We live in an age of empowerment and like to believe we are in total control of our lives. However, there are many things beyond our pale. Unacceptable as the thought may be, with karma and destiny overseeing much of our existence, it’s difficult to defy what chance has in store for us. But is everything preordained, or can we chart our own course with­out letting the deeds of our past and present lives or the forces of fate in this life overwhelmingly dictate the terms?

Destiny is the predetermined, usually inevitable, course of events, while karma denotes the actions we do. It means actions that are seen as bringing upon oneself results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation. So, are you here because you’re destined to be, or simply because you are get­ting in return what you’ve given to the world?

It is mainly believed that karma is both – the actions of your past lives and the present. Some of it can be changed while some can’t. It’s like – when you prepare a dessert, if there’s too little sugar or too little butter, too much or too little milk, it can all be adjusted. But once it is cooked, it cannot be reversed. “Prabdha karma cannot be changed, but Sanchita karma can be changed by spiritual practices. Satsang burns the seed of all negative karma,” says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder, Art of Living.

Agrees tarot card reader Avi, who says certain negative things, which are destined, can be changed by die power of optimism, good karma and belief in God. Having read the cards of actors Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and other stars, he quotes, “Look at Salman Khan -because of his past life karmas, he may be destined to go through a lot of lows, but because he is involved with so many charitable causes and doing so much good for the poor and needy, he is able to sail through his toughest times too.”

Apart from this, the other attribute that helps one deal with the ordeals of life is praying sincerely. Pray to your Al­mighty and he’ll guide you through the worst phases of life. Sampa Kumar, palmist and astrologer, has seen many nega­tive things in the kundalis and palms of many clients and ad­vised them to pray. “I am only an astrologer; I do not have the power to change their destinies. If I foresee a fatal accident, I tell them to ardently pray and be kind and generous to people. Good deeds can influence the destined. The fatal accident can turn into a minor accident, but since it is destined, the accident will surely happen. I’ve seen prayers bringing about miracles in people’s lives.”

Being ‘good’ and being religious aren’t synonymous. You could be visiting your place of worship many times a day, but if you are mean, conniving and negative all the tine, it doesn’t serve any purpose. In situations when you’re unsure of your action, follow your gut instinct. If you believe you shouldn’t harm that person, but still do so out of rage, jealousy or ha­tred, it is still bad karma.

Karma which is also called kalchakra, makes destiny. What we do, results in our destiny. It’s not the other way around. “The moment you have to justify your actions, you know it’s not right,” says numerologist, palmist and clairvoy­ant, Sunita Chabra. “When people come to me with a lot of negative thoughts, I ask them to let it all go. Negativity is not good for the system. If your actions are governed by negative influences, the fruits will also be bad. The only way to lead a peaceful life is by doing good deeds.”

Dr Kondaveti Newton, founder, Pyramid Past Life Therapy Clinic, says, “Consciously or unconsciously, through our thoughts, beliefs and actions, we create our own realities. Sometimes we are not conscious of our own creation, hence, when we cannot make a connection between our thoughts and manifested reality, we attribute it to destiny.”

The law of attraction says our thoughts create reality. The mind is a bank of thoughts of many past lives, the infor­mation of which is stored in our deep unconscious minds. “For example, if a person has been victimized in many past lives, he can possibly carry the ‘victim’ belief in this life too. Unconsciously, for every situation he is in. he wonders, ‘why me?’,” explains Newton.

Usually people make the mistake of relating karma with God and spirituality, but in reality, it’s scientific. It’s New­ton’s third law of physics – every action has an equal and opposite reaction. “Today, the law of karma is accepted in quantum physics too,” says Vivek Doshi, Pranic healer and trainer of Yoavidya Pranic Healing Foundation, South Mumbai.

Before we’re born, each soul, along with the help of some higher beings, decides how much outstanding karma has to be worked out in this birth. It’s simple. When you’re plan­ning your finances for a financial year, you see how much money you have, the liabilities that have to be taken care of immediately and the ones (hat can wait. That way the soul decides the karmas that need to be dealt with in this birth. Hence, the things that you’ve done in your past life come as situations in your present life. “Apart from doing good deeds, the other way to handle adversities of life is by trying to neu­tralise them.” says Doshi.

Like, if you have a heart ailment, donate money to that cause. Help someone who has a similar problem and believe you’ll be cured. Belief is one of the key players in leading a good life. Believe good things will happen to you, and it’ll happen.

“But good and bad karmas don’t offset each other,” cau­tions Doshi. “If you’ve stolen money, your money will get stolen too. But if you’ve done some charity out of that stolen money, you may win a lottery after your money is robbed. Just because of your charitable deed, it’ll never be that your money will not get robbed at all. And let me add here – there are different levels of karma. When you think bad things about someone, it is a bad mental karma. “

“I’ve felt the power of good deeds in my life, time and again,” says Mallika, a firm believer in destiny. There was a time when everything seemed to go wrong, but a rigid belief that things will work out, and supporting noble causes have helped her sail through the most difficult times.

“The choice of perceiving life is up to my karma. Even if I am destined to be a successful person, but choose to wal­low in self-pity, chances are slim that I will make it to that doctor’s degree,” says Meera Kotak, past-life therapist and cofounder. Energy Centre.

So, it is all up to you. You are the one who has the power and the capacity to change your fate. Your good karma, both thoughts and actions, will decide your future course of life. Therefore, don’t be a fatalist and leave it all to destiny. Go out there and make things happen, but in the right way.