Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
Over the last week, the Dallas Morning News has run a series on the story of 20-year old Lauren Kavanaugh. In “The Girl in the Closet”, you will read a devastating, demoralizing account of depravity. (To access these stories, go to the chapters portion on the toolbar.)
The report tells the story of how young Lauren was locked in a closet, deprived of food and sexually abused by her mother and stepfather over several years. It will tell you how she rose above that horror to later be sexually abused again in her teen-age years. Throughout the story, you will learn of the rise and fall and rise of this young girl. You also will hear many an expert say this was as bad a case of victimization as they have seen.
Here, then, is my question:
Where was God in the ordeal young Lauren faced?
Of course, this is an age-old question, but I would like to hear your views.
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
My sister died when she was just two years old when I was a young boy in middle school. She suffered terribly in the hospital for two years and then passed away. For that reason, I also had this same question.
It is like if you were to walk into a grocery store and the cashier twists your arm behind your back and pushed your face hard down onto the table, all under the purview of the manager. If the manager did nothing to stop this mistreatment, naturally you would see this as bad management, neglect, or cruelty. In this same way, Mother Nature can be seen as the cashier and God is her manager.
Omnipotent means that God not only has the power to stop mistreatment but rather everything happens by His own sanction. Omniscience means that God knows all that is happening. And finally omnibenevolence means that God is the most kind and loving. So how does one resolve this great contradiction?
Since God is the most intelligent, shouldn't there be an intelligent answer? If that person who was at the grocery store was there the day before and they were shoplifting, then it would not be seen as cruelty, mismanagement, or neglect of the cashier and manager, if he were to be accosted and arrested. Similarly, the only answer that gives a logical framework to the suffering of children and the existence of an all loving God, is that everyone bears the burdens of past karmas of previous lives. Otherwise a solid case for neglect and cruelty could be made against the Supreme Lord.
Why karma, what is the benefit of karma? Karma is material actions of the past that come with their concomitant material reactions. When one acts fully in God consciousness there is no karma, no reactionary bondage to their actions. Karma reminds the soul that the material world is not its home.
The true saint feels compassion and pain towards all other's suffering. A saint will teach by example one how to become fully God-conscious and thus destroy the problem of suffering at its root.