Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fate and Destiny Part 1

I have occasionally met people who are wholly dis-satisfied with their life, and complain quietly but persistently about the unfairness of their situation: others have more money, or a better job or house, or seem to have more luck. And yet they seem to be making no effort to improve their own lives. When I have called them on it (nicely) they say "I know, I know, it's not really all that bad." but that only slows them down for a bit.

I have also met unhappy people who genuinely believe that life is conspiring against them to keep their true talent or genius or ability from being recognised. Some people can keep that up for decades.

At one point I concluded that we are the sum of all the choices that we have ever made, including choices made for us but which we have accepted. And so I would say to these folks that you are what you are, and until you start making other choices you will remain in your situation. I would usually get a blank stare in return.

I recently read this piece from a larger book, and the passage gave me lots to think about, so much so that I have copied it out here:


Choices made in the past have power over the present, and this influence is traditionally called fate. Fate presses toward the repetition of past patterns. When you find yourself repeating the same experiences or can't seem to get past the consequences of some past event, fate is shaping your life. From a wider perspective, fate is the presence in human life of the same rigid unthinking patterns that shape the lives of animals and plants.

Fate doesn't dominate all life, however. The future also has power in the present, for each soul has unique gifts that seek expression. Their force is traditionally called destiny, the power that pulls the soul toward situations in which its potential can be fulfilled. When you find yourself thrust willy-nilly onto unfamiliar ground, faced with challenges you've never met before, and forced back on resources you didn't know you had, destiny is shaping your life. From a wider perspective, destiny is the presence of the infinite and unknown.

Caught between fate and destiny, the human soul has power of its own - the ability to choose. This ability is will, and it holds the balance between the pressure of the past and the pull of the future. When you act in the world instead of simply reacting to it, guiding your life by your own choices rather than being pushed and pulled by forces outside you, will is shaping your life. From a wider perspective, will is the capacity for freedom and creativity in every moment.

Fate, will and destiny weave the fabric of each person's life. Any two, however, can overpower the third. Thus when will moves in harmony with destiny, the influence of the past has no power. When will follows the bidding of fate, the deeper potentials of the self remain asleep. When fate and destiny move together, will struggles against them in vain. When all three pull in different directions, the souls tumbles through life and achieves little. When all three work in the same direction, finally, nothing in the universe can stand against them.

Families, cities, nations and cultures have their own equivalents of fate, will and destiny, and so does humanity as a whole. To read history is to watch these patterns unfolding on a grand scale, and the great crises of the present time offer extraordinary opportunities to watch the three factors at work.

John Michael Greer, 2006


It happens that a lot of my day is spent in fairly mindless work - satisfying, but repetitive - and I find myself drifting back to this passage and reflecting upon it.

Our society has some challenges ahead as we adapt to the fact that times are getting harder and the "good old days" may never fully return. It would be nice if we could have our collective will work with our collective destiny, and thereby cheat our fate.

Nasturtiums at My Back Door in August

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