It is said some lives are linked across time. Connected by an ancient calling that echoes through the ages. Destiny.
These word are written during the opening scene of the 2010 American action fantasy film Prince of Persia. Mesmerised I slide back in time to a land of parched deserts, scorching heat from an unrelenting sun and waves of ochre sands. And destiny. Romance. Kismet.
The romantic notion of destiny and fate and prod me for answers. Are fate and destiny one? In Homer’s classic The Iliad, fate is often mentioned, destiny not so much. Are there differences? I wondered.
I research fate and destiny in greater detail when coincidence and synchronicity pop up and are duly placed on my research list. Sure there’s the usual short dictionary version, but I wanted to know more.
The following post reflects my thoughts in a nutshell.
“Your destiny is shaped according to the combination of conditions pre-determined at birth and other factors that you are able to change through your own efforts.”
(From the book: The Essence of Buddha | p.140)
Once upon a time, somewhere out of this world, I decided to experience another incarnation on Earth, I called together my soul family to help me brainstorm the blueprint for this lifetime. For this plan I chose my body (which part about Angelina Jolie did I get wrong?), my parents, partners, children, karmic life lessons, and other defining moments.
My team confirmed their involvement in my future life and concurring with all items on my check list finalising my latest contract. We shook hands, slapped each other on the back in good faith and humour, and it appeared my Fate was signed, sealed, and would eventually be delivered.
But was it really?
According to the online dictionary fate is the development of events outside a person’s control, and regarded to be determined by a supernatural power. Fate is also described as the course of someone’s life or the outcome of a particular situation for someone or something, seen as beyond their control, and the inescapable death of a person.
In Greek mythology life was pre-destined by three goddesses called the Moirai or Fates. There is Clotho (Spinner), Lachesis (allotter), and Atropos (unturnable) who with spindle, staff and scroll sits for eternity spinning, weaving, and measuring the Thread of Life of all humanity ensuring life is exact and ordered.
“These are Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos,
and they give mortals their share of good and evil.”
(Hesiod, Theogony, 905-6)
Norse mythology have similar Fates called Norns, also known as the three Weird (Wyrd, meaning Fate, not as in weird, weird) sisters, They ruled over Gods and mankind, and lived at the base of a giant ash tree called Yggdrasil (The World Tree) in the land of Asgard, the divine residence of the Gods and where you’ll find Odin’s great hall of Valhalla.
Thence come the maidens
mighty in wisdom,
Three from the dwelling
down ‘neath the tree;
urth is one named,
verthandi the next,–
On the wood they scored, —
and Skuld the third.
Laws they made there,
and life allotted
To the sons of men,
and set their fates.
From Völuspá, the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda which tells the story of the creation of the world and its end as told by Volva addressing Odin, a Norse chief God.
That’s fate in a rather small nutshell – let’s move onto destiny…
The online dictionary describes destiny as the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person on thing in the future or the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.
So is there a difference between destiny and fate? Both these words are often used synonymously however according to a spiritual advisor I met, fate is pre-determined or foretold whilst destiny is the final outcome. They said fate was what we predetermined on the other side and that destiny was the outcome whether in this lifetime or another.
Dr Michael Newton PhD, hypnotherapist and founder of The Michael Newton Institute for Life Between Lives Hypnotherapy (TNI) says much the same in his book Destiny of Souls:
“People have the idea that free will and destiny are opposing forces. They do not realise that destiny represents the sum total of our deeds over thousands of years in a multitude of incarnations. In all these lives we had free will and choice.”
According to an article on esotericscience.org, 16a – Destiny, Karma and the Law of Attraction, under the sub-heading The Law of Destiny, destiny guides us towards a specific goal whilst fate is generally seen as being ‘set in stone’. In short, destiny is opportunity and fate is karma.
Okay that’s it for destiny and moving right long now we have Coincidence and Synchronicity.
Chance, coincidence, serendipity or is it synchronicity?
Chance and serendipity basically hold the same meaning (a fortunate stroke of luck) whereas coincidence means much the same as synchronicity. Synchronicity is a concept first described by Carl Jung and called a meaningful coincidence. I liken a meaningful coincidence to be a series of fortunate events which, when all the planets are perfectly aligned, become that coincidental encounter and is meant to be – kismet.
An interesting concept serendipity or synchronicity is the 60’s TV series I Dream of Jeannie. The brief synopsis is Jeannie is a 2,000 year old genie who falls in love with (and later marries) her master, Major Tony Nelson, a NASA astronaut who discovers a strange bottle during one of his missions.
The moment Tony releases her from the antiquated genie jug, ancient Babylon collides with modern day America and the fun begins. It’s a cute storyline and for the romantics, serendipity and synchronicity played their part well on that South Pacific beach that day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” There’s great power in decision-making provided action is taken, so when applying free will and choice with a firm plan in place, meaningful coincidences of opportunities begin to appear – by, well…chance.
Phew! What do I believe after all that? I believe fate is the beginning of the journey of the life we’ve chosen to live, synchronicity is what happens after free will and choice have been deployed. And destiny? Destiny is the final outcome determined by the sum of all our choices throughout time.
Fate, Destiny, and Synchronicity. Three words, each with the superpower to transcend time and space, are listening for a unique echo to setup my date with destiny, something which I’m looking forward to.