FIRST SPIRITUAL TEMPLE
Founded in 1883
Reincarnation: Part 2
The Great Conflict
There is a conflict (for some, it can be called a battle) that wages within most of us. The conflict is between that which we desire and that which we need. This conflict is termed the kama-manasic conflict, from two words coined by early Theosophists: kama, meaning desire; and manas, meaning mind or need. The purpose of our many lives upon the Earth plane is to transcend from a state where we react strongly to the desires of the personality, to a state where we respond completely to the higher aspects of the soul and Spirit. Little by little, we chip away at the illusory desires, and we begin revealing more and more of our true nature as soul and Spirit.
The Great Law of Karma
If we consider what we have said thus far, we can see that we are involved in a marvelous system of life. We are given every opportunity to become all that we already are. Again, we have a paradox. Why should we strive to become something we already are? The answer is profoundly simple: we do not believe that we are what we are! We have convinced ourselves that we are the body, or at least the personality. We carefully categorize and label people, based upon color, creed, religion, sexual orientation. etc. We constantly refer to and judge others as more or less spiritual than we, when, in effect, we are all plainly and simply spiritual. We even go so far as to argue whether God is male or female; perhaps the most ludicrous argument of all. All this categorizing and polarizing has created a dichotomy of the soul and caused us to forget, or not truly believe, that we are all created in God’s image as Spirit!
In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1, Verse 9, it says, “There is no new thing under the sun.” This is true of the spiritual quest. Our journey is not so much one of discovery, but rather one of rediscovery; rediscovering the hidden mysteries of the soul, the hidden mysteries of life and of God. Besides rediscovering that which already is, we are constantly creating and changing. Although there is nothing new under the sun, that which is not new is constantly in a state of growth and expansion. As God expands and evolves (in a manner incomprehensible to any of us), so do we; and vice versa. Thus, life is a cycle. We are not traveling home; like prodigal children, we are returning back home. Jews refer to this as Teshuvah, a return back to the Source; a turning and returning.
As co-creators with God, we are bestowed with a most wonderful gift: freedom of choice. We have the freedom to choose whether we shall live by God’s plan or in opposition to it. This is our greatest gift. Along with this wonderful gift comes responsibility, and this responsibility is manifested in one universal and eternal law: the great Law of Karma or Cause and Effect. In a nutshell, the Law of Karma states that we must sow, now or in the future, that which we reap. We are responsible for our actions and our thoughts. Everything that we do, say, and think has some effect, and we are obligated to deal with that effect. How we deal with it is determined by each of us, but deal with it we must. This is the law! Apart from explaining why there is evil within a loving creation, the Law of Karma guarantees justice; never through punishment or retribution, but always through consequence. Please pay particular attention to this last statement. Karma is a Law of Consequence.
Karma is not a law of punishment or revenge; it is a law of natural consequence. No one escapes the effects of the Law of Karma.
Myths Surrounding Karma
There are many myths surrounding karma. Let us now dispel a few of them.
Karma is not a form of divine punishment. Karma is simply the law. There is no punishment here, nor is there reward; there is merely consequence. How we live our lives today will determine, to a great degree, what our future will be like; it is as simple as that.So, we must never look at karma as retribution for the deeds of the past. To do so would be to look at life in a negative way. If errors need to be corrected, we should attempt to correct them. This is the responsibility which comes with freedom of choice.
Karma should not be equated to negativity. People love talking about their bad karma and how they are suffering, today, for the deeds of the past. Again, karma is the law. There is neither good karma nor bad karma; there is only karma! The consequences of our past deeds may be unpleasant, or they may be rewarding. We determine that, not karma. Karma is what makes it all come about. Karma can be equated to atomic energy. In its raw state, atomic energy has great, but silent, potential. Once we tap into it, we can use it either to solve our energy problems or to destroy the planet upon which we live. So it is with karma. In itself, it is neutral; once we engage it, it takes on character, and we usually label it as “good” or “bad”.
Karma must never be looked at in terms of “an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If we injure an individual, we do not necessarily have to be injured by that same person. We must deal with the fact that we injured another soul. How we deal with that is up to us. Those involved will likely work out a strategy of karmic compensation. But karma should not be looked at as a means of revenge for the injustices committed by others. This perverted attitude concerning karma results only in one thing: a continuation of a vicious cycle of inflicting one injustice upon another because of what a person may have done to us. This solves nothing.
What are we attempting to say here? Simply this: we should be aware of karma and its many implications and then leave it at that. We should strive to live our lives in light, love, and goodness, not because it will help wipe out so-called “karmic debts”, but because we know that this is the way we should be. If we do selfless things for selfish reasons, our motives becomes selfish, and there will be karmic consequences to this.
Finally, we must never judge another person based on his or her life. Too often, we tend to look at the “lowly” and downtrodden as people who are having to suffer because of past deeds. Why a person chooses a particular earthly life is between that person and God and should not be subject to judgment of any kind. We must never equate bodily health and material comfort as indications of spiritual growth or achievement.
Degrees of Karma
As individual souls, we are subject to varying degrees of karma:
- INDIVIDUAL KARMA is that which involves us as individuals; that which we are dealing with and working through on a personal level.
- FAMILY KARMA involves the family with which we grow up. We come to the Earth plane with certain parents and siblings; not by accident, but because we have chosen to live and work with these people for a number of reasons.
- GROUP KARMA involves the over-all group to which we may belong. This can be based upon sex, color, ethnic heritage, religion, etc. Today, there is a definite evolution of understanding between the sexes. A person chooses to come onto the earth as a male or female for specific reasons, but his or her life will also be influenced by whatever his or her sexual group does. So it is with racial, ethnic, religious, and other groups.
- NATIONAL KARMA influences those living within a certain country. Nations are subject to the laws of karma, as are people. United States citizens are influenced by the karma of this country. So it is with citizens of all countries.
- HUMAN KARMA involves the karma of the human family as a whole. As members of the human race, we are each subject to that which influences this great group of spirits. The general human struggle affects each of us, and it is unwise to feel that the actions of a group of people thousands of miles away have no bearing upon us. We are all members of the human family, and we affect each other on many levels.
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