Fate vs. Karma: What is the Difference?

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Difference between Fate and Karma

Fate and karma are two subjects people talk about when discussing the future of a person. Destiny is a concept that most people believe in, with the difference being largely between the beliefs in either fate or karma. With fate, a person's future is destined, predetermined, or unavoidable.

Fate says that no matter what you do, your fate is decided. Karma is actually part of the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems where a person's future is determined by current actions and choices; each person effectively chooses his or her own future.



Both karma and fate have to do with your destiny. If you have a future, it must be impacted by either karma or fate. Whether you believe in either philosophy or a bit of both, karma and fate will influence your daily decisions. Some people might argue that karma is even predetermined by fate in such a fashion that all of your choices either good or bad are already decided and therefore the karma result is still due completely to fate.


Religious view on karma and fate are widely varied and subject to interpretation. Buddhist and Hindu religions place a great deal of focus on karma where the extent of a person's life is shaped completely by the choices he or she makes.

Christianity supports the belief in fate if you believe in the doctrine of God knowing all, even before a person is born. If this is true, there is no need for karma because everything in your life is preordained. In spite of this dichotomy, many Christians believe in both fate and karma.

Impact on Free Will

If there is no such thing as karma and fate reigns supreme, can there be such a concept as free will? Free will is a philosophical theory that states people have the capacity to choose from a course of action between alternatives. In the way of our legal system in the United States as well as other countries, it would seem that free will is a common theory as people are put to death on a regular basis for "choosing" to kill another person.

If fate is the truth of human reality, how can we expect people to learn from punishments or rewards? It would seem that the existence of predetermined conditions would negate the need of laws, punishments, and results all together.

Similarities and Differences

  • The entire point of karma is that you can essentially choose your path in life and determine your success, your personal level of happiness, and that you can affect the success and happiness of other people.
  • With fate, it would seem pointless to dwell on any decision for too long; as the entire point of fate is that, your destiny is inevitable. No matter how long you waffle on making an important decision, fate says the choice you eventually make is unavoidable.
  • The basic difference of karma and fate comes down to a belief in free will and your ability to affect a change in the outcome of a situation by making a thoughtful, considerate choice.
  • Karma is the law of Cause and Effect. While the effects caused by past decisions may or may not manifest in this 'lifetime', the law has been interpreted to mean that some manifested effects from past lifetimes could occur in this lifetime.


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