Monday, October 03, 2005

Free Will P II

After my last post on free will, I was hoping somebody might have given a perspective based on gurbani on this question. Well here are a few quotes from gurbani which could be seen as having a bearing on the question of free will:

ਹੁਕਮੀ ਸਭੇ ਊਪਜਹਿ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥
By the Hukam of His Command, all are created. By His Command, actions are performed.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Siree Raag, Ang55

ਨਾਨਕ ਆਪਿ ਕਰਾਏ ਕਰੇ ਆਪਿ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਸਵਾਰਣਹਾਰਾ ॥7॥
O Nanak, the Lord Himself acts, and causes others to act; by the Hukam of His Command, we are embellished and exalted. ||7||
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Raag Maajh, Ang 141

ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਭਲਾ ਕਰਿ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹਿਕਮਤਿ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਈਐ ॥
Whatever the Lord does, accept that as good; do away with your own cleverness and self-will.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Raag Tilang, Ang 755

ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥1॥
O Nanak, it is written that you shall obey the Hukam of His Command, and walk in the Way of His Will. ||1||
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Jap, Ang 1

ਹੁਕਮੁ ਮੰਨਹਿ ਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਤਾ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
If you submit to the Hukam of the Lord's Command, then you shall meet with the Lord; only then will your ego depart from within. ||Pause||
Guru Amar Daas Ji, Raag Vadhans, Ang 560

I accept that it's probably not good practice to quote single lines from a shabad, one must look at the whole stanza to appreciate fully the meaning. I haven't given these lines of gurbani a lot of thought, and my initial reaction is that they are at odds with us having the freedom to act independently - everything is ordained, and it's best for us to submit to God's will. Well, it'll be interesting to hear what others have to say.



Tejinder said...

I was also confused about free-will. But, now i think, I understand a bit what Gurbani says. Gurbani says dont follow manmat(your mind),but Gurmat.Even if you try to abondon free-will, you wont be able to do so. you feel like doing some action( say YY), now think whether doing that action YY is against Gurbani. Weighing our actions against Gurbani is abandoning our Free-will. Sometimes you put an effort to do a job, at times the effort is fruitful and at times,not. Now, you can question yourself, each time I put the same effort, but I dont get the desired result each time. So, everything happens only according to God's will. I dont know whether I am able to satisfy you or not.

msingh said...

Tejinder Singh ji your comment of actions / effort not resulting in the same outcome is an interesting one. Could it be that other external forces beyond our control are at work? For example if you apply for a job, would it make any difference to the outcome if the person making the decision to hire was really tired and grumpy when he looked at your application, rather than when he was in a good mood? Or if the mail got delayed and your application missed the deadline, is that what we call destiny?

Another question that helps us to focus on the existence of free will is “could my behaviour in a given situation have been different if I had willed it?” For example I would really like to get up 5am every morning and do nitnem, but the reality is I don’t, maybe I’m not trying hard enough... maybe it’s my destiny to be like this, and I should wait for God’s grace to empower me?

More questions than answers!


msingh said...

There are schools of thought believe that free will is an illusion and without God's will you can't make the slightest move.

Insisting that it is all God's will is as much a concept as insisting that you have free will. When something happens, it just happens. Sometimes it seems that you made it happen. Other times it seems that it happened by itself or God made it happen.

How you view the happening is more a question of perspective than of fact. Which means that the so-called your will and God's will are both labels.

Maybe taking off these labels is the secret?


VeldorzVizzerd said...

I think it is both ways, msingh ji, see - we do not have control over a lot of things, for example the planets, seasons and the like, and many of these things do affect what we do - like if it is cold or winter we decide to wear warmer clothes etc., however we may choose which piece of warm apparel we wear, but it will still be warm - and of course, all of nature adheres to God's will - however, like the matrix as you referred to, (yes, I've been listening to a podcast by Ken Wilber when he interviewed Larry Wachowski about 'The many meanings of the Martix') - but Larry was hesitant to speak of what his ideas on it were fully because he wanted it to be open to interpretation - anyway, the thing that kinda struck me in the movie - well, there are many things, one is the part where the Oracle read Neo's hand (and fyi, I have read a good deal about palmistry as well and understand the art), she said to Neo something to the effect of that he was not 'the one' - and when he goes out and sees Morpheus, Morpheus answers that Neo need not tell him what the Oracle said, because that Neo was told what he needed to know - the word 'what you _needed_ to know' kind of struck me - because I've done readings and the thing is that the hands do, at times, 'lie' - I know its strange, maybe I am not well versed in it enough - I pretty much read books on it as a pastime, but at any rate, sometimes I end up reading something and saying something to people that were not the case, but it did indeed seem that what I said was what they needed to know. Another Matrix thing that I find particularly realistic is the bit where, I don't remember clearly, but Neo is kind of told that he's already made a choice he is about to make, what he was here to understand is why he made that choice. Why. That is the metaphysical question, I could go into a gazzillion topics from that but keeping to free will and determinism, I think nothing is entirely random, because if :-
1. Determinism were true, then insted of using probability and quantum mechanics, we'd be using Newtonian Physics, and though Newtonian physics is used preferably over quantum mechanics in designing bridges and the like, we know that it doesn't describe the universe with precision, determinism in its entirety does not stand as a plausible theory.
2. Entire Free Will is a fallacy as well, of course, we can't just randomly start flying off our feet without any mechanical aid and into space and back again in one piece (or can we?).
So I think we have free will, however it is within a construct we are provided by from God, heaven, whichever word one would like to use - however there are so many 'choices' we make that we are not aware of, we tend to think of choices in terms of whether we want to go left, or right, on a road - however, the real choices we make that in a way determines our outlook and physical life are the subtle choices, like the snap judgements we make when we see people, or how we react to what is said about us, how we treat others, etc. etc... We are all co-creators of reality because God is in all... Life is a spiritual journey, and the parts of us that do not know God yet are brought to realise God through what heaven puts us through in life.
- thats my two paise on the subject :)
oh, and btw, nice blog u have here, would u like me to link to you?
- Manraj 'Renath' Singh Bhullar

msingh said...


Thanks for the thought provoking response Manraj Ji. You have prompted me to write more on this subject. Some of the thoughts in the next post are as a result of your contribution.

Please feel free to to link me (or remove my link) on your site


simran singh said...

...thanks for the link the first part of this post itself you have answered the question...and gurbani is full of sayings of our gurus...and they have repeatedly said the same thing...that there is no free will...and one needn't read the entire sri guru granth sahib for it...japji sahib itself provides the is making progress in this metaphysical domain but it is slow..but it will happen...and most likey it will be a physicist who might provide some kind of proof..check out some of proffesor amit goswamis works, maybe that might help...