In the course of our lives, we come across situations which lead us to despair, and when this happens we often call out to the Lord and cry, “Why am I suffering? What did I do to deserve this? When I constantly try to do what’s right, why is it that I suffer while others have all the luck?” To this the saints reply:
Do not blame anybody; our own deeds are responsible for whatever happens. As I did, so do I fare; why then blame others for it?
Guru Nanak, as quoted in The Path
“How are our own deeds responsible?” we may ask. “How am I to blame for this situation in my life? I haven’t done anything wrong. How is it my fault?”
Analyzed from a simple and practical perspective, we know the entire universe is governed by strict laws. For instance, we are aware of the laws of science, laws of justice and laws of business. In the seventeenth century when an apple from a tree fell on Sir Isaac Newton’s head, he proved scientifically that what goes up must come down and called it the law of gravity. He also discovered one of the laws of motion: that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In every civilized country, there are laws of justice to reward good citizens and punish criminals. We are applying laws of business when we employ workers and pay them fair wages. These laws are merely the tip of the iceberg. Scientists and others have discovered innumerable laws in the physical creation and have applied them to all aspects of life.
Studied in greater depth, we find that all laws are based on a single fundamental relationship – the relationship of cause and effect. One action triggers a reaction, whether positive or negative, rewarding or punishing. This cause and effect relationship existed since the beginning of the creation with the divine law of karma.
The law of karma ensures that every action shall have an equal reaction. Jesus Christ said “As ye sow, so shall ye reap”; even Moses preached “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” It simply means that every thought, spoken word or physical action will generate a reaction. If we perform good actions, we will receive rewards for them; and if we partake in hurtful or evil actions, we will be punished for them.
We can never calculate or fathom our karmic accounts. They have been accumulating for millions of lifetimes – which we do not remember. The reactions of our past actions (from previous lifetimes) can bear fruit in a current lifetime or even in future lifetimes. Maharaj Charan Singh explains this more clearly:
Our stay in this transient world, our experiencing of its joys and sorrows, its pleasure and pain, its weal and woe, its hopes and fears, is all due to our own karmas. Like a peasant who harvests one crop, brings it home and then sows another, we are also reaping the fruits of our actions in past lives, and in this life we are sowing new ones to reap in the next.
Spiritual Discourses, Vol. I
Hence, Guru Nanak wrote, “Our own deeds are responsible for whatever happens.” So when we ask God, “Why me?” we must understand that according to the law of karma, our fate or our destiny is determined by our own actions.
It also means that by going through painful situations, we are actually paying off and clearing our own karmic accounts. Thus our pains are actually blessings in disguise.
Nevertheless, sometimes when we are upset, we either refute or simply are incapable of absorbing the wisdom of the saint’s words. But, even just the attempt to understand and accept can provide immense relief from our mental torment. Maharaj Charan Singh has often said:
If we try to remove the thorns of the world, we can never succeed; but if we put on strong shoes, the thorns are completely ineffective.
The thorns are the reactions of pleasure and pain we must endure according to the law of karma; and the strong shoes represent the strength we get from our meditation practice. From the moment we are initiated, the Master connects our soul to the Shabd, and every time we practise our meditation, we are strengthening our ties and relationship to that all-merciful and all-powerful God.
The book Living Meditation highlights many benefits of spiritual practice. For instance, as our meditation practice becomes stable, we begin to see life more objectively. That helps us reach a state where we can more easily detach ourselves from our emotions and obsessions. It helps us to gain increasing clarity as to who we really are. And eventually, our meditation enables us to develop clear thinking, through which we can help ourselves by reasoning and thinking things through from a spiritual perspective. Ultimately, every benefit comes down to the same thing: meditation helps us develop strong shoes as we walk through this world of thorns.
So the next time we feel like crying out, “Why me?” we should try to focus our energy instead on our meditation, because as the Masters proclaim, this is the only way to gain liberation from our karmas and the pains of the world.
When good days do not last, why expect bad days to persist? Much of our bad times have passed away. Only a little is left; bear it with fortitude. Satguru is within you and is every moment looking after you. Have faith in his grace and compassion, and do not feel dejected. Do not let patience desert you. Contemplate on the Satguru’s form and continue to attend to your meditation regularly.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, In the Footsteps of the Master