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Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved. ~ William Jennings Bryan

Destiny refers to circumstances that are conceived of as inherent in the patterns of Reality, or a course of events which are often considered to be pre-determined or unalterable within passages of Time or Eternity. Some ideas about destiny include complex concepts of widely diverging alternative patterns of fate which are ultimately dependent upon very minor events, activities or decisions of those involved with them.

See also:


Alphabetized by author or source
  • My death and life,
    My bane and antidote, are both before me.
  • Che l'uomo il suo destin fugge di raro.
    • For rarely man escapes his destiny.
    • Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (1516), XVIII. 58.
  • Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
    Watch your words, for they become actions.
    Watch your actions, for they become habits.
    Watch your habits, for they become character.
    Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
    • "Frank Outlaw" in Farmer's Digest‎, Vol. 42 (1978), p. 20; also in A Treasury of Days : 365 Thoughts on the Art of Living (1983) by Dee Danner Barwick, p. 23.
  • Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.
  • There are certain events which to each man's life are as comets to the earth, seemingly strange and erratic portents; distinct from the ordinary lights which guide our course and mark our seasons, yet true to their own laws, potent in their own influences.
  • For I am a weed,
    Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam, to sail,
    Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail.
  • We create our own destiny by the way we do things. We have to take advantage of opportunities and be responsible for our choices.
    • Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. (p. 63)
  • The trick in chasing destiny is to feel it as a rider, a rider on a spinning ball waiting for a rare chance in time. Those few moments of balance between darkness and light where the infinite is in motion and the motion is felt as a dance, as a solution that dissolves the question.
  • [Ivan:] "Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."
    "No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly.
  • Nature—pitiless in a pitiless universe—is certainly not concerned with the survival of Americans or, for that matter, of any of the two billion people now inhabiting this earth. Hence, our destiny, with the aid of God, remains in our own hands.
    • James William Fulbright, remarks in the Senate, reported in Congressional Record (February 2, 1954), vol. 100, p. 1106.
  • Our destiny is frequently met in the very paths we take to avoid it.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, in Fables Book VIII (1678–1679), Fable 16, The Horoscope
    • Variant translation: A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.
  • Sometimes a man can still meet his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.
  • Naomi: Each person is born with their fate written into their own genetic code... it's unchangeable, immutable... But that's not all there is to life. I finally realized that. I told you before. The reason that I was interested in genes and DNA. Because I wanted to know who I was... where I came from. I thought that if I analyzed my DNA I could find out who I was, who my parents were. And I thought that if I knew that, then I'd know what path I should take in life. But I was wrong. I didn't find anything. I didn't learn anything. Just like with the Genome Soldiers... you can input all the genetic information, but that doesn't make them into the strongest soldiers. The most we can say about DNA is that it governs a person's potential strengths... potential destiny. You mustn't allow yourself to be chained to fate... to be ruled by your genes. Humans can choose the type of life they want to live.
    • Metal Gear Solid written by Hideo Kojima, Tomokazu Fukushima
  • Weddyng is desteny,
    And hangyng likewise.
    • Wedding is destiny,
      And hanging likewise.
    • John Heywood Proverbs (1546) Part I, chapter 3.
  • Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels. Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays. By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold. They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner and acetate silk spinners and steel workers. Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. "We condition them to thrive on heat," concluded Mr. Foster. "Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it."
"And that," put in the Director sententiously, "that is the secret of happiness and virtue–liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny."
  • We are what we must
    And not what we would be. I know that one hour
    Assures not another. The will and the power
    Are diverse.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Lucile (1860), Part I, Canto III, Stanza 19.
  • When we heard what they [Simmias and Cebes] said we were all depressed, as we told each other afterwards. We had been quite convinced by the previous argument [Socrates' argument], and they seemed to confuse us again, and to drive us to doubt not only what had already been said but also what was going to be said, lest we be worthless as critics or the subject itself [the fate of the soul] admitted of no certainty.
    • Plato, Phaedo, 88c
  • I think the destiny of all men is not to sit in the rubble of their own making but to reach out for an ultimate perfection which is to be had. At the moment, it is a dream. But as of the moment we clasp hands with our neighbor, we build the first span to bridge the gap between the young and the old. At this hour, it’s a wish. But we have it within our power to make it a reality. If you want to prove that God is not dead, first prove that man is alive.
  • A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
  • Imperious Cæsar, dead and turn'd to clay,
    Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
    O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
    Should patch a wall to expel the winter's flaw!
  • Let Hercules himself do what he may,
    The cat will mew and dog will have his day.
  • We shall be winnow'd with so rough a wind
    That even our corn shall seem as light as chaff,
    And good from bad find no partition.
  • Think you I bear the shears of destiny?
    Have I commandment on the pulse of life?
  • Things at the worst will cease or else climb upward
    To what they were before.
  • They that stand high have many blasts to shake them;
    And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
  • But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
    Direct my sail!
  • And all the bustle of departure—sometimes sad, sometimes intoxicating—just as fear or hope may be inspired by the new chances of coming destiny.
  • Quisque suos patimur manes.
    • We bear each one our own destiny.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), VI. 743.
  • Karma is often wrongly confused with the notion of a fixed destiny. It is more like an accumulation of tendencies that can lock us into particular behavior patterns, which themselves result in further accumulations of tendencies of a similar nature... But it is not necessary to be a prisoner of old karma.
  • Understanding the law of karma is known as the light of the world because through this understanding we can take responsibility for our destinies and be truly more guided to greater fulfillment in our lives.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 190-92.
  • Life treads on life, and heart on heart;
    We press too close in church and mart
    To keep a dream or grave apart.
  • Art and power will go on as they have done,—will make day out of night, time out of space, and space out of time.
  • Character is fate. (Destiny).
    • Heraclitus. In Mullach's Fragmenta Philosophorum Græcorum.
  • No living man can send me to the shades
    Before my time; no man of woman born,
    Coward or brave, can shun his destiny.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book VI, line 623. Bryant's translation.
  • All, soon or late, are doom'd that path to tread.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XII, line 31. Pope's translation.
  • The future works out great men's destinies:
    The present is enough for common souls,
    Who, never looking forward, are indeed
    Mere clay wherein the footprints of their age
    Are petrified forever.
  • We are but as the instrument of Heaven.
    Our work is not design, but destiny.
  • Unseen hands delay
    The coming of what oft seems close in ken,
    And, contrary, the moment, when we say
    "'Twill never come!" comes on us even then.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Thomas Muntzer to Martin Luther, line 382.
  • They only fall, that strive to move,
    Or lose, that care to keep.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Wanderer, Book III. Futility, Stanza 6.
  • The irrevocable Hand
    That opes the year's fair gate, doth ope and shut
    The portals of our earthly destinies;
    We walk through blindfold, and the noiseless doors
    Close after us, forever.
  • Every man meets his Waterloo at last.
  • Ich fühl 's das ich der Mann des Schicksals bin.
  • Truly some men there be
    That live always in great horrour,
    And say it goeth by destiny
    To hang or wed: both hath one hour;
    And whether it be, I am well sure,
    Hanging is better of the twain;
    Sooner done, and shorter pain.
    • The School-house (pub. about 1542).
  • The seed ye sow, another reaps;
    The wealth ye find, another keeps;
    The robes ye weave, another wears;
    The arms ye forge, another bears.
  • Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident,
    It is the very place God meant for thee;
    And should'st thou there small room for action see,
    Do not for this give room for discontent.
  • Tes destins sont d'un homme, et tes vœux sont d'un dieu.
    • Your destiny is that of a man, and your vows those of a god.
    • Voltaire, La Liberté.
  • Pluck one thread, and the web ye mar;
    Break but one
    Of a thousand keys, and the paining jar
    Through all will run.
  • To be a Prodigal's favourite,—then worse truth,
    A Miser's Pensioner,—behold our lot!

Cesare Pavese[edit]

  • Don't you know that what happens to you once always happens again? You always react in the same way to the same thing. It's no accident when you make a mess. Then you do it again. It's called destiny.
  • When one has made a mistake, one says. "Another time I shall know what to do," when one should say is: "I already know what I shall really do another time."
  • Life is not a search for experience, but for ourselves. Having discovered our own fundamental level we realize that it conforms to our own destiny and we find peace.
  • A decision, an action, are infallible omens of what we shall do another time, not for any vague, mystic, astrological reason but because they result from an automatic reaction that will repeat itself.
  • The problem is not the harshness of Fate, for anything we want strongly enough we get. The trouble is rather that when we have it we grow sick of it, and then we should never blame Fate, only our own desire.

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