Vedic Astrology
Lesson #5
  by Das Goravani
Posted with Permission

Spiritualizing the Great Free Will Debate

Before we begin, let us recognize the transcendental truths that surround us and go on for infinity, beyond the covering of this universe, which we may never discover while in these bodies. Let us be centered on truth and devoted to truth. Let us be humble and sincere.

I offer my praise to the Supreme Divine Couple who is sometimes manifest as Sri Sri Sita Rama. I offer my praises to their servant who is my personal guardian, Sri Hanumanji.

To begin, let us remember that since we small souls actually do not know for sure what is really going on "out there" beyond the Universe, and since we really don't know for sure anything other than what we can see, let us remember that all opinions about the unknown remain only opinions and faith. And that is good- for it seems that that is exactly the way divinity wants it, otherwise divinity would do something more than what he and she already do. Since they're in control, we can assume that what is happening is very well and good indeed. In fact, it's ecstatic.

But back to the point: The conclusions that each of us has about divine matters and arguments are derived sometimes from our own speculative thinking, and sometimes from what we've heard from others, perhaps even from scriptures or spiritual leaders. Nevertheless, humility dictates that none of us be so boisterous as to think or project that our conclusion from our own processes of reception is THE ONE AND ONLY ONE that is right for everyone.

So, it is normal and good to humbly admit one's bias before speaking. If for no other reason than to help the listener more quickly realize where you're going with your arguments.

So, I would like to reveal my background briefly before speaking: I was introduced to formal and strict Vaishnava Hinduism at the age of 19. Vaisnavism is that branch of Hinduism which chooses to worship Vishnu, the Supreme God, rather than worshipping separately any of his parts or expansions such as Siva or Durga Devi. Vaisnavas are personalists, which means they believe that there actually are spiritual planets or "heaven" where there are actual spiritual people in spiritual bodies, and that this can be attained after many births when one is finally ready. This is in opposition to those who believe that the highest attainment is merging into one great, formless soul known as "Brahman" or just "pure spirit". So, I'm a Vaisnava by faith. I have had my own visions, and done my own studies, and have my own realizations, which embellish what I write. But in overall conclusion I am one with the Vaisnava followers of the Sri Chaitanya branch of Bengali Vaisnavism. I lived for a long time with the monks at the Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math temple which is near the border with Bangladesh but is in West Bengal on the outskirts of the city of Navadwip, the birth place of the Great Avatar Sri Chaitanya. These monks are most adept at analyzing the nature of the soul, and the science of Karma, Reincarnation, Free Will, Destiny, etc.

We are considering now the subject of Free Will verse Destiny. The Question is: Which one is correct? Do we have free will- are we creating our future? Or, is a predetermined path of destiny guiding our every step and thought as if we have no freedom at all? Or is it some sort of mix?

First I will give my conclusion, then the supporting understanding. The conclusion which I ascribe to after much careful thought on the matter is that which I feel was a central expression of the philososphy of Sri Chaitanya. Namely, that he described reality as "acinta bed abeda tattva", which means "that everything is inconceivably simultaneously one with yet different from divinity".

Therefore, I believe and more than belief, I can see it happening, that we are fully controlled- our thoughts, everything, is in one sense, fully controlled. I will explain how and why I believe that. But also, at the same time, due to the great wonderful magic of the source of our creation, we feel free will at every step- as if we are doing it. This is the wonder of creation!!!

Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita: "Although the soul in the body thinks himself the doer of activities- actually he does nothing at all- but instead everything is carried out by my external energetic force known as the material nature".

So, I conclude, as per the Gita's version, that the soul is merely a witness in the body. And that the lives we go through are a gradually improving building process of graded lessons, one after the other, much like school. The soul is raised up through a pre-determined or fully controlled lesson plan, but simultaneously always feels right at home and identifies with the lesson fully due to having really no other choice.

When you're in a body, you usually feel pretty much like it's you, and most conscious sentient beings don't take too kindly to someone ending their bodily existence early for them. So, we feel like we have free will, but it's really not that- we indentify with our conditioning in the form of our body and all it's likes and dislikes which are also automatically coming to us based on our birth- our race, family, nation, particular sub-culture experiences, schooling, exposure, and so on. It's all a part of the universe and because we're plunked down into the middle of a body as a conscious witness, and our brain is hooked up to what feels like the control panel, we feel pretty much like pilots.

In fact our so called "choices" are taking place within such a totally predetermined spectrum. We can't choose to date martians, we can order food not on the menu, we can't decide to not breath, we can't change our parental set in for another. A baby born with half a heart or no brain doesn't have much choice, does it? My daughter, burned badly when one years old doesn't have much choice about that event or the scars. The dead on the ground in Bosnia don't have much choice about remaining dead.

Since I program and use Vedic astrology daily, and since I've seen many charts and discussed peoples lives with them so much using the Vedic chart as a guide and reference, I have literally seen repeatedly that people are all following their karma as specified by their Vedic chart. It is very rare that a chart will not match or appear to match what the person describes of their life. It is a most amazing and excellent science and enlightening tool.

So I see regularly that what people are doing was indicated and could have been known at the time of their birth. This includes people with serious mental disease and serious physical problems. So, if we say that in this life you are getting reactions to your past good and bad deeds and acting accordingly, then isn't it also true that that was the case in the last life. If we are constantly products of reactions to OUR OWN past deeds, then how can we create new good and bad deeds, if we are going to be limited by our past?

Some babies are born totally mentally retarded and live their whole life in an institution. What is the point? Is God punishing the soul for being bad in a past life? What is God doing to the souls in animal bodies? What's the point of those incarnations?

The atheists and scientists have a view which cannot answer these basic questions in any way which gives the mind and intelligence the loving, protective peace that is necessary for happiness. The Vedic theistic conception can and does however. So which is right?

The Vedic conception is that the soul, encased in bodies in this plane is a student of divine teachings by need and nature. The karma is a lesson plan to refine our conceptions of oursleves, our needs, and the answers to our needs. Gradually divinity raises us in that we become purified. As Krsna says in the Gita "vasudevam sarvam iti, sa mahatma sudurlabha", that the soul is indeed rare in this world who, after many births, finally throws up his or her arms and surrenders to divinity in devotion. Until that point, we find that the soul remains stubborn, trying this theory and that pursuit according to their own mental speculations. Thus the scientists and atheists are described by Krsna, and we see they are doing just what he said they will do. Then we find the devotees, the surrendered souls, who attain real peace due to acceptance of divinity. Thus we see the purpose of this world, as taught in the Vedas, panning out in real life.

We see that we are fully controlled, yet we see that we are forced to indentify with our lives as if we are responsible for our choices. So again the conclusion is that free will is a planned, cognitive part of our controlled lives. Part of the absolute control is that we are forced to face our lesson plan as if it's our own- we have to own it- even though it is also obviously fully planned and cast upon us by divine will or destiny. Thus the conclusion "acinta bed abed", the "one yet different" philosophy, is the one that is most correct.

The astrologer has the unique position of being able to read the karma of self and others. Thus the astrologer has the unique position of hopefully being at peace with the divine paradigm of simultaneous destiny and ownership or free will. It is natural that an astrologer will have some mental way of dealing with the mental impact upon themselves of this knowledge. So what is your way of dealing with it?

Some astrologers see karma, or astrological reality, as mere "pushings" or "impetus" that can be avoided willingly if enough effort is made. Such astrologers are not totally theistic in their conceptions. They see themselves and others as free agents who can choose to avoid that which is indicated. However, a deeper view is that the process of doing just that, must also be indicated in the chart. And then, it becomes more correctly read that:

"You will be pushed in a certain direction, but due to your other better planetary placements and fortunes, you will be able to go a different route than the lure. And this is part of your lesson plan for this life- that you will begin to make progress away from certain things, towards higher things."
Another example: Suppose a certain chart indicates sickness, and the astrologer gives a prescription of mantra, stone wearing, or some other measure to appease the planet and thus the indicated karma. Suppose it works for the individual. Has the person out-smarted the planets? The Vedic answer is a strong NO. It will be elsewhere indicated in the chart that the person meets the astrologer and gets upliftment. The act of carrying out the worship of the mantra or wearing of prescribed gems is the requisite external action, which seems to effect the positive change, but the deeper reality is that the individual is merely being shown the power of divine controls and the power of divine remedies. You see, the purpose and result here is a raising of the soul's conceptions of life. And that is always the Vedicly understood purpose of life. So, such happenings are not out-doing the Vedic planetary conceptions and divine theistic conceptions, but rather actually the fulfillment of them!

If one can understand thus the absolutely good and positive nature of the reality we are parts of, then one is seeing the Vedic way. If one has the opposite conception where we are free agents fighting for our own existence and fulfillment, then they are seeing only the lessons, and not the purpose behind the lessons.

In the end, all is ordained, and all is good. Even ignorance is good because it is leading, through the process of frustration, to a higher consciousness. But, if you are ready, and you accept, and you act directly towards divine connection, then it is understood that you are further along. And that is always a happy conclusion.

Copyright 1995 by Das Goravani,

211 Crest Drive
Eugene OR 97405

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