"Regarding our allotment of happiness and distress in this life, Srila Prabhupada would often state that “it is already settled”. In other words, there is nothing one can actually do to increase his enjoyment or reduce his suffering. That is preordained in accordance with one’s previous work." Read full article.
Replies: 3 Comments
Posted by Ragaputra dasa @ 10/24/2005 10:17 AM PST
One must act. Activity is the symptom of the living force. No one can refrain from action, even for a moment. The animals are always busy looking for food, looking for sex. So if we are simply looking for food and sex, we are no better than animals. The human form of life affords the opportunity to inquire about the Absolute Truth. This facility the animals do not have. Thus, coming to the human platform requires that we engage our energy in the search for the real problems of life.
The real problems of life are not food, sex and shelter. These are provided to the beasts without any extraneous endeavor. Therefore, why should we make complex and difficult arrangements to obtain these necessities? The real problems of life are repeated birth and death. Only by realizing our spiritual existence can we be free of these problems.
So, while it makes interesting philosophical discussion, the question of free will versus determinism is really only a side issue. Even if by our endeavor we can change our material destiny, the point is not to waste our energy in these mundane pursuits. We have minute independence. The only path of freedom is to become totally dependent on the will of Krsna. This appears as a contradiction. But we can see that even in this life, all our attempts at increasing our enjoyment or reducing our suffering simply cause us to become more and more entangled in the complexities of life.
For instance, when I was a young man, I thought, let me get a wife and I will be happy. Then I had to go to work for ungrateful masters. Then I had to get a house. Then came children, and their food and clothes and education and on and on. It never ends. So many requirements are there just to maintain the household. Now I am older, and I realize the beautiful simplicity of the celibate life. Experience is the best teacher. It is the hardest teacher, because you only learn what the lesson was after the instruction is finished.
The free will debate is reminiscent of the debate over the fall of the jiva. Did the jiva fall or is he eternally conditioned? Again, it makes interesting fodder for philosophical discussion. But the fact is, we are here. It doesn't really matter how we got here. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that if you are sick, you don't waste time inquiring about how you got sick. You find out the remedy and adopt a plan for your recovery. Similarly, we've been given the remedy for finishing material misery once and for all. So let's devote our energy to going back to Godhead.
Posted by Nitya Siddha dasa @ 10/24/2005 04:21 AM PST
I also agree that this is a very nice article.I find the subject of Karma both complex and interesting.In this regard I would like to add some of my own realisations on the subject.It is often said that everything in our lives is pre-ordained,or to put it another way fate has already decided what is going to happen to us.This is perhaps sometimes misunderstood,whilst it is true also it is a complex philosophical conundrum for some.According to the Vedas there are three types of karma; 1.Karma that we are experiencing now as a result of activities performed in the past,either in previous lives or in this life.2.Karma that was created in our previous lives or this life which has not yet come to fruition and is therefore fructifying and yet to be experienced.3.Karma that is being created in the present by our current activities and the reactions will be experienced at some point in the future.These are the three basic types of karma that govern the activities of the Jivas in the material universes.So to take an example, if it is said that according to one's astrological chart that one will become very wealthy in this lifetime how will this happen?Of course it could happen in other ways,he could be lucky and win the lottery or achieve some inheritence from a wealthy friend or relative.But if it is dependant on his endeavours alone and he does nothing it will not happen.In a sense though if an Astrological chart predicts that a person may become wealthy in this life,the chart has already seen the future and correctly predicted what will happen in that persons life,because it sees that he will act and make it happen.Similarly if we want to become Krishna conscious obviously it will not happen if we do nothing at all.Srila Bhaktisiddhanta sarisvati Prabhupada instructed Srila Prabhupada to preach in the Western countries and Srila Prabhupada acted on that instruction so that he made it happen by Krishna's grace.If He had done nothing at all then we would not be here now where we are today because there would be no Iskcon.The supersoul is giving full facility to the living entity to fulfil his desires.For example if the living entity wants to go to hell then Lord Vishnu gives him full facility so that he may go to hell.Similarly if the living entity wants to go back to Godhead,then also Lord Vishnu acting as the supersoul gives him full facility to perform devotional service so that he may go back to Godhead.The point being that although our destinies may be pre-ordained,still we have to act to make it happen and then Lord Vishnu sanctions our desires by rewarding and punishing the living entity accordingly.So if you meet a devotee who tells you that you can go back to Godhead in this life,don't expect it to happen if you are lazy and do not act.
So we could say that Karma is largely dependant on the actions and reactions of the jivas and the sanction of the Supreme lord and His universal authorities.
Nitya Siddha dasa(UK)
Posted by Sudama das @ 10/23/2005 07:32 AM PST
Very nice article, prabhu. Our material bodily karma is indicated at the time of birth, and can easily be observed in the astrological chart with a little study.
The planets give us clear indications of karmic patterns, and our happiness and suffering is delivered during different planetary periods or dashas. All of this is, of course, moving under the control of Sri Bhagavan by way of his material energy.
The conclusion of course is to take shelter of Sri Krishna and his bonafide representative Srila Prabhupada. Whatever suffering or happiness comes is really beyond our control.
We are so glad to see that someone else agrees with Srila Prabhupada's statements. These days, there are too many new-age devotees mixing their free-will, I'm God philosophy up with Krishna consciousness.
The material world is a prison house and what tiny independence we have is just like that of a prisoner locked in jail. He may be able to decide which sport he plays at recreation time, but choosing the rec time is not his decision. It is completely enforced by higher authorities.
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