Fate and Free-will

N Balasubramanian

We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance - Benjamin Disraeli

Karma theory, the theory of cause and effect determining rebirth of an individual is well-founded and is in harmony with the universal belief about God being the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.

This holistic doctrine also brings about order and discipline in the conduct of mankind for the larger interest of universal harmony. Further, this theory makes man accountable to his deeds and most importantly gives him his chance of redemption. By placing the onus of evolution on Man, by making Man master of his destiny, all the inequalities, injustices, suffering, conflict and so on and all sorts of contradictions we see and experience in the world become the work of Man. It situates Man within the world order as an active being at work than as a passive victim of circumstance.

According to Karma theory the real Self within is eternal and at death what dies is only body-frame with name and form. Essences of the impressions of one’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and experiences of one’s life-time continues its journey and is re-born in a new body , in an environment appropriate to its state of evolution in the previous life, to expend and expiate the fruits of deeds and misdeeds.

Man is neither “lost to fate” as fatalists would have us believe nor is he “condemned to be free” as existentialists pose him to be. Karma theory gives the individual, freedom to work his destiny leaving him to either advance his tendencies or curb them, whichever will lead him to peace of mind – desires, deeds & thoughts in harmony with inner voice of pure consciousness - which is the ultimate test of individual happiness. If he does not mend his ways he will continue to carry an uneasy conscience and peace of mind will ever elude him. Is this not a sufficient deterrent for desisting from evil-doings? Thus the truth of the dictum ‘One reaps what he has sown’ is upheld. All said, Karma theory has a sacred place in the evolution of human thought.

Vasanas, variously called as inclinations, tendencies, impressions etc… all these are inheritance of accumulated habits. Action repeated is habit and habits repeated are Vasanas. By this logic, law of causation is also upheld, in as much as the Vasanas are nothing but the effects of experiences.  The question ultimately boils down to the inherited inclinations and impressions. One’s strength of character alone is what determines life. Character is influenced by our inherited inclinations. Can we temper and change our inclination to a desired direction? Yes, certainly.

Fatalists claim that their theory is the only theory that is in tune with the universally accepted belief about the God-principle being the ultimate and absolute Arbiter of our destiny. They, however, conveniently ignore the deeds and misdeeds of beings based on which alone the God-principle, the final Arbiter dispenses justice. “Unjust and unmerciful” God He is if He had not dispensed justice without such a basis. Is the evaluating teacher responsible for your poor marks or are you responsible for your incorrect answers? No other theory but Karma theory can better uphold the God-principle. Is freewill in conflict with God’s grace? Certainly not, as to be worthy of His grace is our doing.

It is true you cannot choose your parents, relations, neighborhood etc… Nor can you choose your sons and daughters. Finally, you have no choice of when to die or how to die.  On the face of it, given the fact of so much choicelessness it appears as if our life is pre-destined. Inequities and injustices in the world are so glaring and striking that one does feel despondent and lost to fate. While the fact of our choice-less situations cannot be disputed, the question is not about the situations you are faced with, the question is about how well you are dealing with a given situation. To make or mar is the doing of Man. Just as mankind today finds itself at odds with nature and increasingly feels the urgent need to correct & align itself to the laws of nature, so also at the individual level. The truth is that, from birth to death everybody is not only given a certain station of life and environment but is also given freedom to shape and make his life.

Fatalism is a negative perception & belief, more so in the hands of the powerful and the vicious rich as it only helps them in perpetuating their dominance and exploitation by dulling and taming the revolting spirit of the disadvantaged and the exploited people, and thus making them to meekly accept injustice and exploitation as their fate handed down by God.

N Balasubramanian is an old time honours graduate in economics and has vast experience and expertise in human relations and resources development. A devotee of Sage of Kanchi - Maha Swamigal, N Balasubramanian is living a quiet and meditative life based upon the Guru's teachings. An avid reader of philosophy in his younger years, he wholly devotes his energies presently, in discovering insights and practical wisdom from ancient Indian scriptures. Based upon his understanding of Acharya's discourses and writings on spirituality, N. Balasubramanian shares these thoughts on IndiaNewsBulletin.com to just provoke your thoughts and kindle your interest in spirituality and philosophy.  

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