There’s this friend of mine, let’s call him Stephen Pike, although he had a different name at birth. He was adopted you see. Always knew he was different to the parents that brought him up. Later, he found out he’d been left for dead by those of his blood.
So Stephen made a success of himself from his modest beginnings. His adopted parents were not poor, but he did not enjoy any luxuries or the privileges afforded to the lucky some.
He was a wheeler-dealer type, the son of young and lustful gypsies perhaps. He finished top by bluffing his way up the ranks of the car sales industry, from floor boy through star sellers to own dealership to an empire. S. Pike’s Cars. You know he told the bank manager that he had a Masters degree in Business Management from a prestigious university, clinching the deal for the dealership; a deal with whom though?
But where does Stephen Pike come in to the blog about luck by a self-professed writer and philosopher? Well, it happens in and around text messages sent between him and me.
He takes the view, as many do in this Thatcher’s world, that it was by the measure of his hard work that he sat atop his achievements, a very wealthy and well-respected member of the community. He was proof, the pudding, sitting fat saying, “no matter what you are born to, in this world with perseverance you can achieve anything". Some with a similar view might extend this by saying, "if you're poor in this country, it’s because you’re lazy”. Regardless, I must confess, my quote is not verbatim but the sentiment is all the same.
My response to him was frustrated by time and medium, but emphasised the role of luck in life. I gave him a whistle-stop tour nodding to the luck of birth/starting point, through determinism, spiritualism v materialism, Buddhist philosophies such as reincarnation, emptiness and samsara, finishing on the illusion of free will – concluding that: he owes his material gain to the collusion of or his coercion of the non-physical matrix. He owes his material gain to that which is seen only through the 3rd eye – ergo LUCK.
Coolly the message came through to him from me that as with all the cycles and circles of life – it all comes around so long as you continue to play the game – in this life or the next. The material is immaterial to the spiritual; in fact, it simply adds weight to you. He was weighty.
Of course, I could not leave my expression of this vast topic to one such summary. This then, is the drive for my blog post – and comes as a result of years of contemplation. Emphasis on luck and the recognition or sight of it in the material world, is a key pillar of my philosophy and approach to awakening.
For now then, let us explore further some of the matters referred to above.
First off, let’s explore our current interaction with the concept of luck.
Immediately we think “Good luck”. We wish people well. It almost feels like we are casting a spell. Who are we making aware of this? I believe most sense the sight of another realm, but perhaps that is projection. On the flip side, perhaps swearwords or ill wishes are literal “curses” sent out in a similar manner. Some people profess to possess luck, to be lucky. We see it in other people, teams or clubs; “she’s lucky, she’s blessed” etcetera.
All of this builds a picture of perhaps the common understanding of luck, as somehow opaquely wrapped up in ideas of there being seen the positive and negative energy of the world, and how this is somehow distributed.
To others it is simply random. To the materialists, we are matter and matter alone, and any receipt is a consequence of this randomness coupled with the fruits of actions done in the physical world (i.e. hard work and ingenuity).
For spiritualists, such is the nature of the non-physical, the operations behind these deposits of luck, the fruits and fouls of life, that this is necessarily left unknown, in that we cannot be certain or provide physical proof of these spirit realm attached mechanisms. All we can do is look to the physical outcomes and from there philosophise, theorise and fantasise.
I will come on to these suggested mechanisms in time, but for now I would like to take time to repackage the concept of luck, if I may. My findings are as follows:
Let us start from the beginning. We know that we each have a starting point, which we do not choose. Our life, our circumstance: physical capabilities and environment – this is not chosen, and at least certainly and undeniably it is not chosen at birth, that we are aware of – we have what we are given, our hand.
The monotheistic Western-world mentality is such that we are conditioned to think of ourselves as this independent, free, free thinking and free doing, discrete unit/entity/soul. I can accept then how someone of this mind-set would conclude that thereafter the aforementioned starting point, individuals impress themselves upon the world such that they create their own path, their journey, and reap what they sow.
Add this to an atheists belief that the physical is not connected to any other realm and so all life happens to the living and that there is only dark/blackness/nothingness before and after life as is known - and without self-reflection, blindness to self and a self-assured morality - you have a concoction for a People acting carte blanche for themselves in the now without full appreciation of the consequences. You reach a level of disconnectedness such that the ecosystem itself suffers.
Eastern philosophers (cringe at the broadness) would contest all of this by suggesting some interconnectedness of all things, in this life or beyond, and thereby detracting from the individualistic model – that pervades our global economy.
Now, continuing on – as with the Luck of Birth, I do believe there are certain other inalienable truths of life. I say this after much exploration, all while long-time carrying the phrase of Nietzsche: Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. This says, be flexible in your beliefs and mind-set; challenge your conclusions – but it acknowledges that there must be certain truths, like gravity or evolution by natural selection.
One such truth to me is determinism. Einstein was a determinist. So from the Luck of Birth we move through to determinism.
It holds that life is but a chain of events, all things being equal, like gravity or evolution by natural selection; or the predictability of human behaviour (like that thing that will certainly anger you and your need for a cup of coffee in the morning).
It holds that in any given moment all variables are such. Our interaction with these variables (our decisions) are determined by the countless variables that have combined in our life to make that present moment, and whatever decision is to be made. It holds that this chain of events, looking on at the individual, goes right back to their birth.
Determinism states that life is already determined. It does not state that this determination is made by an external body, like God, it just simply takes time out of the equation. Determinism says that all events of life are determined external to ‘will'.
This brings us nicely onto a pillar of my philosophy, which is The Illusion of Free Will. This is reconcilable with the beliefs of the materialists, the scientists, the atheists. It has been proven by experiments looking at the chain between brain activity and physical reaction, which seems to show even brain activity, is involuntary (the Libet experiment) to will.
Neurology aside, when we build up the picture (particularly in the current climate) it is hard to find any strong argument in favour of there being truth in there being free will.
So, you are bound by:
· Your physical and mental capabilities (you cannot do what you want)
· Human made laws (you cannot do what you want)
· Social norms (you cannot just do what ever the hell you want)
· The laws of physics (you can’t do what you want)
But also time and time again in life we are reminded of our powerlessness. This happens when some major life event happens as a result of some external force, like a burglar or a car accident.
Now, the scientists, the atheists, the materialists conclude that all of this is the summation of randomness – now as hallow as statement as this is, it may be.
The issue I have with this is that I believe we have lived experience of there being meaning in all events. Projections are always difficult to discern, but to live is to feel – and it certainly feels like there’s more to it than randomness. Here is a list of things I like to believe: in coincidence carrying a higher meaning, in signs, in spirit guides, that the gravity and positioning of the moon and planets is significant in any moment including at the birth of people, and as another example, that karma acts, it bites – so phrases like “sods law”, “lucky streak”, “poisoned chalice” ring true to me.
All of this, I believe, can be squared away with a fascinating, fantastic, scintillating piece of ancient philosophy from the Buddhists commonly known as Emptiness, Suññatā. This is that all things, or rather no thing has or is an independent self; it refers to the non-self. With this then, all things are empty of self – and so we are all one. This can and should be meditated upon.
So why am I writing all this? I am sure that for us to avert climate catastrophe we must all wake up and change our behaviour. When truths are seen it is possible to live your life in a different light – to find peace with happenings – to dial down the heat of us, by consumption and discharge – by meditating on our Emptiness and therefore our Oneness.
I think there must be a change to the common consciousness, shifting focus from hard-work for material gain and towards one that appreciates more the gifts of life – from the luck of birth and the happenings down the stream timelessly determined. A focus on our helplessness in this journey, our reliance on others and the interconnectedness of all things, should help us towards sharing a peaceful, sustainable not wasteful world.
Another time I will come on to my fantastical suggestions of mechanisms of interaction between this the physical world we know, and the spiritual realm we do not know (though we each feel it to varying degrees) but this is not for now.
What does all this mean for my friend Stephen Pike? Well, he should be careful. He may now have his big house with his big mower and his moat, all made from his own hard work from that boring estate in a small town, from the swaddling and the stone cold doorstep.
But "From time to time / You have both / Nothing / And Everything"
And he may now be a chairman on some local board taking on some big and exciting new project – but he doesn’t know who is carrying karma for him, for each of those hidden rust on car sales, or which of his “close friends” really trusts him around their Mrs.
Karma bites, in this life or the next. Luck, ever-present, evadable like river passing stone, but downstream and by time passed each molecule will realise each molecule is there fixed by another – for time. Set in stone.
Balance, flow, luck will get you, you know.