Are we victims of our own destiny?
Destiny is not the only component; there is another component known as purushartha, self-effort. We can look at destiny and purushartha in the following manner. A developer constructs a building and the potential owner has no say in that construction. The plans are approved and the building is erected.
If we want to buy it, we get a ready-made building, but we have the free will to decorate it in our own way. Purushartha is living in and adjusting to our environment according to our need. Destiny is the raw material we receive. So the empty building we buy from the developer is destiny. How we choose to live in that building, how we furnish and decorate it is purushartha.
That is free will. So free will and destiny both go together. We have received a body and we have to work with it throughout our life, but how we manage our body is up to us. The body is destined; maintaining the body is purushartha. The mind is destined, but how we educate our mind is purushartha.
So what God has given is actually a blank manuscript and he says, “Write your own story!”
From the book “Yoga Sadhana Panorama Vol. 5”, pg. 46, Sw. Niranjanananda Saraswati