The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Destiny or fate is a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual. It is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the cosmos.
Although often used interchangeably, the words "fate" and "destiny" have distinct connotations.
Traditional usage defines fate as a Power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events. Fate defines events as ordered or "inevitable" and unavoidable. Classical and European mythology features three goddesses dispensing fate, known as Moirai in Greek mythology, as Parcae in Roman mythology, and as Norns in Norse mythology. They determine the events of the World through the mystic spinning of threads that represent individual human fates.
Destiny is used with regard to the finality of events as they have worked themselves out; and to that same sense of "destination", projected into the future to become the flow of events as they will work themselves out.
In other words, "fate" relates to events of the future and present of an individual and in cases in literature unalterable, whereas "destiny" relates to the probable future. Fate implies no choice, but with destiny the entity participates in achieving an outcome that is directly related to itself. Participation happens willfully.
In Hellenistic civilization, the chaotic and unforeseeable turns of chance gave increasing prominence to a previously less notable goddess, Tyche, who embodied the good Fortune of a city and all whose lives depended on its security and prosperity, two good qualities of Life that appeared to be out of human reach. The Roman image of Fortuna, with the Wheel she blindly turned, was retained by Christian writers, revived strongly in the Renaissance and survives in some forms today.
In daily Language, "destiny" and "fate" are synonymous, but with regard to 19th century philosophy, the words gained inherently different meanings.
For Arthur Schopenhauer, destiny was just a manifestation of the Will to Live, which can be at the same time living fate and choice of overrunning the fate same, by means of the Art, of the Morality and of the Ascesis.
For Nietzsche, destiny keeps the Form of Amor fati (Love of Fate) through the important element of Nietzsche's philosophy, the "will to Power" (der Wille zur Macht), the basis of human behavior, influenced by the Will to Live of Schopenhauer. But this concept may have even other senses, although he, in various places, saw the will to Power as a strong element for adaptation or survival in a better way. Nietzsche eventually transformed the idea of matter as centers of force into matter as centers of will to Power as mankind’s destiny to face with amor fati. The expression Amor fati is used repeatedly by Nietzsche as acceptation-choice of the fate, but in such way it becomes even another thing, precisely a "choice" destiny.
Many Greek legends and tales teach the futility of trying to outmaneuver an inexorable fate that has been correctly predicted. This Form of irony is important in Greek tragedy, as it is in Oedipus Rex and in the Duque de Rivas' play that Verdi transformed into La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") or Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, or in Macbeth's uncannily-derived Knowledge of his own destiny, which in spite of all his actions does not preclude a horrible fate.
Other notable examples include Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, in which Tess is destined to the miserable Death that she is confronted with at the end of the novel; Samuel Beckett's Endgame; the popular short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs.
Destiny is a recurring theme in the literature of Hermann Hesse (1877–1962), including Siddharta (1922) and his magnum opus, Das Glasperlenspiel, also published as The Glass Bead Game (1943). The common theme of these works involves a protagonist who cannot escape a destiny if their fate has been sealed, however hard they try. Destiny is also an important plot point in the hit TV shows Lost, Heroes and Supernatural, as well a common theme in the Roswell TV series. Destiny is a recurring theme in the video-game franchise Kingdom Hearts, with Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep having its story based around the concept of Destiny, and the tagline for the game stating "Destiny is never left to chance." Destiny is also a prominent theme in the anime Mawaru Penguindrum, which focuses on the concept that humans cannot escape from their own fate.