God’s Authority (II) Part Two
The Six Junctures in a Human Life
In the course of one’s life, every person arrives at a series of critical junctures. These are the most fundamental, and the most important, steps that determine a person’s fate in life. What follows is a brief description of these milestones that every person must pass in the course of his or her life.
Birth: The First Juncture
Where a person is born, what family he or she is born into, one’s gender, appearance, and time of birth: these are the details of the first juncture of a person’s life.
No one has any choice about these parts in this juncture; they are all predestined long in advance by the Creator. They are not influenced by the external environment in any way, and no manmade factors can change these facts that the Creator has predetermined. For a person to be born means that the Creator has already fulfilled the first step of the fate He has arranged for that person. Because He has predetermined all of these details long in advance, no one has the power to alter any of them. Regardless of a person’s subsequent fate, the conditions of one’s birth are predestined, and remain as they are; they are not in any way influenced by one’s fate in life, nor do they in any way affect the Creator’s sovereignty over it.
1. A New Life Is Born Out of the Creator’s Plans
Which details of the first juncture—the place of one’s birth, one’s family, one’s gender, one’s physical appearance, the time of one’s birth—is a person able to choose? Obviously, one’s birth is a passive event: One is born involuntarily, in a certain place, at a certain time, into a certain family, with a certain physical appearance; one involuntarily becomes a member of a certain household, inherits a certain family tree. One has no choice at this first life juncture, but is born into an environment that is fixed according to the Creator’s plans, into a specific family, with a specific gender and appearance, and at a specific time which is intimately linked with the course of a person’s life. What can a person do at this critical juncture? All told, one has no choice about any single one of these details concerning one’s birth. Were it not for the Creator’s predestination and His guidance, a life newly born into this world would not know where to go or where to stay, would have no relations, belong nowhere, have no real home. But because of the Creator’s meticulous arrangements, it begins the journey of its life with a place to stay, parents, a place it belongs to, and relatives. Throughout this process, the advent of this new life is determined by the Creator’s plans, and everything it will come to possess will be bestowed upon it by the Creator. From a free-floating body with nothing to its name it gradually becomes a flesh-and-blood, visible, tangible human being, one of God’s creations, who thinks, breathes, and senses warm and cold, who can participate in all the usual activities of a created being in the material world, and who will undergo all the things that a created human being must experience in life. The predetermination of a person’s birth by the Creator means that He will bestow upon that person all things necessary for survival; and that a person is born likewise means that he or she will receive all things necessary for survival from the Creator, that from that point on he or she will live in another form, provided for by the Creator and subject to the Creator’s sovereignty.
2. Why Different Human Beings Are Born Under Different Circumstances
People often like to imagine that if they were reborn, it would be into an illustrious family; if they were women, they would look like Snow White and be loved by everybody, and if they were men, they would be Prince Charming, wanting for nothing, with the whole world at their beck and call. There are often those who are under many illusions about their birth and are often very dissatisfied with it, resenting their family, their appearance, their gender, even the time of their birth. Yet people never understand why they are born into a particular family or why they look a certain way. They do not know that regardless of where they are born or how they look, they are to play various roles and fulfill different missions in the Creator’s management—this purpose will never change. In the Creator’s eyes, the place one is born, one’s gender, one’s physical appearance, are all temporary things. They are a series of minuscule jots, tiny symbols in each phase of His management of the whole mankind. And a person’s real destination and ending are not determined by his or her birth in any particular phase, but by the mission that he or she fulfills in every life, by the Creator’s judgment upon them when His management plan is complete.
It is said that there is a cause for every effect, that no effect is without a cause. And so one’s birth is necessarily tied both to one’s present life and one’s previous life. If a person’s death ends their current term of life, then a person’s birth is the beginning of a fresh cycle; if an old cycle represents a person’s previous life, then the new cycle is naturally their present life. Since one’s birth is connected to one’s past life as well as one’s present life, the location, family, gender, appearance, and other such factors, which are associated with one’s birth, are all necessarily related to them. This means that the factors of a person’s birth are not only influenced by one’s previous life, but determined by one’s destiny in the present one. This accounts for the variety of different circumstances into which people are born: Some are born into poor families, others into rich families. Some are of common stock, others have illustrious lineages. Some are born in the south, others in the north. Some are born in the desert, others in verdant lands. Some people’s births are accompanied by cheers, laughter, and celebrations, others bring tears, calamity, and woe. Some are born to be treasured, others to be cast aside like weeds. Some are born with fine features, others with crooked ones. Some are lovely to look upon, others are ugly. Some are born at midnight, others beneath the blaze of the noonday sun. … The births of people of all stripes are determined by the fates the Creator has in store for them; their births determine their fates in the present life as well as the roles they will play and the missions they will fulfill. All this is subject to the Creator’s sovereignty, predestined by Him; no one can escape their predestined lot, no one can change the circumstances of[a] their birth, and no one can choose their own fate.
Growing Up: The Second Juncture
Depending on what kind of family they are born into, people grow up in different home environments and learn different lessons from their parents. This determines the conditions under which a person comes of age, and growing up [b]represents the second critical juncture of a person’s life. Needless to say, people have no choice at this juncture, either. It too is fixed, prearranged.
1. The Circumstances Under Which One Grows Up Are Fixed by the Creator
A person cannot choose the people or factors under whose edification and influence he or she grows up. One cannot choose what knowledge or skills one acquires, what habits one forms. One has no say in who one’s parents and relatives are, what kind of environment one grows up in; one’s relationships with the people, events, and things in one’s surroundings, and how they influence one’s development, are all beyond one’s control. Who decides these things, then? Who arranges them? Since people have no choice in the matter, since they cannot decide these things for themselves, and since they obviously do not take shape naturally, it goes without saying that the formation of all this rests in the hands of the Creator. Just as the Creator arranges the particular circumstances of every person’s birth, He also arranges the specific circumstances under which one grows up, needless to say. If a person’s birth brings changes to the people, events, and things around him or her, then that person’s growth and development will necessarily affect them as well. For example, some people are born into poor families, but grow up surrounded by wealth; others are born into affluent families but cause their families’ fortunes to decline, such that they grow up in poor environments. No one’s birth is governed by a fixed rule, and no one grows up under an inevitable, fixed set of circumstances. These are not things that a person can imagine or control; they are the products of one’s fate, and are determined by one’s fate. Of course, the bottom line is that they are predestined for a person’s fate by the Creator, they are determined by the Creator’s sovereignty over, and His plans for, that person’s fate.
2. The various circumstances under which people grow up give rise to the different roles
The circumstances of a person’s birth establish on a basic level the environment and circumstances in which they grow up, and the circumstances in which a person grows up are likewise a product of the circumstances of his or her birth. During this time one begins to learn language, and one’s mind begins to encounter and assimilate many new things, in the process of which one is constantly growing. The things a person hears with one’s ears, sees with one’s eyes, and takes in with one’s mind gradually enrich and animate one’s inner world. The people, events, and things that one comes into contact with, the common sense, knowledge, and skills one learns, and the ways of thinking that one is influenced by, inculcated with, or taught, will all guide and influence a person’s fate in life. The language that one learns as one grows and one’s way of thinking are inseparable from the environment in which one spends one’s youth, and that environment consists of parents, siblings, and other people, events, and things around him or her. So the course of a person’s development is determined by the environment in which one grows up, and also depends on the people, events, and things that one comes into contact with during this period of time. Since the conditions under which a person grows up are predetermined long in advance, the environment in which one lives during this process is also, naturally, predetermined. It is not decided by a person’s choices and preferences, but is decided according to the Creator’s plans, determined by the Creator’s careful arrangements, by the Creator’s sovereignty over a person’s fate in life. So the people that any person encounters in the course of growing up, and the things one comes into contact with, are all inevitably connected with the orchestration and arrangement of the Creator. People cannot foresee these kinds of complex interrelationships, nor can they control them or fathom them. Many different things and many different people have a bearing on the environment in which a person grows up, and no human being is capable of arranging and orchestrating such a vast web of connections. No person or thing except for the Creator can control the appearance, presence, and disappearance of all the various people, events, and things, and it is just such a vast web of connections that shape a person’s development as predestined by the Creator, form the various environments in which people grow up, and create the various roles necessary for the Creator’s work of management, laying solid, strong foundations for people to successfully fulfill their missions.
Independence: The Third Juncture
After a person has passed through childhood and adolescence and gradually and inevitably reaches maturity, the next step is for them to completely bid farewell to their youth, say goodbye to their parents, and face the road ahead as an independent adult. At this point[c] they must confront all the people, events, and things that an adult must face, confront all the links in the chain of their fate. This is the third juncture that a person must pass through.
1. After becoming independent, a person begins to experience the sovereignty of the Creator
If a person’s birth and growing up are the “preparatory period” for one’s journey in life, laying the cornerstone of a person’s fate, then one’s independence is the opening soliloquy to one’s fate in life. If a person’s birth and growing up are wealth they have amassed for their fate in life, then a person’s independence is when they begin spending or adding to that wealth. When one leaves one’s parents and becomes independent, the social conditions one faces, and the kind of work and career available to one are both decreed by fate and have nothing to do with one’s parents. Some people choose a good major in college and end up finding a satisfactory job after graduation, making a triumphant first stride in the journey of their lives. Some people learn and master many different skills and yet never find a job that suits them or find their position, much less have a career; at the outset of their life journey they find themselves thwarted at every turn, beset by troubles, their prospects dismal and their lives uncertain. Some people apply themselves diligently to their studies, yet narrowly miss all their chances to receive a higher education, and seem fated never to achieve success, their very first aspiration in the journey of their lives dissolving into thin air. Not knowing[d] whether the road ahead is smooth or rocky, they feel for the first time how full of variables human destiny is, and so regard life with hope and dread. Some people, despite not being very well educated, write books and achieve a measure of fame; some, though almost totally illiterate, make money in business and are thereby able to support themselves…. What occupation one chooses, how one makes a living: do people have any control over whether they make a good choice or a bad choice? Do they accord with their desires and decisions? Most people wish they could work less and earn more, not to toil in the sun and rain, dress well, glow and shine everywhere, tower above others, and bring honor to their ancestors. People’s desires are so perfect, but when people take their first steps in the journey of their lives, they gradually come to realize how imperfect human destiny is, and for the first time they truly grasp the fact that, though one can make bold plans for one’s future, though one may harbor audacious fantasies, no one has the ability or the power to realize his or her own dreams, no one is in a position to control his or her own future. There will always be some distance between one’s dreams and the realities that one must confront; things are never as one would like them to be, and faced with such realities people can never achieve satisfaction or contentment. Some people will even go to any length imaginable, will put forth great efforts and make great sacrifices for the sake of their livelihoods and future, in attempt to change their own fate. But in the end, even if they can realize their dreams and desires by means of their own hard work, they can never change their fates, and no matter how doggedly they try they can never exceed what destiny has allotted them. Regardless of differences in ability, IQ, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which makes no distinction between the great and the small, the high and the low, the exalted and the mean. What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator.
2. Leaving one’s parents and beginning in earnest to play one’s role in the theater of life
When one reaches maturity, one is able to leave one’s parents and strike out on one’s own, and it is at this point that one truly begins to play one’s own role, that one’s mission in life ceases to be foggy and gradually becomes clear. Nominally one still stays closely tied to one’s parents, but because one’s mission and the role one plays in life have nothing to do with one’s mother and father, in actuality this intimate tie slowly breaks down as a person gradually becomes independent. From a biological perspective, people still cannot help being dependent upon parents in subconscious ways, but objectively speaking, once they are grown they have entirely separate lives from their parents, and will perform the roles they assume independently. Besides birth and childrearing, the parents’ responsibility in a child’s life is simply to provide him or her with a formal environment to grow up in, for nothing except the predestination of the Creator has a bearing on a person’s fate. No one can control what kind of future a person will have; it is predetermined long in advance, and not even one’s parents can change one’s fate. As far as fate is concerned, everyone is independent, and everyone has his or her own fate. So no one’s parents can stave off one’s fate in life or exert the slightest influence on the role one plays in life. It could be said that the family into which one is destined to be born, and the environment in which one grows up, are nothing more than the preconditions for fulfilling one’s mission in life. They do not in any way determine a person’s fate in life or the kind of destiny amidst which a person fulfills his or her mission. And so no one’s parents can assist one in accomplishing one’s mission in life, no one’s relatives can help one assume one’s role in life. How one accomplishes one’s mission and in what kind of living environment one performs one’s role are entirely determined by one’s fate in life. In other words, no other objective conditions can influence the mission of a person, which is predestined by the Creator. All people become mature in their own particular growing-up environments, then gradually, step by step, set off down their own roads in life, fulfill the destinies planned for them by the Creator, naturally, involuntarily entering the vast sea of humanity and assuming their own posts in life, where they begin to fulfill their responsibilities as created beings for the sake of the Creator’s predestination, for the sake of His sovereignty.
Marriage: The Fourth Juncture
As one grows older and matures, one grows more distant from one’s parents and the environment in which one was born and raised, and instead one begins to seek a direction for one’s life and pursue one’s own life goals in a way of life different from one’s parents. During this time one no longer needs one’s parents, but rather a partner with whom one can spend one’s life: a spouse, a person with whom one’s fate is intimately entwined. In this way, the first major event that one faces following independence is marriage, the fourth juncture one must pass through.
1. One has no choice about marriage
Marriage is a key event in any person’s life; it is the time when one starts truly to assume various kinds of responsibilities, begins gradually to fulfill various kinds of missions. People harbor many illusions about marriage before they experience it themselves, and all these illusions are beautiful. Women imagine that their other halves will be Prince Charming, and men imagine that they will marry Snow White. These fantasies go to show that every person has certain requirements for marriage, their own set of demands and standards. Though in this evil age people are constantly bombarded with distorted messages about marriage, which create even more additional requirements and give people all sorts of baggage and strange attitudes, any person who has experienced marriage knows that no matter how one understands it, no matter what one’s attitude toward it is, marriage is not a matter of individual choice.
One encounters many people in one’s life, but no one knows who will become one’s partner in marriage. Though everyone has their own ideas and personal stances on the subject of marriage, no one can foresee who will finally become their true other half, and one’s own notions count for little. After meeting a person you like, you can pursue that person; but whether he or she is interested in you, whether he or she is able to become your partner, is not yours to decide. The object of your affections is not necessarily the person with whom you will be able to share your life; and meanwhile someone you never expected quietly enters your life and becomes your partner, becomes the most important element in your fate, your other half, to whom your fate is inextricably bound. And so, though there are millions of marriages in the world, every one is different: How many marriages are unsatisfactory, how many are happy; how many span East and West, how many North and South; how many are perfect matches, how many are of equal rank; how many are happy and harmonious, how many painful and sorrowful; how many are the envy of others, how many are misunderstood and frowned upon; how many are full of joy, how many are awash of tears and cause despair…. In these myriad marriages, humans reveal loyalty and lifelong commitment toward marriage, or love, attachment, and inseparability, or resignation and incomprehension, or betrayal of it, even hatred. Whether marriage itself brings happiness or pain, everyone’s mission in marriage is predestined by the Creator and will not change; everyone must fulfill it. And the individual fate that lies behind every marriage is unchanging; it was determined long in advance by the Creator.
2. Marriage is born of the fates of two partners
Marriage is an important juncture in a person’s life. It is the product of a person’s fate, a crucial link in one’s fate; it is not founded on any person’s individual volition or preferences, and is not influenced by any external factors, but is completely determined by the fates of the two parties, by the Creator’s arrangements and predeterminations regarding the fates of the couple. On the surface of it, the purpose of marriage is to continue the human race, but in truth marriage is nothing but a ritual that one undergoes in the process of fulfilling one’s mission. The roles that people play in marriage are not merely those of rearing the next generation; they are the various roles that one assumes and the missions one must fulfill in the course of maintaining a marriage. Since one’s birth influences the change of the people, events, and things around one, one’s marriage will also inevitably affect them, and furthermore, will transform them in various different ways.
When one becomes independent, one begins one’s own journey in life, which leads one step by step toward the people, events, and things related to one’s marriage; and at the same time, the other person who will make up that marriage is approaching, step by step, toward those same people, events, and things. Under the Creator’s sovereignty, two unrelated people who share a related fate gradually enter into a marriage and become, miraculously, a family, “two locusts clinging to the same rope.” So when one enters into a marriage, one’s journey in life will influence and touch upon one’s other half, and likewise one’s partner’s journey in life will influence and touch upon one’s fate in life. In other words, human fates are interconnected, and no one can fulfill one’s mission in life or perform one’s role completely independently from others. One’s birth has a bearing on a huge chain of relationships; growing up also involves a complex chain of relationships; and similarly, a marriage inevitably exists and maintains in a vast and complex web of human connections, involving every member and influencing the fate of everyone who is a part of it. A marriage is not the product of both members’ families, the circumstances in which they grew up, their appearances, their ages, their qualities, their talents, or any other factors; rather, it arises from a shared mission and a related fate. This is the origin of marriage, a product of human fate orchestrated and arranged by the Creator.
a. The original text omits “the circumstances of.”
b. The original text reads “this.”
c. The original text omits “At this point.”
d. The original text omits “Not knowing.”