TED Conversations

Lawrence Tang

Student ,

This conversation is closed.

Do you think we meet the people in our lives for a specific reason or is it all random?

I think the question is self-explanatory. People includes friends, mentors, and even enemies. There's nearly 7 billion people in the world. Are we destined to meet a certain few or is it all by chance?

Share:
  • May 23 2013: It is all but impossible for humans to perceive randomness. One of the most important functions of the human brain is to detect patterns, especially cause and effect patterns.

    Furthermore, it is almost impossible for us to see any event as without purpose. We are constantly operating with purpose. The concept of purpose is part of us and is constantly reinforced by our culture.

    It seems very likely that a big majority of humans will perceive life as nonrandom and purposeful, whether it is true or not.
  • thumb
    May 29 2013: Please let me restate here my gratitude for the very real and very powerful statements made here
    I am grateful for the integrity and the honesty of what was shared here.

    I participated in conversation late because I found it late. And there was simply nothing left to add to the beautiful, intense, and eloquent statements made here by everyone.
  • May 26 2013: In terms of specific people, I think it is totally random. Yet, over time, the changes in our thinking enable us to see these people in different ways and perhaps we will notice someone today who yesterday would not have had much significance for us. In this sense perhaps we meet who we need to meet.

    As for destiny, I don't think so. This would imply that there are moral forces inherent in nature and I cannot see that this the case.
  • thumb
    May 26 2013: I think, what happens to us, happens both by chance and by choice. What happens to us "by chance" determines our choices and what kind of chances we expose ourselves to later.

    E.g. a boy may "happen" to go to a certain high school because he happens to live nearby. There he may "happen" to meet a friend who loves skateboarding. The boy also starts skateboarding, falls and breaks his leg. Was it by chance? All of these events seem to have happened by chance, but all of them are connected.

    Meaning is connection.
  • thumb
    May 26 2013: A wonderful question! I think it's more important to think it over, than to find an answer! We live in a wonderful world, where we know a lot, but still are covered with a blanket of profound questions, that don't let us to sleep at night. And the biggest problem - people! We look at each other and wonder "is that you I've been waiting all my life? can I stop searching and be happy with you forever?". The other person thinks the same because nobody is sure. We change places and people and it shows that we are alive. We stay in some places and ask some people not to leave - it means that we make a choice. Still, even if there is a great power that helps us to meet certain people, we HAVE A CHOICE! And that is the most remarkable thing, I think, about it!
  • May 25 2013: I do not believe that life is accidental. The universe is an unfolding whole so that everything which appears separate is in fact closely related, even when we cannot see this link. In that case things happen through the introduction of opportunities to change your life at any time. While these opportunities only exist for a short time, you can, if you are aware of them, take them or leave them. While these exact opportunities do not return new ones replace them. What we say when we see such a link, e.g. a person we meet that influences our lives, is that there is reason for meeting them. This word reason has a usage which usually links separate events, when such events occur as part of a whole then reason may be the wrong word to use.
  • thumb
    May 24 2013: Some events are more random than others. Meeting my family is pretty dang likely, but meeting a cashier that likes to talk at some McDonald's is much more random. I know it wasn't completely random, but I'd say since more variables are involved and it's less likely, it'd be more random. I don't believe there is any mechanism or force controlling what and how we do, besides ourselves and our choice. Humans love attaching reason and purpose to events because if there was no purpose to what they're doing life would get fairly dull and depressing. Like someone already said, human attach patterns to things whenever they can, even when the pattern isn't present.
  • thumb
    May 24 2013: ..
    .
    Yes!
    By “chance” and “specific reason”.

    The latter is to keep our DNA alive,
    controlled by our soul (instincts and pre-instincts) and reasoning.
  • thumb
    May 23 2013: Nothing is by chance.

    It is all part of a big plan of The Creator.
    Although choices are ours.
  • thumb
    May 23 2013: Nothing that happens is random. Nothing can be random. Everything is the result of variables in time being executed according to choices you make and the results of those choices. Each choice is framed within a certain set of laws.
  • thumb
    May 23 2013: Predetermination is what many "decide" and "believe" as an alternative to "randomness" and "coincidence".

    This is a logical place to arrive for those who see clearly that the idea of randomness simply does not fit, is not mathematically viable or simply doesn't ring true to them.

    Our programmed paradigms prevent us from reaching the reality of the answer. If we are still processing via beliefs and paradigms and dichotomous perspectives we cannot find truth and instead reach for and assume the better and most logical of two options.

    Solution? "We can give everything reason without giving it A Reason."(quote from forthcoming book)

    We can lighten our load and ease or minds by acknowledging that there is certainly a reason and purpose to everything we come in contact with and everything we contact.... meeting people, reading info, taking the bus when our car breaks down... everything. This does NOT need to imply that all is predetermined.

    If we allow ourselves to understand that there is a reason but refrain from labeling, deciphering, defining or relying on that reason- we are in a better perspective that if we would simply surrender to an idea that all is preordained. After all, it is not a question of random or predetermination.. Dichotomous thinking like this is an example of where we, silly humans, get stuck.

    The limits of preordination are just slightly more accessible than randomness. Further down the line we are bound to have the same "it just doesn't fit" issues with predeterminism. The reality of it all might be closer to- "We will continuously be offered the same opportunity to engage in our next lesson or adventure until we do purposely or inadvertently interact.

    This ties in with a few other topics like- "All News Is Good news" and "Free Will Is A Two Edged Sword"..

    In short- when we can give everything reason without giving it A Reason, we are then open to experience the magic of it all.
  • thumb
    May 23 2013: I believe for a reason. But remember, Lawrence, part of this is because we actively make our lives and choose where we'll go and what we do, we don't just passively sit there and the right people come walking up.

    By the way, to add more time to your conversation, hit "edit" and add more time.
  • thumb
    May 23 2013: Your question rightly applies not just to the people in our lives, but the events also. Folks who believe we have control of our lives via an INTERNAL,self-controlled mechanism will probably say the people we meet are the result of our decisions and purposes leading-up to the meeting. Folks who believe the people and events of our lives are EXTERNALLY controlled by a mechanism beyond our influence will probably say all is controlled and purposeful. Very few thinking people would say our lives are random and chaotic, without purpose or consequences. I personally believe the people we meet and the events we experience are the result of an external mechanism (the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) guiding every detail.
  • May 23 2013: It's most likely all chance. We meet many people in our lives, and the one's that stick around are similar to our character. Therefore they stay in our lives the longest. The one we stay with for the rest of our lives has almost the same characteristics and feelings towards things that matter to us; therefore they become our "soul mates".

    But you never know :)
  • thumb
    May 23 2013: Do you create what you see or are you created by what you see?

    IMO they are a mirror of you.
    • thumb
      May 23 2013: I believe that I create, AND am created by what I see and experience. I am "created" by life experiences because everything I experience influences and impacts me in some way. I also believe we are mirrors to each other reflecting information back and forth all the time.

      I believe that with each and every person who crosses our path, there is an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve for both (or however many) participants are involved.

      I believe that it is all very well orchestrated, perhaps by an energy that we do not, as humans, understand.