Question: Please explain the relationship between karma and fate.

Sri Chinmoy: Let us start with karma. In the West, very often this term is used erroneously. The word karma comes from Sanskrit and often it is translated into the English word action. Action does not convey the same meaning as the word karma. It is not just any kind of action being done. It is not like that. Karma is something significant and it conveys an esoteric meaning. When we use the expression "the law of karma", it is used in a spiritual way. It refers to a cosmic law in which actions and reactions, causes and effects are part of a chain of experiences given to us by a higher Power.

Karma can be done physically, vitally, mentally, psychically. We can work with the heart, we can work with the soul. And again, in silence we can work. Silence is a kind of karma, if there is the power of conscious determination behind it. And that karma is most difficult: to remain silent, not inert, but dynamically silent.

Now to come back to your question. You are asking if whatever is happening is destined. Today's suffering or tomorrow's joys, is it all destined? Today I run into an accident. Is this destined? Or could I have avoided this accident to some extent, or could I have totally freed myself from that accident? Here we have to know whether there is something called Divine Grace. That Divine Grace can protect us totally or partially or it may not interfere at all in our day-today activities. It enters, it permeates our being only when we are in the field of aspiration.

Now another method you can adopt to obliterate the law of karma is the exercise of will, adamantine will. That will is not desire proper. It is adamantine will-power which we get through aspiration, through meditation.

You speak of karma, but there are many people who call it fate and do not differentiate between the two. A spiritual person says "Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will." Right now, most of us do not have that unchanging will. We have only a bundle of desires. Desire is not the same as will-power. We are always saying, "Give me, give me" like a beggar. We have to be conscious of what we are praying for and that is our oneness with the Will of the Supreme. When we can identify ourselves totally with the Supreme's Will, we develop and we possess that will-power. That will power is our soul's power.

Let us come back to Grace, Divine Grace. In our ordinary life, we often see people attacked. Immediately the person who is wronged tries to take revenge. But there is or can be a third power. This is the intervention of Divine Grace which is infinitely mightier than my action and your reaction. If I do something wrong, immediately you will take revenge, you will punish me. But my wrong action can also be obliterated by Divine Grace and at the same time, your power, your revenge cannot take place in my life.

Here is an analogy of a child who goes and strikes his friend. He expects his friend to strike him back and he is afraid. He runs to his father. The father has compassion for his child. He knows that the child has done something wrong, but at the same time, he does not allow the second child to strike his child back even though his child deserves it. In this way, when we do something that we ought not to do and we run to God, God nullifies our karma. He prevents it from coming back to us out of His Infinite Compassion and Love for us. So if we have complete faith in God and we surrender to Him and we immediately run to Him with our wrong doing, our error or our defects, He will bless us and protect us from the karma which would have normally come back to us.