However difficult it is to predict specifically the destiny of any individual, due to the complex interactions that create that destiny (or shall we say ‘destinies’), there is still a sense that life carries out the path of the energies at work, as well as the trajectory those energies follow. There is thus a ’cause and effect’ that drives the individual forward and which we call destiny, otherwise known as the fruits of karma. While we frequently claim the power of ‘free will’, if we trace back the causes to their roots, we generally find that it was past thoughts and actions which led to the circumstances of the current moment. As long as we remain fully subject to the play of the Gunas and remain fixed within the external personality, we clearly are bound by our destiny.

Sri Aurobindo was once asked about whether an individual could change the inevitability of the ‘stars’ or the ‘karma’ or ‘destiny’ (under whichever term we choose to describe the phenomenon). He indicated that once the standpoint of the being shifts to the spiritual Person as opposed to the external egoistic personality, the element of conscious intention and will, aligned with the divine purpose, can overcome the implications of past karmic force.

We see in the example of Milarepa, the great yogi of Tibet, the obvious change of karma resulting from a conscious intention to overcome to bonds of the external person. His family was harmed by greedy relatives. He could only think of revenge and found a teacher who taught him the black arts. He practiced sorcery to destroy the village where his relatives exercised their wealth and power. After seeing the destruction, however, he became conscious of the extreme harm he had done to his soul, and sought salvation with the goal of achieving liberation in the current lifetime, no matter what it took. His conscious intention brought him to a Guru who helped him to overcome the karmic burden of his past deeds, and opened the way for his spiritual liberation and full freedom.

There are creditable stories of individuals who had a spiritual realisation at a certain point in their lives which changed their entire direction and focus and took them in totally unanticipated directions, contrary to the pressures of parents, friends, family and even their own thoughts, dreams and wishes.

In the book Called to Heal, a story is recounted of an individual who tried to follow a socially desirable career and path of development, despite urgings from her deeper self that she felt of being a healer. The more she tried to deny this calling, the more trouble landed on her, including a variety of health problems and other obstacles. Finally, when she accepted this direction in her life and the new destiny opened before her to lead her to joy and fulfillment in this unexpected path of life.

The Mother observes: “In fact, the higher a being stands on the human scale, the more complex is his being, the more numerous are his destinies and the more unforeseeable his fate seems to be as a consequence. This is however only an appearance. The knowledge of these various states of being and their corresponding inner worlds gives at the same time the capacity to discern the various destinies, their interpenetration and their combined or dominant action. Higher destinies are quite obviously the closest to the central truth of the universe, and if they are allowed to intervene, their action is necessarily beneficent. The art of living would then consist in maintaining oneself in one’s highest state of consciousness and thus allowing one’s highest destiny to dominate the others in life and action. So one can say without any fear of making a mistake: be always at the summit of your consciousness and the best will always happen to you. But that is a maximum which is not easy to reach. If this ideal condition turns out to be unrealisable, the individual can at least, when he is confronted by a danger or a critical situation, call upon his highest destiny by aspiration, prayer and trustful surrender to the divine will. Then, in proportion to the sincerity of his call, this higher destiny intervenes favourably in the normal destiny of the being and changes the course of events insofar as they concern him personally. It is events of this kind that appear to the outer consciousness as miracles, as divine interventions.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 6, Some Answers and Explanations, pg. 148

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at 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.