
alternative, learn to take responsibility for both. Don’t
blame only unpleasant things on God.

DFW. That is why I say, we should take responsibility for
every one of our actions. It is all our free will. 

DDW: You are going back to your old refrain.

TD: We shall now have to go to the next level of spiritual
evolution. That, I think, will make matters clearer.

DDW. That means we are breaking now.

PraNAms to all seekers of Truth.

Prof. V. Krishnamurthy

You are welcome to have a look at any of the following  books on my website:

1. Gems from the Ocean of Hindu Thought Vision & Practice
2. Live Happily, the Gita Way
3. Advaita Dialogue for beginners.
4. Discourses of the Paramacharya on Soundaryalahari.

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