What is the benefit of persisting in doing good deeds?
All religions advise people to do good deeds and refrain from doing evil. They all promote that “we should strive to perform all good acts.” But what is the benefit of doing good? What is the value of morality? We often say, “Good deeds bring about good rewards, and evil deeds harsh retribution.” This is the Law of Cause and Effect. The Chinese expect kind acts to bring rewards largely to their family. They believe that if the parents do good deeds their descendants will live in abundance. Thus the saying: “House of accumulated good deeds shall be blessed with abundance.”
This contradicts reality! Because a kind and good family may have very wicked children. And many a wicked parent gives birth to children both filial and loyal. Our ancient Emperor Yao (who lived more than 2100 years ago) was a kind and magnanimous person. But his son Dan Zhu was notorious for his arrogance. Again, Gu Sou the Blind, father of Emperor Shun, was stupid and evil, while Emperor Shun was renowned for his filial piety. These are just a couple of examples.
Individually speaking, the wicked always find it easier to secure social reputation and power. However, more often than not, the good are down-trodden and have to lick their wounds in solitude. Was Confucius not a man of high moral and great erudition? Yet, he was nearly starved to death when he was travelling around the warring states in China. Neither did his political ideals met with appreciation. On the other hand, the notorious robber Dao Zhi had practically everything his way at the time.
Then how can we say that there is a inexorable law governing reward and retribution of good and evil acts? What is the reason for us to perform good deeds? We can only answer these questions by the Law of Three Birth (past, present and future lives) and Cause and Effect. Hence, “All religions advise people to do good deeds.” In this, their motives are the same, but Buddhism draws a different conclusion. In following the Buddha, we persist in the performance of good deeds. May be our present circumstances are unfavourable and frustrating, but once our good karma (deeds) ripen, they will naturally bear good fruit. If we can perceive the world in this light, then and only then can we consider ourselves to have grasped the spirit of Buddhism.