Fate and Freewill


Astrologers are always brushing up against this conundrum, my usual response, for there can be no definitive answer, lies embedded with in this quaint (yet disamrmingly profound) Islamic story:

Once upon a time, it is said, there lived in Isfahan a young man who spent his days as servant to a wealthy merchant. One fine morning the young man rode to market, carefree and with his purse jingling with coins from the merchant's coffers to buy meat and fruit and wine for his masters birthday feast.

Securing his horse he wandered slowly through the stall enjoying the rare scents, the exotic perfumes, the fine silks and rugs of merchants displaying their wares.  In the middle of this he suddenly froze for there across the stalls he saw the spectre of Death, who catching his eye beckoned to him as though about to speak.

Frozen in terror, the young man, his heart pounding, ran back to his horse about and fled, urging his horse faster and faster on the road that led to Samara.

By nightfall, filthy and exhausted, he had reached an inn, and with the merchant's money he procured a room, where he collapsed upon the bed with a mixture of fatigue mingle with a relief, thinking over his day and his narrow escpe for it seemed he had outwitted Death. But in the middle of the night there came a knock at the chamber door, and in the doorway stood Death, smiling affably. 'How come you to be here?' demanded the young man, white‑faced and trembling; 'I saw you only this morning at the market place in Isfahan. '

And Death‑replied:' Why, I have come to collect you, as it is written. For when I saw you this morning in the market‑place in Isfahan, I was merely trying to let you know of our appointment here, now, tonight. But you would not let me speak, and only ran away.'


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