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Is There Such a Thing as a Personal Destiny?

Or is the course of each individual life simply a matter of chance or luck?

This is a question which has been asked over the years, for we are provided with a consciousness well aware that ultimately we are going to die.

This same question was put to me the other day by a fellow dog walker. I, playing for time, responded by asking him if he believed that each one of us goes through life in training, so to speak, for some ultimate destiny that lies beyond death; a destiny that can only be thought of in terms of a spirit-like existence. He said he wasn’t sure, but that he did feel that there must be some reason why there was always the lurking persuasion at the back of his mind to do what’s right and to do no harm. In other words, moral persuasions of conscience that could challenge the ego-satisfying and sensory appeal of the happenings that make up the average day.

It was beginning to rain as we talked, hence it was not the time to start discussing the psychological significance of this inner judgmental response to life’s events. So I said I would think about it and have something to say the next time our dogs met for a pee. I felt that I was really unprepared at that moment to embark on a topic which had, in large part, introspectively dominated my own constant conversations with myself over the years.

I have always been compulsively philosophical, especially during the second half of life, wondering about whether some resistless and preordained power we call destiny controls both the nature of the events that occupy our lives and the resulting planned or spontaneous actions we take which ultimately determine our individual destinies. It’s not easy to try and remember just how much of one’s life has gone according to plan and how much of it has just happened, apparently by chance. However, I found it relatively easy to recollect some of the major plans I had made, usually after much rational thought, along with the feelings aroused concerning the pros and cons of this or that plan. It was far more difficult to recall occasions when I made no plans, but left it all to chance or luck.

Nowadays I have come to the conclusion that if we are to talk about personal destinies we have to introduce another aspect of human being, namely, the intuitive influence of that metaphysical force frequently referred to as the human spirit (a force inspiring awareness of the ultimate moral good that drives human awareness). In other words, we live our life according to the dictates of two selves: a biological self and a spiritual self. I would suggest that our existential biological side is significantly influenced by the factors of chance and luck. Our spiritual side indicates the influence of a transcendent force, which for a few thousand years has been described as the soul, and which is responsible for our destiny.

Realistically, it is all something of a conundrum. In my own case for example, I served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Our losses in Bomber Command in aircraft and crews were in the region of 65%. In 1942 the Air Ministry instituted a color vision test for aircrews. I failed it and was taken off flying. Consequently, I survived the War.

Luck or Destiny?