Free Will vs Destiny

In the years I floated around like driftwood with no plan or destination, I greatly believed in destiny (like most Indians do!) Karma is what brings suffering in this lifetime and there is little you can do but grin and bear it. It’s a powerless position to assume in the unfolding of your life. After making several poor choices and bungling like a fool, I gave my power away thinking that I was unfit to decide what is good for me. Let God or other people decide because I really have no choice!

Then in the years I went exploring new age literature and self-help books, I discarded destiny for free will. It felt powerful and free! I could create the life of my dreams by just thinking speaking and doing the right thing – in other words being positive. Not so simple as it sounds. But I took the idea and ran with it.  After years of playing tug of war with destiny and free will this is what I know. Both exist and both have a place in your life. You have free will to change the things that you don’t like in your life. But you cannot determine who or what shows up in your life. That is determined by destiny which in turn is your karma playing itself out.

Know this – you are creating karma every second of your existence. This knowledge is powerful, but knowing alone is not good enough. Acting on it by doing, saying and thinking only positive and loving things ensures that your destiny that is yet to unfold will be pleasant and something to look forward to.

We have no power over destiny or the past. The only time we have is now and we have the free will to make the present moment a positive experience. We have free will to go through our karma without getting depressed, dejected and blaming our fate (thala vidhi like they say in Tamil and Malayalam, like its written in indelible ink on your forehead!)  It’s not and I surprised myself when something happened. Something unexpected and totally horrific. My daughter broke her arm. It was no simple fracture. No simple surgery. I didn’t ask for this!

The old me i.e. woe-is-me-destiny-is-my-foe version would have had a field day calling everyone and complaining and sobbing at the misery that was my life. I had my moments – I cried looking at the X-ray of her totally shattered bones, but mostly version 2 of me was in charge. I accept what life has thrown at me (even though I didn’t want it!) and I will get through it successfully was the attitude I had. I called people and reached out, not to complain, but to ask them to pray for my daughter. I didn’t buckle down and let the worse case scenario play repeatedly in my head. I prayed, kept cool and most of all had faith.

It was in sharp contrast to the woman who was miserable when her infant son had to have surgery. I still prayed back then but it was a scared mom begging God for mercy as opposed to a person full of faith praying and having the deep inner knowing that ‘everything will be all right’.  It’s not like I never felt frightened during that horrible ordeal with my daughter and God knows it takes a long time for bones to heal! I replaced my fear with faith and a quick prayer.

Eckhart Tolle speaks of this in his book “A New Earth”, and I never got it until I actually experienced it. Let life flow through you, he says. Don’t resist. Don’t be like a solid wall. Good or bad accept it with open arms. Embrace life and enjoy the ride. If the roller coaster takes you up, you know its gonna come crashing down. Don’t go down bawling like a baby.

Embrace your destiny and have the wisdom to know that you can change it once you have learnt your life lessons. In doing that you take responsibility for what has shown up and hold the reins to your life. Believe me it’s not easy to do this. I still slip into the why-me-self-pity mode. But with lots of faith and infinite patience you will master it and then  life will not have the power to shake you up, twist you or squeeze all the joy out of you!

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