Chapter 11: Right Questioning
I would like to know if our lives are predestined or not?
It is both - yes and no both - and it is always so with living problems. In a way you are determined - in a way. Whatsoever is physical in you, whatsoever is material in you, whatsoever is mental in you, is determined. And everything has a cause somewhere and is predictable. But still something in you constantly remains undetermined, and is unpredictable, and that is your consciousness.
So it depends. If you are identified with your body and your material existence much too much, then in the same proportion you are determined by causes. Then you are a machine, a biological machine. But if you are not identified with your material bodily existence, mind and body both included - if you can feel yourself something separate, different, above, transcending, then that transcending consciousness is never determined. It is spontaneous, free. Consciousness means freedom, and matter means non-freedom. Matter is the realm of slavery; consciousness is the realm of freedom. So it depends on you, how you define yourself. If you said, “I am only the body,” then I would say yes, you are determined completely.
So a person who says that man is only a body cannot then say that man is not predetermined. This may seem very strange, because ordinarily, persons who don’t believe in consciousness, don’t believe in determination. And ordinarily persons who are religious and believe in consciousness believe in predetermination. So whatsoever I am saying will look very contradictory. But I say this is the case.
A person who has known consciousness has known freedom. So only a spiritual person can say there is no determination at all, but that realization comes only when you are completely unidentified with bodily existence. So who you are - if you feel yourself to be just a material existence, then no freedom is possible. With matter, freedom is impossible. Matter means that which cannot be free. It must flow in the chain of cause and effect. That’s why I say both, and it will depend on you.
Once someone has achieved consciousness, enlightenment, he is completely out of cause and effect, and becomes unpredictable, absolutely unpredictable. You cannot say anything about him. He begins to live each moment; to say it in other words, his existence becomes atomic.
Your existence is a chain, a river-like chain, in which every step is determined from the past. Really your future is not future; it is just a by-product of the past. Your future is no future at all. It is only the past with the mind shaping, formulating, cultivating, conditioning. So your future - that’s why your future is predictable.