Many lengthy articles have been written about this subject. If you believe in Karma, can you believe in free will? Isn’t Karma just another word for Fate? Isn’t everything predestined? Most people will say “no”. We don’t like the idea of having no free will and many articles about this paradox are mostly to defend the idea of the free will within the ‘law of karma’. Personally I think I don’t need such a lengthy article to explain my view on the subject.
As you probably know Karma is the law of cause and consequence. Often it is explained as “if you do something bad, something bad will happen to you”. This is mostly caused by the bad understanding of Karma by us people from the west. Slowly the idea/explanation of “what you sow, you will reap” gets acclimatized, so also being good will have its benefit in the future.
Closely related to the law of Karma is the law of reincarnation, but however a growing number of people from the west, see the use of this doctrine, many don’t believe in it. Reincarnation isn’t really important for this article either, so I will just leave the subject as it is.
To come to a possible question of yours, yes I do believe in both Karma and free will and I even think these two are not very difficult to combine. A point to make is that I don’t believe in 100% free will, because there is no saying about the fact that you will grow old, get ill, die, run into an old acquintance or whatever. Neither will be ever be able to elude the consequences of your actions. A simple example: if you drink too much alcohol, you will get drunk and wake up with a headache in the morning. Not the will of the world will overcome that.
So how many free will do we have then? Well, of course you constantly have the possibility to choose between various choices. You either stop drinking after five beers or just continue to booze on, or maybe you switch to soda-pop. No law of nature will force you to any choice, so you have the free will to pick the choice you prefer. This choice can be based on experience (the headache of last weekend), sane thinking or whatever.
So, there is such a thing as free will.
Now I would like you to imagine a road running to the horizon. This road may be your path of life in a rather dramatic explanation. The road isn’t straight, but dangles a little (going from left to right and back). It has no end, but is formed as you walk on it, having a temporary end at some distance in front of you. You walk on the road, also going from left to right and back and this dangling on the road is your free will. You can choose to walk on the left side, the right side or the middle or keep changing. You can’t stop walking or jump off the road, because Karma forms the road as it is, you caused the road as it is.
Now as you keep walking on the left side, the road will start ‘growing’ to the left as well, trying to get you back in the middle, since that is where the balance is. Your free will to keep going left, will eventually make your path of life going to the left as well.
I would say, there is free will in the small things, but the choices of course have their result in the big picture. Your road will make a turn because you want it to. To use a dramatic and well-known expression, you can choose to keep going left and “walk the left hand path” or right and “walk the right hand path”.
No bigger problems between these to for me…
“Karma works continuously: we harvest in the hereafter only
the the fruits of what we ourselves sew in this life.”
HP Blavatsky “The Key To Theosophy” (p. 149)