Will Thackara

Serendipity — the accidental discovery of unsought good fortune — is a relatively modern word. It was coined from the old Persian tale of The Three Princes of Serendip, whose father sent them out into the world to test their mettle, and whose good fortune derived as much from careful deduction as from chance.

Our lives are filled with serendipitous events — those coincidental intersections of people and place, of timely help coming out of the blue, perhaps a random thought that helps solve a problem, or the innumerable "small world" stories which show how closely linked we are with one another — each affording a startling, sometimes wondrous glimpse of life's hidden patterns.

If chance is but a synonym for unseen causes, we might pause to reflect on these thought-provoking gifts and ask ourselves if they are as accidental as they might appear. Or are they also sacred reminders of our intimate connection with all that lives in a world rich with benevolent purpose, if we could see beyond its imperfections?

Writing to a group of London theosophists in 1887, H. P. Blavatsky urged each of them to pay attention to the unfolding chain of cause and effect in their lives, especially the "casualities and little events, the working of these might alone [reveal] to you a guiding Hand." For those who try to read and intuitively deduce this unfolding karma, "there are no more meaningless or trifling circumstances in his life, for each is a link purposely placed in the chain of events that have to lead him forward to the 'Golden Gate,' or the Gates of Gold. Each step, each person he meets with, every word uttered, may be a word purposely placed in the day's sentence with the purpose of giving certain importance to the chapter it belongs to, and each or another (Karmic) meaning to the volume of life."

However challenging our circumstances may be, with a few moments of daily reflection we may begin to see and feel the serendipity — the unsought gifts of "good fortune" — and discover within ourselves an enduring confidence and trust in the sacred in our lives.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2005; copyright © 2005 Theosophical University Press)

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