In spite of all arguments there remains some hesitation; we tend to assign a high place to good luck and a miserable place to ill luck, so much it is ingrained in our experience, in our culture, in our life’s dictionary.
Luck and accident, the two words are often used whenever the direct cause for life and death, win or defeat, success of failure is not available or one feels shy of looking in the face of such cause or wants to avoid recording the direct cause. There are circumstances like war, air-crash or shipwreck and natural calamities like avalanche or cloud burst, something catastrophic that happens at some place on earth or in the life of an individual, resulting in death and misery beyond the immediate control of human beings, the cause of which we assign to an evil force. On the other hand, sometimes something very pleasant happens beyond our expectation which may be called the bounty of God. Many things in modern life like winning awards or winning election are the result of many forces like political and other influences which we easily understand but there are times when one gains some honour or appreciation without any hints before hand for there are benevolent, neutral and true judgement too available in life. There may be some windfall profit suddenly but the reason we may guess and find in the long run. In any case, naming the result of something as luck or ill luck are very good ways to diagnose something which cannot otherwise be diagnosed like allergy in medical science. But true it is that if we try hard to analyse every cause and effect we meet with a baffling result.
The position being as such let us hear the truth of what we call luck from a spiritual personality who always judged everything from the point of human welfare and progress, from her divine point of view.
While answering her disciple’s query about the movements of life, the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the spiritual Guru of innumerable children on earth, advised that one needs to be wide awake and very attentive if he or she wants to lead a spiritual life. She said, inter alia, that “In ordinary life one says, ‘It is circumstances, it is fate, it’s my bad luck.’ That is very, very, very convenient. . . . That is one is unconscious, one lives unconsciously and puts all the blame for what happens on others and on the circumstances but never tells oneself: ‘Why! It is my own fault.’ . . . It needs a sufficiently vast consciousness to begin. Even among those who profess to be conscious, there are not many who see clearly enough to become aware that all that happens to them comes from what they are and from nothing else. They always say, ‘He is wrong; circumstances are unfavourable; oh! Why was that done?’ – If you were not what you are, it would not happen in this way. It would happen differently.” The Mother said to her disciples. 1
On another occasion, asked pointedly if there is anything like good luck or bad luck, she answered, “There is nothing that can truly be called luck. What men call luck are the effects of causes they do not know.
“Nor is there anything that in itself is good or bad luck; each one characterises circumstances as good or bad depending on whether they are more or less favourable to him; and this estimation itself is very superficial and ignorant, for one must already be a great sage to know what is truly favourable or unfavourable to oneself.
“Moreover, the same event may be very good for one person and at the same time very bad for another. These estimations are purely subjective and depend on each one’s reaction to contacts coming from outside.
“Finally, the circumstances of our life, the surroundings in which we live and the way in which people regard us are the expression, the objective projection of what we ourselves are, within and without. So we may say with certainty that what we carry in ourselves in all our states of being, mentally, vitally and physically, is that which constitutes our life objectified in what surrounds us.
“And this is easily verifiable, for in proportion as we improve ourselves and advance towards perfection, our circumstances also improve.
“Likewise, in the case of those who degenerate and fall back, the circumstances of their lives also worsen.” 2
Coming to a mortal, a philosopher-teacher and man of great wisdom, Dr. S Radhakrishnan, we find that though accepting the luck as something coming from the divine, he denies tagging ill luck to any failure in life, taking it as the result of his personal failure.
“When Napoleon’s eagle eye flashed down the list of officers proposed for promotion to higher rank, he used to scribble in the margin of a name ‘Is he lucky?’ I have luck and it is this that has protected me thus far. It is as if a great pilot had been steering my ship through the innumerable rocks and shoals on which other barks had made shipwreck. The major guidance, I think, decisions of my life have been taken under a sort of plan, and prepare, and yet when the choice is made, I have a feeling that an invisible hand has been guiding me for purposes other than my own. I do not, however, pretend that I enjoy the special care of providence. . . . While I attribute the little success I have achieved to this luck or guidance, I do not want to shift the blame for my failures to ill luck or circumstances. My achievements are not entirely my own, but my mistakes are in large part due to my own folly or weakness.” 3
So from both the above preceptors we receive one common thing that behind each and every luck or ill-luck there is a cause, however much we may try to deny it. Taking the Mother’s words as truth resplendent, we must accept that there must be reasons for whatever happens to us, to others, the causes of which may lie somewhere in other regions, in occult field or subtle sphere, beyond our notion or education or capacity to know. But for improvement and progress in life it is best to try to understand that though we do not get causes for certain results, there are real causes beyond our perception and knowledge and to gain that knowledge and perception is the essential work of human life.
Though there are causes like birth in a country, in a family or under certain astronomical conditions (astrologically) which determines the life’s movement of an individual, he or she may improve upon such birth conditions by his or her karma in this life. Even if karma of the past determines the future according to Hindu philosophy, one may to a great extent, mitigate the results of past karma by persistent karma or action in this life. By a strong will and determination, by ardent aspiration we may gain many things otherwise not possible to get. Whatever may be the reason for the happenings in our life, we should not normally indulge in such ideas as luck to help us gain something. That reduces our ability to do things as we plan and act upon.
1 Collected Works of The Mother- Centenary Edition. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo
Ashram. 1979. V-6. p.97
2 ibid. V-16. pp. 229-30
3 (Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. ‘My Search for Truth’ in Basic Writings of S. Radhakrishnan. Edited by Robert A. McDermott. Bombay; Jaico Publishing House. 1975. p. 36
© Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2010
8, Cheir Lodi Street, Pondicherry-605001