Question: Why does God permit evil on earth?
Answer: In the history of thought there are three answers to this question. According to the first answer, although logically unacceptable, there is a principle of evil which is independent of God and God is fighting with that principle. There is a battle between the two principles and God will ultimately win the battle. The second answer is that there is no God at all but there is a Law of Karma, which is supreme. According to the actions of individuals, the Law of Karma meets out justice and therefore if we increase good actions, ultimately we will be free.
Question: Who initiates karma – good or bad?
Answer: We cannot know when it began, how it began and why it began. We are concerned with liberation. A remedy is given; use it for your freedom. The usual example is that if you are walking bare foot in a forest, a very poisonous thorn may go sharply in the foot and in that state of pain you call out to a friend who is prepared to take out the thorn. In that state of suffering you do not raise these questions. There is the principle of Mara (an evil principle) in the Law of Karma that prevents us from finding the solution. Even questioning of this kind is the method of Mara, so do not fall into the hands of Mara and raise these questions. This is the answer of Buddhism. The third answer is similar but slightly different. It says you are in this condition because of ignorance. If you remove ignorance you will be liberated from this mess. When you come out of it, you find that it was a bad dream. You were never in the mess; it was an illusion of Maya. The famous statement of this theory is that none is bound; none is seeking to be free; none is to be liberated. It is only in the field of Maya that all these questions arise, and you feel bound. It is like saying, you are in confusion and you come out of it by confusion. This is the theory of mayāvāda.