of Free Will
solved on the level of higher states of consciousness
'Free will is the greatest gift of God to man,' says Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (Bh.G. 1.39). 'Man has freedom of action; thereby he can adopt any channel, good or bad, through which he wants the course of his life to flow' (Bh.G. 2.27). We know that freedom is very fulfilling, we all want more and more freedom. Freedom equates with happiness, independence and sovereignty. And indeed, man seems to be more free than any other life form.
Intuitively we may feel free - aren't we free to think, speak and act as we like? However, certain kinds of behaviours are regarded as more wise than other kinds of behaviours. Actions do call forth reactions. Actions do have consequences. All of us are acquainted with the Law of Nature that requires that the reaction is equal and opposite to the action. Or, as the ancient saying goes:
'As you sow, so shall you reap.'
This is universal village knowledge, as Maharishi once put it. We can do as we please, only we should be ready to bear the consequences of our actions.
Is this the whole story of free will and predestination? Certainly not, since we can ask ourselves the very important question: Why do I act the way I act? Why do I speak the way I speak? Why do I think the way I think? Why do I desire what I desire? One person goes for art, another for science. Some go for philosophy, others for religion. The one likes silence, the other is fond of action. We all have different tastes and likings. We all have different natures.
Where do all these differences come from? The nature of one person predisposes one for a certain profession, the nature of the other predisposes this one for a completely different profession. All of us act more or less on the basis of our free choice. But our free choice definitely seems to be based on the structure of our personality, our nature. Is it not our nature that inclines us to do certain things, and avoid other things? There is an saying in Dutch: The character and the fate of a person relate to each other like the key to the lock. Obviously, free will is somehow based upon our nature.
Let us examine our own experience a bit closer. In the ordinary waking state, we feel somehow that we are pretty free, but not completely. On the other hand, we intuitively feel that something is predetermined for us, in other words, we feel that, to some extent, we are destined to have certain experiences in life, but we are not able to determine exactly what. It is only natural, that sooner or later we ask ourselves the question: How far does the freedom go? What exactly is its nature? And similarly: how far does the predestination go? What is its nature?
In the normal waking state, we shall not able to sort out the answers to these metaphysical questions. Throughout the ages, philosophers and wise men have tried to define the range of our freedom and the nature of predestination. But because perception in the waking state of consciousness is very much limited, hardly anyone has hit the mark. Let us take up some of the generally expressed viewpoints in this matter.
Dog on a Line
Some say our situation in life is like that of a dog, who is taken out by its master, and is attached to a leash. The dog is allowed to frolic around somewhat, ease its nature, and - if it is lucky in life - its master is lenient enough to take notice of its wishes, and allows the dog to lead him on somewhat. Especially recently, the freedom of dogs is rather great, since the invention of leashes that can be extended up to 10 meters or so. Like this, we human beings are free to some extent, but simultaneously bound to some extent.
Fish in a river
Others compare our situation with a fish in the river. The river is flowing downstream, and carries the fish automatically to a certain destination.
Game of cards
Others are fond of saying that life can be likened to a game of cards. Destiny allots a set of cards to each of us, containing some good, some medium, and some bad cards. Then it is up to each of us to use our Creative Intelligence to make something out of that hand of cards. Either we focus ourselves on winning, and use all the alertness that is in our command, or we do not exert ourselves very much and leave many opportunities unused.
Others say that our situation on earth is like that of many persons trying to find their way in a dark labyrinth. The structure of the labyrinth is so complex that hardly anyone finds the way out and is finally liberated. The majority grope in darkness, not possessed of a comprehensive map of the place, and are destined to die before finding the way out.
Some say that the free will of today is the determinism of tomorrow. This viewpoint is illustrated in the following analogy: At an airport, we are faced with hundreds of options of where to go. But once we have bought a ticket for Chicago, and entered the plane, we are bound to end up in Chicago. We must be ready to accept the consequences of this free choice.
Experiences in the waking state of consciousness
When we take a close look at these different analogies, however, we will find that they do not provide the ultimate answer regarding the nature of free will, nor do they define the ultimate nature of predestination. It is clear that these analogies relate to the experiences that we have in the waking state of consciousness, and it is for this reason that they do not tell the whole story. They leave many things unexplained.
For instance, regarding the analogy of the dog, we can ask, why did the master at a certain point in time buy such a modern extending line by which the freedom of the dog was increased?
Regarding the fish analogy, we can ask ourselves why it is that one fish is so headstrong that he swims upstream while another takes it easy and lets himself be carried on by the river. Regarding the game of cards, we can ask the relevant question: 'What did I do to deserve such a lucky set of cards? If you say it is coincidence, then what happened to that universal village knowledge: 'as you sow so shall you reap'? Is it suddenly not applicable anymore? Regarding the labyrinth we could ask: 'Why is the world experienced as a labyrinth?' or 'How did we end up in this labyrinth anyway?' Regarding the airport analogy the valid question would be: 'Why did I prefer Chicago to San Francisco?'
Every philosophy is simply the expression of a certain level of experiences in life. The Science of Creative Intelligence explains that knowledge is structured in consciousness, and that knowledge is different in different states of consciousness. The reason for the existence of so many different philosophies is the fact that we each experience life from our own individual viewpoint.
The waking state of consciousness covers an infinite range of experiences, but they all have one thing in common: They do not touch the ultimate truth of life. The waking state of consciousness is like a house with a few windows here and there. Dwelling in the house, we are not able to see the entire range of our environment. When something passes in front of our window, we can see it clearly, but we are not aware of where it came from, nor are we able to determine where it goes to. This tempts us to believe that we are living in a world full of coincidences. Moreover, this restricted perception of the waking state poses an open invitation for us to indulge in speculation.
Cosmic consciousness, mentioned earlier, is like a house made of glass. We are able to see 360° of our environment. To the farthest horizon, we can see certain events coming up and taking shape, before they pass by and merge once again with the horizon. Cosmic consciousness is characterised by 360° openness of awareness. This makes for good scientists, and for good artists as well. From this platform of unbounded awareness , now we are able to distinguish both subtle causes as well as the subtle mechanics that structure our life.
Furthermore, in this state of cosmic consciousness, we gain clear insight into the nature of ourselves - we are possessed of self-knowledge. We bring true fulfilment to the ancient Greek teaching:
ΓΝΩθΙ ΣΕΑΥΤΟΝ - 'Gnothi Seauton' - 'Know Thyself',
the central advice of both Socrates and Plato. We experience the absolute, unbounded and eternal nature of our Self; we have discovered our true identity.
From this unbounded and, therefore, unbiased viewpoint, we are capable now to appreciate that all actions of persons, including ourselves, are based upon their own very nature.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna:
'Sadrisham cheshtate svasyahThis expression is based upon a deep appreciation of the unique nature of every single individual. It is clear that the free will that we as individuals exercise is determined by our very nature.
prakriter gyanavanapi prakritim yanti bhutani'
'Creatures follow their own nature. Even the enlightened man
acts according to his own nature' (Bh.G. 3.33).
Herein lies an answer to the question why certain fishes swim upstream, while others are happy to be carried on by the river. It suggests that the more self-knowledge we develop, the more insight we gain into our deepest motivations, and desires. But this is not yet the ultimate resolution of the paradox of free will and predetermination. For instance, what about the influence that creatures exert on other creatures, and what of environmental influences?
In order to provide answers to these deepest questions that life poses to us, the wise, throughout the ages have advised us to meditate - to transcend our thoughts and feelings, our memories, desires, worries and plans - in order to obtain a complete, and all comprehensive insight into the mechanics of life, the mechanics of creation. In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to transcend all phases of relative experience, and just be:
'Nistraigunyo bhavarjunaBe without the three Gunas: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, the three qualities of nature that are responsible for conducting all processes of change, all transformations, and all processes of evolution in the universe. Transcend them, Arjuna. Just be yourself, be established in your simplest form of awareness, get out of the field of change, and experience pure being, the source of all change.
'Be without the three Gunas, O Arjuna,
freed from duality, ever firm in purity of awareness,
possessed of the Self.' (Bh.G. 2.45)
That is to say, establish your awareness in the state of unity, beyond diversity, beyond thoughts and feelings. In that state, the mind is freed from boundaries. When the mind has transcended itself, and has identified itself with pure, unbounded consciousness, it is absolutely free. Thus we see that pure consciousness, transcendental consciousness, is the state of real freedom. To put it even more clearly: freedom is a quality of pure consciousness. The more our consciousness is pure, the more we experience freedom in daily life.
The freedom that we experience in the waking state is just the reflection of the absolute freedom which is inherent the nature of pure consciousness. Thus it is a universal experience that we only experience real freedom when our mind has identified itself with pure awareness, pure consciousness, pure being. We are not the mind, we are not the body, we have a mind and we have a body. Mind and body are the instruments through with we are able to express our Self.
Having established ourselves in the state of being, the singularity of pure consciousness - we feel subjectively free. This freedom is of an absolute nature, because now we have identified ourselves with the Unified Field of all the Laws of Nature, the intrinsic quality of which is absolute freedom. This experience - which is now easily available through the technique of Transcendental Meditation - is traditionally described as 'liberation', or 'moksha', in the language of Vedic Science.
Having established our awareness in a state of absolute freedom, does this mean that our thinking, speech, and behaviour becomes lawless, or anarchistic? Rather the opposite is true. Once we have established ourselves on the level of transcendental consciousness, all stresses in our nervous system which impeded and disturbed the natural and efficient functioning of our mind-body system are dissolved. In Transcendental Meditation, this occurs simultaneously with the expansion of consciousness. The growth of purity in our mind-body system automatically leads to more balanced functioning of both the physiology and the psychology, which makes behaviour more natural and more balanced. In other words, we begin to act more and more in accord with all the Laws of Nature.
The Uninvolved Witness
Thus, we make the paradoxical discovery that the more we experience real freedom the more we become open to the fact that all our thoughts, speech and actions are conducted by the eternally fixed Laws of Nature. What is crucial in the context of the mechanics of creation - the mechanics of our consciousness - is that, when we have taken our stand in our real Self, in the purity of our consciousness, we start to be a witness, an uninvolved witness to all the activity that goes on in our mind, body, environment and the universe at large. This witnessing aspect of our consciousness is called 'saakshi' in Vedic Science. This witnessing quality of consciousness is inherent in the very nature of consciousness. In a sense, all that consciousness ever does is witness. When our awareness becomes grounded in Self-awareness, we simply become more and more aware of this witnessing role that our consciousness has always been playing. We no longer identify ourselves exclusively with our mind-body system. In cosmic consciousness, we experience our real Self as pure awareness, and we are aware that the mind-body system is simply a part of the whole of nature which performs its actions spontaneously and automatically.
Cosmic consciousness is the concrete experience when pure consciousness, gained first in meditation, has become an established feature of our being - pure consciousness, as the witness, is spontaneously and naturally maintained during all activities of the waking, dreaming and sleeping states of consciousness. In this state of all comprehensive awareness, or cosmic consciousness, we find the resolution of the eternal paradox of free will and predestination: Subjectively we are absolutely free, but objectively speaking, all our activities are carried out by all the Laws of Nature. From this cosmic perspective, we are able to see the truth about both the subjective and the objective sides of our existence. Subjectively, we know we are part of the eternal and absolute silent value of consciousness; and objectively, we know that we are part of the eternally dynamic value of existence.
In cosmic consciousness, we directly experience that our subjectivity belongs to absolute silence, and that our objectivity belongs to the eternal dynamism of the 'automatic production line' of creation. When we no longer identify ourselves with the mind or the body, we know we are just the silent witness of all that is, was, and will be. Or, as the Bhagavad Gita puts it,
What is it then that makes our mind, body, intellect, and senses act? It is nature, nothing but nature, as Lord Krishna says to Arjuna:
Absolute Freedom and Absolute Predestination
The more self-referral we are, the more we realise the mechanics of nature's functioning. In this experience of higher states of consciousness, we resolve the paradox of free will and predetermination. In one and the same process of establishing our awareness in transcendental consciousness, we have discovered the truth about freedom, and we have discovered the truth about predestination! From the perspective of cosmic consciousness, we are able to see that these two fields of life exist side by side. Both are 100% in their own right. In cosmic consciousness, we experience absolute, eternal freedom as the essential quality of our own consciousness, and on that basis, from that transcendental viewpoint, we see the truth about activity - namely that it is conducted by the Laws of Nature, by almighty Nature itself, which moves according to a cosmic plan, outlined in the 'instruction manual of creation', the Veda.
However new and perhaps unbelievable this may sound to people in the world, it is exactly the experience in cosmic consciousness. Not that the freedom becomes 100% available in cosmic consciousness, we only become aware of the freedom that has always been there. Likewise, not that predestination becomes 100% operable in cosmic consciousness, we only become aware of the predestination that was eternally there. Vedic Science is not a religion. Nobody is asked to believe anything of this description of life. Vedic Science can verify that it is so! And this is exactly the job that Jyotish performs for us.
In Chapter Three, we mentioned the Vimshottari Dasha system, which allots different Grahas to different periods of our life. With the help of this timetable, we have an overview over the entire 'production process' of our life. When we combine this system with the study of the actual position of the Grahas at any given time (the so-called Gochar or transit system), we are in a position to gauge the actual mechanics of our life on a day to day basis!
Having performed this experiment hundreds of times, we have become absolutely convinced that everything develops according to the cosmic plan. All processes of thinking, speaking and acting are the expression of the cosmic mechanics of creation. Having observed this to be true, over and over again, we develop an intuition, a feeling for the perfect and orderly set up of creation - even when our subjective experience is still limited to the waking state of consciousness.
In this way, the study of Jyotish is helpful in expanding our consciousness into cosmic dimensions. In the event that we are meditating, the study of Jyotish becomes supportive to the development of our consciousness that results from regular experience of the absolute level of awareness in meditation. Maharishi emphasises that knowledge and experience always go hand in hand. Combining the intellectual study of Jyotish with the experiential development brought about by the regular practice of TM, we soon begin to experience glimpses of the cosmic reality, and, in due time, this most natural, blissful, and most exalted state of consciousness becomes a permanent feature of our daily life.
Having secured our subjective existence in absolute bliss consciousness, we begin to recognise that everything big or small, important or non-important is organised by the Creative Intelligence of nature. We start to cognize that all actions and all events are products of the Laws of Nature. In the normal waking state, we were not able to figure out reasons for many events in our lives, and, indeed for many events that were happening in the world at large. But now, when the comprehension of the mind has reached a cosmic perspective, everything begins to make sense to us.
Wise men throughout the ages have had insight in the perfect, just and mathematically precise functioning of Nature. In his Essay on Man, dated 1774, Alexander Pope in England wrote:
God is Not Playing Dice
Is 'normal' waking state, we may not comprehend the truth, but that does not mean that it isn't there. Experiencing the enriched, enlightened state of consciousness, wise men have always tried to awaken us to this cosmic truth. For instance, there is a popular song in India, that says:
'God does not play dice.'
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Einstein of consciousness, once said:
To give food to the hungry is just human.
To give shelter and affection to the needy is just an expression of human
nature. To help others to enlightenment, and to experience freedom and success
in life, is only natural. To strive for happiness, health, wealth and enlightenment
is just natural, embedded in the structure of life itself.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Brahman, the wholeness of consciousness,
the wholeness of all that exists - contains all: knowledge and ignorance,
light and darkness, birth and death, freedom and predestination, creation
and destruction, good and evil, positive and negative, yin and yang, past
and future, perfection and imperfection. To say that everything is ordained
and organised by nature should not bewilder the wise. To say that everything
is fixed does not mean that we cannot improve anything. To say that everything
is fixed does note mean that we are not absolutely free! Our freedom is absolutely
fixed. We are all destined to be free. We have the total freedom to create
our destiny. Freedom and predestination are two sides of the same coin, the
coin of life. Maharishi once said: 'Life is a composite of a 100% freedom
within a 100% determinism.
Master of Our Own Creation
Miraculously, all of us are essentially and totally one with cosmic intelligence, which makes each one of us our own predestinator, whether we are aware of this fact or not. Man is born to be the master of his destiny - we have heard this saying many times. It means that all of us are bound to realise that we are essentially one with the cosmic Creative Intelligence. The more our life evolves in the direction of this realisation, the more intelligent and creative our thinking, speaking and acting will be.
Once we start to experience that we are the masters of our own creation, we automatically start to behave in a more and more evolutionary way. We no longer obstruct - as it were - the cosmic force of evolution working in each and every one of us. In this way we start to make use of our full mental potential.
The only reason that we are not making full use of our Creative Intelligence is because of certain stresses that are inhibiting the normal and natural flow of energy and intelligence in our mind-body system. Stress gives rise to frustration, and even to destructive behaviour. Crime is the natural expression of stress. It is stress that restricts our awareness and makes us feel bound, makes us feel forced to a certain type of negative behaviour. When the stresses are gone, we feel free and unrestricted, and automatically we start to think, speak and act more in accord with the evolutionary Laws of Nature; we feel more supported by the almighty forces of evolution. This results in more positivity, and in health, wealth and wisdom in life.
It is in this light that Maharishi once said:
'Human life is all divine.'
We are all the creators of our destiny - whether we know it or not! Our mind, the human mind is so infinitely powerful that it creates whatever it contemplates - whether we know what is going on in our mind or not! When the nervous system is free from stress, we have a clear mind, and we naturally create a life that is pleasant for all of us. When stress no longer obstructs our mind-body system - as is the case in cosmic consciousness - we are more and more aware of our infinite free choice in life. Naturally, we choose for progress and happiness. In the state of enlightenment, we naturally desire 'all good to everyone, and non-good to no-one'.
Becoming enlightened just means that we claim our birthright, and that we start to make use of our inborn potential, which, according to Vedic Science, is unlimited in its scope and power.
When we become dedicated to the idea of creating a heaven on earth, it is bound to happen. And in fact, the study of Jyotish is an excellent aid to that: we study the wonderful orderliness and harmony of the celestial mechanics, and apply this knowledge here on earth. This is the whole purpose of Jyotish and, in fact, the whole purpose of each and every branch of Vedic Science. Each of those branches of 'Brahma vidya' - knowledge of the totality - gives a complete insight, each from its own vantage point, into the mechanics of creation. Each branch of Vedic Science offers the potential to raise life to its full dignity - enlightenment to the individual and a disease-free, problem-free society for every nation.
The whole truth about life
- the whole truth about freedom and predestination - is summarised in
a little interaction of Maharishi. A few years ago Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
was interviewed by a French journalist, who asked: 'Maharishi, how does
the world look like in the highest state of consciousness?' Then Maharishi
said: 'Then you see that everything is exactly as it should be'.
The man, not realising the depth of this expression, asked: 'But why then,
are you working so hard to improve the situation?' Whereupon Maharishi
smilingly answered: 'Because that is exactly as it should be'.
In this little anecdote,
the whole wisdom of the Vedas and the Vedic literature is contained. Thus,
it forms a beautiful conclusion to this essay on the mechanics of creation,
seen in the light of Maharishi's Vedic Science.
As It Should Be
The whole truth about life - the whole truth about freedom and predestination - is summarised in a little interaction of Maharishi. A few years ago Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was interviewed by a French journalist, who asked: 'Maharishi, how does the world look like in the highest state of consciousness?' Then Maharishi said: 'Then you see that everything is exactly as it should be'. The man, not realising the depth of this expression, asked: 'But why then, are you working so hard to improve the situation?' Whereupon Maharishi smilingly answered: 'Because that is exactly as it should be'.
In this little anecdote,
the whole wisdom of the Vedas and the Vedic literature is contained. Thus,
it forms a beautiful conclusion to this essay on the mechanics of creation,
seen in the light of Maharishi's Vedic Science.
Copyright © 1998. Drs. Frans Langenkamp, Ph.D. All rights reserved.