Fate is the result of the past. Free will is the result of the present. When we look backward, we feel the blow of fate. When we look forward, we see the dance of golden and energising free will.
The physical consciousness or the body-consciousness is limited. When we live in the body, we experience fate. The soul is ever-free. When we live in the soul, we experience free will. It is up to us whether we live in the body-consciousness or in the soul-consciousness.
The moment the soul enters into the body and we see the light of day, ignorance tries to envelop us, and fate starts its play. But light is not bound by fate. Light is the embodiment of free will. For our deplorable fate, we curse our forefathers, our friends, our neighbours, ourselves and finally God. But by cursing others, by cursing ourselves, we cannot solve our problems. We can solve our problems only if we know how to live the life of aspiration.
We are given ample opportunity to use our free will. It is we who have to utilise the opportunity in order to be fully, totally, unreservedly free. Very often seekers tell me, “Oh, I have a very unsatisfactory background.” I tell them, “Why do you care for the past? The past is dust. But if you aspire, nobody can steal your present; nobody can steal your future. Your future can easily be golden.”
Our free will is a child of God's infinite Will and at the same time it is part and parcel of God's infinite Will. We have only to allow it to break through the wall of ignorance and make us one with the Cosmic Will. Fate is the gate which leads us to the failure of the past. Free will is our acceptance of the future that wants to transform us, mould us, guide us and liberate us from fear, doubt, ignorance and death.
Do not surrender your will
To your deplorable fate!
Surrender your will
Only to God's all-loving,
And all-fulfilling Heart.
Is fate the same thing as karma?
There are three kinds of karma: sanchita karma, prarabdha karma and agami karma. Sanchita karma is the accumulation of acts from past lives and this life whose results have not yet borne fruit. In prarabdha karma, we are starting to reap the fruit of some of the accumulated karma. If it is bad karma, then we suffer. If it is good karma, then we enjoy it. Finally comes agami karma. When one is totally free from all ignorance, suffering and imperfection, when one has realised God and is living only for the sake of God, at that time one is enjoying the Free Will of the Supreme. This is agami karma.
Most of us face sanchita karma, accumulated karma which starts functioning as prarabdha karma. There is no freedom, no free will, but only fate all around us. It is like a devouring lion, striking from the past. But when we have agami karma, this devouring lion becomes a roaring lion, roaring for the divine Victory, the divine fulfilment here on earth.
Do we truly reap all we sow, from every thought, from every action?
As we sow, so we reap. This is true. But at the same time, if you pray to God, if you meditate on God, then God's Compassion can nullify the wrong forces that come from your bad thoughts. If you touch fire, naturally the fire will burn your fingers. At the same time, there will be some protective power to prevent you from touching the fire.
If a child goes and strikes another child, he knows that this child will come and strike him back. So what will he do? He will immediately go to his father. The father is stronger, and he protects the child. In this case, the Father is the Supreme. If you mix with ignorance and then ignorance wants to devour you, if you run to the Father before ignorance can devour you, the Father will show His utmost Compassion and save you from ignorance. It all depends on how much Compassion you can receive from the Supreme.
At what point does God's Compassion overrule the law of karma?
God's Compassion always overrules the law of karma. Had it been otherwise, no human being on earth could have lasted even for a single day. Again, from the highest spiritual point of view, you have to know that the law of karma does not mean severe punishment. It is a necessary experience for the seeker; it is the only way to accelerate his progress. Therefore, the law of karma itself is another form of God's Compassion. You may call it blessingful Love in disguise.
What is fate,
If not a limited reality?
A truth-seeker must always aim
At the unlimited Reality,
The infinite and immortal Supreme.
Is every event in our lives predestined, or is there just a general direction?
The most significant events in your life are predestined, but not what you are going to eat for breakfast. Again, even if it is predestined that you are going to die tomorrow, if you follow the spiritual life and God sees that you have genuine aspiration, you may not die. Instead, if it is God's Will, you may just have a headache. Fate can be changed by the Supreme's Will.
In the highest sense, the only thing that is predestined is that you are bound to realise God. Ignorance can prevent you from realising God today, but you cannot remain unrealised throughout Eternity. Let us use the term ‘predestined' only in a good sense. If some calamity is going to take place, then you can use your will-power, your aspiration-power to change your fate. Fate can be changed by an unchanging will.
What is the role of man's free will?
Free will is our soul's consciousness-light. We can use the light of the soul for God-manifestation, or we may not use it at all. If we do not use it, then the aggressive part of the vital or the lethargy of the physical or the doubt of the mind comes into the picture and captures us. God does everything through the soul, which is His direct representative. God is the sun and the soul is like a lamp. This lamp embodies and represents the sun here on earth. But we usually do not remain in the soul's light and take full advantage of it, so our free will becomes our friendship with lethargy, our friendship with the doubting mind, our oneness with the heart's insecurity. Our free will either decides that the body, the vital and the mind have enough light to guide us, or it tells us that we are helpless without the guidance of our Lord Supreme.
How can we use our free will more?
As ordinary human beings, we have very limited free will. But if we become sincere seekers, then we will be surcharged eventually with an adamantine will. Now we are like a cow that is tied to a pole. There is a point beyond which we cannot go, but within these confines we have free will. The higher we go or the deeper we go in our meditation, the more our capacity increases.
When we can listen to the dictates of the soul, or when we can bring the soul forward to illumine our vital, our mind and our physical body, then our will becomes boundless. At that time, our individual will unites itself with the Universal Will within us. When the Universal Will becomes our will, at that time our freedom is infinite. Although we have free will to a very limited extent right now, this free will can be increased in infinite measure.
Where is your free will
If you live inside
Your binding mind?
Where is your bondage
If you live inside
Your all-encompassing heart?
Is my soul's will the same as God's Will?
Yes, God's Will and the soul's will are one and the same. But we have to know the difference between our soul's will and the urges of our demanding vital. Sometimes we take the pleasure-desires of the demanding vital as the soul's will. If we dive deep within, we are bound to know the real will of our soul, and that will and God's Will are inseparable. When that will is the seed that germinates and becomes a plant, we call it the soul's will. When it grows into a huge banyan tree, we call it God's Will. This Will eventually manifests itself in and through the soul, heart, mind, vital and body.
Are man's will and God's Will always in opposition?
To some extent it is true. Man can unconsciously stand against God's Will and, again, man can consciously stand against God's Will. Sometimes our conscience tells us what God's Will is, but we do not pay any attention to it. We feel that if we listen to the dictates of our conscience, then our ego will not be satisfied. Naturally, then we are standing against God's Will. Again, many times it happens that we are not diametrically opposing God's Will, but we do not know what God's Will is. At that time, we are not consciously standing against God's Will. We cannot say that at that time our will is in opposition to God's Will.
But we have to know that if we do not fulfil God's Will, either consciously or unconsciously, then we enter into ignorance and we delay our progress. A child may not know what fire can do to him. But if he touches fire, then the fire will burn him. I know that fire will burn me. But in spite of knowing this, I touch fire and I get burned. The result of unconscious opposition and conscious opposition is the same. But if somebody does it unconsciously, then he is helpless. In that case God's Grace descends sooner than otherwise.
If somebody knows the after-effects of his action, but in spite of that he does something wrong, then God's Grace will not come down immediately. The individual has to aspire again most sincerely and devotedly to bring down God's Grace from Above.
How can anything be outside the Will of the Supreme?
The Will of the Supreme is in everything, true. But we have to know what His ultimate Will is, and how much of that Will we are accepting as our own. He has given us a little limited freedom, just like the father who gives a penny to his child and watches to see how he uses it. If the child uses it for a good purpose, then the father gives him more—a nickel, then a dime.
God has given us limited freedom in order to examine whether we really want to do the right thing. We have to be very careful. His Will is inside us, so that when He gives us a penny we will be able to use it properly. But because we develop our own ego, individuality and personality, we try to use this penny in our own way instead of going deep within to see why He has given us the money. When He gives us something, immediately we want to squander it. But if we use it in His own way, then He gives us more and more.
God has given us freedom so that we will get joy. If He tells us, “I have given you a dollar. Now you have to use it for this or that purpose; I am giving it to you only for that,” then we do not get joy. We feel that we are under compulsion. But when He says, “I have given you something. Now use it in your own way,” then we misuse it. If we are wise, we will know that if we use it in His way, then He will give us much more.
On the one hand He is giving to us, and on the other hand, He is examining us. At the same time, inwardly He is inspiring us to do the right thing. But because we want to retain our individuality and personality, we try to use it in our own way. We use our own very limited will. What can poor God do? If we offer our will to His Will, only then are we safe, only then are we fulfilled.
I surrender myself cheerfully
To God's Will,
I see right in front of me
A free and fair highway
Leading to the Home
Of my Beloved Supreme.