Question: My question is quite personal, but I know a lot of people may have the same plight as mine. I have been struggling so hard to make my dreams come true but it seems that good fate does not favor me in many ways. Sometimes I almost run out of hope and wallow in self-pity. Is there such a thing as luck and how can one know if we’re making the right decision at the right time? Does everything happen for a reason or is everything a circumstantial mistake?
These are interesting questions and most of us wonder about these things at one time or another during our lives.
Every action we do creates a distortion in our mind which is in effect a reaction in potential form. Positive actions create positive reactions and negative actions create negative reactions. What we think of as “good luck” is just the expression of a positive reaction in potential form. Similarly, bad luck is the expression of a negative reaction in potential form. Almost everything that happens to us is due to the expression of these positive or negative reactions in potential form. So there is no such thing as “luck”.
Most of what we experience in this life has to do with actions from previous lives. If you feel your luck has been bad it is because your actions in a previous life require that you experience some difficulties in this life to restore balance. If this seems unfair it is because you don’t remember your past life. It is a blessing not to recall what we did in our past lives as that knowledge would lead to too many mental burdens for most of us to bear.
The goal of the yogi is not to accumulate good reactions but rather to exhaust all reactions and not accumulate any new ones. Only when all our mental reactions are fully exhausted is complete and permanent merger (and hence complete and permanent contentment) with the Divine possible. Through different practices yogis are able to both speed up the rate at which they exhaust past reactions and prevent accumulation of new ones.
In addition, through Divine Grace the rate at which one experiences certain reactions may be altered. For example, suppose you need to experience a great deal of physical pain and suppose your original destiny was to experience this as a terrible auto crash which would leave you hospitalized for 6 months. Through meditation and service you may be given the “gift” of spreading out this pain over several years in the form of many smaller accidents, minor illnesses and so on which allow you to continue working and meditating.
Likewise, suppose it was your “destiny” to die on a certain day. It may be that you are given instead the “gift” of experiencing a terrible accident on that date which almost kills you but does not, followed by some additional smaller accidents or illnesses thus allowing you to retain your body for additional work in this life.
Now, how do we know if we are making the right decisions? The short answer is that we can only do our best to make decisions based on whatever information we have in the spirit of universal welfare and surrender. If our decisions are based purely on self-interest with no consideration for how our actions affect others, then we can know that our decision-making process is not good. If we do our best to take into account our own physical, mental and spiritual progress as well as how our decisions affect the welfare of others in these three realms, then we have done the best we can.
Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita, “You have the right to your actions, but not to the fruits of your actions.” By that He meant that we should go ahead and act in a proper way, without ego and offering the results to the Divine Will. In this way we not only react properly, we also do not acquire new reactions from our actions because the “fruits” go to the Divine.
So don’t worry, everything happens for a reason (nothing is an accident) and ultimately everything that happens to us is for our long-term welfare. As Winston Churchill once said: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Sooner or later you will come out the other side and things will start going your way. It is only a matter of time. Right now if things haven’t been going your way it means you have been working through a lot of past negative reactions, but this will only stand you in better stead for the future. Keep going and don’t lose hope.