A common question I receive is on the difference between fate and free will. Is our life scripted? Is everything predetermined? Or does life unfold step by step according to our decisions? Particularly, people often ask this in regards to bad things happening in their lives. Was that planned? And by whom? And why? Here’s my take on it.
I don’t believe that our life is scripted. I believe we have free will and we are creating our lives one decision at a time. And if we don’t like where one decision leads us, we can always choose again.
In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.”
–A Course in Miracles
The only thing the Course does say is that in truth we’re already back home in heaven, and it’s like we’re remembering a dream we had. But that’s again very metaphysical and it doesn’t really affect your current life. Because as we said last week, while you’re here, you’re here. This is your life right now. So just focus on making this life as great as you can, one moment at a time, one decision at a time, one day at a time.
People who tell other people that their misery was planned, that it was supposed to happen, or that it was meant to happen – I don’t believe that. Again, how can you reconcile the idea of an all-loving God with that? It’s either one or the other. I don’t believe slavery was “meant to happen”, I don’t believe the holocaust was meant to happen, I don’t believe any of the tragic events we’re experiencing were meant to happen. I believe those things are the result of a series of bad decisions and actions. And I believe that downward spiral can be stopped at any moment. As it says in that line from A Course in Miracles above, choose again, make a different choice. You know, all the shootings happening in the US, they’re gonna keep happening until the laws are changed. Other countries have changed gun laws in response to tragic shootings and guess what, the occurrence of gun violence went way down. The first cars didn’t have seat belts or airbags. They were invented as a response to the many injuries and deaths in car crashes. Fire codes were put in place after too many people died in fires.
That’s the kind of behavior that is vital both on a big scale and on a small personal one. If a specific behavior keeps getting you in trouble or somewhere you don’t want to be, you gotta make some changes. Assess the situation, learn your lessons, and do better next time.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
So someone telling another person who is going through hardship that that was meant to happen – I don’t agree with that and I think it’s a horrible thing to say. Hard times are when we need God the most. But by telling someone that their misery was planned and meant to happen, you’re actually driving a wedge between them and God, causing them even more pain. A Course in Miracles says, God’s will for you is perfect happiness. He doesn’t want anyone to be sick or suffering. He’s there to comfort you and guide you out of that darkness.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You know, when all those celebrities died in 2016, I was really shocked because they were all so young. Way too young to just be dropping dead from one day to the next. I talked about this with a person in their 50s, and they said, “Yeah, that’s the kind of age where your bad habits (health wise) will catch up with you.” And they told me that they see this a lot with people their age. There are those people who start making changes to their lives and start taking better care of themselves with things like cleaning up their diets, managing stress by reducing their work hours or letting go of some stressful commitments, being more active, doing more self-care activities and so forth. And then there’s people who just continue living as they always did since their 20s, and more often than not, those are the people that get sick.
I’ve seen it too. People who are always like go, go go, they never stop, they work crazy hours for years or even decades, and sooner or later it catches up with them, and they burn out. From 100 down to zero within a day. So for me, it is clear to see that that burnout wasn’t scripted. It’s a result of bad decisions.
And I’m not blaming anyone or saying tragic things don’t sometimes happen out of nowhere. As we talked about before, sometimes shit just happens. Out of no fault of our own. We can’t control that. What we CAN control is to do our best so shitty things are less likely to happen. If for example I’m very vigilant about my health – I eat healthy, I work out, I do everything that’s in MY power to be as healthy as I possibly can – that’s good! That’s what I should do. But that’s still no guarantee. You gotta be aware of that. But I look at it as stacking the cards in my favor. There are no guarantees, but if I’m reckless with my body I’m more likely to get sick, whereas if I take good care of my body I’m more likely to be healthy. But no one is destined to suffer. God’s will for you is perfect happiness – now and always.
I do believe God has a plan – like an ideal blueprint for our lives. But because we have free will, it is still up to us how much of that plan we accept and at what time. And that plan, that blueprint is available to us through our intuition, which gives us incremental instructions one step at a time. We don’t get guidance for step #2 until we have completed step #1.
So fate might be that you meet a certain person, who could help you with whatever problem you’re facing. So that person will cross your path somehow. But it’s still up to you what you do with that meeting. If you’re all in your ego, obsessing about the negative, being totally absorbed with your own personal drama – you may not even see that person. But if your heart is open, if you put your focus on being a good person, you look at people, you smile at them, you engage in friendly smalltalk – then you are very likely to make a powerful connection that comes as the answer to a prayer.
Life is made up of millions of decisions we make each day. And our best bet is to focus on making good decisions one moment at a time by listening to our intuition, listening to our gut, listening to our heart. Of course we’re not gonna be perfect in this – no one and nothing is – but if we do our best, that will be enough. We will make mistakes sometimes, but in every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.”
What’s your take on fate vs. free will?
Did you get any new insights from this article?
Leave a comments below and let’s chat!
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