• Math. and Spirituality
  • Freewill and Karma
  • All about Reincarnation
  • The Pinnacle of Religion
  • Buddhism and the Gita
  • Shri Aurobindo
  • Spiritual Techniques
  • We're all Crack Pots
  • The Day of the Lord
  • 13 Beautiful Stories
  • Essay and Short Stories

    Freewill And Karma

    [Home]

    FREE WILL, KARMA, REINCARNATION, EFFORT, AND GRACE
    by Ramananda Prasad

    QUESTION:

    1) To 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?

    ANSWER:

    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:

    The 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) 

    Actions 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 Self-knowledge.

    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 channel.

    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 salvation.

    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)

                The 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 FREEWILL

    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)

                To 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