VictoryInTruth wrote:Hello to everyone... It's been a long while since I have posted and hope that you can answer a question for me. This has been bothering me for a long time and is the greatest obstacle towards my embracing the lifestyle of a Buddhist.
The obstacle concerns the bad things that happen to one in this life that are a result of previous bad kamma. In several books on Buddhism I have read it makes it seem as if whatever bad happens to you in this life you deserve. How can an innocent child that is raped or woman who is burned alive be held accountable for what was done in a past life? How can such horrible acts bring any kind of a lesson to the victim? Especially, if you are an infant who dies before the age of reason.
If someone can reasonably explain this I would appreciate it.
firstly, this question applies not just to Buddhism, but also to other paths that believe in rebirth according to one's past deeds, ie the Law of Kamma. Buddhism is not the only one, just to be clear.
Others will give more detailed replies I think, but my grappling with this very issue over years has led me to a few ideas that help me to live with it. One is that you should get the notion of 'deserve' right out of your mind here, I don't think it applies. The Universe isn't vindictive like we people can sometimes be. I think the idea that we 'deserve' the pain & suffering that comes our way is a Judeo-Christian thing, the idea that we are 'born sinful' and need 'redeeming' by a Power external to ourselves (ie - God). It is more like cause and effect.
Good actions have good results. Bad actions have bad results. That is a tad oversimplified, but where is the notion of 'deserve' in that? It's just an impersonal process of cause and effect.
Secondly: no one is innocent. That little child who got raped, did NOTHING in this current lifetime to warrant being treated in such a monstrous and inhumane way, I totally agree. And it can make me cry to think of the sufferings they endure. But do you know what they did in a previous life, or even many, many lifetimes ago? Maybe something just as terrible, or even worse? And just because that individual cannot remember
having done those things, doesn't mean that they never happened. Think about a criminal who murders someone, then gets a strong blow to the head, and gets amnesia. They can no longer even remember who they are, let alone the crime they committed. But they still did
it. It's the same with ourselves. Some awful things can happen, and we can ask "it's not fair. Why should this happen to me
? I've never harmed anyone else like this! I'm a good
-hearted person..." etc. Yes, in this
life you are...but, do you remember all your previous
lives?? In fact I've been through a bit of this myself. But the problem is our memory. We don't remember.
But some persons are able to access the past-life memories (pretty rare nowadays) and they can then see how they have acted differently in various lives, sometimes quite well, sometimes like a rascal. That's Samsara: nothing is stable here.
Those are a few things that come to mind for me.