Free Will and Determinism

BY: CAITANYA DAS - 18.7 2018

Free will and determinism is an interesting topic to transcendently delve into. Krishna says everyone has to follow their nature, what can repression accomplish. He also says a man of intelligence endeavouring to control his mind and senses can easily be swept away, as a boat in a storm.

Within the modes of nature different choices are available. Srila Prabhupada says we are not dead stones, but on choosing something, Krishna's energies are set to carry out and activate these choices and according to guna and karma, differing results are set to take place automatically.

A high court judge knows the outcome of crime and the punishment awaiting. Similarly, Krishna knows our past, how we came to our present condition, and what our future will be according to the actions that we choose. Of course, everything is Krishna's energies, so one might argue it's indirectly Him giving the choices within the material realms, but nevertheless it's our choices made from unlimited mixes of genes and DNA and a seemingly unlimited pool of material mind and intelligence.

It appears in the higher modes more freedom is given, one's knowledge is greater thus a tendency to make better choices, more so than passion or of course ignorance, which tightly bind because of lack of intelligence in thinking before one proceeds to act.

Free will and choices are always available to one degree or another, and the Lord is making arrangements through the various Gurus, Sadhus and varieties of scriptures to aid and encourage all to make correct decisions, facilitating the jiva to progress through the modes to reach goodness and pure goodness. Each mode and action is carefully designed to give free will as well as result in the form of determinism, i.e., good, bad or mediocre reactions.

The more conditioned one is the more one follows the mind and senses and the less one is able to intelligently make correct liberating decisions. One assumes the animals, insects, birds etc. will generally only instinctively follow their mind and senses, with little or no discrimination or thought of their actions, symptomatic of many who are caught up in the lowest of the modes.

When it comes to spiritual life, the pure devotee is given complete freedom. They have correctly used their free will and surrendering it to Krishna and His devotees, are no longer subject to the good or bad reactions of this material realm. There is not the least touch of karma or jnana in their actions. They act on two planes within the material world to assist with the missionary activities, and within the spiritual realm absorb themselves in relishing the activities and service of the residents of Vraja, at least in the line descending from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Goswami, and all our esteemed Acaryas.

Therefore it's essential for the devotees to only follow devotees who are not making choices based on conditioned consciousness, but only those who very strictly follow, those who are completely free from jnana and karma, who have complete freedom from the modes of nature, and whose choices are aligned with the wishes of the parampara philosophically as well as practically, in service to them in the clear cut mission to broadmindedly distribute Krishna Consciousness to one and all without discrimination of class, colour, educated or uneducated, favourable or non-favourable etc.

Speculations on philosophical matters regarding free will and determinism may be widespread. Ideas that there is hardly any free will within the modes or that unfortunate events are always due to karma (Prabhupada says one who does wrong or suffers wrong is wrong), or any such matters of philosophy, or who should be and who should not be preached to, or judgements made on candidates according to his or her current guna or karma, will have to be rooted out. Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur says the Vaishnavas who act against the conclusions of devotional service are the root cause of anarthas within the sampradaya.

Of course if we remain tightly bound to the lotus feet of our Founder-Acarya, who understands the mission of Srila Bhaktisiddanta Goswami, who understands the broad mindedness of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur, who built a golden bridge with which the philosophers and speculators could easily cross to the path of Bhakti, everything will remain on course.

It is the view of many that a strongly worded constitution will provide not only strong foundations for the bridge of Bhaktivinod Thakur but also the all important solid structures that will see it last for hundreds of years, if not thousands of years into the future.