Heredity, Destiny, Divinity – Channelizing the factors that shape us
What we inherit from our ancestors is important.
What we inherit from ourselves is even more important.
What we inherit from God is most important.
Let’s take a closer look at these three factors that shape us, factors that we can respectively call heredity, destiny and divinity.
Heredity: Our genes shape us through the characteristics we inherit from our ancestors. Yet we are not the slaves of our genes. We all have free will that enables us to go beyond our genetic trajectory. By nourishing the inherited characteristics favorable for our growth and neglecting the unfavorable inherited characteristics, we channelize the power of heredity in our personal development.
Destiny: Common statements like “Destiny is against me” or “My destiny is rotten” suggest that destiny is some incomprehensible inimical force. However, our destiny is the product of our own past deeds; it is the accumulated stockpile of our past karmic reactions that unfolds itself under divine supervision, as the Bhagavad-gita (13.22) indicates. Thus, our destiny is what we have inherited from ourselves – from our actions in this as well as previous lives. In one sense, destiny includes heredity, for destiny determines the parents we get. But in this analysis, destiny refers to those events that happen to us during the course of our life. The understanding that we are the makers of our destiny can be enormously liberating in two ways. Firstly, it frees us to unleash the power of our own volition – just as we have created our past destiny by our past choices, we can create our future destiny by our present choices. Secondly, it frees us to see beyond the indifferent- or even malevolent-seeming workings of worldly events to the benevolent hand of God. He is expertly orchestrating the unfolding of our destiny so as to facilitate our spiritual evolution. All that we need to do is keep ourselves attuned to his will through scriptural study and God-centered meditation – and participate in his plan for our evolution.
Divinity: Beyond our bodies and minds, we are at our core spiritual beings. The Bhagavad-gita (15.7) indicates that we are all parts of God. We are all potentially divine – not that we are god, but we are godly in our essence. Just as God is the greatest power in all of creation, so is his inheritance to us the most potent of all our inheritances. The spiritual core we inherit from him is inviolable, no matter what happens to us and no matter even what we do. The Bhagavad-gita (2.23-24) is emphatic that nothing, absolutely nothing, can destroy the eternal soul.
We repress our divine potentiality when we live separate from God and let our material infatuations cover our spiritual awareness. But we can express our divine potentiality by choosing to live in honor of our divine nature, by subordinating and harmonizing our material obligations with our spiritual opportunities.
This realignment of our priorities becomes easier when we let God’s supreme power empower us. By investing adequate time, thought and energy in developing our devotional connection with God, we discover that we can be far better than what we had ever thought we could be. We can become instruments for divine compassions, channels by which God’s supreme power acts on the earth for our and everyone’s well being. When we relish God’s unlimited love by choosing to make him our first love, then our love for others becomes purified and sublimated; we love them not just for what they do for us, but for who they are, as human beings, as souls, as precious parts of God. We become inspired to use our talents and resources to their complete extent not for our egoistic aggrandizement but as expressions of love, love for God and for all his children.
That is the fullest and the best way to live.