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Is destiny a chance or a choice ?

Destiny is something to which a person or thing is destined i.e. the course of events in our life is predetermined to reach a preordained destination. Destiny implies that there is some Power which decrees or determines the course of events beforehand. In this view there is no chance or choice left. Let us be clear, any other meaning of destiny would not be3 permitted by standard dictionaries. However people use it in different senses than permitted by dictionaries. Some maintain that destiny is ultimately what you arrive at in your life. And for those who believe in destiny, fate is the principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to as they are or events to happen as they do. Fate and destiny are has to believe in fate.

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Choice, or free will, needs availability of alternatives for any thought, speech or action from which one can choose. Chance occurrence of an event is one in which not cause can be identified explaining its teleological or purposeful specificality. It is also known as a random event. Dictionary defines it as, chance is something that happens unpredictable without discernible human intention or observable cause; it also means the probability of an indicated outcome in an uncertain situation.

‘Life is but a stage on which we play our role‘, this metaphor is quoted by believers in destiny, but even this gives some choice if we delve deeper into its meaning. Different actors may act differently not only because of their different abilities to enact the role, but because they interpret the role of the script differently. This is in addition to their ability to enact the role. They interpret the role they are playing differently depending upon their experiences and education. This is equally true in case of conducting symphonies, of say Beethoven; different conductors interpret the same music-score differently.

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Some believers in destiny say that, ‘My role in life is already given; my job is to enact it to the best of my capabilities. And some believers in destiny maintain that not even a leaf can move without the will of the God, implying that there is no freedom at all. Some believe that it is ‘Sanchit Karmas’ and ‘praarabdha’ that determine our present life. ‘Sanchit Karmas’ are the karmas or actions that have accumulated during our past lives and whose effects have not been exercised yet. ‘Praarabdha’ constitutes the results of actions in the previous births that have not been exhausted, and as per the strict laws of ‘Kaarmic Theory’ those causes have to unfold as results in this or future births. These believers also believe that they are somewhat free to act in this birth. Therefore whether one believes and choice both but constrained by certain forces from the past (lives). So, there are different meanings of the word destiny in which freedom is also included along with predetermined path of events. The problem in accepting ‘destiny’ as true is that it remains a faith, it cannot be proven, because destiny cannot be foretold. Astrologers claim to predict the future. Most often their predictions are wrong or they are so wonderfully worded that they can be interpreted to suit the final event.

To make a choice from among ‘destiny’, chance and ‘choice’ has important ramifications, e.g. is a murderer responsible for his act if the murder was destined? Is one responsible for one’s actions or not, is the most important question, answer to which would affect our lives seriously. Can we imagine, e.g., a murderer being allowed to go scot-free because the judge believes in destiny that is ordained?

Philosophers all the world over have been discussing this subject from time immemorial. In philosophy the subject is discussed under the title, ‘determinism vs. freewill’. Philosophers were on either side of the issue till the mathematician La Place gave his scientific view. It said that if the causal laws of the mechanistic functions are know, and initial conditions given, then the future of any particular event can be correctly predicted. Thus, it can be concluded that chance and both are involved in any action in this life, along with the doer, his methods and the environment.

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