Maybe you have a child with a so-called birth defect. Maybe you were mugged. Maybe your child was in a car accident.
In situations like these, the universe seems senseless just when we’re the most desperate for it to make sense.
We don’t want to live in a universe that’s insane, and the solution is simple: We assert the sanity of the universe at the expense of our own.
It’s no accident that sanity and sanitary come from the same Latin root. We want things to be clean and orderly. So, we assert karmic forces and/or gods that reward good and punish evil, relentlessly and perfectly. When bad things happen to me, it’s my fault. Harsh, yes, but at least the universe is in balance. It’s all very tidy.
Ironically, this very pursuit of sanity for the universe causes us to lose our own.
First, we go out of our minds asking, “What did I do to deserve this?” In all likelihood, you did nothing. If you have ever looked for a lost item, you know that there is no surer way to go insane than to look for something that’s not there, especially if you think it ought to be.
Second and more sinister is what happens to our moral faculties. Maybe you did do something wrong, but it was very small compared to the tragedy. Maybe you only thought about doing something, and you fear that the thought itself is being punished. Now, in order to continue believing in the justice of the universe, you must believe that those minor offenses are on a par with what happened to you. You lose all sense of moral proportion. Soon, you will find yourself believing that if you merely call someone a name, you are in danger of eternal hell.
So please, if something bad happens to you and it’s not your fault, then it’s really not your fault. Keep your sanity.