Qalamdar, New Age Islam
Bad Things Can’t Happen to Good People!: Because APPLES Can’t Grow on MANGO
Atman in Ravi (AiR)
by: AiR Institute of Realization, Bangalore (air.ind.in)
Rs. 125 (paperback)/ Rs. 175 (hardcover)
every human being seeks happiness and, conversely, tries to avoid pain. Yet,
why is it that all of us experience painful situations every now and then? Why
is there so much suffering in the world, including in our own life? Most of us
must have reflected on this question at least some time or the other.
related, issue is the question of what many of us might regard as unwarranted
pain in the world. Why is it, we may ask ourselves, that people who we think
are very good and kind sometimes face excruciatingly painful situations in
life? Surely, we may tell ourselves, they didn’t deserve it. We might be able
to accept something ‘bad’ happening to someone who has done a grievous wrong to
somebody else as a just punishment for his action, but we might find it
impossible to understand why a person we think is noble might sometimes face
the same sort of predicament. On a larger scale, the enormous amount of pain
that millions of people are subjected to in large parts of the world as a
result of war, poverty, displacement in the name of ‘development’ and so on may
make us lose hope in the possibility of goodness and justice in this world. We
may be led to complete despair.
religious people who believe in God, the Creator and Controller of the
universe, this what we may regard as unwarranted suffering may pose major
theological questions concerning the power, goodness and justice of God. If God
is, as many religions say, All-Powerful, All-Just and All-Good, why does God
allow what we might think is undeserved suffering and pain in this world, and
on such a massive scale? If God is as believers say God is, why doesn’t God put
an immediate end to all misery in the world?
often raise these sorts of questions in their critique of the concept of God.
If God were really true and if God were truly powerful, good and just, as is
claimed by those who believe in God, surely God wouldn’t have permitted
‘innocent’ people to suffer, they would say.
part, theists respond to the same questions by articulating theories that seek
to show that the fact of human suffering can actually be easily reconciled with
faith in the existence of a loving, powerful and just God. Different theistic
traditions might offer somewhat different theories in this regard, though.
brilliantly-written book by Bangalore-based spiritual teacher Atman in Ravi or
AiR seeks to provide an explanation of human suffering—even why ‘bad’ things
happen even to supposedly ‘good’ people—from a theistic perspective that is
based principally on two tenets: firstly, the Law of Action and Reaction, and,
secondly, belief in rebirth.
to the Law of Action and Reaction, we get what we give. We reap what we sow. To
use a simile from the book, apples can’t grow on mango trees. If we sow a mango
seed, we can’t expect that when it turns into a tree it will produce apples.
What it will produce is mangoes! In the same way, if we do something bad, we
are bound to receive the same in return, now or some time later. Conversely, if
we do a good deed, we are bound to receive good in return, in this world or the
Hereafter. Probably all religions are on common ground here.
religions have a concept of the Hereafter, the afterlife that follows the death
of the body. But the way the afterlife is conceived is different in various
religions. Some religions believe that human beings get just one life, after
which they will either go to Heaven or Hell forever, as a reward or punishment
for their actions while on earth as the case might be. Other religions believe
in a cyclical theory of rebirth, determined by one’s actions while on earth—a
perspective that the author also supports. Based on the theory of rebirth, the
book argues that much of the suffering that people face in this world could be
a result of negative actions they had committed in this or some previous life.
Thus, for instance, if a person we regard as ‘good’ or a little child faces a
major calamity, it could be that this is a just reward for some wrong they had
committed in a previous life. Thus, we create our own pain—it is not the result
of some arbitrary decision of God—the author seems to suggest. We have no one
but our own selves to blame for our miseries. In this way, faith in an
All-powerful, All-just and All-good God can be reconciled with the fact of
seeking to explain the fact of suffering, the book provides insights on how to
handle suffering—our own as well as other people’s—and how to lead a life that
can liberate us from suffering forever.
everyone will, of course, agree with everything that this book says. Atheists
would naturally not agree with its assertions about the Creator God. For their
part, theists from religious traditions that uphold a different theory of the
afterlife might differ with regard to some of its claims. But that said, this
book is a great must-read. It seeks to provide a explanation of human suffering
and liberation from it from a religious perspective in a manner easily
understandable to even those with a minimum of prior theological knowledge.
many other books by AiR, this book can be obtained from Amazon.in)
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