Nobody is stopped by punishment, but society goes on thinking that it is because the wrong has to be stopped that we punish. Both are wrong. Society has some other reason: it takes revenge. And the criminal also understands – because egos understand each other’s language very easily, howsoever unconscious – the criminal also thinks, “Okay, I will take revenge when my time comes, I will see.” Then a conflict exists between the criminal’s ego and society’s ego.
Is God the same? – just like a justice, a magistrate, just like a father or a boss? Is God also cruel in the same way as society? Is God also the same deep down, an egoist as we are? Will he take revenge if you disobey? Will he punish you? Then he is no longer divine, then he is just an ordinary man like us.
This is one of the profoundest problems: how will God behave with a sinner who has gone astray? Will he be kind? Then there are other things implied. And if he wants to be just, he cannot have compassion, because justice and compassion cannot exist together. Compassion means unconditional forgiveness, but it is not just, because it is possible… A saint prayed continuously his whole life, never did anything wrong; was always afraid of moving beyond the boundary, lived in his own confinement, created an imprisonment for himself; never did anything wrong, remained virtuous his whole life; never allowed himself any enjoyment of the senses, was very austere. And then there was another man who lived, indulged, did whatsoever came to his mind; went wherever his senses led him, enjoyed whatsoever the world gave; did all types of things, all types of sins. And then both reached the divine, both reached God’s world.
What will happen? If the saint is not rewarded and the sinner is not punished, it will be very unjust. If both are rewarded, that too will be unjust, because the saint will think: “I have lived a good life, but nothing special is given to me for it.” If the sinner is also rewarded in the same way, then what is the use of being a saint? The whole thing becomes futile. Then God may be compassionate, but he is not just.
If he is just, then the arithmetic will be clear in our minds: the sinner has to be punished, the saint has to be rewarded. But then he cannot have compassion; a just man has to be cruel because otherwise justice cannot be done. A just man has to live in the head, not in the heart.
A magistrate should not have a heart, otherwise his justice will waver. He should not have any kindness in him, because kindness will become a barrier to doing justice. A man who is just must become like a computer, just a head: laws, rewards, punishments; no heart enters into it, no feeling should be allowed. He should remain a spectator, unfeeling, as if there is no heart in him. But then a difficult problem arises, because for centuries we have been saying that God is both just and compassionate; kind, loving, and yet just. Then it is a contradiction, a paradox. How to solve this?