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November 2, 2023

What is the philosophical implications of free will?

In Akram Vignan, a spiritual science founded by Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan, the concept of free will is approached from a different perspective. Every living being is bound by the consequences of their past karmas, which shape their current circumstances and experiences. From this perspective, an individual’s free will is limited or influenced by the karmic account that one has brought forth.

Akram Vignan emphasises that the notion of personal responsibility for actions and fate is based on the belief in a separate and independent doer, which is an illusion. It is believed that everything unfolds as per the natural laws of cause and effect, and individuals are merely instrumental causes in the process, which is determined by their past life.

The unfolding of past karmas in one’s current life is influenced by the wrong belief and association with the body and name, the notion of being the doer, the identification with feelings, and the belief that situations are happening to oneself. Additionally, forming judgments about what is right or wrong contributes to the accumulation of karmic consequences as key factors. Whenever karma unfolds, we encounter preferences and aversions, thus giving rise to the generation of new karmic accounts. Consequently, the cycle of accumulating and discharging karma continues to persist.

Let us consider an analogy to illustrate the concept. Imagine a student who takes exams for multiple subjects. When the day of the results arrives, the student doesn’t need to take any additional action. The results simply reflect what they have written on their exam papers. The examiner remains impartial, and the grades are determined solely by what the student wrote during the exams. Similarly, our present life is seen as a reflection of the causes we have generated in our past lives.

Equally, have you noticed that undesirable words often escape your lips even when you have no intention of uttering them? Unwanted actions can also transpire despite your conscious efforts to prevent them. Therefore, our present life can be perceived as a reflection of the causes we have set in motion during our previous lives.

Free will comes in when past karma is unfolding, and this is where we have a choice to charge positive karma, negative karma or, importantly, stop charging new karma altogether. Therefore, instead of assigning blame or taking credit for one’s actions and outcomes, focus on understanding one’s true Self and achieving liberation from the cycle of karma.

This liberation is attainable through the grace of an enlightened being (Gnani Purush) who can grant seekers the experience of their own true Self and go beyond the effects of karma altogether.

In summary, In essence, our current life is shaped by the causes we set in motion in our past lives, which manifest in the form of karmic discharge. The thoughts, actions, words, and desires we experience in this life are a reflection of those causes, and we have no direct control over them. However, the emphasis lies in the realisation of our true Self and the attainment of liberation from the bondage of karma. This is termed as our ‘free will’.

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