Destiny Vs. Free Will
What Is Destiny And Free Will?
The concept of destiny, when coupled with free will can be confusing. If something is destined to happen then it implies we have no free will to stop it, or make it so. How can we have free will if something is our destiny?
The truth of the matter is that even with destiny, we still exercise our free will over the outcome. The universe provides us with the opportunities – often over and over again – to fulfil our destiny. But we have to make the choice to actually do so.
And some things, whether we like it or not, are outside of our free will to control.
I liken it to life taking place on a cruise ship. Welcome to the USS Planetearth, whilst on board please enjoy the wonderful lakes, the fresh air and our friendly hospitality. If only Planet Earth had a bit more friendly hospitality. But I digress.
Consider yourself taking a cruise around the Mediterranean. You are told when you must board. Too early and the gates will not yet be open, too late and the ship will already have sailed. Your destiny is to be on time or miss out. Destiny with an element of free will.
Once on board, you can go to bed when you like, you can rise when you wish. You can choose what to have for breakfast, and often in which facility within the cruise ship you have it. You can choose to go to the pool, or to sit in the shade and watch the sea-spray as the vessel ploughs continuously through the ocean on to the next destination.
But you don’t choose the next shore-stop. The next destination is, pre-determined. It is a pre-destined destiny. Short of jumping over-board, you will arrive at the next destination at the time, and in the manner, that the ship’s Captain determines.
And so it is with destiny vs. free will. You have free will over many many things in your life – but some things are destined to happen no matter what you do.
Interestingly, the cruise ship analogy holds up nicely when we look at pre-destiny from outside the 3D realm. Digging deeper, we can see that although the shore-stop destinations are pre-ordained, we did in fact, choose them… We could have chosen a cruise around the Caribbean instead of the Mediterranean. Or Antarctica. Or around Australia. The list goes on.
And so it is with our lives. We chose the destinations we are to visit before we became this body. Is that destiny, or is that free will?
Destiny Doesn’t Mean You Can Be Lazy
If we consider that destiny means something will happen regardless of our input then it can be easy to think that we will be successful in life without trying. Nothing could be further from the truth though. This sort of thinking is like thinking a machine that prints T-Shirts can do without all of the pieces of the machine doing their part.
You have a part to play. You have choices to make and actions to take. Sitting in a career you don’t like, whilst waiting for a better opportunity to come along because it’s your destiny will leave you waiting a very long time. Perhaps a better way to look at this sort of thing is that indeed, it is your destiny to do something different – and the dissatisfaction you feel is the Universe reminding of you that fact and trying to nudge you to making a choice of your own ‘free will’ to take some action.
Watch For The Synchronicities
So, knowing that the Universe will not drop things into our lap, except on perhaps the very rare occasion that someone wins the lottery, and realising that we must make choices to move forward – how can we recognise those times when we must choose to fulfil our destiny?
These are called synchronicities – and they occur regularly when the universe wants us to move forward or change direction. They can be subtle – especially if we’re not really aware of their ability to help us. We can ignore them. If we’re in a grump, or we have the flawed idea that the Universe will provide, we can end up engaging in spiritual bypassing, accepting our lot as ‘Gods Will’ and miss our opportunities.
Is Karma About Destiny Or Free Will?
In short, Karma is about neither. And yet both. Karma is not quite what most people think of it. Many people believe that karma is some form of cosmic payback system, whereby a good deed done today will cancel out a previous life’s bad deed(s).
That is not so. Karma is the law of cause and effect. Being an arse to someone sets in motion a chain of events that ultimately leads to your receipt of a bad event happening to you. But this is mostly because someone else is an arse to someone else, who upsets someone else, who… You get the idea. The cycle completes and the cause comes back to bite you.
Karma is as simple as Newtons 3rd law of inertia. Every action has an equal an opposite reaction. There is no good force or bad force which can be applied to an object when it moves – just direction. In similar way there is no good or bad karma – just actions and reactions (or consequences), which has a ripple effect.
So, Karma and Free Will or Destiny are only related in so far as the rest of our lives are. Our karma is intertwined with our lives because of the cause and effect of previous decisions of us and others. It’s a complicated pattern and contains an infinite number of junctions where one could turn left instead of right. Or right instead of left.
However, at every karmic interaction you have the opportunity to continue applying force to the karmic inertia and making it move faster and harder to stop – or you can apply some force in the opposite direction and slow it down a little. The effect of previous karma will enter your life as part of your destiny, but how you respond to it is a matter for your own free will.
What Is An Example Of Free Will?
There are people who are convinced that every single aspect of their lives is pre-determined. Destiny, they say, includes which socks should be worn today. There is, they say, no point in spending lengthy moments of the day deciding which socks to wear because it’s already determined. You will choose the blue spotty ones today, regardless of how long you ponder the decision.
Clearly such a scenario allows for no such thing as free will.
There would seem little point to a life of such nature. We cannot learn anything from it, because we are not in control of any of the decisions. We are, or would be, mere spectators. Puppets with a puppet master pulling all the strings. Pinocchio would have had more free will than us.
Choosing which socks to wear in the morning is undoubtedly an example of free will. Choose not to wear socks in fact. Some exercises in free will are likely to have little to no impact on our destiny whatsoever.
But we must understand that some exercises in free will can have a devastating impact on our destiny. Some exercises in free will can ultimately seal our destiny. Some things are in ways we can predict, and some perhaps not. The difficulty becomes one of which point in time, which exercise in free will ultimately sealed our destiny?
For example, you will always have the freedom of will to jump from a high structure. If you do so however, you immediately seal your destiny. You will hit the ground at a relatively high speed. Once you embark on that path – by your own free will – you will be destined to fall to the ground at speed. Some freedom of choice examples will lead us down similar – but more lengthy – sealed destiny outcomes.
Even on the cruise ship, one has the free will to leave the cruise early. The destiny however, may be very deep, cold and rough waters in which we will drown. Sometimes, whether we like it or not because we feel that we must always be in control, a choice within our free will is not worth the risk.
Can Free Will Change Destiny?
You can’t change your destiny, but your free will can definitely delay or postpone it. If you miss the opportunity to make a choice at one point in your life, the opportunity will, if it is your destiny, re-surface at a different time in a different way.
Of course to recognise that is what has happened would require the ability to see outside of time, and to my knowledge, none of us can do that. But there are events in my lifetime whereby I look back and think that there were 3 separate points where I could have made a decision to be with the partner I now am. Twice I chose not to, and only on the 3rd occasion – where the synchronicities were so overwhelming – did I make the choice.
But that leads to the philosophical question of whether there was indeed any free will at all. It looks like it to me – but on closer inspection, that life partner and I were not in the right place in our lives the previous 2 times. Neither of us were. It would not have worked back then.
So I ask you, was it destiny, or did I exert my free will onto it?
Do Humans Control Their Own Destiny?
The answer to this, to some extent, can depend on whether you believe that destiny itself is fluid or not.
Is destiny a single outcome situation? Or is destiny multiple outcomes? This might sound an odd question that may leave you thinking that of course it must be a single outcome otherwise it’s not destiny.
But what if our destiny is indeed a multiple choice.
Consider the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure‘ series of books from the 1980s (great reading fun, if you’ve never tried them I strongly suggest you do!) – these books allowed the reader to choose the path through the story at various decision points. The original books had between 7 and 44 endings, all of course pre-written. You simply chose, through a set of micro-decisions, which ending you arrived at.
Certainly, if we can consider destiny as a multiple opportunity outcome, then free will has more power than if we consider life as a single opportunity outcome. It is my belief that life is in fact multiple opportunity that can alter depending on which choices we make.
But interestingly, there’s aspects of life that matter little if at all to the outcome of our choices. My choice of blue spotted socks this morning is quite unlikely to affect the overall outcome of my life. But my decision whether to take the bus or bicycle to work tomorrow morning could have a monumental outcome on my life. And that is one such destiny that we cannot know, even though we may choose it by free will.
In this look at destiny vs. free will I have only begun to scratch the surface of the many different aspects that can apply. I have hopefully touched on the most relevant issues for your everyday life and curiosity. But this is a deep philosophical question, which even scientists are now beginning to investigate and debate.
For what it’s worth, I believe as I have written here. I also believe that free will is an essential component of biology, for without it we are nothing. No-one can be held accountable for their actions if we have no free will. And without free will, there is no point to life – and certainly no point in any form of worship. For what is worship if we’re forced to do it?
1: The Editors of The Encylodopedia Britanica (2021). Newton’s Laws Of Motion. Fetched on 18th September 2021 from https://www.britannica.com/science/Newtons-laws-of-motion
2: One Book, Many Readings, Choose Your Own Adventure fetched on 18th September 2021 from https://samizdat.co/cyoa/
3: List C. (2020) Boston Review. Science Hasn’t Refuted Free Will. Fetched on 18th September 2021 from https://bostonreview.net/science-nature-philosophy-religion/christian-list-science-hasnt-refuted-free-will
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