Wednesday, July 30, 2014

140. Fate versus Free Will. Part Seven.


 We were discussing the possible explanations of prophecies 

2. The predicted events were made to occur, when their time came, by some powerful living persons or spirits. Take the example of Mr Dickenson being told that one day his guru will give him a silver cup. Swami Vivekananda may not have seen the future; words may have been wrung out of his mouth by some unseen power, just as it happened to Sri Yogananda (blog 103):

“One day in my Ranchi school, a boy named Kashi, a brilliant youth of twelve, asked me “Sir, what will be my fate?”

‘You shall soon be dead’. An irresistible power forced the answer from me.

The boy died the same year. 

When Yogananda was walking in a street of Calcutta, an unseen power may have influenced his mind and made him buy a silver cup for Dickenson. Higher powers, when necessary, do influence our minds.

For instance, take the two incidents quoted in section 6 and 7 of blog 112, as Mufti Sahib’s prayers. In one instance some higher power influenced the mind of the wife of the landlord, and in the other case the mind of the person who gave Mufti Sahib money for the bus fare.

This argument can be invoked in some cases, but not all.  For instance, a fakir told my grandfather that he and one of his sons will be buried in one grave. To have it happen, a colossal event such as Partition of India had to take place, in which millions of people died or suffered. It could not have been done just to make the fakir right. Similarly Yogananda sister could not have attired herself in her bridal dress and later during the day kill herself to prove herself right.

3. The causes or signs of future start appearing in the present, from them the future can be predicted.

This argument was first made by St Augustine sixteen hundred years ago (1). For instance the sunrise from day-break. I quote:


‘I behold the day-break, I foreshow, that the sun, is about to rise. What I behold, is present; what I foresignify, to come; not the sun, which already is; but the sun-rising, which is not yet. And

Yet did I not in my mind imagine the sun-rising itself (as now while I speak of it), I could not foretell it. But neither is that daybreak which I discern in the sky, the sun-rising, although it goes

before it; ……… . Future things then are not yet: and if they be not yet, they are not: and if

they are not, they cannot be seen; yet foretold they may be from things present, which are already, and are seen.’


This argument is not valid in any of the 14 situations cited above, such as for Swami Vivekananda to see the event of the silver cup 43 years in advance


4. The people who prophesied had the ability to travel in the future. Travel in the future is the fodder of science fiction. Even famous physicists claim that theoretically it is possible (2). If some men of God have this ability they could go in the future for few minutes, like Chandi Das did in front of Paul Brunton, and then come back to the present, and report their findings (blog 91)


Let us examine what the scientists have to say:


‘If you want to advance through the years a little faster than the next person, you'll need to exploit space-time. Global positioning satellites pull this off every day, accruing an extra third-of-a-billionth of a second daily. Time passes faster in orbit, because satellites are farther away from the mass of the Earth. Down here on the surface, the planet's mass drags on time and slows it down in small measures. In the  super massive black hole Sagittarius A at the center of our galaxy, the mass of 4 million suns exists as a single, infinitely dense point, known as a singularity [source: NASA]. It must slow the time a lot over there.

We call this effect gravitational time dilation. (3) ’

If you were travelling on a space ship at 99.999% of the speed of light, one year on that space ship would have equaled 223 years on earth. When you came back after a year, all the people you knew before your journey would have died. One would have travelled 223 years in future.

The trouble about all these speculations is they do not help us one bit. Take the example of a traveler starting on his space trip in year 2014, at close to the speed of light. Let us say he has the magical ability to watch the events on earth. After a month he wants to notify all the events to somebody on the earth. Let us further suppose that he can send the message at the speed of light. The message will take another month to arrive on earth. Two months have passed since he started his journey. These two months are approximately equal to 37 years of earth time. Time travelled 223 times faster on the earth than on the space ship. It is 2051 on earth. The message cannot tell the earth inhabitants anything that they already don’t know. They have lived through it. It is their past. What the men of God supposedly do is to watch the future, which yet do not exist.


To be continued.



1). Confessions by St. Augustine, chapter X1                                                                                            

(2).: How to build a time machine by STEPHEN HAWKING
(3) How Time Travel Works by Kevin Bonsor and Robert Lamb


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

139. Fate versus free will. Part Six


What are the arguments against free will, or hypothesis two?

 Actually there is only one argument against it, and that is if the future does not yet exist (because it has yet to be made), then how come some men of God are able to tell it, sometimes in precise detail? In blog 135, I narrated how a man of God who foresaw the seven lottery numbers, one day in advance of their live drawing on TV. It is as if future existed somewhere.


Thus we arrive at a paradox:


1. Some persons can see future, therefore it exists somewhere


2. Future does not and cannot exist, because it has not been made yet.

These are two mutually contradictory, immovable statements. Only one of them can be right, or is there some way in which both are right?

Let us first examine the actual evidence of prophecies. I have chronicled 13 such events (excluding the one in blog 135) in blogs 102-3. A summary of them is in blog 114. Since many persons do not have access to computer, I will restate the summary here:


               How can anybody tell the future which has not been made yet? To have my grandfather buried in the same grave with his son, required a colossal event to happen, in which millions suffered. For Swami Vivekananda to see the event of the silver cup 43 years in advance, only a Divine power had to be involved. How did Swami Yukteswar know that the veterinarian will fall ill soon, recover, and die 6 months later? How did he know that Yogananda will be fed strawberries in America? And Kashi did die, as predicted.

               How can one explain the vision of the teacher putting a garland of flowers on the president’s neck and receiving a check; Baroda Babu’s telling Dilip Kumar Roy, 12 years in advance, that he will have to wait for Indra Devi to join him as his disciple for his real progress, and also telling him about what Sri Aurobindo advised him regarding his hernia.

               One does not have any explanation of Indra Devi’s vision of the pilot dying in crash one year in advance and then his spirit coming to Indra.

                Brother Lawrence predicted on Friday, that he will die on Monday (blog 15-7). That is how it happened.

                In blog 91, I have narrated the incident of Paul Brunton meeting Chandi Das. Chandi Das, reluctantly, narrated some incidents of Brunton’s future. Some of them came true, by the time book was published.


What are the possible explanations of prophecies?


1.  All these anecdotes of prophecies are false. They never happened.

2. The anecdotes are true, but the predicted events were made to occur, when their time came, by some powerful living persons or spirits.

3. The causes or signs of future start appearing in the present, from them the future can be predicted.

4. The people who predicted, had the ability to travel in the future

5.  There is a parallel world, which is a copy of our world, like the image in a mirror (or we are the image). It is ahead of us in time. Whatever will happen in future over here has already happened in the other world. Therefore access to that world enables us to know our future.


Now, let us examine these speculations in greater detail.


1.   All these anecdotes of prophecies are false. These episodes have been carefully selected by this mote. I heard the story of my grandfather and uncle, from the lips of my mother (blog 102). Mr Dickenson told the story of silver cup many times, and Sri Yogananda, being a man of God, would not have chronicled it in his autobiography, were it false. The source of other anecdotes (3-8, in blog 102) is also written by Sri Yogananda in his book. I, myself, talked to the teacher who put garland of flowers, around the president’s neck. He verified it. I, myself, talked to the seer who foresaw the seven lottery numbers. The other episodes are also taken from the books of men of God, like Paul Brunton, Brother Lawrence, and Dilip Kumar Roy. So all these episodes are authentic.

There is a valid criticism, that all of these episodes are hearsay or could have been fabricated by the authors, themselves. I have not mentioned a single episode, watched by me, or experienced by me. I have no answer to this argument. Maybe God will one day grant me such an episode. But it still will not answer the criticism, because how will the readers know that I am not making it up.


To be continued


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

138. Fate versus Free Will. Part Five.


Hypothesis Two. Free Will. It states that Humans are masters of their own fate. They have free will. Future is not pre-ordained. It is not written in stars. It is not decreed by God. All events, without exception, happen by the interaction between free will, nature and chance (chance is actually one of the manifestations of nature)

The two tier system proposed by religion and mystics ( such as Ramakrishna ), according to which some events, such as birth, death and some other major events in one’s life, are decreed by God, while the rest are in the hands of the individual through his exercise of free will, is rejected by hypothesis two. Let us read what the great saint Sri Ramakrishna said (1):


“Is there anyone who has free will or anything like that? It is by God’s will alone that everything has always happened and shall happen……man understands it in the long run.

Just as, when a cow is tied to a post with long tether, it can go to a distance of one cubit, or it can go up to the full length of the tether according to its choice, so too is the free will of the man….God has given man some power and freedom to utilize it as he likes.

That is why the man feels himself free……

And mark this: if anyone prays to Him in all humility. He may remove him to another place and tie him there; or he may lengthen the tether or even remove it completely from the neck.”


We asked, “Does the man have no duty or responsibility?”

“………………..He does not give one more power, if the little that is given is not properly used. This is why individual effort and perseverance are necessary. Don’t you see, everyone has to make some effort? however small, before he gets God’s grace?”


But this mote rejects that. All events, since the creation of universe have been happening without the intervention of God. They have been the result of natural events, as explained in blogs 97-99.


Everything happens according to the law of cause and effect. Let me repeat what I had already written in blog 102:

According to the law of cause and effect, an action takes place because a preceding action caused it. The first action is called the cause, while the second action, which is the result of the first action, is the effect. For instance, a ball is climbing up the sky. It is climbing up because somebody threw it. Throwing the ball is the cause of the ball climbing up.

It is a fundamental law of nature that the cause precedes the effect. When we will discuss time travel, a well known paradox is mentioned, called the ‘grandfather paradox’. If it was possible to travel in the past, one could kill one’s grandfather before one’s father was born. But then one could not be born to kill the grandfather. The solution to the paradox is that his existence (the cause) has to precede the killing (the effect). So it cannot happen. Time travel in the past is not possible.

Sorry for this digress.

If that is true then nobody should be able to tell future, because it does not exist. It does not exist because it has not been made yet.

But I have narrated in previous blogs (blogs 102-3) thirteen prophecies. We will tackle this contradiction sometimes later.

When I talk of forecasting future, I mean the part of future which cannot be told by any scientific means. Weather is predicted fairly accurately by meteorologists. If somebody has boarded a nonstop train going to London, there are fairly good chances of him being in London sometimes later (barring some unforeseen event). Scientists can predict solar and lunar eclipses very accurately. Doctors are fairly accurate in predicting the approximate date or week of a baby’s birth. We know that Halley’s Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.


What cannot be told are the seven numbers in exact sequence which would be the winning numbers in the live drawing of a lottery at some future date?
( mentioned above in blog 135)


Now, let us quote again the objections to hypothesis one (blog 135) and see if hypothesis two can explain them:


1. It does not explain evil

2. It does not explain injustice

3. Makes God, indifferent, cruel and unjust

4. Why is God hidden?

5. If everything is preordained by God, then what is the purpose of creation by God?

6. It flies against our daily experience of events happening due to free will.

7. Does not explain the cruelty of predator animals to prey.

8. All human effort is completely useless.


Objection 1-3 are regarding evil, injustice, and cruelty. Hypothesis two easily dismisses them, because they were not created by God. All these are man made. As regards to why God is hidden, is because God had to be hidden, for mankind to reach their full potential. If a Father figure of God was always hovering around, who mankind could consult, the growth of human race would be stunted, like that of a child who refuses to grow up.

Statements 5-6 do not apply in hypothesis two.

Predators and preys in animal kingdom are the result of the race for the survival of the fittest and other aspects of evolution, as explained in Blog 99. Statement 8 does not apply in hypothesis two.


To be continued


(1) Sri Ramakrishna, the great master, Volume one By Swami Saradananda, page 94



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

137. Fate versus Free Will. Part Four


We were discussing the arguments against Fate.


8.  All human effort is completely useless. It seems to be a startling statement but it is true. As discussed in previous blog, in hypothesis one (Fate), God is like the writer, producer and director of a play. Just as the actors in a play have no independence; they say their lines and act, as directed, so in the drama of the world, nobody has any independence. We are like puppets, in the hands of the puppeteer.


Religious scholars have tried to get around this notion, by ascribing a two-tier system. A part determined by God, which is unchangeable, and a part carved by humans, themselves, through the agency of free will. Since it involves free will it does not belong here in hypothesis one. It won’t be discussed here anymore.


One wonders if the evidence against Fate is so overwhelming, why some people still cling to it.

Three reasons:

1 It has gone into human psyche, after thousands of years of belief

2. If you don’t want to act, it supports inaction.

3. It is a consoling factor.


  1. For thousands of years (before Darwin) everyone agreed that everything was created by God and God was omnipotent. So it was natural to ascribe most events to God. Palmistry and Astronomy also supported the existence of fate or destiny. Since Copernicus and Darwin, at least in the West, pendulum has swung in the other direction, and Free will is held paramount, but still it is in our genes.

2. It supports inaction. A scene in the epic movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ illustrated this point:


“They cross the Nefud Desert, considered impassable even by the Bedouins, travelling day and night on the last stage to reach water. A soldier accidently falls off his camel unnoticed during the night. He is lost. The Arabs don’t think it is prudent, or even possible, to go back and get the soldier. But Lawrence wants to go back. That means everybody will have to wait for Lawrence for hours; a foolhardy and impractical notion. His allies insist that the man’s death has already been written from heat, thirst and exhaustion.

Lawrence goes back in the desert and retrieves the man. On return, he pointedly says to Omar Sharif; “Nothing is written”(bold letters are mine )

A great saint like Swami Ramdas also advocated inaction (1). His ex-wife was telling him that their daughter needs to be married, while she (the ex-wife) did not have a penny. I quote:


He listened to her with a cool indifference and said

               “Why do you worry over the matter? God’s will is supreme. All things happen as He wills and at the time determined by Him”

               “How can you say so? Do you mean to say that human effort has no value”? She retorted.

               “Human effort” he replied “is necessary only to learn that human effort as such is useless and God’s will alone is the real power that controls and brings about all events ( italics are mine ). When you realize this truth, human effort ceases and divine will starts its work in you, and then you do all things in the soul, liberated from care, fear and sorrow. This is the real life to be attained. So leave all things to the Lord by complete surrender to Him”

3.  If life has been especially harsh to you. If you have been dealt a bad hand, if sorrow and misery has eaten your soul, if despite your best effort you have been unsuccessful in achieving your heart-felt desire, your single greatest aim in life, then you may console yourself that it was written in the stars. It was in your fate, destiny or kismet.


(1). In the vision of God. Volume 1, by Swami Ramdas



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

 136. Fate versus Free Will. Part Three


We were discussing the arguments against Fate.


3. It makes God, indifferent, cruel and unjust. There is cruelty, injustice, hunger, poverty, disease, and natural calamities, like earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes. If everything is decreed by God, then is it not logical to hold God responsible for all of the above? If you believe in the hypothesis of Fate, then the best you can say in God’s defense is that he is indifferent, or He does not know, or He died. If He died then the universe and the earth are running on its own. The inhabitants of earth are responsible for their affairs. But that is hypothesis two (Free will). Same would be true if God did not know, because the mankind must be managing their affairs on their own.


If God was indifferent, then we have to imagine a scenario in which we envision God responsible for all the miseries that have been mentioned above and not caring about them. It would be like us, killing millions of animals every day for food, and billions of insects and microbes to make our life better. I have seen the kindest hearted persons devouring meat and killing mosquitoes and flies. How is it that we don’t think about it? Because we get desensitized to it. Maybe God has become desensitized too. At least, in our case we are compelled to do so because we need food and are protecting ourselves from disease and discomfort. There is no such justification for God. He need not worry about food or discomfort. And moreover he created the insects and microbes.

Can God be indifferent? The closest example is that of a writer of a play. Suppose the writer is also the producer, and director of the play. Whatever, the actors will do or say on stage, how the plot proceeds, how the drama ends, is what the writer has willed them to do. Can such a writer (and in this case also the producer and director) who wrote the minutest detail of the play be indifferent? No it is not possible. An indifferent writer would be an oxymoron, like hot ice. Let me quote Darwin again: “To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured”


God created those pitiable moans. God spilled the milk (see blog 134), in Maugham’s novel; ….. because all the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it.”


Therefore, God is neither dead, nor indifferent. He is not responsible for all the miseries. We and a blind nature are responsible. And we have free will


4. Why is God hidden? His being hidden from us would only make sense, if he wanted us to live on our own, without the interference of any higher power. As if either there was no God, or if there was a God, He set everything in motion 13.8 billion years ago (see blogs 100-101).  The experiment, in our world, and billions of other planets with life, may proceed for other billions of years. We will discuss it in more detail when we discuss the hypothesis number two of Free Will


5. If everything is preordained by God, then what is the purpose of creation by God? Our job is not to find the purpose of creation by God, because with our limited intelligence we may never find it. Our purpose, now, is to determine, if a meaningful purpose can be ascribed to God, in hypothesis number one (Fate). According to this hypothesis God is like a play writer who is also producer and director. The outcome of the play is known to the writer. There is no suspense, unlike it is for a scientist who is setting up an extremely long and complicated experiment, for the first time, and does not know what the outcome would be. Whole drama (written by the play writer) becomes useless and rather silly.


Furthermore, this hypothesis will make God (the writer of the play) cruel, unjust and sadist. We will then sympathize with Swedenborg, the Swede, who said: “if I could only find that arch-tyrant God, who created so much misery in the world, I would strangle him to death”


6. It flies against our daily experience of events happening due to free will. This point has already been discussed. There is no evidence to support hypothesis one, except prophecies. Prophecies will be discussed again in Free will hypothesis.


7. Does not explain the cruelty of predator animals to prey. There is cruelty in animal kingdom. I think it was Darwin who remarked “Every living organism eats other organisms or is being eaten by it”

Now it is completely normal in nature. Predators have to kill other animals to survive. But all the animals that become prey, suffer, even if it is for few minutes. Ask yourself, would you like to be a deer being chased by couple of panthers. You run and run, but are caught by the predators and thrown on the jungle floor. They may start eating you while you are still alive. Or, how would you like to be a bird being carried away in the talons, which are digging in your body like iron nails, of the predator. Have you seen a cat playing with a bird for hours (I once saw our two household cats playing with a live mouse, like a soccer ball)? Bird predators have been known to throw fish in the sea from a height, and swooping in the water, catching the fish, and throwing it again and again, for sport.

Now, what if you are the author of this cruelty?

If you were the creator, you could easily have created a world, without carnivorous animal. Every animal could have an aversion to meat, like a cow or a horse. World would have been a peaceful place.

There is no excuse, whatsoever, in hypothesis one (Fate), for creation of carnivorous animals.


All living things arose by themselves, through the process of evolution, as I have explained in blog 99.


To be continued