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

Mahesh Ursekar mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com
Fri Mar 18 10:21:21 CST 2005


Me: Interestingly, the same thoughts are expressed by Swami A.
Parthasarthy who gives the analogy of petrol to explain will. Petrol
is like the power of God, without it, the car can't move an inch ("Not
a leaf doth stir without the wish of the Lord' - Sri Ramakrishna) but
the driver of the car can choose to steer it anyway he or she wants -
it is his or her free will. God (Petrol) is unaffected by this. And
so, I too am as confused as DDW was at the end of this last episode,
so I listen to the explanation of TD in this regard with rapt but
quiet attention...

Pranams, Mahesh

On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 06:49:16 -0800 (PST), V. Krishnamurthy
<profvk at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Namaste
> Continued from where we left in
> http://www.escribe.com/religion/advaita/m16211.html
> DDW:  We were discussing the question of DFW whether Free
> will itself could be under the influence of Divine Will.
> TD: Well, it is quite clear here from your own example.
> This discussion on Divine Will and Free Will is taking
> place because you raised a question first and started the
> discussion. You are therefore the 'nimitta kAraNa' for this
> action that is taking place now. But this event of a
> discussion is itself God's Will.
> DFW. If you go in this strain then every action of
> everybody becomes an act of God!
> DDW. No. Each action of ours is not merely a product of the
> action or thought that precedes it but it is also the
> product of a state of moral character , which is what TD
> calls our individualised prakRti. This prakRti has been
> brought by us as a chip of imprints from all our previous
> lives.
> DFW: So is it  then not God's action?
> DDW But it is He who is the distributor of results of past
> deeds and thoughts.
> TD: Wait. The concept of free will changes (subjectively)
> as one evolves philosophically. The common man's
> understanding that the Almighty intervenes either by way of
> Grace or otherwise is rather elementary. The real work of
> the Almighty is deeper. Not a leaf moves without His
> knowledge or sanction, not a drop flows down by itself.
> Gravity is His Will. Action and Reaction are His Will.
> DFW: Is Divine Will absolute then?  Is that what is called
> Fate?  Then why all this talk about Free Will?
> DDW: Let us not confuse between Fate and Divine Will. I
> think they are different.
> TD:  Yes, first let us dispose of Fate. Then we can discuss
> Free Will and Divine Will more understandably.  Fate and
> Free will are interwoven just as the threads of a fabric
> are crossed and interlaced. We cannot rewrite our past or
> fly like a bird or breathe under water. These are our
> limitations, inherent in our nature, our fate. Our past is
> our fate for the future. But it is only our tendencies that
> are determined by our past (and the so-called fate). Our
> actions are not determined by our fate. Actions are ours.
> DFW: Then why does DDW say that everything is Divine Will?
> DDW: Just now we decided to dispose of the concept of Fate
> before we make the final lap of discussion between divine
> will and free will. Don't bring in divine will now. TD is
> doing alright; allow  him to go his own way.
> TD: Only actions are ours. Fate has nothing to do it. Fate,
> that is, our prArabdha,  might have created the
> circumstances that led to our action, but the action is
> ours. Fate might have contributed by shaping our
> tendencies, which led to our action, but the action is
> still ours. It is our mind that dictates our action. All
> spiritual teaching pleads for the Will of Man to become
> stronger than the mind. Everywhere in the upanishads the
> appeal is to the will . It is not as if man is a helpless
> creature as a leaf in the storm or a feather in the wind.
> Man's will has an element of complete freedom. It is the
> power which enables him to act in directions opposite even
> to his spontaneous bad tendency (dur-vAsanA).  In this
> sense he is the architect of his fate. Indeed this is the
> time when he should not slacken any of his self-effort.
> Ultimately man's will must prove stronger than fate,
> because it is his own past will that created his present
> fate.
> DFW: Wonderful.  I have heard Swami Chinmayananda say
> something like this. I cannot take shelter under 'Fate'
> and refuse to act in a morally elevating manner. I cannot
> argue, for instance, that 'I will not go to the help of a
> suffering man, because it is his karma that makes him
> suffer; let him suffer!'. Maybe the other person suffers
> because of his karma but my action or karma of not going to
> his help is my own decision, out of my own free will.
> DDW: And that will be a debit entry in your karmic
> accounting, for which you have only yourself to blame.
> TD: In fact this cover for inaction  will start a chain
> reaction of vAsanAs in your future conduct and will
> gradually consume you in its own way.   I was saying
> therefore, that it is by our own will that we must face our
> fate, that is prArabdha. Of course we cannot rewrite our
> past. We may not be able to repair our wrong actions, but
> we can learn lessons from them and act accordingly, by a
> determined free will, in the future.
> DFW:  Maybe we can try to avoid repeating them.
> TD:  Fate is only our prArabdha karma which nobody can
> escape. It seems even divine intervention cannot change it.
> Many of our stotras which promise eradication of all sin as
> the result of recitation of that stotra, are careful to
> imply only the destruction of sanchita karma and not
> prArabdha karma.  Sometimes it says this explicitly as in
> "sanchita-pApa vinAshaka lingam"  in LingAshhTakaM.
> PrArabdha karma has to be exhausted only by experiencing
> it.
> DDW: But it is our attitude to the experience that changes
> according to our trust in God.
> TD: That is where our level of spiritual evolution enters
> the picture. A trust in God and his omnipotence does not
> mean that we 'believe' in Fate. It is wrong to think so. It
> is the first step for the correct understanding of Hindu
> philosophy and spirituality.
> DFW : Does not the omnipotence of God mean that unless He
> wills it we cannot become spiritual?
> TD:  You are raising the right question at the right time.
> Your question brings home to us another point that is
> mentioned in our smritis. You know there are four goals of
> life. These are called 'purushArthas' in Sanskrit. They are
> dharma, artha, kAma and moksha. – meaning broadly,  Duty
> of Righteousness, material prosperity, satisfaction of
> sensual desires and release from the samsAra bondage. Of
> these, the smritis would say, only artha and kAma are
> obtained as per  one's prArabdha karma.  The other two,
> dharma and moksha are obtained only by self-effort. That is
> why 'satyam vada' and 'dharmam chara' are specific
> injunctions to us. Self effort is the most essential
> ingredient for lifting ourselves upward in the ladder of
> spiritual evolution.
> DDW: If the upward path to higher levels of spirituality
> has to be chalked out only by our effort then where comes
> the question of divine will? You are confusing me now.
> TD:  We have to go slow now. Maybe we should break here
> and continue  next time.
> PraNAms to all seekers of Truth.
> profvk
> ________________________________
> Prof. V. Krishnamurthy
> You are welcome to have a look at any of the following  books on my website:
> http://www.geocities.com/profvk
> 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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