We have discussed in Revelations of Upanishads – Part 3 that every living being is Brahman. So every human being has the capacity to realize veiled Cosmic Consciousness within and decide his own life pattern. By converting his prayers into positive affirmations, he experiences his part of material life.
Freewill is the ability to consciously choose from the available resources or alternative courses of action with the full knowledge, that one could have chosen otherwise. Freewill is also related to brain and mind, as without involvement of the brain and mind, nothing can happen. Grosser form is known as brain and subtle form is known as mind. How freewill functions, has not been logically defined, except establishing its connection to the brain. However, freewill is present only in human beings. Freewill does not mean that decision to act, is taken in a free or uninfluenced manner, without any interference from other sources; though freewill is explained as the capacity of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies. This means uninfluenced decisions are known as free will. External agencies mean organs of perception and organs of action that are gross in nature. But, there are subtle influences on freewill from the mind and its associates such as ego and intellect. Freewill, though explained as uninfluenced, is definitely influenced by inherent nature of a person comprising of desires, values, goals and ambitions. Though it is called freewill, still it is influenced (not controlled) by environment, culture, moral dictums, etc. If freewill is influenced by karmic impressions, naturally question arises whether freewill is really free of any influences. If free will is influenced by destiny or fate, then what is the purpose of freewill? Instead of working in the material world (karma yoga as referred by Krishna) to earn our living, we can take shelter in the guise of karma waiting for action, to unfold on its own.
Human mind is always active and constantly creates new actions, that are capable of changing the level of individual consciousness, resulting in the manipulation or modification of consciousness. Scientific evidences are there to prove this point. By manipulating our consciousness (by practicing meditation, which is known as sādhana) with the help of freewill, and with dedicated practice, the boundaries of human body can be transcended with ease.
Freewill is the result of impressions in our subconscious mind; it is not influenced by organs of perception. Free will functions due to the influence of antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect and ego). Freewill is not like a dream. Freewill is related to thought processes in the conscious mind as well as the karmic imprints in subconscious mind.
For a realized person, freewill is not important as he never uses his freewill. Freewill is limited to individual consciousness, which is dualistic in nature. But consciousness of a realized person is nothing but Cosmic Consciousness or Brahman. Such a realized person acts as Brahman and thinks as Brahman. He looks at his very own existence as Brahman only. For him no this (material world) and That (Brahman). Everything and everyone is That only. Therefore, quality of freewill differs from person to person depending upon the quality of one’s consciousness. Quality of consciousness is related to the purity of the mind and the purity of the mind is based on intensity of one’s sādhana with breath.
Freewill also depends upon one’s spiritual evolution. Let us rate spiritual evolution from 1 to 10, where 1 is individual soul veiled by māyā and 10 is Brahman, A person who is at 1 will use his freewill to create and amass material wealth. The one at 5 will use his freewill for both spiritual and material life. The one at 10 will have no freewill, as he has no separate existence, as he knows that he is Brahman (Self-realized). Therefore, freewill is the will (the capability of conscious choice and decision and intention) of a person, who decides his goal and related actions, uninfluenced by external agencies. It is inherent and largely decides one’s character and conduct. Typically, it shapes a personality.
Freewill is different from Divine Will, which operates through three energies, also known as śakti-s and they are icchāśakti, jñānaśakti and kriyāśakti or the energy of will, the energy of wisdom and the energy of action. All these three energies together is called Parāśakti or the Supreme Power. The Universe is huge and multidimensional and comprises of different beings both sentient and insentient. Universal law which is known as Law of Karma, was set in place by Parāśakti (Power of Brahman; here this does not refer to any shape or form). In simple terms, Law of Karma can be explained as “what we sow, so we reap”. For every act we perform, impressions of these acts are recorded in our karmic account. Karmic account can be compared to black box of an aircraft. Here, impressions both good and bad deeds are recorded and according to the intensity of karmic impressions, one’s nature is determined at the time of birth. If according to karmic account one has to do a particular action, nothing can stop him in doing that action. Here, he cannot do anything by using his freewill to postpone or nullify his action. Date of death is determined by the Divine Will at the time of birth itself. Nothing can alter or modify that date. It is only the Divine Will that prevails every time. By effectively using our freewill we can only stop further accrual of karmas, as surrender to the Divine can happen only through freewill.
Brahman is the controller of all our actions; still out of compassion, It (Brahman) has given us some leverage to partly decide on our own karmas and this leverage is called freewill. Hence Parāśakti is called Karuṇārasa-sāgarā (Lalitā Sahasranāma 326) which is explained like this. “The ocean of compassion. Karuṇa means compassion, rasa means essence and sāgara means ocean. Compassion is Her natural quality, because She is the universal mother. Śaṃkarācārya, the great saint has given the following interpretation: “Ocean, without making a move is the cause for rain and the entire universe sustains on this water. A drop of water gets itself detached from the clouds and enters a different plane (leaving ākāśa and reaching earth) merely to sustain this universe. The water itself does not get any benefit out of its own action. Such is Her compassion.”
To conclude, Freewill is like a cow, tied to a tree, whose movement is restricted to that circumference. In other words, Freewill has limited power. On the other hand, Divine will is all pervasive and non-dualistic.