[Advaita-l] Free will and Destiny - Part 3

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 29 00:29:35 CDT 2015

Fundamental Human Pursuits:

 Life involves action. No one can remain idle for a moment without action – says 
Krishna. na hi kaschit kshaNamapi jaatu tuShTasya karma kRit.... and everyone is propelled to act because of his vasanas or likes and dislikes. At the same time, action does not give the result that one is longing for. Hence Krishna provides the laws of action and results in the famous sloka –karmanyeva adhikaarastE maa phaleShu kadaachana, maa karma phalaheturbhuuH, mate sangostvakarmaNi. One has only choice in action and not in the result at any time, let the result not be the motivating factor for action, nor one should stop from acting when action is required- says Krishna. Some interpret the word adhikaara as right to perform action; however what one has only the choice of action – that includes to do, not to do or to do another way- 
kartum shakyam, akartum shakyam or anyathaa karthum shakyam.

As a human being, I have no choice but to choose the course of action. Not to do is also a choice that one has to exercise and be accountable for that choice. Some interpret this as we have no choice in action and all our actions are predestined, while some others think we have free will at any time to perform. Freewill vs Destiny has become a debatable issue in some circles of Philosophical discussions. The best 
answer to this was provided by Swami Chinmayanandaji. He said – what we have is praarabdha or destiny and what we do with what we have is purushaartha, or freewill. Future praarabdha is past praarabdha modified by the results of present action
Thus while we are prisoners of our past, we are also masters of our future too. Krishna packs this idea in His statement: uddharet aatmanaa aatmaanam, naatmaanamavasaadayet, atmaiva hyaatmano bandhuH, aatmaiva ripuraatmanaH. 
One has to uplift oneself by oneself, and not to degrade oneself. By uplifting oneself one becomes his own friend and by degradation of oneself, one becomes his own enemy. Thus choice is ours. Thus a human being is endowed with freewill to evolve himself. The scriptures provide some guidelines for evolution. Thus being born in a particular environment is also due to result of our own action in the past and to be born in a better environment in future one has to work for it. In addition, by following the scriptural guidelines, one can evolve rapidly and end this cycle of births and deaths. The choice is ours.

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. 

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