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Fate and Free will

The two words most misunderstood or understood in the wrong context are Fate and Free will.

We are all very clear about the expression "freedom of choice and Free will" for we consciously decide our goals and the means to obtain them. We are educated from childhood, first by our parents and then by teachers at school and then we "choose" our subjects of specialisation for higher education with a view to pursue a certain profession or career. If we are in doubt about the choice of specialisation that we must do, we seek counsel of parents, experts or our professors and then work hard at studies and training to prepare ourselves for our future career. One's individual aptitude at learning, our skill and hard work and perseverance generally lead us to succeeding in our chosen career. Hence it is perfectly logical to believe that equipped with a good degree of academic qualifications, expertise in its application combined with able communication skill and proper interaction with others are pre- requisites for success.

Fate on the other hand is a belief system that assumes life and events are preordained, and our lives are governed by the circumstances of birth and environment over which one has no choice or control. We become conscious of ourselves at a very young age, aware of our physical attributes like complexion, colour of our eyes, hair, strengths and weakness, both physical and mental, circumstances surrounding us, materially and emotionally and all this not of our choosing. We begin to act and react to outside impulses to the best of our aptitude to derive maximum advantage. We follow our Free will, under the given circumstances that the incident of birth has given us, to make the best of the life given to us. We look for opportunities to enhance our talents and skill and to achieve our goals that our environment has made us choose. So far, whether we believe in Fate or don't, we are the same as those who do not believe in preordained destiny.

Now when does a misunderstanding of the term "Fate" creeps in? Most people believe that Fate is synonymous with a belief in any creed or God. Those who believe in Fate are fatalistic and do not believe in hard work and perseverance and leaves everything to God or Destiny that will determine their course of life. This is the flaw in understanding the correct meaning of the term Fate.

Let us begin at the beginning. When a child is born the parents know that he or she is introverted or extroverted, aggressive or passive, brave or timid, has good power of grasping and learning, or is good in sports or technical skill, is expressive or incoherent and so on. We work hard to train the child to have the best education and training, seek counsel to help develop his/her inner aptitude to enable him/her to succeed in life. We gradually discover that some children are better than our child and we accept our child's limitation. In modern times we are all aware that not all children completing the same course and training from the same institution reach to similar level of success in their career. We begin to look for flaws that are generally lack of opportunities, having no right connections, making no good impression on others, or simply victim of favouritism etc.

Behavioural and social psychologists are aware that the basic personality of child cannot be changed that has been given to the child through heredity or genetically. Several years ago a group of psychiatrists conducted a systematic study over a long period of time in the university of Massachusetts where boys who were more introverted, timid and shy were put for study and training in a military school while a group of boys who were found to be more extroverted, aggressive and sometimes even violent, sent to monastery to be brought up by the priests. After a couple of years it was proved that the basic characteristics remained unchanged. Hence it was proved that no amount of training or the circumstances one is put in could effect any basic change in one's personality.

Modern scientists especially geneticists believe that our behaviour and even aptitudes are governed by the sets of genes in our body calling this "genetic determinism".

All this goes in to prove that one's birth will decide as to the general course of one's life where an individual takes his/her own conscious decisions and chooses one's path that seem inherent in one's personality.
Hence, it will not be wrong if one were to say that, " I have succeeded due to my hard work, perseverance, talent, skill, ingenuity and the right application of my acquired knowledge"
It would be equally true to assume that " You exercised your freedom to choose and use Free will, that was in any case inherent in your destiny for you were made that way."
According to me Destiny thus fulfils itself through one's own action, except that I believe that one acts according to one's nature that is preordained. Fate and Destiny is independent of God or any creed but is inherent in one's nature.


Kamini Uppal