Capitalizing on Good and Avoiding Bad

There are both kind and cruel people in the world, just as there are both good and unwholesome deeds. People often take advantage of kind people doing good deeds. Cruel people doing bad deeds are often in an advantageous position over others. But we must remember that “when one is kind, others take advantage of him, but the heavens will not. When one is mean, people are afraid of him, but the heavens are not.” There is also a popular verse that goes, “Good deeds stand tall like a green pine, while unwholesome deeds bloom like flowers. The pine is not as brilliant as the flowers. But when the frost comes, the pine will still stand tall, while the flowers wither and can be seen no more.”

When kind people do good deeds, they may be harassed and hindered. But this is only temporary. The righteous will prevail in the end. When cruel people do bad deeds, some may follow them out of fear. But this is also temporary. When their karma catches up with them, they will ultimately fail. A scholar of the Ming Dynasty once said, “Those who do good are like orchids. You do not see them grow, slowly and steadily, they come to full blossom. Cruelness can be compared to a grindstone. When we use a grindstone, we do not see it becoming used up, until one day, when we realize it has become much smaller.” So do we want to be fragrant orchids or a grindstone?

Sometimes when people do good deeds, they are met with disaster. Sometimes when people commit unwholesome deeds, they enjoy fame and fortune. But, “Good begets good and evil begets evil. It is only a matter of time before the effect manifests.” We can see from the many examples throughout history that individuals who commit war crimes subsequently receive their respective “effect.” Consider the following story:

Once, a person wanted to cross a river, but he discovered that the bridge was washed away. He took a large statue of the deity from the local shrine and used it as a bridge to cross the water. On seeing this, a kind person was shocked and shouted, “What a crime! How could someone desecrate a deity in this manner?” The kind person quickly carried the statue back to the shrine and honored it by offering flowers, fruit, and incense. The statue spoke to the man, asking him to make a donation. The kind man retorted, “That terrible man ruined you and you did not blame him. But I saved you, and you ask me for a donation?”

The statue explained, “He is a terrible man. I want nothing to do with him. You are a kind person, so I ask you to do kind deeds.”

To do good deeds, we need to ready ourselves and have right views. Doing good deeds may appear to be initially disadvantageous for us, but in the end, benevolence will triumph. We should not belittle small acts as being insignificant. There have been numerous examples where by doing something as insignificant as saving a small animal resulted in a person’s life being saved in return. Do not worry about not being rewarded immediately. Karma never fails to manifest.