What determines the course of our lives? Is it fate? Are our life paths predetermined by a higher power? Or is it freewill? Are we the masters of our own destinies in a random universe?
At least once a day, I say: “Everything happens for a reason.” But what exactly does that mean? Is there really a reason for everything? And if so, what is it?
No one can really answer these questions, but it’s important to give it thought.
Philosophers and religious figures have been having the—Fate vs. Freewill—debate for centuries. On one hand, there are those who believe in Fate. This group includes many religious people. If you believe in a God then you likely believe that that God is responsible for the creation of the universe and all of the happenings within it. Everything that happens in every person’s life is God’s will. Also in this category are the non-religious people who don’t necessarily believe in a God, but do believe in an ordered universe, karma, and destiny.
God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. You were never not coming here. —Sufi poem
On the other hand, there are those who believe in Freewill. They believe that every individual is entirely responsible for everything that happens in his own life. There is no God and no destiny. Life is random. Some skeptics and atheists fall into this category.
Then of course, there are those in the middle. This group believes that our lives are a combination of Fate and Freewill. We can not know for certain whether our lives are governed by Fate or Freewill or both. As unenlightened human beings, we are not capable of acquiring this knowledge. However, we are capable of feeling what guides us. Sometimes, the feeling of what guides us is so strong, that it takes control of our lives. We may feel a God guiding us; we may feel Fate guiding us; we may feel only Freewill guiding us; and so on. Each of our experiences is different.
In my own life, I feel both Fate and Freewill guiding me. How can this be? I will share a story that captures my beliefs.
The Old Man and the Storm
One night an old man had a dream that a storm would come and wipe away his village, but that God would protect him. As expected, a terrible storm came to his village the next day.
On the first day of the storm, the old man’s brother came and warned the old man to get out of the village straight away. The conditions would grow worse. The old man refused, knowing that God would protect him. On the second day, a neighbor came through. He was fleeing with his family and offered to take the old man with them. The old man denied this help because he was sure that God was going to protect him. On the third day, the man took to his roof as the storm waters raged below. A group of villagers came by on a boat and offered to take him to safety. Again, the old man refused knowing that God had promised to protect him.
Soon after, the old man drowned and died. In heaven, he asked God: “Why didn’t you help me as you promised?”
God replied: “I sent your brother, your neighbor, and even a boat; but you declined my help.”
This story shows us that life is a combination of Fate and Freewill. Fate (God, destiny, the universe) may be present in our lives, but ultimately, we must utilize our own Freewill to fulfill our potential.
Create Your Destiny through Fate
The question remains: How do we create our own destiny and fulfill our life’s purpose if we don’t even know whether we are governed by Fate or Freewill?
God said to the nation of Israel: “I have put life and death before you . . . and you must choose life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20)
We do not have to be religious or to worship any God to understand the wisdom in this Bible verse. It is in our power to create our own destiny through Fate. It takes awareness, passion, and commitment but every person is capable of doing this. Here are some ways to get started:
1. Look for signs — The universe is constantly sending us signs. We must choose to acknowledge those signs, accept them, and take action.
Have you ever had a gut-feeling about something? That gut-feeling is your intuition speaking to you. Too often people ignore their intuition and that is a grave mistake! It is your job to listen to your intuitive instincts and take action (Freewill).
2. Follow your passion — Fulfilling your life’s purpose means living out your passion. Align the various elements of your life with your passion—your career, hobbies, free time, the people around you, your surroundings, and so on.
The more you live your passion, the closer you will come to reaching your destiny. Do what makes you come alive.
3. Have faith — If you are a religious person or even a spiritual person, then you already know exactly what faith is. But you can have faith, even if you are not religious or spiritual. Faith is knowing and believing in something even if you can not see it. For example, I have never seen a million dollars, but I know that it exists.
Faith is the energy that will take you through life, guide you over challenges, and allow you to be the master of your own destiny even when times get tough. Always have faith that if it is not okay, it is not the end.
4. Work for it — Finally, you’ll have to work. Work hard and work smart. Whether it is Fate or Freewill guiding you, these things mean nothing if you don’t put in the work that it takes to fulfill your life’s purpose.
There are no short cuts in life. There are no magic bullets. Accomplishments and greatness are a result of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. The harder and smarter that you work, the luckier you’ll get. It’s not a coincidence.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe that Fate or Freewill guides your path? Or are you like me, believing that it is a combination of both? Have you ever had a life-changing experience that has caused you to favor one idea or the other?
Let us know in the comments.