Is Death Predestined? If so, Why Take so Many Precautions During the Pandemic?


Is death predestined? If so, why do we say he/she died untimely? What is untimely death? If death is predestined why are we following so many precautions to protect us against this pandemic, lockdowns and isolation making people lonely. If death is predestined why not live free and die freely as these things will not help if death is already decided. Please enlighten me on this. Thanks

—SP, India


Dear Friend,

So many good questions! I have often found some solace, if not understanding, in accepting that life is ironic. So often in its essence, life is a paradox (at least for the intellect!).

So let’s take a look at your questions:

Is life predestined? Yes, it is but it is not fixed. At any given moment it hovers in the deck of “cards” of our karma. But our karma is malleable owing to actions we take from that moment forward. Further and more importantly, we don’t know the date, time or the how. So for us, and practically speaking, it is not predestined. Paradox #1.

What then is an untimely death? If a person dies young, we say it is untimely. But all we mean is that the person did not live to a ripe old age! Or, that the person was just on the cusp of some achievement or the beginning of a new phase in life… “Untimely” thus is from our point of view (or perhaps also that of the deceased), but the karma involved is the result of one’s past actions. Paradox #2.

Why then do anything to prevent death? Because we don’t know when it will take place and because the actions we take do have consequences. Expose yourself unnecessarily to a deadly virus and, guess what? Your chances of dying are increased! We have to use common sense and understand the law of karma. The gift of human life is to be treasured and, within reason, protected. Why is that? Because the human form was designed by God as the vehicle to achieve Self-realization, which is to say, to “know” God. Paradox #3.

Imagine yourself as a great actor. You are on the stage or movie set playing your role with gusto and skill. You know from reading the script, that you, playing the role of the villain, are going to die at the end of the drama. But as you play your role you cannot possibly think about that fact or give any hint to the audience that you know you are going to die. Don’t you see? We must play our part responsibly and fully. We cannot pretend to know the script in advance — unless by soul-realization the Great Director lets us peek at the script.

Besides, the fact that we all know that death comes sooner or later doesn’t seem to have much impact on our daily decisions and actions! There is hidden wisdom in this fact, don’t you see?

Life may be a great drama but, paradoxically, we have to play our part with full measure.

Smile in your heart, and offer your life to God, that you play well your part in the great drama!

Nayaswami Hriman