“What is the difference between Karma and free will?”
Someone put this question to a great spiritual Guru of India –
He replied, “Your height is your Karma, your weight is free will.”
Smart answer! But the situations in life are not always as black and white as the ‘height and weight’ example. Most of the time we find it very hard to figure out which is karma, the unchangeable, and which is free will, the changeable. Day and night we are bombarded with questions like ‘let go of what and hang on to what? Surrender to what and fight what?’ Even with genuine application of our rationality, we still lack clarity in understanding life’s situations. The very mind that helps us to reason out, can also play trickster in clouding our perceptions. If only rationality and reasoning could solve all the problems, then this world would be a perfect place. But it is not. So, reasoning is not the only way to understand the nature of a situation, especially when the situation and context are defying all ‘logic’.
The faculty of reasoning cannot guide us much because reasoning is just a state of mind, which is influenced by our needs, and constrained by our limited knowledge. But Karma and free will are forces that operate beyond the faculties of reasoning. These are universal, dynamic force that connects everything with everything and are in a state of perpetual flux. Trying to grasp these tremendous forces with this tiny tool called mind, is near to impossible. So the solution has to be something other than the mind. To be specific, something other than the thinking, reasoning mind.
Mind is a natural chatterbox. Depending on the person, it could be an emotional chatter, or an intellectual chatter, but it is chatter nevertheless. Society believes this mental chatter to be a sign of a ‘thinking’ or a ‘feeling’ man. I am not going to criticize this mindset of the society. Enough is to say that there is a state of mind that is superior to thinking. It is the silent mind. Experiencing it is similar to the freshness and clarity we feel after a good sleep, but in a much higher degree because when we sleep, our mind goes to the sub conscious state, but in a silent, still mind, we are fully awake, conscious and aware. It is very vital to give breaks to the constantly chattering and manipulating mind to feel the intensity and direction of the flow of life. It is only by quieting the mind, or by meditating, if you prefer that word, that we can decode complex situations of life. Karma and free will are not two discreet forces but they are two constantly negotiating, interchanging and evolving forces .It won’t be possible to seek clarity at root cause level while being influenced by the mind which incessantly tries to define and interpret situations.
Physics says that a perfect balance state is essentially a motionless state, a state of no activity. But it’s this very stillness that holds the motion. So with the still mind. It is in such a state that the whole activity of the cosmos is contained. It is the only state where the forces of dualities cease to influence us. It is in this state that the faculties of the mind, namely the reasoning and emotions, reset themselves and align with the natural flow of life. It is here that the inner guiding voice can be heard clearly.
Meditation is a big subject in itself. It is not the aim of this article to discuss it in depth. But if we could take it as a lead and start practicing silence/meditation at least for a few minutes in a day as a beginning, then we may realize how the quality of our perception of life has greatly improved. Let the silence speak and guide us through the labyrinth of Karma and free will into a more beautiful life. I will conclude with one of my favorite quotes of Lao Tzu;
“To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders”
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