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Karma and Freedom, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 954

Essay

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: Karma and Freedom.

Many people believe in the existence of karma and its influence on how things that happen in the world may not just happen by coincidence. Merriam-Webster defines karma as “the force generated by a person’s actions” and both Hindu and Buddhist religious beliefs are that karma is instrumental in a person’s transmigration into their next existence (Merriam-Webster.com, 2012). Karma basically gives insight into the old saying, what goes around comes around, and the fact that people have freedom to choose what their fates will be, based on their actions. Therefore, karma and freedom are interconnected.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a former president of India and a well-known philosopher, teaches on the law of karma and the notion that people reap from the universe whatever they sow into the universe. This means that the totality of a person’s actions past, present and future is influential in determining a person’s conditions of life, spiritually, morally and physically. Another view of karma states all human actions attributed to moral accountability have consequences (Reichenbach, 1988).

Karma and Freedom

According to Kessler (2008) and as it relates to Karma and Freedom, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan refers to karma as being the result of a person’s connection to a past life and the experience and awareness of this in the human stage of existence. Radhakrishnan expresses that life is constantly recycling itself by the growth and reformation of past life experiences, and this links us to our past lives and makes us who we are. He also suggests that a person’s whole self causes him or her to make choices and then act accordingly. Radhakrishnan’s philosophical position on Karma and Freedom supports the notion that good deeds have a tendency to produce good things in life, and evil deeds are susceptible to producing undesirable things in life. Radhakrishnan explains that people are not able to separate themselves from their actions. Radhakrishnan also believed that karma is not a reward or punishment that is given to people when they do good or bad things. It is basically cause and effect, governed by universal laws. Consequently, Radhakrishnan’s concept of Karma and Freedom rules out the idea of chance and fate and explains the world is as it is because of chain of causes caused by human beings.

Additionally, as it relates to freedom, Radhakrishnan states that it does not matter if a person makes a decision from the influence of an outside force or an internal force, because that person makes choices based on how he or she is influenced from earlier events in life. Radhakrishnan states this is why we are not truly free, because making choices based on the past is an act of habit, and since habits shape our character then the character is a byproduct of the past as well as our actions (Kessler, 2008).

Possible Objections

Some possible objections to Radhakrishnan’s view on karma and freedom may be 1) all life experiences were predestined by God or some other supreme being, 2) karma serves as punishment for people who are “bad”, and 3) some people are not responsible for their actions and the choices they make. These are probably some of the most common objections to the idea of karma; however, another objection they may be overlooked is that karma is related to freedom. Radhakrishnan states, people’s habits become a part of who they are, and freedom is measured in varying degrees. Therefore, karma is a by-product of one’s actions (Kessler, 2008).

For example, the recent mass killing of several people in a movie theatre in Aurora, CO may be viewed, by some people, as an act of karma. Depending on how one looks at the situation, one may feel that the people in the movie theatre had the bad end of the karma by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. They made the choice to go see a popular movie at midnight on the first night of its showing. On the other hand, some may have avoided being victims of the shooting by staying home because they did not want to deal with the new movie crowd, or maybe someone had a rule not to go out after 11 p.m., or maybe others had curfews that kept them from being there.

As this case relates to Radhakrishnan’s views on Karma and Freedom, the Aurora shooting incident was based on cause and effect. Again, viewing this from the perspective of the victims, their freedom of choice put them in that theatre at the right time to become victims. “Choice is the assertion of freedom over necessity, by which it converts necessity to its own use and thus frees itself from it” Radhakrishnan (2008). Additionally, Merriam-Webster defines freedom as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” In his concept of Karma and Freedom, Radhakrishnan compares life to a card game and asserts that even though we do not choose which cards we are dealt, we can choose how to play those cards. Therefore, those people did not need to go to that theatre at the time that they did, they chose to by way of their freedom, and the cards were dealt and their hand was played out, unfortunately to a terrible end but that, according to Radhakrishnan, is karma (Kessler, 2008).

References

Freedom. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved November 4, 2012 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom

Karma. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved November 4, 2012 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/karma

Kessler, G.E. (2008). Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. Wadsworth Publishing; 7th ed.

Radhakrishnan, S. (2008). An Idealist View of Life. Aristophanes Press.

Reichenbach, B.R. (1988). The Law of Karma and the Principle of Causation. Philosophy East and West. Vol. 38(4), pp. 399-410. Retrieved November 4, 2012 from http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/bruce.htm

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica online. Retrieved November 4, 2012 http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/488420/Sarvepalli-Radhakrishnan

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