A close friend recently asked me, What do you think of free will? Here is my take on it.

When you are seated on a train and you have arrived at your destination, the walkway starts to fill up with passengers trying to leave the train.  You have two choices, you can sit and look out of the window, or you can stand up and wait for somebody to kindly let you through.  This is what I think of free will.  You have the choice to stand up or stay seated, it is in the hands of greater forces if we are allowed to actually go or not.

Thousands of years ago, as explained in the Mahabharata,  Kripacharya was asked a similar question. He responded by saying:

All of us are subjected to and governed by these two forces, Destiny and Exertion.  Our acts do not become successful due to destiny alone, nor of exertion alone. Success springs from the perfect union of the two. All purposes, high and low, are dependent on a divine union of those two. In the whole world, it is through these two that we are seen to act or not act. 

Exertion, without destiny, and the absence of exertion where there is destiny, both these are fruitless! If the rains properly moisten a well-tilled soil, the seed produces great results. This is how we humans achieve success.  Those, therefore, among men, that are idle and without intelligence, disapprove of exertion. This however, is not the opinion of the wise.

 One who chooses to act is capable of supporting the world. He, on the other hand, that is idle, never obtains happiness. In this world, it is generally seen that they who choose  to act are always inspired by the desire of successful outcomes.  

If it is your time, if destiny and effort are acting together at the right moment then success will be the outcome.

So I say next time when your sat on the train, stand up, make the effort and wait for somebody to let you through.  If it is in your destiny, somebody will let your through.

Hanuman Dass's blogs directly here. He is founder of as is the co-author of The Power of Dharma and The Eternal Path

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