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THE MASTERY OF DESTINY
First digital edition 2017 by Gianluca Ruffini
CHAPTER 1. DEEDS, CHARACTER, AND DESTINY
CHAPTER 2. THE SCIENCE OF SELF-CONTROL
CHAPTER 3. CAUSE AND EFFECT IN HUMAN CONDUCT
CHAPTER 4. TRAINING OF THE WILL
CHAPTER 5. THOROUGHNESS
CHAPTER 6. MIND-BUILDING AND LIFE-BUILDING
CHAPTER 7. CULTIVATION OF CONCENTRATION
CHAPTER 8. PRACTICE OF MEDITATION
CHAPTER 9. THE POWER OF PURPOSE
CHAPTER 10. THE JOY OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
The discovery of the law of Evolution in the material world has prepared men for a knowledge of the law of cause and effect in the mental world. Thought is not less orderly and progressive than the material forms which embody thought; and not alone cells and atoms, but thoughts and deeds are charged with a cumulative and selective energy.In the realm of thought and deed, the good survives, for it is“fittest”; the evil ultimately perishes.To know that the“perfect law”of Causation is as allembracing in mind as in matter, is to be relieved from all anxiety concerning the ultimate destiny of individuals and of humanity“For man is man and master of his fate”and the will in man which is conquering the knowledge of natural law will conquer the knowledge of spiritual law; the will which, in ignorance, chooses evil, will, as wisdom evolves and emerges, choose good. In a universe of law, the final mastery of evil by man is assured.His lesser destinies of separation and sorrow, defeat and death, are but disciplinary steps leading to the Great Destiny of triumphal mastery.He himself is unconsciously building, albeit with lacerated hands and labourbowed form, the Temple of Glory which is to afford him an eternal habitation of peace.In thisvolume,I have tried to set down some words indicative of this Law and this Destiny, and the manner of its working and its building; and have so arranged the subject-matter as to make the book a companion volume to The Life Triumphant.The first six, and the last, chapters first appeared in Bibby's Quarterly and Bibby's Annual, and it is by kind permission of the Editor, Mr. Joseph Bibby, that they are now brought together and published in volume form, the other three chapters having been added to make the book consecutive and complete.
Bryngoleu, Ilfracombe, England,April, 1909.
CHAPTER 1. DEEDS, CHARACTER, AND DESTINY
THERE is, and always has been, a widespread belief in Fate, or Destiny, that is, in an eternal and inscrutable Power which apportions definite ends to both individuals and nations. This belief has arisen from long observation of the facts of life.Men are conscious that there are certain occurrences which they cannot control, and are powerless to avert. Birth and death, for instance, are inevitable, and many of the incidents of life appear equally inevitable.Men strain every nerve for the attainment of certain ends, and gradually they become conscious of a Power which seems to be not of themselves, which frustrates their puny efforts, and laughs, as it were, at their fruitless striving and struggle.As men advance in life, they learn to submit, more or less, to this overruling Power which they do not understand, perceiving only its effects in themselves and the world around them, and they call it by various names, such as God, Providence, Fate, Destiny, etc.Men of contemplation, such as poets and philosophers, step aside, as it were, to watch the movements of this mysterious Power as it seems to elevate its favorites on the one hand, and strike down its victims on the other, without reference to merit or demerit.
The greatest poets, especially the dramatic poets, represent this Power in their works, as they have observed it in Nature. The Greek and Roman dramatists usually depict their heroes as having foreknowledge of their fate, and taking means to escape it; but by so doing they blindly involve themselves in a series of consequences which bring about the doom which they are trying to avert. Shakespeare’s characters, on the other hand, are represented, as in Nature, with no foreknowledge (except in the form of presentiment) of their particular destiny. Thus, according to the poets, whether the man knows his fate or not, he cannot avert it, and every conscious or unconscious act of his is a step towards it.Omar Khayyam’s Moving Finger is a vivid expression of this idea of Fate:
“The Moving Finger writes, and having writ,Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor WitShall lure it back to cancel half a line,Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Thus, men in all nations and times have experienced in their lives the action of this invincible Power or Law, and in our nation today this experience has been crystallized in the terse proverb,“Man proposes, God disposes.”But, contradictory as it may appear, there is an equally widespread belief in man’s responsibility as a free agent.All moral teaching is an affirmation of man’s freedom to choose his course and mold his destiny: and man’s patient and untiring efforts in achieving his ends are declarations of consciousness of freedom and power.This dual experience of fate on the one hand, and freedom on the other, has given rise to the interminable controversy between the believers in Fatalismand the upholders of free will,a controversy which was recently revived under the term“Determinism versus Freewill.”Between apparently conflicting extremes there is always a“middle way”of balance, justice, or compensation which, while it includes both extremes, cannot be said to be either one or the other, and which brings both into harmony; and this middle way is the point of contact between two extremes.
Truth cannot be a partisan, but, by its nature, is the Reconciler of extremes; and so, in the matter which we are considering, there is a“golden mean”which brings Fate and Free will into close relationship, wherein, indeed, it is seen that these two indisputable facts in human life, for such they are, are but two aspects of one central law, one unifying and all-embracing principle, namely, the law of causation in its moral aspect.Moral causation necessitates both Fate and Free will, both individual responsibility and individual predestination, for the law of causes must also be the law of effects, and cause and effect must always be equal; the train of causation, both in matter and mind, must be eternally balanced, therefore eternally just, eternally perfect.Thus,every effect may be said to be a thing preordained, but the predetermining power is a cause, and not the fiat of an arbitrary will.Man,finds himself involved in the train of causation. His life is made up of causes and effects. It is both a sowing and a reaping. Each act of his is a cause which must be balanced by its effects. He chooses the cause (this is Free will), he cannot choose, alter, or avert the effect (this is Fate);thus,Free will stands for the power to initiate causes, and destiny is involvement in effects.
It is therefore,true that man is predestined to certain ends, but he himself has (though he knows it not) issued the mandate; that good or evil thing from which there is no escape, he has, by his own deeds, brought about.It may here be urged that man is not responsible for his deeds, that these are the effects of his character, and that he is not responsible for the character, good or bad, which was given him at his birth. If character was“given him”at birth, this would be true, and there would then be no moral law, and no need for moral teaching; but characters are not givenready-made, they are evolved; they are, indeed, effects, the products of the moral law itself, that is the products of deeds. Character result of an accumulation of deeds which have been piled up, so to speak, by the individual during his life.
Man,is the doer of his own deeds; as such he is the maker of his own character; and as the doer of his deeds and the maker of his character, he is the molder and shaper of his destiny. He has the power to modify and alter his deeds, and every time he acts he modifies his character, and with the modification of his character for good or evil, he is predetermining for himself newdestinies,destiniesdisastrous or beneficent in accordance with the nature of his deeds. Character is destiny itself; as a fixed combination of deeds, it bears within itself the results of those deeds. These results lie hidden as moral seeds in the dark recesses of the character, awaiting their season of germination, growth, and fruitage.Those things which befall a man are the reflections of himself; that destiny which pursued him, which he was powerless to escape by effort, or avert by prayer, was the relentless ghoul of his own wrong deeds demanding and enforcing restitution; those blessings and curses which come to him unbidden are the reverberating echoes of the sounds which he himself sent forth.