A scorpion asked a tortoise to take him across a river. The tortoise refused fearing for his life. The scorpion reasoned – ‘I will not harm you. If I do so, I too will perish.’ Persuaded by the reasonableness of the argument, the tortoise consented and allowed the scorpion to mount onto its back. Halfway across the river the scorpion stings the tortoise. ‘Why did you do it,’ asked the tortoise, ‘now you too will drown.’ ‘Because it is my nature to sting,’ the scorpion answered.

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The mind is all the time recording. Some of this information is recent or better organized and more accessible; some flagged, the incident having left a strong impression. The other thing the mind is doing is to constantly refer back to this databank and to make comparisons and connections. Recurring thought patterns show up as predispositions and pondering on a subject for long allows the mind to make other less straightforward connections. In addition the effect of thoughts on brain chemistry (and then the nervous-system and the body) is experienced as emotions.

All this being the case, in a situation, were all the variables (accumulated memories, beliefs and emotions) and their impacting intensity known, theoretically it ought to be possible to predict the approach and conclusions of a particular mind. The will then is not free, it is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect. What is more we are not mindful of the source of our thoughts or the mind mechanism and hence the illusion of free-will. Then again, a newborn has inclinations. Where do these originate from? Impressions from past incarnations perhaps! A Hindu twist to the above anecdote would be that the scorpion was born as such because of its penchant to sting.

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