A Sense of Determinism

A sense of free will gives meaning to a lot of things in our lives; its imparts a sense of responsibility, leading to pride at accomplishments and guilt at mistakes.

Imagine what your life would be like if that sense of freedom was taken away, and you could see that everything you have ever done was determined from the very beginning; that choice was an illusion; that all your decisions had already been made; that the haunting specters of your past and cherished moments of victory had nothing to do with you; that your life has been merely an orchestra of a complex symphony.

How would it be like to live life with a sense of determinism?

It is this thought experiment which makes me appreciate the humility attributed to saints and mystics.


Qasim Aziz said…
Hi Awais,
After reading this post of yours, I could not resist but write my own opinion own this issue.
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Komal said…
I wonder if such a sense of determinism is really possible. I used to be a hard determinist, but I still never had this sense. We instinctively go about our life with a feeling of agency, and I think this feeling is an unavoidable part of being human (or sentient, maybe).

I didn't quite get the last line. Do you think mystics are, or are not determinists? Not sure I get the relevance of humility either. Please explain :S
Awais Aftab said…
@ Komal

I think some mystics are determinists, if not all.

About the humility. When i try to imagine living with a sense of determinism, the only response that comes to my mind is an attitude of intense humility. And that sort of humility, from what i know, is said to be displayed by mystics. Of course, i don't personally know much about mystics to make a strong statement.
Komal said…
Hmmm. Well at least this mystic believes in free will.

Sort of. Actually it's a bit complicated. One is constrained by the Divine Will in one sense, but the Divine essence is within us, so one could say His perfect freedom is our perfect freedom as well.

The mystic tends to be more concerned with freedom than free will. To me freedom consists in flourishing, and flourishing consists in closeness to/awareness of God (to put it very, very briefly). So in surrendering to God we find our true freedom.