[This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html ]
Looking into the Future?
What if the future was revealed? “If we knew what the future holds, we would either take steps to fight against it, or become lax and give up all effort,” writes Vinita Nangia, and goes on to cite several examples. Often marriages break over extra-marital affairs, and then it is too late when the guilty party, husband or wife, knows what they stand to lose as a result, and feel that had they known the consequences, perhaps they would never have entered into the affair. Can we change the future by taking action to counter it in the present? Is there an advantage in knowing what the future holds?
If we know what lies ahead, we are forced to acknowledge and take action. Unaware of the future, we are absolved of the consequences too. Those who believe in it find succor in blaming destiny for problems in their lives. If we knew in advance how things are going to end up, could we change the destiny? For instance, a person who knows that he or she will be killed in a car accident on a particular day may decide not to step out that day. A couple who knows that their marriage will end in two years may not tie the knot at all. Life would be one long preparation and we humans would never let the future play out as it is meant to. On the other hand, those who expect a happy future may become lax. Then, again, when a man and a woman in an affair know that they will not get caught, might be encouraged to take greater risks. Since they have changed the variables, or the parameters of the situation, would they get caught, or not?
Knowing the future might take away the thrill and fun. What is the fun of adventure sports if one knows that one faces no danger from it? What is the fun of reading a book or watching a movie when one knows how it is going to conclude? Is it not best to move along with blinkers on, as far as the future is concerned, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst?, asks Vinita Dawra Nangia. (Times Life, Sunday Times of India, March 18, 2018) Is it good to know what the future holds? Knowing that the future holds happiness can certainly help to relieve a person from anxiety. “Anxiety is one of man’s greatest and most insidious foes. It fetters his energy and defeats his ends. If astrology will relieve one at any crisis from anxiety, is it not well to foster its pursuit and spread its fame?” writes Mr. Judge. It is true that knowing of unhappy future can keep a person in a state of fear and anxiety, besides making preparations to avert or deal with the future as the case may be. For, not every future event in a person’s life is fixed irrevocably. What we know as fate is karma so strong and overpowering that its action cannot be counteracted by other Karma. Destiny or Fate is the Karma that has ripened, so that its expression cannot be averted or postponed. It is the destiny that one will fulfill no matter how hard one strives against it. But it is also true that often by relying too much on the astrological predictions, we attract a calamity which may not have happened, but for our thought. Mr. Judge gives an example of a person for whom the future prediction was that he was going to have his leg broken. Knowing this he remained at home. Almost at the end of the day, he climbed a ladder to hang curtains; but the ladder gave way, he fell and broke his leg. Mr. Judge says that no doubt the planetary conjunction may have very bad influence, but what precipitated that influence was the attitude of this person.
Knowing what is likely to happen in the future gives one opportunity to prepare. “It is similar to keeping an umbrella ready if the forecast of the rain is made by the meteorological department. If it rains, it will surely be useful and if it does not, then there is no harm,” says Bhavikk Sangghvi, an astrologer and a numerologist. We all know that too much smoking may lead to lung cancer, or spicy and pungent food may lead to ulcers, and yet for some of us it becomes unavoidable destiny and we are drawn to that end because of our past tendencies, vasanas or samskaras. What puts limitation on our exertion is our past karma and past choices. H.P.B. points out that man is a free agent during his stay on earth, but “there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions.” In other words, the exercise of free will is conditioned or limited by the external circumstance, as well as, the inner capacities and conditions – both being the result of past Karma