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Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People- Is There Karma

Updated on November 23, 2015

Jessica Simpson meditates. What will be her karma from this?

Jessica Simpson laughs in front of monk while meditating.
Jessica Simpson laughs in front of monk while meditating.
See above.
See above.

Is There Karma?

This was written February 2, 2012. This is an exploration of this question. First I checked different sources to see what was written about this. Also I checked the beliefs of people around the world. This will start with things that everyone can agree on.

I checked for the belief in God around the world. For the U.S it is about 90% belief in God. For Europe it is about 50%. But I learned something interesting. Besides belief in God and belief in nothing, there was a 3rd category which was belief in "some sort of spirit or life force." By country as the belief in God went down, the belief in spirit or life force went up. Like in Turkey, you have 95% belief in God, 2% belief in spirit or life force and 1% believes in neither. In Sweden you have 23% that believe in God, 53% believe in spirit or life force and 23% believed in neither. For more on this see the demographics of atheism.

I do not know what the difference in God and spirit/life force is. Is the latter like a soul? I do know that Socrates taught that the immortal soul was the most important thing and he said about it, "Know thyself!" He lived hundreds of years before Jesus and Socrates was executed for teaching this.

There is a book by a pastor called Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People . On the feedback was 1 for 4 stars out of 5 stars. This is about what the bible says about this, in the pastor's opinion. Of course in the Christian religion you have stuff like only God knows or God wanted the person to die to be with God and stuff like that.

Then you have the book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People by a rabbi. This has ratings all over with most being 5 stars. But I read some of the 1 star ratings and one person got more upset after reading the book. She had a young daughter that died. This book said that sometimes things just happen and God has nothing to do with it.

So the thing to start with is something that almost everyone can agree on. It feels better to be happy, calm, clear and peaceful than to be very sad, agitated, confused and stressed out. That is why people want to know the answer to this question. Although just by learning something in your mind is not enough to cause you to feel peace.

Also if people have a child, they prefer for their child to be healthy and happy so they can enjoy their child instead of having the child die. These are generalizations and does not include the exceptions. Having a child die can be a devastating experience for someone. The singer for Evanescence , Amy Lee, was 6 years old when her 2 year old sister died. She got into music to deal with the pain and she has incredibly sad songs like My Immortal .

Years ago my mother would say that she does not believe in God but she believes in something. No one claims to have the only something. But if you believe in God, do you believe in the Christian God that sends everyone to hell except for some Christians and Jews? Do you believe in the Jewish God that does not send people to hell? Do you believe in that Hare Krishna God that wants men to shave their heads and have Indian names?

Not only does the one who cares about the child get upset but then people ask why did the child have to also suffer. There is an ultimate cause of death. Ultimate means that without this, there would be no death. The ultimate cause of all death is birth. Birth leads to death. Not most of the time, but all of the time. Also some things that are considered very bad turn out to be good.

For example Steve Jobs said that getting fired from the company that he started was very upsetting but one of the best things that could ever happen to him. Steve Jobs was jobless. Then he got married and had kids. Steve Jobs was a vegan and did fasting which are healthy for people. But the latest is that Moores Cancer Center is proposing that cancer is a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Rickets used to be a terrible problem for children but vitamin D cured it. But it is coming back. Even someone like Steve Jobs needs adequate sunlight or will suffer the consequences.


People can also disagree on what karma is. But its explanation of bad things happening to a child is due to what the child did in a past life. So before I wrote this, I made sure to write Is Reincarnation Possible. It has information on it from 2 psychiatrists. But what is important is what is the purpose of karma. Before you can even consider this, you have to ask what is the purpose of life. We have already established that birth is the cause of death. Also gain is the cause of loss.

The book on this article, Good Karma, says:

Karma has become a catchword for the workings of fate-- a glib way to make light of everyday triumphs. But in fact, karma--Sanskrit for "action"-- has almost nothing to do with fate, and almost everything to do with free will and conscious choice. At the simplest level, karma is the Biblical principle of "As you sow, so shall ye reap."

The Dalai Lama and the founder of Transcendental Meditation say that the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness. So that is the purpose of karma. Here is an interesting experience that can get you questioning things that you believe. I used to share a cab with a cocaine addict on weekends. He tried to stop by going to NA meetings (Narcotics Anonymous). He had a girlfriend that was living with him and a child from her.

He was not a nice person. He did not care about other people. Then he and his girlfriend had a fight and they decided to break up. She moved out. Then he realized that he made a big mistake so he wanted her back. But she would not come back. So he became very sad and depressed. Is this a good thing? Is this a desirable thing? Because of this, this guy starts treating everyone kindly. This was so funny to watch-- to see a mean guy being kind to everyone.

Then after a few months of this, they get back together. Also they make plans to improve their lives and plan to buy a house. So now this guy is twice as mean as he ever was. For example he is driving a cab and said that this guy kept drifting into his lane from the other lane. Has this ever happened to you? So he pulls his cab in front of this guy so he could not drive anywhere. They both get out and the cab driver kicks the guy in the chest and gets back into his cab. Is the following karma? Is it karma from a past life?

He goes to an animal hospital to pick up a lady who called the cab. He goes inside to get her. Then he sees this guy, who he had kicked, get out of his car and use a tire iron to break his front cab window. Then the guy drives away. The cab driver has to pay for the window. So someone can say that this happened for no reason at all.

So here is my explanation of karma and how it works. It must help to fulfill the purpose of life. Please note that I am leaving God out of this whether it be the God of the Christians or the God of the Muslims. The immortal soul that Socrates talked about is what the person really is. That soul cannot die or be destroyed. It is your true self. But more importantly it is in a state of constant supreme happiness, perfect peace and endless love.

Why does a person even prefer to feel peace, love and happiness instead of stress, hate and misery? Because this is the nature of his true self. The person wants to go home and be where he needs to be. The Catholic saints call it the beautific vision of the soul. So why do you not feel this soul as describe when it is what you really are. When you hurt other people, it is also called a sin by Christians. It creates a block to feeling your soul or true self. The more you do this, the more blocks that there are.

So if you are not in a sate of perfect peace all of the time, you have a lot of these blocks. So the first thing is not to hurt others any more so you do not create any more of these blocks or blockages. The bible says that Jesus says that if someone strikes you, that you should turn the other cheek. But no explanation is given as to why you should do this. When someone hurts you, then they are giving you some of their good luck and they are taking some of your bad luck. The Quakers believe that whatever people do to you, you never punish them. They leave that in God's hands.

Now this is only part of it. The other part of it is that the blockage that you had created by hurting someone is dissolved when it happens you you. You also have the chance to learn from it. But normally as these blockages are dissolved by bad things happening to you, you create more of them so you do not become any happier. But Mother Teresa knew something and that is why she lived the kind of life that she lived.

As far as doing good things for people and not doing bad things for people, you could ask what is good and what is bad. Well I have come up with something where you do not need to concern yourself with this. Yes, ☺I have made it up myself and never read it anywhere☺. "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." Once I told my friend to look at how attractive this woman was. He did not do it, since he does not want people to do it to him. Is it good or bad to stare? It does not matter.

Now I do stare at people. So I am on this bus and I see 2 young attractive women get on the bus. They are busy with their cell phones and doing different things. I close my eyes to meditate and know that when the bus gets off of the expressway, I will need to get off. So the bus gets off of the expressway and I open my eyes. Both of these women are staring at me intently with a big smile on their faces. I liked that but I had to get off the bus. Otherwise I would have talked to them. Kabir says "He who makes love with the divine now, will have the face of satisfied desire in his next life."

Another way of asking why bad things happen to good people is to ask why is there suffering. Does suffering have a purpose? If so, what is the purpose of suffering? Why did the cocaine addict mentioned above become more mean when he got back together with his girlfriend and improved his life? What makes people mean and treat others badly? There is something called ego. This ego can get worse by gaining wealth and power.

In A New Earth , Eckhart Tolle says "Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego." Above I discussed ego and how it can get you killed. The evolution of consciousness is the getting rid of the blockages inside of you that keeps you from experiencing your true or original self that is in a state of supreme happiness all of the time. Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now :

Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all these things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.

Most people find it difficult to believe that a state of consciousness totally free of all negativity is possible. And yet this is the liberated state to which all spiritual teachings point. It is the promise of salvation, not in an illusory future but right here and now. You may find it hard to recognize that time [perception] is the cause of your suffering or your problems.... Ultimately, there is only one problem: the time-bound mind itself.

Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry-- all forms of fear-- are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.

Now it will make it more complicated to tell you where I learned the following (although Tom Cruise and John Travolta knows where it comes from) but when something happens to you, it is because you caused it to happen to someone else. Then you feel the same pain that you caused them to feel. Now if it did happen to you, but you had not caused it to happen to someone else, then it would not hurt much. So "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Did Mother Teresa, Jesus and Gandhi know the following? When good things happen to you, then enjoy them. But do not celebrate because they are not doing anything for you. When bad (undesirable) things happen to you then you will not enjoy them. But you can celebrate since they are doing something for you. They are happening because you are very loved and something like a sort of spirit, life force, soul or God wants you to be supremely happy.

The happiness of the soul is not dependent on anything in the world so it cannot be destroyed. You cannot control what others do. But you can control what you do. You are the only one that can create these blockages to your happiness. Besides having bad things happen to you, you can do things that help you to burn off these blockages like by helping others (altruistic acts), doing fasting, doing yoga postures and doing meditation. I have an article about the Many Benefits of Fasting. Jesus fasted for 40 days! So did Moses. Buddha fasted.

I have an article about 23 Celebrities That Do Yoga. This includes Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton used to do it with her when they were in law school. I also have an article on 29 Celebrities That Do Meditation and this includes Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Paul McCartney, Al Gore, Clint Eastwood (for 40 years), Dr. Oz and others. It has videos of Clint Eastwood talking about this and Dr Oz with Oprah Winfrey talking about meditation.

Like mentioned before, Socrates said "Know thyself" and he was talking about the immortal soul. A teacher of meditation called Self-Knowledge or Knowledge, Prem Rawat says:

Man can be identified by three qualities: space, time, and energy. His body lives in space, his mind in time, and his soul lives in infinite energy, in the infinite self. By meditation, you will be able to cross those limits of space and time that all human beings exist in. Once you do that, you will be able to find out who you really are.

Alicia Keys Sings Karma

Here is Amy Lee singing My Immortal

What We Give is What We Get


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    • hiya-writer profile image


      2 years ago from India

      I strongly believe in karma. I have seen it happening in my life and that too many times. There are a few things which can help in building our good karma. Also, I have heard that reiki practitioners have the power to help us get relief from the effects of bad karma.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Bluestein 

      6 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      I read on the Research and Discovery Series books that L Ron Hubbard did not believe in reincarnation so he told others to ignore it when people remembered something from before they were born. But for the fun of it he let a guy tell about the imagined events in past lives. But the guy recovered more in this one session (that was done for the fun of it) than all the other sessions combined.

      In fact when the book on Dianetics was written, Hubbard believed that the clear person was perfect and had no more growth to go through since he was clear on everything in the present life and that was all there was.

      I went to one of your articles and when I told my friend that Obama and Romney were like Hitler and Stalin, he thought that was a little strong. But you can look it up on the internet and see that these soldiers that are forced to kill people (they were just folloing orders like Hitlers soldiers were) come back to America and kill themselves every 85 minutes!

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 

      6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Howdy, Chuck. Could it be that blockages are dissolved by gratitude (turning the other cheek)?

      I love how you skirt the mention of the "S" word that Cruise and Travolta hold in such high esteem. I did once, too. In fact, I gain my biggest spiritual breakthroughs there.

      In my own experience, it seems that ego is the poison of the forbidden fruit -- a matrix of concepts, all dichotomies: good-evil, right-wrong, generous-selfish, confidence-doubt and many others.

      Ego is vectors within space-time. Ego is action-reaction, and thus the source of karma. Without ego, no karma is possible. With all karma dissolved, ego dissolves with it.

      Reacting to ego only builds ego. That is why the current political scene, with Corporate Party media whipping the flames of divisiveness is creating so much more ego. In fact, it seems to be building to a critical mass, just like America's national debt.

      I have read so much about the Light of Truth and the Darkness which opposes it. And in 1971, I experienced this division first-hand. While at Scientology's Advanced Organization, Los Angeles, I was undergoing Power Processing. I don't remember much of the process itself, but it seemed to deal with helping others and generosity. Something in that triggered a complete loss of ego. The effect proved so startling that it imprinted on me like chiseled stone. For several moments, I found myself hovering 15 feet above the ground and 12 feet off my body's left shoulder. I saw all the details in my environment, including the overcast night sky, the near empty parking lot, and the bluish-gray blinds (closed) between me and my body. When I became self-conscious, that I was not casting a shadow -- that physical light was passing right through "me!" -- the darkness of physical dependency descended on me again. It took me 41 years to figure that much out.

      I've also seen many miracles, one even as startling and powerful as Moses parting the sea. And all that came about because 6 individuals within 2 minutes had selfishly jammed their cars in the small space in front of my own, without warning or thanks. Each time, I came dangerously close to ramming their car out of physical inertia and building rage. But even with burning rubber, my bumper never touched theirs.

      After the sixth such intrusion, I was shaken from my rage by the realization that I was 100% responsible not only for the feelings I was creating, but also for the events in my environment toward which I could flow my frustration and anger. I was 100% responsible for their intrusions. I felt gratitude flowing out of me. I felt complete and utter love for them.

      And they could've done anything to me or my car and I would not have minded. I could no longer be a victim, because I was 100% responsible for everything that happened in my environment.

      The miracle that happened after this one, was even more awe inspiring. I pictured wide open spaces and smooth sailing all the way to my destination, and then "rested" from my creation by taking my conscious awareness off of the creation, but leaving my subconscious (feeling) attention on it (faith or perfect confidence that it was done).

      The instant (not one fraction of a second before or after) my creation slipped from conscious awareness, the car directly in front of mine turned sharply into the lane on the left. Right and left, the cars in front of mine turned into the already crowded, bumper-to-bumper traffic on either side. Two miles of empty center lane on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles allowed me to speed up and to pass those nearly 2,000 cars, and for four minutes, not one car decided to turn into that entirely empty space before me.

      Thirty-four years later, I finally realized that the first six cars to evacuate the space before mine were the same cars that had assaulted mine moments before. My forgiveness of them had been that complete.

      There is much good still in the world. The Age of Miracles never ended. People merely stopped looking or doing.

      But the coming storm is a wake up call. I dearly hope more people heed it. I hope I do, more fully.

      Keep up the good work, Chuck! An inspiring, thought-provoking read.

    • MotherWisdom profile image

      Katherine Parker 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      The God of this universe needs no change. He is perfect and complete, the head of all, and the source of all life, power and strength. The issue of His character is the crux of why mankind is in the state it is in. The matter of change is getting back into the original state we once held. This only comes through from the transforming, ressurecting power of Jesus Christ or the correct translation of His name, Messiah Yeshua.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Bluestein 

      6 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      In Buddhism, the issue of whether there is God or not is not important. If there is a God that is perfect then there requires no change by God. Also praying to God will not improve God. So the change that is required in the Christian or Jewish religion is the change of the person. So that is what Buddhism focuses on.

    • MotherWisdom profile image

      Katherine Parker 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      The first point I would like to make is that in all humans there is an intangible awareness that there is something or someone greater at work. It is even down to the atheist who say there is no God/god. However, put them in a life and death situation, there is a natural grasping for... Now there are different stages in this grasping. But it happens. There are exceptions where a person is hardened. Next putting a name on this force, yes I believe in the God of the Bible for many reasons and experiences. Jewish or Christian, He is the same God. Now is He interpreted right, most cases no. This is especially true for those who reject Him altogether. As far as bad things happening to good people, it happens all the time. In fact it seems so out of balance. Whether you believe in the Christian/Jewish God or not, you only have to look at nature. The answer is in there. There is a balance that comes when the hand of man stays out of it. There is a bigger force at work that balances all things. He is a just God, and He has the balance as well for those who have been wronged. It is a lot more than this side of mortallity.

    • karthikkash profile image

      Karthik Kashyap 

      7 years ago from India

      When we say god, the problem is that, most people attach a religious perspective to that. I think that may be one reason why some people deny that there is a god. Again, for some people who believe in an energy/life force, it may be that god has nothing to do with religion/shape or form. I think that is where spirituality kicks in. I am a spiritual person though I was born in a religious Hindu family. I don't believe that god exists either in the form of Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Buddha or anyone. I simply believe that god is a force that is powerful enough to control the universe. Attaching a divinity to it or form to it simply destroys my faith in god.

      A belief about Karma I hold also differs from people who are either believers or non-believers. I simply don't believe that Karma is sitting in a corner hungrily waiting to bite us in the back side. I simply believe that what you do has consequences. If you are smart enough and know how to handle the consequences, Karma may not even come sniffing around. If you don't know how to handle the consequences, Karma can be more than a b**ch.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      7 years ago from USA

      Hi Chuck, it looks like you've invested lots of time and thought into this. The video is a nice addition to the hub as well.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Bluestein 

      7 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      I just added Alicia Keys' song Karma to this article. She sings that what goes around comes around.

    • Artin2010 profile image

      Art Wartenbe 

      7 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

      Hello Chuck, a very interesting read. Liked it. Voted up, they who ever they are said, Kharma is a B$%ch,lol Sometimes I wanna believe that is true, because it is true that what goes around usually comes around once in a while! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Enjoyed it. Peace, Love from above... :)


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