有缘千里来相会 Fate Brings People Together

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fate brings people together

yǒuyuán qiān lǐ lái xiānghuì, wúyuán duìmiàn bù xiāngféng
有缘千里来相会,无缘对面不相逢
have connection thousand li come meet, no connection face-to-face don’t meet
Fate brings people together

缘分 yuánfèn, or just 缘 yuán, is a term we use an awful lot. In English, it is often translated as ‘destiny’ and ‘fate’, but these two words do not actually convey the real meaning of this term. The terms ‘affinity’ and ‘karmic connection’ would probably be closer translations, albeit not exact. The essence of this proverb is, if you are karmically connected, no matter how far apart you may be, the connection will bring you together. On the other hand, if there is no karmic connection, you would not know the person even if they were right before you.

When and how do we use the term? As you might expect, most often it is used to talk about relationships.

Wǒmen yòu jiànmiàn la! Zhēn shì yǒuyuán!
我们又见面啦!真是有缘!
Here we meet again! We’re truly destined to meet (karmically connected)!

Wǒ gēn tā hěn yǒuyuán, xiǎoxué dào dàxué yìzhí shì tóngxué.
我跟她很有缘,小学到大学一直是同学。
We’re really karmically connected – we’ve been classmates from primary school to university.

Wǒ gēn māo hěn yǒuyuán, bān le jǐ cì jiā, zhōuwéi de liúlàng māo dōu huì zhǎoshang wǒ.
我跟猫很有缘分,搬了几次家,周围的流浪猫都总会找上我。
I have karmic affinity with cats. I’ve moved a few times, and somehow each time, the feral cats of each area I move to would come find me.

Zhǐ néng shuō nǐ gēn tā méiyǒu yuánfèn, jìrán fēnshǒu le, jiù bǎ tā wàng le ba.
只能说你跟他没有缘分,既然分手了,就把他忘了吧。
We can only say that you two are not destined to be together. Since you’ve parted, just forget him.

Xiāngshí jiù shì yuánfèn, yīnggāi hǎohāo zhēnxī.
相识就是有缘,应该好好珍惜。
It is fate that brought us together, so we should cherish each other.

We also use it with places and things.

Wǒ juéde wǒ gēn zhège dìfang hěn yǒuyuán, yí dào zhèr jiù gǎnjué xiàng huí dào le jiā yíyàng.
我觉得我跟这个地方很有缘,一到这儿就感觉像回到了家一样。
I think I have karmic affinity with this place. As soon as I got here I felt like I had come home.

Wǒ gēn Měiguó sìhū méiyǒu yuánfèn, jǐ cì xiǎng qù, dōu yīnwèi gèzhǒng yuányīn qù bu liǎo.
我跟美国似乎没有缘分,几次想去,都因为各种原因去不了。
I don’t seem to have any karmic connection with America. I’ve wanted to visit a few times, but each time I would have to cancel my trip for some reason.

Wǒ gēn liù zhège shùzì sìhū hěn yǒuyuán, gèzhǒng zhèngjiàn de hàomǎ dōu yǒu hěn duō liù.
我跟六这个数字似乎很有缘,各种证件的号码都有很多六。
I seem to have affinity with the number six. There’s lots of sixes in my various documents.

Before I end, here’s a question for you:

Nǐ gēn Hànyǔ yǒu yuánfèn ma?
你跟汉语有缘分吗?
Do you have karmic affinity with Mandarin?

Well, I certainly hope you do!

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