Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Concept of Fate in Buddhism

Fate is often said to prevail in everyone's life in many different religions in the world. Also known as "God's Will" or "Heaven-will", it is believed to be predestined by an omnipotent creator or universal force and is not up to an individual to control his/her own fate.

What Buddhism says of Fate?
Fate in Buddhism, is but a wrong view. Our life and its event are not controlled by an external force (e.g. God, Heaven). All beings are bounded by their previous karma. We use another term call "Destiny" instead, to explain why some things which will happen to an individual will eventually happen. "Destiny", is the direct result of an individual's karma from his/her previous lives. The Karma (both wholesome and unwholesome) may be accumulated.

From a Buddhist perspective, a person's life and events is and will never be the result of a powerful God etc. A person is born into this world due to his previous Karma (both wholesome and unwholesome). In Buddhism, apart from Karma, the three poisons is also the primary causes of rebirth (Ignorance, Greed, Anger).

Events in life is also subjected to the uprisings and ceasations of many conditions, where without some conditions, things would not have happened in a particular way. For instance, you have planted some seeds of a certain plant (in this case Karma). However, without conditions like sunlight and water, your seed no matter how plentiful will not turn into a plant. When conditions do not arise, your seeds will remain as seeds until a period when conditions arise to enable to the seed to potentially grow.

It would be a mistake to blame an entity (e.g. a God) for all unfortunate events in a person's life. Many Theologist would argue saying bad things are not the fault of God but rather the work of a Devil etc, which sounds illogical to me. If God is so omnipotent, why would he like some people become so rich, while others tormented like slaves. If there was no past lives nor previous karma, how do you justify the difference in the lives of many people? (e.g. Broken families, Illness, Richness etc). Based on a probability game or a zero sum game?

As such, why can your destiny be predicted accurately through divination or fortune telling?

In China, the concept of "Destiny" (命运)is viewed as an important aspect of people's live. There is believe that whatever a person experiences is due to the person's own "Destiny". They believe that it is possible to know the outcome of a person's "Destiny" by calculating his/her birth character (生辰八字). This, although not recorded in Sutras, is supposedly a very accurate form of fortune telling.

Again, the day of your birth, your star signs, your location of birth is all the result of your own accumulated Karma from previous births. Why were you not born on 14 February 6pm but rather 17 February 5am for instance? Scientifically, birth of a child requires 9 months, but till date medical advancement can only predict the estimated date of birth. Even so, they cannot be certain of the date and time of birth. Nobody can explain why you were born on this date, only your Karma.

Thus, because of your Karma, you were born on a specific date and thus fortune tellers are able to calculate your birth character number or your horoscope signs etc. Your birth character number will determine many aspects of your lives, which is due to your past Karma but not the result of God/ Heaven. Some aspects of your life, like family you are born in and whether you are born with a silver spoon are not possible to change, but Destiny is not an irrevocable matter.

How can i change my Destiny?

One of the classics of Buddhist story for changing Destiny is here:

As all things in the world are subjected to impermanence, so is Destiny. You may been born a rich man's kid but if made the decision to squander your money away you may become poor. On the reverse, you may be born in a poor family but if you are diligent enough you can get a better profession when you grow up. However, your results are still subjected to conditions. For example, if you are born under the Caste systems in ancient time, it will be hard for social mobility to take place. But if through your merits you get a chance to leave the country, your life may be better. Thus, by accumulating better merits in your present life, if conditions still do not allow your life to change for the better, do not despair as you are still making a better path for yourself in your future lives.

On the side note, I am no expert in such matters but just sharing my knowledge of what i know of the concept of Fate in Buddhism. Should you have any queries or feel like having a discussion, feel free to comment on my post. Thanks!

Cundhi Guan Yin

Cundhi Avalokitesvara

Cundhi bodhisattva is an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara himself, to aid even more sentient beings in the samsara. Cundhi is also known as Zhun Ti in Chinese Buddhism, and is considered a Bhagavati(female buddha) in Mahayana. Cundhi is known for her awesome supernatural powers and is the chief of all merits in the lotus court. Her mantra is one of the supreme mantras taught by Sakyamuni Buddha. If anyone chants, all their defilments will cleared, all sickness be healed, suffering be ceased, fortune gained, and long livity. One will also not get into the path of evil and be born in the lower realms. Bad karmas will lessen and life will be protected. Cundhi's mantra is also well known for protection against supernatural forces and eradicating disasters. All benifits are in this mantra if one is able to chant sincerely and without negative thoughts. Here goes her mantra:

Om Nam (mantra for pure dharma world)

Om Hrih ( protection against supernatural forces)

Om Mani Pad me Hum (mantra of chenrezig)

Namo Saptanam

Samyaksambuddhaya Koptinam

Tadyatha OM

Cale cule cundhi svaha (pronounciatiion: ka lay ku lay kun dhe so ha )

Amitabha Buddha

Amitabha Buddha (Amida Buddha): The Buddha of Infinite Light and Boundless Life. This is a cosmic buddha who presides over the western paradise, the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Amitabha Buddha creates this paradise from his compassion to save all living beings who have faith in him and to bring them to rebirth in his buddha land so that they can continue to practice until they all attain enlightenment. Amitabha Buddha, at the higher, or noumenon (or ultimate) level represents the True Mind, the self nature common to the Buddhas and sentient beings – infinitely bright and everlasting. A trans- historical Buddha who is venerated by all Mahayana schools, particularly the Pure Land School.

Namo Amitabha Buddha ( 3 times )

Heart Mantra :

Om A Mi De Wa Hrih ( 108 times )

Earth Store Bodhisattva

Earth Store Bodhisattva ( Di Zang Wang Pu Sa) is one of the four great bodhisattvas in the world. He saves the hell beings from torture and brings them to the path of bodhi. In Theravada, his counterpart is Phra Malai, a buddhist arahat who is said to have appeared in hell saving hell beings. Many buddhists have put them as the same identity. Earth Store Bodhisattva is also depicted in taoist mythology as a saviour of hell realm. He protects the dharma and beings as well.


Those who are said to pay Homeage to him and practice buddhism faithfully are said to have these effects:

1. They will be protected by devas and dragons.
2. Their ability to do good will be increased.
3. Opportunities for doing good will increase.
4. They will strive to attain Buddhahood.
5. They will enjoy sufficiency of food and clothing.
6. They will be free from diseases.
7. Floods and fire will not affect them.
8. Robbers will not trouble them.
9. They will be respected and admired by people.
10. Spirits and devas will protect and assist them.
11. Females shall be reborn as males.
12. The females will become daughters of noble and exalted families.
13. They will be reborn with good complexion.
14. They will be reborn in the heavens for many lives.
15. They will be reborn as kings or rulers of countries.
16. They will have wisdom to recollect their past lives.
17. They will be successful in all their aspirations.
18. They will enjoy happy family relationships.
19. Disasters will not affect them.
20. Their bad karma will be removed.
21. Wherever they go, they are safe.
22. They shall always have peaceful dreams.
23. Their deceased relatives shall be free from sufferings.
24. They will be reborn with happiness.
25. They will be praised by divine beings.
26. They will be intelligent and skilful.
27. They will have compassion for others.
28. They will finally attain Buddhahood.

Manjusri Bodhisattva

Namo Manjusri Bodhisattva Mahasattva

Om Ah Ra Pa Ca Na Dhih or Om Shri Am Rang Ga Svaha

Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha or Siddartha Gatuama, is the founder and historical Buddha in Buddhism. All traditions of Buddhism upholds Gautama Buddha as the Enlightened Buddha, a teacher of both gods and men. At the age of 29, Siddartha left his palace as a prince and decided to become an asethic in the forest after seeing four signs in life - Birth, Ageing, Sickness and Death. However, after practicing with many teachers, he decided all were unsatisfactory and realized that Middle Path is the key to enlightenment. He gained enlightenment at the age of 35.

He attained liberation from birth and death, a state called "Nirvana" which many buddhist aims to reach as well.

Key doctrines of Buddhism spoken by Gautama Buddha:

Four Noble Truths

1. There is suffering in life
2. Suffering is caused by greed, hatred and ignorance
3. There is a way to end suffering
4. The way of ending suffering is via following the Eightfold Path.

Eightfold Path
1. Right intention
2. Right action
3. Right livelihood
4. Right speech
5. Right view
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

Five Precepts
1. No killing and hurting of oneself and others
2. No stealing
3. No sexual misconduct
4. No lying
5. No intoxciated drinks and drug

Namo Shakyamuni Buddha ( 3 times )

Om Mani Padme Hum

Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect -- it is often carved into stones, like the one pictured above, and placed where people can see them.

Spinning the written form of the mantra around in a Mani wheel (or prayer wheel) is also believed to give the same benefit as saying the mantra, and Mani wheels, small hand wheels and large wheels with millions of copies of the mantra inside, are found everywhere in the lands influenced by Tibetan Buddhism

Reading from left to right the syllables are







Samsaric Realm
bliss / pride
jealousy /
lust for entertainment
jealous gods
passion / desire
stupidity / prejudice
poverty /
hungry ghost
aggression / hatred