Fate and free will do not form a dichotomy in my view. Both are a part of life. However, I subscribe to a greater level of free will than many Babalawos. In my opinion, very little is absolutely “set” in our lives, in the sense of being “fated” and immutable.
I think the rock-bottom basics include such things as the physical laws of our universe (e.g., gravity, the necessity of breathing, eating and sleeping), but even these have been transcended, at certain times by some individuals. I prefer to operate under the assumption that I am not positive about what, if anything, is fated. This always gives me the option of change and improved circumstances.
I do feel that very few precise events in life are “fated” in the sense of being foreordained when we came into life. However, there is a certain amount of interaction in life. If I come into (for learning purposes) a body with a predisposition toward high cholesterol and proceed to eat, drink and be merry with high- sugar, high-fat foods while getting very little exercise, I am setting myself up for an eventual heart attack. There will come a time when that result is, essentially, “inevitable” or “fated.” But it is my action and attitudes which have created that. Had I chosen to act differently, I would have a different “fate.”
The analogy I like best is that we are all afloat on the River of Life. Some of us are in rowboats. Some of us are in motorboats. Some of us are hanging on to a log, while others are floundering in the open River, swimming as best we can. Down the River is a waterfall. Those of us who have learned to swim or who have a boat and have learned to steer, have an excellent chance of going over that waterfall in an easy fashion — or even choosing to steer against the current for a time and bypass that waterfall by taking another byway on the River. Those of us clutching a log or adrift in the current are much more at the mercy of whatever comes down the River, whatever swift eddies carry us along.
I believe we are “fated” to face certain issues in each life by virtue of who we are. Our attitudes and actions create our karma and determine our fate. If we are of a quarrelsome nature, we will continue to get involved in fights and arguments until we change our nature. If we are excessively sweet and nice, we will continue to attract others who use and abuse our power against us, until we change our nature.
I do not believe the details are fated. I do not believe anyone must marry an alcoholic, lose a job, be chronically ill. I do believe that we attract events and situations that give us opportunities to become more of what we are capable of becoming. And, if we are stuck in a negative pattern (floundering in the River), we are likely to continue our same unhelpful reactions because they are familiar. But change is always an option.
And karma is immediate. As soon as we change our actions and attitudes, we change our karma. Because we are different, we begin attracting different circumstances for learning.
What Ifá offers us is a map of the basic psychological issues and principles we are facing and trying to balance. It does not reveal “fated” details which “must” happen. Any principle can have a whole range of possible details. But, if we understand the basic principle being dealt with, we can choose to operate with the more fulfilling (less frustrating) details available.
Tags: fate, free-will, karma