Destiny or Choice
The Master resembled a storybook image of God, the only difference
being that he was seated on the floor and not a cloud. He had a long white beard, a gentle smile, and eyes full of wisdom as though they saw all.
Except for a small shrine in the center, the room was bare of decor. I joined the guru on the floor, and a man whose face was painted more brightly than his clothing served us a series of delicious, unidentifiable dishes. After the meal, the Master turned to
me and asked why I had come to him.
On the spot, I said the first thing that came to mind:
“In this life, is there destiny, or do we have choice?”
He looked at me closely as I prepared for the profound response that was sure to issue from his holy lips.
“It depends!” he said.
“It depends!” he repeated.
In the introduction to Kiss Me, Swami, I bring up the dual concepts of destiny versus choice. Is there a hidden power than controls us? Or do we have agency over our own lives?
And what exactly is destiny? Some say it’s fate, but fate implies something building into the now. For example, I meet you on the street and you tell me something that’s important to me, something that in fact changes my life. I think to myself that our meeting has to have been fate.
Destiny, a bit different, has more to do with the future. As I write in Kiss Me, Swami, when I was a child I wished upon a star every evening before I fell asleep, thus setting the course of my life; the events that followed—the future—were the outcome, the consequence of those wishes, which came true when I followed through on them by taking action.
Was my going to Hollywood destiny? Yes, but active choice was in play, and for years, night after night, when I wished and visualized my future on a star, I believed in those wishes so strongly that to me they were more my reality than the world I had been living in. Yet action is critical. When I made a conscious decision to leave my home and get on a plane to Hollywood, that was action. I always had a choice to go or to stay.
Often in my life I’ve found myself in the right place at the right time. Did some hidden power put me there? Perhaps. Did luck play a part? Certianly. But time and again I chose to make the best out of the circumstances … or not. When opportunities presented themselves to me, I’d occasionally not act at on them, but often I would. It was all my choice. Destiny and choice. Sometimes it was destiny, sometimes fate, sometimes luck, and sometimes choice.It depends