We predict the times and the seasons, we can predict to a certainty physical and mechanical operations, and we can even predict within a range, the pattern and scope of a particular set of events we set in motion in various fields. We expect that the physical world in which we live follows certain laws and thus, we can understand in advance the pattern that is expected to appear. We can also predict with a great deal of certainty certain things which represent vital habitual or instinctive behavior of plants and animals, although as we move away from the purely physical elements, we bring in some degree of uncertainty due to interactions that can shift or modify the vital force in action.

The more elements we add to the interaction, however, the more uncertain our predictions become. It is true that we can predict, more or less, the behavior of large groups of people through statistical analysis, but coming to the level of an individual and his own reactions and destiny we find it difficult to obtain any certainty. Isaac Asimov in his science fiction series, ‘Foundation” examined the idea of predicting large numbers of people statistically through a science he called ‘psycho-history’ and made it clear that following an individual’s destiny was not going to fall within that system.

Certain individuals have psychic experiences of what can be called a collective ‘archive’ where past, present and future are joined together, called by most people who involve themselves in this field, the ‘akashic record’, and at this level, they return with knowledge of individual destinies if they happen to look into anything with that level of specificity.

We find that we can approximate the potential weather patterns, or the flow of a river in a particular channel, but we notice also that the complex factors operating upon the weather, large climate patterns, and specific impacts of oceans and land masses, competing air flow systems, all can modify the weather and bring forth unanticipated or unpredicted variations. As computing power grows, we find, however, that weather predictions seem to gain somewhat in accuracy.

If we apply this concept of complexity to individual human destiny, we can easily understand why it is not a simple matter to predict. There are lines of force set up by each individuals physical being, vital being, mental being, psychic being, and they each try to carry out their respective destinies, while interacting and being modified by the impact of the other forces that together make up the complex individual personality. Thus a person with a strong mind may have a physical weakness or infirmity that limits the scope and direction of his mental achievements. Similarly, someone with a strong vital being, driven to achieve results in the external world, will potentially modify the psychic being’s influence or even misapply it in furtherance of his vital desires and their fulfillment. The combinations here lead to a very high level of complexity and thus, greater uncertainty. We do not have one uniform destiny, but a complex of various destinies that somehow fuse together and create a unique result.

The further the individual advances in terms of organising the entire being around one central purpose, around the soul or psychic being, the more easily determined can be the destiny of that individual. This is due to a focusing of the energy of the multiple beings within one into an harmonious and cohesive, focused life-path.

The Mother notes: “To foresee destiny! How many have attempted it, how many systems have been elaborated, how many sciences of divination have been created and developed only to perish under the charge of charlatanism or superstition. And why is destiny always so unforeseeable? Since it has been proved that everything is ineluctably determined, how is it that one cannot succeed in knowing this determinism with any certainty?”

“Here again the solution is to be found in Yoga. And by yogic discipline one can not only foresee destiny but modify it and change it almost totally. First of all, Yoga teaches us that we are not a single being, a simple entity which necessarily has a single destiny that is simple and logical. Rather we have to acknowledge that the destiny of most men is complex, often to the point of incoherence. Is it not this very complexity which gives us the impression of unexpectedness, of indeterminacy and consequently of unpredictability?”

“To solve the problem one must know that, to begin with, all living creatures, and more especially human beings, are made up of a combination of several entities that come together, interpenetrate, sometimes organising themselves and completing each other, sometimes opposing and contradicting one another. Each one of these beings or states of being belongs to a world of its own and carries within it its own destiny, its own determinism. And it is the combination of all these determinisms, which is sometimes very heterogeneous, that results in the destiny of the individual. But as the organisation and relationship of all these entities can be altered by personal discipline and effort of will, as these various determinisms act on each other in different ways according to the concentration of the consciousness, their combination is nearly always variable and therefore unforeseeable.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 6, Some Answers and Explanations, pp. 146-147

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.