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Is Fate Unalterable or Negotiable?

abracad, · Categories: externally authored, purpose

By Lt. Col RK Langar

When things do not happen in life the way we want them to be, there is a temptation to attribute our failure to fate or destiny to derive some consolation out of it. Fate does play a part in man’s life but there is also a free will which a man posses and which enable him to take his work to its highest state of efficiency. Hence we can assume that both Free will and Fate regulate our life.

Free will and Fate are called two legs men walks on. They are also referred as two wheels of a cart where both play their part in its movement. Man is caught between Free will and Fate and it would be fatal not to recognize one or the other. Free will relates to our exercise of will while performing actions in the present life whereas Fate is the sum total of the effect of past actions of our previous lives which influence our present life. When a cause produces an effect we call it fate. Fate which is also called PRARBDHA, is that portion of our past actions which is bearing its fruit in our present life.  Exercise of free will in relation to our past actions becomes our Fate in the present life as per the Law of karma which states that each one of us is an effect of which our past has been the cause. Our past actions can be good as well as bad which produce corresponding effect in our present life. In broader sense we can say that Free will and Fate are not two but one as both are grounded on exercise of Free will, One is the present life and other in our past lifes.

Even though Fate or destiny plays some part in our present life human life is not mathematically predestined. Human beings are endowed with free will and it should be employed righteously and purposefully for our self evolution. That we have a free will is endorsed by a single verse of Bhagavad Gita. At the end of His discourse Lord Krishna tells Arjuna to reflect on what He has said and act as he likes. If everything in life was predestined then God would not have told Arjuna to act as he thinks what is right. Fate or destiny is usually described by an average mind as whatever has to happen will happen and man can do nothing to change the course of events which are destined for him as Fate. This thinking is NOT rational. This thinking makes us feel that we are just puppets in the hands of God waiting for something to happen. But when we evolve ourselves we find that we are copartners of God in cosmic activities. Albert Einstein also excepts this when he says that we are co-creater with God and not puppets. We have seen that in life people do take up challenges and fight their way out to obtain favourable results. Once we accept that every thing in life is dictated by Fate we close all doors of our progress. NOT only that we adopt the path of least resistance and wait for things to happen rather than we ourselves makes things happen. It is very rightly said that if one door closes for us then others doors open at the same time for us to act. But the problem is that as human beings we have a tendency to look at the close door for a long period instead of looking and exploring the possibility to make use of the doors which have been open. The best is to utilize the obstacles presented to us as Fate as an opportunity to put in sustained effort to get over them. Obstacles presented as Fate should be recognized, dealt with an defeated by the power of our self effort. Self effort precedes  God’s grace which goes well with the adage that God helps those who help themselves.

Those who are inclined to believe in Free will are always gainers as they are prepared to act and not give up. When Winston Churchill asked to give our one reason for his success against heavy odds – he said “Do Not, Do Not, Do Not, Do Not, Do Not (Five times) give up”.  The ill effects of the sins of the past do not dishearten those who believe in free will as they act positively to neutralize the ill effects. They know that self effort and good deeds of their present life shall dilute the ill effects of past deeds as milk poured in black tea soften blackness. Sri Aurobindo says in one of his writings that we are our fate through our actions. Other saints and sages have always relied on the self effort of present life to create mans Fate. Lord Krishna says in the Gita that man should stand up and fight thereby meaning exertion and not submitting to Fate. Sage Vashishta while instruction Lord Rama says that fate or the effects of our past deeds is like a child and our self effort of the present life is like a youth. And in the fight between youth and child youth shall always be the winner. This conveys that Fate will loose its bite when confronted with self effort. In Mahabharta Bhisma conveys the same idea when he says that exertion is greater than destiny and action shapes destiny and not destiny shapes action. That is why wise do not rely on fate but focuses self effort. God as plan whole thing before we are born but He Has not planed our day to day actions, our precise words and thoughts which remain under us as we can control our thoughts, feelings and actions in our present life.

At an average state of consciousness man should not set his mind on Fate otherwise one would lose interest in life. As our level of consciousness improves then we realize the part played by Fate or unknown hand in our life. Inter connectedness between Free will and Fate is explained in the Gita which states that there are five causes for the accomplishment of all work. Out of these four causes – the seat of action, the agent, various senses and manifold efforts – are under human control. But the fifth cause which is called unseen force of past karma, Fate or Daivam (presiding divinity) is outside man’s control. The non human factor’s part in our action is evident when despite our best effort we do not obtain desired results for our actions. Here man should not get disappointed because all powers rests on Absolute justice. If anything appears unjust it should be understood that the process of divine justice has not yet finished. When Lord Krishna shows his divine form to Arjuna in the Gita. He tells Arjuna that all warriors standing against him have been doomed to die under divine dispensation. Even without Arjuna they shall not live as they have already been killed by Him. Arjuna is just instrument or merely an occasion in the Divine plan and he should conquer the enemy in the battle. This certainly does not mean that God has predestined this event but it only reinforces cause and effect syndrome due to which the warriors have to meet their end as an effect of their past deed. God sees far ahead and all moments of time, past, present and future are present to the Divine spirit. Everything is permitted by God and he knows the goal of all lives.

Can the effect of bad karmas be totally or obliterated. When man surrenders to God, renounces the fruit of his actions and offers them to God then no Fate operates for him. When man rises towards perfection, then his free will merge with the Divine will. Then God works through him as he has surrendered before Him. Maharishi Ramana provides answer when he says that what would Fate do if you have surrendered to God. This is an acceptable concept which man should adopt. There is always an advantage to accept that mans Fate is variable and not fix. Only unenlightened people view that Fate is fix whereas enlightened people accept that Fate is negotiable and man can we shape his destiny with self effort and self surrender.  When we confront an obstacle we do not look for opportunities available to us to negotiate the obstacle. When one door closes other doors open up but we have an inbuilt tendency to look at the closed door only. Those who negotiate their fate do not look at the closed door for long. They always find a way out.

Col RK Langar may be contacted at 0 99101 59776


Filed in: externally authored, purpose

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