The Mastery of Destiny

Oct 28, 2013 by

masteryThe Mastery of Destiny by James Allen was first published in 1909 and is a classic in the genre of self help books.  This is an exact duplication from an original copy from 1909.  The upside of that is seeing the words and print exactly as they were published over one hundred years ago (without any of the potential current editing or additions that can occur in “new” versions).  The small downside is you have to deal with the not perfect quality, but that’s a small price to pay I think for seeing the book in the exact form of the original publication.

Here are a few paragraphs from the beginning of the book:

There is, and always has been, a wide-spread belief in Fate, or Destiny, that is, in an eternal and inscrutable Power which apportions definite ends to both individuals and nations. This belief has arisen from long observation of the facts of life. Men are conscious that there are certain occurrences which they cannot control, and are powerless to avert. Birth and death, for instance, are inevitable, and many of the incidents of life appear equally inevitable.  Men strain every nerve for the attainment of certain ends, and gradually they become conscious of a Power which seems to be not of themselves, which frustrates their puny efforts, and laughs, as it were, at their fruitless striving and struggle.

As men advance in life, they learn to submit, more or less, to this overruling Power which they do not understand, perceiving only its effects in themselves and the world around them, and they call it by various names, such as God, Providence, Fate, Destiny, etc. Men of contemplation, such as poets and philosophers, step aside, as it were, to watch the movements of this mysterious Power as it seems to elevate its favourites on the one hand, and strike down its victims on the other, without reference to merit or demerit.

The greatest poets, especially the dramatic deeds,  poets, represent this Power in their works, as they have observed it in Nature. The Greek and Roman dramatists usually depict their heroes as having foreknowledge of their fate, and taking means to escape it; but by so doing they blindly involve themselves in a series of consequences which bring about the doom which they are trying to avert. Shakespeare’s characters, on the other hand, are represented, as in Nature, with no foreknowledge (except in the form of presentiment) of their particular destiny.

Thus, according to the poets, whether the man knows his fate or not, he cannot avert it, and every conscious or unconscious act of his is a step towards it. Omar Khayyam’s ” Moving Finger” is a vivid expression of this idea of Fate “The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it. ” Thus, men in all nations and times have experienced in their lives the action of this invincible Power or Law, and in our nation today this experience has been crystallized in the terse pro-verb, “Man proposes, God disposes.” But, contradictory as it may appear, there is an equally wide-spread belief in man’s responsibility as a free agent.”



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