Destiny is only in relation to the body-mind-ego. There is no destiny for Atman/Brahman. Atman is beyond space, time and thus beyond destiny. Destiny happens because we think we are a separate entity from others and the world. We want certain things to happen or not happen in a particular way. For example, we want to win a lottery and not get into an accident. But all these things that are destined to happen is for the body-mind-ego complex. As long as we think we are this complex, destiny can affect us. After realisation of “I am Atman”, destiny has no role to play on You the Atman while destiny may continue for the body-mind-ego complex.
Talk 346. Free will and Destiny last as long as the body lasts. But
wisdom transcends both, for the Self is beyond knowledge and
M: Free-will and destiny are ever-existent. Destiny is the result of
past action; it concerns the body. Let the body act as may suit it.
Why are you concerned with it? Why do you pay attention to it?
Free-will and Destiny last as long as the body lasts. But wisdom
(jnana) transcends both. The Self is beyond knowledge and ignorance.
Should anything happen, it happens as the result of one’s past
actions, of divine will and of other factors.
Thus, destiny can be overcome by Self-realisation. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi taught that the supreme happiness of Atman can be realised by atma-vichara – self-enquiry – which is to question who am I in order to investigate and eliminate the false ego.
“The removal of ignorance is the aim of practice and not acquisition of Realisation.” (Talks with Ramana Maharshi)
In Shankara’s words, this is to remove the avidya that causes one to confuse a rope for a snake under dim light. Due to avidya, we assume that we are the body-mind-ego complex and confuse the real Self (Atman) to be this false self. However, Bhagavan also emphasized that atma-samarpana or self-surrender is also a path because we give up the false ego to “become” the Self.
M.: “All right. What need be said has been said. Well. What is
destiny? There is no destiny. Surrender, and all will be well. Throw
all the responsibility on God. Do not bear the burden yourself. What
can destiny do to you then?”
D.: Surrender is impossible.
M.: Yes. Complete surrender is impossible in the beginning. Partial
surrender is certainly possible for all. In course of time that will
lead to complete surrender. Well, if surrender is impossible, what can
be done? There is no peace of mind. You are helpless to bring it
about. It can be done only by surrender.
D.: What is unconditional surrender?
M.: If one surrenders oneself there will be no one to ask questions or
to be thought of. Either the thoughts are eliminated by holding on to
the root-thought ‘I’ or one surrenders oneself unconditionally to the
Higher Power. These are the only two ways for Realisation.
The body-mind-ego complex assumes a false independent entity by constantly attending to thoughts about the past or the future or the objects in the world thinking them to be “outside” and “apart” from us. The practice is thus to turn our attention inward so that the mind can subside and lose its existence as a separate entity to realise its true nature. The ways are to constantly enquire and quieten or willingly surrender the mind that is constantly thinking, doing or outward directed.
Thus, Bhagavan Ramana taught us that in order to experience the infinite happiness of true self-knowledge we must attempt either to know our real self by investigating ‘who am I?’ or to separate ourself from our false self by surrendering it to God. In reality, self-enquiry and self-surrender are not two different paths but the single path that will allow us to stop the mis-identification with the body-mind and allow us to realise that we are Atman and always has been That. Then, destiny will have no role to play.
Find out to whom Free-Will or Destiny matters. Abide in it. Then these
two are transcended. That is the only purpose of discussing these
questions. To whom do these questions arise? Find out and be at peace.