The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Question (Q): I have heard that we make our own karma and I have also heard that everything is predetermined and we don’t make our own karma, we are like puppets. When you let go of this idea that you are a person then life unfolds by itself. So, I am wondering which of those is true. Please guide.
Acharya Prashant (AP): Neither. No idea about the Truth is truth. Whatsoever is ever said about the Truth is bound to be false; you don’t have to really whack your brains.
Listener (L): It affects how someone would behave if you think that everything is predetermined and you have to just completely let go of this sense of a person who is acting in the world. Everything is predetermined, so, therefore there is no sense of responsibility because it is just happening.
AP: It is not quite factual; it is not correct that if we believe that everything is predetermined then we will be able to let go of our sense of responsibility. The ego operates in very dubious ways; its traps are very subtle. Now, be with me. When you say that since everything is predetermined hence I have no responsibility; how do you feel? Nice?
L: I think that you have to have a responsibility according to what you see is at hand.
AP: Suppose, you actually do believe that everything is predetermined, does that lead to a cessation of the ego, I want to ask? Suppose, at this instance, all of us are told that we have no responsibilities, will that bring the ego crashing down? How would you feel if you come to hear that you have no responsibilities?
L: That wasn’t exactly what I meant by having no responsibilities. There is responsibility according to what you feel is right.
AP: If there is still a responsibility then everything cannot be predetermined. Because I am still required to do something and I have a choice whether or not to do it. If I still have a choice, there is no question of predeterminism.
L: But, the teaching says that you think you can choose, but whatever you are going to choose is already predetermined.