10.4 A DIALOGUE ON FREE WILL & DIVINE WILL - 4
TD: You are raising the right question at the right time. Your question brings home to us another point that is mentioned in our smritis. You know there are four goals of life. These are called ‘purushArthas’ in Sanskrit. They are dharma, artha, kAma and mokSha. – meaning broadly, Duty of Righteousness, material prosperity, satisfaction of sensual desires and release from the samsAra bondage. Of these, the smritis would say, only artha and kAma are obtained as per one’s prArabdha karma. The other two, dharma and mokSha are obtained only by self-effort. That is why ‘satyam vada’ and ‘dharmam chara’ are specific injunctions to us. Self effort is the most essential ingredient for lifting ourselves upward in the ladder of spiritual evolution.
DDW: If the upward path to higher levels of spirituality has to be chalked out only by our effort then where comes the question of divine will? You are confusing me now.
TD: We have to go slow now. We all have to start our lives with the hypothesis of absolute free will. It is the sheet-anchor on which we base all our actions. But as we move forward along the journey of life, we learn lessons from the world and we become wiser to the ways of the world as also to the ways of the Lord.
DFW: Are you saying that our world experience takes us away from belief in free will? I feel it is the contrary. For it is by persistent and continuous self-effort great achievers have achieved what they are known to have achieved.
TD: I don’t deny that. By the same persistent and continuous self-effort one learns that unless we bid farewell to a self-centred life we cannot rise spiritually. So the path to higher levels of spirituality needs a strong free will to strengthen the inner life rather than the outer life. That is why the smritis say the goals dharma and mokSha are sought only by self-effort.
DDW: The common man thinks Faith in God is superstition. Superstition is what holds you when you think negatively. But Faith is some kind of intuition which makes you, through your own free will, reach out and contact the most positive thing in the universe, namely, the Supreme Almighty.
TD: Wonderfully said, DDW. It is that spark of Faith which we have to keep fanning until with the blessing of a Guru it blows up into a Fire of Wisdom (jnAnAgni). That way one develops a God-centred nature.
DFW: Earlier you said that it is world-experience that gradually takes us into the belief in a divine will. Where does that stand in the light of this necessity to fan the so-called Faith?
TD: If we carefully analyse the world-experience of ourselves as well as of others, slowly it would appear that, try what we may, certain happenings which seemed to be totally in our control have slipped away from us and we feel that an invincible but invisible forceis pulling us. This inevitability of events strikes us in the face.
DFW: But as we grow older I think we move from the childhood beliefs of naivete, myth and superstition to the adult days of self-effort and freedom of free will.
TD: You have to move farther to learn the lessons of philosophy. All along we have been thinking that prArabdha karma starts our life with its own prescriptions of initial conditions and limitations on our mind, intellect and environment and that all the rest is our free will. All along we have believed that it is our prakRti which is the result of our prArabdha karma, that does everything and is the cause of all action. But this theory is too mechanical to be ultimate. Even though Lord Krishna says this in the third chapter of the Gita, later he modifies it. PrakRti is inert and to say that it is the doer and enjoyer is to accept the sentient self to be in the control of the insentient prakRti.
DDW: I see you are referring to the theory of purusha and prakRti in the thirteenth chapter of the Gita.
TD: Yes, we have to bring in the sentient Purusha now. In the innermost recesses of man there is a Consciousness which is Purusha rather than PrakRti. PrakRti is only the force of the Purusha. It is this Purusha that makes the PrakRti work through the lower self.
DDW: The free will that we have been holding on to is not any more free. Our will, though powerful as we thought, has only a limited power.
DFW: Will aims at the end; but Power is the means to attain that end.
DDW: Will without power is helpless to provide the means to attain the end. Power without will is purposeless because it has no end in view.
TD: There cannot be any Power without Consciousness. And there cannot be Consciousness without Power. The will-power we thought was ours comes really from the consciousness within. And that Consciousness is the Purusha.
DDW: The Gita makes a very impassioned appeal for us to surrender to the Purusha within. After showing His cosmic form to Arjuna, Krishna declares: I have already conquered and vanquished all your enemies; be only an instrument of my action. Go and fight.
DFW: You already quoted this in Sanskrit at the beginning of our conversation and I said that is what always confuses me.
TD: But now we can understand it. The plea of the Gita is for us to be the instrument of the Will of God, that is, this Purusha. We have to be like the needle in a gramaphone which only traces the channels already chalked out for it by the designer of the record.
DDW: In other words, we only walk over the path already dictated by God for us.
TD: Listen to Him for His voice. Throw the responsibility on Him. Abandon all your dharmas, meaning, abandon the doership attitude of all actions. You are not the doer. He is the doer. This is the greatest renunciation, greatest surrender.
DFW: But still we have not found an answer to the fundamental question I raised earlier. I can now rephrase that question in the light of the theory that the Purusha within is what makes the PrakRti the doer. In that case, then, the same Purusha should be held responsible for all my bad thoughts and actions. Originally I asked whether God is the one who should take responsibility. Now we have come to the conclusion it is the Purusha. But the Purusha is the same as the cosmic Almighty, if I understand advaita right. So then, that brings us back to square one!
TD: Your logic is certainly reasonable. But you are missing one more bit of information from the fifteenth chapter of the Gita.
DFW: What is it that I am missing from the fifteenth chapter of the Gita?
TD: It is the fact that there are two purushas instead of one.
DFW: Both sentient?
TD: Yes, both sentient. By themselves mind and intellect are not sentient. The spark of the Infinite Consciousness that resides in us as the sentient Purusha is the source of this sentience. This spark is the JIva But the JIva cannot express itself in any manner except through the BMI. When it so expresses itself, an identification takes place between JIva on the one side and the BMI on the other side. This identification results in a conscious personality which is what goes by the ordinary name of ‘I’. This is one purusha. It is the perishable purusha (kshara-purusha). If on the other hand JIva disassociates itself from the BMI and remains as the spark of Consciousness that it really is, then it is the imperishable purshha within. It is known as the akshara-purusha. Thus there are two purushas.
DFW. So who is responsible for my actions, good or bad? Who is the doer?
TD: It is only the perishable purusha. The other one is imperishable, unattached, unaffected, unpolluted, and immutable. It is the real ‘I’. The perishable purusha is the false ‘I’ or the lower self. The real ‘I’ is the higher Self.
DDW: Shall we say then that the real doer of actions is this perishable purusha?
TD: In a sense, yes. Not only he is the doer but suffers the result of his doings. He it is that goes from body to body and suffers all the fruits of actions.
DFW: Then what does the other purusha (the imperishable) do?
TD: He is untouched by anything. All our Upanishads as well as all the great teachers of advaita from Shankara downwards tell us to identify ourselves with the divine within and thus be unaffected by the ups and downs that the kshara purusha goes through.
DFW: I still don’t understand it. What exactly do you mean by ‘identification’. Is it just a posture? How does it translate into action? The discussion has now taken such a turn that we have forgotten why we started the discussion. Where have the Free Will and Divine Will gone now?
DDW: We have not strayed. We are still trying to understand Divine Will. Because it is the purusha within, whose presence in us makes us will, act and feel through our BMI, it is common in Vedanta to say that the outer self has no control and it is the inner self that is the motor behind it.
TD: One of you mentioned earlier the concept of ‘action in inaction’. This is it. The inner Self does nothing but in its presence everything happens. But for its presence nothing would happen.
DDW: This concept of the inner self as the power behind all our actions gets translated for general understanding to say it is all divine will. Common folk understand by this statement that God is sitting there in his throne and dispensing all decisions and actions! The bottomline lesson is that we have to be in harmony with that ‘divine will’ in order to live and die in peace. The identification means that you should be constantly aware that you (the real You) are neither the doer of actions nor the experiencer of the consequences. ‘na ahaM kartA, na aham bhoktA’. Your mind thinks, your hands and feet act; but You are only a witness to all of these.
DFW: I feel this identification business is tricky. I think there is some blurring here.
CONTINUED ON 10.5