Free Will and Predestination – Yoga Style

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free will coverWhat is free will? Does the idea even make sense? Taimni and van der Leeuw help us get a handle on the matter…

(This is 3400 words, so plan accordingly! Also, for those who read this and think its just a rehash of all the usual philosophical arguments, go look at the rest of this blog. This is the yogic take on these issues, and yoga, unlike any other system, actually teaches how to experience this thing referred to below as The Absolute.)

Summary
To summarize this blog post: van der Leeuw categorically stated there is no such thing as “free will”; that the very concept is self-contradictory. Taimni tries to reconcile this view with our perception that we are free to make choices. I contend van der Leeuw wins the argument. But through the course of the discussion, we end up revealing the real meaning of free will, which, ultimately, is another way to state the end-goal of yoga.

Introduction
I’m reading Glimpses into the Psychology of Yoga (“Glimpses“) by I. K. Taimni, published in 1973. He wrote this long after The Science of Yoga and shortly after Man, God, and the Universe (MGU). Glimpses is a follow-on book to MGU where he elaborates further on some of the themes expressed in MGU. As PlaneTalk Readers know, MGU played a central role in my book The Yogic View of Consciousness, so it is of great interest to read what Taimni said in Glimpses.

Taimni’s thought is matured by this point. Glimpses is not necessarily a good book for someone new to Taimni, but is excellent for someone familiar with his earlier works. In this post, I want to discuss one of the chapters in Glimpses where he writes about free will and predestination.

Let’s start by briefly reviewing what free will and predestination are.

Predestination & Determinism
Determinism/Predestination means that every single detail of our lives, from the largest to the smallest are all worked out beforehand. The idea has implications about the nature of time. It means that the future is as solid and as certain, and as immutable, as the past. In scientific circles, this is sometimes called a “block universe” where past and future form one continuous block of space-time where all events co-exist in some timeless, unchanging state. The term “determinism” is generally associated with scientific views.

Predetermination is associated with religious views. If God has a plan, everything must follow this plan, because it is God we are talking about, and deviating from God’s will is not an option. God is infinite and we are not. Therefore, it is logically impossible to deviate from something God preordained.

Whether seen in scientific or religious terms, determinism/predestination leaves no room at all for free will.

Free Will
Free will is much harder to describe. It seems like it has to do with making choices. But, as van der Leeuw indicates, we have to be careful to distinguish mere license from what is possibly free will.

License is the doing of whatever one wishes. Doing whatever one wishes falls into two categories: the doable and the not doable. If I wish to walk to the moon, this is simply impossible, no matter what I wish. Therefore, I have no free will to do what is not possible to do. Scientific laws fit into this category. I cannot will myself or anything else to defy the law of gravity, or any other scientific law.

van der Leeuw’s Take on Free Will
van der Leuww addresses things that are potentially do-able. He points out that things of this sort stem not from freedom of choice, but from inner compulsions:

“One of the most confusing factors in any discussion concerning the freedom of the will is that the popular conception of such a freedom is the ability ` to do just as we like.'”…

“The free will for which we seek as the ability to do exactly as we like, to do either this or that, is but a scarcely veiled necessity, determined from within by factors present in our consciousness which we do not recognize as compelling influences, but vaguely associate with our inner life. Yet our desires and passions, our habits of thought and feeling, our customary ways of acting are determining influences in all our choices and make the very term ` freedom ‘ a misnomer. When we assert the freedom of our human will we assert about that will something that can never be claimed for anything in the world of the relative.”

The gist of his argument is that people mistake determinism with being compelled by an external force, like some tyrant forcing you to act against your will. No. He points out that when you chose to do anything, this choice stems from a combination of conscious and unconscious factors that dictate or compel how you behave.

van der Leeuw thus disabuses us of stupid notions of free will. But he also recognizes that there is something deeper that may have a claim to the term “free will”:

“There is within every one of us a conviction and certainty of freedom, a rebellion against the idea of a necessity that would compel us and from which there is no escape. It is true that it is dangerous to be led by our instinctive convictions, however compelling and deeply rooted they may be; too often a fundamental instinct is but rooted in illusion. Yet it would be foolish to pass by lightly such a profound conviction as that of freedom; even if we should be logically convinced of its impossibility it will not be denied and will make itself felt in our life in some way or other.”

In the end however, van der Leeuw shows that any sense of free will is an illusion (keep the following in mind because we come back to it at the end of this post):

“In this world of relativity each relative thing is related to all else; there is not an atom in this universe of mine to which I am not related, even though I may not be conscious of the relation. I have no existence at all as a separate creature, though I may at times imagine myself as such; rather am I part of an intricate web of relativity in which all things mutually determine one another.”

“There can never be freedom for the relative, since every relative thing is at least partially determined by all else that is relative. Only the Absolute is free since there is naught beside It.”

Thus van der Leeuw states unequivocally that there is no such thing as free will for human beings (or any other manifested entity), and that every single one of the most minute of details of our lives is laid out in the future as precisely as is our past:

“…when we enter the world of Reality we experience time as an eternal Present and the very thought of a past which is done with and a future which is not yet becomes absurd. As well might the wanderer along the road think of the road behind him as fixed and certain because he, the wanderer, has passed over it and of the road in front of him as indeterminate and uncertain because he himself has not yet reached it.”

If there is no free will and the future is 100% determined in every aspect, then what is this impulse we experience that makes us think we are free? We return to this below.

Taimni’s Problem with van der Leeuw
Returning back to Taimni and Glimpses, it is apparent that Taimni is trying to argue with van der Leeuw. I am not going to quote Taimni here but just summarize the gist of his argument.

You, The Reader, may recall that Taimni characterized the Absolute as having both static and dynamic aspects. In Glimpses, he now applies this same logic to Manifestation. The Logos of the Manifested system holds in its Divine Mind a static plan of that particular Universe. The plan in turn, unfolds through myriad dimensions of space and time, with its lowest level being our shadow world of the physical plane, where we contemplate the dualism of determinism vs. free will.

He argues that the static plan in the Divine Mind is immutable, representing the side of determinism. But the unfolding of the plan in space and time has build in to it a type of flexibility  or leeway allowing people (or any monad) to make mistakes that seem to go against the Divine Plan.

He invokes the idea of Karma, that for any action there is an equal and opposite reaction, as the mechanism that serves to set right the deviations of individual monads from God’s plan. He then states the common idea that Manifestation is, at least in part, a school of sorts, where individual monads unfold their destiny to play their appointed part in God’s plan.

This all sounds like rather standard fare. However, Taimni was smart enough to recognize that the paradox of free will vs. determinism can never be resolved by the human intellect. In fact, he states both free will and determinism have their roles:

“…both Predestination and Free Will are true and both have their parts to play in the evolving universe. The very fact that there is a Divine Plan and the Divine Will is at the back of it means some degree and form of Predestination. But the fact that in the working out of the Plan there is elasticity and considerable latitude for the Monads who are evolving in the universe means that there is free will for the Monad. In the earlier stages this will expressing itself as desire brings it own pleasant and unpleasant consequences…the complications and thwarting decrease as the Monads evolved and when the Monads become Self-realized their wills merge with the Divine Will.”

He is saying that the individual details of how a monad (soul = person) act may vary, but the end result is predetermined. I truly have the choice to go left or right in Taimni’s reality. In van der Leeuw’s reality, I went either left or right and there was no alternative to what actually happened.

Contradictions
As you can see, Taimni’s idea contradicts van der Leeuw’s. Taimni struggled with van der Leeuw’s position. Perhaps because dignity seems to disappear with the loss of free will.  I imagine Taimni saw his view as a way to reconcile van der Leeuw’s position with the existence of a free will of sorts. But really, is deciding what color to paint my bird cage truly freedom?

However, van der Leeuw addressed Taimni’s argument 45 years before Taimni presented it:

“If freedom is absence of limitation and of determination from without, only that can be free besides which naught else exists and is there any human will of which we can say that? In this sense of the word freedom, and philosophically we cannot well take it in any other sense, only the Absolute is free, the relative is ever determined by its very relations in the world of relativity. There is no freedom in the world of the relative and to speak of a free will, to search for a freedom of the will in that world of relativity is as impossible as the quadrature of the circle. The phrase freedom of the will is a contradiction in terms; no will can be free in the world of relativity.”

Or more concisely as stated above:

“There can never be freedom for the relative, since every relative thing is at least partially determined by all else that is relative. Only the Absolute is free since there is naught beside It.”

You can’t have it both ways.

Resolution
This now is why I wrote this blog post. All the above is background for me to say the following. As I was reading Taimni and keeping all the above in mind, I had the most amazing insight. It was dependent on both van der Leeuw’s and Taimni’s ideas.

Fundamentally, van der Leeuw is correct. In relative manifestation, freedom simply does not exist. Relativity, by its very definition, is exactly as van der Leeuw states: “every relative thing is at least partially determined by all else that is relative.” To be determined by something else means that one is not free.

One implication here is that all normal talk of freedom, as used in everyday discourse, and even in academic discourse, is complete bullshit. I mention this in passing, but it is not an important point.

A Bit ‘O The Past
To get to my main point, I need to tangent to tell a personal story.  In my senior year in college I took a History of 19th Century Europe class. It discussed Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and other social phenomena of that century that occurred in Europe. For our final exam, we were to write an essay on how the 19th century ideas affected Western ideas of Freedom and Democracy.

At that time I was immersed in Jedu Krishnamurti books (Krishnamurti never wrote anything, but just went around giving talks, which people transcribed and published as books, for the nit picky amongst you). Krishnamurti was a close friend of J.J. van der Leeuw and, although I can find no evidence to back this up, I believe Krishnamurti was influenced by van der Leeuw’s writings, or at least shared a common intellectual frame of reference.

Anyone who has read Krishnamurti knows his books almost do not make sense. He rambled on and on in a Taoist manner. Meaning: when one speaks of the Tao, it is always NOT what is being discussed. The Tao is not this and not that, and not anything, and so on. After a point it becomes completely nonsensical.

But there is a method to the madness, which is to get people beyond the words and definitions in their minds. Fine. I went through that phase, and all seekers on the path go through it in one form or another.

When it came time to do my final exam, I literally wrote 1/2 page of text and pulled a Krishnamurti on my Professor. In 1/2 page, I explained that freedom cannot be understood as an idea, for it it were to be understood, it would be caged in a form, and therefore no longer be free. Freedom is undefinable. Therefore his question was meaningless and I was done.

For those who care, I got an A on the 1/2 page paper.

Again, not my point. The point is that it makes no sense to speak of free anything. What I said in 1988 in that dumb little essay holds as well today, as it shall for all eternity. We can never ever know freedom. For, to know something means to give it a form, in this case, as meaning. Anything with a form is caged, and hence, not free.

(For the math-oriented out there, the same exact stuff can be said about the word “random”. In fact, random and freedom are synonyms in that both are states that cannot be expressed by any form).

Van der Leeuw Right, Taimni Right For The Wrong Reasons
Therefore, van der Leeuw is exactly correct: a relative anything can never be free in any sense.

But the relative in its totality is the Absolute (see here is this seems like I am pulling a rabbit out of my hat). Further, there is only one Absolute.  As such, it has no second, nothing to limit it in any way whatsoever. There is only one thing in infinity that is free, and that is infinity itself; The Absolute.

Taimni, although wrong in one sense, was right in a sense I do not think he saw in his own words. Let’s look again:

In the earlier stages this will expressing itself as desire brings it own pleasant and unpleasant consequences…the complications and thwarting decrease as the Monads evolved and when the Monads become Self-realized their wills merge with the Divine Will.

Let me see now if I can bring this all together and express what I am thinking in words.

It is through our will that we make choices. But we established above that the choices we make are based on conscious and unconscious compulsions. Therefore our will is not free at all, but its actions are determined by these compulsions. To use Taimni’s terms, if we satisfy some compulsion, we have pleasant experiences and call that state “being free”. If we are unable to satisfy our internal compulsions, we have unpleasant experience and perceive it as having our will thwarted, or not being free.

But it was not our will that was thwarted. It was the compulsions that were thwarted by going unsatisfied.

Both my books Experience and Yogic View of Consciousness talk about how these compulsions can, in principle, never be satisfied. It is in the very nature of things. Maya. The world beckons us with promises of fulfillment and that is all we ever get is promises. There is never true fulfillment. If there was true fulfillment, everything would stop. There would be no need to ever change.  Never changing does not exist.

Thus, one wises up and turns to yoga, the only possible approach to escape from the endless loop of unfulfilled promises. There isn’t even a choice here. Just like we cannot chose the answer to 1 + 1, we cannot chose how to escape the illusions of Manifestation. There is only one way to stop the illusions of Manifestation just like there is only one answer to 1 + 1. One is pushed into this way, called yoga, by the entire rest of the Universe.

Every step is a necessity. There is no choice at the various steps of yoga. There is only the will to move forward or to fall back, and that will is also determined by all the rest of Reality (i.e. the samskaras).

If successful, one moves the entire course, climbs the entire mountain of yoga, and becomes enlightened, achieves kaivalya. The words we use to describe it are immaterial. At this point, the relative entity becomes identically one with The Absolute. To use Taimni’s words:”the Monads become Self-realized their wills merge with the Divine Will“.

So, when we finally get a real will, it is not our will, but the Will of The Absolute.

What is the Will of The Absolute? It is God’s Plan, the Divine Plan. It is the Eternal Scheme of Things. This Plan is 100% perfect predestination. EXCEPT God was free to make The Plan exactly what it is because God is a synonym for infinity, for The Absolute. So, The Plan is the result of pure freedom. The Absolute is pure freedom. The Plan is pure freedom. Neither The Absolute nor The Plan can be understood, or caged, or limited in any sense whatsoever.

What is The Plan? It is: How To Be Totally Free. Think about it. If you have what it takes, you’ll get it.

All the determining desires that drive us, both conscious and unconscious, are the proof that we, as seemingly individual beings, have no free will. But they serve to drive us to the state of Perfect Freedom.

In the earlier stages this will expressing itself as desire brings it own pleasant and unpleasant consequences…the complications and thwarting decrease as the Monads evolved and when the Monads become Self-realized their wills merge with the Divine Will.

Taimni is wrong for imagining all the possible ways things could be. van der Leeuw sticks to what was, is, or will be. You see how the paradox of contingency versus necessity sits at the heart of this argument. van der Leeuw knew there was only necessity. Contingency is just another illusion of the Maya.

To wrap up. There is no free will. Every decision you make is a necessity caused by some combination of inner and outer compulsions. If the compulsions are satisfied, you wrongly believe you made a free choice. If they are unsatisfied, you whine and speak of tyranny and suppression of freedom.

Your every action is a necessary part of the Divine Plan. In our present form, we will never understand why it is necessary. But, like a tidal wave, we are inextricably pushed towards the path of yoga, then up the hill of yoga, and at some point in the Plan, you become The Absolute. And for the first time ever you experience a freedom that is, was, and always will be Eternally Free.

I asked above: “what is this impulse we experience that makes us think we are free?”

It is the necessity of the Divine Plan pushing you, who is in total bondage, towards total freedom. van der Leeuw called it The Rhythm of Creation.

So know, in this block universe, there is a you in the future who is truly free. Right now you are connected by invisible bonds through myriad dimensions of time and space to that you. If you just settle down, quiet down, the you now will hear the you then, and some of that Freedom will spill over to the you now. And instead of being an unwitting agent of God’s Will, you now will become a willing participant in the Divine Plan.

You have no choice, after all.

21 thoughts on “Free Will and Predestination – Yoga Style

  1. Wow.. This discourse left my head spinning.
    As I see it, because we are ultimately under divine rule, freedom is only achievable by permission; however, by permission, we mere mortals are granted free will. Whereas my will cannot supersede the natural order of things (unless permission is granted to do so), I do have free will. I, on the other hand, am molded by my life experiences, mores, and teachings; therefore, it is those determining factors which will become the catalyst for the choices I make. I choose out of my permitted freedom, whether real or perceived. Other than this, the opinions of your authors is poppycock to my brain. I really don’t need to “understand” freedom if in “MY” heart and soul “I” am free. Though my physical body may be bound or oppressed, no one can determine what true mental and spiritual freedom is for me or anyone else.

    • Hi Brenova!

      Thank you for coming to my PlaneTalk blog! That is very kind of you to read this essay and leave a comment!

      Yes, I am sure it seems like poppycock if this is new to you! This particular essay is part of a long, on-going conversation I have with myself and my Readers on this blog. There is a lot of background information it doesn’t explain and assumes the Reader knows. In this way, you are jumping into the middle of an ongoing conversation.

      Yes, I agree with your overall sentiment. What you call “permission” others call “divine grace”, where God graces us to achieve various accomplishments and successes. In this article I am talking about the ultimate grace to come face to face with God. This is not something that is common in our culture or society, but is known about and revered in Hindu culture in India.

      Hindus have an ancient and complex system to achieve this aim that is called “yoga”. We here in the West think yoga is a form of physical exercise, but it is not. It is a set of spiritual practices whose ultimate goal is to, for lack of a better term, have oneself “melt” into the Divine Nature that underlies our lives. This is known as enlightenment or various other names. The methods are real, they work, and it is no joke. This blog is dedicated to helping people learn the real nature of yoga.

      When you talk about the freedom in your heart and soul, you are referring to the Divine Spark that is in you. That, in fact, is your TRUE identity. The real you IS that spark! When you practice yoga (real yoga, not the silly Westernized exercise stuff), you fan the flame of this spark so that it consumes what you think you are. You realize you are that spark and not the body or the mind, but the animating spark behind both.

      This spark is drawn uncontrollably back to the flame from which it came, which we in the West call God if one is religious, or infinity if one is not religious, and which Hindus call Brahman, which means God or infinity.

      Really, the main point of the article is that we are only free when this spark achieves its goal and goes back to God. I am trying to express the idea here that freedom is not a secular concept, like so many people believe. What most people call “freedom” is not freedom at all, but bondage to their compulsions and desires. True freedom is a religious or spiritual concept and is found only when we become slaves to God’s Will. The concept seems like a contradiction. How can you be free if you are a slave? But you are a slave to God, the Infinite. And God is perfect freedom, so your slavery too is perfect freedom.

      So, I would say that your intuitive understanding is quite on the mark. If you explore my blog here, it will provide you with a sophisticated vocabulary to understand in a very deep way how our everyday lives link to God. The purposes of doing this is to transforms your understanding of God from the realm of faith and belief into the realm of logical necessity and science. God becomes like gravity. God just is, and is what it is. There is no believing. Just facts and knowing. I do not believe in God. I know God is real.

      Again, thank you for coming to this blog! It is very different from my other one! It is very kind of you to take the time to read and comment! Thank you, Brenova!

      All my best wishes,

      Don

      • My pleasure. I highly respect your enlightened point of view and in many ways share it. I’ll rest upon ” God is.”
        Do you have a blog similar to mine or shall I continue to explore this “enlightening” blog? I really enjoyed reading it and forgive me if I seemed insulting with my descriptive words.

      • Hi Brenova! Thank you for the nice reply! I did not in the least get the impression you were insulting. I thought you were very clear in what you were saying. I just tend to write big replies because, well, I tend to talk a lot! 🙂 By all means feel free to explore the PlaneTalk blog. Depending on where you are coming from, you may find it more or less strange. I am a brain scientist by profession and so there is a lot of science on this blog, but also a lot about our consciousness and spirituality too. And yes, I have a blog like your too, the midcentury phicen blog, which is where I met you originally! I was surprised to see you here at PlaneTalk, but very happy you stopped by! I’ll look forward to chatting with you more about what I consider to be these very interesting topics! Best wishes, Don.

      • I’m in on both! I didn’t realize you were one in the same. I do remember you making mention of your love of mid century but I just didn’t connect the two. Regardless, I’m delight to have experienced both of your blogs. Though I don’t consistently follow blogs as intellectual as yours, your have peaked my interest. I am happy to have a “brain scientist” as an acquaintance!!

      • That is very kind of you, Brenova! Thank you! Well, if you get bored by the too intellectual stuff here, you can always amuse yourself with my mid century fantasies! It’s very nice to make your acquaintance too!

  2. PeterJ

    This is interesting. Don. For the first time I may disagree with you.

    I’d agree that what we usually call freewill is just the expression of conditioning thus not free at all. Gurdjieff seems good on this. But I would not agree that there is a Divine Plan or that ‘God’ has freewill. (God does not need to be teleological). I’d prefer Lao Tsu’s notion that the laws of Heaven and Earth are as they are ‘Tao being what it is’. Iow, Tao unfolds according to its nature, with no degrees of freedom.

    It seems obvious that an enlightened person would have more freedom than the rest of us but one could argue that enlightening experiences are just a form of conditioning, meaning that an enlightened person is forced to behave as an enlightened person.

    Something like that.

    • Hi Peter! Thanks so much for the comments!

      As usual, you get right to the heart of the matter! I think I anticipated your criticism with the line:

      What is The Plan? It is: How To Be Totally Free.

      This is saying essentially what you are saying. The Tao that can be understood is not the Tao. The Plan is not something we humans can understand. Therefore we can’t understand enlightenment, at least as an intellectual exercise.

      You have to ask: what does it mean to say an “enlightened person”? The best answer I’ve been able to come up with was expressed at the end of Chapter 32 of YVC:

      “Mastery of yoga allows the yogi to transfer at will between the Absolute and relative Manifestation. The master yogi becomes an embodiment of the Rhythm of Creation, the veiling of the Absolute as the Relative and the revealing of the Relative as the Absolute.”

      The enlightened person becomes the Sphinx, the riddle of existence, the bindu. Nothing is solved. One becomes absorbed in the mystery in a fullness of consciousness we cannot understand in our highly limited state.

      So, as usual, I don’t think we are disagreeing on fundamentals, just semantics that we need to work out. I personally wouldn’t use the word “conditioned” with respect to enlightenment. Conditioned by infinity seems a contradiction to me.

      So great to hear from you, Peter! Thanks for chiming in!

      Best wishes!

      Don

      • PeterJ

        Hell, I must be feeling argumentative. I find it difficult to even know what I mean by ‘freewill’ but wouldn’t quite share your view. I expect the difference will be mostly about the words. I wasn’t suggesting that the enlightened are conditioned but that identity is a constraint on freedom. As you say, we cannot choose to fly. Nor can God choose to act other than God would act. (If ‘action’ is possible).

        I tend to stick to the rule of thumb, ‘true words seem paradoxical’, such that freewill would and would not exist depending on how we look at it.

        No doubt this is all just playing with words.

      • PeterJ

        Don – I just had two thoughts that seemed very relevant. I wonder if you’d agree.

        Having an infinite possibility space is not the same thing as having freewill. What freedom we have may consist largely in deciding where we place our attention and how attentive we are. Our awareness would be free in this sense and not our body-mind, which would reflect what you say in your essay.

        I found your long reply to Brenova superb! It should be published in a good journal and taught in schools.

        It just occurred to me that the paradox of freedom lying in slavery to God’s Will, not an easy idea to convey, is solved if we add that only God could ever be a slave to His Own Will. The words will seem paradoxical only if we refuse to believe that we are a spark of the Divine. Otherwise it seems obvious that we are, or will be, more free in our Divine aspect than we re as sceptical human being, at least in the sense of having more degrees of freedom.

        We would at least understand our own situation properly, which some philosophers argue would be a prerequisite for any meaningful freedom of choice.

      • Hi Peter!

        Sorry I fell out of the conversation! We had family vacation and I’ve been busy with many other stuffs. Let me see if I can address your points. Also, thanks for the nice compliment regarding my reply to Brenova!

        Your 1st point: I think when discussing the Absolute, we can distinguish the infinite possibility space from God’s will. They are one and the same. When you apply the idea to us (e.g. to the monads, to use that term), we are each a facet of this infinite possibility space. Each thing one of the possibilities. But somehow it all fits together into a unified whole that is beyond our mind’s ability to understand. That said, I still have a hard time applying the term “free” to anything about us humans, or any relative entity. Which gets to your 2nd point:

        Yes, I agree that understanding our situation properly is a prerequisite to right action. Notice I said “right action” and not freedom of choice. I am alluding to the Hindu idea of dharma, or duty, or the ability to know how to properly respond to the circumstances in which we find ourself. I first heard the idea from Dane Rudhyar who talked about how each of us is the compliment of the circumstances we each find ourself in, in the sense that we face a “problem” and our response is the “solution”. So, it is in this fashion that the “slavery to God’s Will” manifests.

        Anyway, something like that! I hope you are well, Peter! Thanks for the great conversation!

        Don

  3. kashyap vasavada

    Hi Don,
    Very interesting post. I have a question and a comment.
    Van der Leeuw had conversations with Krishnamurty. So I suppose, he was familiar with Hindu philosophy. Does he mention Karmic Theory in his writings?
    Comment: According to my understanding of Karmic theory, you have to bear consequences of your past Karmas. There is absolutely no way out. There is no concept in Hinduism about someone suffering for your sins. Of course you can pray that you get strength to bear it out. However you have choice about future Karmas and improve your future, in this life or future life.
    Best.
    Kashyap

    • Hi Kashyap!

      So nice to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have been well!
      Yes, van der Leeuw knew Hindu teachings. He placed them at the pinnacle of his intellectual thinking. He discusses karama at great length in Conquest. I’ve linked the book. You should read it. It is a quick easy read. To briefly summarize, he agrees exactly with what you say and addresses the issue why different souls have different karma. What I say above is highly conditioned by his thinking. There is a pattern that makes up the plan. Each being has its own unique karma. You are correct: there is no way out. I see it like bringing a moving car to a halt: the momentum (karma) must be used up before everything stops. It is the same with karma. The momentum must be spent, then only Kaivalya comes. Patanjali says the same.

      About the only thing I can add is that, technically, it is the samskaras that make karma. Karma is an effect, the samskaras (tendencies) are the causes. It is the samskaras that must be eliminated for karma to halt. This is how Patanjali teaches it.

      Again, so nice to hear from you, Kashyap!

      Best wishes!

      Don

      • kashyap vasavada

        Thanks Don for the link. I have noticed that you have been extra busy with your work in Neuroscience to run the blog regularly. But that is ok.
        BTW have you noticed these remarks by the great Lubos?!
        “The Karma is the third Newton’s law, as Rajesh of TBBT said, and the Shiva need for both construction and destruction is Western dialectics etc. I think that at the end, Hinduism etc. is much more independently intellectual and closer to the West.” There is no satirical symbol. So my guess is that he is at least half serious!
        Best.
        Kashyap

  4. Andrew

    Don,
    I feel like your writings have taken on a new simplicity. The wisdom is getting more distilled and powerful. I check nearly every day for a new post. I can’t help myself. It’s very deterministic. Ha.

    Really great stuff.

    • Hi Andrew!

      Great to hear from you! Thank you for the really kind comments! LOL! Sorry ur in a loop with my blog. I’ve been posting less lately. Partly because I’ve exhausted the store for the moment with Yogic View of Consciousness, and partly because I need to focus on other things. I’ve been reading a lot and have many ideas kicking around. So please stay tuned and I should get back to posting more regularly in the coming months! Thanks again, Sir!

      Best wishes,

      Don

  5. Hey Don,

    Always a good day when I come back here and find you’ve been writing again. Although in most conversations I’ve had with Christian fundamentalists about freewill vs. predestination, I’ve sided with the free will argument, your essay here finds me in agreement with your (Ha! Can one even say it’s YOUR view?) view.

    The more I understand that “I” am a mental construct, that I cannot fathom, let alone understand the very source of my being, the more I see and sense myself as what has come into being beyond any will and power of my own. Aging also seems to have granted me much greater acceptance of the inherent qualities and nature of existence, which are necessarily constrained in order to exist in the way that we do.

    Having said that, I think that we confuse freedom and will with agency. Agency may be a very small rutter in the boat that carries our beingness through this particular manifestation of existence, but it cannot change any of the parameters in which we find ourselves.

    “When you practice yoga (real yoga, not the silly Westernized exercise stuff), you fan the flame of this spark so that it consumes what you think you are. You realize you are that spark and not the body or the mind, but the animating spark behind both.”

    Exactly!! And yet so ironic! The less we identify with all of the constructs that we are entangled with, and mistake for reality, the more we can only wonder at the ultimate source of our being and how much bigger and unknown it is to us. It’s freeing, yes? And that is so ironic!

    I sense that my lack of writing comes from a lessening in a compulsion that was once very strong. Now, on a good day anyway, the way the moment goes, is enough. It feels like (and words are too clumsy), all we have/are is experience.

    Thanks Don!
    Debra

    • Hi Debra!

      So nice to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by and thank you for the lovely comments! And very insightful too. There’s not much I can say in response other than I agree! And yes, I feel that lessening compulsion too. I think when we are younger we have something to prove, are trying to establish our place in the scheme of things. Once we’ve gone through that phase, there is a different mentality, different motivations. I’m less trying to prove anything than I am just getting it out of my system!

      You take care!

      Best wishes,

      Don

  6. Roman

    Hey Don,
    maybe you heard about Wim Hof? This is a guy who set 21 world records and developed a method for controlling the autonomic nervous system, going into your physiology and exploring spirituality that is currently scientifically investigated. Check him out. He said a very simple but very wise sentence in my view: Feeling is understanding! That’s exactly what many lucid dreamers, psychedelicists and spiritual teachers have always said. Spirituality is a totally experiential thing. We’ll never understand concepts such as free will. We can only say intellectually that free will is not totally free but depends on conscious and unconscious mental processes, circumstances and how we relate to them. We can also say that there are things that lead to unhappiness, fake happiness and genuine happiness. And if we feel the divine during a spiritual experience, we can only say that it feels like extreme love, bliss and infinite potential and interconnectedness. And Wim Hof said another great sentence: You have to live by the laws of the soul which are love and joy. These laws of the soul could also be called the divine plan, God’s grace or whatever. I also find the life review process of near-death experiencers quite fascinating. They say that they experience their life from the perspective of all people they interacted with. This suggests that the divine plan is ultimately our plan and everyone else’s as well. Does free will even make sense when our self is ultimately everyone else’s self? When we die, I think we’ll understand the complex web of relationships between all things.

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