Here is an extract from 'Why Do Bad Things Happen?'
What is destiny?
You can't be in my line of work without coming across the big philosophical questions of life. You might think that the real biggie is whether there is life after death, but for any medium or any bereaved person who's known the comfort of a message from a loved one on the other side, it's simple - of course there is, we just have to be open enough to experience the connection we still have with those in spirit, be they Grandma or the dog. Contact with the spirit world is part of our everyday life, whether it comes through a message from a medium at a demonstration with hundreds of people present or just through thinking of someone you've lost and feeling their presence for a split second when you're doing the washing up or stuck in a traffic jam.
But what about those bigger questions of destiny, fate and karma? We tend to divide everything up into 'good' and 'bad' and think of our lives as an accumulation of deeds which go on some sort of karmic balance sheet. It's even in our everyday language, as we say. 'You reap what you sow.' So, do enough of the good and it'll cancel out the bad. Too much high living and fun and you'll be in for a smack down. Do really well and you'll be rewarded with a nice car and a new girlfriend.
Real life doesn't dish out the gifts and the blows like that, though; it seems much more confusing and contradictory. People want to know why they've lost a spouse in an accident when they've lived good lives and always worked for charity, or why their neighbour won the lottery, even though she's never known how to handle money and is up to her eyeballs in debt. It seems as though there's no logic behind it, and it's tempting to think of a spiteful and capricious force hurling down thunderbolts for a laugh. Or to say fate is cruel and karma is a bitch. Yet all the time we're begging Lady Luck to single us out so we can have our time in the clover. Or claiming responsibility: 'Be careful of what you wish for,' or that it's personal fate: 'What's for you won't go past you' - which just about covers everything!
I've known men and women torture themselves with regret over something long since done and dusted because they are convinced that what they did was linked to a greater tragedy. In a way they're seeking control over the suffering that life dishes out. If someone they loved died abruptly in an accident or through violence, they want to know if it could have been avoided and then spiral into 'what ifs'. It also seems to be instinctive for people to want to blame themselves for the suffering that a child has gone through in order to take some of that burden onto themselves.
We like to take responsibility for some things that are nothing to do with us and yet sometimes we try to pretend that things we really are responsible for just came out of nowhere. In both cases we make life much harder both for ourselves and for others. And when you consider that this 'fate' or 'karma' covers everything from the drive to work to world wars and global warming, how do you even begin to get a handle on that? You'd go mad if you tried to think through the consequences of every last thing you did, imagining some terrible punishment forever waiting to drop on your head.
In fact we can spend a lifetime struggling to understand how to negotiate this plane of existence and come out the other side with a lighter mind and greater wisdom. There are lots of mental traps that we can fall into or false roads we can take which leave us at a spiritual dead end.
So how can we make it easier on ourselves? Is there any way we can really tell what is our fate and what, if anything, we can do to change it?
From Why Do Bad Things Happen?, ©2009 by Gordon Smith, published by Hay House.