It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves

A 34-year-old Indian man, married and the father of two sons has a couple of questions. Rather than use his real name, I will call him Bali, which is an Indian name meaning Powerful or Brave. He asks about destiny. But before I introduce his question and my answer, let me first define what I mean by destiny and fate.

Both words are commonly used to mean what is unavoidable and predetermined. But my use of the word destiny implies the final outcome of our lives, which is not predetermined, but created by us. And by fate, I mean circumstances and events that are beyond our control. For example, even the best of plans can be interrupted by hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, raging fires, mud slides, drought, floods, epidemics, war, and other unpredictable events. But what determines our destiny are not those events, but how we choose to act when we face them. Now, let’s get to Bali’s question:

“I am confused about the relationship between astrology and destiny. Whenever I look at my chart and it predicts a problem, I grow fearful. I don’t know how reliable astrology is, but I know sometimes my reading seems to be an accurate description of my circumstances at that time. If there is something I wish to do and my horoscope says I should wait, I become depressed. What should I do?”

Well, Bali, you are afraid that your horoscope may be correct, which also means that you suspect it may be incorrect. Caught between these two ideas, you are seeking some clarification. Let me start by saying you have good reason to suspect astrology is a poor way to plan your life.

You see, astrology is not a science; it is a business. Daily horoscopes are deliberately worded so they can be interpreted in many ways and apply to most people. So, it is not surprising that, at times, they seemed to apply to your circumstances. Consider this: does a tiger need to check its horoscope before it can become a mighty creature? If it doesn’t but you do, that makes the tiger, and every other animal, more powerful than you! Does that make sense?

“But don’t the stars exert some influence on us?”

Well, Bali, we are part of the universe and all parts are interconnected. Each part exerts some influence over other parts. But the question shouldn’t be, “Do the stars and planets affect our lives?” Rather, the question should be, “How strong an affect do they have?” To answer that question, let me offer an analogy.

Imagine standing at the seashore where endless rows of waves come crashing on the sand and rocks. Imagine also that you throw pebbles into the approaching waves. Will your pebbles impact the waves in any way? Yes, once they strike the surface of a wave they will cause tiny ripples. But those ripples will instantly be washed away and lost by the power of the wave. Can you drive back the waves with your pebbles? Never. Their influence on the waves is imperceptible. Now, the endless row of waves represents your destiny, each row of waves represents your choices and actions, and the pebbles represent the influence of the stars and planets. Enough said?

“Is it good to believe in Astrology?”

It is good to believe in whatever helps us reach our potential and not good to believe in whatever limits our growth. Your question shows that you suspect that our beliefs are choices we make. And your suspicion is correct. We are free to believe that our fate lies in the stars, but such a belief enslaves us. Or we are free to believe that we already have the power to do anything we make up our minds to do. That belief sets us free. No, Bali, it is not the stars that determine our fate, but our beliefs.

You see, Bali, we need not check our horoscope to see if it is the right time to proceed. Rather, we need to rely on our inner resources (planning, resolve, determination, patience, perseverance, trust, and faith). When we do this, we reveal the glory of mankind, which is its ability to create its own destiny. Keep in mind the words of Catherine Booth [1] “We are made for larger ends than Earth can encompass. Oh, let us be true to our exalted destiny.”

I am happy to say, Bali is well on his way to becoming a master of his destiny. You see, he was working in the Persian Gulf when an opportunity in India came up and he was debating whether he should take the job or consult his horoscope. After some anguish, he decided to follow his intuition and is now back in India. In this instance, he quit following the stars and became his own star, illuminating his path or destiny. Congratulations, Bali!

Some are in search of their destiny and meet with astrologers. But as they do so, they fail to hear the soft voice of destiny in search of them. That’s what intuition is. It is the call of destiny, beckoning you. The only way to find your destiny is to stop searching. Be still and listen for its quiet voice and let it guide you. And that’s what Bali did without any help from others. Of course, there is nothing wrong with asking others for advice, but remember, no guru, swami, or leader is wise enough to follow, unless they teach us to rely on our own inner wisdom.

Don’t be afraid to listen to your intuition, which is also known as your inner wisdom, or the call of destiny. Rather, heed the suggestion of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross [2], “How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown.”

What is the role of intuition or destiny’s call? It is simply alerting us to choices we can make. For it is the choices we make that are the signposts along the path of our destiny. Read this wonderful description of what we face by Ortega y Gasset [3], ” We are not launched into existence like a shot from a gun, with its trajectory absolutely predetermined. The destiny under which we fall when we come into this world … consists in the exact contrary. Instead of imposing on us one trajectory, it imposes several, and consequently forces us to choose. . . . To live is to feel ourselves fatally obliged to exercise our liberty, to decide what we are going to be in this world. Not for a single moment is our activity of decision allowed to rest. Even when in desperation we abandon ourselves to whatever may happen, we have decided not to decide.”

We do not have unlimited freedom to act as we would like to, for life imposes restrictions, or as Dag Hammarskjöld [4] said, “We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.” For example, I am not an Indian, but a Canadian; not a woman, but a man; not young, but old. I have to work within the framework which life imposes on me. But within that framework are innumerable choices that I can make, and my destiny depends on which ones I choose to follow. The same is true for Bali and our readers.

Destiny’s Barrier
Even with a complete understanding of the above principles and a good plan, we may find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill our destiny. For besides the limitations imposed on us by life, there are restrictions placed on us by the self-limiting beliefs residing in our subconscious. These negative opinions of ourselves were instilled in childhood and are part of our core beliefs. Examples of the beliefs that hamper our progress and sabotage our efforts include, “I am incompetent, helpless, powerless, incapable, weak, worthless, undeserving.” We cannot reach our potential as long as we hold on to such beliefs.

The question, then, is how do we change our self-limiting beliefs to empowering ones? Here are two workbooks that will teach you how:

Prisoners of Belief: Exposing & Changing Beliefs that Control Your Life by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning, New Harbinger Publications, 1991

Successful Problem Solving: A Workbook to Overcome the Four Core Beliefs that Keep You Stuck by Patrick Fanning and Matthew McKay, New Harbinger Publications, Inc; 2002

On the positive side, the above two workbooks will give you a firm foundation and help to clear the negative beliefs from your subconscious. On the negative side, it may take you three to six months to make real progress. However, since you plan to be around six months from now, why not be here with much less baggage to carry? It will be well worth your while to study one or both of these books. (By the way, any book written by Patrick Fanning or Matthew McKay is worth reading.)

Here is my personal method for changing core beliefs. I like it because it works relatively quickly.

1. Make a list of five changes you wish to make. For example:
a) I wish to be more confident
b) I want to boost my self-esteem
c) I wish to grow more self-reliant
d) I wish to become more competent
e) I wish to be proud of myself

2. Prioritize your list, rearranging the five items so that the most important is listed first and the least important, last.

3. Starting with the first item on your list, indicate what steps you can take to reach your goal. For example, there may be books to study or courses to take.

4. Break down the steps you listed into smaller, manageable steps. For example, if you planned to read Prisoners of Belief: Exposing & Changing Beliefs that Control Your Life, add 30 minutes a day to your schedule to read the work and digest the material. Another approach would be to read 10 pages a day. As the book has 145 pages, you will be able to finish it in two weeks.

5. While you’re doing this, maintain positive expectations. To learn how, see:
Remember, the best way to cultivate H.O.P.E. is by Having Only Positive Expectations.

6. Each day that you work on your project and do your daily tasks, you will be proving to yourself that you have the self-discipline and power to change. This will not go unnoticed by your subconscious. After a couple of weeks, your old self-limiting belief will start to dissipate and be replaced by a new belief, such as, “Yes, I can!”

7. After completing item #1 on your list, add another item to keep the list at five projects, and follow all seven steps again.

1. Consider what James Allen [5] has to say about the power of action. “Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Mr. Allen probably borrowed his idea from Tryon Edwards [6] who earlier wrote, “Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.” Madame Chiang Kai-Shek [7] also spoke about the importance of action: “We write our own destiny; we become what we do.”

2. Destiny is not the cause of repeated failures, neglecting to correct our mistakes is. “Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” (John F. Kennedy [8])

3. Don’t make the mistake of Aleister Crowley [9] who wrote, “Destiny is an absolutely definite and inexorable ruler. Physical ability and moral determination count for nothing. It is impossible to perform the simplest act when the gods say ‘no.’ I have no idea how they bring pressure to bear on such occasions; I only know that it is irresistible.” Crowley was mistaken because it is not the gods that say no but the subconscious, and as we have learned, we can change our (subconscious) core beliefs.

4. “Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you reach your destiny.” (Carl Schurz [10])

5. Ignite in your heart the invincible power of commitment and resolve, for as Ella Wheeler Wilcox [11] wrote, “There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”

In conclusion, Bali, it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. Don’t you agree? Thank you for your question and I wish you great success in all your endeavors.

Footnotes (mainly taken from Wikipedia)

[1] Catherine Booth (1829~1890, wife of the founder of The Salvation Army, William Booth and because of her influence, known as the ‘Army Mother’)
[2] Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (1926~2004, Swiss-born psychiatrist, pioneer in Near-death studies, author, and creator of the now famous Five Stages of Grief)
[3] Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883~1955, Spanish philosopher who advocated leadership by an intellectual elite)
[4] Dag Hammarskjöld (1905~1961, Swedish diplomat who greatly extended the influence of the United Nations in peacekeeping matters)
[5] James Allen (1864~1912, British-born American essayist, author, “As A Man Thinketh”)
[6] Tryon Edwards (1809~1894, American theologian)
[7] Madame Chiang Kai-Shek (1898~2003, Wife of Chinese revolutionary leader Chiang Kai-Shek)
[8] John F. Kennedy (1917~1963, 35th American President)
[9] Aleister Crowley (1875~1947, British occultist)
[10] Carl Schurz 1829~1906, German-born American senator)
[11] Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850~1919, American author and poet)