The Way of no resistance
Great 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined a term that has begun floating around the internet more and more in recent years – “Amor Fati”, the love of fate. He didn’t actually invent the concept; it has been around since the times of greek philosophers. What it basically means is that whatever Life (“Fate”) throws at you, to not only be accepting of it but to actually embrace it. Now I understand that’s a pretty radical idea for most of us. How can we actually love things that happen to us if we don’t like them to happen in the first place? When events, people, situations leave us feeling challenged, hurt, sad, angry or disempowered, how can we possibly love this?
We can because the only available alternative is to suffer needlessly. And it’s entirely your call.
Amor Fati vs. Acceptance vs. Passivity
On a very first glance, Amor Fati seems to be just a posh name for passive acceptance, a.k.a. becoming a doormat. But nothing could be further from the truth. Look at it this way: Things, events, just happen in Life. For everyone. Life is not a static experience. As events unfold, we are always being presented with choices. And usually the first choice we make is to decide whether something is good or bad. If the verdict is “bad”, this oftentimes sets in motion the full range of behaviors humans employ to exercise control. Resentment, Rejection, feeling offended, feeling overlooked, we all know what it entails, right? How big are the chances, you think, that you will make intelligent choices in these emotional states?
The antidote is not just acceptance. Acceptance always carries the possibility of resistance, reluctance within it. As long as these possibilities are present, every action we take regarding the situation will be clouded by them. It’s a more intelligent choice than just being plain reactive, for sure. But we can do much better than that.
Choose what’s chosen you
Ok, this is the part where people typically go “Wooooo, wait a minute here…I did not choose to get fired. I did not choose to get cancer. I did not choose for my lover to leave me. I did not choose (fill in whatever you feel right now here).” And yes, of course you didn’t choose any of these things consciously. But what Amor Fati suggests is that you respond to them as if you had consciously chosen them. Consider this: The thing, the event, that upsets you, has arrived already. It exists in your Life at this very moment. No emotional reaction from you will make it magically disappear. All that reaction will do is, in a worst-case scenario, paralyze you into inability to actually do something about it, as much as it’s in your power. So how about you instead embrace what’s happening? Welcome it into your Life, as a part of it, serving some purpose – and then decide if and what action to take about it.
The same applies for being reactive in hindsight – fretting over things of the past, events that have long since come and gone. If you still have lingering emotions of regret, resentment, hurt or vividly played out what-if scenarios in your Mind, constantly beating yourself up over something you did or didn’t do, it keeps you in an emotional time-loop that can be very hard to escape. What’s more, it paralyzes you into inaction regarding anything happening in your Life now.
Does Amor Fati have limits? Are there situations where sheer willpower is required to see something through? Yes, there might be. But Amor Fati will in any case equip you to handle anything better with more equanimity, intelligence, resourcefulness and a clear Mind.
Life can be lived intelligently and consciously, or reactively and with unawareness. This is a process, not an event, and it does require becoming friendly with a few uncomfortable-sounding concepts. Amor Fati might be one of them as it sounds so radical, but I invite you to think this through. Chances are you will find it makes a lot more sense than it did when you first read the term earlier above.
If you want to learn more about the concept of Amor Fati and Life Mastery, reach out to me anytime. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.