By Rashida Jiwani
The dictionary defines destiny as “the apparently predetermined and inevitable series of events that happen to somebody or something”. So it really means a force outside of a human being, which determines his future course of life. On the other hand, “free will” implies the freedom to use one’s own will and determine one’s own life. Are these two terms in conflict?
When an accident or human calamity happens, people gather a number of surprising stories. When there were bomb blasts in the Mumbai local trains, a large number of people were killed. But my daughter, who was supposed to take a train from Churchgate station, suddenly decided to take a taxi and go to Mahalaxmi station to finish an errand, and missed the blast. But there was another person who left his office earlier than usual, and was killed in the blasts. But is this really destiny? There is a theory among reiki masters who say that whatever happens to you is invited by you. If you have a stiff neck, it shows you are an obstinate person, which transfers to your neck. If you have problems speaking aloud your thoughts, then it could lead to thyroid problems, and so on. Whatever is true for the individual is also true for the collective. When people have negative thoughts all the time, they attract more negative thoughts from others with negativities and together they create negative situations like accidents, and wars. What about those who are saved at that time? Well, they are the ones who were subconsciously aware of such a catastrophe and they decided to change their path, or even if they got into that accident, their awareness saved them from being hurt too much. So, what we call destiny is actually something created by our own thinking and our actions at that time.
Also, there is another argument against destiny. If everything was predetermined by some force, then why were human beings given free will? Human are not like animals. Animal lives are preprogrammed, and so to a large extent they live lives as per their destiny, which is largely guided by intuition. In the case of humans, we not only have existential intelligence (intelligence to survive) but super intelligence, helping us to live lives through our own decisions and free will. What was the use of free will, if our lives were only guided by destiny? If we see the lives of people who have achieved great heights in education, art or politics, we can see that their lives were guided by free will. Look at Ambedkar. He was born a Dalit boy, poor, at a time when lower castes never got a chance for higher education. Ambedkar fought his way to Columbia University, and later helped the Dalits to get their rights and improve their lot. Was this mere destiny? No. this was an example of using free will to achieve one’s highest potential.
Finally, I would say, there is something like destiny. But who creates destiny for humans? Not nature but humans themselves, individually or in a group. Nothing happens by chance. All incidents are created by humans, directly or indirectly, through their awareness or unawareness, through acts of commission or omission, which appear to us like destiny. In fact what we call “destiny”, I would see as happenings created by a large number of forces, seen or unseen, creating either individual destiny or collective destiny. When human beings don’t understand or can’t explain why a particular thing happened, they call it destiny. However, as the Bhagavad Gita says, “Karma hi bhagya hai” (our own actions create our destiny)
- Rashida Jiwani, Mumbai
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