No matter what could have been, it is always what it is

And whatever it is, when you find yourself down in the dumps, get up, dust yourself and move on.
A friend, who had had one drink too many, left his car keys at the bar counter while he stepped into the restroom. When he came back he didn’t notice that the keys were missing. And when he did realize this, he also discovered, to his horror, that his car had been stolen! Obviously, he felt like a worm. Very miserable. He called me this morning. And we had a long chat.
Obviously, he’s been suffering with both grief and guilt over the past week. He told me that the last few weeks have been challenging for him. He’s been having a rough time at work. He’s lost his car now. And he’s not sure if will get one of the positions he’s applied for in another company. “I just feel all this is too much for me to handle. Why should I go through what I am going through,” he lamented.
I empathized with my friend. But I told him that “why” is the most futile question to ask in circumstances where you have no control over what’s happening to you. My friend, however, was angry with himself. “Didn’t my carelessness cost me car?” he asked.  I replied: “Sure it did. But what’s the point in lamenting that you were careless. You were careless. You lost your car. Period. It is what it is. Don’t be careless again. No point in going on brooding over what’s happened. Now that the car is lost, you are no longer in control of the car or the situation. And that is the brutal truth. You have only one option here. Which is to accept what is – your carelessness and carlessness – and move on.”
As he calmed down, my friend was keen to know how much of a role determinism plays in Life. Sure enough, one argument is that determinism governs our Life to a large extent. Whatever has to happen alone happens. This doesn’t mean that free will does not have a role to play. Of course it is free will that led my friend to drink more than he should have, it was also free will that led him to the restroom and it was the same free will that made him leave his keys on the bar counter. But people in favor of the determinism theory will say all of what happened to my friend was pre-determined. It was ordained. But I don’t see a need for a debate at all. It is a waste of time. Determinism, to me, is a theory that you bring in to explain your Life when free will ceases to reasonably justify whatever’s happening to you. So don’t theorize, don’t explain, don’t justify Life – simply accept it!  

The best way then to live your Life is to drop all the grief, drop all the guilt, and stop brooding on what could have been. No matter what could have been, it is always what it is. When you live Life with such clarity and a clinical detachment with the past, and with no expectation from the future, then you will be able to live in this world and yet be above it! 

Accept your Life for what it is – and simply go on living

Does it really matter if there is such a thing as fate or destiny? If whatever will happen, will happen, then why analyze it, why agonize over it?  
In a conversation we had with a friend yesterday, we ended up discussing destiny and free will. My friend held the view that trying to understand how destiny works or blaming it for everything is simply futile. “Can your belief in or knowledge of fate, destiny, karma – whatever name you give it – really help in undoing, or changing, your Life’s course,” he asked.
And I agree with him.
What are we going to do by knowing that our lives are preordained? That really doesn’t change anything. Instead, the simpler way to look at Life – and respond to it – is to know that while you can’t do anything about what’s happening to you, you can at least act in a given situation diligently, with full commitment to living! People call this opportunity free will. I call it living. Just be, just live. Or, to further simplify, while you can’t do anything about what happens to you, do whatever you can in any given situation to make it better. And the best way to live through, endure, any painful situation, is to immerse yourself in the moment and to live it fully.
So, don’t dwell on whether your Life is preordained or not. It’s meaningless, it’s futile to do so. The fact is that you have this Life, a gift called this lifetime. You have no control over what happens to you. But you can and must do whatever is possible by you to live your every moment fully. You have that option, and no one can deny it to you, so use it fully.  
Osho, the Master, calls the fate-destiny-karma logic defeatist and escapist. He says when we try something and don’t get what we want, we conveniently blame fate. “What can I do, I am trying but my fate is such” is a common refrain we all hear or even use at times. Osho urges us to stop this blame game! He says don’t dump the responsibility of your Life on fate. Some people also dub fate as “God’s will”. So they dump the cause of their Life’s course – and their attendant miseries – on this, unknown, unseen, God. Osho asks, “You know why you blame God for all the things that happen to you that you don’t want happening? You do it because it is so convenient. God doesn’t talk back, you see. God doesn’t ask you how dare you blame me for your Life? So, you go on dumping your Life on God and you wallow in the comfortable cesspool of ‘my-fate-is-such’ thinking.”

Osho makes a powerful, unputdownable, point. Blaming Life or karma or God is of no use. Your Life – and mine – will unfold, go on, happen, in spite of you – or me. No matter what. This is the nature of Life. The only way to live this Life therefore is to accept it for what it is, the way it is, and simply go on living…!  

Make peace with that unpopular Santa called ‘fate’

An eternal confusion that abounds in us is whether our lives are predestined or not.  

If Life is predestined, what is the point of trying to control it by dreaming, imagining and living it our way? And if it is possible to live Life the way we want to, why doesn’t everything we will and work towards always happen?

The answer to these questions lies in the definition and understanding of Life itself. Former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s definition of Life is best in this context: “Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” Determinism is pre-ordained destiny. Free will is the ability to choose an action freely in the context of (every day) living. Someone wise once said that a man born to be hanged shall never drown. So, even if he tries to commit suicide (free will) he will survive and will die only from hanging (determinism). But that doesn’t mean he must give up living__or, in his case, trying to commit suicide! The joy of dealing with Life’s ‘unseen’ hand, of responding to it intelligently, is what makes Life interesting and unputdownable. You need to crouch when Life is raining blows at you and then leap back when both your confidence and the conditions are up. Think of this Life as an adventure sport, where your faith and patience are continuously tested and you must keep summoning both qualities from within you, to live each moment fully. Apple co-Founder Steve Jobs says of this so beautifully, “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Determinism or fate is like an unpopular Santa Claus who’s bringing you things that you don’t want or like. Making peace with that Santa is free will. It means to accept what comes in your stocking and live with it, while believing and knowing that what you really want is on its way to you. In making that choice, free will again, you will find the cloud lifting, the confusion clearing and__bliss!