By Deepak Chopra, MD
We live in an especially dispirited time when people say, totally without irony, “Life is unfair” and “No good deed goes unpunished.” Is there proof that life is, in fact, fair or unfair? The question doesn’t even make sense if you believe that the universe is cold, random and devoid of meaning. That’s the usual rationale for saying that life is essentially meaningless, sometimes posed as a scientific view. But no one experiences their own life as being without purpose and meaning, so this rationale begs the question.
The Indian spiritual tradition argues that life is completely fair, down to the fall of a leaf, because the universe is morally balanced by the Law of Karma. The Vedic scriptures go into extensive detail about the operation of karma – in Sanskrit the word simply means “action” – but the gist of a moral universe is simple, as stated by Saint Paul in the New Testament: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)
In this advice there is an implicit warning about not trying to fool God, who sees every good and bad act. Jesus makes the same point without the warning: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38) The idea of God balancing good and evil goes back to the Hebrew Bible, as for instance in this verse from the Book of Job: “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:8)