Can predestination and free-will exist at the same time?
Predestination = the idea of fate; everything is already decided, planned, written and destined to happen.
Free-will = the idea of individual will; we make choices that influence and change our lives.
It seems like a contradiction to say that both of these things can exist together. If we are just living out what is written, then how can we have any choice in molding our lives? If we have choices that can change our lives, then how can anything be definite in the future?
I believe in both predestination and free-will. This is because I think there’s an interplay between freedom and limitation. I see it as ‘predestined choice’, which means that we do have free-will and choice, but we make all our choices before we come onto the world stage, where we live out our choices according to whatever we have destined for ourselves.
Looking at cultures across the world, people tend to live according to either one belief system or the other. In the East, where the economy is developing fast and there is a widening gulf between the rich and the poor, poorer societies tend to follow the idea of destiny quite rigidly. They think that nothing is in their own hands, that God gives and takes away. On the other hand, in the West, people believe in individual choice and responsibility because they have seen how much influence their actions can have on their lives; but this, too, becomes extreme to the point that people think they are omnipotent (they can buy what they want, consume endlessly without ever having to compensate for it).
These cultural belief systems don’t come from religions; they come from economics. The original, authentic teachings of all religions are actually quite similar e.g. karma / you reap what you sow / the kalyug / the day of judgement etc.
As long as we take responsibility for our actions, it doesn’t matter whether we think the consequences for these actions were predestined or whether we caused them to occur through our choices.