“No man was ever wise by chance.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
This is a subject that will come up both sooner AND later, so we may as well talk about it now.
Where is free will in the Jyotish chart?
A Buddhist monk once said in a lecture that we have about 4% leeway in our actions. The rest is fixed. That about fits my observations.
Four percent is a lot. The difference between the genetics of a human and a daisy is about 4 percent. There’s a lot to be said for 4 percent.
Not only does free will have a quantity, it has qualities too. Namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas.
So, someone articulating benefics in the twelfth might choose to express them sattvicly by going overseas to an ashram. If tamasic, that same person might wind up in the hospital.
The karma of a yogin is neither white nor black. Of others it is threefold. (Yoga Sutras, IV.7)
VasiSTha discourses at length directly on this topic in the beginning of the transformation of RAma from sullen 16 year old to God in the MaharAmayana, transcribed as VasiSTha’s Yoga. He more rightly talks about self effort instead of free will. As usual, he uses pretty strong words (p. 25):
In this world whatever is gained is gained only by self-effort; where failure is encountered it is seen that there has been slackness in the effort. This is obvious; but what is called fate is fictitious and is not seen.
Self-effort, Raama [notice that he doesn’t say O Raama at this point] is that mental, verbal and physical action which is in accordance with the instructions of the holy person well versed in the scriptures. It is only by such effort that Indra become king of heaven, that Brahma became the creator, and the other deities earned their place.
Self-effort is of two categories: that of past births and that of this birth. The latter effectively counteracts the former. Fate is none other than self-effort of a past incarnation. There is constant conflict between these two in this incarnation; and that which is more powerful triumps.
Self-effort which is not in accord with the scriptures is motivated by delusion. When there is obstruction in the fruition of self-effort one should examine it to see if there is such deluded action, and if there is it should be immediately corrected. There is no power greater than self-effort in the present. Hence, one should take recourse to self-effort, grinding one’s teeth, and one should overcome evil by good and fate by present effort.
The lazy man is worse than a donkey. One should never yield to laziness but strive to attain liberation, seeing that life is ebbing away at every moment. One should not revel in the filfth known as sense-pleasures as a worm revels in pus.
One who says “Fate is directing me to do this” is brainless, and the goddess of fortune abandons him. Hence, by self-effort acquire wisdom and then realise that this self-effort is not without it’s own end, in the direct realisation of the truth….
One should free oneself from likes and dislikes and engage oneself in righteous self-effort and reach the supreme truth, knowing that self-effort alone is another name for divine will. We only ridicule the fatalist. That alone is self-effort which springs from right understanding which manifests in one’s heart which has been exposed to the teachings of the scriptures and the conduct of holy ones….
People use such expressions as “I am impelled by fate or divine dispensation to do this” for self-satisfaction, but this is not true. For example, if an an astrologer predicts that young man would become a great scholar, does the young man become a scholar without study? No. Then why do we believe in divine dispensation? Raama, this sage VishvAmritra became a Brahma-RSi by self-effort; all of us have attained self-knowledge by self-effort alone. Hence, renounce fatalism and apply yourself to self-effort.
The classics also tell us that upon advancement by right self-effort the ultimate purpose of life is to go beyond the gunas, even sattva;:
The embodied one, transcending these three gunas, which originate in the body, freed from birth, death, old age, and pain, attains immortality. (Bhagavad Giita, 14)
So, maybe the “free will”‘s ultimate purpose is to enter “the cloud of dharma“, (Yoga Sutras IV.29) where the “identification of discernment” is “without self-interest.” Notice there is still self-effort even in this very advanced stage.
So please, calm down. Meditate. Relax. Do the right thing. Join. Unite. Worry about yourself if you must, but only until you don’t worry about yourself. Self effort is indeed a wonderful thing.
Renay Oshop - teacher, searcher, researcher, immerser, rejoicer, enjoying the interstices between Twitter, Facebook, and journals.