Thursday, March 13, 2014

Destiny


One of O V Vijayan’s characters narrates a parable to show how we may not be able to alter our destiny, not much at least.

A bullock, one of a pair used for drawing a cart, prayed, “Oh God, why did you give me this destiny?  You have not only made me a cart-bullock but also fixed my place on the right side of the cart.  The driver uses his whip relentlessly and it is on my back it falls all the time.  If you can’t alter my destiny of being a cart-bullock, at least change my place from the right to the left side.”

God decided to grant the wish.  The bullocks and the cart were sold on the same day.  The new owner placed the bullock on the left side.  And the new driver was left-handed.

Well, I really don’t think that our destiny is entirely out of our control.  Some things are beyond our control, but some are certainly within control.  For example, Mark Antony’s meeting with Cleopatra might have been beyond his control, but choosing to let Rome melt in the Tiber of his lust was his choice.  Or should we say that the lust was in his genes and the genes were not his choice?  Such a line of argument will lead us to absolute determinism, and then we will be nothing more than puppets in the hands of destiny.

Sisyphus
I accept the view of the Existentialists that we mould our destiny to a large extent by the choices we make. 

Sometimes we may feel like Vijayan’s bullock, unable to make any meaningful choice.  We can, then, alter our attitude to the given destiny.  Like Sisyphus*, we can take the boulder as a challenge, or we can even fall in love with the boulder. Even Sisyphus is not without choices, you see.


*Note: Sisyphus is the Greek mythological hero who was punished by gods to roll a boulder to the zenith of a hill.  But just before he touched the zenith, the gods would push the boulder down.  French philosopher and novelist, Albert Camus, wrote a brilliant essay titled ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ in which Camus argued that our life was not much different from what Sisyphus was condemned to do.  But how we carry out the task of living is our choice.  

23 comments:

  1. Nice debate without any solution! I like to pretend that everything is under my control :)

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    1. Good for you, Sunil ji. Sometimes such pretensions reap rich dividends!

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  2. I do believe in destiny but at the same time, it doesn't stop from going after what I want. It's just that when I don't achieve the goal after working hard, I leave it to destiny!

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    1. Destiny becomes an excuse, Pankti?

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    2. No...more like consolation :| Otherwise working hard for nothing can make one depressed and suicidal. sigh..

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    3. Consolation, yes. Absolutely. Opium of the masses.

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  3. Sisyphus has similarity to 'Naranath branthan' except that naranath rolled the boulder for pleasure and let it roll down...
    Destiny is in our hands I believe but emotions are coded in the genes. And mostly emotions pave way for our downfall..:(

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    1. Yeah, I think the legend of Naranath Bhranthan is superior to the myth of Sisyphus insofar as the former is choosing the absurdity.

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  4. Camus may not get everybody's approval, but your open ended post is thought provoking and wonderful!

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  5. One line my mother had been saying constantly- "Jo bhi AB paristhiti hai, usme wisest decision lo aur apna best karo."
    And 'AB' or 'NOW' is of importance as it indicates that dont try to change the situation INSTEAD alter YOUR actions and perception.... situation will automatically alter in your favour. Believe me , IT WORKS !

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    1. It does, Kokila, I bet. I have written much about SFBT, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, which I use with my students. The whole focus is on the NOW.

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  6. We build our own destiny and call them fate... it's true to great extent..

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  7. I believe in destiny but I also believe that the word destiny should not be used as an excuse for one's own weaknesses which I see happens most of the times.

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    1. A very astute response, Namrata. There is much that is beyond our control and that has to be accepted. What is within our control should not be made an excuse. I'm just paraphrasing you. Thanks.

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    2. And I would be happy enough if you could share your views upon this..
      http://namratakumari.blogspot.in/2014/03/the-theory-of-soul-mates.html

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  8. There are different personality and everyone has a different approach to things ! a nice read !

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    1. Difference should be welcome in any democracy!

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  9. I dont know about destiny...but with whatever little experience I have had... I have learned to make a decision with clear mind and not fight the situation.

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    1. If you are able to take decisions with a clear mind, you are the master of your destiny, Namrota. All the best.

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  10. That is such an apt story. I believe in destiny too.. what's to happen will happen, we need to learn how to adapt and make the best of it.

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    1. Some destiny and some choices - that's my stand, Seeta.

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