Chinese characters embrace many different concepts. There is an old Chinese saying: If two people have a predestined relationship, they will become friends even if they are thousands of miles apart, but if two people have no predestined relationship, they will be strangers even if they stand face-to-face.
What is a predestined relationship? In Chinese, we have the character 緣 (yuán). It stands for bonds that have been made in advance of a person’s life that influence their relationships with other people.
The meaning of the word is also reflected in its structure. The character 緣 has two component parts. The left component is a shortened form of 絲 (sī), which is the character for string or thread. In ancient Chinese mythology, people believed that the God of Marriage would tie a red cord around the ankles of two people destined to be a couple for life, connecting them. This cord ensures that both will find each other no matter how far apart they are.
Many Chinese characters have the same sound, such as 緣 (yuán) and 原 (yuán). Similar in sound, they are likewise related in meaning. While 原 stands for reason or cause in general, 緣 refers to the purpose of why two people would meet