Friday, January 16, 2009

Destiny vs Free Will

The past few months of my life have been no less than a roller coaster ride for me. I went through a series of ups and downs, involving a period of generally feeling low about being stuck in a rut before I fell in love and experienced the highest of highs. But all throughout last year, anytime something good happened to me or something didn’t go as per my expectations there was always this neon sign that blinked in my head which read “Free will vs. Destiny”. Was I living the life that I had made for myself through all my actions and inactions or was I just a puppet playing out a part that was chosen for me by a higher power. Since I’ve never been able to conclude on this dilemma I’ve finally decided to put my thoughts in writing and see where they lead me.
Destiny refers to a pre determined course of events which will take place irrespective of any/all circumstances. While free will is a result of our rationalizing and deciding. Whenever I think about Free will versus Destiny I can’t help but wonder… How much of a say do I really have compared to the destiny already mapped out for me before I was even born? Is everything that happens to me predestined or do I actually make a difference from what I think, plan and do?
I must admit that life seems pretty random every time I sit and think of it as destiny. It is like no matter what I do the end result will be the same so why bother trying to do the right thing? Going along with these thoughts I can’t help but equate destiny to some random draw of lottery where some of us get lucky and some of us don’t. My mind continues to debate, if God has really destined everything for each one of us then what were his decisions based on? How did a few of us end up getting the winning number on the lottery and did the rest just run out of luck? Did God randomly pick a few mortals and decide that they were the chosen ones and the others would have to struggle? (An inevitable brief pause occurs as I drift away thinking about destiny and how people say that everything we get in this life is a sum total of our karma from our previous births. Although, I’m a Hindu I really can’t relate to this explanation of my previous lives karma influencing my today and decide to resume my writing).
Free Will. Aha! Two magical words capable of shaping up my life. Free will seems to imply that I actually have a choice and say in determining the course of events in my life. That would mean that I can have anything that I want if I put my mind and efforts to it. Surely life can’t be that simple, all of us can’t have everything we desire. There has to be a catch somewhere. And there surely is. With sheer free will would come sheer coincidence. Imagine the zillions of ‘free wills’ of every living creature on this planet just floating around in space. Opposite free wills clashing with one another, all trying to reign supreme. All of a sudden life seems chaotic and I feel like I’m making my way through a jungle armed with pretty much nothing but my own tiny little free will. If our life is truly a set of coincidences based on the whims and fancies of all living and non living things then the universe would be in deep and utter chaos. So is my free will just a residual of adjusting zillions of free wills of others which were exercised before me? If this is so, I’d feel like I was shortchanged from something better which was in store for me. (Another long pause while a series of rational and irrational thoughts come into my mind. Until now I was always of the opinion that I could make anything happen through my will and determination but I’m not so sure anymore.)
Well, so which one is it Destiny or Free Will? How do I really know what is destined for me until I have survived it? In this sense I would only be able to experience destiny in the past. Wouldn’t I be a happier person thinking I do the things I do because I want to do them and not because I’ve been pre ordained to do them? Or maybe there is some kind of a law of nature where everything in the universe has only but one course to follow, and if this were the case; I wouldn’t be able to change a thing, so should I just give up trying and allow myself to drift with the flow? My indecisive Libran self can go on and on, endlessly debating over the two options but I must draw a conclusion somewhere and put my restless mind at ease (At least for now!)

So this is where I conclude. Choice or Fate… How about my choices leading me to my Fate? Now, that is a thought which not only reassures me of my capabilities but it also reaffirms my faith in the Almighty. Thus, no matter what I do in my life my destiny shall unfold before me. This may be willingly or unwillingly, by accident or by purpose. And, in the case that I don’t like where I am headed in life I will be able to change things. While certain circumstances and events shall remain predetermined and beyond my control, I shall possess the absolute free will to determine where I go, how long I take to get there and whom I bring along the way.