[Master Chen Says]
Does initial intention determine fate?
Is fate deterministic and does initial intention create deterministic fate, fortune and misfortune?
Devastating fate and severe misfortune seem to befall good, kind and loving people and spare those of evil personality and character to continually perpetrate their evil and bring devastating fate and misfortune to other innocent, good and loving people. Why is this so?
Buddhism says it is good and bad karma, punishment by and through reincarnation, the repayment of debt accumulated by the evil deeds of one’s past lives.
Here is my proposed answer to the question of fate and misfortune. It is an answer from the point of view of the “butterfly effect” and “parallel realities”.
In Buddhism, reincarnation is selective and intentionally chosen during the “in-between” period of 49 days after death when the soul seeks out a new birth to reincarnate. When the soul encounters an appropriate potential, it reincarnates to live a better life than the previous life it had lived. The soul’s intention to reincarnate is for betterment.
This initial intention may simply be to live a tranquil and peaceful life that is different from the life of persecution and the life of turmoil of one’s previous lives. Circumstances of one’s reincarnated current life modulate one’s initial intention. These circumstances include the physical environment, one’s family environment, and one’s spiritual environment. Being born into an extremely poor family and being born into a middle class or wealthy family are environmental factors that modulate one’s initial intention. In the 1920s to 1940s on the Chinese mainland, babies born into poor families were abandoned and left to die on the side of the streets. The initial intention is thus cut short by circumstance and parental decision.
Some children grow up with a strong will, a drive to succeed, and a personal goal. Others grow up without any strong will, without a drive to succeed, and without any personal goal. Parents who treat their children severely and parents who treat their children lovingly greatly influence and determine their children’s future and how their children handle their lives. Some children who have been abused by their parents become losers. These “losers” and their lives are being ruined by their “loser mentality”. But little hot pepper Kuomintang chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu said: I am also a “loser” since “my bid for the presidency failed”. Yet she did not despair and went on to win the Kuomintang chairmanship.
One’s personal intention beginning as merely an idea or a thought creates a butterfly effect that modulates one’s subsequent life either of good fortune or of misfortune.
Here is an illustration. On September 24, 2016, female Kuomintang legislator Lin Li-tsan proposed to revise Taiwan’s “social assistance law”. There are over 510,000 Chinese mainland and foreign brides on Taiwan, but only 210,000 of them have been able to acquire Taiwanese citizenship ID. There are over 300,000 who do not qualify for low income assistance under the “social assistance law” because they do not have Taiwanese citizenship ID. The monthly average income of the “new resident family” (a family consisting of a foreign mother, a Taiwanese father and their children) is NT$46,000 while the average monthly income of a Taiwanese family is NT$98,000. A foreign bride who is not from the Chinese mainland can get her Taiwanese citizenship ID in four years but a bride from the Chinese mainland must wait 6 years to get her Taiwanese citizenship ID. This wait is required by law based on political distrust of Chinese mainlanders by the Taiwanese authorities. Other foreign brides have spent as long as 7 years to acquire Taiwanese citizenship ID because they had to spend a lot of time relinquishing their original nationality in order to acquire Taiwanese citizenship.
Many Chinese mainland and foreign brides sought out the services of “marriage agencies” and many have been “married to” Taiwanese men with mental and physical handicap, sick or old aged men, and their husbands have died before they were able to acquire Taiwanese citizenship ID. They are thus left by themselves with small children without social aid.
Their fate, fortune and misfortune are determined by their initial idea of trying to improve their own life of poverty in their original country, mostly Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, by “getting married to whomever abroad”. The initial intention and goal are towards improvement of one’s life, fate and fortune, and in most cases, an escape from one’s life of poverty and hopelessness, a life without any future in their home country.
Is fate deterministic?
Buddhism says one’s life is predestined, and predestination is the basis of the Buddhist concept of “yuan”, i.e., predestination. According to Buddhism, two people meet because they are predestined to meet. Their meeting is fated and their meeting cannot be avoided.
To me, one’s initial decision of intention sets off a butterfly effect that develops deterministically and in a predestined manner. Subsequent procrastination, reversal of one’s initial decision and a change of strategy because of other people’s interference will all modify and modulate the initial butterfly effect and the course of development. The original course of development defined initially by predestination and determinism from the origin of the initial decision and intention made in the mind thus takes a circuitous route without violating the initial framework of predestination and determinism. The route is always a multipath. Many routes lead to a predestined and predetermined destination. Each mental decision switches one’s deterministic pathway onto a different but likewise deterministic pathway towards the predestination.
Birth, old age, illness, and death are the four stages of life that bring about lifelong suffering, according to Buddhism. By believing in Buddhism, one seeks to escape from the cycles of such suffering. Babies may be born dead or alive. Those born alive may grow up healthy until old age. Yet, illness affects all. It affects adolescents, young adults, middle aged, seniors, and even cause their death.
Are fatal diseases and chronic illnesses predetermined and fated?
A pregnant woman decides to take a vacation. She goes to Singapore and contracts zika. She returns to find that her fetus is affected. Her decision to take a vacation was the initial decision that started the chain of events, the butterfly effect of her initial decision that ruins the life of her unborn baby.
Predestination, predetermination, determinism, whatever one calls it, is initiated by the thought and decision that reflected the woman’s desire to take a vacation. Her decision and her choice, also a decision, defined and thus determined the fate of her unborn. The woman’s initial desire initiated the butterfly effect and the unforeseen consequence that affected the unborn fetus.
Desire as the initial cause of deterministic fate and predestination is well illustrated by stories of predestined love in reincarnation stories where lovers in a previous life seek out each other in a subsequent reincarnated life and become lovers or loving brothers and sisters. Desire in one life transcends reincarnation and manifests in a subsequent life.
Predestination and determinism is initiated by one’s initial desire and thought, and the decision made according to a particular desire and a particular thought establishes and locks in determinism and predestination. Life becomes a predestined course via multiple routes and pathways. Any decision along the way shifts the routes and pathways but not the predestined course unless the decision triggers another butterfly effect that results in death, cutting short the victim’s life and thus preventing him or her from completing the initial desire or goal.
Is a shift in one’s pathway of life fated and predestined?
A shift in one’s pathway of life is not fated nor predestined. The shift in one’s pathway of life is initiated by one’s shift in thought and a shift in decision that trigger the butterfly effect leading to a shift in one’s pathway of life. Better personal fortune or misfortune is the direct result of one’s decision making. Each decision is deterministic and has a predestination. Only another decision can change the predestination and deterministic course of the previous decision.
A decision to walk out leads to a wandering life on the streets for three weeks. The vagabond life resulted in a stroke and hospitalization. Obviously without making and carrying out such a decision to walk out, that person’s life would have been dramatically different, and a near fatal and physically devastating stroke would not have been deterministic nor predestined before the decision to walk out was made. The decision to walk out is made out of anger. Thus, anger initiates a butterfly effect that is deterministic.
The upsurge of anger and the lack of mental discipline to suppress one’s anger determine the fate of misfortune. Impulsive emotional decision made out of anger is only one of many decisions one can make, and before any one decision is made, life is not predestined.