Sage SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI
DESTINY AND FREE WILL
There is neither creation nor destruction
neither destiny nor free will
neither path nor achievement
This is the final truth.
– Ramana Maharshi
Sage Ramana – ‘Free-will and destiny are ever existent. Destiny is the result of past action; it concerns the body. Let the body act as may suit it: why are you concerned with it? Why do you pay attention to it? Free-will and destiny last as long as the body lasts. But jnana (knowledge of Self) transcends them both.’
Reflection – ‘Free-will and destiny are ever existent’ is a significant statement which belies the belief by some who attribute to Sage Ramana the self-contradictory theory that no free will exists, but only karma which predetermines every action and every experience through which we pass. It goes without saying that karma cannot exist without free-will. It is only free action which attracts rewards or punishments, i.e. karma, so that free-will and karma rise and fall together. That karma concerns the body and that we should therefore let the body act as it chooses, requires some explanation.
Karma and free-will are, like the body, insentient, and can affect only the body, and never the intelligent being who operates it and who transcends them both. Therefore, so long as the body-‘I’ sense prevails, they continue to function and the individual continues to take one body after another for the working out of karma; but as soon as the knowledge of Self dawns they cease to bear fruit. Karma will end with the last body (of the sage) and free-will will no longer be the will of the individual (who usually decides on the body-’I’ basis) but that of Brahman (the Universal Self or the Absolute) into which the individual has now completely merged.
Download the following section which covers some of the conversations Sage Ramana had with spiritual aspirants in relation to destiny and free will as recorded by Sri S S Cohen.