Friday, 5 September 2014

The karma theory as taught by Sri Ramana

Since I started my website one of my long-standing aims has been to include in it detailed and explanatory translations of all of Sri Ramana’s original Tamil writings, but amidst all my other work I have not yet had time to do so. Last month I decided to make a start by writing such a translation of Upadēśa Undiyār (உபதேச வுந்தியார்), but I have so far completed writing only an introduction and a detailed explanation for the first verse.

Due to circumstances that now make it necessary for me spend much more of my time working to increase my currently inadequate income, I will not have time to complete this translation and explanation of Upadēśa Undiyār in the near future, so I have decided in the meanwhile to post here my translation and explanation of the first verse, and since it is a very long explanation, I will post it as two consecutive articles, this and the next one: Why did Sri Ramana teach a karma theory?

Incidentally, I have recently been spending most of my time replying to numerous emails and to comments on this blog, which is a work I am always happy to do, because it keeps my mind dwelling on the teachings of Sri Ramana and on the practice of self-investigation, but due to the other more mundane work that I now need to attend to, I will not be able to spend so much time replying to emails and comments, so please bear with me if I not able to reply promptly to any emails you may send me. However, in spite of whatever other work I have to do, I will try to continue posting articles here on a fairly regular basis, as I have been doing since the beginning of this year.

உபதேச வுந்தியார் (Upadēśa Undiyār) verse 1
கன்மம் பயன்றரல் கர்த்தன தாணையாற்
கன்மங் கடவுளோ வுந்தீபற
      கன்மஞ் சடமதா லுந்தீபற.

kaṉmam payaṉḏṟaral karttaṉa dāṇaiyāl
kaṉmaṅ kaḍavuḷō vundīpaṟa
      kaṉmañ jaḍamadā lundīpaṟa
.
பதச்சேதம்: கன்மம் பயன் தரல் கர்த்தனது ஆணையால். கன்மம் கடவுளோ? கன்மம் சடம் அதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kaṉmam payaṉ taral karttaṉadu āṇaiyāl. kaṉmam kaḍavuḷ-ō? kaṉmam jaḍam adāl.

அன்வயம்: கன்மம் பயன் தரல் கர்த்தனது ஆணையால். கன்மம் சடம் அதால், கன்மம் கடவுளோ?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): kaṉmam payaṉ taral karttaṉadu āṇaiyāl. kaṉmam jaḍam adāl, kaṉmam kaḍavuḷ-ō?

English translation: Karma [action] giving fruit is by the ordainment of God [the kartā or ordainer]. Since karma is jaḍa [devoid of consciousness], can karma be God?

Explanation: கன்மம் (kaṉmam) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word karma, which means ‘action’ in the sense of any action done with volition by a sentient being, whether by mind, speech or body. பயன் (payaṉ) means ‘fruit’, so it is a Tamil equivalent of the Sanskrit word phala, which in the context of karma means the fruit or moral consequences of any volitional action. தரல் (taral) is a verbal noun meaning ‘giving’. கர்த்தனது (karttaṉadu) is a genitive form of கர்த்தன் (karttaṉ), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word kartṛ or kartā, which means ‘doer’ or ‘agent’, so it literally means ‘of the doer’ or ‘the doer’s’. However, in this context கர்த்தன் (karttaṉ) does not refer to the person who does karma, but only to God, who is considered to be the ultimate ‘doer’ or driving force behind all actions, though as Sri Ramana explains in the fifteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?), God does not act with any volition, but just as in the presence of the sun numerous things are made to happen on earth, so by the mere presence of God sentient beings are made to act according to both their own volition and their destiny (prārabdha), which is the fruit of their past volitional actions (āgāmya). ஆணையால் (āṇaiyāl) is an instrumental form of ஆணை (āṇai), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word ājñā, which means ‘command’, ‘injunction’, ‘ordainment’, ‘authority’ or ‘permission’, so கர்த்தனது ஆணையால் (karttaṉadu āṇaiyāl) means ‘by the ordainment of God’ (or less literally, ‘according to the ordainment of God’).

கன்மம் பயன் தரல் (kaṉmam payaṉ taral), ‘karma giving fruit’, is the subject of this first sentence, and கர்த்தனது ஆணையால் (karttaṉadu āṇaiyāl), ‘by the ordainment of God’, is its predicative. Though there is no explicit finite verb here, the copula ‘is’ is clearly implied, because in a Tamil sentence or clause that predicates what something is (such as ‘X is Y’, where ‘X’ is the subject and ‘Y’ is the subject predicative, which may be either a noun phrase or an adjective phrase), the copula ‘am’, ‘is’ or ‘are’ is generally not stated explicitly, since it is clearly implied by presence of the subject and predicative without any finite verb. Thus this first sentence, ‘கன்மம் பயன் தரல் கர்த்தனது ஆணையால்’ (kaṉmam payaṉ taral karttaṉadu āṇaiyāl) means ‘Karma giving fruit is by [or according to] the ordainment of God’, which implies that when, where and how each karma yields what fruit or consequential experience is determined not by that action itself but only by God.

In the second sentence கன்மம் (kaṉmam) again means karma, and கடவுளோ (kaḍavuḷ-ō) is the noun கடவுள் (kaḍavuḷ), which means ‘God’ in the sense of what transcends all finite things (being derived from கடந்து உள்ளது (kaḍandu uḷḷadu), ‘what exists transcending’, or கடந்து உள்ளவன் (kaḍandu uḷḷavaṉ), ‘he who exists transcending’), with the interrogative suffix ஓ (ō) appended to it. As in the previous sentence, the copula ‘is’ is implied here, so ‘கன்மம் கடவுளோ?’ (kaṉmam kaḍavuḷ-ō?) means ‘Is karma God?’ (or less literally, ‘Can karma be God?’).

In the final clause கன்மம் (kaṉmam) again means karma; சடம் (jaḍam) is a Sanskrit word that means lifeless, insentient, non-conscious, material or physical, but in this context means specifically non-conscious; and அதால் (adāl) is an instrumental form of அது (adu), so it literally means ‘by that’ or ‘by it’, but in this context means ‘since’ or ‘because’. The copula ‘is’ is again implied in this clause, so ‘கன்மம் சடம் அதால்’ (kaṉmam jaḍam adāl) means ‘since karma is non-conscious’. This final clause can be construed with either or both of the two main clauses in this verse: ‘Since karma is non-conscious, karma giving fruit is by the ordainment of God’ and ‘Since karma is non-conscious, can karma be God?’

The concept of karma — that is, the idea that each action that an individual does with volition by mind, speech or body must bear fruit or yield a moral consequence that will sooner or later be experienced by that individual as either a pleasant or unpleasant experience — is very ancient, dating back to the older portions of the Vēdas, which are the earliest records of philosophical and religious thought in India. Almost every system of Indian philosophy and every religion of Indian origin accept this concept in one form or another, though they each have their own theories about it — both about what constitutes a moral or an immoral action, and about how such actions yield their appropriate fruit.

According to the philosophy of the pūrva mīmāṁsā, which Sri Ramana repudiates in this verse, karma principally means actions that are enjoined, allowed or prohibited by the Vēdas, and an action is moral if it is done in accordance with Vēdic injunctions, or immoral if it is done in contravention of them. Moreover, pūrva mīmāṁsā claimed that karmas are paramount, being the driving force that regulates the entire universe, and that since they have the power to yield their own fruit automatically, and since there is no power greater than them, there is no God except karma.

Other systems of Indian philosophy do not hold such extreme views about the power of karmas, and most of them take any action done with volition to be a karma. However, like pūrva mīmāṁsā, many of them (such as sāṁkhya, some interpretations of yōga philosophy, Jainism, the various systems of Buddhist philosophy, and even early forms of vaiśēṣika and perhaps also of nyāya) have or had no place for the concept of God, and hence see no need to postulate a God who ordains the fruits of karmas, so they maintain that karmas somehow bear fruit automatically. Without any concept of God, however, it does not seem easy to explain how karmas can bear fruit according to any moral principles. Unless there is a conscious regulating power that decides which action is to bear what type of fruit, how can a moral action automatically result in a pleasant experience for the person who did it, and how can an immoral action automatically result in an unpleasant experience for that person?

If karma itself were conscious, it could perhaps determine its own fruit, but a karma is just an action that an individual does by mind, speech or body, so how could it be conscious? Since karma is not conscious, how can it determine its own fruit? Though an individual who does any karma is conscious, he or she cannot be the one who determines the fruit of that action, because if they could, a person who does an immoral action would not choose to experience an unpleasant fruit as a result of it. Therefore, since the fruit of any karma cannot be determined either by the individual who did it or by the karma itself, there must be some independent power that is conscious and therefore able to determine its fruit. Unless such a power is postulated, it would be very hard to substantiate any karma theory.

Therefore in this verse Sri Ramana argues that since karma is not conscious, it could not bear fruit except by the ordainment of God. That is, what fruit each karma should yield, and when and how that fruit should be experienced is determined only by God, because he alone can know the moral worth of each action and what fruit would be appropriate to it.

According to the karma theory as taught by Sri Ramana, when we do a karma, it does not yield its fruit immediately, because whatever we experience in our present life is predestined, being what God has selected from the large collection of fruits of our past karmas for us to experience in this lifetime. Hence the fruit of whatever fresh karma we do in any lifetime will not be experienced by us during that lifetime, but will be stored in order to be experienced in future lives. Whatever fresh karma we do by our own volition or free will is called āgāmya, the store of all the accumulated fruits of our past karmas that we are yet to experience is called sañcita, and the fruits of our past karmas that we are destined to experience in any particular life is called prārabdha.

Generally the amount of āgāmya that we do in each life is much greater than the amount of prārabdha that we experience, because we desire and make effort by mind, speech and body to experience much more than we can experience in a single life, and we also desire and make effort to avoid experiencing all the unpleasant things that we are destined to experience, so the quantity of the fruits of all our āgāmya that is stored in our sañcita is steadily increasing. Hence for each of our lives (which are just dreams that occur in our long sleep of self-ignorance) God has to select just a small portion from the vast store of fruits that have accumulated in our sañcita.

Since the fruit of any āgāmya that we do now will not be experienced by us during this lifetime, we cannot by any effort made now by our own free will change anything that we are destined to experience in our current life. This was emphatically stated by Sri Ramana in the note that he wrote for his mother in December 1898 when she pleaded with him to return home with her to Madurai:
அவரவர் பிராரப்தப் பிரகாரம் அதற்கானவன் ஆங்காங்கிருந் தாட்டுவிப்பன். என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம். ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று.

avar avar prārabdha-p prakāram adaṟkāṉavaṉ āṅgāṅgu irundu āṭṭuvippaṉ. eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu; naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu. idu-v-ē tiṇṇam. āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu.

According to the prārabdha [destiny] of each person, God being there there [in the heart of each of them] will make [him or her] act. What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain. Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good.
The literal meaning of the first sentence of this note is ‘According to their their prārabdha, he who is for that being there there will cause to act’, in which the term அதற்கானவன் (adaṟkāṉavaṉ), which means ‘he who is for that’, denotes God, whose function in this context is to ordain the destiny (prārabdha) of each individual, and in which ஆங்காங்கிருந்து (āṅgāṅgirundu), which means ‘being there there’ (āṅgu-āṅgu-irundu), implies that God is in the heart of each individual whose destiny he ordains.

What Sri Ramana clearly implies here by saying, ‘What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort [one] makes; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [one] does’, is firstly that we are not free to change whatever we are destined to experience, and secondly that we are nevertheless free to try to change it. That is, though we cannot experience anything that we are not destined to experience, and though we cannot avoid experiencing anything that we are destined to experience, we can desire and make effort by mind, speech and body to experience what we are not destined to experience, and to avoid experiencing what we are destined to experience.

Since our destiny or fate (prārabdha) will impel us to make whatever effort is required for us to experience what we are destined to experience (as Sri Ramana implied in the first sentence of this note), the actions of our mind, speech or body are driven by two forces, fate and free will, which may work at any moment either in harmony or in conflict with each other. Some of our actions may be impelled only by our fate, others may be impelled only by our free will, while yet others may be simultaneously impelled by both. That is, since we genuinely desire some of the things that we are destined to experience, both our fate and our free will will impel us to make whatever efforts are required to experience such things, in which case they will be working in harmony. However, it is not possible for us to determine to what extent each of our actions is impelled by either fate or free will.

Since Sri Ramana says that it is certain that we cannot change what we are destined to experience, no matter how much effort we may make to do so, we should understand that it is futile to make any effort by our own volition either to experience or not to experience anything other than ourself. That is, destiny determines only what is experienced by us when our mind is turned outwards — towards anything other than ‘I’ — but it cannot prevent us from turning inwards to experience ‘I’ alone, because attending to and thereby experiencing only ‘I’ is not an action (karma) but a state of just being (summā-v-iruppadu), and hence it is not bound or restricted by karma in any way whatsoever. Therefore the only wise use we can make of our free will is to try to experience nothing other than ‘I’ by attending to ourself alone, thereby remaining indifferent to whatever we may or may not be destined to experience outwardly. Calmly and silently attending thus to ‘I’ alone is the state that he describes here as மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’ or ‘being as silence’, which he says is நன்று (naṉḏṟu), ‘good’.

By saying ‘மௌனமாய் இருக்கை நன்று’ (mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘silently being is good’, he did not merely mean that silently being is the best option, but that it is the only satisfactory option — the only option that is actually good. மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’, means remaining without doing any volitional action (that is, any āgāmya or karma impelled by our free will), so the only other option is to do some such volitional action, and according to him doing any such action is not good, because it cannot change whatever is destined to be experienced (either by ourself or others), since that is determined only by prārabdha, and because by doing any such action we are not only generating fresh karma (āgāmya) but are also cultivating or nourishing a vāsana (a propensity or inclination) to do such an action again and again (as he says in the next verse of Upadēśa Undiyār). Therefore மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’, alone is good.

What exactly is implied by this term மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’, can be understood more clearly by comparing this sentence, ஆகலின் மௌனமாய் இருக்கை நன்று (āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘Therefore silently being is good’, with another sentence in which Sri Ramana expresses a similar idea, namely the second sentence of the final paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?), in which he says:
[…] எவ்வளவுக்கெவ்வளவு தாழ்ந்து நடக்கிறோமோ அவ்வளவுக்கவ்வளவு நன்மையுண்டு. […]

[…] evvaḷavukkevvaḷavu tāṙndu naḍakkiṟōmō avvaḷavukkavvaḷavu naṉmai-y-uṇḍu. […]

[…] To whatever extent being subsided we behave, to that extent there is goodness [or virtue]. […]
எவ்வளவுக்கெவ்வளவு (evvaḷavukkevvaḷavu) and அவ்வளவுக்கவ்வளவு (avvaḷavukkavvaḷavu) are each a compound of two words, namely எவ்வளவுக்கு எவ்வளவு (evvaḷavukku evvaḷavu) and அவ்வளவுக்கு அவ்வளவு (avvaḷavukku avvaḷavu), which respectively mean ‘what extent to what extent’ and ‘that extent to that extent’, and which by duplication of their respective words add emphasis to their basic meanings, ‘to what extent’ and ‘to that extent’. That is, the duplication of each of these words emphasises the exact parallel between the ideas expressed in each of these two clauses: namely that there is goodness only to the extent that we are subsided and behave accordingly.

Being a participle form of தாழ் (tāṙ), which means to be low, descend, sink, subside, decline, diminish, halt, bend, bow or be humble, தாழ்ந்து (tāṙndu) has various closely related meanings, but in this context it essentially means ‘subsiding’ or ‘being subsided’, because what Sri Ramana emphasises in all three sentences of this final paragraph is that the ego or mind being subsided is the greatest good. நடக்கிறோம் (naḍakkiṟōm) is the second person plural present tense form of நட (naḍa), which means to walk, go, proceed, behave or conduct oneself, so தாழ்ந்து நடக்கிறோம் (tāṙndu naḍakkiṟōm) means ‘we behave [while] being subsided’. The suffix ஓ (ō), which is appended to நடக்கிறோம் (naḍakkiṟōm), signifies contrast or comparison, and in this context serves as a conjunction to connect the two parallel clauses.

நன்மை (naṉmai) literally means goodness, so it signifies whatever is good, and thus it also means virtue or morality. உண்டு (uṇḍu) means ‘there is’, so நன்மையுண்டு (naṉmai-y-uṇḍu) means ‘there is goodness’, or less literally, ‘it is good’. Therefore this sentence essentially means that there is goodness only to the extent that we are subsided, and thus it paraphrases the meaning of மௌனமாய் இருக்கை நன்று (mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘silently being is good’.

That is, தாழ்ந்து நடப்பது (tāṙndu naḍappadu), ‘behaving [while] being subsided’, means essentially the same as மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’, because in both terms the emphasis is on just being in a subsided and hence silent condition. If our ego has subsided completely, we will just silently be, whether or not our mind, speech or body are engaged in any actions, because in the absence of the ego we will not experience any actions done by these instruments as actions done by us. In this context நடப்பது (naḍappadu) means behaving or conducting oneself in general, so it includes both being active and being inactive. If we are inwardly subsided, our mind, speech or body may either be active or inactive, but what will then determine whatever actions these instruments may do is only our destiny or fate (prārabdha) and not our free will, because the ego obviously cannot exercise its free will when it is subsided.

Since the subsidence of our ego entails the subsidence of our individual will, only when our ego has subsided completely will our will be surrendered entirely to God (which is the state that devotees aspire for when they pray ‘Thy will be done: not my will, but only thine’), and if our ego is not yet completely subsided, our will is surrendered only to the extent that our ego is subsided. Hence, as Sri Ramana says, only to the extent that we are subsided and behave accordingly is there goodness. And only to the extent that we are subsided are we just silently being.

In the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? Sri Ramana explains exactly what he means by the term மௌனம் (mauṉam) or silence:
[…] நான் என்னும் நினைவு கிஞ்சித்து மில்லா விடமே சொரூபமாகும். அதுவே ‘மௌன’ மெனப்படும். […]

[…] nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu kiñcittum illā v-iḍam-ē sorūpam āhum. adu-v-ē ‘mauṉam’ eṉappaḍum. […]

[…] The place devoid of even the slightest thought called ‘I’ is svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or essential self]. That alone is called ‘mauna’ [silence]. […]
Here, as he often did, Sri Ramana uses the term இடம் (iḍam), which literally means ‘place’, ‘location’ or ‘situation’, in a metaphorical sense to denote the base or fundamental reality, which is the innermost core or centre of ourself and of all that we experience; the term நான் என்னும் நினைவு (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu), which means ‘the thought called I’, to denote our ego; and the term சொரூபம் (sorūpam), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word svarūpa, which literally means ‘own form’, to denote our real self. Thus what he explains here is that our real self is only the fundamental, central and innermost place in which not even the slightest trace of ego exists, and this alone is silence (mauṉa). Therefore மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), which literally means ‘silently being’ or ‘being as silence’, is the state in which we remain without even the least rising of any ego.

Thus மௌனமாய் இருக்கை நன்று (mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘Therefore silently being is good’, implies that being completely silent (that is, completely subsided and hence devoid of any ego) is good, but does not explicitly indicate that to the extent to which we are silent it is good. However, from what he wrote in the second sentence of the final paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? we can infer that he meant was not only that being completely silent is good, but also that to the extent to which we are silent it is good.

Since the ego rises only by attending to things other than ‘I’, and since it is nourished and sustained only by continuing to attend to things other than ‘I’, it will subside and be silent only to the extent to which it attends only to ‘I’, thereby withdrawing its attention from all other things. That is, the nature of the ego or mind is to subside and dissolve in its source only when it investigates itself by trying to attend to ‘I’ alone, as Sri Ramana stated clearly and emphatically in the sixth, eighth and sixteenth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?:
நானார் என்னும் விசாரணையினாலேயே மன மடங்கும்; [...]

nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇaiyiṉāl-ē-y-ē maṉam aḍaṅgum; [...]

Only by [means of] the investigation who am I will the mind subside [or cease]; [...]

மனம் அடங்குவதற்கு விசாரணையைத் தவிர வேறு தகுந்த உபாயங்களில்லை. மற்ற உபாயங்களினால் அடக்கினால் மனம் அடங்கினாற்போ லிருந்து, மறுபடியும் கிளம்பிவிடும். [...]

maṉam aḍaṅguvadaṯku vicāraṇaiyai-t tavira vēṟu tahunda upāyaṅgaḷ-illai. maṯṟa upāyaṅgaḷiṉāl aḍakkiṉāl maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl-pōl irundu, maṟupaḍiyum kiḷambi-viḍum. [...]

For subsiding [or cessation] of the mind, there are no appropriate [or adequate] means other than vicāraṇā [self-investigation]. If made to subside by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again. [...]

[...] மனத்தை யடக்குவதற்குத் தன்னை யாரென்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டுமே [...]

[...] maṉattai y-aḍakkuvadaṯku-t taṉṉai yār eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum-ē [...]

[...] For making the mind subside it is certainly necessary to investigate oneself [in order to experience] who [one actually is] [...]
What impels the ego or mind to rise and attend to other things is its desires, so to the extent to which it attends only to ‘I’ it is curbing its outward-going desires, and since such desires are the volition that impels it to do any actions by mind, speech or body that are not solely impelled by prārabdha, we can effectively refrain from doing any volitional actions (āgāmya) only to the extent that we attend to ‘I’ alone. That is, so long as we are attending to anything other than ‘I’, our ego is active, and so long as it is active it will be driven by its desires and will therefore inevitably be doing volitional actions, the fruit of which will be added to our sañcita in order to be later experienced as prārabdha. Therefore the only effective way to break this cycle of repeated karma is to attend only to ‘I’ and thereby to subside and be silent.

Our outward-going desires are what are called viṣaya-vāsanās (inclinations, propensities or likings to experience things other than oneself), and so long as these are strong we will not be able to attend only to ‘I’ and thereby be silent all or even most of the time. However, this does not mean that we cannot at least try to be silent by attending only to ‘I’, and to the extent to which we thus try to be silent we will thereby be weakening our viṣaya-vāsanās and cultivating in their place sat-vāsanā, the inclination or liking just to be — that is, the liking to experience nothing other than ourself alone. Thus by persistent practice we will gain increasing strength to subside and be silent to a greater and greater extent. As Sri Ramana wrote in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
[…] நானார் என்று விசாரித்தால் மனம் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற்குத் திரும்பிவிடும்; எழுந்த வெண்ணமு மடங்கிவிடும். இப்படிப் பழகப் பழக மனத்திற்குத் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற் றங்கி நிற்கும் சக்தி யதிகரிக்கின்றது. […]

[…] nāṉ-ār eṉḏṟu vicārittāl maṉam taṉ piṟappiḍattiṯku-t tirumbi-viḍum; eṙunda v-eṇṇam-um aḍaṅgi-viḍum. ippaḍi-p paṙaga-p paṙaga maṉattiṯku-t taṉ piṟappiḍattil taṅgi niṯgum śakti y-adikarikkiṉḏṟadu. […]

[…] If [one] investigates who am I, the mind will return to its birthplace [our real self, the source from which it arose]; the thought which had risen will also subside. When [one] practises and practises in this manner, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace will increase. […]
Thus the import of the note that Sri Ramana wrote for his mother is that our prārabdha will impel us to do whatever actions of mind, speech or body are required to experience whatever we are destined to experience, so we cannot avoid doing such actions, but we should try to avoid doing any other action (that is, any action impelled by our free will), and the only way to avoid doing any such action is just to remain silent by attending only to ‘I’. So long as we are attending to anything other than ‘I’, our ego is active and will therefore inevitably be driven by its free will to do āgāmya, whereas when we attend only to ‘I’ the activity of our ego will subside, leaving us in our natural state of just silently being (mauṉamāy irukkai). Therefore the only effective and reliable means to remain without doing any āgāmya is to attend only to ‘I’.

Note: I will post the rest of my explanation of this first verse of Upadēśa Undiyār in my next article: Why did Sri Ramana teach a karma theory?

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant !

I've often felt that Bhagavan's first recorded words (to his mother) contained his entire teaching that he elaborated over the next 50 years.

You've plumbed the depths of that word "mouna" and thereby written what I think is one of the best articles ever on Bhagavan.

Fulsome praise maybe, but I hope you will allow this comment to see the light of day..

Josef Bruckner said...

Dear Michael,
we all the readership benefit from
your inimitable selfless work. Your grasp of the subject is unmistakable and incomparable.
We should not allow that you have to spend more of your time for working to increase your income. We should not watch you working but should help to build our common house.
So let us contribute to your inadequate income.
As some people did it for the publication of your grandiose book Happiness and the Art of Being we should make some contribution towards the cost of the intended edition of detailed and explanatory translations of all of Sri Ramana's original Tamil writings.
Particularly let us be helpful to the completion of the now started translation of Upadesa Undiyar.
Your work will be advantageous for us to be what we really are.
What could be more valuable than the correct understanding of Bhagavan's teachings ?
So please tell us the way we can transfer to your bank account.
Do not hesitate to accept some contributions towards carrying on your estimable activity.

Anonymous said...


Michael:

I heartily second Joseph Bruckner's suggestion above and would like to contribute.

Could you please put up your complete address in Tiruvannamalai?

Thanks.

Steve said...

"...it is not possible for us to determine to what extent each of our actions is impelled by either fate or free will."

"Therefore the only wise use we can make of our free will is to try to experience nothing other than ‘I’ by attending to ourself alone, thereby remaining indifferent to whatever we may or may not be destined to experience outwardly."

Two lines from the article that I think are particularly worth remembering. They are for me, anyway.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, if I my ego subsides completely for some length or duration of time by attending only to ‘I’ alone, obviously my free-will or agamya will become inactive, but during such subsidence, will my destiny of fate (prarabdha) will also remain inactive, or my mind, speech and body will continue to act as per prarabdha? If it continues to act, who experiences these actions and the resulting experiences of my prarabdha, which I was supposed to experiences then?

Secondly, I believe, you have said in this article that as long as our ego is intact, we will continue to act as per our prarabdha, and simultaneously our mind, speech and body will also be able to do actions creating agamaya, by exercising its free will, if it does not contradict our prarabdha. I remember a recorded conversation with Bhagavan somewhat to the effect:

Devotee: I can understand that all the major events in my life are predestined, like say, my marriage, my job, any major accidents, etc, but suppose if I pick up this hand-fan now, is it also predestined? Bhagavan: Yes, everything is predestined.

If this is accurately recorded, it means that what Bhagavan is saying is that we have no free-will of our bodily actions (and by implication of actions by speech). Do we understand that though our mind has a free-will to desire against or something instead of our predestined prarabdha, but our speech and body are completely pre-programmed, and bound by a pre-existing script, like a cinema show?

What are your views on these two doubts of mine?

Thanking you and pranams.

R Viswanathan said...

Thanks so much for everything you wrote and for your kind response for all our comments so far. We would take it that it is the will of Bhagavan that you are now unable to allocate time to reply to our e-mails or to our comments, and that you will try your best to continue to post your articles regularly for the benefit of all of us. It is my genuine experience that the articles you have posted so far have answers for all the questions that arise in me from time to time. Thus, I would just need to go through your articles carefully once again if any fresh questions sprout in me.

Michael James said...

Josef, regarding your comment and the anonymous one that follows it, thank you both for your kind thoughts and generous offers. A couple of other friends have also written emails to me making similar offers, but I have declined because I would not want to be a burden to anyone. When I wrote here that I now need to spend more of my time working to increase my income, I only meant to explain why I will not be able to finish writing my planned translation and explanation of Upadēśa Undiyār as quickly as I would like to, and why I may not be able to reply to all the emails I receive and comments on this blog as promptly as I have been trying to recently.

As Bhagavan explained in his note to his mother, which I discussed in this article, whatever work we are destined to do we will be made to do according to our prārabdha, so we should not concern ourself with issues about what work we have to do and what work we would prefer to do. If we are meant to do a certain work, we cannot avoid doing it, no matter how much we may resist, and if we are not meant to do any other work, we will not be able to do it, no matter how much we may try. Therefore if circumstances compel me to do some work other than just writing about Bhagavan’s teachings, that is his will and is what is best for all concerned, and none of us can change it in any way.

To tell the truth, the difficulty I am experiencing at present is not so much the need to do some other work, but is rather the fact that I find it very difficult to drag myself away from writing about Bhagavan’s teachings, in spite of the fact that I know that circumstances now demand that I should be attending to some other work. The reason I find it so difficult to drag myself away from writing is partly because I love this subject so much and partly because when I receive emails or comments that call for a reply I feel obliged to reply as clearly and as helpfully as I can. In other words, it is my ego with its own preferences and sense of obligation that is preventing me just being silent and surrendering to whatever Bhagavan now wants me to be doing. It is my free will trying to resist my fate.

However, please do not think that I do not appreciate your generous offers to help, but even if I wanted to accept such offers, I do not think it would be feasible for me to depend on your generosity considering the high cost of living nowadays. The circumstances in which most of us live nowadays make earning a necessity, and I am no exception to this.

Incidentally, in reply to the anonymous friend who asked for my complete address in Tiruvannamalai, I have not lived there since 1996, and since then I have been living outside India.

Thank you both once again.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, verse 1 of Upadesa Undiyar says:

Karma [action] giving fruit is by the ordainment of God [the kartā or ordainer]. Since karma is jaḍa [devoid of consciousness], can karma be God?

Why exactly is it said that a conscious God is required to give us the fruits of our karmas? Though you have explained this, my doubt is as follows:

The non-dual self-consciousness, the only true God, does not decide the fruits of our karmas, because it sees no otherness, hence it sees no karmas. Strictly speaking our imaginary separate God also cannot decide the fruits of our karma, because this God is as much an imagination as this jiva and world.

Therefore, whether we say a conscious God decides the fruits of our karmas, or whether we say karma produced its own fruits, what difference does it make? After all, all karma is an imagination of an imaginary jiva, therefore the fruits of our karma are also an imagination, therefore the agency which gives us this fruit has also be an imagination. Thus why should we be concerned about the nature of this agency – that is, whether it is conscious of jada? Isn’t it enough to understand that our each and every volitional action will produce its matching fruit?

Thanking you and pranams.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay has asked a beautiful question.

In my opinion, since there is a selection of the experiences one has to go through in a life before the life begins, such a selection and ordering of the events cannot be done by karma itself, as it is non-conscious. Hence the need to postulate the existence of (an imaginary) God.

Further, unlike Sanjay says, God does not give us the fruits of our action, as I understand. God only arranges the fruits in some order required for that particular life. However, fruits are contained in the action themselves, as Sanjay says here; only their ordering is done by God.

It is also wrong to suppose God does not see any differences. Otherwise, how could he order the fruits? Only our essential self does not see any differences.

As long as we imagine ourselves to be this ego, we are under the illusion that it is real. If that is so, God is also real. Only with mano nasa, all illusions and imaginations (including God) would come to an end. Till then God is real, just as we think our karma and our bodies are real. Therefore, God becomes very essential for the theory of karma. So also the idea of reincarnation. Of course, one need not concern oneself with all these theories (if one prefers so) and focus on for whom is this karma, as Sri Ramana says.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay has asked a beautiful question.
Unlike Sanjay supposes, God does not give the fruits of our karma. He simply orders them in a particular sequence. Further, as the non-conscious karma cannot order itself, a conscious God is required for the theory of karma.
It is also wrong to suppose God does not see any differences. Only our essential self does not see any differences.
Of course God is imaginary. So too our ego. However, we are still under the illusion that our ego is real. As long as that is so, God too is real. With mano nasa, both ego and God will be seen to be non-existent. More precisely, we will be only aware of ourselves. We cannot get rid of God as unnessary as long as we consider ourselves as the ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, I agree with both the anonymous comments.

If this ego or separate individual entity is real, our personal God or Ishvara is also real, and it is this Ishvara who selects the good and bad experiences for any particular lifetime as prarabdha for any jiva, out of the huge store of sanchita karma. Whether the fruits of karma are inbuilt in the karma itself, or whether they are ordained or decided by this Ishvara is not fully clear, but at least he selects the particular fruits to be experienced by of us in each life time. There can be no doubt here.

Ishvara, our personal God, is as real as this jiva and this world. If we can see each other, and if we can see this seeming world in front of us, why cannot our Ishvara see us, see this world and also see all our good and bad actions?

Therefore, as anonymous says, we have to take this God – who governs our karmas - to be real. On manonasa or atma-jnana, all three – that is, this jiva, this world and a separate God will merge forever in our true non-dual being-consciousness, and since there will be no karma then, there will also be no need to postulate a God who will need to govern our non-existent karmas.

I believe whenever Michael has time, he may wish to clarify this topic further.

Thanking you and pranams.

Michael James said...

Viswanathan, thank you for your comment. I think you are probably correct in saying that answers for most relevant questions can be found somewhere in this blog, so I appreciate it when you say that if any fresh questions sprout in you, you just need to once again carefully go through these articles.

However, people nevertheless still write to ask me questions, and though their questions are generally similar to ones that I have answered many times before, I feel obliged to try to reply as best I can. But as you observe, I will now have to limit the time I spend replying to emails and comments on this blog, though I will still try to reply as promptly and as often as time permits.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, your comment of 7 September 2014 13:33 requires a somewhat more detailed answer, so I have drafted one, which I will post here next week.

Regarding your comment of 9 September 2014 07:37, I hope you will find that my next article (the second half of my explanation of verse 1 of Upadēśa Undiyār) contains an adequate answer to the questions you have asked, because they are similar to questions that I consider there.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
thanks for your reply.
Last but not least it means a lot to me(us) to show my (our)appreciation to you. I (We) owe you a great debt of gratitude for helping us to understand Atma-vichara and the truth of Arunachala and of Self-attentiveness("seeing the light"). We never should take your work for granted.

I can well understand you. Particularly I empathize with you any difficulty to drag yourself away from Bhagavan's teachings. Your felt obligation to reply as promptly, clearly and as helpfully as you can is not lightweighty. It should be your free will and not a commitment to come up (promptly) to our expectations.

Your advice on Bhagavan's explanation meets the case exactly.
On the other hand we have time to wait.

I too second R.Viswanathan's comment : We take it as the will of Bhagavan to give us a breathing space. We now have plenty of opportunity for just being silent.
Or - we now may go conscientously through all your articles you have posted so far. It is a big treasure house. We will find there many answers to our "many fresh questions" sprouted in us. I noticed it when I recently printed out all the articles and comments (since December 31,2006).

Anonymous said...

I am the same anonymous on 9 September 2014 @ 11:43 and 11:54. I thought Sanjay could have been more specific about his two questions on 7 September 2014 @ 13:33.

Regarding his first question, if the ego completely subsides (not destroyed, as per his question), then we will be in laya or sleep. This question reduces to what happens to our karma in sleep. All of karma is a collection of thoughts and since the I-thought subsides in sleep, it cannot connect with those thoughts in sleep. It is important to realize here that 'speech' and 'body' are also thoughts and mind is a collection of thoughts and therefore all of them remain unattended during sleep, since I-thought has subsided temporarily. It will start its connections sooner or later (which we call as the waking state). However, we alone are there in sleep, experiencing only ourselves and no other thoughts.

In the second question he says that we can act freely, provided we do not contradict our prarabhda. This is not so. We can act freely contradicting our prarabhda. For example, Michael has commented here that he is resisting Bhagavan's will (through his free will in writing about Bhagavan's teachings) which wants him to do something else.

Finally, he asks if our mind has free will while our body and speech follow destiny. As I said here in the beginning, 'body' and 'mind' are themselves thoughts and mind is a bundle of thoughts. So, essentially all are same. So, all are jada and karma being another thought is also a jada. We cannot conclude that mind has free will. On the other hand, focusing attention on ourselves is the only freedom we have, as it is not a karma. That is what Sri Ramana says.

Michael James said...

Regarding the two anonymous replies to Sanjay (9 September 2014 11:43 and 9 September 2014 11:54), God’s role as the ordainer of our prārabdha is not limited to just ordering the sequence in which we are to experience the fruits of our past karma. He also has to choose what experience is an appropriate fruit for each karma, because neither we (the ego who did a particular karma) nor that karma itself can decide what experience is an appropriate fruit for it, and he has to choose from the vast accumulation of yet-to-be-experienced fruits stored in our sañcita which ones would be most beneficial for us to experience in each life.

Good people often have to experience what seems to be a very harsh and miserable prārabdha, while bad people (that is, people who are selfish, greedy, ruthless, cruel and uncaring) often experience what seems to be a very pleasant prārabdha, but this does not mean that the former did only bad karmas in the past, while the latter did only good karmas. In former lives we each did countless karmas, both good and bad, so our sañcita contains a vast stock of good and bad fruits that are yet to be experienced, and hence in each life we can experience only a small proportion of that stock. Therefore God selects from that stock whatever fruit will be most beneficial for our spiritual progress during each of our lives.

Though most of the fruit in the sañcita of a good person may be the results of good actions, God may select just bad fruit for that person to experience in a particular life because suffering those fruit will help that person to progress more rapidly towards the goal of true self-knowledge than enjoying good fruit would. Likewise, though most of the fruit in the sañcita of a bad person may be the results of bad actions, God may select just good fruit for that person to experience in a particular life because in some way known only to him that is what is spiritually most beneficial for that person.

This at least is the theory of karma as taught by Sri Ramana, but we should appreciate that his sole aim in teaching it was to help us to understand that we should not be concerned with whatever we happen to experience in our outward life and should not make any efforts in that regard, but should only try to turn our attention inwards in order to experience ‘I’ alone. As our anonymous friend wrote, ‘Of course, one need not concern oneself with all these theories (if one prefers so) and focus on [investigating] for whom is this karma, as Sri Ramana says’, because it may be better to ignore such theories than to spend a lot of time thinking about them instead of investigating the ‘I’ who seems to do karma and to experience its fruit.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I totally agree with you on the other roles of God, in addition to just ordering the sequence of events in one's lives. Further,he may also intervene to alter the already arranged sequence. In puranas there are enough stories to illustrate this point (a chaste woman's request to prolong the live of her husband and getting the request answered by God etc.). So, one can keep expanding on the role of God. However,just as you said, getting into the details of the theory of karma is not required for self-investigation.

Anonymous said...

Extract from Talk 28, Feb 4, 1935

Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

D.: What is the relation between my free-will and the overwhelming might of the Omnipotent?
(a) Is omniscience of God consistent with ego's freewill?
(b) Is omnipotence of God consistent with ego's freewill?
(c) Are the natural laws consistent with God's free-will?

Maharshi: Yes. Free-will is the present appearing to a limited faculty of sight and will. The same ego sees its past activity as falling into a course of `law' or rules - its own free-will being one of the links in that course of law. Omnipotence and omniscience of God are then seen by the ego to have acted through the appearance of his own free-will. So he comes to the conclusion that the ego must go by appearances. Natural laws are manifestations of God's will and they have been laid down.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I recall a recorded conversation with Bhagavan somewhat to the effect:

Devotee: Are our prayers granted?
Bhagavan: Yes, they are granted. Thought force can never go waste.

When any problem in the asram was reported to Bhagavan, like lack of some particular food item or any other thing, almost invariably these were almost immediately and miraculously brought to the asram by some devotee or some visitor, even without a request for these things. When devotees asked Bhagavan how it happens, Bhagavan sometimes used to answer in English: ‘It is by automatic divine action’.

I think this is how the mere presence of the supreme power or God responds most appropriately to our needs without any iccha [desire], samkalpa [volition] or yatna [effort] on its part. Since Bhagavan was and is this supreme power such miraculous happenings used to regularly take place and, I believe, it still takes place in his Samadhi shrine.

My questions are: a) When Bhagavan says that our prayers are granted and the thought force will never go waste, what exactly did he mean? Do our prayers have the power to modify, add to or subtract from our prarabdha experiences?

b) Even without our prayers, does the mere presence of our true non-dual self or this supreme power intervenes in our lives as ‘automatic divine action’ in some rare cases, overruling our prarabdha? That is, does grace provide us with appropriate things in case of our urgent needs, even without our asking for these things by modifying our prarabdha?

Thanking you and pranams.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, I do not know whether the conversation you refer to in your latest comment was recorded accurately, but even if this is what Bhagavan said, we cannot take it to be representative of his real teachings, and must assume that he said it just to suit the beliefs, aspirations and needs of that particular questioner at that time. If it were a general rule that all prayers are answered, it would be disastrous and create chaos, because people pray for all sort of things, and what they pray for is not necessarily good either for themselves or for others. Moreover, in a war, for example, or even in a sports match, there will be people on both sides praying that their side will win, so whose prayer is to be answered?

If we want to understand the reply he is supposed to have given in a way that is compatible with his teachings, we could interpret it in various ways. For instance, if he said that thought force will never go to waste, perhaps he was indirectly warning us that our thoughts and desires become āgāmya, the fruit of which we will later have to experience as prārabdha. Or if he said that prayers are granted, perhaps he meant that if we pray for the annihilation of our ego, it will be granted sooner or later, because our liking to be free of our ego will create in us the love to turn within to investigate whether this ego is real.

Any prayer is a karma, so it could be impelled either by our prārabdha or by our free will, but since in his note to his mother Bhagavan said that we cannot alter what we are destined to experience according to our prārabdha, no matter how much effort we may make to do so, we should understand that whether a prayer is made either according to prārabdha or according to free will, it will not and cannot change our prārabdha.

Moreover, since whatever God ordains in our prārabdha is for our own spiritual benefit, why should we even wish that any prayer could change it, or that of his own accord he should intervene to change it? If he has ordained our prārabdha knowing what is best for us, why should he change it just to suit our whims and fancies?

If our aim is only to experience ourself as we really are, why should we even consider or discuss such trivial matters? As Bhagavan often used to say, enquiring or making research about anything other than ‘I’ is anātma-vicāra, which is futile, because it can never lead to any certain conclusion but only to further doubts. The only research that can lead to a certain conclusion is ātma-vicāra, so if we want to achieve knowledge that is absolutely certain, we should give up all forms of anātma-vicāra and devote all our time, effort and attention only to practising ātma-vicāra.

Anonymous said...

"If our aim is only to experience ourself as we really are, why should we even consider or discuss such trivial matters? As Bhagavan often used to say, enquiring or making research about anything other than ‘I’ is anātma-vicāra, which is futile, because it can never lead to any certain conclusion but only to further doubts." - that was well said by our Michael.

More often than not we shoot questions to Michael, without reading his articles carefully. In my opinion, essential ideas to understand the core teaching of Sri Ramana and to put them to practice are covered in greater detail in his book, 'Happiness and the Art of Being'. People on the path of Sri Ramana should read this repeatedly. It does not assume any technical grounding in philosophy and is written for average readers in simple English. Further, his blog archives contain articles listed carefully according to their importance. It is easy to search within the blog. It would be doubtful if we have any doubts related to practice after this sincere effort.

Shooting questions aimlessly indicates laziness to read him carefully and lack of determination to put Sri Ramana's teachings into practice. I am not saying we should not ask him anything. We should ask him only when we have exhausted all our resources, which would really be very rare, given his exhaustive writings. Michael has the tendency to answer each and every question, sooner or later. He repeats his answers in various ways assuming he has not made it very clear (which is not true, according to me).

Hanging around in this blog for a long time and making a regular habit of recycling the same or similar questions reveals lack of earnestness. People were hanging around Sri Ramana and took notes of everything they heard and even asked many questions. Despite these things, don’t we doubt the authority of those recorded dialogues even today (Guru Vachaka Kovai is an exception)? This shows hanging around a place and asking questions, recording them and repeating them will not take us anywhere near our aim. This is a disease and we have to get rid of this. The only way to get rid of this is to turn inwards. In doing so, all our questions will be answered. Even young ones of many animals become independent once the required skills are learnt. They do not hang around their mother.

Finally and most importantly, in doing these, we are making Michael sacrifice his much needed time for his translation work. He has denied offers of financial contributions. I think the best way to contribute to him is to be extremely prudent and economical in asking our questions.

Sankarraman said...

Subsequent to my earlier post, I wish to state that after going through the commentary on ' Upadesa Undiyar' by Sadu Om. ( verse 16 ) I acquiesce in what you say regarding the need for two things, one, the eschewing of the externals, and the other, to attend to the Self. Nonetheless, my understanding happens to be only intellectual.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I agree and understand fully what you have written in your comment.

But I believe sometimes it is important to understand what we should not be doing, in order to impress upon us the importance of what we should be doing. Like we should understand that we are not this body, senses, mind, intellect, prana and darkness-cum-happiness of sleep, in order to understand our essential nature of pure-consciousness.

Similarly we should understand that we should not be praying for anything in this life, because our every experience in our life is pre-destined, that is, decided by God in advance for our own spiritual benefit. No amount of prayer can change any of our pre-destined experiences. Moreover when we pray, we reinforce that we are this person, this individual, who wants such and such a happening to take place. In effect an illusory entity, this ego, prays for illusory and dream happening to take place, and we believe that a God is sitting somewhere whose only job is just to listen to our prayers and grant us our requests.

Therefore, as you say, we should destroy this ego that has the need for any prayer or any preferred event to take place, by persistently practising atma-vichara.

I thank you explaining the uselessness of prayers, particularly in the path of atma-vichara.

Thanking you and pranams.

R Viswanathan said...

The comment of Sanjay on prayer reminds me what Sri Nochur used to say: There is nothing wrong in praying to God, if your prayer is to remove the illusory obstacles in the path of realization of self. He also used to say that if you pray for anything else, too, there is nothing wrong, if your prayer is first to God or only to God and not to any other fellow human beings who have problems of their own. What generally happens is that 1) one prays to all others before one resorts to God or 2) one prays to all others but takes pride in saying that he or she never prays to God for anything.

Sanjay Lohia said...

On the topic of prayers, are prayers totally ruled out in Bhagavan’s path? I was reflecting on this. I share the same in this blog.

Yes, we should not pray for worldly gains or any other personal benefits, but Bhagavan has himself prayed to Arunachala is Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai. Let us see in brief the points of Bhagavan’s prayers:

He prayed to Arunachala, who can be treated as Guru or God of self, depending upon our mood or mental make-up. He prays:

- To root-out his ego.
- To make him unite with Arunachala.
- Not to forsake him.
- To show him Arunachala’s real beauty or to reveal its true nature.
- He repeatedly prays for grace (arul).
- To destroy his defects (along with the root, the ego).
- To destroy his worldly glory or fame.
- To show him the art of self-attentiveness or self-abidance.
- To save him from the fruits of his karmas.
- To bestow jnana upon him and to make his birth worthy.
- To remove his mental delusion (as ‘I’ and ‘mine’) and all fear.
- To make him melt more and more (with intense devotion) and mature him.
- To remove all his longings, whether it is worldly or spiritual.
- To become his support for him to cling to.
- To destroy all his attachments.

Therefore, we can say that the prayers on these lines are approved prayers, whereas any prayer with a kamyata attitude is not approved by Bhagavan. Or in other words if at all we want to pray, we should pray to God only for the destruction of our ego or for helping us in attaining jnana.

Thanking you and pranams.






Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Anonymous Sept. 13th. Some of my questions, I felt were so elementary that I was embarrassed to put them on the blog and would contact Michael using his e-mail. His answers were always long and detailed. I offered financial help but he declined. So, the only thing I can do is not bug him so much. Also the Videos on U=Tube are a great help to me and hope he will have time to do some more. I have watched them many times over.....

Edward.

Michael James said...

Edward, I am always happy to reply to emails or comments asking about the practice of ātma-vicāra or any other aspect of Bhagavan’s teachings, so please do not feel you were bugging me. I just wish I had more time to do such work and also all the translation work that I would like to do. It all helps to keep my mind from straying too far away from self-attentiveness, which should be our principal aim and occupation.

Regarding videos on my YouTube channel, Sri Ramana Teachings, last night I uploaded a new one: 2014-09-13 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on annihilating the ego.

Anonymous said...

Edward, I'm the anonymous you refer to. In retrospect, I feel I shouldn't have written what I wrote. Everyone has their trajectory of karma and what and whom they ask is for the spiritual benefit of all those involved in the discussion.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
it is good that you gave a paraphrase of the meaning of Sri Ramana's famous note to his mother at the spot of Pavalakundru in December 1898:
For my plain knowledge of the English Language it was some difficult to understand the meaning of the repetition of the words "there" and "their" in the first sentence ...God being there there[in the heart of each of them] will make [him or her] act.
And the same difficulty I had with the explanation 'According to their their prarabda, he who is for that being there there will cause to act'.
Also I could not understand immediately the meaning of the words...."which means 'being there there'(angu-angu-irundu)".

In the penultimate paragraph you write about our outward-going desires called visaya-vasanas.
I think in the fourth line is a printing error:
The half-sentence beginning with "and to the existent" should be read "and to the extent to which we thus try try to be silent..... "

Michael James said...

Josef, in reply to your comment, ‘their their’ and ‘there there’ are not English idioms but literal translations of the words that Bhagavan used in Tamil. In both cases the repetition of the word has a distributive function, signifying each individual one: thus ‘their their’ means ‘of each person’, and ‘there there’ means ‘in each place’ (or ‘in the heart of each person’).

Regarding the typo you mention (‘existent’ instead of ‘extent’), another friend pointed it out the day after I posted this article here, so I corrected it immediately. Therefore if you still see ‘existent’, you can try refreshing the page in your browser, because you should then see ‘extent’.

Josef Bruckner said...

Thanks Michael for making clear that fundamental advice of Bhagavan about the functioning of our world drama.

Beshwar said...

"Since the fruit of any āgāmya that we do now will not be experienced by us during this lifetime, we cannot by any effort made now by our own free will change anything that we are destined to experience in our current life."

From what you have stated, this mean that if one were to dissolve our doership this life, it is already predestined. So in the case of effortless work, one is bound to do whatever he does. He can do whatever he wants because whatever he does is already predestined.

"What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort [one] makes [to make it happen];"

As even with effort or without, you cannot avoid it whatever one will experience which would means you could not escape doing self-inquiry even if you wanted to, turning inwards will bound to happen.

"what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] [one] does [to prevent it happening]."

this means dissolving the doership, if one was destine to, it would happened. If one was to turn inward, so to will it happen.

"Therefore the only wise use we can make of our free will is to try to experience nothing other than ‘I’ by attending to ourself alone, thereby remaining indifferent to whatever we may or may not be destined to experience outwardly. Calmly and silently attending thus to ‘I’ alone is the state that he describes here as மௌனமாய் இருக்கை (mauṉamāy irukkai), ‘silently being’ or ‘being as silence’, which he says is நன்று (naṉḏṟu), ‘good’."

But would you not say this is already predestined? Whatever event leading up to a point where one seems to make the choice that they are going to turn inwards have already been predestined, so turning inwards itself has already been predetermined.

So when I say you can do whatever you want, well it is not even our choice, it may seem like it, whatever we think we are doing has already been predetermined.

"Sri Ramana wrote for his mother is that our prārabdha will impel us to do whatever actions of mind, speech or body are required to experience whatever we are destined to experience, so we cannot avoid doing such actions but we should try to avoid doing any other action (that is, any action impelled by our free will), and the only way to avoid doing any such action is just to remain silent by attending only to ‘I’."

Beshwar said...

Continuing..

1. "But we should 'try' to avoid doing any other action (that is, any action impelled by our free will)"

But sir, is that not even predestined itself, even down to thinking about itself is predestined. Therefore as you have stated "our prārabdha will impel us to do whatever actions of mind, speech or body are required to experience whatever we are destined to experience" we have no choice even if we wanted to attend to 'I' or not, it is certainly up to God's will.

2. "So long as we are attending to anything other than ‘I’, our ego is active and will therefore inevitably be driven by its free will to do āgāmya, whereas when we attend only to ‘I’ the activity of our ego will subside, leaving us in our natural state of just silently being (mauṉamāy irukkai). Therefore the only effective and reliable means to remain without doing any āgāmya is to attend only to ‘I’."

Sir, this is also not our choice but by the will of God as though it seems like we can attend to "I" whenever we catch ourself attending to something outwards, the thought itself is already predetermined which will forward us to doing our Self-inquiry which we think is our choice but it is destined for us to do so.

Regarding to your comment to someone: " it is my ego with its own preferences and sense of obligation that is preventing me just being silent and surrendering to whatever Bhagavan now wants me to be doing. It is my free will trying to resist my fate."
preventing me just being silent and surrendering to whatever Bhagavan now wants me to be doing. It is my free will trying to resist my fate."

Sir, how do you know what you are going through is not predetermined as you have stated " preventing me just being silent and surrendering to whatever Bhagavan now wants me to be doing. It is my free will trying to resist my fate." What if what you think you are suppose to be doing is exactly what has been preordain for you, and then from that contemplation that you think you should be doing something results in you experiencing what is preordained for you to experience?

Michael James said...

Beshwar, in your two comments above and in your latest comment on another article, Our aim should be to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else, you continue to insist that we have no freedom. If that is what you want to believe, no amount of argument will persuade you to think otherwise.

However, if you want to understand and believe what Bhagavan taught in this regard, you should accept that we do have limited freedom to will and act, and that the only wise use we can make of this freedom is to turn our attention inwards to try to experience ourself alone, as I tried to explain to you in my earlier three replies (here, here and here).

Turning our attention within in order to experience ourself alone is not an action (karma), but only subsidence and complete cessation of all activity, so it is neither determined by nor can it be obstructed by our destiny (prārabdha). According to Bhagavan, therefore, we are always free to turn selfwards to experience ourself alone.

When we allow our attention to go out towards anything other than ourself, whatever we then experience is determined by our prārabdha (which is a selection the fruit of our past volitional actions that God has chosen for us to experience in the lifetime of our current body), but even then we are free to try to experience what we are not destined to experience and to avoid experiencing what we are destined to experience. By desiring and making such efforts to oppose our prārabdha, we are doing āgāmya (fresh karma done by our own free will), the fruit of which will be stored in our sañcita and will therefore be available to be selected by God for us to experience as part of our prārabdha in a future life.

Moreover, whenever we desire to experience something that we happen to be destined to experience, we use our free will to try to experience it, so even though our prārabdha would anyway have made us make whatever effort is required for us to experience it, we are still doing āgāmya. Therefore we are doing āgāmya whenever we desire and make effort by our own volition to experience anything or avoid experiencing anything, whether that happens to be opposed to our prārabdha (in which case our efforts will fail) or to be in harmony with it (in which case our efforts will seem to succeed).

In short, therefore, what Bhagavan taught us about free will is that we do have it, and that we can therefore use it either to turn within to experience ourself alone (in which case we will be refraining from doing any karma) or to try to experience or avoid experiencing anything else (in which case we will be doing fresh karma, the fruit of which may be selected by God for us to experience in any future life).

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Beshwar:

Therefore fate and free will (also known as destiny and volition, which in Sanskrit are called respectively vidhi and mati, or prārabdha and iccha-kriya-svatantra) are the two driving forces that impel us to do action (karma), and it is not possible for us to determine to what extent each of these forces impels us to do any particular action that we may do (in some cases it will be one, in other cases the other, and in most cases a combination of both). However, we need not concern ourself trying to know whether fate or free will has made us do any action, because our sole aim should be to investigate our ego and thereby to distinguish ourself from all the adjuncts that we now mistake to be ourself. This is why Bhagavan says in verse 19 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

விதிமதி மூல விவேக மிலார்க்கே
விதிமதி வெல்லும் விவாதம் — விதிமதிகட்
கோர்முதலாந் தன்னை யுணர்ந்தா ரவைதணந்தார்
சார்வரோ பின்னுமவை சாற்று.

vidhimati mūla vivēka milārkkē
vidhimati vellum vivādam — vidhimatigaṭ
kōrmudalān taṉṉai yuṇarndā ravaitaṇandār
sārvarō piṉṉumavai sāṯṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: விதி மதி மூல விவேகம் இலார்க்கே விதி மதி வெல்லும் விவாதம். விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை உணர்ந்தார் அவை தணந்தார்; சார்வரோ பின்னும் அவை? சாற்று.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): vidhi mati mūla vivēkam ilārkkē vidhi mati vellum vivādam. vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai uṇarndār avai taṇandār; sārvarō piṉṉum avai? sāṯṟu.

English translation: Argument about which wins, fate (vidhi) or free will (mati), is only for those who do not have discrimination (vivēka) about the root of fate and free will [namely the ego]. Those who have known themself [the ego], who is the one origin [or foundation] of fate and free will, have [thereby] removed [or separated from] them. Say, will they thereafter be associated with them?

What Bhagavan refers to here as ‘விதி மதி மூலம்’ (vidhi mati mūlam), ‘the root of fate and free will’, is only the ego, for whom alone fate and free will exist, so விதி மதி மூல விவேகம் (vidhi mati mūla vivēkam) means discrimination about the ego — that is, the ability to distinguish oneself from the ego, which is what experiences fate and exercises free will. Likewise in the second sentence of this verse ‘விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை’ (vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai), ‘oneself who is the one origin [or foundation] of fate and free will’, the word தன்னை (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, refers only to the ego, which is the origin or foundation of fate and free will, so ‘விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை உணர்ந்தார்’ (vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai uṇarndār), ‘those who have known themself, who is the one foundation of fate and free will’, means those who have experienced what they really are and who have thereby known that the ego is just an illusion or false appearance and hence does not actually exist as such. When the ego is thus known to be non-existent, its fate and free will will also be known to be non-existent.

However, so long as the ego seems to exist, its fate and free will also seem to exist, and hence they seem to be just as real as it seems to be. Therefore the ego cannot justifiably deny the reality of fate and free will so long as it experiences itself as if it were real.

When you try to assert that fate is real but free will is unreal, you are unnecessarily engaging in ‘விதி மதி வெல்லும் விவாதம்’ (vidhi mati vellum vivādam), ‘argument about which wins, fate or free will’, so you should recognise that such a dispute arises in you only because you mistake yourself to be the ego and therefore do not have ‘விதி மதி மூல விவேகம்’ (vidhi mati mūla vivēkam), ‘discrimination about the root of fate and free will’.

Beshwar said...

Beautifully written. I have a clearer and better understanding now. Just some questions to clear up.

"When the ego is thus known to be non-existent, its fate and free will will also be known to be non-existent."

Now does that indicate that there is no free will as I have stated earlier [from the Stand-point of the SELF?] as you on the other hand say that we DO have somewhat limited freedom ONLY because we still experience the ego [individual?] Though I have not experience my Self as I really am does it still count for me (whatever I'm to experience such as past karmas) as long as I believe that I am not the doer? So long as I believe I am not the doer, does that mean I have nothing to worry about but only to attend to Self?


"Since we experience ourself as this body and mind, and since they do actions, we experience their actions as if we were doing them. Therefore we cannot avoid having a sense of doership so long as we experience anything other than ourself (that is, anything other than the pure adjunct-free consciousness that we really are)."

" We cannot avoid feeling that we are the doer so long as we experience ourself as a body and mind, which are the instruments that do actions."

So even though we think we are not the doer and understand that we are not doer, are you saying that even understanding it does not cut it? Or are you saying that we are still a tad-bit the doer since we still experience other things other then ourselves.

So in essence, to clear things up, are you saying that since we are yet still and individual (since we have not fully realize the Self) we have the limited free will? And free will has no choice but to exists so long as we are the individual?


Infinite gratitude,

Beshwar

Beshwar said...


Part 2.

"Turning our attention within in order to experience ourself alone is not an action (karma), but only subsidence and complete cessation of all activity, so it is neither determined by nor can it be obstructed by our destiny (prārabdha)."


Can you give an example of what some things the body experience as a result of destiny? I’m having a hard time thinking what that means. Does that mean in terms if one gets rich, poor, homeless, businessman, etc?

"but even then we are free to try to experience what we are not destined to experience and to avoid experiencing what we are destined to experience."

I do not understand, what do you mean to avoid experiencing what we are destined to experience. I thought you said we cannot escape what we are destine to experience?

I am curious as to what makes you say we have limited free will since we are still experience the ego-body-mind. So what does that mean when we do not experience our body-mind-ego anymore? No free will?

Michael James said...

Beshwar, since the ego does not actually exist, its destiny and free will also do not actually exist, but so long as the ego seems to exist (that is, so long as we experience ourself as a person, individual, body and mind), its destiny and free will likewise seem to exist, so destiny and free will are as real as the ego now seems to be.

Fate and free will are a problem for us, but the root of this problem is only our ego, so we should concern ourself only with investigating this ego to find out whether or not it is what it now seems to be, and if we do so we need not concern ourself with questions about fate, free will or any of the numerous other problems that we face so long as we mistake ourself to be this ego.

Because the ego is limited, its freedom to will and act (iccha-kriya-svatantra) is likewise limited, but it has at least sufficient freedom to investigate itself and thereby dissolve itself back into our real self, the source from which it appeared. Therefore we need not worry about the limits of our individual freedom, because we have enough freedom to achieve what should be our real aim, namely the dissolution of this illusory ego that we now seem to be.

You mention ‘as long as I believe that I am not the doer’, but the ‘I’ that believes this is only the ego, which experiences itself as a body and mind, and that therefore experiences the actions done by the body and mind as if they were done by itself. Therefore, even if we believe the theory that we are not the doer, in practice we experience ourself as the doer, so in spite of our superficial belief in the idea that we are not the doer, at a deeper level we still believe that we are the doer.

If we believe the theory that we are not the doer, that should prompt us to investigate ourself in order to experience what we really are. That is, since we now experience ourself as if we were the doer of actions done by mind, speech and body, believing that we are not the doer entails believing that we are not what we now seem to be, so it should motivate us to try to experience what we really are. Therefore the answer to your question ‘So long as I believe I am not the doer, does that mean I have nothing to worry about but only to attend to Self?’ is yes: trying to attend to ourself alone in order to experience what we really are should be our sole aim and concern.

Likewise the answer to your question ‘So even though we think we are not the doer and understand that we are not doer, are you saying that even understanding it does not cut it?’ is yes. Though we may think we are not the doer, we nevertheless experience ourself as the doer, so merely thinking or understanding that we are not the doer is not sufficient. We need to actually experience ourself as we really are, because then only will we experience ourself as that which never does anything, since its nature is just to be.

Therefore, as you say in the final paragraph of the first of your two most recent comments, so long as we still experience ourself as a finite individual, we have a limited free will, and that free will will continue to exist so long as we experience ourself as an individual (that is, as anything other than the one infinite reality that we actually are).

Michael James said...

Beshwar, in continuation of my previous comment, I will now reply to the questions you ask in your latest comment:

Whatever we experience outwardly is our destiny, so whether we are rich or poor, living in a mansion or homeless, educated or uneducated, loved or despised, healthy or sick, long-lived or short-lived, in India, Africa, Europe or America, or whatever other external circumstances we may experience, they are all determined by our destiny, and we have no freedom to change any such things. However, we are free to like to change them and to try to change them, but whatever we may seem to achieve as a result of such efforts is actually just our destiny.

We cannot escape what we are destined to experience, as you say, but that does not mean that we cannot desire and try to escape it. All it means is that however much we may try to escape it, our efforts will be in vain. This is the import of what Bhagavan wrote in the note for his mother.

The only way we can escape what we are destined to experience is by investigating and experiencing what we really are, because we will thereby escape the illusory experience that we are an ego. Since destiny determines what this ego is to experience in this lifetime, we can escape its destiny only by escaping the ego itself. This is why Bhagavan often said that the only wise use of our freedom is to use it to turn within and thereby experience what we actually are.

The limited free will of the ego is a reflection of the infinite freedom of our real self, which is infinitely free because nothing other than it actually exists, and hence there is nothing that could limit its freedom. However though we (as we really are) are infinitely free, we only use our infinite freedom just to be as we really are, because we are also infinitely wise, so we would never use our freedom to be anything else.

Therefore, since we now seem to be something other than what we really are, we must infer that our seeming existence as such is merely an illusion, and that if we investigate ourself we will find that we have never actually been anything other than what we really are. This is why self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) alone is the solution to all our problems.

Beshwar said...

But aren't we still creating action by attending to ourself? (although it is the best thing we can do) Simply because we are not fully attending to the Self because it is still mixed with extra adjuncts?

"Since our destiny or fate (prārabdha) will impel us to make whatever effort is required for us to experience what we are destined to experience (as Sri Ramana implied in the first sentence of this note), the actions of our mind, speech or body are driven by two forces, fate and free will, which may work at any moment either in harmony or in conflict with each other. Some of our actions may be impelled only by our fate, others may be impelled only by our free will, while yet others may be simultaneously impelled by both"

I understand it can effect our mind so can it somehow impel us to use our mind for Self-inquiry?

As Sri Bhagavan offered us another path such as Self-Surrender where we also think that we are not the doer, but why would he offer that when it would not lead us to the Self as you have said:

"so in spite of our superficial belief in the idea that we are not the doer, at a deeper level we still believe that we are the doer."

"Though we may think we are not the doer, we nevertheless experience ourself as the doer, so merely thinking or understanding that we are not the doer is not sufficient."

Beshwar said...

More importantly, I have bring all this up about "effort" is because I think it is an illusion for you to say we need effort according to our separate individual free will.


How free are we to do this or that? And particular shift our attention from this to that? As an individual, we have the appearance so have such a freedom, but since we don't chose our thoughts, which is easy to verify. If we could chose our thoughts, we could chose to not have any thoughts, or to have only happy thoughts, or thoughts of a certain thing, beautiful thoughts. So obviously we have no control over our thoughts. Therefore if you don't chose our thoughts, we don't chose the choosing thoughts that is going to shift the attention to A to B. We simply believe after the shift has taken place after we have chosen, as a separate individual. Where as in fact, the shift in self or any sort of any decisions that appeared was simply a cosmic event. And it makes sense even in the materialistic point of view. Where every thought that arises is a byproduct of the electro chemistry taking place in the brain. This brain is made of particles dancing together, that are entangled in a deeply collection with the rest of the particles in the universal. So whatever seems to happen locally, the creation of these thoughts or decision is in fact a cosmic convergence, even from the materialistic stand point. A cosmic convergence. So it is not a personal creation, it is not homemade as in this human factory we have here. There is no such thing as a human factory of thoughts. It's a nice hypothesis, but it does not have four legs to stand up.

Suresh Lakshmanan said...

Michael,

Beautiful explanation of Upadesa Undiyar starting verses on Karma. I pray you have the time to complete them fully as i can clearly see that it will come along the lines of your work with Sadhu Om on 'Arunachala Stuti Panchagam'

If i may add, i think it would be useful to include 35, 36 verses of Aksharamanamalai that again emphasises that we be still - because that's the only place we are untouched by karma.

Michael James said...

Beshwar, we can go on endlessly having doubts and asking questions about free will and karma because we are ajñānis (that is, we are metaphysically ignorant), so our self-ignorant minds have no means of ascertaining the correct answer to any such question. But what is the point? Are such doubts and questions useful to us?

The root of all our ignorance is our ignorance concerning what we ourself actually are. So long as we do not experience ourself as we actually are, whatever else we may believe we know is only ignorance (ajñāna). Therefore the only solution to all our ignorance is for us to experience ourself as we actually are, and hence the only useful question for us to ask ourself is ‘Who am I, who raise so many doubts and questions about other things?’

Whatever Bhagavan taught us about free will and karma has only one purpose, namely to help us to investigate ourself and ascertain what we actually are. Therefore if we are wise we should accept whatever he taught us about them, and rather than wasting our time and energy raising endless doubts and questions about such trivial matters, we should focus all our interest and effort on trying to experience ourself as we actually are.

Yes, it is true that both free will and karma are illusions, as is everything else other than ourself, because they are a product of the primal illusion, the ego. However, so long as the ego seems to be real, all its products likewise seem to be real, so we should use our illusory free will to investigate ourself and thereby destroy the primal illusion that we are this ego. In this connection, please read again verse 19 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and the explanation about it that I gave above in one of my previous replies to you.

Suresh Lakshmanan said...

Karma theory is to ensure that we direct our freewill in the right direction.

Sri Ramakrishna says,
"Is it possible to understand God's action and His motive? He creates, He preserves, and He destroys. Can we ever understand why He destroys? I say to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I do not need to understand. Please give me love for Thy Lotus Feet.' The aim of human life is to attain bhakti. As for other things, the Mother knows best. I have come to the garden to eat mangoes. What is the use of my calculating the number of trees, branches, and leaves? I only eat the mangoes; I don't need to know the number of trees and leaves."

It's only our intellect that needs a framework to be built around karma but in reality none can understand the inscrutable power of the Self.

The wheel of our prarabdha is capable of throwing us hither and thither. The only safe and unassailable place where it can never touch us is when we cling to the centre of that wheel - The lotus feet of the Lord.

As Bhagavan says in Upadesa Undiyar, 10th verse,

Abiding, having subsided in the place of rising [in one’s source, the real Self] – that is karma [desireless action] and bhakti [devotion], that is yoga [union with God] and jnana [true knowledge].

Michael James said...

Yes, Suresh, and according to Bhagavan the ‘lotus feet of the Lord’ and the ‘right direction’ in which we should direct our free will is only ourself. Thinking about anything else is futile.

As Sri Ramakrishna advised, let us just enjoy the mangoes (by subsiding and abiding in ourself, the source from which we have risen) and ignore everything else.

RamanaSadGuru said...

Dear Michael,

Thank you for all your excellent work.

I have a doubt.

As you mentioned - "What Sri Ramana clearly implies here by saying, ‘What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort [one] makes; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [one] does’, is firstly that we are not free to change whatever we are destined to experience, and secondly that we are nevertheless free to try to change it."

Trying to change is itself is an experience, right? Does it not imply it is also pre-destined?

For example, I am walking on a road and someone unknown curses me. I feel bad. It is an experience pre-destined by Prarabhdha. Now I can either ignore those words and be silent OR I can get angry and curse that person back. If I ignore, I experience peace and if I curse him back, I experience turbulence. As all experiences are pre-destined, is that not true that to remain silent or curse back is all pre-destined? Then accumulation of Agamya Karma is also pre-destined?

Thank you.

RamanaSadGuru said...

I posted my above question. I was so nervous and anxious to find out the answer. I googled it. Couldn't find a convincing answer. Then all of a sudden, a question arose "To whom is this nervousness and anxiety?".

Sat in front of Maharshi for sometime in silence. Then convincing answer was revealed.

Thought forms(Body/World/All gross and subtle objects that we are aware of) are pre-destined. They appear in an order as per Praradhdha. Thought form that is destined to appear appears and not destined to appear doesn't appear. Free will is to whether identify ourselves as a doer and rejoice/regret OR abide in the source of all thought forms and be with our very nature ie., peace. Doership creates Agamya Karma.

Mittal Matalia said...

WHAT BHAGWAN RAMANA MAHARISHI SAYS EXACTLY RIGHT EVERY THING IS PREDETERMINED AND PROVED THROUGH PHYSICS ALSO BY ALBERT EINSTEIN
BUT ONLY ONE QUESTION SIR TO ASK IF EVERY THING IS PREDETERMINED THEN WHAT IS THE USE OF HARDWORK FOR INSTANCE I AM A BUSINESS MAN MY GOOS ARE GIVEN TO SOME BODY AND HE HAS TO PAY THE MONEY TO ME AND HE IS NOT GIVING ME MY MONEY BY WANTEDLY OR BECAUSE OF HIS FINANCIAL PROBLEM THAT WE DO NOT KNOW SO HERE I AM SUPPOSE TO TELL THAT MY MONEY TO STRUCK WITH HIM WAS ALREADY PREDETERMINED OR IT WAS MY FREE WILL AND IF I HARDWORK FOR MY MONEY AND STAY MY WHOLE LIFE BEHIND HIM SO THAT ALSO WILL BE PREDETERMINED OR IT IS MY PRARABDHA KARMA
WHAT TO DO WHETHER TO LEAVE THE SITUATION AS IT IS OR GO BEHIND HIM THE WHOLE LIFE STAYING POSITIVE THAT HE WILL GIVE MY MONEY BACK

TOTALLY CONFUSED PLS SHOW THE WAY