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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Whether Life is Predestined or is there a free Will?

On a group in FB there was a very hot discussion going on PREDESTINATION started by the below paragraph posted in the group. There were obviously many comments for and against PREDESTINATION, with each group member trying his/her best to justify his/her stance for/against PREDESTINATION.I too being a group member put my views, first against PREDESTINATION and then after some more thinking ( its according me ) in support of PREDESTINATION .I am still not satisfied with both my views and feel that we all in the group were missing/overlooking  some vital element in this topic .It could be of course out of our ignorance and there is nothing much wrong about being ignorant. Ignorance can be removed with true knowledge. True knowledge comes with learning, but the learning effort must be unbiased, objective, un-interfered by any previous ideas of the subject and most importantly devoid of any ego. Exactly this is what troubles me! How can one achieve this feat of being unbiased, objective, un-interfered by our opinions/ideas about the subject & be devoid of any ego at the same time? Our mind (ego) is always in a state of comparison of current with the past (be it an experience, event, reading or anything and everything). This is its nature! How can one make the mind work against its very own nature? I really don’t know but I certainly did realize one thing that if not all, most of us in the group were not learning but teaching! The subtle Ego in everyone was at its play here. The very first rule, I learned in my just begun spiritual journey was to kill the ego. I could see that the Ego (including mine, hence the very cause of this article) was at its zenith here. I am being confronted at every step by the very thing I was/am trying to run away from! Isn’t it a paradox?
Thoughts are incessant and will never stop so let me abruptly go back to the main topic of discussion, below is a small paragraph depicting a QA session between a seeker and Ramana Maharishi-

A very interesting discussion with Ramana Maharshi.
Q: I can understand that the outstanding events in a man’s life, such as his country, nationality, family, career or profession, marriage, death, etc., are all predestined by his karma, but can it be that all the details of his life, down to the minutest, have already been determined? Now, for instance, I put this fan that is in my hand down on the floor here. Can it be that it was already decided that on such and such a day, at such and such an hour, I should move the fan like this and put it down here?
Ramana: Certainly. Whatever this body is to do and whatever experiences it is to pass through was already decided when it came into existence.
Q: What becomes then of man’s freedom and responsibility for his actions?
Ramana: The only freedom man has is to strive for and acquire the jnana which will enable him not to identify himself with the body. The body will go through the actions rendered inevitable by prarabdha and a man is free either to identify himself with the body and be attached to the fruits of its actions, or to be detached from it and be a mere witness of its activities." - from Be As You Are
(The above quotes are via Hep Yo in another group. )

Various People’s thoughts on Predestination.

1.OSHO: Book of Secrets: Chapter 6: Devices to Transcend Dreaming
He grows up with this attitude that “I am the center.” By and by he will demand more. A child’s demands are very simple; they can be supplied. But as he will grow his demands will become more and more complex. Sometimes it will not be possible to supply them, to fulfill them. Sometimes it may be absolutely impossible. He may demand the moon, or anything.
The more he will grow, the more the demands will become complex, impossible. Then frustration sets in, and the child begins to think that now he is being deceived. He has taken it for granted that he was the center of the world. Now problems will be there, and by and by he will be dethroned. When he becomes an adult, he will be completely dethroned. Then he will know that he is not the center. But deep down the unconscious mind goes on thinking in terms of him being the center.
People come and ask me whether their fate is determined. They are asking whether they are so important, so significant for this universe that their fate must be determined beforehand. “What is my purpose?” they ask. “Why was I created?” This childhood nonsense that you are the center creates these questions like, “For what purpose am I created?”
You are not created for any purpose. And it is good that you are not created for any purpose; otherwise you would be a machine. A machine is created for some purpose. Man is not created for some purpose, for something - no! Man is just the outflowing, overflowing creation. Everything simply is. Flowers are there, and stars are there, and you are there. Everything is just an overflowing, a joy, a celebration of existence without any purpose.
But this theory of fate, of predetermination, is what creates problems, because we take it as a theory. We think that everything is determined, but nothing is determined. However, this technique uses this as a device. When we say everything is determined, this is not said to you as a theory. The purpose is this: that if you take life as a drama, predetermined, then it becomes a dream. For example, if I knew that this day, this night, I was going to talk to you, and it is predetermined what words I should speak on this day, and if it is so fixed that nothing can be changed - that I cannot utter a single new word – then suddenly I am not related at all with this whole process because then I am not the source of action.
If everything is determined and if every word is to be spoken by the universe itself or by the divine or by whatsoever name you choose, then I am no more the source of it. Then I can become an observer - a simple observer.
If you take life as predetermined then you can observe it, then you are not involved. If you are a failure, it was predetermined; if you are a success, it was predetermined. If both are predetermined, both become of equal value - synonymous. Then one is Ravana, one is Ram, and everything is predetermined. Ravana need not feel guilty, Ram need not feel superior. Everything is predetermined, so you are just actors, you are just on a stage playing a role.

2.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on:Destiny & Free will :
Can you see a moment without a past? It is impossible. Can there be a moment without a future? Again, it is impossible. So, if you ask me, 'Is life the past or the future', I would say that it is a combination of both. Destiny and free will are not two different things. They are two sides of the same coin. What do you call as destiny? When your thoughts are not in alignment with what is happening, then you call it as destiny. When your thoughts are in alignment with what is happening, then you call it as free will. It all depends on the direction of your thoughts.

3.OSHO: Heal Yourselves:
Are Our Lives Predestined or Not?
Osho : This is not a personal problem, it is a philosophical question. Our lives are both predestined, and they are not. Both yes and no. And both answers are true for all questions about life. In a way, everything is predetermined. Whatever is physical in you, material, whatever is mental, is predetermined. But something in you constantly remains undetermined, unpredictable. That something is your consciousness.
If you are identified with your body and your material existence, in the same proportion you are determined by cause and effect. Then you are a machine. But if you are not identified with your material existence, with either body or mind – if you can feel yourself as something separate, different, above and transcendent to body-mind – then that transcending consciousness is not predetermined. It is spontaneous, free
Consciousness means freedom; matter means slavery. So, it depends on how you define yourself. If you say,” I am only the body,” then everything about you is completely determined. A person who says that man is only the body cannot say that man is not predetermined. Ordinarily, persons who do not believe in such a thing as consciousness also do not believe in predetermination.
Persons who are religious and believe in consciousness ordinarily believe in predetermination. So, what I am saying may look very contradictory. But still, it is the case. A person who has known consciousness has known freedom. So only a spiritual person can say there is no determination at all. That realization comes only when you are completely unidentified with the body. If you feel that you are just a material existence, then no freedom is possible.
With matter, no freedom is possible. Matter means that which cannot be free. It must flow in the chain of cause and effect. Once someone has achieved consciousness, enlightenment, he is completely out of the realm of cause and effect. He becomes absolutely unpredictable. You cannot say anything about him. He begins to live each moment; his existence becomes atomic.
Your existence is a river-like chain in which every step is determined by the past. Your future is not really future; it is just a by-product of the past. It is only the past determining, shaping, formulating and conditioning your future. That is why your future is predictable.
Skinner says that man is as predictable as anything else. The only difficulty is that we have not yet devised the means to know his total past. The moment we can know his past, we can predict everything about him. Based upon the people he has worked with, Skinner is right, because they are all ultimately predictable. He has experimented with hundreds of people and he has found that they are all mechanical beings, that nothing exists within them that can be called freedom.
But his study is limited. No Buddha has come to his laboratory to be experimented upon. If even one person is free, if even one person is not mechanical, not predictable, Skinner’s whole theory falls. If one person in the whole history of mankind is free and unpredictable, then man is potentially free and unpredictable. The whole possibility of freedom depends on whether you emphasize your body or your consciousness.
If you are just an outward flow of life, then everything is determined. Or are you something inner also? Do not give any preformulated answer. Do not say “I am the soul “, if you feel there is nothing inside you , then be honest about it. This honesty will be the first step toward the inner freedom of consciousness. If you go deeply inside, you will feel that everything is just part of the outside. Your body has come from without, your thoughts have come from without, even your self has been given to you by others.
That is why you are so fearful of the opinion of others – because they are completely in control of yourself. They can change their opinion of you at any moment. Yourself, your body, your thoughts are given to you by others, so what is inside? You are layers and layers of outside accumulation. If you are identified with this personality of yours that comes from others, then everything is determined.
Become aware of everything that comes from the outside and become non-identified with it. Then a moment will come when the outside falls completely. You will be in a vacuum. This vacuum is the passage between the outside and the inside, the door. We are so afraid of the vacuum, so afraid of being empty that we cling to the outside accumulation. One must be courageous enough to dis-identify with the accumulation and to remain in the vacuum. If you are not courageous enough, you will go out and cling to something, and be filled with it. But this moment of being in the vacuum is meditation.
If you are courageous enough, if you can remain in this moment, soon your whole being will automatically turn inward. When there is nothing to be attached to from the outside, your being turns inward.
Then you know for the first time that you are something that transcends everything you have been thinking yourself to be. Now you are something different from becoming; you are being. This being is free; nothing can determine it. It is absolute freedom. No chain of cause and effect is possible.

(below are the excerpts of discussions on the above url , I couldn’t know the names of  authors though but I acknowledge borrowing their writings here and am indebted to them  )

If destiny is predefined, then why do our actions affect our karma?
If Indeed true! Then,
  • "If whatever I'll do in my life is already predefined, then certainly I shouldn't be held accountable for my actions."
  • "After all, it's all fated, why should my actions count? Why should they affect my karma?"
Yes, these are all valid questions. But the point is, not all our actions are predefined. Only those set of actions that will give rise to predetermined events are predefined. And in our life, we do both kinds of actions, predefined and not defined. Those set of actions that were not predefined are known as Kriyamana Karma (accumulating actions). It is mostly these actions that affect our karma, not the preordained ones. Generally, preordained events and actions being effects of our past life actions, once experienced, they get balanced out. But the Kriyamana karma, being newer actions that we do in this present life, get stored to be experienced later. Let me give an example for better understanding.
Suppose you had done many good works in your previous life and for that reason you are destined to be wealthy and famous. So, if in this life, you have become an engineer or programmer, then you will feel attracted to develop a software that it will become famous and earn you money. So most of your actions will be towards fulfilling that objective. You will be coding day in and day out and doing a lot of things for it. But along with that you will be doing many other actions that are in no way relevant to your destined objective. For example, you may see a person who needs some help and help him out, scold or abuse someone for no reasons other than out of anger, and many other little things you will be doing that no way contribute to your destined objective.
  • So those set of minor and major actions that do not contribute to your destined experience of wealth and fame are stored to be experienced later. (kriyamana karma or agami karma)
  • And those set of actions (like coding, planning etc.) that do contribute to your destined objective are generally not considered unless the sense of doership is attached to them. (prarabdha karma)
·          representation of the flow of karma in a diagram:

5. How can an individual possibly get rid of bad karma if it has already been defined in his destiny?
Unfortunately, one can't. There is no way to escape from the effects of actions without experiencing their results. Just like an arrow already shot cannot be taken back, prarabdha karma that has already set out in motion cannot be escaped from. It will catch you sooner or later.
After knowing Devaki's 8th son was going to kill him, Kamsa tried many tricks, methods and plans. But no matter how hard he tried, eventually he had to meet his destiny.
However, whether prarabdha karma can be avoided or not, depends upon its strength. If one uses his kriyamana actions for acts of penance and expiation (this includes astrological remedies), then those new good actions may cancel out or reduce the strength of prarabdha actions.
Markandeya rishi was destined to be dead at the age of 16. But he engaged himself in the devotion of Shiva and practised austerity sincerely. Hence, due to his devotion and penance by the grace of Lord Shiva he escaped his certain death.
Also, if one realizes Brahman and acquires the knowledge, all his actions are burned away, and he becomes free:

yathaidhāṁsi samiddho ’gnir bhasma-sāt kurute ’rjuna
jñānāgniḥ sarva-karmāṇi bhasma-sāt kurute tathā [BG - 4.37]
As a blazing fire turns firewood to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge burn to ashes all reactions to material activities.
However, preordained karma that has been already rolled out, cannot be taken back and one has to experience his prarabdha just for the current life even after realization of knowledge of Brahman. But a true jnani sees everything as Brahman and hence prarabdha doesn't affect his mind:

utpanne tattvavijñāne prārabdhaṃ naiva muñcati
tattvajñānodayādūrdhvaṃ prārabdhaṃ naiva vidyate [Nadabindu Up. - 22]
Even after attaining knowledge of the self prarabdha never exhausts out. But after realization of knowledge prarabdha is not felt by the jnani as he considers the body as unreal.
Apart from jnana, by devotion and grace of God also one gets liberation from all his stored sinful actions:

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ [BG - 18.66]
Abandoning all kinds of dharma if you surrender only to Me, I will give you liberation from all sins, you need not worry.

The above examples & views are just a snap shot of millions of views and opinions about PRE-DESTINY. One cannot be too sure about an absolutely irrefutable theory or answer of this age-old question. It appears though that the search is still ON from the human kind. Theories & opinions are newly founded, expounded & presented in different contexts, New theories keep on evolving but final answer is still unclear. What is clear though that those who followed their beliefs in full faith, attained their goals. Isn’t that exactly what one wants? So, what does it matter which is true, PRE-DESTINY or free will? I believe that to each one his/her own belief & absolute faith in it will do the trick.

Just like the Newtonian laws don’t work in Quantum physics & vice versa so also theories on PRE-DESTINY and free will, don’t work (or can’t be explained) in each other’s domains. They are in different domains & may appear to share some aspects, but their laws are different. One may roughly say that PRE-DESTINY works on matter while free will works with consciousness (and even that is a question). It depends on which part of the realm you dwell in or believe in and who you want to be!
As an afterthought I would like to go to the ancient Nasidiya sukta to drive home further the point of free will.one can go & browse the web to know more about this sukta (or you may already know). Just to summarise it in short, the sukta talks about the how the Cosmos came into being from nothing (or what we call it also as singularity). In the Singularity rose the desire to be & this desire set into the motion the beginnings of the Cosmos. I want to bring to your attention the last 7th verse of this sukta .

इयं विसृष्टिर्यत आबभूव यदि वा दधे यदि वा |

यो अस्याध्यक्षः परमे व्योमन्त्सो अङ्ग वेद यदि वा वेद ॥७॥
Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows - or maybe even he does not know

The seer (Prajapati Parameshti) of this sukta is clear about how it all begun (it begun with the desire of that primordial Singularity , out of its free will to exist in duality .As consciousness and matter).So it is implicitly indicated that it was not preordained (pre-destined ).It all arose from its freak desire (desire is the seed or cause) , It acted on its desire ( action is the karma ) and thus started the infinite chain of cause & effect (Karma Phala) .With cause came a predetermined set of effects (note the words set & effects). So, the creation of matter also created PRE-DESTINY. Matter cannot exist indeterminably, it must cease to exist at some time. So, matter was predestined to cease and in that sense only, PRE-DESTINY works. How or in which manner will it cease to exist would depend upon the preceding action (Karma) which will lead to the proceeding effect (Karma Phala).  
Going back to the 7th verse, the seer is not sure whether the primordial singularity (Consciousness) created it, fashioned it or NOT! The Seer (Prajapati Parameshti) is neither sure that He, (whom we consider the highest , all knowing consciousness , the observer ) was himself aware at the point of creation ( when the desire appeared ) and the rishi skeptically say –“may be even the singular consciousness wasn’t aware .
Since it all began with a freak desire in that primordial Consciousness, is it not possible that it may end also whenever such a desire rises from the depths of that Consciousness? End is a certainty but how? When?  Only the Consciousness knows! or does he? May be even he doesn’t know!

“There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in your heart.” 

“He who desires the soul, who plays with the soul, who makes love with the soul, who attains ecstasy in the soul, becomes his own master and wanders at will through the worlds." 
Chandogya Upanishad