Thoughtline  November 1996

Fortune Cookies

I never really got into Chinese food until after the Korean War and I had been discharged from the Marine Corps. I was a starving college student living in a one-room apartment in Manhattan Beach and going to El Camino College. There were a lot of veterans at the school on the GI Bill, and we hung out together and we ate a lot of Chinese food. In those days at a cost of $2 or $3 per person we could get enormous quantities of what I now realize was very good Chinese food.

We always took turns reading the fortunes in the cookies at the end of the meals and had a lot of fun pretending they were real. Only, secretly, of course, I wasn't pretending. Almost from the start, I was a secret believer in the fortunes in the cookies.

I also remember that the cookies themselves tasted universally wonderful. In these days, however, when it is possible to get fast Chinese food even faster than fast hamburgers, I have noted, even in fairly pricey Chinese restaurants, that the flavor of the cookies has suffered about the same fate as the flavor of the food.

There has been a corresponding change in the quality of the fortunes, too. I seldom encounter really interesting fortunes in the cookies any more; most, like the food, are bland. But, being a secret believer in fortune cookies, I still look toward the end of the meal and the fortune in the cookie. You know, one never knows, when or where one will find THE ANSWER.

In earlier years, the fortunes were much more diverse. There were warnings and prophesies of potential dangers. Some of the fortunes were couched in strange and wonderful language patterns, rather like those I later discovered in the Master Morya's little books.

I remember fortunes that sounded like: "Some people would rather fall down the stairs than look at the next step." "Another name for blind is dazzled. One can't see very well in either case." "The Father's Mansion has many rooms. When we leave one, we enter another. Life goes on and on and on." "Facts are only fishes in the ocean of truth." "Make haste, slowly." "Even when one knows where one is going, it is not guaranteed that one will arrive. However, it is more likely." "People love to learn. Pain is an effective teacher."

Then there were the more seemingly straightforward kind, "A new love will come into your life soon." And occasionally there were the good news kind, "As the sky is blue, the sea waves are true. Good fortune is coming to you." I especially believed in those.

Fortune cookies were in a way my introduction into reading people. Early on, I realized that by listening to a friend's interpretation of his or her fortune, I could gain a great insight into their wish life or, in some cases, their fears.

Well, as I said, I have, rather secretly, always been a believer in fortune cookies, and over the years I have developed a couple of small rituals around obtaining, interpreting and then acting on the wisdom fortune cookies contain. My rituals are not so complicated and thorough as those of the Tarot or I Ching, but they do provide a ring-pass-not within which I can examine the symbolism and meaning of the cookie.

For example, I always try to avoid selecting a cookie from a full plate. It is my experience that there are always exactly the number of cookies on the plate as there are diners. So my habit, based on the insight that everyone really gets what he or she has coming, is simply to wait for the last cookie. I believe that I will get the cookie that I should have, or that I deserve. I have faith in the fortunes that come to me in this way However, if good manners require me to choose from a group of cookies, I always take the one nearest to me, and since, as I say, I believe in fortune cookies, I always try to see what this small event is trying to tell me.

Am I serious? Of course I am. Serious, Djwhal Khul has taught me, does not wear a long face and go around in a shroud. Serious is being rather practical, accepting and cheerful about what one uncovers as one tries to lift the veils of illusion and glamour from the face of the truth. So, believing in the futures which fortune cookies prophesy is not so much a matter of believing in chance as it is in believing in the inevitable result of energy following thought.

This fact of Life, the fact that energy follows thought and that what occurs in form is the inevitable result of what one thinks about or, probably more to the point, what one desires, is a fact about which I learned only after I had been a fortune cookie believer for some years and had discovered the Ageless Wisdom. Rather than dissuade me from this seeming foolishness of taking the prophesies of fortune cookies seriously, however, my penetration into the Ageless Wisdom served only to enhance my appreciation of such messengers.

Eventually, I do not remember exactly when, I came to the conclusion that life itself was a fortune cookie. I mean that our daily lives, the stuff we do all day, every day, the events which seem to happen and which fill up our time in incarnation, that life, is a fortune cookie.

I started to look at each day as a new fortune cookie. I told myself each morning when I got out of bed, that I was about to open a new fortune cookie. It added a certain curiosity to my approach to the day. I began to wonder what I was going to find.

However, it wasn't long after I started to look at each day as a fortune cookie, that I realized that I was the one who was doing the writing. The fortunes that I was uncovering as I went through the day were ones that I had caused the day before or the week or year or even, I speculated, the life before.

This was a startling realization; I was actually the one who was writing my own fortunes.

Of course, it wasn't long afterwards I realized that the way in which I dealt with today's fortune was going to have a significant impact on how tomorrow's or next week's, or year's or life's fortune was going to look.

All of this has proved to be very interesting to me, and very helpful, too. Realizing that as one goes around thinking, feeling, saying and doing, one is writing one's own fortune, brings to the forefront of consciousness the great need for self-control.

Interesting concept, self-control. Webster says it means the "control of oneself," or of one's own emotions, desires and actions. But, rather than thinking of it as the self being under control, I think of it as the Self, the Soul, being in control. When the Soul is in control, one's equipment and one's agenda for that equipment are under the control or direction of one's Self, the Soul. The difference I am citing here seems small, but it is most significant. It has to do with one's conscious location in consciousness. I am concerned with where in consciousness the control comes from, with who is doing the controlling.

In this light, we can see that Self control is a result of detachment. Ah yes, detachment, a word that rolls easily off the tongue. As Djwhal Khul, in numerous places in his work points out, detachment is one of the three paramount requirements for effective service on the part of the disciple. Detachment is a very difficult state of consciousness to establish and consistently maintain. I think that detachment comes only as a result of rhythmic successful meditation that leads one to that place where contact with the Soul is made.

Detachment is a result of Soul attachment. When one has established a measure of Soul contact, one will be able to observe, with a constant conscious awareness, the space/environment of the three worlds (physical/etheric, emotional, and mental) in which one is working. Until we are able to detach ourselves from the surrounding environments, it is doubtful that we can see them as they truly are.

The Self controlled person is always a detached person. We say of these people that they have composure. They are a synthesis. They model for us that calm serenity we associate with the concept of the detached observer. "In the world, but not of the world," they are seldom, if ever, caught off guard or knocked off balance by circumstances.

So, the Self controlled person is more or less in charge of his own fortunes. The lack of Self control, or the loss of Self control places the Self's equipment in the hands of lower entities like the personality, who while perhaps not a "bad" guy, does not very often act from a place of self forgetfulness or with the idea of Right Human Relations as a guide. This can result in minor damage or 'bad luck" or, as in the case of the Captain of the Valdez, for example, great destruction and the pollution of environments.

So, it is clear. We are the writers of our own fortunes. This is our Virgo role. Whether or not we like it or even know it, we are all mothers, all nurturers of forms and givers of birth. And, just as a mother provides the substance out of which the new life and form will be made, we provide the substance for our next self, our next manifestation; our tomorrows form from the way we live today's adventure.

What we need to be mindful of as we test yesterday's decisions in today's life is the additional fact that we are constantly choosing that which we will nurture. There is no doubt in my mind that we are not only the mothers of our own forms, but indeed, the fathers, the captains of our own destiny. Scorpio provides the opportunity to evaluate our earlier decisions, and Sagittarius provides the opportunity to adjust our course. We are the direction setters.

The goals towards which we strive are of our own-conscious or unconscious--choosing.

We live, most of us, rather quiet lives, with families, friends, co-workers. Seemingly, we are not major players in world shaking events. And yet, are our daily lives, our little lives in our small environments important? I think that they are. I think that the efforts we make to live lives of detachment and kindness, of service and consciousness, do matter. They matter because Life matters. It all matters, every thought, every feeling, every deed. We truly do, like the spider, spin the web of our lives from the stuff of our innermost selves.

Tom Carney