A reader asks, “Does fate exist?”

words by Brian Thompson, photo by Jennifer Picard Photography.

A reader recently asked for my opinion on the topic of fate and its impact on people's lives. “Do you think fate really exists?” she asked.

Regarding fate‚ or destiny as some prefer to call it, I believe we make our own — often unknowingly. For instance, if we allow ourselves to get fumbled up in overly obsessive thinking, and we get utterly lost in our emotions and let them cause negative actions, then we create an unfavourable fate for our future.

Our lives are affected by many events outside of our direct influence — we can either be destroyed by them or be inspired by them.

Either way, our fate is our own choosing. We create our future through every decision we make. Some might choose to call this the unravelling of karma, which is simply the consequence our current actions have.

Our fate is solely determined by the natural law of cause and effect, of action and reaction. In other words, our destiny is only determined by the resulting karma that’s created by each of our deeds.

Despite what some might think, karma isn’t a wishy-washy belief in a cosmic moral justice of sorts; it’s nothing more than a natural outcome of phenomena itself— every action has a reaction. Everything depends on something else for its subsequent arising. If I blow a dandelion, its seeds will float away in the wind, they will fall on soil, germinate, and new weeds will grow. This is the karmic outcome from my puff of breath.

And so, we control our fate since we are bound only by the outcomes of our own decisions, and by how we choose to respond to everything we encounter, including how we react to any perceptions that are created by our over-thinking minds.

If we’re mindful, then we attract positive future outcomes into our life through whatever compassionate deeds we do in the present. This isn’t to say we should only do good things to get good things, but rather, it is a pre-requisite.

Wise intentions inspire skillful actions. Skillful actions create positive results. In such a way, we are able to determine our own destiny, but it must first begin with self-awareness.

Our past, no matter how painful it may be, should never become an excuse to behave poorly in the present. We must be mindful to not perpetuate further karmic problems for ourselves and not let our past dictate our future. We mustn't allow any frustration or anger from our past spill over to the present, causing us to do unskilful actions.

Whatever we do in this very moment will impact tomorrow, no matter if it’s good, bad, or indifferent. In fact, inaction can have just as many negative karmic effects as our foolish actions themselves.

Karma is a natural phenomena that is ever on-going and concurrent with the present moment, and it forever affects our future.

Therefore to change our karma, and to change the direction of our lives, we only need to change our minds — everything flows outward from there. For instance, if I dwell on a painful emotion, then I will suffer in that very moment. Likewise, if I lash out with a venomous tongue at someone who just angered me, it will then negatively effect the conversation I’m presently having. It will cause me to suffer.

This instantaneous karma is spontaneously created by whatever we choose to do in the ever-ongoing and always-unfolding present moment.

Everything affects everything else. Every thought and every intention shapes how our future unfolds. This is our fate.

Wise actions with good intentions create a happy life. You many call this destiny if you like, but we are merely the benefactors of our past actions. Good deeds have positive results, while evil deeds — including how we treat ourselves — only create future suffering.

Don't sacrifice your free will by allowing mindless behaviours to spin your life out of control. Your destiny can only be found in your present actions.