Thursday, 18 September 2008

Fate - Freedom, Buddha, Einstein, Mum

I love Radio 4. I mean it.

This isn't an emotion lightly held, I really love radio 4 ( 'cept Today which I can not abide. I don't want "ner ner ner, got you now! argument in my bedroom as I wake up)

I love it because it gives me so much STUFF to play with. I learn so much from it. Time in the car isn't wasted, its either think time, sing time, or listen to the Radio. If I tune in to Radio 4 there, I am highly likely to be given something to think about and take away something to learn, or enjoy, better still and usually, both.

On Radio 4 one morning this week, a debate about America and slavery and freedom, amongst other things delivered this quote from an African American

"You are free once you take responsibility for your fate. "

I loved that phrase. It made such sense to me (who has always had luxury of freedom of movement) Immediately I heard the last lines of a poem by Colonel Lovelace, introduced to me by Mother.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

It's all in a state of mind, which brought to the fore another poem from my childhood and endless debates with my Mother, who introduced me early to the concept of the discipline of mind, and another poem the last verse of which is this:

Life battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the fellow who thinks he can

Certain amount of audacity in that isn't there, a sense of belief without arrogance. Tricky balance.

So I'd had a happy for me, meander around my past and thoughts and beliefs I hold or don't or have learned, when literally as I came to a Stop at a give way junction some miles later my reverie was halted, with an astounding thought from the side.

You are free once you take responsibility for your fate

So going back to the quote I stopped listening to my thoughts and just mused on the phrase. I thought ( and still think) that I understood what the speaker meant. And yet for it to be meaningful in the way I was finding it meaningful, I had assumed a very specific definition of Fate. Not the definition that events are inevitable, but a wider definition.

So not this meaning:
destiny: an event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future

but something nearer to this,
"I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act. ( Buddha)

Or possibly beyond it somewhere.

If I hadn't already had a (believed) shared understanding of what Fate is, I could not have accepted the statement he made. How often do we assume a shared understanding, when there isn't one, because we use the same words. And how often is there a shared understanding, left unknown - because the descriptions are different.

This took me somewhere else which I couldn't quite grasp whilst navigating roundabouts and an angry driver. And then I arrived at the office.

Saved by work!

Thanks for the thinking, Mum.( and Radio 4)


Looking for alternative definitions of Fate this evening I happened upon this :

Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. ( Albert Einstein)

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