Why do evil things happen to good people?

First of all, I think there is a problem with the notion of “good” people. It is pretty subjective. What/Who determines “good”? How does one define “good people” and how accurate is anyone’s definition of it?

With my limited knowledge around this topic, my answer will be based on the philosophical note which Hinduism/Buddhism preach about the cycle of life and death where each one’s Karma is accumulated and carried forward across several rebirths/reincarnations.

I will try to answer two notions around this question.

1. Good people suffer and good things happen to bad people
Karma (both good and bad) are like seeds, no wonder they say “what you sow is what you reap”.
And pretty much like seeds, there is no need for it to germinate instantly and depends on the conditions. If the right conditions are present – the seeds germinate. If not, the seeds are still there, laying dormant.

More like ripening of previously sown seeds good or bad karma could take effect:
– Instantaneously or
– Later on in this lifetime or
– In future lifetimes.

So someone you think to be BAD may have sown a lot of good seeds in his/her previous births. Similarly someone you think to be a GOOD person has sown a lot of bad seeds earlier.

2. Good people suffer more for the same bad deed than a bad person doing the same deed:
I will quote Buddha’s explanation on this since it is fairly simple to conceptually understand
Buddha mentioned (in his Lonaphala Sutra (The sutra of the salt-crystals)) that if two people with different amounts of good karma did the SAME bad deed, they could have very different effects.  One person doing a tiny bad deed can suffer immensely for it.  Yet someone doing the SAME tiny bad deed would experience only minor discomfort.
You may wonder why?
He gave a simple example which goes like this:
– Let’s say you put a fistful of salt crystals into a small cup of water.  Would it be salty?  Would it make it hard to drink this water? Of course YES.
– Let’s say you put the same amount of salt into a huge freshwater river.  How salty would that water be?  Would that make the water undrinkable? Definitely NOT.
— The salt is like the bad karma.
— The water is like the good karma.
— The saltiness itself is the amount of suffering experienced.
Someone can go to jail for stealing a dollar.  Another person steals a dollar and yet nothing much happens – he/she may just be told to pay it back.

So someone you think to be BAD may have huge freshwater river based on his/her good deeds in this/previous births. Similar to someone you think to be a GOOD person but has just a cup full of freshwater.





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