Q & A on Freewill


Q: Is our intelligence is covered with the three modes of nature?

That’s one way of describing it.

We are ātmā — a quantum (infinitesimal particle) of sentience. The very nature of sentience is to be aware of its own perception and volition. Thus will (“freewill”) is inherent within the core of what we are, ātmā. 

Our material identity is a projection of our core being. So the sentience of ātmā expresses itself through structures and mechanisms in the tangible and intangible world, structures like consciousness, intellect, emotion, and sense perception. So you can say that these “cover” the ātmā or you can say that they express a projection of the ātmā. The reason the word “cover” is useful is that the expression of ātmā through external structures is limited, unlike the ātmā’s inherent potential.

So, to answer the question you are probably going to ask, or want to ask — yes, the person living as a ordinary being projected into this world does exhibit freewill (since it is inextricably inherent at the core of what a “living being” is), but that freewill is limited by the quality of the mental and physical structures at his or her disposal.

Q: The modes of nature propel us but  can we still control our mind using intelligence?

You should consider Bhagavad Gītā 2.60 and 61 in this regard:

yatato hy api kaunteya puruṣasya vipaścitaḥ
indriyāṇi pramāthīni haranti prasabhaṁ manaḥ

Even if one is unusually intelligent (vipaścita) still the mind will be uncontrollable.

tāni sarvāṇi saṁyamya yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ
vaśe hi yasyendriyāṇi tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā

Only when one attaches the mind to a higher object, Krishna himself,  does one gain the actual wisdom that brings the mind and everything else under control.

This theme is repeated throughout the Gītā, it is a central message. It is not by intelligence that one can be freed from limitations on oneself and ones will. It is by devotional union with the Supreme Being that this becomes possible.

Q: Freewill can be used towards following the path of devotion only if there is some pious karmas in our current account/bhakti sukriti.

If this is the case then bhakti marg (the path of devotion) is dependent upon karma-marg (the path of morality). Those who favor karma think in this way, but we who favor bhakti do not agree. The śāstra declares repeatedly that bhakti arises “yaddṛcchayā” (by freewill). Love is an expression of freewill, not an automatic action. If love were an automatic action resulting from some deed, then robots could be programmed to love. In our direct experience, however, love without other sentient entities is hollow and unsatisfactory. Love cannot be obtained from objects, it comes only from things that possess sentience and will.

Therefore it is both illogical and apaśāstrika to claim that Bhakti arises from pious karma.

Bhakti arises from bhakti-sukṛti, not karma-sukṛti. In other words love arises from expressing love, not by following any formula.

The ultimate cause of bhakti is not Krishna’s mercy or a vaishnava’s mercy, otherwise both are guilty of partiality since not everyone seems to receive their mercy. The ultimate cause of bhakti is the living being’s free choice to love. This opens the heart to receive mercy, which is ever-present. From there, mercy causes the love to be nourished and grow in purity and intensity.

Q: I’ve heard that we have minute freewill which can only be used toward attaining bhakti, it’s not available to manipulate the results of our prarabhda karma.

“Prarabdha” means karmic reactions that are becoming tangible, bearing fruit right now. Of course freewill cannot be used to stop an effect that has already been caused. But the roots of karma (kūtam-karma and bījam-karmaare exclusively caused and controlled by freewill.

In other words, I chose to perform an action, and then I must suffer or enjoy the result. The root of the whole thing is my choice to perform the action, the unavoidable consequence is the result (prarabdha). Sure, it’s complex, because the results create emotional impressions that incline our future decisions in a particular direction. So the more one becomes involved in karma, the less freewill he or she really exhibits, the more the apparent choices are already pre decided by the force of habit carrying over from previous choices. Nonetheless even in the most habbit-bound person the root of all destiny is their ancient free choices.

If free choice is not the root of destiny, then destiny is meaningless and random. If I am put in jail for a crime I didn’t commit, that is meaningless and random. Similarly if I am awarded a Nobel Prize for a something I had no part in doing, it makes no sense. The entity who initiates a thing is held accountable for it, for better or worse. This is the fundamental law of action and reaction, we see it with our eyes, know it with our minds, and hear it from śāstra. If karma merely perpetuates karma and freewill is entirely absent, then it is meaningless. If the sentient entity has no volition in his or her action, then it is meaningless for karma to reward or punish him or her. Therefore denial of freewill is a preposterous claim of the under informed.

Freewill is always being expressed. But it cannot go back in time and change its previous choices. That is why there are some things now in the present that are unavoidable. The unavoidable nature of many circumstances in our life, therefore does not contradict the essential role of freewill.

Q: I heard  that even Krishna doesn’t know how we will use our freewill.

I agree. That’s the whole point of creating sentient beings in the first place: to make existence exciting, enable love, and therefore enable happiness — the only real purpose for existence in the first place.

Q: Can one tell from a horoscope in which areas of the life one has freewill?

You have freewill in every area of life. But you also have habits and addictions limiting your ability to exercise your freewill to significant extents. You can tell from a horoscope what types of habits will limit a person, yes.

1) You will see that the more indications there are of a certain outcome or nature, the more that nature is habitual and the outcome is therefore sure.

2) Rahu and Ketu indicate habitual compulsions. For example, albeit overly simplified, I have Rahu in the 3rd house and Ketu in the 9th. This illustrates that I am habitually compelled towards reading and writing (3rd house), as well as philosophy and religion (9th house).

– Vic DiCara (Vraja Kishor)

www.vicdicara.com (www.vrajakishor.com)