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God (Isvara/Maya) Is Not the Doer
Praveen: My question is with regards to free will and its application in material pursuits.
I understand that I am the Self, and that Isvara is the doer, but this understanding has led me to abandoning any and all ambition and striving for goals in the material realm, which has resulted in me watching my life fall apart in the material realm. I would be okay with this if I was able to be financially independent and not burden my parents and others with supporting me when I need it, which tears me apart, but at the same time a side of me says that if Isvara is indeed the doer, my life falling apart as well as me burdening others with helping me (as well as it tearing me apart) may just be the karma that is destined for this jiva.
James: That Isvara is the doer is a tamasic understanding. Isvara is not the doer. Isvara delivers the results of jiva’s actions. Praveen is the doer. The doer needs to exercise its free will by taking up karma yoga, which involves the right attitude – i.e. taking all results as prasad – and daily right action, which involves worship of your ishta, your parents, the teacher and the teaching, social service and the environment, which is to say an active lifestyle. This is the message Sri Krishna gives to Arjuna.
Praveen: In other words, I used to be someone who was very much focused on self-improvement in a material and physical sense, but I’ve abandoned all those efforts in the hopes that “going with the flow” will result in the best outcome, and I’m not sure if being dependent on others is exactly the best outcome.
James: Your “self” will definitely improve if you do karma yoga. Jnana yoga without karma yoga is useless.
Praveen: My question is, do I have free will to improve my life materially? Is it a case of “pretending to have free will”? Should I even be pursuing, bettering, my condition materially or is all this meant to happen and I should remain as a witness regardless of what happens because being concerned with my material well-being involves attachment to mithya? Would the outcome have been different if I had not surrendered to Isvara? Or would it be exactly the same, but with me just stressing unnecessarily?
James: Karma yogis are going for moksa and need “right livelihood.” Yes, if the purpose of material wealth is generate independence. Living off the goodwill of others is adharmic. You should get a job. You will feel a lot better.
Praveen: I am at a point where I find it impossible to do anything but to “let go and let God.” I physically find it impossible to “re-attach” myself to the material world and get back into that life (if that makes sense), and I have a strong desire to not want to do so as well, but I feel like if this is how things will keep going, that my only options are either taking sannyas OR continuing to burden others, as my karma seems to involve me not wanting to pursue material goals that most of society does.
James: If you are ready for sannyas, take it, but don’t think there isn’t a downside. Krishna lectures Arjuna repeatedly about the difference between lifestyle sannyas and temperamental sannyas. You don’t have the temperament of a sannyasi. You get it by doing karma yoga.
Praveen: I feel it’s somewhat selfish of me to go with the latter.
James: If you are a sannyasi you know that everything is SELFISH, and you don’t feel guilt.
Praveen: As you can probably tell, this is a doubt that has been tearing me apart. I would truly appreciate any help.
Thank you so much for all that you have taught me and all the help over the years.
James: Man up, Praveen! Get a job and do it as karma yoga. You will like yourself a lot better.
~ Love, James