10.2: DIALOGUE ON FREEWILL & DIVINE WILL -- 2
DDW: Yes, we gradually begin to understand how when a jnAni is acting, actually he is not doing any action because he has no identification with his body, mind and intellect. But such understanding also generates new confusions in one’s mind. The Gita verse which specifically refers to this ‘inaction in action’ also in the same breath refers to ‘action in inaction’. While not acting how can one do action?
DFW: When the train moves, the landscape moves in the opposite direction. The child thinks that it is the landscape that is moving and the train is stationary. Even we adults get this mistaken feeling when two trains are in adjacent platforms ready to move in opposite directions. Suddenly we feel that the other train has already moved, but on examination of the changing landscape between the two trains we understand that it is our train that has started moving and not the other train. This is the understanding of action in apparent inaction. To attribute non-action to the Self which stands still as it were is only to comprehend it relatively. It is the Self which permeates everyhere, it is the substratum of everything and it is the prime mover par excellence. The Self is therefore the chief agent of action, as it were, though it appears to be only a silent witness. Thus the wise man sees action in non-action.
DDW: Hey, DFW, Are you not advocating my cause that it is all God’s will that is taking place?
DFW: Well, TD has said just now that our moods change. Maybe my mood has changed! But shall we get back to the earlier trend of the conversation? TD, you said that as we move up the ladder of spiritual perfection, our factor levels change. Can you continue that thought a little further?
TD: As we move up the ladder of spiritual understanding, for some of us the first shock arises when we begin to realise that, in addition to the limitations of parentage, sex and environment, there are other limitations also. Very often we blame it on our ill-luck if, after all our efforts, we don’t achieve what we want to achieve. Slowly it dawns on us that what and how we will, there is something else that wills it otherwise. If we can find a scapegoat of an earthly person or cause we blame it on them. But when we don’t find such a cause, we are at a dead end for explanations. And then it is that the concept of prArabdha karma seems to make sense. And we realise that prArabdha could also be another name for ill-luck. Why ill luck? Even for good luck also, on which we put so much faith, prArabdha could be the other name!
DFW: But when we reach, as you say, a stage where we look upward for the hand of God to help us out of our problems, do we really believe that God can change things for us?
DDW: What else does it mean to look upward for the hand of God?
TD: I think DFW is asking “Shall we trust God totally? Or shall we take it that He gives just a hand?”
DDW: That is a dilemma that I have never got through.
TD: I think almost all of us go through this dilemma most of our lives vacillating between extremes. The intensity of this vacillation depends on our mood and environment. It is also a function of the company we keep and the amount of pressure from our peers.
DDW: Oh yes. It also depends on what somebody just said to me and walked away. You allow this DFW to be talking to you continuously, your mood will change.
DFW: Hey, DDW, it is the same thing with me when you keep reeling off your quotes from authoirities and scriptures!
TD: Well, it is nobody’s fault. It is in our nature. The company we keep, our kith and kin as well as the attachment we have to all of them influence largely the opinions we have and only magnifies the dilemma about whether to believe in God totally or not.
DFW: In fact, I have a fundamental question in that connection. If you believe in a supernatural interventionist God who comes to your help when you pray to Him, how do you explain the umpteen situations when He does not intervene?
DDW: Oh Boy! That is a deep question. May be we should sit back and think about it.
TD: The questionis why the supernatural interventionist God does not always intervene – even in such tragedies like the Tsunami.
DFW. You said it right. Why did He not intervene and stop the tragedy? If He exists but cannot remove our suffering then He is not God. If He exists and would not remove our suffering then He is not kind. If He exists and should not remove our suffering then He is not the boss. If He exists and suffering also has to exist then He is not the only Truth.
DDW. You seem to have analysed it thoroughly!
TD: All these are only rhetorical statements which do not take into account the fact that a God, if He is really God, should not be judged from our human norms of right and wrong, justice and injustice.
DFW. You are only inventing an answer so that you can escape answering the question.
DDW. I feel that these questions themselves have been invented to throw God out.
TD: My answer has a simple reason. No human being has either the database or the holistic view that Divinity must surely have of the universe and its contents.
DFW: I don’t understand you.
DDW: TD says God has an ultimate purpose for everything and we may not know it.
TD: But His purpose could not be removal of human poverty or illness.
DDW: Why not?
DFW: Because if that were so , He should have done it long ago. He did not have to wait for two or three millenia to remove illness and poverty from the world. At least it is clear He has not done it yet.
TD: I think we are going at a tangent. We wanted to understand why it is that we cannot understand that He is not removing our suffering even though by definition of God as Almighty God, He should have been able to do it. And DDW said that God perhaps has a purpose for everything. Shall I tell you a real story why I feel DDW might be right?
DDW and DFW together: Go ahead.
TD. Well it is a long story. But let me be as brief as possible. Two American youngsters living 100 miles south of New York plan to spend a Saturday afternoon in a public park near New York along with some of their friends (living north of New York) who promise to join them at a certain specified time right at the entrance to the park. The plan is made, almost to the minute. But the two, on their way to New York meet, first with a tire burst, then halfway up with a hold-up by no less than the sheriff of the area for speeding – both these incidents taking off two hours from their schedule. And then, after the hold-up, when they start the car, the engine refuses to ignite and this causes a further delay of another two hours because the cause is traced to be battery failure. But since they are only 25 miles from the park they decide to give it a try even after the delay, even though they are sure their friends would have given them up by this time. But soon after, they have to negotiate a long diversion of the route in view of a nasty accident on the highway ahead of them; and this diversion delays them as much as another hour, because they lose their way! Thus there have been five coincidences all working against them and when they finally reach the park it is late evening and in fact the park is closing its gates. Still they enter and look for their friends. The park is deserted since everybody has gone. They are about to curse their fate and return to their car when they hear cries for help from a lake in the park. Rushing there they see two boys almost drowning. They jump in and being first-aid-certificate holders themselves they are able to save the two little boys of ten and twelve from certain drowning and death. They think of the sequence of events that happened to them during the whole trip. A few minutes earlier they had thought that their journey was nothing but futile, their day had been spent in vain, but now it became clear that it was not so; because if they had not arrived at this late hour near that lake, those two boys would have died by drowning! This is a true story. The Almighty has a purpose for everything!
DFW: That is interesting certainly. But we have strayed far from our original quest of deciding between Free will and Divine Will.
DDW: But we have to settle this question of God’s non-intervention. When there is a natural calamity like the Tsunami, we have only to take it that God does not want, by His own Free Will, to interfere with Nature and its workings – though all of it is His own creation.
DFW: Wait a minute. You just said that God has Free Will. Free Will implies multiple options and a freedom to exercise choice. Does He have several options? Why does He choose one of them?
DDW: Because He has a purpose for everything as I already told you.
DFW: Purpose is always for achieving something. Does God want to achieve something? But I have heard it said that God has nothing to obtain which He has not already obtained.
TD: His purpose could only be to bring back every erring human being to His fold.
DDW: But then you are implicitly agreeing to the contention that human beings have the freedom of will to err.
TD. Certainly, that is what I have been saying from the beginning. God gives you the commandment of ‘satyam vada’ and ‘dharmam chara’ and also gives you the free will to disobey them. But He also keeps on telling you to have the willingness to obey them.
DDW: Is not even this Free Will subject to the influence of the Divine?
TD: You have touched a deeper chord.
DDW: We were raising the doubt whether the Free Will that is enjoined to obey God’s injunctions through the vedas, is itself under the influence of the Divine Will.
DFW: I was thinking of this problem last night and I have a fundamental doubt before you all proceed further in this discussion. The philosophy of advaita that we all adhere to claims that there is only one absolute Brahman and everything else is only an appearance that comes and goes. If that is so, where is the question of a divine will? Does Brahman, the attributeless, have a will for Itself?
CONTINUED ON 10.3