Can someone please give me an explanation on how good karma can manifest as power and wealth in the future? This is usually explained away by saying that “well there are some rich people who got their wealth in an ethical way” but anyone in high ranks will tell you that power is not something that is given to you, but rather something you have to fight for on a daily basis. I do not say that one can not acquire wealth by leading a moral lifestyle - my question is, how could it be that after a certain point, being moral is less effective than following Machiavelli’s cruel practices?
Take the following example of Ashoka: according to the Suttas, his reign was foretold by the Buddha after a selfless offering of his in a past life. But according to historical sources, Ashoka rose to power by tricking and murdering his opposition, with the help of power hungry ministers. Some sources, although exaggerating, say that he has also killed 99 of his brothers because he saw them as threats to his established power. He also led a war where more than a 100 000 soldiers and civilians have lost their lives. According to the legend, this massacre finally made him feel sorrow and convert to Buddhism. The lovely stories about the wheel turning governance of the kind and great Ashoka start from here, although he would still occasionally execute a few thousand followers of certain sects and burn people and their families alive if they made fun of the Buddha. Ashoka - Wikipedia
Now there are two options here:
- either Ashoka’s reign was not foretold in Buddhist scriptures, and the stories could be looked upon as fabrications for propaganda purposes, as a way of legitimizing his power - which means that there is a possibility that other Suttas could also be fabrications for similar purposes AND good karma had nothing to do with him getting to power,
- or Ashoka’s reign was indeed foretold, and as a result of his good karma, he was able to kill at least 150 000 people (but probably much more than that) in order to rise to power and keep it. If that’s the case, I would be really interested to know what his opposition’s good karma would have been? Has Bindusara elder son Susima, who was tricked out of poer and killed, only offered half a diamond to the Buddha?
I know this question sounds cynical but I am really struggling with it, and I do not know where to turn to! All the teachings make sense until you put power and wealth into the mix, and I can’t figure out a way to resolve this conflict on my own.
Ajahn Sujato, please if you are reading this, I would really appreciate your answer. I have listened to one of your talks on narcissists a while ago and it has really impacted me how it went against the usual teachings of just “be nice to people until they also become nice” and actually offered a solution.