I think it was Churchill who said that if a point was worth making once, it was worth making three times. In that spirit, I am going to hammer on a little more about fate and destiny. In order to make the most of them as spiritual concepts, we need to separate them from some of the associations they have picked up in fantasy and fiction. Here I am thinking about the sorts of stories, like Harry Potter, where destiny and fate tend to equate to a specific achievement. This doesn’t help much when we are trying to apply the concepts spiritually because, for the most part, we aren’t destined or fated to specific events. Rather, the spiritual forces that support our fate and destiny tend to manipulate events with an eye toward realizing certain potentialities in our spiritual make-up.
This makes both fate and destiny abstract, in the literal sense of being devoid of specific content. Destiny tends to retain this abstract character while fate becomes increasingly concrete, as the actions and events of our life make certain things possible and other things impossible. To the extent that this concrete life gives our abstract spiritual potentialities the means to manifest in experience, we can be said to have fulfilled our fate and destiny. In the same way, when our lives make it difficult for us to manifest some aspect of those potentialities, we can be said to have left a portion of our fate and destiny unfulfilled.
The fulfillment of fate and destiny aren’t entirely in our hands. That is part of the trouble with living–the actions of others and the events of our day can open and close spiritual potentialities. Still, because neither fate nor destiny is identical with the events of life and our actions, they can be realized in more than one way within our life. The foreclosure of one possibility is not the foreclosure of all possibility.
The conflation of fate and destiny with specific events dulls our ability to seek out these alternate avenues of spiritual realization. If we think that we are fated to take over the management of a church, we will be left adrift if events conspire to empty the church of its members and demolish its structure. However, if we realize in that sense of fate a more basic calling to order and support a communal endeavor, than we prepare ourselves to adapt our spiritual potentialities to the realities of our place and time.
Barring these sort of catastrophic forclosures, there are other benefits to understanding the properly abstract character of fate and destiny. If we identify fate and destiny with specific events, than even success can become a burden. If we are fated to lead a people to victory, then what happens after the victory? The potentiality is not exhausted in any one manifestation, destiny and and fate can be given multiple forms over the course of a life.