Blog Piece

Free Will and Destiny

February 12, 2019 2

Learn to use your free will and accept your destiny. Both of them are almost the same.

Destiny is defined similarly in most texts and scriptures. It is the efforts of the past fructify in the present. A sequence of this fructification, follow the tendencies that arise within us and lead to actions, called Karma. If you take ownership of this act, it is like taking the seeds out of the fruit and replanting them. They will again wait to fructify into actions or Karma. In a future life, we call it Destiny.

This leads us to multiple questions like: Can we use our free will to change our destiny? Can good Karmas change destiny? Could not accepting the ownership of karmas make you reach the final destination faster? What is that final destination? How to distinguish between free will and destiny if there is a difference? The rest of the article tries to answer these questions.

Destiny and Karma do not happen by a choice or accident. They are a matter of fact.

I think the best way to understand Destiny is to compare it with a movie script. If destiny is the entire script, then free will is just a wish of that actor to how well he wants to perform the role in this movie. However, good acting cannot change the script. Destiny plays its part (movie) but can I as an actor play my part well? I guess free will is just a perception that things happen because of my will. And Good karmas only change our perception and create power within us to accept destiny as it is. The audience of a movie always knows that the movie is fully made and hence it is easy to accept the end. So should be the case with our lives as well.

So, is there anything such as good karma or bad karma? Or is it a predestined act- for the one serving and the other one being served? If that is the truth, then maybe free will is acting within the framework of destiny, as a line of code within the pre-programmed algorithm. Our senses do not let us believe so and make us feel it is our own effort or lack of it that shapes the future.

For people who are still not ready to accept this, destiny has been predicted by astrologers, tarot card readers in the past. Astrology is based on the influence of planetary movements on our lives. This is a science carried forward from the past. There are some good astrologers in the market and some not, but that does not change the science. Nostradamus had predicted the life of Hitler, 400 years before Hitler was born. So, did Hitler have a choice of not being the architect of Second World War?

I guess the viewing angle can also make a difference in our perspective. When you look at life from the present to the future, concepts such as free will, good decision making, doing good karma, evolving one’s soul are all relevant. However, if one was to view their same life standing at another cross section of time and space where your consciousness is yet to reach (like standing in the future and viewing the past), then a completely different understanding of destiny and the above concepts may prevail.

There have been many instances in history where the destiny has been tweaked by a Guru. Is that really possible or tweaking of destiny was also pre-destined? I believe the role of the Guru is not to change the destiny but to help us understand and accept it as the journey moves on. Maybe destiny can be tweaked by letting it happen in the dream state where we still pass that destiny point. It is not very intuitive though.

Then the question comes up: What is the final destination of destiny?  This body of ours is called the Karma Kshetra or the incarnation where the karmas are worked out, exhausted, squared up so that the identity can become free of karmas. It is only when an entity is free of karmas can it attain mukti which is freedom from birth and death, and finally moksha, which is non-existence and becoming one with the Supreme. I believe this is the goal or the purpose of every soul. It is carried out in the form of a human body. And in order to achieve this, the individual has to ensure that fresh karmas stop being generated.

Is believing in free will a wise decision? I guess it is not. It sows the seeds of doership – my decision, my action and thus the outcome. When we keep emphasizing on free will with so much of determination, somewhere it does create a sense of doership – which then leads to responsibility, & then subsequent emotions of guilt, love, etc. We end up adding karmas to our balance sheet. It would be easy to accept our emotions if we can understand and remind ourselves that love, fear, greed, selfishness, empathy, selflessness, happiness and rest of their tribe are just chemical reactions in our body. It helps one to stop creating new karmas and reach the state when he/she becomes a non-doer (not taking the ownership of the acts and thoughts).

Patanjali is crisp when he says “The real Self, the Atman, remains forever outside the power of thought-waves. It is eternally pure, enlightened and free- the only true, unchanging happiness. It follows, therefore, the man can never know his real Self as long as the thought-waves and the ego-sense are being identified. In order to become enlightened, we must bring the thought-waves under control, so that this false identification may cease”

One of the important goals is to shed adulteration and indulge in self-purification. Someone asked a carpenter – “How do you make an elephant from a block of wood?” He said, “Simple, you just chip away all that does not look like an elephant.”

Knowledge of the existence of destiny can provide a necessary shift from expecting to accepting. A spiritual path, in general, is a method to make us believe who we already are but refuse to accept so – a part of the divinity that many worship externally. And maybe we can call free will a by-product of destiny.


  • Naina Nagpal

    February 12, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    How does one balance acceptance of destiny with apathy towards the destiny that plays out? The samskaras to create a change rise within us – then what does a person do? How does one react to the circumstances of life ? What should be the core central position to lead one to control the emotions or guide them to a non reactionary output?

    • admin

      February 17, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      Dear Naina,

      At the outset please understand that destiny is an incredibly complicated subject, however we will attempt to answer your query.

      Firstly, everything happens as per everyone’s destiny. That actually means
      everything is predestined. If that is so, the ONLY way for a human to act is “ACCEPTANCE”. Accept that whatever happens HAS to happen and, since we can’t do anything about it we simply have to accept it.

      Further, destiny not only determines our path in life but also dictates decisions.

      This is how one can dilute or even negate the effects of destiny. Do not take ownership of any of your actions! Do not hold yourself responsible for what has been programmed to happen. Become a mere witness to what you do. Why become the owner?

      Many evolved gurus, prophets and saints truly believe their actions are not their own and whatever they do , they do in the name of the highest power, whether one calls it God, or the Supreme Consciousness, or any other name.



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