“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)
Friend1: I am not the doer.
Friend2: Quoting from the Bhagavad-gita again?
Friend1: Yes. [Bg 3.27]
Friend2: The three modes of material nature take care of everything. We make the choice to act, but the sanction to the results must be there first.
Friend1: You love using the example of getting up in the morning.
Friend2: Thank you for paying attention. Yes. We each make the decision to get up in the morning. But the result is not guaranteed to manifest for everyone. This proves that there is something else going on, a higher force that must cooperate with our choices.
Friend1: I received an interesting question on this account.
Friend2: Before you proceed, I just want to say that ahankara plays an important role here. Due to false ego, we think that we are ultimately responsible for everything.
Friend1: Okay, that is good that you mentioned that. We’re talking about mistakenly attributing the results of action to personal effort. There is the opposite side as well.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: That everything is due to God. It is the Divine will. He has already determined how everything will end up.
Friend2: That is true.
Friend1: And the corresponding verse in the Bhagavad-gita would be the one where Krishna advises Arjuna to simply act as an instrument.
Friend2: Right. Arjuna has seen the vision of all the people assembled for the war entering into Krishna’s mouths. Basically, everyone is slated to die; except for a few people, the Pandavas included.
Friend1: Yes, and so by proceeding in the war, Arjuna would get the credit for something that was already destined to happen.
Friend2: It doesn’t violate that other verse. Arjuna is still not the doer.
Friend1: Okay, but what about the other option, then? Why should Arjuna fight if the outcome was already determined? What was the harm in putting down the weapons and retreating to the forest?
Friend2: Karma. Dharma. Future reaction and duty. It was Arjuna’s prescribed duty to fight and protect religious principles. By giving up, he would bring negative karma upon himself. Yes, yes, I know he is a liberated soul, but for instruction’s sake that is the reasoning.
Friend1: Okay, so that is basically the question I received. Why should any of us act if destiny is already set?
Friend2: Yes, that is a good question. It is pretty common. Outcomes are already determined, but we still have a choice. We can act or not act. We can do right or do wrong. The choices determine where we will end up in the future.
Friend1: But God has already made destiny.
Friend2: He has, but only He knows what it is. Everyone is going to die. There is no doubt about that. That is as far as our vision goes. We don’t know anything beyond. We don’t know where people end up in the future. Dharma is for getting the right future. Right here means beneficial.
Friend1: And what does beneficial mean?
Friend2: In terms of the spirit soul, its ideal position. Following dharma brings proper karma in the sense of coming closer to the constitutional position of servant of the Supreme Lord. Arjuna’s circumstance was unique because by acting as Krishna’s instrument, he was actually following bhakti. There is no karma with bhakti. The future consequence is continued bhakti. Wherever you go, you get to stay devoted to God. It doesn’t even matter what type of body you get, which planet you reside on, or who is there with you. You always see the all-attractive one through consciousness, and so you are always happy.
Not every result from action to get,
Flawed when of doer’s mindset.
Destiny, the Divine to have a hand,
But impetus for work how to understand?
Why not everything up to Him leaving,
From pressures of decisions relieving?
For future condition, bhakti work of karma free,
Through consciousness Krishna always to see.