Randomness is a Myth

Randomness is a myth. Randomness does not exist. But we can learn to free ourselves from the complexities of what appears to be random

You heard that right! Yes. Randomness is another one of those things that doesn’t exist, just like nothingness. Nothing is ever random. Randomness is one of these (or a variant) in every single case:

  1. A figment of imagination
  2. A sign of ignorance
  3. A device, tool, a starting point

Randomness as Imagination – it is very tempting, for someone who wants to pretend that their actions have no consequences, or someone who does not want to take responsibility for their actions, to pretend that the Universe is random. But of course, imagination goes only so far – it is not true.

Randomness as Ignorance – If I gave you an extremely complex mathematical formula, and asked you to show someone else the results of that formula with different hidden inputs, those results can very well appear to be random. But they are not random to someone who knows the equation and the inputs, in this case, you and me. So the outputs simply appear random, they are not so.

Randomness as a tool, a starting point – In many mathematical and scientific disciplines, just like the square root of -1, “i“, to pretend that the space is populated with random values helps to “seed” certain algorithms. This process implicitly acknowledges that randomness is simply a tool, a starting point to reach a model or understanding that is not random.

So if everything is not random, then why does it appear to be? Complexity. The laws of material nature, which are anything but random, are the creation of God, who is above the laws of material nature. The laws themselves are quite simple, but when the laws interact with themselves over and over again, the complexity they generate is mind-boggling.

Take a simple example of me planting one apple seed, just one seed. Not all seeds sprout but if/when this one does, it brings forth a seedling. Not all seedlings grow to be a tree, but if/when this one does, it bears flowers. Not all flowers turn to fruit, but some do. Not all fruits have seeds in them, but most of them do. When these seeds disperse, many sprout, give rise to trees, and this process endlessly continues, as long as the material circumstances are favourable.

After just a few decades, it will be impossible for a person who didn’t witness me planting the first apple seed to detect which apple tree was the first one. It will be impossible, even for me, to tell which tree an apple came from… or to tell for sure which specific seed caused which specific tree to grow.

Which brings us to the oft-heard saying, humans can count the fruits in a tree or the seeds in a fruit, but only God knows how many trees there are inside one seed. God is infinite, and therefore, it is possible for God to know all the permutations, with vision undisturbed by time.

Karma, the law of action and reaction has been described in the Vedic scriptures many millenia ago. A more recent rediscovery of the principles of Karma is by Isaac Newton “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction“. Sometimes, people say “what goes around, comes around“.

I heard that Lord Buddha said that if one were to stack the skeletons of all the bodies one soul has inhabited, those bones will block out the sun! Every soul inhabiting the material world has had many many actions (seeds), giving rise to many many beginning to sprout (seedlings), with many different resultant symptoms (flowers and fruits). It is hard to take one particular symptom of one’s life today and try to ascertain what specific action caused it. But just because it is hard doesn’t mean that randomness is the answer.

So what is the solution? How does one get out of the dense forest of karmic actions and reactions? The Bhagavad Gita defines a particular type of action and classifies it as “akarma” – “inaction”. This inaction is not some sort of inert “do nothing / sit still / renounce all action” practiced by the immature spiritualists or lazy materialists, but it is those actions that are spiritual in nature – that which serve to reconnect spirit to the Supreme Spirit, God.

The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is.” BG 4.17

There is no randomness, everything is actually quite ordered and structured, it is simply a matter of the choices we have made in the past. And just as our present circumstances may appear complex, we can unravel and simplify just as someone pieces together a jumbled up jigsaw puzzle, with time, patience, and determination.

aprarabdha-phalam papam
kutam bijam phalonmukham
kramenaiva praliyeta
vishnu-bhakti-ratatmanam
 
Persons who are completely engaged in the devotional service of the Lord Vishnu the Personality of Godhead—becomes completely extinct from all sorts of vicious reactions which either potential, germinating, seedling or current by a gradual process. (from Padma Purana)
 
असत्यमप्रतिष्ठं ते जगदाहुरनीश्वरम् ।
अपरस्परसंभूतं किमन्यत्कामहैतुकम् ॥ १६.८ ॥
asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te
jagad āhur anīśvaram
aparaspara-sambhūtaṁ
kim anyat kāma-haitukam
 
They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. BG 16.8 https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/16/8/
 
कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः ।
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः ॥ ४.१७ ॥
karmaṇo hy api boddhavyaṁ
boddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ
akarmaṇaś ca boddhavyaṁ
gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ
 

The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is. BG 4.17 https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/4/17/

 
BG 4.17:
The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is.
BG 4.18:
One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

What could possibly be unknown to You, O master? With vision undisturbed by time, You witness the minds of all living beings. Nevertheless, on Your order I will speak. SB 10.64.11 https://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/10/64/11

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How does the Hare Krishna Mahamantra Work

Priyesh Shah, 30th June 2011

Hare Krishna

Please Accept My Humble Obeisances

All Glories To Srila Prabhupada

I am a little confused as to how the Maha Mantra works. For the last 2 years, since I joined ISKCON, I was under the impression that when you chant the Maha Mantra, the roots of the sinful activities are destroyed, and therefore the fruits would also be destroyed. However, another devotee yesterday mentioned that actually the Karma does not go away. As long as you have the material body, the Karma will stay and continue to act as they were meant to. But when you chant and do devotional service, Krishna arranges the Karma to act in a way which is favourable to Krishna Consciousness. Would anyone kindly be able to tell me as to how this works?

Thank you,

Your Servant,

Priyesh

Jagannatha Dasa, 30th June 2011

Hare Krishna Priyesh,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Karma has two important meanings.

1. Action

2. Reactions

When we act in a certain way, that action is karma. The reaction to that activity will perpetuate further activity. The reaction is also karma. In this way actions create reactions and then further actions in a chain which *appears* endless. The seemingly eternal appearence of karma is however an illusion.

Of the five topics explained in Bhagavad Gita…

1. Isvara (Krishna)

2. Jiva (living beings)

3. Prakrti (material nature)

4. Kala (time)

5. Karma (fruitive activity)

 …four are eternal, but karma is the one which is temporary.

 When you act, the reaction only lasts so long, even in this life. Otherwise we would only need, for example, to eat once and we would be eternally satisfied.

Now, someone may argue using the following two questions:

1. “Fine, each action has a limited reaction in terms of both time and space. But isn’t there an eternal chain of actions and reactions which are always being manifested, one after another?”

and

2. “Even if karma is temporary, isn’t it influencing us at least for the duration of time in which we have a material body?”

In the spiritual world, the will of Krishna and his pure devotees who reside there are eternally enjoying without any question of karma. Therefore the chain of karma is itself limited, not eternal because it does not extend to the realm of Krishna.

Even in this world a pure devotee is free from karma. Otherwise, he would take birth again in this material world goaded on by a complicated network of material desires.

This is confirmed throughout Vedic literatures and by all acaryas:

Sri Brahma Samhita

yas tv indragopam athavendram aho sva-karma-

bandhanurüpa-phala-bhajanam atanoti

karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam

govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, who burns up to their roots all fruitive activities of those who are imbued with devotion and impartially ordains for each the due enjoyment of the fruits of one’s activities, of all those who walk in the path of work, in accordance with the chain of their previously performed works, no less in the case of the tiny insect that bears the name of indragopa than in that of Indra, king of the devas.”

(emphasis added)

Srimad Bhagavad-Gita

sarva-dharman parityajya

mam ekam saranam vraja

aham tvam sarva-papebhyo

moksayisyami ma sucah

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”

Srimad Bhagavatam

yan-namadheyah mriyamana aturah

patan skhalan va vivaso grnan puman

vimukta-karmargala uttamam gatim

prapnoti yaksyanti na tam kalau janah

“Sri harinama is glorious! Chanted in any condition of life, whether almost dead, deathly sick, slipping, falling, or in any semi-conscious state, the name of SrI Bhagavän releases the chanting person from the bondage of karmic reactions and promotes him to the highest goal of spiritual achievement. The real pity is that the fallen people of Kali-yuga refuse to execute this devotional activity.”

Srila Rupa Gosvami

yad-brahma-saksat-krti-nisthayapi

vinasam ayati vina na bhogaih

apaiti nama sphuranena tat te

prarabdha-karmeti virauti vedah

“The seeds of sinful activities that cause rebirth for their fruition are not totally destroyed despite realization of oneness with Brahman through constant meditation. But, O Lord, as soon as Your holy names manifest on the tongue (even in the form of namabhasa) all seeds of sinful activities are totally uprooted. This is elaborately glorified in the Vedas.”

There are more examples, but I hope this will help.

Your servant,

-Jagannatha dasa

 

Raj, 30th June 2011

Hare Krishna Prabhu ji,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This is my first attempt to participate.

Thanks for providing details about Karma . You mentioned Karma has 2 meanings .(Action and Reaction ). Is it that Karma has 2 parts ( Action and Reaction)? Please clarify.

Also you mentioned that “When you act, the reaction only lasts so long, even in this life”, Does this mean that our action in this life has reaction limited only to this life?

Because on many occasions people state that this is because of yours past karmas, this mean that karmas are also carry forward.

Please help

Raj

 

Chris Sookoo, 30th June 2011

Sir

This is one beautiful and eloquent analysis that I have had the pleasure of reading. Thanks to the mind that put it together.

Regards,

csookoo

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 30th June 2011

Jagannatha Prabhu,

 

Very grateful for that! I learned a lot from your detailed answer. Thank you.

Your servant,

Mahabhagavat Das

Priyesh Shah, 1st July 2011

 Hare Krishna Jagannatha Prabhu, A wonderful answer. Thank you for clearing my doubt and enlightening me with that knowledge.

 Your Servant,

Priyesh

 Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 17th April 2012

Dear Raj Kumar,

Hare Krishna!

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Gurudeva.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Due to the efforts of one of our other group members Dr. Sunil Vaswani, I realized that your questions below were not answered. Please forgive us for this oversight.

>u mentioned Karma has 2 meanings .(Action and Reaction ). Is it that Karma has 2 parts( >Action and Reaction) . Pls clarify.

Yes, this is correct. Every action has a reaction associated with it, and every reaction has another set of actions associated with it – this is like a seed which is thrown on the ground… after some time, the seed sprouts, and the plant grows, it becomes a tree, and the tree yields fruits, the fruits have seeds, which again fall on the ground, giving rise to more trees, and this cycle continues. There are more karmas than meet the eye… they are in unmanifest state.

One cannot counter karma with karma – it is an endless cycle – so if someone does something bad, to atone for it, they do something good – they don’t cancel each other out. The person will experience effects of both, the good karmas (karma) and the bad karmas (vikarma). Devotional service though, is without reactions, and eliminates accumulated reactions, so it is called akarma. This is also described in Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Sri Ishopanishad Verse 2:

“Actions that are performed in terms of one’s prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And actions that are performed through the misuse of one’s freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees one from the bondage to karma is preferred by intelligent men. Ordinary men wish to perform good work in order to be recognized and achieve some higher status of life in this world or in heaven, but more advanced men want to be free altogether from the actions and reactions of work. Intelligent men well know that both good and bad work equally bind one to the material miseries. Consequently they seek that work which will free them from the reactions of both good and bad work”

In the Padma Purana, it is stated:

aprarabdha-phalam papam kutam bijam phalonmukham

kramenaiva praliyeta vishnu-bhakti-ratatmanam

In this verse it states that karma can be lying in seed form, it can be dormant, or it can be bearing fruits. Nevertheless, whatever stage a karmic reaction may be in, it is gradually eliminated by performing devotional service.

Your second question:

Also u mentioned that “When you act, the reaction only lasts so long, even in this life” ,does this mean that our action in this life has reaction limited only to this life.

This is a misunderstanding of what Jagannatha Prabhu intended. He did not mean that the effects of karma last exactly not more than one lifetime. When you take his entire response and all the verses quoted into context, you can see that he is using that sentence just for example – like for example, if someone steals something, then they may be punished for a few days, few weeks, few months, few years, eventually they will be released – so he means that the reactions are temporary, even though sometimes they may transcend lifetimes. The example is that one child may be born to cultured parents, good chance of being cultured, though not always the case. Another child may be born to uncultured parents, good chance of being uncultured, but sometimes the child may become cultured through other association… same thing with bodily beauty, health, intelligence, etc.

I hope that this response was useful and you will resume your participation soon.

 Sincerely,

Mahabhagavat Das

 “Please subscribe to daily inspirational emails from His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari, written fresh every day from his travels around the world sharing the highest spiritual knowledge with everyone. Sign up now at http://www.backtohome.com.”

How does the Maha Mantra Work?

Priyesh Shah,30th June 2011

Hare Krishna

Please Accept my humble obeisances

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

I am a little confused as to how the Maha Mantra works. For the last 2 years, since I joined ISKCON, I was under the impression that when you chant the Maha Mantra, the roots of the sinful activities are destroyed, and therefore the fruits would also be destroyed. However, another devotee yesterday mentioned that actually the Karma does not go away. As long as you have the material body, the Karma will stay and continue to act as they were meant to. But when you chant and do devotional service, Krishna arranges the Karma to act in a way which is favourable to Krishna Consciousness. Would anyone kindly be able to tell me as to how this works?

Thank you,

Your Servant,

Priyesh

Jagannatha das,30th June 2011

Hare Krishna Priyesh,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Karma has two important meanings.

1.  Action

2.  Reactions

When we act in a certain way, that action is karma.  The reaction to that activity will perpetuate further activity.  The reaction is also karma.  In this way actions create reactions and then further actions in a chain which *appears* endless.  The seemingly eternal appearence of karma is however an illusion.

Of the five topics explained in Bhagavad Gita…

1. Isvara (Krishna)

2. Jiva (living beings)

3. Prakrti (material nature)

4. Kala (time)

5. Karma (fruitive activity)

…four are eternal, but karma is the one which is temporary.

When you act, the reaction only lasts so long, even in this life.  Otherwise we would only need, for example, to eat once and we would be eternally satisfied.

Now, someone may argue using the following two questions:

1.  “Fine, each action has a limited reaction in terms of both time and space.  But isn’t there an eternal chain of actions and reactions which are always being manifested, one after another?”

and

2. “Even if karma is temporary, isn’t it influencing us at least for the duration of time in which we have a material body?”

In the spiritual world, the will of Krishna and his pure devotees who reside there are eternally enjoying without any question of karma.  Therefore the chain of karma is itself limited, not eternal because it does not extend to the realm of Krishna.

Even in this world a pure devotee is free from karma.  Otherwise, he would take birth again in this material world goaded on by a complicated network of material desires.

This is confirmed throughout Vedic literatures and by all acaryas:

Sri Brahma Samhita

yas tv indragopam athavendram aho sva-karma-

bandhanurüpa-phala-bhajanam atanoti

karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam

govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, who burns up to their roots all fruitive activities of those who are imbued with devotion and impartially ordains for each the due enjoyment of the fruits of one’s activities, of all those who walk in the path of work, in accordance with the chain of their previously performed works, no less in the case of the tiny insect that bears the name of indragopa than in that of Indra, king of the devas.

(emphasis added)

Srimad Bhagavad-Gita

sarva-dharman parityajya

mam ekam saranam vraja

aham tvam sarva-papebhyo

moksayisyami ma sucah

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

Srimad Bhagavatam

yan-namadheyah mriyamana aturah

patan skhalan va vivaso grnan puman

vimukta-karmargala uttamam gatim

prapnoti yaksyanti na tam kalau janah

Sri harinama is glorious! Chanted in any condition of life, whether almost dead, deathly sick, slipping, falling, or in any semi-conscious state, the name of SrI Bhagavän releases the chanting person from the bondage of karmic reactions and promotes him to the highest goal of spiritual achievement. The real pity is that the fallen people of Kali-yuga refuse to execute this devotional activity.

Srila Rupa Gosvami

yad-brahma-saksat-krti-nisthayapi

vinasam ayati vina na bhogaih

apaiti nama sphuranena tat te

prarabdha-karmeti virauti vedah

The seeds of sinful activities that cause rebirth for their fruition are not totally destroyed despite realization of oneness with Brahman through constant meditation. But, O Lord, as soon as Your holy names manifest on the tongue (even in the form of namabhasa) all seeds of sinful activities are totally uprooted. This is elaborately glorified in the Vedas.

There are more examples, but I hope this will help.

Your servant,

-Jagannatha dasa

Raj, 30th June 2011

Hare Krishna Prabhu ji,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

This is my first attempt to participate.

Thanks for providing details about Karma . u mentioned Karma has 2 meanings .(Action and Reaction ). Is it that Karma has 2 parts( Action and Reaction) . Pls clarify.

Also u mentioned that “When you act, the reaction only lasts so long, even in this life” ,does this mean that our action in this life has reaction limited only to this life.

Because on many occasions people state that this is because of urs past karmas, this mean that karmas are also carry forward.pls help

Chris Sookoo, 30th June 2011

Sir

This is one beautiful and eloquent analysis that I have had the pleasure of reading.Thanks to the mind that put it together.

regards

csookoo

Mahabhagavat Das SDA,30th June 2011

Jagannatha Dasa Prabhu,

Very grateful for that! I learned a lot from your detailed answer. Thank you.

Your servant,

Mahabhagavat Das

Priyesh Shah,01st July 2011

Hare Krishna Jagannatha Prabhu,

A wonderful answer. Thank you for clearing my doubt and enlightening me with that knowledge.

Your Servant,

Priyesh

Mahabhagavat Das, 16th April 2012

Dear Raj Kumar,

Hare Krishna!
Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Gurudeva.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Due to the efforts of one of our other group members Dr. Sunil Vaswani, I realized that your questions below were not answered. Please forgive us for this oversight.

>u mentioned Karma has 2 meanings .(Action and Reaction ). Is it that Karma has 2 parts( >Action and Reaction) . Pls clarify.

Yes, this is correct. Every action has a reaction associated with it, and every reaction has another set of actions associated with it – this is like a seed which is thrown on the ground… after some time, the seed sprouts, and the plant grows, it becomes a tree, and the tree yields fruits, the fruits have seeds, which again fall on the ground, giving rise to more trees, and this cycle continues. There are more karmas than meet the eye… they are in unmanifest state.

One cannot counter karma with karma – it is an endless cycle – so if someone does something bad, to atone for it, they do something good – they don’t cancel each other out. The person will experience effects of both, the good karmas (karma) and the bad karmas (vikarma). Devotional service though, is without reactions, and eliminates accumulated reactions, so it is called akarma. This is also described in Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Sri Ishopanishad Verse 2:

“Actions that are performed in terms of one’s prescribed duties, as mentioned in the revealed scriptures, are called karma. Actions that free one from the cycle of birth and death are called akarma. And actions that are performed through the misuse of one’s freedom and that direct one to the lower life forms are called vikarma. Of these three types of action, that which frees one from the bondage to karma is preferred by intelligent men. Ordinary men wish to perform good work in order to be recognized and achieve some higher status of life in this world or in heaven, but more advanced men want to be free altogether from the actions and reactions of work. Intelligent men well know that both good and bad work equally bind one to the material miseries. Consequently they seek that work which will free them from the reactions of both good and bad work”

In the Padma Purana, it is stated:

aprarabdha-phalam papam kutam bijam phalonmukham

kramenaiva praliyeta vishnu-bhakti-ratatmanam

In this verse it states that karma can be lying in seed form, it can be dormant, or it can be bearing fruits. Nevertheless, whatever stage a karmic reaction may be in, it is gradually eliminated by performing devotional service.

Your second question:

>Also u mentioned that “When you act, the reaction only lasts so long, even in this life” ,does >this mean that our action in this life has reaction limited only to this life.

This is a misunderstanding of what Jagannatha Prabhu intended. He did not mean that the effects of karma last exactly not more than one lifetime. When you take his entire response and all the verses quoted into context, you can see that he is using that sentence just for example – like for example, if someone steals something, then they may be punished for a few days, few weeks, few months, few years, eventually they will be released – so he means that the reactions are temporary, even though sometimes they may transcend lifetimes. The example is that one child may be born to cultured parents, good chance of being cultured, though not always the case. Another child may be born to uncultured parents, good chance of being uncultured, but sometimes the child may become cultured through other association… same thing with bodily beauty, health, intelligence, etc.

I hope that this response was useful and you will resume your participation soon.

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das