Does honesty pay off?


My sister is a honest, caring, straightforward, talented, and a truly loving girl. Because of these qualities she is facing immense stress at her university. She is constantly harassed, insulted, and humiliated by others because she sticks out ! And also because she does not know how to get a job done on the sly, she pays a huge price. Is this the fate of all who try to live honestly? What is the meaning of such an existence? Is there any way out for such people as my sister?

—ashwin, canada


Dear Ashwin,

Thank you for your question and for your concern for your sister. We are very sorry to hear she is having to undergo such harsh treatment at her university. I think your question might be summed up like this: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The truth is that many people have find that they must face great suffering in their lives, even though they are very honest, caring, selfless, and essentially good people. This doesn’t seem fair, unless you are able to look at the bigger picture.

We do not live just one life. Whatever is happening to us is the product of our past lives. But this does not mean we cannot overcome past karma though our present attitudes and actions.

If your sister is willing to hang on to her high principles, she will see that eventually these good actions will be rewarded. It is certainly better to live a good, honest life, even if it does not seem to be “paying off” immediately. She will receive positive benefits from her good actions.Time will always prove this principle to be true – it is a universal law.

But even better than that would be for her (and all of us) to become inwardly strong enough that these things can no longer touch her.

Is there a way out for her? Yes, the way out is by going inside. When we seek rewards from the world or hope for nothing but good treatment from others, we will always be disappointed in one way or another. When we seek the kingdom of God, through prayer and meditation, we discover a peace which cannot be influenced by what is happening to, for, or all around us.

We can discover our Godly nature which is ever-conscious, ever-existing, ever-new bliss. By dwelling always in a state of Divine consciousness, we can do our work in this world (our dharma), whatever that might be, while still living in a state of unshakable joy.