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Darshan with Swami Krishnananda during 1995
by Swami Krishnananda

16. Karma and Choice

(Darshan given on August 13th, 1995.)

A visitor: What is moving the world? Is it God that is moving the world, or is it the karma of each person?

Swamiji: It is God that is moving the world finally. It looks like karma is moving the world, but ultimately it is God that moves it. Everything is moved by Him.

Everything should be done with love. Love is the supreme thing in the world. Nothing is of any value without love because love is God, finally. How much love do you have for what you are doing? Here is the secret of well-being.

In modern life everything must be done in a hurry. This is not the way nature progresses. When you have grown into an adult from childhood, did you jump into adulthood in one day? Nature does not do that. “Slow and steady wins the race” is an old proverb.

Do meditation every day. We are coming to the point. Do meditation for at least five minutes. I am not saying to meditate for two hours. Meditate for five minutes. To strike a match, it takes less than a minute for the flame to come. Meditation is striking a match. It is not a question of many days and many hours. It is putting on a switch, and the light comes instantaneously. But you must know how to put on the switch; that is the whole thing. If there is a loose contact, even by one millimetre, there is no light.

Another visitor: From where does the inner compulsion come to do something?

Swamiji: The inner compulsion comes due to a desire which is associated with the personality. Nobody can be said to be divinely motivated. Such a human being is rare to find in the world. All motivation is personal, psychological, social, political, economic, and so on. Associate your motivation with the Absolute Reality. Divinely motivated people in the world may perhaps be counted on the fingers. Are you really motivated toward some particular act due to the call of God, or is it something else that you are entangled in? That distinction is difficult to make due to the pressure of the psychophysical organism which has its own say in spite of your rational investigation into the higher values of life.

We have got two levels of being working in us. One is called the psychophysical, philosophically called the lower nature. Another is aspiration for the Almighty, the Supreme Being. Now, which one is stronger? You find out. Is your longing to merge in the Absolute stronger than your asking for the facilities of life in terms of name, fame, authority, finance, position? You must see which is stronger.

The body is very vehement. It is not a poor nothing. It may be an ass, but it is a very powerful ass. It can kick you in some direction. So is the mind. The psychophysical pressures are not to be taken for granted. They have a voice which is as vehement as a tornado. They will come like a tempest, and to subdue them you may require a power which is more powerful than that tornado or the tempest. Such power, how will you generate in yourself? These are very serious matters which should occupy one's mind, and for which one should give sufficient leisure.

You are pulled down and pulled up at the same time, but which side is stronger is a matter to see. An airplane goes up, against the gravitational pull of the Earth. Now, which is stronger: the power of the engine to rise up, or the power of the Earth to pull it down? Which is stronger? This also is important. If the engine is not as strong as the pull of the Earth, you know the consequence. You have to be very careful to manufacture such an engine that is capable of counteracting the terrible pull of the Earth. Only then the plane will fly.

Visitor: Where is the choice?

Swamiji: The consciousness that you are capable of doing something is the reason for the feeling that you can choose. Do you understand me? The consciousness that you can do something, the feeling in you that you are in a position to do something is also the reason why you feel you can choose between two things. If you feel that you are a helpless person and are not in a position to do anything, the choice also will not arise. You have a feeling of competency, rightly or wrongly, and therefore you go ahead with the project that you have in your mind. Otherwise, nobody can do anything in the world.

The question is whether you are really competent to do anything or not, or whether you are under an illusion. Find out whether something is doing it through you in some way and you attribute that process to individual competency, like a hypnotised person thinking that he or she is doing something voluntarily though it is done under the pressure of the hypnotist's willpower. That is up to you to find out. Are you doing anything because of the pressure exerted upon you by something of which you have no knowledge? Or have you really got some competency individually, and you are doing it by your choice and you have got the power to do it? What do you say for that?

Visitor: Swamiji, it still seems that certain factors are there. If choice alone were the thing that the competency…

Swamiji: Choice is only an effect produced by your feeling that you are competent to do something individually, of your own accord. If you feel you are helpless and you have no competency, you cannot choose anything. Already you have decided that you have the capacity to do things, and you don't believe that you are pressurised by somebody to choose particularly in this manner.

Visitor: The choices are there, but certain factors…

Swamiji: The point is something else. Is anyone doing anything independently, or is it not true that anyone is acting independently – that they are compelled to do things by forces of which they have no knowledge? Now, which is the truth? Is it true that people have individual choice, or it is not true that they have individual choice? They are forced to do it in a particular manner, and the credit of it they are assuming to their own selves wrongly, like an electric bulb attributing the character of shining to its own person, while the shining is caused by another thing, without which it will not shine. So what do you say?

Visitor: The choices that are imposed are only an imposition.

Swamiji: That is why most of the choices end in undesirable results. You may make a wrong choice. It is not true that choices are always correct. Under your present condition your choice may look correct, but your present condition is a limited circumstance constrained by certain pressures of society and your present desires, etc. If you are a little more mature later on and your understanding improves, you may find that your earlier choice was mistaken, and you grieve for it afterwards. Then you will change your mind and go for something else, though you will have to bear the result of the earlier choice, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Every action will produce a result, and even if you have done a bad thing or a wrong thing unwittingly, the result of it you have to bear, though afterwards you realise that you have made a mistake.

A hunter shot an arrow at some animal moving in the forest, under the impression that it was a tiger. He let off the arrow. Afterwards he realised it was a cow, and he was repentant that he ought not to have shot it. But once the arrow has been shot, it will do the work.

Visitor: But it is not a choice.

Swamiji: It is a choice, wrongly or rightly. The whole question is a philosophical one: Who is the doer of things? You are boiling the whole question into some fundamental issue: Who does anything finally in this world? If it is true that people are doing something by themselves, they may never do something which is disadvantageous to them, so how do disadvantages sometimes follow from a correct choice? That means to say, there is some mistake in the assumption that a person can act independently by one's own self.

Visitor: That's the wrong choice.

Swamiji: Always it is the wrong choice because your concept of the rightness of choice depends upon your present mental condition and social circumstances, which will not continue always. You will be something else after some twenty-five years, and you will rule out all that you have done earlier as a blunder. But you have to bear the consequence of what you have done earlier. It is like an arrow that has been shot. Though you realise that it ought not to have been shot, you have done it, and so it will kill the cow though that was not your intention. This is why it is said you should not do anything expecting the result thereof because the fruit, the result, is not in your hands. It is controlled by factors of which you have no knowledge at the present moment.

Visitor: So that is the only choice: to keep doing.

Swamiji: Do your duty according to the conditions prevailing at present, but you should not expect anything from that. Duty is different from expectation. Under some conditions you are supposed to act in a particular manner. It is done with the best of intentions, but you are not expecting anything and whatever result follows, you have to bear it.

Soldiers march in the battlefield not with the intention of being defeated in the war. They always go with the hope and conviction that they will win the war; otherwise, who will go there? But then some circumstances may prevail in such a way that they do not win, which is a realisation that comes a little later. Otherwise, soldiers will not die in the field if everything has been chosen properly. There is some mistake which makes them die.