Fate and Destiny – ours and our societies’

About a month ago I attended a presentation by Michael Meade about his new book FATE AND DESTINY http://mosaicvoices.org. Meade is quite a storyteller! Below are some notes summarizing for myself what I took from his presentation — and an insight about us collectively that came up for me during his talk.


We come into the world with what Meade calls “a destiny” — a divine gift whose potential manifestation through us inspires a story that attracts us into the world — a story most of us promptly forget as we swim through the challenges of infancy, childhood, and youth. But it doesn’t go away. Through our lives we are called to discover it, develop it, and give it away to the world. As we succeed at this, we become more fully who we are and who we were meant to be. We experience our destiny as a calling, a calling from a deeper, higher, other place that is, at the same time, in the middle of our being, our unique self, our soul. And at our death the question we face is “Did I become more fully myself through giving my gift(s) to the world?”

For most of us, this all unfolds in a more or less nonlinear way. As we engage with the world, we meet the challenges, temptations, demands, delights and limitations of life — which Meade calls “fate”. For much or our lives these fateful conditions serve as distractions and obstacles to finding and living our destiny. But very often they also serve as predicaments generating energetic tensions, pressures and crises in our lives which, if we are on an edge, may suddenly send us tumbling into our destiny. These are watershed moments after which our lives are no longer the same. If we welcome this disruptive adventure, our fate then becomes a resource, weaving into our destiny and becoming one with it in support of our calling.

From the outside — and in our own experience — fate often feels like an obstacle, a problem for us in ever following our calling. But in a sense it is perfect in its role. Our destiny hides from us in the noisy distractions and challenges of our fate. The tension between our fate and our calling (or destiny) generates dissonance — often coming in the form of “the other” — that signals our destiny’s presence within us, demanding that we pay attention to our calling. The pain we feel from this tension comes from our distance from the core of ourselves, from that part of us that Meade calls our “soul”. As the pressure builds, fate may put us in enough trouble that we get propelled into an adventure to find out who we really are. And when we finally do, our destiny, our calling takes over. In the end we don’t have our gift or purpose; it has us. It is a dream that’s trying to awaken in us and through us, through its intense calling in our life. As it takes over, it moves us through ourselves to a place beyond ourselves.

In the tensions it creates with our destiny, fate wounds us. To be alive is to be both gifted and wounded. As our gift becomes more visible to ourselves and others, our wound also becomes more vivid, necessitating healing even as we emerge more fully into being ourselves. This is part of the path of becoming whole. As we find ourselves more whole, more in touch with and flowing with the world — largely through our gifts to it and its gifts to us — we experience gratitude. And the experience of gratitude further melts us into the wholeness of life, healing us further.


I identify as an activist, a social change philosopher, an evolutionary agent. So it did not surprise me that during Meade’s presentation I realized that his perspective applies to whole societies as well as to individuals. I found that profoundly exciting: A society or civilization can be said to be born with gifts to give to the world, some evolutionary potential it is called to fulfill on behalf of humanity and all Life. That destiny is what give it its meaning, its life energy. As it encounters its fate — the distractions and challenges of “real life” / “realpolitik” — it seems to drift from that calling (think about America and democracy, or Israel and the promised land, or Russia and the egalitarian society). But the calling doesn’t go away; it is lodged in the collective soul of that country and, often, in the souls of people around it. In fact, the further the society seems to drift, the more intense becomes the dissonance, and the more intense becomes the calling from within and around it, the calling for it to shape up and fulfill its destiny. The dissonance is exquisitely designed to direct and energize its attention in the direction of its destiny.

And so we find ourselves exactly at that point, in most of the world’s cultures and in global civilization as a whole. We are called by the very dissonance that seems to torment us, to deepen into the transformation needed to become fully ourselves — not only as individuals but as collective souls, as whole cultures, as social systems of all kinds, to give the gifts that first birthed us, so that we can all fit miraculously into the great evolving story we are meant to be on this planet, so that we and the planet become more whole. Think of the dissonance around “progress versus sustainability.” Such dissonance won’t go away until we pay it the attention needed to trigger the transformation which it demands. At that point our fate will join with our destiny, and the confluence will carry us into being the new world whose dream is at this moment pressing to be realized through us. So much of what we feel, long for and do for the world, for life, and for future generations — individually and collectively — is a living manifestation of that pressure.

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