by Jim Yount
copyright 1997 & 2002
This work is still in process. You are invited to make future visits to this website for the continuation. Your comments are also invited to the address above.
* Not affiliated with RIA UNIVERSITY INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY
.: Origins of Kismet :.
~Who directs our destiny?
Are you the master of your own fate, or does some other person, force, or entity direct your destiny? Is "destiny" nothing more than sheer chance? These questions have plagued mankind since at least the beginning of recorded history. But have they really ever been answered satisfactorily?
~The Origins of Kismet
Well, maybe. Perhaps they were answered, to some extent, by students of KISMET, though the discipline may or may not have gone by that name. These questions could have been answered more than once at various historical and even prehistoric times.
~What is Kismet?
The word "kismet" is Turkish, and is taken from an earlier Arabic word. Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines kismet as: FATE, LOT. That doesn't tell us a whole LOT.
The author has spent some time studying the Byzantine and Ottoman empires to determine how these people regarded kismet. Was kismet overriding preordained destiny? Or was it a fluid force which directs our lives, but which may, itself, be directed by those with the will and the training to re channel its flow?
In the 13th century, with the conversion of the Mongolian conquerors to Islam, a people used to forcing their will upon others through conquest, accepted a religion whose adherents believed in the manifest destiny to conquer for Allah. Yet even though it was ordained that Islam would ultimately triumph, the success of any one person, or of an army, was not necessarily assured. Even though the fate of all of us was known to Allah, Kismet was unknown and unknowable by mankind. There was no examination of the entrails of birds, or other divining techniques used by the ancient Greeks, and others. Fate was unknown and unknowable. The unknowable nature of fate meant people could ACT AS IF they had free will.
We see this same spirit at a much later time in America as the U.S. expanded through the continent. There was a spirit of manifest destiny. God meant that America should extend from sea to shining sea. Yet mankind could still do good or evil, a free will not fettered by God. This belief in the preordained ultimate triumph coupled with a freedom of action to determine the manner in which that victory would take place, is a very vital motivating force.
In modern American civilization there is a belief that America is great and destined for greatness. Democracy, free enterprise, and personal freedom, are viewed as characteristics which guarantee success and over-all prosperity. Within this context exists free will for the individual.
This seemingly contradictory dualism of over-riding predestination coupled with individual free will appears to be a characteristic of civilizations which develop the "kismet attitude."
~The Ancients Took Hold Fate's Fickle Finger?
Of interest is the longevity of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans ruled much of the western and mid eastern civilized world from about 1300 until about 1900. Yet it is hard to see how. They were often surrounded by much stronger enemies. Their empire was made up of peoples who had long-standing animosities toward each other. During these 600 years the empire suffered many declines in fortune, but was always able to rally. Finally, when the Turks chose the wrong side in World War I, the curtain descended on an empire which seemed to live past its time. The empire was divided among the victors, and the people of the former empire went back to fighting with each other like cats and dogs.
The Byzantine Empire which preceded the Ottoman (with several hundred years overlap between Ottoman and Byzantine) had lasted over 900 years. Long after the Roman had been overrun by barbarians, the empire to the east lived on.
It is difficult to find a counterpart to the "luck" which held first the Byzantine, then the Ottoman Empire together, against all odds. Other empires lasted longer, but not through such a chaotic time, and most not into our modern age.
Was this Middle East success story an accident of history, or were there forces at work to assure continuity? Did the scholars of Constantinople/Istanbul somehow discover the secrets of Kismet and learn to intervene in the affairs of man to make governing such a diverse lot possible?
There is no direct evidence of such light-fingered control found by this writer. Perhaps even the suggestion of a group of people fine-tuning the present to control the future is just a variation of modern conspiracy theories set in ancient times. All we have are a series of coincidences, accidents of history, any one of which is not very remarkable, but taken together seem improbable.
Our present study need not concern itself with the question of whether our modern attempts are the first. Some of our techniques are so easy to learn and obvious that it seems likely they have been practiced before. By whom, and to what end, is pure speculation.
~Modern Thinkers on Time, Space, and Determinism
Of modern thinkers, those who have had a profound effect on the direction of philosophy and science, few stand out as does Max Planck. Some rank him second only to Einstein on the profound effect he has had on modern physics. Physicists and mathematicians routinely study Planck's laws which were later used by Einstein in developing his unification theory.
In 1958 Hugh Everett, drawing on the work of Planck, Einstein, Schrodinger, Maxwell, and others presented what has been called the "Many Worlds" view of quantum mechanics. Everett's contribution was introducing the idea that any determined event (such as your eating the orange, instead of the apple, my typing the word "apricot" rather than the word "_______") creates a distinct and separate universe. More on the many worlds theory and how it relates to Kismet later.
~Let's Take the Plunge
Let's plunge into the basic fabric of Kismet. We'll use the Many Worlds approach to explanation though as expounded here it is not pure Everett. Perhaps this is Everett with a Kismet slant. We hope it is at least the beginning of a tool for twisting the tail of the cow, that kicked the dog, that worried the rat. But least we be too ambitious with our first twist, we'll presently restrict our efforts to understand Mini-Kismet.
Once we have some grasp of Mini-Kismet we'll tackle Kismet itself. I'll warn you, however, that we may find only the gods themselves, or perhaps super-computers of the future, can truly understand Kismet. Most of our efforts will be to learn to control Mini-Kismet. This should be no great disappointment, however. I seriously doubt if the ancient Byzantines (or WHOMEVER proceeded the Ottomans) went further than the control of Mini-Kismet. If you learn to take Mini-Kismet completely in hand you will have at hand very powerful tools indeed.
Generally to post-Einstein quantum-theory thinkers, time is a place. At any particular point on that place one has the opportunity for intervention which will alter the place itself. At the "now" of the present moment we may cast a stone which will send out a ripple effect that will go on forever, or until it gets so small that it is lost in the background noise of the universe. (The study of how those rippled are formed and the affect of the ripple is Kismet. The practice of applying that study to more greatly effect directed change is also Kismet.)
To modern Quantum Theory speculators, any act, random or purposeful, creates an alternate universe. I may decide to shut off my word processor and go home now. If I do, I'll close up the office and go out of the building. Maybe I'll meet and greet people in the parking lot, get into the stream of traffic, perhaps make a late signal in changing lanes and thus worry Mrs. Magetacutty who is on her way to pick up her Grandchildren. Or I can continue to work, in which case these words get written now, in my present mind set and Mrs. Magetacutty arrives at her daughter's house in a lot better humor. She doesn't honk for the kids as she would have in the universe where my driving frustrates her but goes in and chats amiably with her daughter. Jeffrey and Petey, the grandchildren, will not be in a bad mood tomorrow in school, which would have upset both of their classes. The fellow students of Jeffrey and Petey won't be nearly as much of a problem to their parents in the universe where I stay working at my word-processor.
I can stop my work now and take an anti-acid pill to counteract the acidity created by the coffee I have been drinking or I can continue to work, not interrupting the thought pattern. I did interrupt the work just after typing the word "now." The present universe has now been altered forever. Or, according to Everett and company, a new universe has been created wherein I take a pill break. The words you are reading now, in the pill-break universe are different than those you would have read in the work-straight-through universe.
What about the ripple effect? Perhaps in the work-straight- through universe I would have told a story about my cat scratching me, then jumping out of the window. You the readers, would have thought about your own cats, some of you remembering to take Tabby out. While Jane was walking Tabby she would have missed the call from Carl who is a friend of Dan's who suggested Carl look up Jane since Jane is a real nice girl. Jan and Carl don't go out, they don't get married and little Fife who was to be the 57th President of the United States, is not born. Are you beginning to get the picture?
In the meantime Chang-Lu, in a village in Outer Mongolia is just getting married to Lang-Chi. I can shut down my computer and go home or not; write about cats or squirrel monkeys; chuck the whole thing and take up basket weaving; or run naked through the streets of Sunnyvale. No act I am apt to do will affect Chang-Lu as he takes Lang-Chi in his arms and welcomes her into his family. Unless, of course, I can place a telephone call to Chang-Lu or Lang-Chi, but that's another story. It may well be decades before the ripple effect of my taking that pill reaches the village of Chang-Lu. Jane will have talked with Michael on her cat-walk. Michael is late getting home and forgets to shave in the morning. While shaving at work he mentions the newspaper story he read about someone in China starting a small appliance assembly plant and using "casual workers." Brian, the office boy, who is a pretty casual worker himself, overhears this story and vows to go to China someday. He never does, but years later tells the story to his nephew Morace who takes a course in Chinese history instead of Western Civilizations as he had planned. Morace goes to China on sabbatical his Senior year. He doesn't make it to Mongolia but, as he steps off the boat, bumps into a rug merchant who trades in Mongolia. The rug merchant loses his train of thought, which was to be sure and buy Chang-Lu and Lang-Chi an anniversary gift. He goes back to Mongolia without the gift and that's how the ripple from my taking that pill finally reaches outer Mongolia. Of course the ripple still hasn't reached Madagascar. It won't until Chang-Lu's son, who has a pen-pal in Madagascar writes to tell of how disappointed his parents were when the rich rug merchant missed their anniversary celebration.
Our study of Kismet will start by our becoming aware of the opportunities to change our Kismet (our mini-fate) which are continually presented to us. These opportunities to act on our surroundings are considerable.
But what about the actions others take which effect our Kismet? The telephone rings and it's the chairperson of that committee you volunteered for. You have considerable second thoughts as the chairperson rattles on about how pleased she is you volunteered and how its really not as much work as one might think. Oh yeah. If she starts in that way it's sure to be at least twice as much work as you were prepared for. Your plans to spend time on a favorite hobby are suddenly changed. Even though the committee project won't start until tomorrow your priorities are abruptly shifted. You will also spend more time thinking about the project and the chair-person's call than you would have had the call not come in. And -- everything's changed. Your whole life has been re-ordered because of that phone call.
We've presented some examples of how lives are changed because of Kismet. (Kismet is a verb, a noun, the process, the affect!) The examples have been those of intervention of ideas or suggestions, even subliminal; in a book (walking the cat); of one human purposefully intervening in another's life (the committee chairperson); and of non-purposeful intervention of one human with another (the nephew bumps the rug salesman).
Although you may find this surprising, the most powerful of all Kismet interventions is SELF intervention. Each of us spends far more time with ourselves than with others. We have far more control over ourselves than we do over others (we can make ourselves do what we want better and more frequently than we can make others do what we want). We also have more control over ourselves than others do.
~Think You Control Your Own Kismet? Not Always!
There are many instances, however, where we THINK we are directing our own destiny but allow others to direct it for us and are not even aware that this is happening.
In front of you is your bookcase filled with books of many titles. Often when you leave or enter the room you glace at the book case and you read some of the titles. You don't make any conscious efforts to read them but you learned to read at a very early age and you can't really help yourself. Simply because of its placement in your bookcase and because of the bold printed title THE JOY OF SEX stands out. You ideally contemplate the title often, after you have glanced at it and since the subject itself is provocative, that title is more apt to attract your attention than any of the others. Recognize the Kismet of the placement of that book. See how it occupies your thoughts. Feel (be aware) how it makes you feel. You didn't place the book in its position on the shelf to affect your Kismet the way it does. Would you rather be reading the title AXE MURDERS OF THE EARLY 20th CENTURY every time you pass by your bookshelf? Or THE CARE AND FEEDING OF EARTHWORMS? Printed material is especially powerful in effecting our Kismet. Why do you think advertisers pay big-bucks to have their message and images appear on road signs? They want to affect your Kismet by their signs; and the strategy works. The way you arrange your furniture, the pictures on your walls, the books in your bookcase. All these affect your Kismet. Many of these things are of your own choosing. You can effect them by moving them, rearranging them, removing them, replacing them, putting them away, giving them away, throwing them away, selling them. They are yours, you should order them, not let them order you or your life.
Are you ready for your first self-application of Kismet? ARRANGE YOUR ROOM, HOME, WORK PLACE SO IT EFFECTS YOU THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO. Generally, orderly and simplistic surroundings will be less distracting and better enable you to direct your Kismet than if you are surrounded by disorder. Be especially mindful of printed material. It will lead you where it pleases, not where you may want to go.
[Continue On] ð