Life is all about choices!
“This way” or “That way” are always the two options served to us in our lives and we have to pick any one. Like the famous dialogue of King Khan in the movie DDLJ, “Zindagi mein hamesh aapko do raaste milenge, ek sahi ek galat, aur aapko kisi ek ko chunna hoga” haha. A fair point without doubts, dear Raj or ‘Simran ka Raj’ to be more accurate.
Is really life is a matter of choice or there is a force ruling us and we are just acting puppets in its hands? Ask and wonder many. Are our thoughts and actions completely determined by forces over which we have no control? Or, are we free to decide for ourselves, to be the captains of our fate? The question of fate versus free will is an old one and eventually ends up on a philosophical note because science is still not ready with its answer. Some argue, debate and some even reject the idea out rightly and bring the all-powerful “Destiny/Fate/Kismat ka Likha (Favorite of us Indians, haha)”and some go double in their confidence saying “It’s all in our hands and its our choices only which make our lives”. Everytime I get trapped in the discussion, smilingly I say, “OK” because who knows what it is really.
Life starts with the choice that we have to make from the first day we are born and then of course there is a choice that life offers you to take at every step. Infact, if we go back a little with time, we are expected to take few choices even before our birth like which womb to choose and which family to go. Perhaps that’s what we call as “Free Will”. There is an interesting catch here, if you notice. While there is a belief that we have everything destined, there is a choice in the choices. Like for eg: For once the soul gets the relief that it has taken a choice between taking a birth or not taking a birth. The moment it takes a sigh of relief, then immediately the next choice comes up as birth in which form of life – animal/bird/insect/reptile/worm or what. Then again let’s say with great difficulty the poor soul again gets up to take a decision and take a sigh of relief then again the question arises which animal/bird/insect/reptile/worm and so on and so forth.
For hundreds of years, this debate went in favor of this view that God, whom we have never seen, being all-powerful and all-knowing, was considered to have predetermined all that would happen in the future. Everything, therefore, must have been predetermined by “HIS” prior knowledge and prior decisions. The second point of view comes with the argument served on table that if we are merely puppets in the hands of a predetermined life, how can there be any punishment for doing what we couldn’t possibly have avoided ? Further, if we say, “Well, punishment is also predetermined,” then punishment loses all moral significance, claiming the point that punishment is useful because it can bring in discipline in the society and can bring in a change in the factors that determine a criminal’s behavior. Then we see judiciary with the assumption that the judges are just acting mediums to announce the decision of the supreme power. So right or wrong comes later, but yes the free-will is definitely there because of which we clearly take a choice.
The free-will brings in another concept in view for consideration, which is very much supported by science is “Determinism”. In today’s day and age of scientific advancement, we are constantly at the study of “Self”. Discoveries in the fields of psychology, physiology, neurology, and pharmacology indicate that the determinant's dream of being able to predict all facets of human behavior may soon come true. Behavioral scientists anticipate a time when an examination of the biological and psychological characteristics of an infant will enable them to write his life’s story before he lives it. In short, the evidence available today regarding human motivation and how human attitudes are affected makes a strong case for determinism. But again an interesting point here that is sometimes made in favor of free will is that if determinism is true, those who believe in free will are determined to be that way. So it’s a nice jigsaw puzzle for the human mind to remain occupied solving it, haha.
But in such a situation, the spiritual science comes helpful a great way. We get our understanding of the reconciliation between fate and free will from the Bhagavad-Gita, well supported by other schools of thoughts in the same field. The first relevant bit of information is that we are neither our material bodies and nor the ever notorious mind; we are eternal souls with acquired body and mind. If we agree to this theory atleast then we can go on to understand the extent to which we are determined and the extent to which we have free will or we have a predetermined and ordained life.
Ref to the arguments made above, if we have a free will then we would always choose what makes you happy and our enjoyment. But that always doesn’t work for us. So many times our decisions are against out temptations and we go with decisions that are best for us. So clearly there is somebody inside who is continuously guiding us in that whispering voice “don’t do this do that”. When we listen to that and act in accordance we will always benefit.
As spiritual beings, we are all part and parcel of the original and supreme power which is omnipresent and omniscient, the “nirakar roopa”, as we say. This means that we are reflections of the “Self”. Since we are a part of this supreme energy, even we are divine but this divinity is veiled. It is camouflaged. Divinity is our true nature always but we remain ignorant of that and precisely because of this that our mind plays with us all its games. It is the mind which comes up with its desires according to its conceptions and informations of the material enjoyment and its attachment to it. Then
on top of it is its egoistic nature because of which comes the thought of our independent existence. It is because of this ego, we foolishly think ourselves the doers of activities in this world.
Existence is One. Whatever multiplicity is seen as existing is because of the One: I am. Nothing other than the One can exist independent of the One and this includes the mind.
Supposing there was no mind. In that case, there would be no one to think, see, perceive or judge. There would be absolute order or perfection with no confusion of any kind. The existence of the mind is created out of attachment to that one thought: “I AM”. The unmanifested became manifested after which the first knowledge came as: “I AM”. This particular thought “I am” gets created as a sense of presence: “I exist”. When this “I am” becomes "I am this"; or "I am that", then that becomes the beginning of the false entity: “the ego”.
Hence to conclude, If we consider ourselves different than the source only then that there would come the concepts of Divine Will vs Free will or Determinism.
So let’s live life to the fullest even if we believe it's by compulsion (i.e as ordained) or by choice.
Cheers to a happy contended blessed Life ahead for all ! 👍