Fate? Destiny? Something Else?

I was studying poems written in the 1800’s. The poems are a rich source for me. I was pondering one of them, written from the perspective of a coolie.

A coolie is a manual laborer, akin to a slave.  It was this coolie’s job to pull the punkah.

I didn’t know what a punkah was so I looked it up and you see one there in the picture. It’s the fan that hangs from the ceiling. Someone has to pull on a rope to keep it in motion and that someone is a coolie. It’s a horrible, monotonous job and coolie in the poem laments his fate.

The coolie has to pull on this rope until he dies and he can’t figure out why.  His father was also a coolie. The man accepts his fate and thinks about the end of his life, when he will be released from this work.

How do you view this situation?  Can you add the astrology?

51 thoughts on “Fate? Destiny? Something Else?”

  1. Trying to make sense out of life circumstances. Metaphorically to me the wheel/fan represents resentment, confinement. The rope/string represents servitude, acceptance. His father is possibly, lost hope. Furthering his acceptance to pull the rope in servitude to his confinement which he will resent until his death.

  2. Yeah, one reason I’ve had my doubts about ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ is because of these true stories about slaves or coolies.

    Are these people paying for past wrongs? Or is this just something the universe delt to these people to deal with in this lifetime? Or finally, will these people have ‘better’ lives in the next?

    Sigh:. I just don’t know.

  3. Exactly! Sounds easy, stop pulling the rope. Maybe he cannot see beyond the wheel. It’s like being in prison your whole life then getting out, now what?

    1. Why does he not see an option? He laments his fate. He’s got to do pull the rope all day and sometimes at night as well. This is so he can eat (live) yet it’s such a misery, he imagines the release that death will bring. If he does not fear death, why not let go the rope and take his chances?

      1. Exactly. Or fight. Maybe his employer isn’t as omnipotent as he claims, aye? If all was lost, and I knew it with %100 certainty, I would go rogue. I would risk everything to escape that fate.

      2. You develop tunnel vision when doing those monotonous jobs. Maybe your nervous system couldn’t take the heat of a shift. Your being become one with motion sameness.

  4. @JB.

    Depends on his situation. What if he lives in an isolated place? You know? Like in a land surrounded by only desert? BUT if he lived in a place where there’s cities and towns nearby? Maybe he could change his fate?

  5. the coolie only *assumes* this is his fate. in every moment, we choose how we see the past (memory) and the future (hope or despair). both give us context but neither is set in stone.

    my virgo takes nothing for granted and tries to see complexities and layers.

  6. He is trapped in what he thinks he is. Fear probably keeps him from taking the risk of escaping. The evil you know is better than the evil you don’t know. It is easy for us to see other alternatives but he was probably raised to believe that this was his fate. It’s hard to break your original programming.

  7. The plot thickens.
    He is pulling to keep a baby cool and the baby is sick. If he does not pull, another coolie may fall asleep on the job and the baby will die. The man is responsible.

    1. In that case he is pulling the rope out of compassion. It’s different when it’s voluntary. Pulling a rope to cool off a bunch of healthy snobs is demeaning. Pulling a rope to help out a cool baby is charity.

    2. His perception of solemn responsibility, though perhaps a bit hyperbolic, allows him to feel a sense of dignity and importance.

  8. could you post the poem please? there is a part of me that relates to this in that we are all slaves to our ego, and often choose to make our lives miserable. we could make our lives better if we would only do something different. the ego does not like change. it fears change. perhaps its the same for the coolie. it just sounds so melancholy….something can totally relate to having spent the past 3 years being homeless and working for minimum wage. would love to read this if iii could find it. thanks.

  9. @curiositina I’m sorry, I can’t post the poem. I really am sorry but there is google and this is too personal to me. This is just a card I’ve got to hold close to my chest.

    If this offends people, I really do apologize. I can quit posting about these poems if people feel it is in bad taste but I don’t want to link the book. It’s something I am going to have to study for the rest of my life, most likely and I just need to hold on to some privacy here and there, and protect the privacy of others.

    The coolie valued his father and also values the baby. He is melancholy. Why is it like this? At least death comes eventually.

    He carried his dying father to the the place where he died. It was a good death.

    I am also interested in comparing the coolie’s mindset with the mindset of people working at these type jobs in the modern day.

    Why does on person inherit $40 and another $400 million? I am wondering these things right now. I think they’re interesting so decided to broach this.

  10. I view this situation from many angles. First, the “coolie” … a word which was concocted by those who created the job. I too have been watching countless films set in the 1700 and 1800 when the classes of people were sharp and clear. In contrast to the times I have lived (1940’s forward) where class distinctions are masked yet no less solid. What I am learning is how hypnotic the role or land owner or gentry is: as if god-given with inalienable rights and acquisition. Doling out work and shelter part of their domain.

    The “collie/slave” I believe, as I have felt the hypnosis of the ‘betters’ entitlement, slides into place like a puzzle in a jigsaw of inheritance. Pulling the rope and being pulled by the rope of caring (for the baby) the pieces: the collie’s place, his loyalty to his past (his father) and the mentality of acceptance is reflected in a poem … and THAT is the bell ringing at the other end of that rope.

    Who writes the poem? The collie? The collie’s soul who dares to give voice to the angst. Slave songs and gospels dared to give voice to the angst. Destiny? Fate? I think destiny if looked at as one human lifetime is too short a time. I have a history that includes the ‘collie’and the lessons that come from knowing that are multiple. Do I continue to sit and pull the rope?

    Your blog raises a legion of thought and possibility.

  11. @elsa
    ii used to wonder those same things that you do. when ii lived in a van for a week with my two year old and husband and am still in a shelter this winter.
    realized that god helps whom he helps and kills whoever he wants to kill. its so arbitrary.
    my little bro got a car for his 16th bday for free and he didn’t have a drivers license or permit. me? had to work and hand over all of my savings for one. walked in 30 below weather and didn’t get my car until 18. what is the diff between him and me? birth order. its so arbitrary. used to piss me off, but wealth is a relative thing. that 40 bucks which seems so small may to u or me is like gold to someone else.
    learning to be satisfied regardless of deprivation or an excess of fortune is the only way out of our misery. The 400 dollar inheritor can be miserable too..he has more to lose than the slave and more to fear.

  12. don’t know if im making sense. still reeling from the cardinal cross on my capricorn moon in 2010. literally feel crucified. spent so much energy and emotion wanting what everyone else has. envying their cars and high paying jobs, stable homes. id be happy if ii can watch my kids grow up. wealth is so relative. last night ii had a dream that told me ii was rich because ii was loved and am in love. ii woke up and hugged my husband. ii live in a shelter, yes. my future is uncertain….but ii am rich.

  13. I agree with curiositina.
    Was also going to add education. Sometimes people don’t know about options or applying ones mind.

  14. coolie is a word to me personally meaning asian slave who has sold his labour to his masters for a contracted duration, to feed himself and his family, to focus on the daily tasks without reaching beyond his station. I relate to this with pluto in virgo or 6th house, and a very strong saturn.

    Do I relate to this as a corporate monkey does? Nope, not the same thing at all because I chose. I see this in modern domestic workers, miners, people who travel for work away from their families and home, people who are in poor conditions of slavery.

    If you view this with a sense of place, a philosophical resignation, you just do it. It’s freeing if you have accepted you are here to just do.

    Why doesn’t he just leave? Because this is his job, or duty or place in life, until things change. It is not time yet.

    Certainly for most things have changed, and there is more room for change, but for many, it still hasn’t.

  15. This is the same difference.

    I was watching the last program on Auschwitz. The program concentrated on those that survived and one of the guards.

    Those jews who survived decided to go back home and reclaim their homes and lives. This was not to be as when they got back they found their homes and property belonged to someone else, who was not about to let it go. The survivors were told to go back to where they came from.

    On the other hand a certain walter kroenig that was in the financial centre of the camp, who counted the money before packing it off to berlin, was captured and sent to england. Here he joined a german male voice choir that toured britain. He and his fellow germans were often allowed to stay in peoples home over night. He had a great time and this is one of his fondest memories. When he returned to germany he easily got a job in a glass factory. He had a family and eventually became a district judge. He was not prosecuted.

    It left me thinking about karma. Why did the survivors continue to have such a hard time, while the germans did ok?

    I think their is such a thing as fate/karma. No matter what our personal qualities we will suffer or otherwise no matter what we do to try to wriggle out. The more intelligent we are the harder the trap/maze.

    People talk about free will and we have a choice. Buts its free will and a choice taken while in a trap/maze.

    Its my contention – and this is metaphysics – that we all live in a different country. Its own weather conditions and environment. Why is it a person standing right next to you can do this this and that while you cannot. And you can do what they cannot. And what you find difficult another finds easy and vice-versa.

  16. anonymoushermit

    Beats me. I don’t know why some people have such difficult, sometimes even humiliating lives. I once worked at a call center, and a woman in her 60’s called in. She told me she was molested from age 6 to 32. Then again in her 60’s, she had trouble with her health, her insurance, and the doctors won’t do anything about it, or something along those lines.

    1. On second thought, if humans were one dimensional, they would not have awareness of their situation, would they?

  17. I have a yod whose boomerang point is Chiron in the 6th house of work in Pisces. I totally feel like the coolie — I lose jobs, or don’t get them (contractor), though am hard-working and have great references.

    It’s always a rat race to find another, and it feels like I’ve been pulling on that punkah forever and a day. Also have a second yod of lack of money(Neptune, ruler of work yod, in 2nd at the apex, I never have any), and a third applying…

    So talk about feeling like I have to endure whatever fate comes to work, earn… It’s endless. I really appreciate this picture and description.

  18. Elsa,

    I’m totally cool with you not posting the poems, studying them, and posting here. This is fascinating.

    I’ve been thinking about it all night. I don’t know the astrology but I feel like this is where spirituality comes in to allow for some transcendence. At least that is how it has looked in my life. No where left to go/run/hide. Responsible. And so things turn inward. (Ah, throw in a pluto transit to my natal sun and moon) but, yeah. Some kind of inner peace must be cultivated I imagine for one to withstand this.

    Some inner place of reprieve.

    Also, you mentioned the word lament. We don’t really have this in a traditional sense in our culture. It is more “repress” or suppress… I think if there was another Coolie in the room perhaps one’s lamenting to the other and having another bear witness could also create some relief.

  19. someone mentioned transcendence…we are all slaves, it isn’t even good to be king. but you can transcend mentally.

  20. “People talk about free will and we have a choice. But its free will and a choice taken while in a trap/maze.”

    “we all live in a different country. Its own weather conditions and environment. Why is it a person standing right next to you can do this this and that while you cannot. And you can do what they cannot. And what you find difficult another finds easy and vice-versa.”

    This. I wholeheartedly agree.
    The thing is, what divides people is not laziness, weakness cause they don’t just get up and do, it’s the fact that they CAN’T. They truly can’t, and what can you do when you can’t? Well, nothing, cause you CAN’T.
    Weakness is just that, not being able to. And the worst is, nobody can be blamed. It is given.
    Weakness is not having the energy. To do that which has to be done (escape and survive), to face and bear the consequences (be found and tortured, killed).
    To make a plan, to think, and do. To think how to save a baby, to save himself, to change something, and to execute the plan.
    Now, being strong doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to escape and survive and whatnot. Being strong can simply mean he will do the cooler ’til he dies, but he will do that willingly. Cause he decided. Beacuse of this or that, but he decided, and that is also a change.

    So the Universe made the Weak – the ones who accept their “fate” and struggle until they die, and the Strong – the ones that change it.

  21. aQiQ, interesting good point. Death is inevitable so he lives in misery until old age.Or he chooses the risk of losing his life and possibly his familys income for their survival as well.Has he accepted this as his station in life because this is what his father did?
    I understand this as I was enslaved in a marriage for 19 years.I had to get to the point, do I risk my life or live in the misery.
    Death is easier to accept when looking at it at a distance,It takes courage to face it head on ,This could have been what he would have to deal with if he chose to leave.

  22. Great conversation. I think about this stuff all the time.
    Scorpio rising. Neptune transiting my Moon right now. Saturn too (of course). Natal Saturn in Scorpio/1st square Pluto(ouch).

    I’ve had illness and pain (lots of it) and also many blessings…(strong Jupiter)

    I think its probably karma but do we really understand that? Cause and effect… carried on through lifetimes?(maybe in his last life he was the master beating other slaves) I do believe in reincarnation.

    I also feel…we cannot be, are not ‘slaves’ to karma. Choice exists. (but where? how?… if you are born into something like this) SO what is true freedom?

    Inner peace is the only solution… no matter our circumstances we still have that option. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean blindly accepting fate.


    I like the Serenity Prayer:

    “God, (Goddess, All that is) please grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change

    … The COURAGE to change the things I can,

    And the WISDOM to know the difference.

  23. To get out of a coolie situation one would have to accept and expect death. To even get there implies some couldn’t care less about you people in your life.
    It’s interesting though that they have a good death passing.

  24. It is sad that many people live in crap situations they don’t expect to get better. Even in modern day India . On the other hand someone said people from India live with more emotion on a day to day basis than we do. I’m not sure myself. Fate or whatever. Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison books describe these horrific situations often with a fair amount of surrealism. I think dissociation happens when it’s really bad

  25. You really know how to trigger my curiosity! Spent hours trying to find the poem and delving into the caste system — it’s ancient pre-colonial origins, indications in Vedic astrology, etc.
    Not to doubt the boy’s misery, but eventually the weather would cool and the baby would grow up, so some change of work for him was likely, even if not a change of caste.
    I recently heard a medical doctor in Australia mention in a Spaces discussion that he escaped and overcame the traditional limitations of his low caste birth by leaving India. This would probably have been impossible in the 1800s for many reasons.

      1. There’s always been a class system here, not as rigid as Europe and not even close to India. Here upward mobility has been possible via education, financial success, marriage, even talent as with sports stars and celebrities. New money can become almost Old money in a few generations. That doctor could have become a doctor in modern India, but as an “untouchable” his patients would be limited to others of his caste and foreigners even now.

      2. There has and is a caste system in US and I think most people know it on a personal level, but it does root into the system (culture) so densely you have to want to know the truth and the reasons your ancestors did what they did.
        My great grandfather immigrated from China in the 1880’s and I still don’t know the whole story before or after that
        But I do know it’s a long and entangled story, understood through lifetime work.
        Destiny? Is that what a Mars-Saturn and Pluto occupation in the 8th House squaring aScorpio Sun is destined for?
        I believe that’s part of the story

  26. What an interesting subject.
    It all seems so Neptune/12th hs/Piscean to me.
    Almost like Sisyphus as well.
    Lastly it reminds me of the trans Atlantic slave trade.
    For some reason I saw no mention of that directly.
    I also haven’t seen any mention of the psychological (12th house) conditioning of those relegated to such.
    Sometimes one can be led to believe there’s safety or security under these conditions.
    Isn’t there’s a name…Munchenhausen Syndrome? Is that it?
    Just wondering if that’s in this mix as well.
    Lastly when we compare our inside feelings against what we see in another we’ll always come up short.
    Frinstance karma isn’t always a negative comeuppance. Yo last life coilda been total shit and this time you’re here to learn joy and how to share with those from whence you come.
    Just a thought.

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