Geeta is living up to the saying “When ill luck begins, it does not come in sprinkles, but in showers.” First she woke up late as her alarm clock ditched her that day. In a great hurry, she took a shower and decided to skip breakfast. Then, she booked the cab but the cab was late andshe was stuck in the traffic. At last when she reached the office, she realized that she had forgotten her id card. There was an important meeting in the first hour and she missed that also. Naturally, her boss was furious at her and hollered like a mad man. To top it all, the stress triggered a migraine and now she is sitting alone in her cubicle looking at the window. Geeta can clearly see this year’s increment flying out of the window. With it her hope of buying a new apartment and bringing in her parents also fizzles away. She is unhappy and is in a terrible mood.
The scenario might vary but isn’t this a common problem where we face bad luck and end up being miserable. We allow external adversities to ruin our inner peace. Is there any other option or a way where we can keep our inner peace unaffected? Yes, we all have the freewill to choose happiness over misery in each and every situation. Often people question if we are slaves of our destiny. Destiny plays an important role in our life but there also is a thing called freewill.
According to the philosophy of karmphal (fruit of our action), there are three types of karmphal- sanchit, prarabdha, and kriyaman. This is not our first and last life. We have been born and reborn infinite times and in each life we have performed a certain karm (action). And each and every action has its own consequences or result. The whole big bundle of all such consequences is called the sanchit karm or the accumulated action. Since our lives have been infinite, our accumulated actions are also infinite. From that bag of infinite accumulated actions, we are given a portion to carry in our existing life in the form of prarabdha or bhagya or destiny. It cannot be changed. We have to bear it. The last one is the kriyaman karm. It is the action that we create and the choices we make right now, as we live this present lifetime. We will be bearing the consequences of it in the future in the form of prarabdha. That is why, our life is a combination of both consequences of past actions and freewill to perform actions at present.
Let us understand freewill with an analogy. A cow is tied to a pole. Now, the cow can move around to the extent of the rope ie; it can walk around as far as the length of the rope permits. This is a constraint. However, what the cow does within the periphery of the limited space is its choice. It can either walk around, or sit down or sleep. This is a choice the cow has to make. Similarly, the length of the rope is our destiny or the prarabdha. But what we choose to do with it is a choice we have to make and this is the kriyaman.
The bad luck in our life cannot be avoided but how we take them is what is in your hand. The cards a gambler gets is destiny but how he plays with those cards is his free will. So we need to play the cards that destiny has provided us in such a way that no matter what the external circumstances, we are always calm and at peace from within.
As Swamiji said, “The external world is made by God and is perfect for our elevation. Therefore, the change we need to bring about in our lives must begin from within.”
The life of Abraham Lincoln is a perfect example of choosing happiness over and over again. As a child, he lost his mother. He was brought up by his step-mother. He accepted her whole heartedly and continued his life with great joy. He belonged to a poor family, hence, he had been to school only for a year. Nevertheless, he did not stop learning. He read numerous books and educated himself. When he grew up he fell in love with a beautiful girl. Unfortunately, she passed away in an accident. He got married later and was blessed with four children. Three of them did not survive. He only had one child left. He continued to persevere with a positive attitude. He lost the elections eight times before he became the President of America in 1861.
This shows how maintaining a positive attitude can pave our way to success. All the instances in Abraham Lincoln’s life were a play of destiny. However, he was undeterred by the thwarts of his destiny. He endeavoured each and every day with a positive attitude to achieve success. He chose to cultivate uplifting thoughts. He neither blamed God nor the world for his miseries. Therefore, we too should constantly exercise our freewill to choose happiness.
We should understand that our happiness does not lie in the external opulence nor does it depend on how people treat us. Happiness lies within. We do not have to place our happiness in someone else’s hand. Our mind should be in our control. This art of mastering the mind is integral for success. Like Shankaracharya wrote ins Prashnavali (questionnaire)
जितं जगत केन?
मनो हि येन
Jitam jagat kena?
“One who has conquered his mind can conquer the world. ‘
Let us all strive to elevate our minds to such a level that it remains unaffected by the external terbulances. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, the aim of reaching the state of “conquering the mind” is high but we need to begin somewhere.