Finding Amor Fati Through Yoga: Amor Fati Meaning, Love And Accept Your Fate

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Gemma Clarke

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amor fati meaning

Amor Fati Meaning

“Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant.” – Seneca

Amor fati is a Latin phrase that can be translated to “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate.” It is used to describe an attitude toward life that fosters acceptance, non-attachment, and non-judgment.

The idea is that events happen the way they were always going to happen. Your desires and expectations have little to no sway over your fate and ultimately your reality. A person who lives with amor fati accepts- and even loves- everything that happens in one’s life.

Basic teaching of the Stoics

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Two dogs are leashed to a cart. One dog willfully moves alongside it. As the cart picks up speed going down a hill, the dog joyfully runs to keep up.

The other dog is grumpy and lethargic. Unwilling to move with the cart, he gets dragged behind it- bruised and struggling.

A wise man is like the willful dog. A foolish man is like the grumpy dog. Life is the cart, we are all tied to it. It is your choice which dog leashed to the cart will you be? Will you run along joyfully? Or get dragged behind?

Friedrich Nietzsche Coins The Phrase

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The first mention of the term amor fati in extant literature comes from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In his book Ecce Homo, Nietzsche writes:

“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”

The great person does not regret or try to erase their past. The happy person does not fret over or try to control their future. They do not endure or tolerate fate. They throw their arms around it enthusiastically- regardless of the circumstances.

The heartbreaking, the gut-wrenching, the dizzying and electrifying, the mundane and the ordinary. There is a warm tenderness for all of it. Amor fati means to embrace everything that happens with enthusiasm and affection.

The Stoic Practice and Amor Fati

Although Nietzsche is credited for coining the phrase, the Stoics are the original practitioners of amor fati.

Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy dating back to the early third century. It is a philosophy of personal virtue ethics grounded in its unique system of logic and views on the natural world. Stoics believe that living virtuously is necessary and efficient to achieve eudaimonia or simply, “happiness.”

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The Stoic principle of the “art of acquiescence” is based on the acceptance of everything that happens. A complete surrender to life’s events and omission of resistance to them. This principle is thought to be the earliest practice of amor fati.

Epictetus, the slave turned philosopher, summarized the art of acquiescence, and ultimately amor fati, well in Chapter 8 of his book Enchiridion:

“Seek not for events to happen as you wish but rather wish for events to happen as they do and your life will go smoothly.”

By letting go of all expectations and desires, and embracing that which fate binds you to, eudaimonia may be achieved.

Acceptance Is Not Mere Apathy

“Hold fast to this thought, and grip it close: yield not to adversity; trust not to prosperity; keep before your eyes the full scope of Fortune’s power, as if she would surely do whatever is in her power to do. That which has been long expected comes more gently.” – Seneca

At the core of amor fati is loving one’s fate, circumstances, events, occurrences, and whatever happens. Accepting these things exactly as they are frees you from resistance.

Why should you want to be free from resistance? Because resistance breeds fear, anger, and exhaustion, and eventually leads to burnout and apathy.

Here’s the thing, acceptance is not apathy. Acceptance does not mean to submit or passively allow life to play out in front of you.

Acceptance is saving your energy for what you can change.

Eckhart Tolle wisely teaches that in any given situation you have three options: remove yourself from it, change what you can, or accept it. We only ever have those three choices. Sometimes it’s just one of them, sometimes a mixture of two, and sometimes all three.

Accepting a situation is not mutually exclusive from changing what you can of it.

Amor fati teaches unequivocal acceptance. Only then can you take control of it. Acceptance is a necessary precursor to change, an exercise in conserving your energy for what can be controlled, and leaving the rest.

Acceptance In Action

If your partner becomes abusive, you accept this is who they are. You accept your relationship is over. You accept this is now a traumatic experience you have had.

And then you can make the changes that must happen to remove yourself from the situation. And maybe some time down the line, you can look back and love that that happened because it brought you to wherever you are now.

By accepting that your partner abused you, you also accepted that you had the control to remove yourself from the situation, you exercised your autonomy to leave. If you resisted the reality of the situation, you would have lost yourself in grief, fear, self-pity, anger, or any other draining -albeit valid- emotion.

Take global warming for another example. You accept this is a reality we live with. You accept that you alone will not change the climate. You accept there are many people out there who will never care enough to act.

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And then you can change what is in your control. You can donate to organizations, lobby your local lawmakers, change your diet and consumption habits.

Accepting climate change does not mean sitting back and watching the world burn. Accepting that you have an abusive partner does not mean allowing that behavior to continue to happen.

It means having an understanding of what you can control, and leaving the rest.

Amor Fati And Yoga

“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Maybe you have already gleaned a few similarities and parallels. Acceptance. Non-judgement. Non-attachment. Releasing desire. Finding joy and happiness when difficult events occur.

The Stoics also have parallels with the teachings of Patanjali, which I highly recommend you read all about in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Both of them teach that by living one’s life with virtuous discipline, in harmony with nature, and without attachment and desire, one will reach the ultimate state of being- Samadhi or eudaimonia.

Loving Your Fate With The Yamas and Niyamas

The five Yamas make up Patanjali’s first limb of the 8 limb path to yoga. They are the ethical guidelines to live in harmony with others. The five Niyamas make up the second limb of yoga. They are the individual commitments one makes to live a disciplined life.

In general, breaking any one of them would signal a lack of amor fati, a resistance to what fate brings. Following the Yamas and Niyamas represents different ways in which to love and accept fate.

The Yamas

For example, the first Yama is ahimsa, “non-violence.” If you are acting violently, chances are, you are not in a state of love and acceptance for your fate.

Similarly, not living in accordance with satya, “truthfulness,” or asteya, “non-stealing,” signals a separateness from amor fati.

The Niyamas

The Niyamas also point you in the direction of living amor fati in action.

Santosha means “contentment.” Practicing gratitude and having a positive mindset. It would be hard to love your fate if you are not grateful!

Tapas means “burn or heat.” The idea behind tapas is willfully exposing yourself to suffering in order to overcome and achieve happiness. Similarly, by practicing amor fati, you must love even the negative events in life.

Svadhyaya is the act of self-study. Meditation and journaling are wonderful tools to help you arrive to a place of loving acceptance, if you are struggling to do so (which let’s be honest most of us are).

Isvara Pranidhana is dedication and surrender. Dedicating life to humanity, and surrendering to the divine (or god, or fate). It is putting trust in the universe (or whatever you believe in) that there is a plan for you and for each of us on this earth and surrendering to that flow.

Aparigraha: The Non-Attachment of Accepting Fate

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Aparigraha can be translated to “non-attachment.” This Yama might be the most connected with the idea of accepting and loving whatever life has in store for you.

An attachment to specific outcomes creates resistance to reality, especially when reality does not match your expectations. Suffering exists when expectations and lived experience do not align. We wage war within ourselves when we are attached to outcomes.

If you can be free from attachment and desire, you can more readily and easily love your reality, the present moment, the here and now, fate. It is as Krishna advises Arjuna in the great epic the Bhagavad Gita:

“Let your concern be with the action alone and never with the fruits of the action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction.”

Krishna warns Arjuna to simply act and let go of his attachment to the outcome of his actions. Additionally, he advises to not become attached to inaction, further supporting the idea that acceptance does not equal apathy.

We as humans also tend to be attached to the values we place on certain experiences or events. Most external events do not inherently have a positive or negative value. But we choose to attach these labels to them, and then react accordingly. By letting go of the labels, we leave more room for full acceptance and love for everything that happens in our lives.

Cultivating Love of Fate With Present Moment Awareness

This is another beautiful yogic teaching that is apparent in amor fati. There is no past, there is no future, there is only now. The ever-present now is all we ever have. And if you cannot love the now, what can you love? If you want love to abound in your life, you must learn to always love right here and right now, everything that happens, no matter what.

Regretting the past and worrying about the future only makes you suffer twice. Or three times or a million times over, depending on how often you choose to let your mind detach from your body and travel to a time that does not exist.

By practicing present-moment awareness, you let go of your attachment to expectations, outcomes, guilt, and grief. If you choose to stay rooted and grounded in the present, and learn to love the present- suffering is alleviated.

When you can turn that awareness into acceptance and love, you truly practice what it means to love your fate.

Learning From Nature

“Universe, whatever is consonant with you is consonant with me; if something is timely for you, it’s neither too early nor too late for me. Nature, everything is fruit to me that your seasons bring; everything comes from you, everything is contained in you, everything returns to you.” -Marcus Aurelius

We have much to learn from the natural world, which we are an intimate part of.

Nature does not hurry and it does not yearn. The flower does not weep when she loses her petals in the autumn, and she does not rejoice when she gains them again in the spring. She simply shines her colors and scent throughout the summer, and then humbly hibernates through the winter.

She trusts this process. She does not envy the colors of the flowers next to her. She is not wistful for the bee who visited her last summer. She does not worry whether or not she will bloom next summer. She accepts her fate, season after season, and perhaps- she even loves it.

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Why is fire the Amor Fati symbol?

Marcus Aurelius wrote, “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” This quote summarizes the meaning of amor fati, and how to actively incorporate it into your life.

What are the Four Stoic Virtues?

Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Moderation

What is Amor Fati in Stoicism?

It expresses the mindset and the actions that are central to the philosophy of the Stoics- accepting and embracing everything that happens.

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About Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke is a certified and experienced yoga & meditation instructor. She has been practicing meditation since 2014 and teaching since 2018. Gemma specializes in yoga and mindfulness for emotional wellbeing, and she has taught in Thailand, Cambodia, and the UK. Gemma is passionate about sharing her expertise and experience with meditation to inspire others to live more mindfully, becoming happier, healthier, and calmer. Follow me: Instagram | LinkedIn

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