Is our life determined, or there is space for freedom of choice and action?
Philosophers, thinkers and average people have meditated for centuries over the role of fate versus free will. While it is common to view these two ideas as opposing each other, I believe there is place for both them in human existence. In other words, fate and free will are in a dialectical rather than mutually exclusive relationship.
In my opinion, the idea of determinacy is best of law displayed in one of the main laws of this world – the law of karma. Some do not fully understand this law; some are even afraid of the word ‘karma’. But law is law, and we need to know it and understand how exactly it works.
The word ‘karma’ is of Sanskrit origin and literally means activity or creation. It derives from another Sanskrit word ‘kriya’ meaning ‘to create’ (in this regard the link between English and Sanskrit is obvious). In Indian philosophy, karma is understood as the influence of an individual’s past actions on his future lives, or reincarnations.
More generally, however, karma is the law of retaliation, or retro-action on our thoughts, words and deeds. We know this law by such proverbs as “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”, “Tit for tat”, “What goes around comes around”, “You reap what you sow”.
To put is simply, this law is about cause-and-effect relationship. It says that we all live in one information and energy field. Every our action in any place of the Universe has an impact on the whole Universe and comes back to us in the form of certain events. Sometimes we can hardly find any connection between given events, but this is only because we don’t see or don’t want to see the whole picture.
From this a conclusion follows that everything is pre-determined in this world. What about free will then?
The law of karma does not reject free will.
On the contrary, the principle of retaliation reflects the law of free will, or freedom of choice. These two go hand in hand. Yesterday determines today, while today in turn influences the day of tomorrow. Similarly, our present lives are results of the actions in the past and lay ground for the future.
Eventually, there is a degree of determinacy in our lives that is linked to our past actions and wishes. It can be called destiny, fate, or in any other way. At the same time, though, there is space for freedom. We are free to choose today how to live tomorrow.
A good illustration can be a train running on a rail track according to a designated route. We can’t turn away, but on the train we can read, draw, eat, sleep, play, make friends with the neighbors. A rail track is a fixed connection to a particular form of life. In our case this is human body. Yet it is important to realize that each and every one of us gets a body and place of birth, as well as the starting mental and economic conditions, that match us perfectly to solve the tasks we need to solve in this world.