29 X 22 cm in Cursive Script (草書)
Historical Information and Interpretation
"天命" refers to destiny or fate bestowed upon a person, a country or other entities by God or other supreme being. It is something humans have no control over, and is used in ancient China as a means to legitimize the rule of a monarchy(1
). In today's context, however, it is more common to interpret it as "an inevitable fate that one cannot change".
"You can control your destiny" or "Your fate is in your hands" are two phrases that are used often in motivational speeches or books. I find these claims rather arrogant as they imply a person's achievement is solely based on his or her efforts and determination. No man is an island; your success not only depends on your talent and efforts but also on circumstances, trends, current situations and work of others, all of which are not under your control. Imagine if Bill Gates lives in a world without the discovery of electricity, will he become the tech giant that we admire today? Imagine if Beethoven was not taught music at an early age by his father or if he lived in an age where musical instruments were not invented, could he be the great composer that we respect today? Clearly, a person's success relies on many factors; hard work is certainly a minimum, but it alone does not guarantee success.