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Fate, Destiny, Kismet

Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be John Lennon, Paul McCartney

Fate, Destiny, Kismet... All relate the idea that what happens to us in this lifetime is fixed, predetermined, inescapable.

Depending on your point of view it could be horrifying to think we are mere robots, unable to deviate one iota from our fixed pathway. Indeed, if we have no Will, we - as individuals - do not really exist.

Or it might be comforting. For if all that happens would have happened regardless we are relieved of blame, responsibility and guilt.

Modern society certainly doesn't subscribe to this view. The legal system assumes responsibility for action, and hence freedom of the Will, by punishing those guilty of sin (ie crime). And capitalism rewards enterprise.

And what of our own experience. Surely there are numerous occasions each day when we are called upon to make decisions. The problem is that as mortals time appears as ever-flowing and unidirectional. So once we've made a decision, and acted upon it, it seems that things couldn't possibly have turned out any other way. In reality time may not be so uncompromising, see The Paradox of Time for more on this.

But even if we are captains of our own ships we still have no control over the forces of nature or the other ships we share the oceans with. We have free Will, but it's a limited freedom. We can make choices, but those choices operate against a backdrop of circumstance over which we are powerless. And it is these externalities which we call destiny or fate.

What of providence? This is the idea that God, or Spirit, will somehow take care of our earthly needs. It is surprising how many often in troubled times the solution unexpectedly appears. This is evidence that we are part of some greater, mostly unperceived, reality. But we should not use providence as an excuse to abdicate responsibility otherwise we obviate the need for our earthly existence. We must still use our Will to the best of our ability and sometimes fate will lend a helping hand.

What of luck? The idea that some experience better fortune than others. The concept of luck is born of comparison with others. It is true that we are all born into different conditions, with different talents and other qualities. So too will our experiences differ vastly in nature and desirability. No two lives are alike. If they were there would be no point in them being lived twice. We all tread a different path, and - believe it or not - we all chose the lessons we would learn along ours. We should not be envious of the fortunes of others, instead we should focus on making the best of our own particular path in the knowledge that we tread it for good reason.

The paradox of significance begins with the recognition of the utter insignificance of a single man in comparison with the totality of the universe. And yet every act of Will somehow alters what would otherwise have been, ultimately and forever. Like the ripples spreading out from a stone tossed into the sea. Suppose in our daily affairs we meet someone on their way to a job interview. A simple "good morning" or friendly glance might be enough to inspire that person to success. And in the course of their work they may go on to touch many other souls. And all because of one simple, costless action. A crude example but without much imagination we can produce many more.

new age spirituality © abracad 2005