Beyond Karma

Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Wed Mar 25 14:01:18 CST 1998

On Wed, 25 Mar 1998, Swami Vishvarupananda wrote:
> I think there is a difference in our interpretation of the word free will.
> By free will I do not mean willfullness. I mean the freedom to make a choice
> in our thoughts and actions. When Arjuna wanted to lay down his weapons, it
> was a decission made due to aviveka and Krishna showed him the right path.
> Arjuna then, taking to right viveka, surrendered the feelings arising from
> the ego and decided to take up his weapons to fight for the sake of dharma.
> What is required is the absence of willfullness that makes us follow the
> dictates of the mind and ego. Not the absence of the ability to chose.
> Otherwise we may say we are not able to chose between dharma and adharma.
> Whatever we do was predestined, so it was not in our hands to refrain from
> acting acording to the dictates of the mind/body/ego and indulge in the
> senses. This too, like the premature denial of ajnana is the equivalent of
> spiritual suicide.

        I accept this fully.

> Yes, we have to surrender our will. We have to surrender it completely. But
> we have to choose to surrender it to Brahman, to the Self, to dharma. If we
> simply deny the existence of our freedom to choose our path we are very
> likely to surrender it to the mind and ego instead, even if they come to
> take charge of it clandestinely.

        I believe though, that this surrender is not an act of will at
all.  Which is why it is so hard to surrender.

> It has been repeatedly said on this list, that thoughts arrise spontaneously
> and we have no control. But we are able to stop thoughts from arising. We
> are able to gradually silence the mind with practice of meditation, ...

        I think of this act in the following way.  We are able to prepare
ourselves to sleep by our desire to sleep but that doesnot guarantee us
deep sleep all through.  So deep sleep is not something that happens because
of our desire to sleep but quite independently, although it does
seem to "us" to have been caused by this desire. Likewise "we" are not able to
stop thoughts from arising. It is a natural process that can be triggered
off by meditation.  But while we are in the process of meditation, there
is an "I" that is meditating.  When it disappears that is the peak.  To
say that the "I" caused such a state is a misstatement because the "I"
always wants to continue, why would it itself want to disappear?

 > ... we are
> able to destroy our vaasanas by an effort in our sadhana and thereby destroy
> the source from which adharmic thoughts take rise. We are able to raise
> dharmic thoughts, devotional thoughts, divine thoughts in our minds and
> purify it thereby. We are able to influence our mind and its moods at all
> times. And we can learn to take distance from the mind, refuse to identify
> with it. These all we can achieve by an effort and not by denying the
> freedom to choose what to do and what to
> refrain from which is the very base of will power.

        I accept this fully. Each of the activities mentioned above is in
the realm of "mAyA" and so there is an "I" which does these things.



More information about the Advaita-l mailing list