1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Mother of All
  4. The Eternal Debate: Choice Vs Destiny

The Eternal Debate: Choice Vs Destiny

Magazine : Mother of All
Language : English
Volume Number : 10
Month : October
Issue Number : 4
Year : 2011

Are we free to exercise our will? Or are we just puppets going through motions in life according to a plan, pre-determined by a superior power?

Philosophers have pondered over this question since ages. Omar Khayyam thought we were no better than water, flowing willy nilly; or a ball on the field, which, “right or left as strikes the Players goes…” This all a checker-board of nights and days,” he writes, “Where Destiny with men for Pieces plays.” Khayyam’s stand is pre-deterministic. He hints at an unalterable script: “The first morning of Creation wrote/ what the last dawn of reckoning shall read.” What scope, what choice do we have then in life? “Drink” says Khayyam “For you know not whence you came, nor why:/Drink! For you know not why you go, nor where.” Drinking is Khayyam’s metaphor for the response (read protest) of a man created without choice, pitched against a plastic cosmic order.

In contrast to this is the traditional view of Judgment Day of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This view is based on the conviction that each person is wholly responsible for his conduct in life, and so shall be called to judgment for every act of omission and commission. This view presupposes a wide scope for human will discretion. The Hindu view of karmic transmigration also supposes choice for individual human beings.

Cheiro the palmist presents a third view. He compares the human condition to that of a pendulum in motion. Can it stop or alter its course? It cannot. Analogous to this, says Cheiro, is our condition: At once free and not-free.

Cheiro’s view is close in a way to the law of gravity that recognizes the inter-dependence of all bodies, animate and inanimate. Theoretically, you cannot move your smallest finger, cannot turn your head this side or that without affecting an alteration in the cosmic configuration. You govern the cosmos. The irony is that you are yourself an entity in the cosmos: as such, you are conditioned by the position of all other bodies in it.. You govern creation, even as you are governed by it. ‘Body’ is an inadequate word on the metaphysical plane. Because everybody, every object also represents a force, energy, an enormous influence.

The terms animate and inanimate are, likewise, not as contradictory as one might imagine at first. The inanimate object is akin to the animate object in so far as both represent energy. Both influence our life. Everyone and everything is a governor; and everyone, everything, is governed. What suffuses all beings and objects is the All Pervasive-Vishnu or Vidyut in Sanskrit, the Ultimate Truth.

To appreciate your place and participate in the web of cosmic interdependence, to submit to the collective rhythm of creation, is to attain bhakti, Narada conveys in his Sutras. Progress towards this state is also a progress towards humility. Adi Shankaracharya calls it being harmonized, the sama-chitta. The consequence of being sama-chitta, according to Shankara, is instant expansiveness or All-ness.

The Scope of individual will is to choose between confinement to the individual ego, and to submit to the Cosmic Self, whatever name you choose to give it. Implied herein is a choice between isolation and inclusion; exile and home-coming; being and endlessly striving at becoming. Lord Krishna who embodies the Cosmic Self puts it succinctly in the Bhagavad Gita: “The worshipers of other gods go to them; My devotees come to Me.”

Attribution Policy : In case you wish to make use of any of the materials in some publication or website, we ask only that you include somewhere a statement like ” This digital material was made available by courtesy of Matrusri Digital Centre, Jillellamudi”.

error: Content is protected !!