When things aren’t going the way we’d hoped in life, we tend to give up easily, saying to ourselves, “I’m just unlucky by nature” or “That’s my destiny.”
In other words, we blame our luck or our destiny and avoid looking at the real causes.
But is it really due to luck or destiny that things don’t go well for us?
If it were a matter of innate destiny, then there would never be any way out of our lives of disappointment.
I received the following question in response to my email newsletter from Asami, a twenty-eight year old company employee:
“My work hasn’t been going well recently, and I am thinking of looking for a new job.
Why does this sort of thing always happen to me? Why am I so unlucky?”
Asami said she wanted to talk directly with me about her problems, so we spoke on the phone.
She was engaged in office work and was often warned by her boss about the large number of mistakes and miscalculations she made.
In addition, she found it impossible to apologize for her mistakes, or to thank colleagues who were helping to correct them.
As a result she was not much liked by her coworkers, and her position in the company had become difficult.
When this was pointed out to her, Asami answered that she was careless and absentminded by nature, that no one in her company understood her, and that she was unable to find work that would allow her to develop her true abilities.
She insisted that her failures were all due to her “destiny” and her inborn character.
My answer was: “I understand what you mean.
But just think for a moment: If all your problems stem from your inborn character or your destiny, then you’ll have to go on experiencing these same troubles for the rest of your life!”
To this, Asami answered, “That makes sense, but I don’t want to.”
“Of course you don’t want to. Now let me ask you, who decided that you are unfortunate in your destiny or your character?”
I sensed a shift in the way she was thinking about the matter, so I asked, “Do you think your character is inborn and impossible to change at all?”
This time she responded, “No, I think that if I really try, I can change.”
“That’s right. So let’s not blame your inborn temperament or destiny. Let’s see if you can find a way to change yourself so that you don’t have to have these same problems over and over.”
Encouraged in this way, Asami said, “I understand now. Nothing will change if I keep blaming my temperament and my destiny.”
She sounded hopeful as she gave this very different response from before.
It’s not only Asami’s problem.
All of us have a tendency to think, “What can I do? It’s my nature,” or “I’m just plain unlucky,” and throw in the towel.
But Shakyamuni Buddha teaches that, “
So just how is our “destiny” determined?
And how can we create a happier destiny for ourselves?
I want to explain Shakyamuni’s teachings about these matters by touching concretely on the problems of various kinds of people I have encountered.