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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jai Sai Ram
With Love and Regards,
RadioSai's e-Journal Team,
In Sai Service.