Karma is not fate. It’s not destiny. Fate is a quick fix, karma is not. Fate or destiny is not the teaching of truly enlightened masters. It is the creation of defeatist and escapist minds that refuse to take responsibility.
We may think that it must be fate when there is no other way to explain things. A close one dies. A friend turns foe. Or a crow poops on your suit just as you are entering a building for a crucial business meeting. You become resentful and it reflects in your meeting. The deal is ruined.
The question haunts: Why should it happen to me? You get disturbed, but somehow you collect yourself by blaming your fate, or God. That’s better than going crazy over the crow, isn’t it?
So why don’t the truly enlightened masters teach us about fate? Why do they only teach about karma? It’s due to their motivation. For the Buddha, the motivation is to help people find a sustainable way out of their suffering. He would never teach you any quick fix. Fate can give you some relief, but only briefly. After accepting that the crow poop was an act of fate, your next resentment would be: Why this fate for me? Why now? Why should destiny play a joke on me?
If you had known karma, you would view it differently. You would try to clean the poop with whatever you have, and go to the meeting. If needed, you would quickly explain what happened and proceed. You would trust your business partners to understand. The meeting would go smoothly.
By knowing karma, you could actually be a better fatalist! If you had known karma as the Buddha taught, you would take responsibility for what you do, not what the crow does. You would let fate do what it does, and chose your response responsibly. You would take the RIGHT ACTION now—at each present moment available to you—and leave the rest to ‘fate’. You would trust that a right action would lead to a right result.
The Buddha’s teaching about karma is about understanding that when causes and conditions come together, it will lead to certain results. His motivation is to encourage people to apply this knowledge to create healthy states of mind. So instead of blaming the crow, he would ask you to be mindful of your anger and resentment, take the right action of wiping your suit, and get into the meeting room with a calm and forgiving mind. Your choice of action would create a healthy state of mind. You would create good karma.
Without shifting the blame on anyone or anything, karma tells us that our present condition is the consequence of certain causes and conditions coming together in the past. Some of them are our doing, some aren't. There must be a multiple of causes for anything to happen. For the crow to fly over your head, maybe there was a dead rat across the street that it was trying to pick. Maybe the garbage picker didn't see it in the morning because his eyesight was weak. There could be a thousand causes. We can't go back in the past and fix all those things.
But that's only half of the story. Karma teaches us to look forward. We choose a healthy response NOW and make the right efforts so that the right causes and conditions are created for the future. At the same time, we know we cannot control everything that may influence the result. So we do our bit sincerely and let the result unfold. Karma will then make a good sense for us.