Friday, May 09, 2008

God's Will, Individual Will and Jyotisha

From: Narasimha P.V.R. Rao <>
Date: Fri, May 9, 2008 at 8:37 AM
Subject: [sohamsa] God's Will, Individual Will and Jyotisha

Namaste Pramod ji and others,

My best wishes for a pleasant Rishi Panchami!

<<<I have few questions in mind which I am not able to find a satisfactory answers from anyone.
There is saying in Sanskrit "Tena vina truanam api na chalati" means " A blade of grass doesn't move without his will". In purusha suktam also it mentions God alone is Prabhu(lord) of bhoot(past) and bhavya(future)..
So with these statements in mind can't we conclude that everybody's destiny is fixed by God according to his karmas? Now if my destiny is fixed why should I bother if a particular day is auspicious or not, or the girl will be my perfect match or no.
Can't I just concentrate on my Karmas and leave the rest to God? What is the relevance of Jyotish Shastra in this point view? Why should I bother about Jyotish at all?
I am convinced that you are the best person to answer these questions. Please find for me some time in your busy schedule to answer this burning question of mine.>>>

This is a good question. It is a loaded philosophical question and one that many may have. Though I addressed such questions in the past, I sense that I may be able to give an inspired answer on this auspicious day. I will hence spend a little time trying to put my thoughts into elaborate words and cover various aspects related to this question. At the end, I may not answer your question fully or satisfactorily, but I will hopefully have penned some useful thoughts. Hoping you won't mind, I am cc'ing this mail to a few yahoogroups related to Jyotisha and spirituality.

This mail is a little long, as I will cover a few different things and try to put them in perspective.

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Brief Answer

First let me give the brief answer. If you can indeed concentrate on your Karmas (actions) and leave the rest to God and if you can accept with an equal vision any results (fruits) that your karmas may bring, then you are a liberated soul. Jyotisha shastra is indeed irrelavent to you. But there are very few people who are like that. For others, it is still relevant.

Now let me give the long-winded answer.

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Nature of Self

When someone has a dream, one may experience many objects of various attributes and qualities in the dream. Do those objects exist in reality? No. All those objects and various interactions between those objects are unreal - they exist fictionally within the mind. Only the mind exists in reality and no other objects. Still, during the course of a dream, the mind is under the illusion that all these objects exist outside of it. All those objects obey the rules conjured by the mind that is dreaming.

This whole creation is basically like that. All beings are but Brahman. Upanishads and vedanta teach that there is Brahman and nothing or nobody else in this universe. There is no "self" and "other". All is self. However, a part of Brahman becomes deluded and forms a self-identity and entertains an illusion that there is an "I" and the "other". This first being is the supreme being (known by various names such as Sadashiva, Narayana, Krishna, Mahaganapathi, Savita etc).

When the supreme being imagines the existence of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva etc to play various roles in this universe and imagines various beings that make this universe up, all those beings come into being (just like the objects in someone's dream). Just as the objects in a dream obey the rules conjured up by the dreamer in his dream, the beings of this universe obey the rules of the game imagined by the supreme being. Each being experiences various other beings and other objects in this universe because of the spell of delusion that he/she is under. When one realizes the delusionary nature of this spell, one can break free from it.

But a normal person is not aware of all this. One's senses simply perceive so many different objects and one entertains various notions with respect to those objects. All these notions become very firmly established in one's consciousness after many births and it is difficult to overcome those notions. Some objects give pleasure and some give pain, some are found attractive and some are repulsive, some are considered good and some bad. And so on. The field that is experienced by one, i.e. the field in which all these objects of opposite qualities exist, is known as the "field of duality" or "maayaa" (delusion).

* * *

Overcoming the Delusion

Overcoming this delusion and rising above the limited perception of the senses and realizing that all the beings that seem to exist are like dream objects imagined by the supreme being, i.e. that there is nothing but the supreme being in this universe, is not easy.

Saying "all is Brahman and the objects we perceive are all Brahman only" is easy. Even understanding it at an intellectual level may be easy. But a perfect and unshakable understanding of it is not difficult.

Let us see an analogy. Suppose one goes to a movie. Some events unfold on the movie screen and they seem to really happen. However, they are not real events. It is just fake and manipulated. The characters in the movie are not real. However, some people take the events on the screen seriously and react strongly. Good happenings on the screen make them elated and scary moments on the screen shake them up. There may be someone with an intellectual understanding that the movie is not real and yet one specific scene that may get him/her. For example, one may shiver with shock in a scene despite the intellectual understanding that it is not real. Intellectual understanding does not give full control over instincts.

Similarly, one with only an intellectual understanding that all is Brahman does not have full control over the mind. The instincts, sense organs and various aspects of mind sometimes run like a mad monkey, away from the understanding that "all is Brahman". One may feel happy about some things, feel sad about some things, become attracted to some things and become repelled by some things. A perfect, permanent and unshakable understanding that all is Brahman is much more difficult to obtain than a mere intellectual understanding.

It requires dismantling the formidable fort of delusion made of the walls of mental conditioning formed by the bricks of sense experiences that are joined by the cement of logic and analysis. These walls are fortified over many many lives and make the fort quite formidable.

This is a long process involving many steps. There are different practices designed to facilitate this in different religious/spiritual paths. There is no foolproof algorithm to ensure this process. There are only guidelines.

All is Brahman and all the duality is arising from the Supreme Being. All of one's actions are actually occurring due to the will of Supreme Being only. The results/fruits (good or bad) of one's actions may be viewed as the reactions by Nature to one's actions and they too are due to the will of Supreme Being. Thus, everything that happens is due to the will of Supreme Being. If one person remains in ignorance, keeps on taking a rebirth and keeps going through good and terrible experiences, it is all the will of Supreme Being. If one says "it is all the will of Supreme Being. I am doing nothing" just for the heck of it and yet continues to have an egotism (self-identication with a body or name or personality or some object), continues various actions through that ego and continues to receive their fruits and becomes elated by some and depressed by some, it is all through the will of Supreme Being. Though the person is saying "Supreme Being does all", he continues to think of an "I" and thinks deeply that "I am doing". That is why Supreme Being wills the persons to receive the appropriate fruits of that action. If another person truly understands that Supreme Being knows, wills and does all things, kills "I" completely at the mental level, then that person may seem to engage in various actions, but he does not really perform any actions. When there is no "I", there is action and no reaction. Despite moving in the material world and doing various actions, that person's mind is always established in bliss. Again, this person has no "I-ness" and hence Supreme Being wills the person to be in supreme bliss always.

The subtle lesson I am trying to drive at is: As long as there is an "I-ness" to a person, actions take place and their reactions happen. "All is Brahman. I do not do anything" is for one who has killed "I-ness" completely. It is not an excuse to do anything and get away. Until one completely kills "I-ness", one has to watch one's actions to produce good reactions that are conducive to making more progress.

* * *

Two Types of Knowledge

The teachings of maharshis in Veda and allied subjects like Vedangas and Vedanta cover essentially two types of knowledge:

(1) Understanding the rules of engagement of the field of duality (maayaa)
(2) Understanding how the field of duality is delusionary and how all is Brahman only

Knowledge of type (2) is essential because eventually the goal of each being is to overcome the delusionary nature of the field of duality and see Brahman in all. However, the problem with 2 is that this knowledge is only realized and not imparted in a step-by-step process. One may read reams about how all is Brahman and seemingly different objects of this universe are a delusion and one may even understand and appreciate it to some extent intellectually. But it is of not much use! Until the realization comes from within and experienced, one continues to be deluded by duality. One may know all the theory, but the mind continues to be deluded and swayed by duality. When somebody praises one, one may feel elated. When somebody attacks one, one may feel unhappy. When one finds something nice, one may be attracted. When one finds something disgusting, one may be repelled. And so on. Please see my previous analogy of a movie.

While knowledge of type (2) elaborates why the above behavior is silly and describes the thinking and approach of a liberated soul, it is very very difficult to imbibe such thinking and attitude and become liberated. Even reading works imparting knowledge of type 2 for a long time does not guarantee liberation.

Vedangas such as Jyotisha belong to type (1). When one does not realize that the field of duality is a delusion and is swayed by the opposites, then one needs tools to navigate the ocean of opposites. Jyotish is one such tool. When one's mind is deeply stuck in duality and has unsurmountable "I-ness" and "other-ness" deeply imprinted on it, "all is Brahman. Parama Purusha knows, wills and does all" is a useless concept. From the perspective of that person, one's "I-ness" does all actions and begets the fruits of those actions based on order set by Parama Purusha. This gives happiness and sadness of great proportions. This cycle of actions and fruits may go on forever, until one's "I-ness" is killed completely.

Some spiritual sadhana is necessary to kill the "I-ness". This spiritual sadhana is happening within the field of duality where the mind has a clear "I-ness" and "other-ness". Thus, the rules of engagement in the field duality apply. Subjects like Jyotisha throw light on these rules and they can be helpful. For example, one may start sadhana at a particular time and make swift progress. One may start sadhana at a particular time and encounter many obstacles and stop the sadhana without much progress. One may find the right sadhana based on previous samskaras and vasanas from the horoscope. One may find out that impending material problem (e.g. job loss or loss of a close relative or a divorce etc) may derail one's sadhana and take some measures to stop it and reduce its magnitude. Thus, Jyotisha can be used to manipulate the field of duality to one's advantage, as one wades it trying to kill one's "I-ness" and individual will.

* * *

One's Will vs Other's Will

When a scripture says that everything that happens is God's will, it is essentially referring to the supreme being (Parama Purusha) mentioned earlier as the God. This Being is the first Being arising from non-dual Brahman and the one who conjures up the entire duality. Thus, we are at the border of non-duality and duality.

Deities who operate completely within duality have their own wills which may clash with each other and clash with our will. For example, the will of Yamadharmaraja (yama=displicine, dharma = righteousness, raja = ruler) compelled him to kill Markandeya and collided with the will of Markandeyaq who wanted to remain alive and the will of Lord Shiva who wanted to save Markendeya. There are many stories where the will of one deity/being clashed with another's.

Of course, all these deities are different forms of the same Brahman (or, loosely speaking, of Parama purusha). The will of Parama Purusha is that one deity's will should compel the deity to do X and another deity's will should compel that deity to do Y and something should happen as a result. Everything is indeed the leelaa (play) of the will of Parama Purusha. But we are not at the stage of fathoming the play of Parama Purusha (and his Shakti). All we can say is that Parama Purusha's will is a complex thing. It is in fact the sum total of the individual wills of all beings of this universe!

As long as there is "I-ness" and individual self-identity left in the mind, there is an individual will. As long as that is the case, one is not liberated. One's individual will facilitates various actions that clash with the wills of various other beings. It causes various probelms. Basically one acting based on "individual will" is in tune with only a small subset of "God's will". That person is not in tune with the *entire* God's will.

Thus saying "all is God's will. I need to do nothing" is not conducive to liberation. It continues bondage. Directed effort to kill "I-ness" makes one truly understand that "all is God's will" and drop off one's individual will.

Only when "I-ness" is killed and "individual will" is completely evaporated can one be in tune with the entire "God's will" (as opposed to a small subset). Then alone can one remain in constant bliss, as an unbound observer of the play of this universe without any individual agenda or will. THAT is liberation. Such a liberated soul may seem to engage in various actions, but the mind is stable, has no "I-ness" or individual will and is established in constant bliss. Like a fan may continue to turn for a while after the electricity supply is stopped, such a liberated soul may continue to engage in actions based on the previous flow, but without any egotism (supply of electricity in the analogy).

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I wanted to write a little bit, but ended up writing too much. I will sign off for now. Again, a pleasant Rishi Panchami to all of you!

Best regards,

Brihaspati Gayatri, Vishwamitra/Gaathina Rishi Rig Veda 6.62.6