With this post we begin a new series of teachings by Hazrat Inayat Khan on the puzzle of destiny and each person’s role in shaping the future. It was a subject he spoke of more than once, and the Inner Call offered another lecture on the same theme here.
It is said in the Gayan, ‘The present is the reflection of the past, and the future is the re-echo of the present.’ Destiny is not what is already made. Destiny is what we are making. Very often fatalists think that we are in the hands of destiny, driven in whatever direction in life destiny wills; but in point of fact we are the masters of our destiny, especially from the moment we begin to realize this fact. Among Hindus there is a well-known saying that the creation is Brahma’s dream; in other words that all manifestation is the dream of the Creator. I would wish to add to this that destiny means the materialization of man’s own thought. Man is responsible for his success and failure, for his rise and fall. And it is man who brings these about, either knowingly or unknowingly.
There is a hint of this in the Bible, in the principal prayer taught by Christ, in which it is said, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is a psychological suggestion to mankind to make it possible that the will of God, which is easily done in heaven, should also be done on earth. And the English saying that man proposes and God disposes supports this. It suggests the other side of the same truth. These seem to be two contrary ideas, yet they explain the same theory: that what is meant by destiny is changed by man, but that destiny also changes man’s plans.
The more we study life the more we understand that it is not only qualifications, enthusiasm, and energy that count, but also the design, the plan already made. And according to that plan man has to go through his destiny. No doubt one should not use this to support the argument of some fatalists who think that they can sit back comfortably and wait for better times to come. They may just as well wait for the rest of their life and not accomplish anything.
The question of destiny can be better explained by the picture of an artist meditating on a certain design he has in his mind. The first stage is to create the design in his mind. The second is to bring it on to the canvas. And when he draws this picture on the canvas, it may suggest something to him that he had not thought of when he made the design in his mind. And when the artist has finished his picture, he will see that it is quite different from what he had originally thought of.
This shows that our life stands before us like a picture. When all that has been designed beforehand begins to happen, our soul will receive a totally different suggestion from the picture. Something that was lacking may have been put in, and in this way the picture is improved. For there are two kinds of artists: one who paints the plan which has been made in his mind on the canvas. And the other who takes suggestions from the picture itself as he goes on painting. The difference is that the one is merely an artist and the other is a master. The latter is not bound to the plan. The former has designed something and is bound to what he has designed; he is limited.
To be continued…