Monday 31 December 2018

The truth of destiny

Surveying my life, one fact seems clear - that there was a destiny at work. And the only real choice was to accept or reject it - it was not possible to pursue a different fate than the real one.

This is the opposite to the mainstream view, and the one to which I adhered; which said that we could and should choose our own path through life: that we could create the life we wanted.

What I see is that whenever (and this could go on for years) I was trying to create my own future, I failed. Anything other then my destiny was sabotaged by events.

Often self-sabotaged. I would decide what I wanted, I would set myself to trying to achieve it; but things would happen, all kinds of things, to prevent it. Or, if I got it; then it was nothing like I imagined or hoped - and my own motivation would inexorably evaporate. I could not make myself hold-onto what I had grasped. 

I was never forced (I could not be forced, apparently) do do the right thing (to follow destiny), and I generally avoided doing the right thing for a very long time; but doing the wrong thing could be and was sabotaged again and again - tirelessly, relentlessly!

I spent a great deal of time purposefully doing the wrong things, with the wrong people; pursuing wrong career ideas; trying to live in wrong places..

William Arkle explains this in terms of us having two kinds of will, one deep and the others on the surface. The deep will is the real will - that is, the will of our real, divine, eternal selves. But above this are potentially several 'personality wills' - or 'ego' wills... these are what people mean by 'will power', when someone sets out to create their own future by channelling their efforts in a specific direction.

Because it is divine, the real will operates by innumerable unperceived 'mechanisms' to align events in its favour - that is, the real will is sustained by synchronicity. In contrast, synchronicity works against the personality will, whenever it conflicts with the real. 

What is this destiny, and what is it for? Well, it is Not a plan leading to a specific outcome; because life is not like that. Life is the experiences we most need for our eternal benefit; and destiny is teaching us what we most need to learn. 

Destiny is divine, and destiny is our teacher. But whether we learn from it depends on us.

So long as we strive against destiny, we will get negative lessons. Experience will be teaching us: No, not this. No, not this either... on and on. We may experience a great deal of pleasure; but it will be undercut by existential despair.

When we are on the path of destiny, by contrast, we will experience a deep happiness and hope which continues underneath our surface sufferings.

Someone who lives in accordance with destiny is distinguished by getting from mortal life what his  eternal soul most needed from mortal life. But one who avoids his destiny has wasted his life.


John Fitzgerald said...

Kathleen Raine wrote a lot about this in her autobiography. She called Destiny her 'Daemon' and whenever she tried to act independently of it the Daemon relentlessly pulled her back to her true calling. I used to think that I could do any sort of job and have my real life 'outside work hours', as it were. It's taken me a long time to realise that one's life has to be aligned with one's destiny in all spheres. You can't switch it on and off like a tap. You can't live in an environment that doesn't align with your destiny for 8 hours a day then snap back into your destiny as if you were taking a jacket on and off. It's about finding an optimum fit - creating an ambience at home and work that chimes as much as possible with your Divine purpose, who you are deep down, and who God created you to be.

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - Yes; or perhaps more exactly, when you are that kind of person (we are, but perhaps not everybody is), then it is a fact of destiny that cannot be eluded.

But I find that destiny does not really tell us what we ought to do with any specificty; it leaves us to work that out for ourselves, mostly. We can't see the path ahead, but we know when we step off it...

Life isn't like following a script (and isn't meant to be - that would be un-free, a mental-slave's existence), and an individual destiny could perhaps be fulfilled in more than one way, in several ways; but *most* possibilities *are* ruled-out.

Real life is *not* a large field of choices - it is a matter of finding our way (the right way) *through* a mass of actively-misleading possibilities (or escaping-from a false trail, a clearly marked route to a place we shouldn't be going).

I would also add that while happiness is a reliable guide through life, pleasure is a deadly snare; and if happiness and pleasure cannot be distinguished, and if happiness is not preferred - then genuine success in life is very unlikely indeed.

Francis Berger said...

I wholeheartedly agree with what you express in this post as well as the comments you and John have added. Destiny truly is unspecific; hence, we must become aware of the general, dominant flow of our lives and then work out the details for ourselves. This is the crux of the matter, and this is where I often made my biggest missteps in terms of destiny.

In my experience, I have found wading into the realm of compromise to be the ultimate tell of whether or not I was still pursuing my destiny. By compromise I refer to both explicit definitions of the word - making concessions in an effort to find agreement with something that may not be agreeable at all AND the expedient acceptance of standards that are lower than what you know to be desirable. I have learned, rather painfully at times, that when it comes to destiny, no compromise is possible.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Francis - It is quite a change to reach this view. I used to be frustrated by what seemed like 'bad luck' that arose when I tried to do certain things or move my life in certain directions, or by my own physical or mental limitations; but I can now see that these 'barriers' helped deter me from doing things which were not what I should be doing.

Other peoples' advice is often unhelpful, because they may assume that people are the same/ interchangeable; or that other people are like themselves. Only when it comes to a few people that we know well can we *sometimes* see what they should, or more likely should not, be doing.

I have had a couple of friends who were very persistent, over many years, at trying to do (but not succeeding at) what they were fundamentally unsuited to doing. They each seemed to have an unrealistic 'fantasy' about themselves that did not match reality. They spent their lives trying to swim upstream.

I saw this in some others to whom I was close, but I failed to see that I also had the same problem, but in relation to different 'fantasies'.

Looking back, I am embarrassed and rather ashamed at the superficiality, but persistence, of these misguided fantasies of mine.

Jared said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I think it related to what I have experienced in my life. Some of it seemed familiar. What I liked also was the focus on life or destiny being to prepare us for the next life.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jared - "the focus on life or destiny being to prepare us for the next life" - Yes, and that itself implies that our lives are individually tailored to our specific needs, to a greater degree than usually recognised.