Destiny and Karma are the two sides of one coin. Free will is just an artistic creation.
Nobody on this Earth has free will, keep that in mind. If we think we’re free, that is the greatest illusion of life. If free, trying doing this:
- Leave house right now and don’t return for a year
- Quit job, slap boss
- Divorce wife/husband
- If a vegetarian, eat pork tomorrow for fun
- Get naked in a supermarket and slap a woman
We cannot do it! Theoretically yes, practically no! If we are courageous, we may do one or two of these, but we’ll not be able to do it. And if we can do these, chances are people already know that we are someone capable of doing anything for the sake of being proven right (i.e. people would already identify us as stubborn and crazy which again means we’re not free and would be tempted to do anything crazy to prove ourself irrespective of the objective).
Do we know the word “fantasy”? We all have fantasies, from eating an ice-cream to dating a superstar, from traveling across the globe to proposing someone we love. Do we do it? No! Why is our free will not enough?
Free will is an illusion! It does not exist. Nobody on this Earth is free. However, saying that usually offends Christians because the Bible talks differently about Free-Will.
It is so because, the Free-Will that Bible talks about, is nothing but Karma. Somewhere down the line, we have confused the words and taken them out of context. When the Bible says a man is free to choose his own path and choose good over evil, it is simply telling that a man who strives towards good and tries to change himself will be rewarded for his efforts. Or rather, we will get results as per our Karma and we always have the capacity to strive to do the right Karma.
This mess is created because the way both the scriptures talk is different. Hinduism is written in a much more mathematical way, because most of the scholars and saints were also teachers and mathematicians. So Hinduism is very mathematical in its writings and does not associate the though process to the actual action/karma because not all thoughts are translated to karma for a person.
The Bible, on the other hand, is more metaphoric, simple and psychological rather than mathematical. It is because, the authors were actually priests who used to worship and address sermons day in and day out. The texts of Hinduism have been written to address to disciples who have a certain level of understanding. The Bible has been written to address the most average man who can be anyone from a farmer to a beggar who listens to a sermon given by someone. For such a man, it becomes essential to address thoughts, rather than talk of actions. Hence the difference in the language used.
Free-Will, in the modern sense that we interpret it, means that a man has complete freedom to act on any thought he has. That he is not bound by anything. But that is not true. A man will always be bound by his principles, his desires, his ambitions, his fears, his learnings and so many things. At best, a man can strive to change some of these by putting in efforts; but that too is a process that will take practice and persistence. A man is not free to change himself, a man must work hard and force himself out of his equilibrium in order to make a change. A thought that is contradictory to one’s being, cannot be made to happen because Free-Will does not exist.
And this is why, predictions are possible. Be it psycho-analysis, big data analytics, astrology, or anything at all. It is possible because we all know that a man is the function of his behavioural traits and thinking. If we have enough data, we can predict someone’s thoughts and actions for even 10 to 20 years down the line!
Now, coming to karma and destiny; more often than not, man makes his own destiny. There are only a few karma that we inherit by birth (such as chronic diseases, ancestry or major life crisis in early age). However, other than that, almost all our life is our own doing.
This is one thing people do not understand, and this is one thing nobody wants us to understand because of its a disadvantage for everyone if we start blaming ourselves. Societies and civilizations thrive on an individual’s weakness. It is only because we are incapable on our own, that we will seek help from someone else. Vulnerability and self-doubt are cherished by society because these are the basic building block of all civilizations. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone in our life will always try and promote our weaknesses in some way or another:
- If we have been betrayed in a relationship, it is not someone else’s fault that they backstabbed. It is our own lack of judgement that we could never figure out someone else’s intentions. But people will tend to blame the other person because by doing so people establish that we are emotionally weak and vulnerable. This is because then we would look for people to confide in and acknowledge that we need someone trustworthy in our life to save us from such a mess the next time.
- if we fail, we will find that people in general have the tendency to blame the social structure, lack of resources, other obstacles etc. but not themselves.
- If someone richer and better than us succeeds, people will say that it is their privileges that lead to them doing better. If someone poorer and worse than us succeeds, people will say that it is a sheer stroke of good luck. If something bad happens, people will say it was a bad time or bad luck etc. Basically, the justification will always be something that tends to make us vulnerable and weak and this is how a person too develops the tendency to blame others or their own luck.
Because anytime that we try and admit our fault, or even try and search our own fault; it will push we into introspection and self-actualization. And these are the processes that take we inward rather than outward. A person becomes more self-aware and more distant from others.
We are not biologically and psychologically designed to function like that. Civilizations have evolved only because people came together to overcome their vulnerabilities. Two people come together when one guy has A and wants B while the other guy has B and wants A. That is how all of the economy and society came into being. If what we want can be given by someone else, it brings people together. And in order to do so, the first thing is to establish what we want (desire) and second is to establish our inability to get it ourselves (vulnerability).
So basically, Karma is primary and what we can actually control. Destiny is its consequence which we may receive immediately or after a period of time. Free-will is just creativity at best.
But most important of them all, knowing that we, and we alone, are responsible for our destiny and we alone can act to correct it; is crucial. In the absence of this, no knowledge, no prayer, no qualities and no amount of luck will ever be enough.
उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: ||BG 6:5||
It is our duty to elevate ourself by our own efforts, and not let anything degrade or deplete us in any manner. we are indeed our only true friend if we understand this. And we would become our only true enemy if we don’t.
Note: The above first appeared in the form of a Quora Post on April 25, 2019. https://qr.ae/pNeSXR