Are we deceiving ourselves? This was the question which I have been asking myself for the past couple of days. If for a moment we put away our ideas of soul, atman, karma and sin then what are we left with. We would just live each and every day in own merit.
So does karma or sin really make sense? A human being is nothing more than a slightly glorified version of an animal. We probably have a much more evolved sense of ourselves, have developed a language to communicate and would like to think that we have choice. As human beings we really pride ourselves with having the ability to be self-aware besides also having the freedom of choice.
This choice that we pride ourselves in is nothing more than a slightly evolved animal ability. I have seen a dog smell a piece of bread on occasions and quietly turn away. Is it not exercising choice then?
Then we delude ourselves into thinking that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is really only true to human beings who are conscious of their acts. There are many people in the world who simply rationalize their acts and sleep with an easy conscience for the rest of their lives.
When a lion slaughters a deer and eats it does it acquire bad karma? No. However if subsequently a hunter comes and shoots it down would the animal world deceive itself that it was the lion’s karma to get killed?
This brings us to the Greek ethical question that plagued the Greek philosophers’ many thousand years ago. “Is it better to be strong or is it better to be good?” They concluded it is better to be strong.
That is reality. In many ways we live in a world of “matsya nyaya” or might is right. However there are sensible people in the world who do good to others simply because they believe “in doing unto others what they would like have done unto them”.
What are your thoughts on this?
Providence favors the prudent. While this may not be immediately obvious with a little thought we can see that those who are lucky in life are those who make prudent decisions in life. Our lives are a series of choices we make, In all these situations what is required is that we look at the situation objectively and make judicious choices, We need to make sure that we make prudent decisions in our personal life (family and finance), professional life and in the social sphere. Common sense is so uncommon. Below are included some steps that are seem to be obvious but are the ones that we generally tend to ignore
Physical & mental exercise: We need to keep both our bodies and our minds in constant use. Towards this end we need to exercise both physically and mentally. We need to ensure that are brains are active by taking up creative activity like painting, writing, or learning a new technology. Reading good books also ensures that we keep our minds active. This will keep the brain cells happy and ticking for a long time. Similarly we also need to ensure that we regularly do a spot of exercise and get plenty of fresh air. We can add years of life to ourselves by simply following a regular regimen of good exercise. A sound body and mind is very necessary to be able to not only solve the problems that life throws on us but also to enjoy the good fortune that comes our way.
Financial prudence: What is past is over and cannot be changed. What we have at our disposal is the present and a future we need to take control of. The way we can do this is by financial prudence. We need to invest financially in the present so that we are provided for in later years post retirement. We need to save a little regularly over a long period of time. When we invest our time and money in the present we can reap the rewards in our future. We also need to ensure that we guard ourselves against any eventuality. Towards this end we need to make sure that we stash away a small amount of money towards insurance of self and family. Occasional splurging is fine but regular indulgence should be avoided, When trying to buy something we need to make sure that we get what we need and not what we want.
Social prudence: There is more truth to the old worn out saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed” than we are aware of. True friends are hard to come by and can help us in really sticky situations. Common sense dictates that we keep steadily increasing our circle of friends as we progress through life. A healthy social circle will come to our aid during difficulties, help us through depressions and come to our aid when we need most.
These are some prudent steps that we can take during our years in life. If we make sure that we are healthy both physically & mentally, secure our future through sound investments and have a good friend circle we can tide over a lot of life’s problems.These are not one time activities that we do once and then sit tight. At every stage in life we have to take stock of the situation and adjust our approach to our personal, financial and social spheres in life.
In fact, good things will come our way only if we make way for it.
All of us spend a good part of our lives in envying people who are successful in life. We generally attribute success in anybody’s life to be in large part to his or her luck. But, is that true? Is there a way we can get lucky? By getting lucky, I don’t mean winning the lottery. What is meant, by being lucky, is being more successful in life.
As a matter of fact we can increase the chances of being successful or becoming more fortunate. The key here is luck only comes your way if you make way for it. We need to take proactive steps in life to ensure our chances for success.
One of the steps that we need to take is to learn new skills that will be useful in our professional lives. We need to proactively take up some creative activity in life. Learning will not only hone our skills but also give us that little edge when it comes to promotions in office
We also need to network with a lot more of our colleagues and generally become visible in office life. We have to necessarily increase our circle of friends, colleagues and well wishers. This is extremely important for the present and will also serve as a cushion in times of crises.
Besides, we also need to put a little bit of our earnings on a regular basis for our and our children’s future. It is not necessary to speculate but saving a little regularly over a long period.
Finally we need to make sure that we keep ourselves physically and mentally fit through regular exercise. We need to be healthy to be able to enjoy any windfall that comes our way.
If we take these little steps and pro-actively do activities then we definitely increase our chances of success. Providence only favors the prudent
In other words we need to take little steps to plant seeds or start creative endeavors in the present. This in turn will enable our chances of getting lucky or hitting something big in the future. This in essence is “The Art of Getting Lucky”.
Do we have free will? Or are all our actions pre-determined? In other words are we inextricably bound by fate, kismet or vidhi? I am sure most people would probably say that a human being has the ability to choose their actions in any situation.
When I was young I was told by my parents that our lives were pre-determined. That it was one’s vidhi or fate to suffer or enjoy in life. This could be because of one’s karma they said. As I grew older I realized that man has the ability to make a choice. As a conscious being we have the ability to choose one of several possible alternatives.
While this argument may sound plausible at a surface, when one probe deeper we find that we really do not have free will. Our current state in life is dependent on our past actions. The actions that we choose to take, at any point in life, are dependent in a large part on our past experiences. The choice we may take is dependent on our past reasons, our past conditioning, our current biases and current opinions. The actions that we take in the present are definitely determined by our conditioning in life.
Given the fact that our actions can only be based on our past experiences, does it make sense to think that our actions are independent of any past conditioning? The answer is an emphatic, No!
Clearly this indicates that our actions are determined by our past conditioning. Then where is the question of free will?
Free will pre-supposes that our actions in the present cannot be determined in any way and is in many ways, truly random. But this is clearly not true. In any given situation, our choice will depend on our past experience and we will act in the most optimum way. Our choice will depend on whether there is personal gain. For e.g. when we are insulted, we do feel hurt. That is true for most of us. May be a few enlightened souls, may choose to be detached from the insult. But a majority of human beings will behave in extremely predictable ways in any given situation. The only difference in behavior will only arise based on the slightly different experiences that different people have.
Otherwise our actions are truly predictable and will be based on past conditioning. We will chose to maximize our gains in any given situation and make the most rational choice.
Given this does it make sense to think that man has free will? Clearly not! The world and our lives are deterministic and we are all bound in fate.