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Questions and Answers Reincarnation and Karma

When I listen to people on TV that talk to spirits that have passed on, they say that we chose to come back as who we are in this li e, so that almost sounds like it was a script we chose to live out! That seems to be that it was all written and what happens is predisposed! We do indeed determine what each life is going to be in a general way. For reincarnation does not stand alone. In fact, it is not an entity unto itself, but is the result of karma, the law that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6 !". #o every time we are about to reincarnate we loo$ at our $armic balance sheet and decide %ust what $armas&good and bad&shall be reaped in the ne't life. It is rather li$e plotting a drama in which we are going to be the star. (aving outlined the play, we then wor$ on our costume&the $ind of body we are going to have& and the sets&the $ind of place we are going to live in, who our families are going to be, and what $ind of people will surround us. )ut all this is %ust the framewor$. Within that framewor$ our free will, and that of those involved in our life, determines most of what goes on with us&especially inside us. *nd since even the framewor$ is of our own construction, that too is completely a matter of free will, actually. +estiny is simply the free will we have already set in motion. ,he famous French playwright, -oliere, did not write out the dialogue of his plays. Instead he wrote the plot&divided into scenes and acts&on a big blac$board which the actors read and then went out and improvised. *fter each performance they discussed how it had gone and made changes in the plot outline and refined the dialogue. When they felt it was as good as it could be, it was all written down with stage directions and printed for others to act from. ,his is very much li$e our life as we live out performance after performance through reincarnation. .et me give some e'amples of $arma. If we are meant to be the renowned leader of a great army, it is a pretty safe bet that we will have to choose to be a man. *nd our male body will have to be healthy. If we are meant to fight on the side of good, then we will have to be born in a country whose policies are for the right things. *nd we will have to be born in a country that has a large army. *nd it have to be that country/s $arma to engage in warfare. We will have to find the place to be born that can supply us with all this. 0ow where does free will come in1 2verywhere. )ecause what I have outlined is %ust the s$eleton of a life. 2ach person has to fill in the spaces, and they usually are far more than the simple $armic bones. *nother thing about free will and destiny. We may be destined to go to 3hicago, but we will choose how we go bus, train, plane, car, or hitchhi$e, and if we hitchhi$e or drive we will decide what route we want to ta$e. ,he road of $arma has many (very many" branches, and we decide when we come to them which one to ta$e. #o we move freely within a predetermined framewor$. If we want to build a fence it can only be within the boundaries of the land we own. If we live on an island we can only travel within its boundaries. #o we do have freedom, but it is not unlimited. It also happens very often that our $arma is not to do something, but to have the chance to do it. In some lives we may have the possibility to ta$e up several professions, and we are completely free to choose from those. #o we do a lot of "I will" and "I won/t" within the framewor$ of our $arma. ,hose choices in their own turn create $arma which will manifest in the future. When we

loo$ at it, we see ourselves as both caught in the machine of $arma and at the same time as the free owner and operator of the $arma. 4ltimately, it is freedom that is the truth of the whole thing. 5es, it is all predisposed&by us. 5et, as I have said, the predisposition is only a general outline. *t every moment we fill in the details, choosing right then. I that is the case, then we are automatically "oin" to learn what we chose #unbeknownst to us at the time$ to learn in this li etime! 4nfortunately, learning what we should learn from life as it manifests our $arma is not at all a guaranteed matter. ,hat is where not only free will comes in, but also the ability to understand the lesson and the desire to get the right answer. 6ur $arma gives us the chance to learn. It does not force us to learn. 6ften we lose our free will and understanding as a result of spiritual ignorance&the state of dar$ened heart and mind. .ots of labels are put on this state such as "sin," "negativity," "challenges," and such li$e. )ut we do not need to $now what to call it, we need to $now how to get rid of it. *nd how do we do that1 )y the learning that comes from reincarnation7 +oes this sound li$e chasing our own tail1 It is. ,hat is e'actly what reincarnation is for us. ,he moment we wise up...reincarnation stops. I we are choosin" to come back and live this li e to learn somethin", how do we know what it is% (ow right you are7 5ou have understood what nearly everybody misses We have to figure out what we have come here to learn. 6therwise we fritter away life after life, meandering along getting nowhere. 5ou see, all that we need to $now&why and how we got here and what do do now&is clearly $nown to the mind of our soul (spirit". )ut we are out of touch with our soul (a lot of people do not even $now they have one" and conse8uently have not a clue. #o we must awa$en our soul consciousness. We have to $now who and what we are before we can begin to have a glimmering about the who and what of God. When we really enter into the full awareness of our soul the awareness and $nowledge of God will start coming about automatically. When we shut the doors of our mind and senses and turn deep within we will find the Great #ecret God. I understand that it all works to"ether or spiritual enli"htenment, but how does the day&to& day process such as what type o 'ob we have or our inancial situation or our relationships with our riends and amily come to play in the spiritual 'ourney% ,he day&to&day things are a result of $arma&opportunities to wor$ it out and learn from it. ,hey are the classroom in which we learn (or flun$" the $armic lessons. ,here is an important word that rhymes with $arma Dharma. +harma is often mistranslated as "religion" or "righteousness." ,here really is no way to translate it9 for dharma means that way of life in which we shall most 8uic$ly come to the reali:ation of our true self and God. +harma, li$e $arma, is an individual matter, tailored for each one of us. It is the way by which we ma$e sure

that our $arma moves us along in our growth into God. +harma is the way of life (and thought" that ta$es us to the reali:ation of our full spiritual potential. With this perspective we can see that some %obs, people, situations, environment, and suchli$e are in tune with dharma (dharmic", and some are against dharma (adharmic", and we have to use our free will to affirm the one and eliminate the other. (o you think that souls that have warlike and violent tendencies reincarnate over and over because they are locked into a ne"ative cycle% ,he fact is, those who have any habitual patterns of behavior which they indulge will be dragged by them from incarnation to incarnation. ,hose who perceive the tendencies to those behavior patterns within themselves but refuse to indulge them, and wor$ to eliminate them from their inner minds, will in time succeed and brea$ the bondage they impose. ,he only "habit" we should cultivate is that of lifting our consciousness to God in %apa and meditation, for that frees us&not only from this world but ultimately from all "worlds" so we may reenter the transcendent *bsolute from which we originally came. What "ood does it do or us to reap karma i we are not aware what it is we are su erin" or% )or e*ample, what help can an in ant who is abused receive rom reapin" such ne"ative karma i it does not reali+e what is "oin" on% 3ertainly, there is a point in our evolution where it is good to consciously understand what has caused the present sufferings&that is, if such understanding will truly facilitate our learning. (,he reaping of $arma is always for learning and growth&never for punishment or even reward." ,hose who have a conscious spiritual life&a life of intentional spiritual discipline&will be shown such things when they need them. ,here will be no need to po$e around on our own to discover the roots of the $arma. #ometimes it is better that we not $now on the conscious level. (owever, our true self, the immortal spirit, the higher self, is always aware of what is going on. ,herefore every unit of $armic return is of ultimate benefit. 6ur %ob is to $eep on treading the path and get beyond $arma. What e ect does ,repentin", have upon our karmic debts% 0one whatsoever. ,rue repentance, which is a definite and lasting reformation of life and thought, is necessary to ensure that we do not repeat the same mista$en action that produced the present $arma. Feeling sorrow for a wrong action is beneficial only if it produces this reformation. ;ust being sad and depressed means nothing. In fact it is spiritually harmful. 0or is there any need to as$ God for forgiveness. ,hat is as silly as as$ing our parents to forgive us if we get burnt when we touch something hot, assuming that the pain will cease upon being told we are forgiven. #aying "forgive me" has value when it indicates that we are aware of our wrong and are determined not to repeat it. #o it is good to tell both God and man that we are sorry and ac$nowledge our wrong&and set our will not to repeat it. ,hus, while repenting does not affect our $armic debts incurred in the past, it can be a preventive measure for the future. *nd in the metaphysical realm an ounce of prevention is also worth more than a pound of cure. -ou seem to accept that the .indu/0uddhist concept o reincarnation is compatible with 1hristianity! .ow is this, and how is it that the 1hritian churches are apparently i"norant o this dramatic data%

<eincarnation is not an e'clusively (indu&)uddhist teaching, but has from the beginning been an integral part of 6rthodo' ;udaism. )ecause this fact would imply that 3hrist and the *postles would have held the belief in rebirth as 6rthodo' ;ews, it has become a policy to toss around the red herring of "(indu&)uddhist" whenever the ignorant have wished to combat the truth of reincarnation. (We met one bishop who thought 2dgar 3ayce had originated the concept of rebirth and so called all who believed in it "3ayce&ites." It seems that ignorance compounds itself." If you are interested in a historical study of reincarnation in both ;udaism and 3hristianity, I recommend May A Christian Believe In Reincarnation? ,he )ritish -ethodist minister .eslie Weatherhead has also written an article on the sub%ect, but I do not $now if it is still in print. I am sure that you could trac$ it down through Interlibrary .oan. ,here is another boo$ entitled Reincarnation For Christians that you might find significant as well. ,he three Weatherhead& 3ranston anthologies on reincarnation also contain material from 3hristian writers. *nother boo$ is Reincarnation In Christianity by +r. Geddes -acGregor, who I believe is a =resbyterian. ,here is a great difference between what some 3hristians $now and what they say they $nows. #ome $nowledge is simply swept under the convenient carpet of cowardly silence and some is outright denied. 6ne leading archpriest within a ma%or "canonical" )y:antine 6rthodo' %urisdiction within this country not only believes in reincarnation, but has engaged for years in research into methods of past&life recall. 6ur monastery has done research for him on the sub%ect of reincarnation in early 3hristianity, and that research has been embodied in May A Christian Believe In Reincarnation? I am sorry to tell you that this very priest also publicly denounces reincarnation as incompatible with 6rthodo' 3hristianity7 ,his is because of the vicious fear and ignorance which was sanctified and canoni:ed by the 2mperor ;ustinian through his falsification of the decrees of the so&called Fifth 2cumenical 3ouncil. ()oth <oman 3atholic and =rotestant scholars have written on the sub%ect of the falsification of the decree, among them being the eminent 3atholic&and later 6ld 3atholic&theologian >on +ollinger. * brief discussion is also included in the Nicene Fathers series." I well remember discussions with a very learned Gree$ 6rthodo' theologian on the sub%ect of reincarnation. *lthough he $new the truth of the matter, he continually too$ refuge in the assertion that "at this late date" it would be impossible to spea$ the truth since it was commonly held that an "infallible" 3ouncil had declared the beliefs in pre&e'istence of the soul and rebirth to be false. (,he fact is, reincarnation was not at all mentioned in the interpolated decrees, though pre&e'istence was." *nother ploy besides attributing the concept of reincarnation to (induism and )uddhism is to attribute it to "the heretic" 6rigen. ,his is also 8uite convenient, as it draws attention from the fact that other 3hurch Fathers also openly taught it. -y favorite comment on the sub%ect of reincarnation is that given by the holy <oman 3atholic 3apuchin stigmatist&saint, =adre =io. When one of his spiritual daughters was "told on" for believing in reincarnation, he told her accusers very firmly "It does not matter what you believe about reincarnation. ,he only thing that matters is this *re you see$ing for God now1"

I read in a 1hristian ma"a+ine that reincarnation denies our individuality, and also that i we lived many times it would be impossible or us to know which body to resurrect in at the end o time! What is your response to this% 0othing either you or I could ever say will change the opinion of those whose minds are so coarsened that they would put forth such ob%ections. )ut if you want a verbal response I will give it. ,he true individual is the immortal spirit that is inhabiting the body, which is nothing more than the vehicle or the clothing of that spirit. ,he ob%ectors to reincarnation do not believe that when the body dies and turns to dust the individual has ceased to e'ist&their theology affirms that it indeed does continue its e'istence. (ow, then, can they say that the body is a determinant of individuality1 2ven they will admit that every seven years the body of each of us is totally replaced, that not a cell remains of the previous body. ,herefore in the span of a single lifetime we live in several bodies and do not lose our individuality. It is of course true that from life to life we differ in our personalities, but so do we differ within a single life as we move from infancy to childhood, to adulthood and onward. It is to be hoped that the individual continues to evolve&and therefore to change in outloo$ and thought&throughout the entire lifespan. ,hat which holds all this together li$e the string within a strand of beads is the principle of pure consciousness&the spirit which, as has been said, is the only element of individuality, the body being only an e'pression of that individuality. * perusalof the earliest 3hristian writings reveals that 3hristians originally believed that creation has never begun nor will ever cease to be, but goes on in continuous cycles. ,his creation is not the first, nor is it the last. ,his was 3hristian teaching from the beginning. ,hose who believe otherwise have deviated from original 3hristianity. +oes the fact of many creations deny the individuality of God1 For creation is the body of God. )eing made in the image of God, we, too, ta$e on many bodies until we return into (is infinite )osom. )ut the individuality both of God and of (is images never loses its integrity. *s far as the resurrection of the body is concerned&whether there is reincarnation or not, as #aint =aul declared "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the $ingdom of God" (I 3orinthians ?@ @A". ,herefore the concept of the resurrection of the body into an eternal state is alien to genuine 3hristian teaching, and the 8uestion of "which body1" is not a problem. .ave you ever heard o anyone re usin" to reincarnateand succeedin"% I we have ree will we must surely be able to make such a decision! 2therwise, in my opinion, we are nothin" but slaves! First we must reali:e that reincarnation is determined e'clusively by the individual spirit, or atman. God has nothing to do with it, although God has manifested the worlds in which reincarnation can occur. 0or are there any B.ords of CarmaD that decide when spirits reincarnate. 2ven more important, we must understand that $arma is not some blind, omnipotent and inescapable force that drags or impels us into incarnation after incarnation. ,he belief in these three BcausesD of reincarnation arises from a miscomprehension of what $arma actually is, and an ignorance of the sole purpose of rebirth. Carma is not some $ind of subtle energy accumulation of merit (Bgood $armaD" or demerit (Bbad $armaD", but rather is the psychic conditioning resulting from the states of mind and will that

produced our past actions. Carma is a $ind of $in$ in the mind and the other subtle energy bodies which at present ma$e us Bhuman.D ,he atman is consciouslyEand intelligentlyEwor$ing its way toward the state of perfection we call .iberation. It is the atman alone that determines when and where we shall reincarnate and e'actly which $in$s we will be wor$ing on in each life. If the will of the atman is not carried out then evolution stops and we stagnate. ,he spiritual intelligence of the atman is often called the Bhigher mind.D In contrast to this is the Blower mindD that is the egocentric bundle of attractionFaversion impulses that are rooted in complete ignorance and selfishness. ,his lower mind is always in conflict with the higher mind, for its basis is ignorance and distortion of perception. ,his mind is indeed a slave, and has no possibility of free will, for it not only functions only in the world of bondage, it has no e'istence independent of the #elf. It is a mirage, an illusion. It does not really Be'istD in the ultimate sense. 0aturally, it claims to be the only mind we have, and insists that it possesses and e'ercises free will. *lthough the lower mind is not a conscious entity unto itself, nevertheless it is energy&force and therefore can produce effects, including influencing our incarnate and discarnate states. 6n occasion the higher mind stands aside and lets the lower mind have its way so the folly and impotence of the lower mind can be revealedEeven to itself. ,his results in suffering, as the only possible conse8uence, something the lower mindEbeing psychopathicEinsists comes from God, the .ords of Carma, or even $arma itself. <arely does it admit the truth of its own responsibility, and when it does we $now that its dissolution is beginning and freedom is dawning. +eluded people often refuse to incarnate. 4sually this results in nothing more than their being rebellious and embittered for the entire time of a particular birth. )ut it can also be the cause of continual bouts of life&threatening illnesses. ,he individual bounces between nearly dying and being suddenly cured. ,he lower mind is trying to escape through death, but it also possesses a clinging to life that militates against its attempts. ,his moral schi:ophrenia grips a lot of human beings. 6n occasion the individual tries to avoid rebirth by preventing the subtle bodies from entering the physical body at birth (for there is a separation during the motherGs labor". If he succeeds, then the body remains inert, often paraly:ed, and observers assume the person is a hopeless idiot. *t other times the refusal results in the production of a horribly defective bodyEoftentimes not even of human configuration. Whichever occurs, the foolish person has to spend the span of an entire incarnation standing ne't to the body it has refused to incarnateEa hardly en%oyable conse8uence. 6ther deluded people refuse to die and remain earthbound, attached to their physical body. ,his awful bondage can last for hundreds and even thousands of years. ,his is real slavery7 0evertheless, in time the futility of such pain&bearing refusals become evident to even the most stubborn individuals and they stop such stupid attempts at thwarting the true free will, the free will of the divine #elf. ,hen evolution proceeds, and in time they are free from the necessity for rebirth. ,his alone is freedom.