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TD: Let me try to explain. Whenever we act, we think we are the doer of the action. Actually we are thinking of the false ‘I’ here. The 18th chapter of the Gita elaborates four others that have a part in the action. One is called ‘adhiShTAnaM’, the support or base of all action. In other words it is the conglomerate of natural forces that constitute the field of action.

DDW: The next is the totality of the different senses which form the instrument of action. The third is the set of circumstances or the context. The fourth is variously called Fate or Divine Element; actually it is the set of vAsanAs as we know, that have inspired the action.

TD: Thus the false ‘I’ together with these four accessories become the agents of action..

DFW: The difference between this false ‘I’ and the real ‘I’ is only in the attitude. Right?

TD: But the attitude or bhAvanA is everything. This is the crux of the entire philosophy of advaita. The doer or kartA is the individual mental attitude which unifies itself with the external things like body, senses and the mind to the extent that it thinks they are itself. This process of attitudinal unification is what is called identification.

DDW: On the other hand, the real ‘I’, the deeper Self, stands aloof as Witness, sAkshI.

TD: If now our mental attitude is perfectly tuned to identify itself with the sAkShI behind, then the five participants to the action are outside us. We can then clearly say “na ahaM kartA, na ahaM bhoktA” (I am not the doer or the experiencer).

DDW: But all the four agents of action belong to PrakRti or its effects and the fifth namely the kshara purusha, is also an effect of the mAyic spell over us. So it is also right to say that PrakRti is the doer.

DFW: But earlier we concluded that PrakRti, being insentient, cannot be the doer and it is He, the inner self, that is the doer.

TD: It is now clear, after the analysis in the 18th chapter, in what sense we are saying that PrakRti is the doer. It is the false inner self along with the four other agents of action that is the doer. Thus PrakRti together with the sentience of the false self becomes the doer.

DFW: It is all pretty complicated.

DDW: That is why, to the common folk, we simply say, that the spirit within us, which is divine, is the doer. And they further simplify it by saying that it is all divine will.

TD: ... which is right after all, since it is the spark of Consciousness that sparks the mAyA that causes our false self to say what it says.

DDW : I feel greatly relieved now. I feel I understand it all.

DFW. Do you, really? Then can you answer the question: Does the ‘divine’ have free will?

DDW: I know you are trying to trap me. To say it does not have free will is absurd because we ourselves have free will in some measure. To say the divine has free will also leads to absurd supplementaries.

DFW: Like what?

DDW: Like what you yourself pointed out earlier. Free will implies options to choose from. Does the divine choose from several options? Why does it choose one of them? In that case is the divine so ignorant of the future to have to choose from its options? What governs its choice? Nature or PrakRti? Is the divine a slave to Nature? It cannot be. What desire makes the divine choose? If the divine is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, why does He have to have options, choices, freedom to choose or not to choose? Why? Why? Does it not all add up to saying that the divine is a bundle of contradictions?

TD: Wonderful. The divine Godhead in Hinduism is difficult to conceive of because it simultaneously possesses ‘contradictory’ qualities. There is no parallel in this finite world of ours. The divine has no desire, yet He has will! He chooses and chooses not! He intervenes and He also never intervenes, only watches! He has options but each option is His own Will! He knows the future, yet He chooses to act! The future is what He makes of the present. Nature or PrakRti is His slave, yet He allows Nature to take its course. He is Personal, but not personal in the ‘worldly’ sense, because He is all-knowing. He is perfect, not in the sense of free from limitations, because limitations don’t exist outside of His will! Yes, He is a bundle of contradictions, if you yourself don’t have Faith in your Self!

DDW: Therefore the plea for us is only this: Be the instrument of the Will of this Self and nothing more.

TD: The so-called free will itself is in the ultimate sense an expression of Grace as MA AnandamayI would say. If one makes the right spiritual effort Divine Power would be with him. Thereafter whatever he does would be nothing but expressions of the divine will. This identification with the divine will and to work in the world simply as an instrument of His will, form the crux of the theory of Surrender to God.

DDW: But we should beware. Such injunctions like ‘Be the instrument of God’s Will’ and associated ideas about the not-so-free free will are only for those who are already a few steps up in the spiritual ladder.

DFW: How does one know that one is up in the ladder?

TD: Ask yourself, whether these injunctions make sense to you. If they do, then you are ready to rise further. If they do not, then your will is still free!

 Om ShAntiH ShantiH ShantiH!

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