We are destined to fulfill our destiny. How can we act knowing that there is a destiny written in stone? Some religions readily admit the existence of destiny. What is the best attitude to have if we admit the postulate of its existence? Let’s look at several possible scenarios.
The hedonistic temptation
“Let’s let our instincts do the work since our destiny is written”. These are the lyrics of a rap song I listened to during my adolescence. The rhythm and the confident tone are convincing. Yet, on closer examination, does the existence of destiny condemn us to let our “instincts” override any moral or ethical considerations? Fate is only the outcome of life, what goes from our birth to it is up to us. Certainly, it is possible that a sudden death is our destiny, but everything that precedes this tragic event remains our responsibility. To believe in the implacable determinism of fate is to take away the responsibility of our free will which we all have. To rush into the pleasures of the senses is an easy and irresponsible answer in my opinion. If destiny conditioned every moment of our existence, we would no longer be able to make choices. But we always have a choice. There are two spheres: one that is under our control and another that is beyond our control. To rely exclusively on destiny is to destroy our sphere of control and to be dominated only by fatalistic elements (in the etymological sense).
To choose power is to assume the share of responsibility that is incumbent upon us all. The hedonistic option is only the escape from our human duty which implies to assume a share of control on our life.
Synchronizing with the divine
If we start from the principle that we are a small particle of the universe animated by an initial force whose expressions are our actions that we undertake, we can see the thing differently. Fate would only be the consequence of this divine force which would push us to continue on a trajectory from which we could not deviate, in the manner of an asteroid which would advance in the void and whose collision with another star is certain because of the reciprocal trajectories. In such a case, our contribution to the change of trajectory is non-existent. Faced with such an inevitability, the only thing left to us would be to synchronize ourselves as best we can with the divine during the time that this existential journey lasts.
Why synchronize with the divine?
To synchronize with the divine means to act with confidence no matter what the outcome of this trajectory we call life. Since our existence is launched like a spaceship into the interstellar void, it is best to enjoy the journey not by giving in to a nihilistic philosophy (which in some ways the hedonist represents) but by finding joy in the journey through connection with the divine. To synchronize with the divine is simply to find joy and serenity even though the outcome is tragic. It involves ignoring the unfortunate end by going beyond our mere bodily dimension, as opposed to hedonism. Knowing that death is certain and that our life may not be so rosy in the end, it is still possible to sublimate existence by living as if a part of us were eternal and thus disregarding our biological fate. Fate controls our material life, yet it does not control our spiritual future. Whether we live a long or a short life, we have the possibility of overcoming the constraint of time by giving a higher dimension to our life by adhering to the existence of the soul and its permanence. Our earthly life is limited by destiny, but that of our soul is not. It is therefore more useful to work on the improvement of our soul by synchronizing with the divine to get rid of these limitations. Once we manage to put our soul in the foreground, we no longer worry about the shortness or harshness of life.
How to synchronize?
In order to synchronize with the divine, we must explore the spiritual paths available to us and choose one that suits us. Each spiritual tradition has the goal of improving the soul. What changes essentially is the cultural background in which they were born. Often a spiritual tradition has some unpleasant features of the society in which it was born, patriarchy being a frequent example. It is necessary to know how to sort the wheat from the chaff and to recognize what in each tradition is of spiritual essence and what is not.
To get in sync, one simply needs to perform the recommended practices (most often prayer, meditation, selfless action, etc.) and make the effort to read the inspiring texts on the subject.
The Butterfly Effect: What if there is no such thing as fate?
On the other side of the spectrum, we could simply deny the existence of fate and say that everything can change depending on the decisions we make and other parameters of our life that create a domino effect. If destiny does not exist, then we have an anxiety that can develop in us. Indeed, it is much more comforting to say to ourselves that certain things escape us and that finally the outcome of our life is not of our competence.
If, on the contrary, we adhere to the idea of a seamless causality between our decisions and our results, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The butterfly effect reflects this idea to some extent, even though this concept is actually more complex than it seems. Adhering to the butterfly effect pushes us to want to control everything at the risk of being overwhelmed by the task. It is good to take full responsibility for one’s life, however, I believe it is healthier to accept the idea of a contribution from providence which would allow us to sleep better and to show a form of humility.
Believing in destiny can be a sign of laziness in some respects, but it can also be the mark of our humility.