There seems to be clear evidence, comparable to the stability of patterns found within chaos, of purpose within the complexity and apparent unpredictability of life, and of a uni-directional path of species evolution, and the personal development of many individual humans. In the event, all that a Creator had to do was to set up a mechanism capable of evolving by itself, even as it related to the sentient forms within creation, and these forms too would evolve. An arm’s-length Creator, not an interventionist god of the kind who baffles supplicants and frustrates the priesthood, makes good sense.
Such an objective analytic approach would fit life as experienced. There seem to be trajectories for the universe we think we know, for the observable galaxies, individual suns, and planets, and for us occupants on planet Earth. The pattern of an individual’s existence and the associated path of any personal development reflects, in my view, what might be termed as personal destiny. This is not fate, not something unavoidable. It is a pathway for one’s current life created by each of us for ourselves, both reactively and through free will, during past lives. With free will, one can also choose, during each life, to obey the imperatives of one’s own self-crafted destiny or respond in some other manner, much in the way a motorist might behave in a well-policed crowded city.
There is no need for the modified Hinduism of the New Age theorists of the Western world. New Agers like the idea of a reincarnating soul choosing (often in a dialogue with appropriate others) the life to be led. This deterministic Western approach (I can choose to be whatever I want to be) denies the concept of karma as an automatic and autonomous mechanism. Worse still, the millions of babies born into a life of suffering in under-developed nations can be held by the New Agers to have chosen that suffering! Unfortunately, there are Hindu gurus whose lack of understanding of karma also allows them to ignore the suffering of fellow Hindus as something deserved!!
How do I see karma? In the Hindu framework I have set out above, it reflects the confluence of reincarnation and the law of cause and effect.
As we paddle as best we can on our personal rivers of life, we exercise our free will to pay our personal cosmic debts, to access any opportunities to learn whatever we need to learn for our personal development, and to prepare for the next life. We thus effectively create, as a consequence of bumbling through life as best as possible, the cliffs through which our river of life will flow during our next sojourn on Earth, and the rocky impediments and chasms we will find on the way. How we deal with these and the cross-currents created by other personal destinies related to us will determine our future lives. No gods, saints, or spirits are therefore necessary as determinants. However, they may be able to intrude, to help, if they choose to; presumably they too have free will.
Since each of us is an integral part of a number of collectives, there will result a complex network of personal destinies. The expected web, and possibly nested mesh, of personal destinies would presumably be reflected ultimately in tribal and possibly national destinies. These might influence species development, although a major contributor might also be genetic mutations, which are truly accidents of nature.
(The above are extracts from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’)