We could say that the opposite of ‘luck’ is ‘fate’. In the face of fear and uncertainty these two concepts tend to creep into our emotional and intellectual responses to complex situations. When we invoke ‘luck’, we basically say we give up. When we invoke ‘fate’, our immediate psychological and behavioral response is essentially the same, although subsequent characteristics may seem to be of a different nature. Either way, we are turning a blind eye to that which we believe we cannot know or control, and possibly divesting ourselves of personal or societal responsibility and integrity. On the other hand perhaps we are intuitively relieving ourselves of the pressure which could come from an aggressive or overly result-oriented approach to understanding and organizing our world (and behaving accordingly). The Christian concept of ‘grace’, which is often associated with claims concerning predestination, certainly corresponds to a psychological experience of relaxation and acceptance which ironically might serve to increase a person’s ability to actually effect transformation, if that person has the training and skills required in order to properly utilize relaxation as an ingredient in personal empowerment.

The middle way between ‘luck’ and ‘fate’, ‘fortune’ implies that the full reality of any situation is far more complex than either ‘luck’ or ‘fate’ would suggest. In fact the reality of the situation is that there are innumerable factors which come together to create any given situation. When we see a person in a good situation, or a bad situation, it is an error to call that situation either ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. Though an unfortunate situation is not strictly someone’s own fault, neither is it a purely random situation. There are causes and conditions which precede and fuel any situation, which are of a personal as well as a cultural nature. As there are a plethora of factors which create and reinforce any seemingly fixed or random situation we find ourselves in (recurring or otherwise), we can therefore assume a rich variety of means and methods available to us for actively emphasizing or changing the direction of our lives. From the point of view of a deluded yet sincere person or society, who is willing to put effort into the situation, transformation is neither instant nor impossible.

I thought the OP was going to be about Karma…

You seem to be talking about various perspectives on supposed “changes” in life/reality. Luck, fate, self-determination, or random outcome, each word is connected to a different way of perception/perspective to the same sort of energetic motion. If one looks only at the person doing, acting or moving, they may not look at all of the forces behind that person which support the manifestations which then merely pass through him. But, if someone were to shift their perspective over to everything -before- that person’s actions, they would find only energy from the sun, substances from the earth, choices of society and his parents, and in general, everything other than himself “controlling” himself.

I named the thread “Karma” after the fact. The OP was related to karma, but didn’t provide a direct definition. Here is a definition from the Nalanda Translation Committee:

[i]“karma (S: karman; T: las; action) According to the doctrine of cause and effect, action and result, one’s present experience is a product of previous actions and volitions, and future conditions depend on what we think, say, and do in the present. Actions may be classified in three ways: (1) wholesome - tending toward higher realms of samsara or, in the presence of an enlightened attitude, toward liberation; (2) unwholesome - tending to perpetuate confusion and pain; and (3) neutral.”

“Karma originates from the false belief in an ego, which prompts a chain reaction of seeking to protect territory and maintain security. Virtuous action can lead to better states, but the chain reaction process itself can only be cut and transcended by insight and discipline. Karma is precise down to the minute details of body, mind, and environment. There is a “group karma” of families and nations, as well as individual karma.”[/i]

You are right that I was briefly exploring differing perspectives on changes and situations in life. Specifically I was addressing the sense of bewilderment that many people experience when they try to make sense of the range of conditions people can be found in. If someone is in a terrible situation (i.e. oppressed during wartime, famine, etc.) for instance, is it ‘bad luck’? Do they ‘deserve it’? I think that many people tend to think of complex situations as either luck or fate, even if they don’t profess those beliefs. Also, many people mistake the laws of karma for a type of fatalism where people can be rightly blamed for being in the situation they are in. I don’t think there is any valid reason to blame innocent people for being in a bad situation. On the other hand, the situation can’t be said to be 100% fated. There are complex conditions which underly and create any immediate circumstances - and an understanding of that can help a person to deal with their circumstances more effectively.

Thanks for your thoughts. I largely agree with your take on this, although to me you seem to have subtracted any freedom or ability to effect change from the equation. Whether or not there is ultimately any such reality as ‘change’ seems to some degree a moot point in light of people’s experience of suffering and their desire to not suffer.