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Free will is a quality exclusive to human beings

Free will is a quality exclusive to human beings
June 24
11:45 2019

Swami Tejomayananda

Vasanas or our tendencies drive us to karma, action, which in turn leads to phala, results. These results are called our destiny. However, free will is not a product of vasanas. It is a human right, a special quality exclusive to human beings. How we use free will may be influenced by our vasanas. So we can use our free will well or otherwise. At the end of the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna, “Yatheccasi tatha kuru — Do as you think fit.”

If we feel we cannot be sure that we may use our free will well, surrender it to God, as Arjuna did. He said, “Karisye vacanam tava — I shall do as you say.” Since God has said, “Tesam aham samuddharta — I redeem those who surrender,” tell God, “Please guide my life.”

However, we must also keep in mind the fact that this kind of total surrender is the greatest use of our purushartha, self-effort, and it is very difficult….

If we are convinced that destiny is more important, then we should accept that every success or failure that comes our way is because of our destiny. On the other hand, if we believe that self-effort alone is important, then too there is no problem because we will accept responsibility for all our failures and successes. But if we believe that both are important, a problem arises because we will not be able to say with certainty how much of our success or failure is due to self-effort and how much of it is due to destiny.

Probably we would then end up saying that everything that happened over which we had no control happened because of destiny and the rest was due to self-effort. However, the best thing is to know that in a given situation we are only required to act to the best of our ability and knowledge and leave the rest.

If the result is preordained, then the question that comes up is, preordained by whom? If it is by us, then try to change it. If we cannot change the result, then try to change the state of mind.

When we know our true Self, then there is no question of self-effort or destiny because we would then have realised that the entity that does actions and reaps the results — the jiva — itself is illusory….

What we get in the present is our destiny. What we do with what we get is our self-effort. Each moment in life we find that we are faced with one situation or the other. We do not know how it comes, why or from where. We do not know exactly how much we have contributed to bring about this situation before us. The fact that there is a situation, leads to the conclusion that it must have one or more causes.

The important thing is that we must know how to deal with it with a cool mind, in a way which uplifts us, and is beneficial to all concerned. Even though we have no control over the situation, we decide how to deal with it. We may do it in one way or the other or decide not to do anything at all.

Some say that there is no destiny or self-effort. It is all the will of God. Then also it is fine as we accept all situations as gifts of God.

Excerpted from The 69th birth anniversary of Swami Tejomayananda will be observed on June 30.



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