Karma Sutra: How free will creates your destiny


The debate between free will and destiny stems out of ignorance. According to Ramana Maharishi- ‘The only freedom man has is to strive for and acquire jnana’ (knowledge). Through knowledge comes free will. The freedom to either accept your destiny (prarabdha) or to struggle with it, leading to further entanglements.

People are always looking to ‘change’ their destiny. Omar Khayyam, the Persian sufi saint has said- ‘The moving finger writes and having writ moves on; neither your deity nor your piety can change a single word of it.’ (translated by Fitzgerald).

Through knowledge, you realise that you have the free will to ‘create’ your destiny. Your choice of response decides the outcome of your actions. For instance, when you indulge your ego or give in to greed and ambition you incur debts. But when you suffer your misfortunes silently and fulfil your duties in a detached manner, you clear your past baggage of debts. To create a good destiny for yourself you need to do actions which will earn you equity, actions such as worship(puja) and charity (daan). This choice is the free will that you have been granted. The human privilege to ‘create’ your destiny.

And as you exercise your free will and move ahead in life by making the right choice of responses, you observe that your life has less problems to deal with.

However, having enjoyed a comfortable life, one reaches a stage where the whole process of birth and death, the various stages of growth (the human conditions), the repetitive mode of life and the transient nature of the world seem oppressive. This leads to ‘dukha’ (sorrow). This ‘dukha’ or sorrow is not out of want of something but more of an angst for the impermanent nature of the world. This feeling of ‘dukha’(as Buddha coined it) gives rise to the second dimension of life. The need for salvation from this cycle of birth and death. (samsara).

And once again it is knowledge which comes to the rescue by way of choice. The freedom to either identify with your actions or to perform one’s actions in a detached manner. When you perform actions without self-identifying (ahamkara) with them, you do not incur any debts. You merely wash off your past debts. And once you have cleared your karmic baggage you are freed from this cycle of birth and death. The game of samsara (world) beckons you no more.

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