The Tangled Web of Destiny, Karma and Free Willabracad, · Categories: karma, purpose
The Nature of Reality
For centuries the scientific viewpoint held that the destiny of the universe was fixed at its origin, ie what's now known as the Big Bang. Everything that came after, including the minutiae of human experience, was determined by physical laws of cause and effect applied to its initial conditions.
Current scientific thinking, based on quantum physics, modifies the above. Instead of being a deterministic system the universe, at the sub-atomic level, contains an inherent, random, indeterminacy. Thus, even with complete knowledge of its starting conditions, the universe rapidly becomes unpredictable. However, it is still viewed as a purposeless system, with human beings as accidental, random, automata.
For far longer than the scientific view has existed, large numbers of mankind have held, and continue to hold, various Spiritual interpretations of the nature of reality. Although these interpretations differ between cultures and individuals, they share the belief in some form of higher intelligent power ("God") directing events on earth.
A third alternative is that we are indeed truly conscious beings, endowed with free-will, but finite and mortal. Although capable of carving out a pseudo-destiny, we remain trapped in a meaningless universe, cruelly aware of our own futility. Although possible, this seems the least plausible explanation of our being. Why should a purely accidental, random, configuration of raw material produce so much that suggests a non-existent underlying meaning? Why should the remarkable exception of free-will be so localized as to a single being for the instant of its lifespan?
The physical universe has existed for a finite time, currently estimated at around 14 billion years. It is slowly, but inevitably, winding down to its so-called heat death, in which it will come to a standstill.
Spirituality and Being
Spirituality is essentially the recognition that the physical universe is not the totality of existence, but merely a manifestation arising from some deeper, unbounded, level that is variously termed God, Spirit, source etc. Individual entities, eg souls that may take human form, are finite pieces of this infinite being, existing to serve its insatiable thirst for experience.
Every individual has a purpose for being. Where that being requires living one or more earthly lives, each of those lives also has a pre-determined purpose along with a freedom of will that allows us to actively pursue that purpose or deviate from it. However, where we deviate too far from our purpose we are gently returned to it by the subtle but constant influence of our source (ie destiny).
Sometimes we glimpse this higher level of reality, most subtly through the experience of coincidences that occur more frequently than they ought, occasionally through a paranormal encounter that defies "rational" explanation. Such glimpses act as prompts that we are part of something bigger, even if we cannot comprehend its nature.
Our free-will is limited, much like a dog being taken for a walk on a leash. We choose to go this way or that, but ultimately an external fate (the dog's owner) determines the route we follow. Though free-will allows us to temporarily ignore the influence of our higher purpose, it will persist until heeded, even over many lifetimes.
From a Spiritual perspective everything that happens to us in this world happens for a reason.
Our experiences are the result of our free choices (eg what we choose to study at college etc), the free choices of others (whether X or Y chooses to give us a job, date us etc) and pure "chance" (winning the lottery, getting caught in an earthquake etc), described in legalese as "acts of God".
Purpose, Destiny and Karma
Sometimes our purpose is to serve that of others; sometimes the purpose of others is to serve ours. This "service" is often realized in non-obvious ways. The tangled web of influence is infinitely complex and yet directed by an infinite intelligence, somehow everything ultimately serves the divine purpose.
Destiny is our Spiritually determined purpose of existence. Karma is cause and effect, the results of exercising free-will. Every act of Will sets in motion a process that requires resolution. Karma is not judgmental, it is not punishment or reward for past deeds, merely unfinished processes seeking conclusion.
Insight into one's true purpose is gained by transcending the rational thoughts conditioned by our environment. It is listening to the quiet, barely noticeable, voice within. It is noticing the gut's reaction to where you are and where you should be. It is glimpsed in the stillness of meditation and the recurrent themes of dreams.
Wherever you are at the current moment, however imperfect, is the right place to be and its challenges are the right challenges. Our purpose of the moment is to make the best of the current situation. It is to use our freedom, within the bounds of circumstance, to best serve our deeper Spiritual purpose.
Filed in: karma, purpose