Karma, Fate and Freewill
Often asked query is, “What is my path in life? What is my Dharma?” I will attempt to answer this query in this post.
Anyone interested in seriously learning astrology eventually has to grapple with age old philosophical questions regarding fate and free will. Is our fate linked inexorably to our moment of birth, or, is there some room for free will? If so, how much?? Obviously astrologers can predict events, which proves there is some element of fate at work. But at other times predictions fail. This may either be a reflection of the astrologer’s skill level, the accuracy of the predictive system itself or because there really is the elusive power of free will at play.
Eastern and Western concepts of Fate versus Free Will
In the West, people are uncomfortable with the idea of fate or destiny and relish their free will. It’s not uncommon to hear someone boldly defending the concept of “creating our own reality” and of being unlimited co-creator with the divine. However in Eastern countries like India it’s much different. In our culture it is common to hear someone resign themselves to a situation by simply saying “this is just my fate”.
However, while on the surface it may appear that Western attitude is the wiser of the two, all may want to reconsider. After all, how “free” really is their free will when they’re limited by their past conditioning? They cannot follow their New Year resolutions beyond February! These habits are so very difficult to change it can be like trying to hold down a log in water – no matter how long they hold it down, it quickly rises back to the surface. On the other hand, the attitude of resigning could mean acceptance and trust that could be considered as wise.
Due to differences of cultural conditioning, generally the astrologers of India tends towards a fate orientation, while the astrologers in the West tend towards a free will orientation. And it is very easy to err on one side or the other. They may not be aware that what they are saying to a client has a fatalistic tinge or an overly optimistic free will sugar coating.
Generally, astrology clients don’t consider positive predictions to be a problem. Marriage, money, travel, successful careers etc. We love our ego’s pampered and puffed up with the possibilities of positive events in the future. It’s often why we seek out astrologers in the first place. However, both good and bad events occur simultaneously. No one on this planet can expect everything good happening around them, they are probably hiding their hurts and wounds below a carpet of deceit. Or simply they have suffered enough that it does not matter any which way! So, it behoves the reader to know what correct definition of Karma is and how it influences his/her life.
What is Karma? In the individual human mind are etched the impressions of the multiplicity of deeds, desires and thoughts which go to make up a lifetime. Then, after death, and due entirely to these attractions and the uncompleted associations, the soul is forced to take another birth into the physical arena which it has so recently vacated. The impressions of the past are projected forward to create the complex patterns of destiny in the next life. Whatever is not used in the fabrication of one’s life’s destiny is held within the mind for future use. And this great storehouse of unfulfilled mental entanglements and accretions increases from life to life. Indian Mystics have called it Karma.
So as we Hindu’s say – Kathni, Vichaar and Karni all are included in the storehouse we call as KARMA!!! Whatever we do and whatever we think – whatever we say verbally such as cuss words and abusive language – they are all etched in the storehouse known as KARMA!!! Nothing escapes the manager who is responsible of noting down all that we do or what we think – because it is the Mind itself that is the doer of these Karmas and then the author who writes the ledger where all Karmas are written down!!! So he is both the doer and accuser for all karma’s!!! Karma is further classified into three main compartments – the Prarbadh [Present destiny] Karma, Sanchit [Store house of Karma] Karma and Agami Karma or some call it the Kireman Karma – Karma that we do in present life as part of our free will.
Over eons of births, each native on this planet has accumulated mountain loads of karma, out of which, few select karma are carried in the present life as destiny that one needs to fulfil. While fulfilling these Karma, God does spare enough Free Will to give us an opportunity to discover a way to erase ALL of the karma or gather new karma [Agami or Kireman Karma], the mental impressions that each one of us will carry forward to rejoice/suffer in the next birth as Prarbadh Karma! Whatever each cannot repay within one lifespan is accumulated into the store house of cumulative storage known as Sanchit Karma.
I guess a simple example will resolve doubts. Let us assume Mr A is destined to earn $10,000 before sunrise tomorrow, sounds interesting, yeah?? Now, it is entirely on Mr A to work honestly and diligently and get his dues/rewards, or he may simply rob, steal, or simply loot a bank! The free will exercised to fulfill the destiny is his future’s seed, or Karma for future ensnarement! The Vedic scripture, the Mahabharata, says that just as a calf can always find its mother, even if it’s wandered into a large herd, so our past karma will always seek us out and find us! This is the unwritten LAW of KARMA!
Sounds heavy, is it?? Let me explain with few visuals, people in the west understand better with visual presentations!
So, our Mr A is dropped on a Green line that is his Fate and Destiny by an invisible hand. He has no choice whatsoever in choosing his parents, he is simply born into a family and surroundings which finally define his immediate existence. Mr A has also come with his small baggage of Karma shown by a small school bag which he can manage in this lifetime. Mr A is a very happy person indeed. As he grows up and somewhere along the path is an alternate path shown by the pink – the path of Free Will. Mr A chooses this path, he is one happy guy, meets a girl along this path. The future is all very rosy for him. There are several others along the path, he has good company.
As time progresses, he picks up more baggage, his girl leaves him, he returns to a spot where he had left on his karmic path! He has accumulated more baggage, which is far in excess of what he can carry. He finally is a sad man looking for answers and guidance on WHAT path he should have taken? I will be describing more in a future post. Thanks for being patient.
Oh, a little point to ponder – those who complain they had a difficult time with their parents? Next time choose better parents!!