Fate or destiny is often regarded as the “course that life takes” and karma is one of the factors that influence this course. People often believe that fate is pre-destined and nothing can be changed, but is this really true?

“Your destiny is shaped according to the combination of conditions pre-determined at birth and other factors that you are able to change through your own efforts.”

(From the book: The Essence of Buddha | p.140)

The factors that form a person’s fate

A person’s fate is decided by a complex combination of conditions and factors. Some of them are already decided at the time of a person’s birth and some of them come into play later and shape the course further. There are five factors that form our fate or destiny:

  1. Tendencies of our soul, otherwise known as karma
  2. Family environment
  3. Social climate
  4. Our own efforts and self-discipline
  5. Influence of other people.

Amongst the factors that shape our fate or destiny, some of them are settled and some are not. It means that we have a certain scope to change our fate or destiny by our own efforts. Factor 2 (the family environment) and factor 3 (the social climate) are elements that should be called the “destiny that is decided” before we are born; however, there is a great secret involved in these too. Namely, before each reincarnation we draw up a plan for our spiritual training and we are born having agreed to such details as our parents, the environment, the social climate and our gender. However, as soon as we are born into this world, we forget it. Knowing this truth, we can classify the factors that form our fate into another way:

  1. The plan we draw up before reincarnation
  2. Our efforts since we came onto the earth
  3. Spiritual influences.

Freedom of choice shapes our fate

The most important factor that shapes our fate or destiny is, in fact, the decisions that we make at the turning points in our lives. Our life as it is now is created by the results of the choices we ourselves made according to the tendencies of our own mind, each time we encountered a specific event. It may thus be said that it is none other than freedom of choice which is the most important factor in shaping a person’s fate or destiny.

Karma as soul tendencies

Soul tendencies of how we react in certain events or how we regard and consider things, is known as karma. Traditional Buddhist philosophy explains karma as “fate” that can not be escaped from. However, karma is simply a set of habits of the soul – our tendency to come up with certain thoughts or take certain actions in a certain set of circumstances. Karma does not lead to fatalistic thoughts and it is simply a factor in forming our fate or destiny.

The principle of accepting responsibility

The existence of a realm known as hell in the Spirit World proves that a person’s fate is not 100% settled. Essentially, no one is born on the earth planning to go to hell but, nevertheless, more than half of people today go to hell when they die. In other words, people are responsible for their own fate, and going to hell is shouldering the responsibility for the results of their own mistaken decisions. This is “the Principle of Accepting Responsibility.” There is always a cause for everything, and that cause is always created by ourselves.

Fate can always be conquered

The starting point to shaping our own fate is to abandon the cowardly attitude of blaming other people or our environment for our present unhappiness or mistakes; we must adopt the stance that “everything is our own responsibility.” In addition, it is important to change the state of our mind, reflect on the tendencies of our own soul and break free from committing the same mistakes again.

People who observe themselves and others with an enquiring mind, who minutely analyze the habits, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of their soul, and who continually strive to change themselves and discard their current self: these are the people whose fate will change. This is Happy Science’s fundamental thinking with regard to “fate.”

Reference: The Challenge of the Mind | The Essence of Buddha
To read about the Path to Enlightenment