Is there Free Will? Find out the “I” who asks this question.  – Ramakrishna

Free Will

The Master spoke about Free Will as follows.

Visitor asked:  Sir, have we any free will ?

Master replied: Just try to find out who this ‘ I ’ is. While you are searching for‘ I’, ‘God’ comes out. ‘ I am the machine and God is  the Operator.’ You have heard of a mechanical toy that goes into a store with a letter in its hand. You are like that toy. God alone is the Doer. Do your duties in the world as if you were the doer, but knowing all the time God alone is the Doer and you are the instrument.

As long as the upadhi, that is limitation exists there is ignorance. ‘ I am a scholar ’,‘ I am a jnani ‘ I am wealthy ‘ I am honourable ’, ‘ I am the master, father, and teacher ’ — all these ideas are begotten of ignorance. ‘ I am the machine and You are the Operator’ — that is Knowledge. In the state of Knowledge all upadhis, limitations are destroyed. When the log is burnt up entirely, there is no more sound and no heat either. Everything cools down. Shanti! Shanti! Shanti Hi! Peace ! Peace ! Only Peace !

The jnani, one who knows His Real Self, that is His Swaroopa,  gives up his identification with worldly things, discriminating, ‘ Not this, not this ’. Only then can he realize Brahman, the Supreme Reality. It is like reaching the roof of a house by leaving the steps behind, one by one. But the jnani who is more intimately acquainted with Brahman, realizes something more. He realizes that the steps are made of the same materials, as the roof : bricks, lime, and brick-dust. That which is realized intuitively as Brahman, through the eliminating process of ‘ Not this, not this ’, is then found to have become the universe and all its living beings. The jnani sees that the Reality which is nirguna, without attributes, is also saguna, with attributes.

On other occasions the Master spoke these words of Wisdom about Freewill and who the Real “I” Is.

Significance of the Bhagavad Gita

What is the significance of the Gita ? It is what you find by repeating the word ten times. It is then reversed into ‘ tagi ’, which means a person who has renounced everything for God. Ant the lesson of the Gita is ” Oh Man! renounce everything and seek God alone!” Whether a man is a monk or a householder, he has to shake off all attachment from his mind.

Why does a jnani keep an attitude of love toward God? The answer is that, ‘I-consciousness’ disappears in the state of samādhi, no doubt, but it comes back. In the case of ordinary people the “I” or the ego never disappears. You may cut down the Aśwattha tree, but the next day sprouts shoot up.

Ego causes our sufferings

Even after the attainment of Knowledge this ‘I-consciousness’ comes up, nobody knows from where. You dream of a tiger. Then you wake up; but your heart keeps on palpitating! All our suffering is due to this “I”, the Ego.

O God, I am the servant; You are the Master. I am the child; You are the Mother. Having this attitude, Only then the troubles are over.

Once Sri Rama asked Hanuman, ‘How do you see Me?’ And Hanuman replied as follows. Oh Rama, as long asI have the feeling of “I”, I see that You are the whole and I am a part ; You art the Master and I am Your servant. But, Oh Rama, when I have the knowledge of Truth, then I realize that You are I, and I am You.’  The relationship of master and servant is the proper one. Since this ‘I’ must remain, let the ego be God’s servant.

Evil of “I” and “mine”

‘I’ and ‘mine’ – these constitute ignorance. ‘My house’, ‘my wealth’, ‘my learning’, ‘my possessions’ – the attitude that prompts one to say such things comes from ignorance. On the contrary, the attitude born of Knowledge is: ‘O God, You are the Master, and all these things belong to You. House, family, children, attendants, friends, they are all Yours.’

As long as ‘I-consciousness’ exists, living beings and the universe must also exist. After realizing God, one sees that, it is He Himself who has become the universe and the living beings. But one cannot realize this by mere reasoning. 


The bhaktas retain ‘I-consciousness’; the jnanis do not. Sri Nangta used to teach how to establish oneself in the true Self, saying, ‘Merge the mind in the buddhi and the buddhi in the Ātman; then you will be established in your true Self.

All troubles come to an end when the ego dies. As long as a trace of ‘I-consciousness’ remains, one is conscious of difference. Nobody knows what remains after the ‘I’ disappears. Nobody can express it in words. That which is remains. After the ‘I’ disappears one cannot say that a part manifests through this man and the rest through another. Satchidananda is the ocean. The pot of ‘I’ is immersed in it. As long as the pot exists, the water seems to be divided into two parts: one part inside the pot and the other part outside it. But when the pot is broken there is only one stretch of water. One cannot even say that. Who would be there to say that?

In the samādhi state, that is the state of Perfect Peace and Happiness, that comes at the end of reasoning and discrimination, no such thing as ‘I’ exists. But it is extremely difficult to attain it; ‘I-consciousness’ lingers so persistently. That is why a man is born again and again in this world.

Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water: Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The Jnāni sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but Parmatman. Then what is this pot? It is ‘I-consciousness’. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of ‘I’ exists. When the ‘I’ disappears, what IS remains. That cannot be described in words.