Karma or coincidence?

Acharya Prashant
4 min readDec 19, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner: When something good or bad happens to someone unexpectedly, is it karma or mere coincidence?

Acharya Prashant (AP): The happening is just a random coincidence. How you experience the happening is your own decision, your own doing, in other words, karma.

Get the difference right, please. The material world is not predetermined, it is not even deterministic. It is random in the real sense of the word. There are just too many cause and effect nodes to take care of and additionally there is the unpredictable element of free will involved with respect to many of the actors.

Even if the entire material world were a colossal machine, we could have said that a day will come when we will be able to fully map the machine. And if we can know the machine fully then we can determine, predict all that would happen in the machine at a particular time at a particular place. Then everything becomes predictable.

But not only is the machine gigantic, several parts of the machine, carry free will. So unexpected things happen therefore you cannot know really what is going to happen next in the external world, it is going to be a coincidence. Kindly do not think that things are predetermined, or that certain things are happening to you because you are destined to experience them. Nothing of that kind, fatalism is a sham.

The external world is truly unpredictable. Having said that, how you respond to what happens to you is very much your own decision and you have all authority there, all ownership there, and a lot of possible freedom there.

So things happen, whether they are good or bad depends on your response and it depends on your inner constitution. From where do your inner constitutions come? Now your inner constitution is not really random, because you are a conscious being. You have freedom in deciding what you must be and you have freedom in building yourself up.

The one who responds to an experience from within is not a random occurrence. The one who responds to an external stimulus is the result of your entire life journey. See, the same thing can happen to two people and they might respond very differently. So, how are these…

Acharya Prashant