Why Be Good?

Four Reasons for Goodness

Firstly, if there is afterlife,
and if there’s karma,
I’ll have a good rebirth
as I do good.

Secondly, if there is no afterlife,
and if there’s no karma,
I’ll live happily now,
as I’m free of ill will.

Thirdly, if evil befalls the evil,
it will not affect me
as I do no evil.

Fourthly, if evil does not befall the evil,
as I do no evil and do good instead,
I’m pure both ways.

The above is a paraphrased version of this:

The Four Assurances (Solaces)

When, Kalamas, this noble disciple has thus made his mind
free of enmity, free of ill will, uncorrupted and pure,
he has won four assurances in this very life.

“The first assurance he has won is this:
‘If there is another world, and if good and bad deeds bear fruit and yield results,
it is possible that with the breakup of this body, after death,
I shall arise in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’

“The second assurance he has won is this:
‘If there is no other world, and if good and bad deeds do not bear fruit and yield results,
still right here, in this very life,
I live happily, free of enmity and ill will.’

“The third assurance he has won is this:
‘Suppose evil befalls the evil-doer.
Then, as I do not intend evil for anyone,
how can suffering afflict me, one who does no evil deed?’

“The fourth assurance he has won is this:
‘Suppose evil does not befall the evil-doer.
Then, right here I see myself purified in both respects.’ ”

– Excerpt from the Kalama Sutta
(Translated & Edited by Nyanaponika Thera & Bhikkhu Bodhi)