Driving off Bad Luck this New Year

Posted: December 26, 2010 in culture, Popular Culture
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The belief in “luck” is tied to one’s culture, religion, values and belief systems. People differ in their beliefs about luck, its causes and consequences. Luck is usually associated with fortunate events while bad luck is linked to unfortunate events, and either of them is thought to be a result of one’s inner dispositions or divine interventions.  

Good luck comes to those with good intent and pure heart. Bad luck comes to those whose heart is vile and filthy. Such is the law of karma from the ancient Hindu religion that has been influential to Buddhism and is still taken to be true by new age faithfuls.  In the book The Secret, the concept of karma is reconstructed as the law of attraction – that whatever you think, do and say draws the same energy.

The metaphysics of this dialectics simply tells that people can attract either a negative or positive energy from the cosmos which is all energy.  The I-ching of the Chinese also holds that we have the yin and yang, forces or energies that should remain in balance. Buddhist believes that doing what is positive in life is granted by divine providence a positive return in the after life.

It is not only the Chinese nor the Hindus that have the belief in luck. The ancient civilizations of the west also share this belief system. The Greeks believe in mythical figures, icons and symbols that draw in great fortunes or victories in battles. The Romans who gave us the calendar, have to draw on astrology and the way the stars would conspire to bring good fortune. Filipinos have the concept of swerte and malas. But this belief is also influenced by the Chinese culture and the Western beliefs  that we inherited from our earlier contacts with them.

In 1922, Honorio Lopez published Karunungang Lihim which foretells of fortune based on astrology and numerology. The earlier Filipino calendars that he made also contained those knowledge and insights that guided the farmers and fisherfolks in their life. Now, many still think that human life and everything in it is influenced by the arrangement of the stars, the passing of comets and the use of charms and amulets that could ward off bad luck.

There are probably many archeological evidences and historical narratives that coincide with literary depictions of the human belief in luck. Science stays away from this phenomenon because of its socio-cultural nature, and regards it instead to be paranormal if not metaphysical. Something, that is beyond the norm that which science can’t fully understand, or have understood to be an anomaly of culture.

The evidences of the existence of such belief system goes back from the time man have perhaps begun to think about him self and his environment. But such evidence of an existing belief does not make up for the proof of the power of driving off bad luck or drawing in good luck. In game theory, everything is calculable, the winning and the losing. In chaos theory, incidences can be isolated and understood in relation to a system that has no order through fractal algorithms.

The belief in luck is part of the human way of alluding things that we do not normally understand to something else that we don’t truly understand. But it comes with hope and aspiration to everything will fall into places at the right time at the right place. It persists because it gratifies some personal and social needs or purposes.

Personally, we want to have foresight.  This gives us a vantage point in adjusting our actions, so we turn to horoscope readings and predictions from fortune tellers. Before they were just fortune tellers, now they have become psychics who can read vibrations and interpret the meanings of symbols from cards and the alignment of stars. Because we don’t fully understand how they know what they tell us, and what they tell us generally make sense, we are lured to entertain their thoughts to influence our way of thinking and behavior.

We do not see this action as to how it contradicts Christian faith, because it comes close to our idea of prophets and visionaries who were gifted by the Holy Spirit to see things from the future and interpret dreams. Those prophets and visionaries did not speak of star alignments, the zodiac signs nor did they use tarot cards or crystal balls. Isaiah the prophet who saw the coming of the Messiah is one best example. The Bible also warns of those false prophets in the end of times. The New Testament prophets are those that affirm the spirit.

Socially, the belief in luck serves as a cushion to build one’s self-esteem. When one fails, he is consoled by another with comments like life is not all lucky. In some cases, we just think bad things happen simply because of bad luck, and that will not really last long since we believe that life is a cycle. There are ups and downs in life. This is our form of social escapism resulting from the lack of individual and social responsibility to take ownership of our actions and decisions.

Since we believe in luck and we share this belief with others, it appears to be so true. To some people such belief even rules their lives, so they can’t blame their selves to any mishaps in their lives as it is brought by luck. With some others, they shield themselves with the claimed powers of lucky charms and crystals, while they keep themselves from really thinking about how they are going about their lives.

I understand the said belief in luck as culturally beautiful, an ornament of human frailty of making the best worst in one’s life. It manifest itself in the lives and homes of poeople. Sometimes it drives people to do well in life, but most often it doesn’t really work. No charms, crystals, horoscope can change one’s life except himself. The shittiest thing can happen in one’s life if he can’t see how he has been living his life and he still fails to see where he wants to go. God only wills for the best to His people. That good fuckin luck is what we make of this life given to us by grace not of luck.

So would you drop by at the stores and grab those animal figures, key chains, fengshui mirror of sort to drive off bad luck?


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