If bad Karma gets a bad reward, why do we still act badly?

Acharya Prashant
5 min readDec 28, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Sir, you have said that “The right action is its own reward; the wrong action is its own punishment.” Basis your quote, the common man must choose the right action and be naturally aversive to the wrong action but that does not happen. Kindly, throw some light on it.

Acharya Prashant (AP): “Right action is its own reward; the wrong action is its own punishment but people still seem to be aversive to right action and going for the wrong action.” So, why this contradiction? That’s the question.

To whom are these rewards or punishments coming? You have to understand this, if someone has lived an entire lifetime based on wrong decisions, wrong actions then what has started appearing right to this person?

But before we proceed, we must revisit what the right action or decision means?

Right action is the action that brings peace and relaxation to you.

Right action leaves you with reasonless contentment.

It leads to a diminishing of inner uncertainty and anxiety. That’s the right action. And that also defines the wrong action for you conversely.

So, the right action brings peace to you. But what if you are someone who’s entire life is built on a sequence of wrong actions? You have become totally conditioned; totally acclimatized; you have invested a lot in the wrong- ‘the wrong has strongly started appearing right to you.’

Now, when you make a truly right decision what comes to you is truly the right reward but that right reward is incompatible with your pre-existing life structure. So, you suffer and this explains why people avoid the right action.

‘People avoid right action because right action is incompatible with the entire edifice, the entire structure of their life.’

People do not operate from a clean slate. Were people operating from a clean slate, from a zero base with no past, no biases, no carryovers whatsoever then everybody would have chosen in favor of the right action and decision. But people have a history and that history is often full of wrongness. Not only have…

Acharya Prashant