DESTINY VERSUS FREEWILL
Destiny vs freewill – It is one of the very famous and important topics as far as spirituality is concerned. Everyone would be interested to know that who is in-charge of our life? Is it God, or the planets and stars, or our past karmas or is it our strong desires which we famously say as freewill or the surroundings in which we develop our talents like our family, society etc. Who decides our life? For some people everything happens in the easiest way, some have to struggle a lot; more worse is, some people in spite of the effort they take success slips from their hands. For some people failure and hard times haunt them for many years to the extent that they get used to hard times and feel no difference. Is there any basic reason for all these or is it just a happening.
In this article, I am not going to mention about the different beliefs based on different religions. I would like to share the rational thought behind this topic.
Destiny in Sanskrit is said as prarabhdha karmas. When we perform an action, subtle impressions are formed in the mind. These impressions are called vasanas. Vasanas influence our thought process and accordingly an action is done. When an action is done, again a new impression is formed in the mind and this cycle repeats. If life is strictly based on our prarabhdha karmas, then present actions are based on prarabhdha karmas, there is no chance for any external influence and life is predetermined. Life will be according to the past impressions. It is like the read only CD; in that case, there is no need to praise or to punish people because everything is predetermined and just bear what all comes in life; but life does not go that way.
On the contrary, if life is strictly based on strong desires in the mind which we say as freewill, then how come people face negatives in life? Definitely, no one will have desires for negative situations or results. From both the views it is easy to understand that life is not completely based on either freewill or prarabhdha karma.
The thought based on a situation affects the person more than the situation itself. Let us take the example of failure in exams. All students will not take that incident in the same way. Some students consider this situation as a part of life. Some take it very seriously; they analyze the reason for failure and improve their performance in their next exam. Some students go to the extent of committing suicide and some just conclude themselves as inefficient and discontinue from the studies. These are some of the reaction from different mentalities based on a single situation. The people who argue for destiny say that the result as well as their reaction are based on the past impressions. The people who argue for freewill say that everything is based on our upbringing, influence from family, friends, society etc. What is the base for all these; is it destiny (prarabhdha karma) or freewill (purushartha).
Vedanta says that life is based on both – destiny as well as freewill. Either destiny or freewill alone cannot make life. Our present action, present thoughts, present effort will never go waste. Influence of prarabhdha karma can create situations. However, how efficiently we face that situation is based on the power of the present thoughts. Prarabhdha karma influences our thoughts to a large extent. However, if we are aware and confident then we can create powerful present thoughts and change our destiny. Our present thoughts, action and knowledge definitely have a power to influence the destiny. Either way can happen; If our destiny is positive then there is a chance of changing it to negative – though it is very rare; A negative destiny can also be changed to positive to an extent by the powerful positive thoughts. Exercises of the mind like meditation, affirmations, visualization etc can help change the destiny the positive way.
Some of the prarabhdha karmas are very strong or they have already started to give result. They are like the released arrow. They will definitely hit the target. Some of them like, our birth in a family, our parents, siblings, and physical deformities are the result of the released prarabhdha karmas. They cannot be changed. However, our future is not fixed. Only the present moment is true. Future is based on our decisions taken at the present moment. If we are not aware that our present thoughts have power, then we will not try for it and in that case by default life goes according to prarabhdha karma, which is destiny.
As said earlier, some of the prarabhdha karmas are powerful and need more effort to change. Suppose I want to change the color of my room wall to white colour which is now painted in black colour, then I have to take much effort to change it to white. If the wall is already painted yellow in colour, then I do not need much effort to change it to white. Just the same way, sometimes our karmas are strong. Then we have to take a lot of effort to change it to positive. It may take some time to change. However, definitely gradually it will change. If the karmas are not that strong then with little effort we can change the destiny to positive.
Sometimes, our prarabhdha karma and freewill go in the same way. Then the future will be very bright. Sometimes the prarabhdha karma and freewill are just opposite. Then it needs effort and it is time consuming. Anyway if our present thoughts are powerful and positive then the negative destiny can be changed gradually to positive. What has happened till today is according to the prarabhdha karmas. That cannot be changed. Now we are aware of the power of our thoughts and the future is materialized by the power of our present thoughts. Definitely the present thoughts has a power over the past impressions or destiny.
Another important point is, we must have complete focus on our goal. Many people have scattered desires or rather many desires. They are not sure about their goal. In such cases only the resultant of the desires will materialize.
There are many past vasanas in the mind. It is measured in quantity. Whereas, the power of the present thoughts is based on the quality of the present thought. It is quantity versus quality.
Therefore in conclusion, whichever is powerful will materialize. If the prarabhdha karmas (destiny) are powerful then by default it will become our future. On the contrary, if the present positive thoughts (purushartha or freewill) are powerful, then the future is based on the present positive thoughts. Life is a combination of both destiny and freewill.