FREE WILL

 


Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

 

Today, we would like to draw your attention to some aspects of what is often described as free will. The so-called free will has often been commented upon several times by Swami, but few seem to be aware of what Bhagavan Baba has said. Free will, so-called, goes hand in hand with what is perceived as freedom, both individual and collective. These days there is not only a lot of talk about freedom, especially freedom of expression, but also many unwanted fallouts from them. It is therefore important to reflect at least a little, on these critical issues.

Swami says that God has hardwired all agencies in Nature except humans. What He means is that every entity in Nature except humans, be it inanimate like galaxies or planets, or animate living creatures from single-cell micro organisms up to the elephant and the monkey, does exactly what it is supposed to do - no more or no less; this has been the case for millions of years. Thus, sharks behave today more or less the way they did a hundred thousand years ago.

In the case of humans, there is a fundamental difference. God gave humans several extra capabilities, the most important of which is the ability to think and reason. Why? Because God wanted humans to realise that behind Creation there is a Creator, to realise that humans have come from the Creator, and that humans must use their stay on earth to prepare to go back to God. God thus said, 'O man, I have created this beautiful earth for you and packed it with all the goodies you would want. Enjoy them but do not misuse them. While enjoying them, share them with the rest of the living beings. Be balanced and always think carefully before you do anything. This Mind of yours is very powerful; therefore, use it carefully and for purposes that would make Me happy. Good luck! Enjoy your stay on earth and get back quick to Me!!'

Unfortunately, in recent times, humans have all but forgotten the advice that God gave; indeed, most have even forgotten God. Instead, they have gravitated to the belief that there is no God, that the faculties they possess are entirely theirs to control and use, and that they have a right to do what they want. It is this libertarian approach that has led to the concept of so-called free will.

America, the original settlers made their rights explicit through the famous Declaration of Rights; and yet, at the same time, slavery was legitimised and allowed to prevail for nearly a hundred years. Things have changed a lot since then, and these days, there is plenty of talk about all sorts of rights - the right of the individual, the right of the Press, the right of the Media, the right of business, the right of labour, and so on. When there are many self-interest groups, each with its own agenda, there inevitably is a clash between the different rights claimed; and underlying this clash is the belief of many that their rights alone are paramount.

Here is an example. Recently, the Vice Chancellor of a leading University in Chennai, earlier called Madras, ruled that students should not bring cell phones to class. Promptly, there was a big hue and cry, students claiming that they had a right to, and preventing them from bringing cell phones interfered with their rights. The Media, ever on the lookout for controversies, immediately fuelled this into a big issue where there was none. There are many other such manufactured controversies, too delicate to mention. The point simply is this: Almost invariably, the controversies are born out of an assertion of rights. Swami says that along with rights come responsibilities, with rights and responsibilities being two sides of the coin. In olden times, the stress was more on responsibilities whereas these days the focus is more on rights.

Let us now come to the question of free will. People who clamour for rights are essentially saying, 'Listen, this is a free society and we have a right to do what we want to do.' This point needs some comments. First and foremost, the word free means without any constraints or obstacles. The second means: no charge. Let us take these slowly.

There are some people who are addicted to smoking, and they would like to smoke when they want and where they want. This, they believe, is their right and want no restrictions imposed on them. Just because they believe it is their right, can they be allowed to do so? For example, can one tolerate smoking in hospital? Thus it is that Society places some restrictions on the so-called rights, and this is done for common good. For example, smoking in public places is now prohibited in most countries and with good reason.

In this context, we must not forget what Swami says. He reminds us that when the individual focuses too much on his rights, he then tends to forget about Society. Humans must never forget that they are the building blocks of Society and what they do affects Society as a whole. The human body itself provides a powerful example. If individual cells misbehave and multiply recklessly, then the body has cancer, which ultimately decimates the body. Thus, says Swami to His students, 'You are what you are, because of Society. The only right you really have is to serve Society. If you take care of Society, then Society in turn will take care of you.'

Here is an elementary example of this. These days, movies in India often glorify crime and obscenity. The producers say that they are merely reflecting what is happening in Society. However, thanks to excessive portrayal of violence and all the rest of it, now the movie stars are forced to have security to move about, and have to shell out a lot of money for it. There are innumerable such negative fallouts, but we need not go into it.

The above remark brings us to our second point, which is that though individuals and groups may claim that they are free to do this and that, nothing is free in the sense there is always a price to pay. Sometimes the individual directly pays and at other times, the payment is extracted via decline in Society. In short, there is no free lunch, and in that sense, what is done under the pretext of free will is not at all an expression of freedom.

What then is true freedom? Swami has explained that also. He says he who is totally free from the clutches of sensuality and base desires is alone a free person. Yes, freedom means being free from the claims of the body and the lower Mind. One may live in body and possess a mind. But he who is ruled by the Atma is alone free.

During the Indian freedom struggle, the word Swarajya was often used to refer to political independence. Swami has explained that the word Swarajya which means Rule of the Self, actually means Rule of the Atma. In that sense, God alone has Free Will. He can do what He wants and there is no price tag in terms of consequences. Humans, however, do not have free will, as long as they are body-conscious. That is because whatever is done under the influence of body-consciousness has consequences that one cannot escape. It is only when one feels one with the Atma that one can talk of free will. And when one achieves emotional and spiritual union with the Atma, one no longer clamours about free will.

Do you agree? May be not! Even so, we would like to know what you think. As always, write to: h2h@radiosai.org.

Jai Sai Ram


With Love and Regards,
"Heart2Heart"
RadioSai's e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service.
 

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