Listener: I have heard that we make our own karma and I have also heard that everything is predetermined and we don’t make our own karma , we are like puppets. When you let go of this idea that you are a person then life unfolds by itself. So, I am wondering which of those is true.
Acharya Prashant: Neither. No idea about the Truth is a truth. Whatsoever is ever said about the Truth is bound to be false; you don’t have to really whack your brains.
L: It affects how someone would behave, if you think that everything is predetermined and you have to just completely let go of this sense of person who is acting in the world. Everything is predetermined, so, therefore there is no sense of responsibility because it is just happening.
AP: It is not quite factual; it is not correct that if we believe that everything is predetermined then we will be able to let go of our sense of responsibility. The ego operates in very dubious ways; its traps are very subtle. Now, be with me. When you say that since everything is predetermined hence I have no responsibility; how do you feel? Nice?
L: I think that you have to have responsibility according to what you see is at hand.
AP: Suppose, you actually do believe that everything is predetermined, does that lead to a cessation of the ego, I want to ask? Suppose, at this instance, all of us are told that we have no responsibilities, will that bring the ego crashing down? How would you feel if you come to hear that you have no responsibilities?
L: That wasn’t exactly what I meant by having no responsibilities. There is responsibility according to what you feel is right.
AP: If there is still a responsibility then everything cannot be predetermined. Because, I am still required to do something and I have a choice whether or not to do it. If I still have a choice, there is no question of predeterminism.
L: But, the teaching says that you think you can choose, but whatever you are going to choose is already predetermined.
AP: No teacher and no scripture worth its name give this teaching.
L: The teacher’s name is Ramesh Balsekar, who gives this teaching.
AP: That day I had recommended to you that please go directly to the Upanishads; go directly to the classical scriptures. Why are you wandering here and there? Anybody can put up a mike like this, set-up a camera like this, have a few people sit like this, and come to be known as a Guru. It requires no certification; you don’t even have to pass a university exam. Why must you just believe in something? If you must read what the others are saying, why don’t you go to the very primary source? Now, be with me.
*All that is predetermined is that you are the Truth. That is the destiny. What is the definition of destiny? Destiny is that which is unavoidable. Destiny is that to which you necessarily come to. Destiny is that which will be your end. Your end is in your dissolution. Your end is in your surrender. You may think of yourself as anything and keep wandering here and there. But, the wandering itself causes the wanderer so much of suffering that he drops all his fancy ideas about himself. We all have only one destiny and that destiny is Truth, there is no other destiny.*
Are you getting it?
All else is just a game of cause and effect in time and space; a game in which nothing can be said with certainty because the net of cause and effect is an infinite net. Parallelly, there are an infinite number of causes operating in the universe giving rise to an infinite number of effects; and, hence, it is impossible to say anything with certainty about what is going to happen next in time. In time, whatever happens will be random, never deterministic.
So, if someone says that he can predict what will happen tomorrow, then you must know that he doesn’t know his basics. In time, it is impossible to say anything even about the next moment because the next moment is an outcome of an infinite number of causes. Infinite by definition is something that is beyond the capacity of human mind to know, store, retrieve, or analyze, or conclude.
So, in time, no destiny; in time, there is just a flow. Which because we cannot totally comprehend hence we must in our helplessness call it as random. We do not know whether it is really random. We do not know that whether it would have been possible to determine the future in advance, could we know all the causes that are operating in the universe right now. Could there be a computer large enough to contain all the causes, all the events, that are happening right now, including the event that it is registering the events, and then who knows it might have been possible to determine what would happen next. But, within the universe there is only randomness.
In the domain of time there is only randomness; but, in the domain of timelessness there is perfect certainty. 100% certainty and that certainty is that you are the Truth. In the domain of mind and body, in the domain of time and space there is only uncertainty. In the domain of the Truth, in the domain of the heart, there is complete certainty, complete predetermination and there is nothing in between. Either it is a total randomness, or it is a total sur6ty, a total security.
If someone says, “You know I can more or less tell what is going to happen tomorrow”— not possible. But yes, if you are an observant fellow and if you come to see that you or someone else is behaving on certain patterns, if something is happening as per a certain algorithm, then, you can— with the assumption that the same pattern will continue tomorrow — risk predicting, with certain degree of certainty, what is going to happen tomorrow.
I see that a fellow is lazy; he reaches his work place late every day. It is not a great risk to predetermine that he will reach late the next day also. Some 70-80% accuracy will be there in this kind of a forecast; but never, certainty!
Use the word destiny with care. You fall down you get a fracture in the hand, that is not your destiny; it’s a random event. You meet a man and you start saying, “Oh, you are my destiny.” No, it is another random event. Your destiny is nothing less than the Truth. And, you will meet that destiny, that is certain, inviolable. In spite of your best efforts to block yourself, you will still meet that destiny. And, you know why it is so certain that you will meet Truth? — Because, you are already the Truth, hence we can be fully sure. The only thing that you can be fully sure about is that which is already there; since, it is already there so I can be 100% sure about it.
You are the Truth, hence you are going to meet the Truth. Nobody meets the truth without first being the Truth.
Have respect for the word destiny. Do not say, “Oh, it is my destiny to suffer.” No, it is not your destiny to suffer, your destiny is Joy. Yes, randomly you can keep wandering here and there; let’s see how long you can wander.
L: You said there are these infinite causes and effects; but, is there still a sense of karma for actions, intentions which has an effect.
AP: But, karma has nothing to do with future. When you talk of something being predetermined, you are talking in the flow of time. In karma, whatever you do is already its own punishment or reward depending on the center from where the action is happening. If you are angry at someone and hit him, you won’t receive punishment in the future; the anger itself is the punishment. It is the expression of the punishment that you shouted. Do not think that you shouted today and you will be receiving the punishment ten years later. No. Shouting itself is the punishment; the action, the karma itself is the cause and the effect both.
L: So, there is nothing carrying on into the next life.
AP: No, nothing. Nothing carrying on even into the next moment. But, if one is not observant enough, then one sees only when the effect of the karma becomes gross, very gross. Effects of anything have a tendency of moving out in circles of space and time. And, these circles keep on getting bigger and bigger, more and more visible.
It’s like a large pond usually silent, by nature silent, but in which somehow pebbles keep dropping very frequently. The moment a pebble is dropped in the pond, that very moment, disturbance is generated. Cause and effect are simultaneous; the dropping of the pebble and the coming up of the disturbance are simultaneous. But, if you are not observant enough then you will observe the disturbance only after the ripples of disturbance have become big, and that will take time, that may take two years. Then you will say, “Oh, I made some mistake two years back and now I have to bear the fruit of the mistake, now I have to pay the price.” No, it is just that you are not watchful enough; you are not seeing.
It must be realized that the notion that karma rolls on into the future; the notion that the results of actions are in the future, is the notion that allows so much of our mischief. We say, “let me do whatever mischief I want to do today anyway the result is not going to come today the result will come three years later, and who knows what will happen after three years and even if it will happen after three years let me at least live three years in pleasure.” And , the mind is expert at raising such arguments.
Whenever, you are about to enter something which you really know is improper just tell yourself that cause and effect are simultaneous, the action and its result are simultaneous. Do not console yourself, do not deceive yourself with the thought, that today you can have pleasure and later on you can pay the bills. No! Here, the bill is raised immediately. In fact, you have to pay in advance.
L: The whole Ramayana is written like there was someone who was Brahma’s servant and he was cursed by Brahma, and it took him many births to be finally killed by Ram.
AP: These things are written as a basic preparation for those who understand nothing, so, forget such stuff. Talk from your life.