Self Help Sanctum

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Fate vs Free Will

Predestination, Free Will, or Both?

Are we victims of inescapable fate, or do we really have the power to create our own destiny? That is the age-old question.

The Scientific View

In the 17th Century Isaac Newton formulated his laws of motion and gravitation which gave rise to the concept of a mechanistic "clockwork" universe in which everything proceeded deterministically. Everything that happened was no more than the inevitable consequence of all it followed, including human behavior. God and the soul were redundant.

The clockwork universe was shattered in the 20th century. First Einstein discovered neither time nor space are as we perceive them, but are intertwined in a 4-dimensional continuum. Next Quantum physics found that, far from following principles of cause and effect, reality at its fundamental level is inherently indeterministic.

Yet the prevailing view of science as expounded by the likes of Richard Dawkins is that life (including humanity) is no more that sophisticated machinery.

Human Experience

But how often in life are we confronted with our own free will? In such simple matters as whether to have tea or coffee to life-changing events like marriage, relocation or changing occupation.

At times such as these when we feel the weight of destiny in our hands can we really doubt that we truly possess freedom of the will? Indeed, throughout the reign of the “clockwork” universe Spiritual and religious traditions continued to flourish, suggesting that at essence humankind knew better than science.

So what of fate? Does our free will make redundant the concept of predestination? Not at all. Despite the randomness of the sub-atomic universe the perceived world consisting of the effect of huge numbers of these micro-events does behave deterministically to a large degree, hence Newton’s observations. For example, if you save a few dollars each week your bank balance will grow, if you don’t wrap in cold weather you’ll likely catch cold…

The Spiritual Interpretation

In Spiritual terms we choose the lessons for a particular incarnation before we are born. While on earth our Spiritual memory is hidden from all but the most enlightened to prevent it distracting us from fulfillment of purpose. Instead we have the earthly free will necessary for us to gain the experience we came for. Thus we have free will throughout our time here.

However, Spirit arranges for us to be presented with the conditions that give us the chance to learn our chosen lessons. Of course our free will may avoid these lessons, in which case we will continue to be presented with conditions suitable for fulfillment of our chosen purpose.

Our free will is our greatest gift. It is the manifestation of the spark of Divine (Spirit) within us all. It is what separates us from piece of rock.

The War Against Sleep

But how many of us squander our greatest gift by not making full use of it? Mind is lazy and craves routine that can be delegated to the subconscious. In the comfort of routine the consciousness is free to indulge itself in its typical aimless wanderings.

So attractive is the familiarity of routine that most of us don’t even face the dilemma of choosing between tea and coffee, we just have the same drink every time. We become the nightmarish biological automata envisioned by science.

But isn’t to squander the gift of free will also to fail to make the most of our incarnation? For it is only through exercise of will that we test ourselves in this environment and thus learn what we came to learn.

Just as our muscles grow weak through lack of exercise so does our will. We should try to switch off our mental autopilot on a regular basis. Vary what we drink in the morning. Take a different route to work or shopping. Watch a different tv show, or better still switch the tv off altogether.

The more we exercise our free will, the more open and aware we become to the opportunities that surround us. Opportunities that many simply don’t notice, blinded by the drug of routine.

Fate undoubtedly influences the circumstances in which we operate. Someone born with a disability is unlikely to become a champion of a physical sport. We should be sensitive to fate and what it tells us about our true purpose. But beware of using fate as an excuse for failure. “I was unlucky”, “circumstances were against me”, etc etc. Such things may be true, but before adopting them be sure you have exercised your will to the best of your ability.

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