With the beginning of the New Year, many prophecies for the near future are made. Magazines have headlines like `What will the year 2019 bring?` How will the stars influence our lives in terms of career, money and relationships? Some people have great expectations in such predictions, while others do not care much about it. While some believe that everything in our lives is already predestined, others claim that we are ourselves creating our own reality. The question of `Predestination or Free Will` has always been there. From the law of karma, we understand that it is a combination of both.
Once you enter an airplane you cannot change anything about the fact that you are 10`000 meters above the sea level heading towards your destination with the speed of 900 km/h, but you do have a free choice of how you spend your time during the flight. While some passengers just watch one movie after the other, you can read an interesting book or have an enlivening conversation with your neighbour. Similarly, the moment we get a certain body, many things are destined: our family, gender, nationality, even the amount of happiness and distress we will experience. However, it is up to us how we respond to all of that. Here lies our free will and whatever decisions we make at any given moment creates our future destiny. Therefore it is said: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” 1 Behind every fate that we experience (whether happiness or suffering) is originally an action that we ourselves have performed.
Recently I came across the following story that beautifully illustrates the law of karma:
Once a king ordered his three ministers to take a bag and go to the forest and fill up the bag with fruits. The first minister thought that since the king has ordered for collection of fruits, he must collect the best of the fruits in the bag. The second minister thought that since the king is a very busy person, he may not look very thoroughly into the bag to see what has been collected and hence he collected whatever he could lay his hands on. Thus his bag was filled up with a mixture of good and rotten fruits. The third minister thought that the king would see only externally how big the bag is and hence he just filled up the bag with all dried leaves and dust.
All the three ministers came back to the court with their respective bags, having executed the order of collecting the fruits. The king, without even seeing what their bags contained, just ordered that now the three ministers must be sent to separate jails for three months, where they will not be provided with any food and they were only allowed to carry the respective bags wherein they had collected the fruits.
The first minister could spend the three months in the jail by eating the very nice fruits he had collected. The second one could survive for some time with the good fruits in the bag and later he developed diseases by eating the rotten fruits he had collected. The third minister had nothing to eat and hence could not survive.
Moral of the story: We have to undergo the consequences of our own activities. “Amongst thousands of cows, the calf finds its own mother cow. Similarly the results of our past karma (deeds) when fully ripened, will find us without fail.” 2
So whatever the New Year may bring with it, whether good or bad, we ourselves are the cause of it! Something to always remember!
1 - Talmud
2 - Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva