FREE WILL, KARMA, REINCARNATION, EFFORT, AND GRACE
by Ramananda Prasad
what extent do we decide our lives? If everything is predetermined where does
good action and bad action fit into this and on what basis is our future life
(next life) decided?
2) Is free will, grace of God, and Karma a
myth, a mere theory and a hypothesis?
Our free will is like the very limited freedom of a
dog on a leash. By our own action, sooner or later we loose our free will and
become a puppet of our own Karma and everything becomes predetermined!! We
are trapped by Maya Devi and suffer!!
Our future is decided by us in the final analysis,
but prayer and grace also helps. Because we do what we think, and we become
what we do. Thus our thoughts decide our destiny. Here is what Gita says:
Whatever object one remembers as one leaves the body at
the end of life, one attains that object. Thought of whatever object prevails
during one's lifetime, one remembers only that object at the end of life and
achieves it. (8.06)
Therefore, always remember Me and do your duty. You shall
certainly attain Me if your mind and intellect are ever focused on Me. (8.07)
"Neither is everything
predestined, nor do we have free will in everything,"
said the Great Master, Ramana Maharshi. "There
was a time when we had free will. We could act as we pleased. We acted, and
that act produced a certain result. That "result" became our
destiny. We could not escape it. We acted again. This time our free will
carried with it the experience of our first act and was qualified and limited
to that extent. This act again produced results, and these results again
curtailed our original freedom. Now that we have been acting and producing
results for millions of ages, these actions and their reactions act upon us
as our unavoidable fate called Praarabdh. Our body, mind, intellect, and
reasoning are fashioned by these and make us choose a certain course. Our
previous acts determine our present life, and our present acts go to make our
future. We reap now what we have sown in our previous births, and we shall
reap in the future what we are sowing now.”
What can we do to reach God? Are we helpless?
And the cycle goes on and on till we break this
cycle by accumulating no more Karma --- good or bad --- and exhausting all
our past Karma by reaping its fruit and/or when the spark of Self-knowlegde
burns all our accumulated Karma (Samchit Karma). The fate or Praarabdh is a
portion of accumulated Karma that has to be exhausted in this life.
How we can stop accumulating more karma while
living in this world and doing worldly actions, Lord said:
forces of Nature do all work, but due to delusion of ignorance, or ego,
people assume themselves to be the doer and incur karmic bondage. (See also
5.09, 13.29, and 14.19) (3.27)
produce karmic reactions or bondage only if we do the act for ourselves. Thus we should not think ourselves as the
doer, but a mere divine instrument working for the creator. With this attitude we will incur no karmic
bondage or sin, even if we kill all the entire world. But remember not to misuse this principle
of instrumentality and start killing people for personal gain.
And how we can burn all our past accumulated karma,
Lord Krishna said:
The fire of Self-knowledge
reduces all bonds of Karma to ashes, O Arjuna, like the blazing fire reduces
wood to ashes (Gita 4.37).
and what happens when all karma
is burnt or exhausted, the answer comes:
By devotion one truly understands
what and who I am in essence. Having known Me in essence, one immediately
merges with Me. (See also 5.19) (Gita 18.55)
After many births, the
enlightened one resorts to Me by realizing that everything is, indeed, My
manifestation. Such a great soul is very rare. (Gita 7.19) This is
Set aside all meritorious deeds
and religious rituals, and just surrender completely to My will with firm
faith and loving devotion. I shall liberate you from all sins, the bonds of
Karma. Do not grieve. (Gita 18.66) (Please read the explanation of this
important verse on our site)
And we attain Godhood after no
more karma or desire is left. We become godlike, if not God!!
More on Freewill
Free will holds the field with association to
individuality. As long as individuality (also called ego that makes one feel
like the “doer” and “owner”) lasts there is free will. All the scriptures are
based on this fact and they advise directing the free will in the right
Lord actually knows our needs at all times and is simply
waiting to be asked for help due to our free will.
God does not punish or reward anybody. We ourselves do
this by the misuse or the right use of our own power of reasoning and free
will. Bad things happen to good people to make them better.
The grace of God, like rays of the sun, is equally
available to all, but due to free will one must open the window of the heart
to let the sunshine come in. It is said that divinity is our birthright;
however, self-effort in the right direction is also necessary to remove
hindrances brought about by our own past deeds. The grace of God also comes
expeditiously through our own efforts. It is also believed that divine grace
and self-effort are one and the same. Self-effort promotes the process of God-realization
as manure promotes growth of plants.
Spirit forgets its real nature under the influence of
divine illusory energy (Maya), feels pain and pleasure, does good and evil
deeds, incurs the bondage of works done by free will due to ignorance, and seeks
O Arjuna, you are controlled by your own nature-born
Karmic impressions. Therefore, you shall do ¾ even against your will ¾ what
you do not wish to do out of delusion. (18.60)
mind often knows right and wrong, but it runs after evil ¾ reluctantly
¾ by the
force of Karmic footprints called Samskaar.
WE BECOME THE
PUPPETS OF OUR OWN
The Supreme Lord — as the
controller abiding in the inner psyche of all beings — causes them to work
out their Karma like a puppet (of Karma created by the free will) mounted on
a machine. (18.61)
satisfy the free will of the ignorant, overwhelmed by the three modes of
material Nature, the good Lord creates an environment conducive for engaging
in unwanted actions. As a facilitator, God reciprocates with everyone
according to their desires and allows them to fulfill desires generated by
free will. Lord uses His illusory kinetic energy called Maya to engage the
living entities in good and bad acts according to their desires and their
previously accumulated good and bad Karma.
The ignorance is the mother of all evils that keeps the karmic wheel
running. Self-knowledge is revealed
to a pure mind, and there is no human mind that cannot be purified by a
repeated reading of the Gita with faith. ----- R. Prasad