Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Principle of Karma

The Hindu principle of Karma does not entail that man’s life is fully determined, or that man cannot have free will since his life is governed by a destiny over which he has no control. Karma is a factor in the circumstances in which a human being is born. Only the past is determined by Karma while the future is conditioned—this means that while man’s future is influenced by his past, he has the option of exercising his free will to shape his future. In his 1926 book, The Hindu View of Life, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan has reflected on the principle of Karma. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3: “Lecture III: Hindu Dharma I”: 

“The principle of Karma reckons with the material or the context in which each individual is born. While it regards the past as determined, it allows that the future is only conditioned. The spiritual element in man allows him freedom within the limits of his nature. Man is not a mere mechanism of instincts. The spirit in him can triumph over the automatic forces that try to enslave him. The Bhagavad-Gita asks us to raise the self by the self. We can use the material with which we are endowed to promote our ideals. The cards in the game of life are given to us. We do not select them. They are traced to our past Karma, but we can cal! as we please, lead what suit we will, and as we play, we gain or lose. And there is freedom.”

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