DOES CHANCE OR JUSTICE RULE OUR LIVES? An Essay by Nils A.
In the following discussion the "Law of Cause and Effect" refers to the orderly processes which operate in nature according to which the same cause always produces the same effect. If this law operates in human affairs and we reap the effects of our own acts, our lives are governed by justice; if not, they are governed by chance.
Table of Contents - A Vital Problem - The Material World - The Mental Plane - A Universal Mind - Life Must Have a Meaning - Human Life - Law or Chance? - Requirements of Theory - An Ancient Doctrine - Survival After Death - Existence Before Birth - Delayed Effects - Is Reincarnation True? - Beneficial Effects - Are Ethical Teachings Practical? - Summary -------------
A VITAL PROBLEM Conflict of Facts and Ideas Our observations of everyday life show that there is a great deal of injustice and a great deal of chance in the world. We see many instances where the innocent suffer while the guilty escape; where the honest fail while the dishonest prosper. We see many cases where the carelessness of some will cause accidents that may bring misfortune and death to innocent victims. We see a great injustice in the uneven distribution of wealth and the opportunities of life. We see some children born healthy while others are born invalids, some born to the most favorable circumstances, while others are born into wretched conditions. Is it any wonder, then, that we should ask ourselves the question: "Does Chance or justice rule our lives?" If we turn to the Christian scriptures for an answer we find such statements as the
following: "Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measures ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. vii, 1, 2.) and "....all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Matt. xxvi, 52.) In Galatians vi, 7, St. Paul says: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Similar statements are also found in other great religions of the world. From such statements we are led to believe that men's lives are governed by justice. Man's intuitions and his sense of moral values also tell him that justice must rule, but our observations of life do not bear this out. On the contrary we see a contradiction, a clash, an unbridgeable gap between the reign of law and justice that ought to be on the one hand and the facts and experiences of every-day life on the other. This glaring contradiction of what is and what ought to be presents a problem that has puzzled thoughtful people in all ages, and many have dropped it, despairing of ever finding a solution. Man's failure to demonstrate that justice rules in human affairs has led to very serious consequences. It has undermined man's faith in religion and removed an important incentive to right action: the assurance of reward. A disbelief in justice is a belief in chance and this gives encouragement to selfishness and all kinds of wrongdoing by holding out hope that the wrongdoer may escape the effect of his evil deeds. The selfishness of the individual, reinforced by the belief that he may escape the effect of his evil doing, is the main cause of the disharmony, strife and warfare in the world today, for the action of the nation, the party, the small group is simply the collective action of individuals. The ideas that govern individual action will eventually govern national action, and as nations act they determine the fate of civilization. We see the truth of Plato's statement: "Ideas rule the world." The idea that we can escape the consequences of our acts has given free rein to selfishness, brutality and international lawlessness, which threaten to destroy our Western civilization. A solution of the problem of injustice, then, is vital to the world's welfare. As conditions in the world ultimately can be traced back to the thoughts and actions of individuals, let us study the effect that the unsolved problem of injustice has produced on the individual. The Individual Looks at Life Let us take, for example, a young man who has finished his education and enters business life. We will assume that he has had a good home, where high ideals, right action and nobility of character have been emphasized. He has been told that honesty is the best policy and that it is more profitable than dishonesty. He has been taught to follow the Golden Rule in all his undertakings. He now enters business life and tries to put his ideals into practice. He finds that in the world about him most people are striving to accumulate money as a means of satisfying their various needs and desires. After the necessities are supplied, the surplus goes to secure various pleasures and comforts, leisure, travel, social position, power, etc. The more money, the more of these desires can be satisfied, hence everybody is working at top speed with this aim in view. It is a race to get rich and the quicker one reaches the goal, the better. There are certain ethical principles that are supposed to govern in business as elsewhere, but as he looks about he finds that very few people follow a strict moral code; in fact, he has to compete with others who are tricky and dishonest. He also finds that
selfishness and dishonesty often pay more than right action. He frequently sees the unscrupulous prosper while the honest man fails. In brief, he sees numberless instances where honesty does not pay while dishonesty does. There is law and order throughout nature; his education has shown him that, and his sense of the "fitness of things" tells him that the same law and order should apply to all human dealings also. But he sees many instances where this is not the case. The facts and experiences of everyday life do not always bear out the teachings of religion. He recognizes the beautiful sentiment of the Golden Rule and other ethical teachings, but, also, that there are no means for enforcing these. He knows that man-made laws cannot be enforced unless they have "teeth"; that is, unless a violation of the law will be followed by a suitable punishment. But ethical laws evidently have no "teeth." We may follow these laws if we choose to, but there is nothing to compel us to follow them if we do not want to do so. The realization that honesty does not always pay, and sometimes may even be a hindrance to worldly success, is a handicap in his honest endeavors and may in time lead him into dishonesty. There is in man an innate sense of right, a moral force that urges him to do his duty by his fellows, and it is indeed fortunate that so many follow this urge. Under normal conditions this may be sufficient to influence men to right action, but occasionally temptations will present themselves which may prove too strong. We know the old saying: "Everyone has his price," and while the price varies with different individuals, if it is really great enough we know that many would yield. There are those who would not lower their standards under any circumstances, but even these will pause and wonder why it is that justice often is so imperfect and how it can happen that the dishonesty of their competitor may bring him prosperity, while their own honesty actually retards their success. Is it strange, then, that many such good people in time give up their ideals and become cynical and indifferent and perhaps lower their standards and become dishonest? The selfish man is found in all pursuits: in business, in politics, in finance, and in common crime. His methods may vary according to his situation, but his objective is the same in every case, namely to gain advantages for himself with little or no regard for the rights of others. How is such a man, who is not restrained by any moral considerations, affected by the apparent prevalence of chance in human life? He sees instances where others of his kind have enriched themselves by dishonest means without suffering any apparent evil consequences as a result. He figures that where they succeeded he can succeed. To him this seeming absence of justice is an invitation to try his luck. The usual aim is to get rich. If he could do this honestly it would be preferable, for it would involve less risk. But honest methods are often slow and require hard work. A dishonest method may offer a short-cut to wealth and require less labor. The only objection to the latter method is that he might get caught and punished. He knows the law will reach out its arm and try to get him, but he also knows that it is possible to "beat the law" and that this depends on good planning, luck, cleverness, daring, a position of power, money for bribery, etc. If he succeeds in beating the Law, he may win a great stake, and he will not have to suffer any evil effects. He weighs his chances of success and if they look favorable he goes ahead. We see from the above how the unsolved problem of injustice has had an undermining influence on the individual's behavior and how it has encouraged selfishness and a disregard for the rights of others. Naturally, the effect will be the same on the social
that selfishness and aggressiveness have become so powerful in the world that they threaten the existence of our entire civilization? Vain Appeals to Practice Ethics The seriousness of this situation is well recognized by leaders of church and state..body and the various groups within it.. The motives. the total cost of crime in the United States was estimated at 13 billion dollars per year. 88% had continued their delinquency during the first five years after treatment. if they really believe in the Gospel and in doing to others as they would be done unto. What a sad commentary on our rationality. engineers." One churchman says: "Application of the principles of Christ by 'civilized' nations would end the existence of struggles with which we are now confronted. Our public schools and colleges are making great efforts to prepare youth for honest and useful lives
. The means used to reform criminals have not been successful. It has been suggested that more education would solve our problems. In 1940 the figure had risen to 15 billion. social reformers. all are making things new... We hear appeals from the pulpit. Here are a few taken at random from the public press: "Put Christ in the marketplace. without the need for aggression. Many persons who are situated in high places would do the same were it not for their favored position which gives them. In the early thirties. but. doctors. no change in technique will be of paramount value. he resorts to aggressive methods. the comforts and pleasures that they desire. religious seers. In another case 510 men who had spent time in a reformatory were investigated and it was found that 80% of them were still continuing their criminal careers. A large percentage return to crime after release.. By way of contrast. narrow nationalism. the lecture platform.. Our economic and political problems are ethical and spiritual problems." A ruler in India says: "Scientists. and the same applies to whole nations. the ideologies of thousands and millions of individuals become the factors that determine the acts of nations. failing to achieve his purpose or to accept his limited circumstances. race hatred. then.. Moral standards everywhere have been challenged and sometimes discredited. who strives to satisfy his comforts and desires. reported to the United States Office of Education in 1931-32 was approximately 3 billion. public and private.. The cost of crime was five times that of education. who had been given various kinds of reform treatment by juvenile courts. Is it any wonder. A professor of pediatrics at one of our large universities expresses the opinion that a criminal is very much like an ordinary individual. the estimated total cost of all education from kindergarten through college. that we have not attained the wit to apply the principle!" A member of the British Parliament once said: "I believe that the British Parliament and the British nation.. and greed have thrown all into chaos. but selfishness." "How are we to evangelize economics?" "Application of the Golden Rule would give the world international peace and individual well being.. could lead the world in a new campaign." And what is the effect of these appeals? We read on other pages of the same publications that crime is increasing. from educators and from public officials. One investigator reports that out of 923 boys." And another writes: "Until business is converted and conducted in the sight of God.
a selfish man will take advantage of him. They seem to harmonize with the law of cause and effect. we would not have had a world war followed after a brief period by a second one. if we could show that ethics have a philosophical as well as a spiritual basis. as for example the statement: "Whatsoever a man soweth. to apply the Golden Rule in daily life may have some effect on those who are naturally inclined to right action. The unselfish will "sow good seeds" and the selfish will step in and reap a good harvest without any sowing and so it does not seem to be true that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.and if it were not for these efforts conditions in the world would undoubtedly be much worse than they are. The appeal to follow religion. If our acts are of a beneficial nature and helpful to others. plain common sense to practice altruism. The knowledge acquired through education can be used to promote selfishness as well as human welfare. encouraging unselfishness and right action. are not true since they fail to work in practice? If a good man has the courage to apply them. when they notice the injustice in human life." but they are not backed by any philosophical explanation of how the reaping is done. inquisitive man wants to know the "why" and the "how" before he is willing to accept any idea and act upon it. It may seem that this is putting ethics on a very low plane. The wrong-doer is not always stupid or ignorant. If these teachings had been effective." and therefore men lose faith and give up trying. We notice that ethical teachings are often given in the form of injunctions or commands. but it just cannot be helped that it "pays" to do right and that ethics and common sense coincide if justice
. the return that comes to us will be beneficial also. then the appeal to man's spiritual nature would no longer be in vain. If we could show that man' actions are governed by laws that are just as sweeping and just as unerring as the laws that govern material nature. If we shall reap what we sow it is to our own advantage to sow good seeds. that shall he also reap. then. Why then do ethical teachings have so little effect in the world? Surely. When is Selfishness Profitable? If justice governs human life we shall reap what we sow. Under these conditions it is simply good business policy. although beautiful. the fault cannot lie in the doctrines themselves for almost anyone will admit that the "Sermon on the Mount" and the "Golden Rule" contain teachings which would transform this earth into a paradise if they were only applied in daily life. A spiritual appeal may be sufficient for spiritually-minded people. Why is it. we would satisfy man's inquisitive mind and thus make the ideas acceptable to the skeptic. he often shows a great deal of intelligence and in some cases he has had a good education. Even a depraved nature would probably agree to this. for it would also appeal to man's mind. The more good seeds we sow the greater will be our harvest of good. But education has not solved our ethical problems and has not proved a guarantee against wrong action. but it is evident that it has little or no effect on the selfish type. that the ethical teachings of religion. If we could only add to ethical teachings an explanation showing what they are based on. In due time our acts will return to us. yet the modern. that in spite of the efforts continued throughout the centuries they are no nearer to a realization than the were 2000 years ago? Is it not precisely because of the unsolved problem of injustice? Is it not because men feel.
Avoid evil and you will escape future trouble. the pendulum will return to us. Any person capable of straight thinking would shun such actions as he would shun the fire. A burglar would not break into a house if he knew that a dozen policemen were on the inside waiting to catch him. We do not want to reap evil. To do an injury to another under such conditions is to do an injury to oneself. it follows that selfishness or any kind of wrongdoing can never be to our own advantage. If we use violence and bring injury and death to others. better nature. A politician who betrays the trust placed in him. If men were convinced that their lives are governed by justice and not by chance. Man's innate. we shall become the victims of fraud. which the selfish man can understand: "Do good: it is sure to bring dividends. a gangster who kills his rivals." but is detrimental to our own self-interest. a dictator who inflicts suffering on his fellow men. Here. is an appeal to the selfish man. Selfishness or any kind of wrongdoing can be profitable only if chance rules our lives. It is not difficult to see that those who practice wrongdoing believe that chance rules their lives. It may now be seen how vital to man's welfare and the future of civilization is a solution of the problem of injustice. as all wrong-doing is based on a disbelief in justice. A knowledge that we shall reap what we sow would have the same restraining effect and keep man from doing wrong for he would realize the folly of bringing trouble on himself. There would be nothing gained by trying in either case. A man would not try his luck at the gambling table if he knew that the roulette wheel was fixed so that he could not win. The only way to avoid reaping evil is to avoid sowing evil. if justice governs human life and we shall reap what we sow. Their actions are proof that they believe in chance and not in justice. not only does not "pay. no one in his right mind does. exactly the same will happen to us. Again. they would act differently. If then we can show that justice rules our lives. Under such circumstances any wrong doing." Whatever push we give to the pendulum. If they realized that they would have to suffer as they had caused others to suffer. If we defraud others. one and all base their actions on a belief that they can escape the effects of their evil doing. while at the same time it removes the incentive for wrongdoing. Whatever has been gained by such fraud must in the course of time be returned to the victim. then. for the evil effects of such actions will in the course of time return to us and we ourselves shall have to experience the suffering we cause others. which prompts him to unselfishness. any act that will bring injury and suffering on others. Only a person lacking intelligence and common sense would act selfishly under such circumstances. then the appeals of ethics and religion urging men to altruistic action would no longer be in vain. only if it is possible to sidestep and avoid the effects of such wrong doing. a business man or financier who defrauds others. A belief in justice brings out the advantages of unselfishness and the disadvantages of selfishness so clearly that it becomes an incentive for right action. no matter what they may say to the contrary.governs our lives. an aggressor nation that oppresses its weaker neighbors. In that case it would be possible to take advantage of others and to reap benefits which we had not sown and to do harm to others without having to experience the evil effects of such action.
. would be reinforced by his knowledge that such action is to his own advantage and that selfishness is to his disadvantage. for they would not want to inflict this on themselves.
The same ingredients will produce the same result every time. that every body in space exerts a pull on every other body. and that its action is so perfect that we cannot move a finger but what this motion affects all the stars. seems to travel on a still grander pathway. What may at first appear as a departure from this law is found upon closer investigation to be in full accord with it. sound. By careful observations and calculations. always the same for the same number of seconds. our entire "home-universe. The same causes always produce the same effects. and further. effect here also follows cause with absolute regularity. no matter how far apart they may be. and the planet Neptune was discovered. Examples could be multiplied almost indefinitely. order and harmony among the stars and planets in space. Calculations were then made to find the location and mass of a body which would produce such irregularities. Uranus was considered the outermost planet in the solar system. As far as we have been able to investigate we have found a reign of law. In PHYSICS we learn that if a body falls in space its velocity will increase with a uniform acceleration. This aroused the suspicion that there might be another. astronomers found that Uranus did not strictly follow the path that it should have taken if influenced only by the sun and the other known planets. The result never varies. After a certain number of seconds we will have a certain velocity and after so many more seconds another corresponding velocity. Heat. There are many other interesting facts furnished us by Astronomy which demonstrate the extreme regularity with which the celestial bodies move
. for instance. Let us now turn to the main question: "Does Chance or justice rule our Lives?" and seek an answer by examining nature and man and by reasoning from such data as we may be able to gather.we shall have taken the first step towards a solution of the problem of selfishness and crime. Turning to ASTRONOMY we find that the planets are moving in fixed orbits around the sun with such regularity that their positions can be calculated far in advance. Astronomers tell us that gravitation acts throughout the whole of space. In other words. light.
THE MATERIAL WORLD From CHEMISTRY we learn that certain atoms of one element combined with a fixed number of atoms of another element will produce a molecule of a new substance in a fixed relation to the original elements. At one time. We are also told that the length of the day as determined from eclipse observations extending over some 3000 years has not varied as much as one one-hundredth of a second during this long period. They all move in accordance with the law of gravitation. The force of gravity follows definite laws." the Galaxy. all are governed by laws well known to any student of these subjects. The sun. Many of the laws of ELECTRICITY are known and the electric current is always found to act the same way under the same circumstances. What at first looked like a defect in the operation of the gravitational force turned out to be a demonstration of its perfect dependability. with its family of planets moves in a greater orbit of its own. again. unknown body in the solar system which caused the irregularities in Uranus' orbit.
THE MENTAL PLANE It is not easy for man to determine what thoughts are or how they operate. The latter is proved without a chance for an argument. Who would know. A change in the idea will result in a change in the machine. Certain mental processes. we know that this error is due to faulty measurements. we reason about the various moves and the consequences that will follow from each. It has often happened in early experiments that irregularities appeared in the results. We can form some idea of the nature and operations of thoughts from the effects they produce on the material plane. As a result our knowledge of the mental plane is very limited as compared to that of the physical plane. Then he proceeds to make drawings as the next step and finally he has experienced mechanics build the machine to these drawings. and not to an error in the proposition. An experienced player will be able to trace in his mind the chain of cause and effect for several moves in advance. that the square on the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares on the other two sides? Yet this has been demonstrated from a few simple axioms by such a step-by-step method of reasoning as above referred to. Here. for instance. but past experience indicates that. We are so sure of the absolute truth of this proposition that. Wherever man has been able to subject Nature's forces to rigid tests he has found that these forces obey certain invariable laws and that under the same conditions they will always produce the same effect. or self-evident truths. as our knowledge increases it will be found that these phenomena are also governed by the law of cause and effect. by starting from a few axioms. there is an orderly
. for instance. Every new move makes a new combination of causes and the possible effects are all in exact relation to the new set of causes. but that later and more carefully conducted experiments showed that these irregularities were due to causes that were at first overlooked and that when all contributing causes were taken into account. There are of course many phenomena of Nature that are not yet understood. In other words. we can demonstrate certain other truths that are not so self-evident. there were no irregularities in the entire process. such as used in mathematical work. the process is governed by a law of cause and effect. for they are not of a material nature and therefore cannot be examined by man's five senses. In GEOMETRY. can be studied directly. if we measure the areas referred to and find a slight inequality. An inventor holds in his mind a certain idea and builds around it a mental picture of a machine that will make this idea workable.in space and thus prove the reign of law in this department of Nature. An inexperienced player will only see a few of the effects that follow from a certain move. All the mental processes involved consist in tracing the relations between causes and their effects. The entire game might be said to be a mental exercise with the visible pieces simply aids to the memory of what has been done and furnishing starting points for the mind to work from. however. To use another illustration: when we sit down to play a game of chess. The mental process is one of placing together certain facts and showing that from these other facts must follow. by simply looking at the figure of a right angle triangle with squares drawn on its three sides. then.
must also be governed by law? The thought that the mental is the basis for the material has been held from remotest antiquity by some of the greatest intellects. by its vibrations. as scientific investigation indicates." Plato said: "God geometrizes. Pythagoras taught that "the Universe is built on numbers. the sand will assume a different pattern. Here it may be said that the physical forms are based on numbers. The musical scale is built upon a series of numbers. In many instances we can trace relations between forms. A different expression will have a different curve. The tones of an organ will cause vibrations in a building that can be plainly felt. The variations in sound depend on varying wave lengths and frequencies of vibrations. Thus the form changes when the vibration varies. the patterns in the sand. Low notes will cause stronger vibrations than high ones. showing that there is a relation between numbers and effects on the physical plane. This may be seen if a thin metal disc. Mathematics. The illustrations given above show that there is a relation between the mental plane and the material plane and that phenomena on the material plane may be affected by causes on the mental plane.sequence of events: a cause on the mental plane. or the science of numbers. the sand will assume a certain pattern. Where we can make a theoretical calculation and check the result by corresponding measurements on the physical plane. In the Alps. It seems that we are beginning to trace vaguely the "laws" that govern the material plane back to some underlying principles on the mental plane. A bridge or a skyscraper cannot be built without mathematical analysis and calculations. is caused to vibrate by the bow of a violin drawn against its edge." Sir James Jeans. Here. a thought. then. is the basis of engineering. Every algebraic expression can be represented by a corresponding curve. In each of these instances a change in the number of vibrations produced a difference in the effect. A shrill sound would not produce the same effect. a machine. expresses itself as an effect on the material plane. and engineering is the basis of construction. but each curve is invariably fixed and determined by its own equation. If two points on the edge are kept stationary. cause immense blocks of ice to break off and drop into the ocean. A steamer whistle blown in the neighborhood of a glacier will. The painting of the artist is but the physical effect of a thought or an image in the artist's mind. If the distance between the two stationary points is varied. If the calculation is based on a true theory we know that the calculated result is more accurate than the measured one. suggests that "the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician" and also that "the universe begins to look more like a great thought than
. If the material plane is governed by law. sounds and other manifestations on one hand and numbers or mathematical expressions on the other. And again there is a relation between sounds and material forms. is it not reasonable to assume that the mental plane. the modern astronomer. a symmetrical and beautiful design. The change in the vibration is directly related to the number of vibrations per second. we find a close agreement. fixed at its center and sprinkled with fine sand. is a relation between numbers or mental concepts and physical forms. avalanches of snow have been started by the sound of a human voice. which seems to be the basis of the material plane.
we know for a fact that.
A UNIVERSAL MIND So far we have built our reasoning on more or less direct observation. it seems reasonable to conclude that the laws that govern the mental plane are.Those actions on the mental plane.like a great machine. In summarizing our observations on the mental plane. There is some indirect evidence which may be helpful to us. first the design must be beautiful and then the workmanship must be perfect. and back of all this is a unified plan. 4th. Happiness or anger can be aroused by thinking of past events that were pleasant or unpleasant. . if harbored continually. and formulated the laws according to which Nature operates. There is. . if a beautiful building is to be erected. These thoughts and emotions. nothing to prove that such effects do not follow. We seem justified in this assumption. . the finished building will show it. still more rigid. This plan did not come into existence by itself. if possible. There must have been someone or something. A railroad system could not operate successfully without a time-schedule. Such researches as we have been able to make show the mental plane to be governed by the Law of Cause and Effect. on account of our limited knowledge.
. train dispatchers and a vast organization of cooperating officials and workers. It was the product of some mind or some minds that formulated it and drew up the rules or "laws" of operation.There are cases where we are unable to trace effects of mental causes either on the mental or material plane." We know that our thoughts affect our emotions. A person may die from an excessive grief or joy. it is only natural that we should ask ourselves the question: Who or What laid down the "plan" or "framed the laws" or principles which seem to govern the processes of Nature? The orderly working of Nature could not have sprung into existence spontaneously or accidentally. will in time affect the expression of a person's face. A heap of building materials will not turn into a house without an architect to draw a plan and experienced builders to shape the material and construct the building. Having found such wonderful reign of law and order in every field that we are capable of exploring. Grief and worry will lower the vitality and interfere with digestion. or at any rate no less rigid than those which govern the material plane. the architect may not be on hand to answer our questions regarding it. show a distinct relation between physical effect and mental cause.Those mental processes which can be checked directly. such as used in mathematics. And we further know that if there is anything lacking in the plan or in the workmanship. 3rd. an intelligence or intelligences of a superior kind that did the planning. even if they may be long delayed. and medical science tells us that the emotions have a powerful influence on the body. we find: 1st. 2nd. On the contrary. which can be traced by their effect on the physical plane. because we know from our own experience on a small scale that even the simplest work requires planning. however. . When we look at a building. but we can judge something about him from the building itself.Since theoretical calculations are known to be more exact than physical measurements. show an absolute and most perfect relation between cause and effect.
Therefore God* must be beneficent in His purposes. by His work.* Judging God.and Nature provides food and other necessities to sustain life. from the miniature universe of the atom to the star-clusters in space. Emerson called it the OVERSOUL.* then. but the Power that planned it is not on hand to answer our questions. we cannot fail to recognise the infinite greatness and power of its Originator.* ----------*In the following discussion the asterisk (*) is used with the word God* in order to call attention to this footnote and to the fact that this word is not here used in any sectarian or limited sense or as referring to a personal God. Agreeing to disagree as to its exact nature. for man's finite. could just as well destroy it with all the life that it contains. yet most people will in all likelihood grant that there must be such a Power or Powers. but is used for want of a better word to allude to that Power or those Powers behind Time and Space. The lesser cannot comprehend the greater in its fulness. And so it is with the Universe. While there are probably no two human beings that would fully agree in their understanding of it. We can understand considerable about the cell. law and harmony are attributes of God. limited mind cannot comprehend something so vastly superior to itself. These are some of the conclusions we can draw about God* by observing His work which we see around us. People of all ages have sensed the existence of such Power or Powers and referred to them under many different names. From this we must conclude that order. and something about the railroad management by observing its operation. ----------A Power that can construct such a marvelous Universe. but the cell can know very little about us. however. but in general regulating its life according to the laws that govern the body as a whole." We have to admit our inability to get a full understanding of this Power or these Powers. Ancient philosophies state that it is infinite and hence cannot be personified or limited by any human description. millions of light-years distant.When we travel on a train we do not see the operating staff. which man seems compelled to postulate as the unseen Cause of the Universe. Is it reasonable to
. This inability to get a full understanding should not. But the universe evidently has endured for countless ages . for "the work reveals its Creator. if it were so disposed. However. but we can judge something about this also by the service we receive. it should be possible for us to draw some conclusions regarding the Power back of the Universe by a study of that Universe. we dwell in it. The Hindus call it BRAHMAN. let us for the purpose of this discussion refer to this power or these powers by the term: God. May we not by analogy draw some further conclusions regarding other attributes of God?* A cell in our body is a living entity with evidently a certain kind of intelligence and a certain degree of free will. we are "passengers" on one of its planets. prevent man from using such powers of observation and reason as he may possess to gain at least such partial understanding as he is capable of. if we could judge something about the architect by examining the house. From the magnitude of the work. We have further seen that God* formulated unvarying laws that govern the operations of Nature so that there is always an exact relation between cause and effect in these. we have seen that He was able to lay down a plan according to which all nature works.
with suitable rewards and punishments affixed. but with all that. They would consider it useless to strive towards self-improvement if their efforts counted for nothing and they would sooner or later give up trying. If these qualities are necessary in the make-up of a good man. It would not know what was right or wrong and would soon give up all effort at self-improvement. it is equally true for the human race as a whole." in God*? And further. If this is true for the family. justice. all men recognise justice as an ideal to be striven after. If justice were imperfect. An assumption that God* might have wished to provide for justice in the world. They know that certain rules of conduct. Parents who love their children and desire their welfare. From time immemorial all peoples have made laws and established courts for the administration of justice. know how necessary it is to show justice and impartiality in training them. is it not still more necessary to our conception of God*? To assume the contrary would be to place God* on a lower level than a good man. Is it not reasonable then to assume that any faculty that exists in man must also exist in the "soul of the universe. frequently their administration has been imperfect also. so God* must be more perfect than man. the child would become confused. and love. They know that training cannot be successful if inconsistent and contradictory methods are used. then. Absolute justice or a perfect reign of orderly laws of cause and effect are necessary for the growth and development of human character. A man who lacked these characteristics would not be held in high esteem by his fellows. As man is more perfect than the cell. They know that if they punished an act today and rewarded the same act tomorrow. must not this necessity be still more fully recognized by God*? A God* without justice would be an absurdity. men would become confused and discouraged. but was unable to formulate and establish laws of cause and effect that would be workable and binding in all details of human life. If then man recognizes the necessity for justice in character development. until the children learn by repeated experiences.* the Universe. A God* that can lay down and enforce
. must they not also be necessary in the make-up of God*? To assume otherwise would be to assume that man possessed qualities greater than God. for it would indicate such a flaw in His nature that it would place Him below the ideal for a good man.that of justice. Man-made laws are imperfect. is it not reasonable to suppose that the degree of perfection of the qualities of God* must be as far superior to the degree of perfection of man's qualities as the "works" of God. or less than a cell. or if chance ruled in human affairs. is untenable. In all ages justice has been considered one of the great virtues.* For the purpose of the present discussion let us consider only one of these qualities .assume that the cell possesses greater qualities than the man of whose body the cell is a part? Is it not more reasonable to conclude that any power which may be inherent in the cell will also be found in the man and found there in a much higher degree of perfection? Man is but a cell. If justice. must be set up and consistently adhered to. is such a necessary quality in our ideal of a good man. are to the works of man? God* then must possess all human virtues in their highest degree of perfection. in the great body of the Universe. We cannot think highly of a man who is not just. Among human beings we respect such qualities as intelligence.
An assumption that justice rules in the world to a certain limited extent. or perhaps shoot off to one side. pass thru some commonplace experiences and perhaps a few odd ones. if we are to learn by experience. or remain suspended. but that it is not perfect in all details. is also untenable. we are forced to the conclusion that Justice must be a part of the Universal Plan. On the basis that life has a meaning. nobody knows in what direction. And what could such purpose be but growth. in fact they could not be built for there would be no weight to keep one brick on top of the next. for no two times would the same effect follow from the same cause and there would be no experience to be guided by. If we dropped a stone. then.
LIFE MUST HAVE A MEANING We may not all agree that there must be some purpose in life.or what we might summarize under the term "Human Life." Is there an orderly sequence of cause and effect here? Is there a reign of justice
. such as circumstances of birth. wherein man learns by experience. "luck. We take them for granted and do not recognise that life as we know it would be impossible if Nature did not operate according to law. Imperfect justice is after all not justice. This is man's ideal and nothing less can be the ideal of God. it must be 100% perfect. evolution." It would be impossible to plan or provide ahead for anything. who feel that there must be some higher purpose in life. Complete chaos would result. for nothing would "stay put.laws of cause and effect that operate unfailingly in the physical world has also the ability to lay down laws that will work unerringly in human life. inborn capacities. the gradual rising into some higher state of consciousness and life. law and order in the universe around us are necessary for this purpose. Such performance would seem so futile. buildings would not stay on their foundations. and then vanish without any permanent benefit resulting from the experience.
HUMAN LIFE Let us now turn our attention to the field of human relations. a pilgrimage towards perfection? If we are to become perfect. but we are so accustomed to the orderly processes of Nature that we often overlook their existence. the existence of law and an orderly sequence of cause and effect are necessities. Suppose gravitation suddenly ceased to act. so useless that it would probably be rejected by most people. how men act towards one another and the effects that follow their actions. It does not make sense to assume that the only purpose of life is for man to spend a few score of years here on earth. . A railroad train might leave the track any minute and start off into space.* On the basis of this Universe being the result of intelligent planning. instead of falling to the ground it might go up in the air. that it is a school. We find that we are surrounded by law and order." accidents. and over which we have little or no control. If it is justice at all. etc. water might run uphill. but probably most people feel that this is so. Also to those events and experiences that life deals out to us.
We often see persons who work hard all their lives to provide for their families and lay up a little store for their old age. Another person makes no great effort to accumulate wealth. but his thought life. or otherwise breaks the laws of health. But this is by no means always the case. To trace a chain of cause and effect in human life is therefore very difficult. Here "luck" or chance seems to play a part. feelings and emotions. position or power." good or bad. but money seems to "fall into his lap. the character of the judge. perhaps accumulate another and then lose that also. but it was equally noticeable that in many cases the appropriate effects did not follow. as when a person lives a life of dissipation. In fact. Another criminal may commit many crimes before he is discovered. however. for men's motives and the links that connect causes with their effects are largely concealed from our view. but they often meet unexpected reverses and the work of a lifetime is lost. Here the person who follows his conscience will have a certain satisfaction in the knowledge of having acted rightly. Occasionally we see striking examples of "luck. wrong could
. he may escape detection altogether and may end his days as a respected member of society. and the ability of the attorneys may have a great influence on the severity of the sentence and thus the punishment may be greater or less according to the court before which the prisoner happens to be tried. consider some of the common experiences in life. or if be is very "lucky. It frequently happens that people violate many of the laws of health and abuse their bodies without apparently being much the worse for it. whereas it frequently happens that people who live with the most regular habits and take the best care of their bodies are overtaken by disease and suffering. Here again the personnel of the jury. None of these are directly visible to others. a case where a contrary action would promise a better material reward. as the case may be. Take the matter of acting according to one's conscience in. In certain cases of wrongdoing what would seem like appropriate effects follow. but it frequently happens that they have "good luck" and fare better than many who work hard and conscientiously. the actor may end his days in full enjoyment of the respect of his fellow men plus the added wealth and position that would never have come to him if he had obeyed his conscience. except occasionally in their effects. but the one who silenced his conscience and acted contrary to its dictates. In the illustrations given above it could be noticed that man's actions towards his fellows perhaps more often than not brought the results they merited. and if the wrong act is not found out. Almost anyone can cite similar instances from his own knowledge. seemingly through no fault of his own. may as a result have enjoyed a material advantage in gaining wealth. In some cases the first act of wrongdoing is discovered and the man is punished according to human law. Consider the life of a criminal." as we say. One person will be pursued by ill luck and will lose his fortune." We have read of cases where the owner of some apparently worthless land became rich overnight when oil was discovered on his property. Other people may be shiftless and irresponsible. in that case they usually do not get far. say. Let us. his aspirations and longings. for which we can find no cause.and law that governs our lives? Do men's actions always and unerringly bring to men their just deserts? The most important parts of a man's life are not his physical actions and experiences. In many cases they are successful in their efforts. disease often results.
Another child is born without these gifts and may indeed be burdened with a sickly body. The circumstances were against him. Some men are born into families where the moral atmosphere is of the best. Another may stay at home. There is a traffic jam on the way to the wharf which causes him to miss his connection. The circumstances outlined above have perhaps been the extremes in both the favorable and unfavorable direction. Influential relations and friends will use their power to aid the individual and the combination of all these circumstances will certainly be a great help towards an honorable life later on. Whether extreme or moderate. Summarizing our observations of human life we note that whereas man's actions sometimes bring appropriate effects. disposition and natural talents or gifts. but chance and injustice do play a large part. we must admit that within the span of one human life here on earth perfect justice simply does not exist. In some cases a child will be possessed of a healthy body. Other men may be born in circumstances which are the opposite of those cited. a weak. a strong character. From this it would seem quite possible at times to sow without having to reap. Another person had no intention of taking this boat. but by some unexpected turn of events was caused to take the trip. they often do not. and a pleasant. irritable disposition. Here chance seemed to be the deciding element. His direction is wrong from the start. Children who are born and brought up under the same circumstances show great differences in health.often be done without the wrong-doer suffering the consequences of his acts. but in spite of all obstacles have lived noble lives and been of great service to their fellow men. The influence of the home tends to build up and strengthen a noble character in the child. vacillating character. It may be argued that a man's character is the greatest determining factor in his life. The circumstances in which men are placed at birth certainly have a great influence on their lives. The examples of the grownups may be an education in crime for the child. Sometimes a reckless person will meet with an accident. an intelligent mind. but even education cannot greatly alter the dissimilarities that exist from birth. One person may go on some wild adventure and return without a scratch. such differences all indicate an element of injustice. LAW OR CHANCE?
. trip on a rug and break his neck. Some of these differences may be modified by education. "he had no chance. but very often the most cautious and careful individual will also be struck. In their case the home influence tends to degrade the character. but of course there are all grades and conditions between these two. The financial circumstances may be favorable and the child may receive a good education. Hence the circumstances of birth constitute serious obstacles to faith in justice. character. a dull mind and a sullen. The steamer is wrecked and all on board are lost. Accidents have a way of striking right and left without any apparent cause. But the fact remains that on less strong characters these unfavorable circumstances have a very detrimental effect. One person plans to take a trip on a certain steamer. winning disposition which will prove a great aid on his path through life. Unless we choose to ignore the evidence. all of which may be serious hindrances to a life of happiness and service. and that individuals with strong characters have been born in the most degrading circumstances." we say.
but also on the other hand that much chance and injustice seem to operate in human affairs. justice and law must be parts of this plan. Law. but Human Life in contrast to all the rest subject to disorder. but shall we say that. or (2) they are effects of causes which we cannot see. how would he view the sudden appearance and disappearance of the light in the ceiling. He might think that the light came on or off by chance. consider it absurd to claim that gravitation works in parts of the Universe. Not so long ago we too were ignorant of the laws governing electricity. We know that there is no accident or chance connected with the entire operation. but it is not 100%. is the "fly in the ointment. or the wires concealed in the wall. especially if the switch were located in another room? He would know nothing about the electric current. On the mental plane we found a perfect reign of law wherever we were able to investigate. then. Even though we human beings are a part of Nature." tells us that there must be law and justice in the Universe. because we are unable to trace the wires hidden in the wall that there are no such wires and that there can be none? Are we justified in smiling at the ignorance and lack of logic on the part of our jungle man if we take a position similar to his? Would it not
. Would we accept such a proposition in regard to other matters with which we are more familiar? Would we not. symmetry. law and justice are necessary to achieve this end. our sense of "the fitness of things. they would apply in spots but not everywhere. then Human Life would be an exception to the general plan of Nature. harmony. order everywhere in Nature. confusion. How would the light-phenomenon have appeared to us then? With our present knowledge we are unable to trace the connection between chance-events in Human Life and their causes. In addition to this our moral nature." the flaw in what otherwise seems such a perfect plan. It is this which undermines our faith in justice and in God. To summarize: we find that the evidence in favor of law and justice is overwhelming. This would mean that the laws of the Universe would not be universal.* Two alternate theories present themselves in explanation of these injustices: either (1) these events actually do happen without due cause. but breaks down and fails to operate in other parts? When we turn the switch that controls the light in the ceiling we know that the electric current travels over wires concealed in the wall and reaches the bulb where the light appears.Let us now review our earlier observations and see how the evidence stands. for instance. our actions would be outside of the law and order which governs the rest of Nature. growth and an advancement towards perfection. The injustice apparent in human life. But suppose that a primitive man were suddenly transported from his obscure jungle and placed in our midst. We found that if there is a God* and an intelligent plan back of the Universe. chance. When we consider human life we find on one hand that the majority of human actions are governed by justice. We also found that if the purpose of life is evolution. 1st Alternative If the first proposition is true. In the material world we found a most perfect reign of the Law of Cause and Effect.
If it is true in material things that "action and reaction are equal and opposite. If gravitation can bridge the inconceivable distances of space and.be more reasonable to take the stand that. why should it be any more unreasonable to assume that there is some other force or principle. will not accept chance as an explanation.
. why should not this other force act independent of time and outward circumstances? Surely the latter assumption is no more unreasonable than the former. kindness for kindness. who is confronted with a phenomenon which he does not understand. and recognise that what to us appears as chance because we cannot see the hidden cause. human actions and experiences must also be governed by this law. who thereby reap what they have sown in the past? Let us then consider the second alternative and see if it is not more logical than the first. link a cause on our earth with an effect on the farthest star. he still does not believe that the phenomenon was the result of chance. it was nonexistent until formulated by Newton. 2nd Alternative A scientist. that cause and effect are so delicately and accurately adjusted. Newton's third law of motion states that: "to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. injury for injury. without visible connection. that if we move a finger. must be the result of the thoughts and acts of individuals. attraction or repulsion. some invisible wiring that links our thoughts and our deeds with their effects? If gravitation operates unaffected across space. Knowing that it must follow certain laws. since the Universe is governed by the law of cause and effect in other departments. Of course this law existed from time immemorial and had been operating before it was discovered just as much as afterwards. as far as being recognized by man is concerned. but trusts that future research will reveal the underlying cause. and if Nature can provide the mechanism in one case. If he is successful in his search he traces the event back to its cause. it can also provide the mechanism in the other. but Sir Isaac Newton's investigations resulted in his formulating this law. the wire-tracing. to future research. but. meanness for meanness. In human affairs action and reaction would be equal and opposite if a man's acts returned to him. But may it not be possible that an advancing science will some day trace the wires that are now concealed from us and solve this problem as it has solved so many others in the past? Perhaps investigators of the future will have at their disposal more sensitive instruments than we have. and how do we know but what some future "Isaac Newton" will find some way of demonstrating this experimentally? Our astronomers tell us that the Universe (on its material side) is so marvelously balanced." may not the same be true regarding human actions also. or perhaps man will evolve faculties within his own nature that will enable him to see directly and without the need of any instruments the connection between cause and effect everywhere. If he is not successful. A few centuries back man knew very little of the law that governs gravitation. service for service. the effect of this motion is felt on the farthest star in space." and this statement has been tested experimentally and found to be a fact in regard to material bodies. he starts to investigate and experiment to discover these. In human affairs we may have to leave the full explanation of how effect is linked to cause.
then the individual is in no way responsible for the conditions in which birth places him. then. (a) Either the injustice of these events may be balanced in some existence after death. And yet. for we are often affected by the deeds of others. the law of cause and effect governs human affairs. and efforts for good that bore no fruit. which were not followed by their appropriate effects. Even if it is true that this injustice may be balanced in a future life. but in view of all past experience is it not reasonable that we should recognise that such a chain must exist? If. As new discoveries are made. and while we are waiting for a complete demonstration of how it operates. (b) Or these events are the effects of acts performed by the individual himself during some existence before birth. 2nd . What are the requirements which such a theory must fulfill?
REQUIREMENTS OF THEORY If we examine the events of chance and injustice in human life we notice that they can be grouped under two general headings: 1st . we accept the idea that such a chain of causation exists."Controlled events" or those acts performed intentionally by the man himself. let us use the method of the scientist who seeks to solve his problem. To this group belong accidents and also such experiences as are forced on us by the actions of other people.In our present state of ignorance we have to admit our inability to follow the chain of causation and to link the cause to the effect. these conditions have a powerful influence for good or ill on his destiny. that help or hinder him. such as inherited health or disease. He examines all the known facts before him and then casts about for a theory or a working hypothesis which fits these facts and also explains the phenomenon which he is investigating. Further. even though we have no control over them. the man's character may in the meantime have been made worse and this is a new injustice following from the first."Uncontrolled events" or those over which the individual has no control. Let us first seek an explanation for the "uncontrolled events" of group 1. favorable or unfavorable circumstances of birth and inborn characteristics. but which apparently come to him without any action on his part. If. then. Uncontrolled Events Evidently there are two explanations possible if these events obey the law of cause and effect. or perhaps it is completely discarded for a new and better theory. we cannot help asking: What is the purpose of all this difference in opportunities? Why must we endure all this injustice in the first place? Some people
. the theory is checked with these and altered if it no longer fits the facts. it should be possible to find a theory which explains how it operates. and at death he is a better or a worse man partly due to these conditions. Which is the more logical of these two explanations? If the soul begins its existence with birth into a human body. such as wrongdoing that brought no suffering in its train.
it could not be considered just. then death cannot be the end of our existence for this would so preclude the balancing of justice.
. a man enjoys bliss or suffers tortures for eternity for the acts committed during his life on earth. The doctrine of eternal bliss or suffering. it would be utterly meaningless to impose such injustice first. only to balance it later. we have to admit that the inequalities of birth cannot be explained by a balancing after death for this would be both unjust and meaningless. as usually given. and he would certainly give them all the best chance. which is in accord with justice. If justice is to be balanced at all. If justice is to be done in this case. does not offer a solution that accords with justice. If this were true. how much less then could a beneficent and just God* inflict such punishment on His children? Punishment of this kind would be a greater injustice than to let the wrongs of one earth life remain unbalanced. There is only one possibility left open. which did not bring their appropriate effects in this life. which he has set in motion in this life. Under this heading come the acts of the man himself. One version of this idea of delayed justice is the doctrine of heaven and hell. There is no violation of justice in this proposition. He would see to it that one and all of His children would have the best possible start in life. for the effect would be out of all proportion to the cause. The suicide would be able to step out of the difficulties that surround him without having to face and solve his problems. The only alternative now left open to explain the inequalities of birth and other "uncontrolled events" is that the individual himself must have existed previous to birth. This will be developed more in detail later on. It would be meaningless to do so. In that case all the chance-events of life can be explained as the effects of actions which the individual himself performed during some such previous existence.believe that it is the "will of God. Even an ordinary human being would not be so unjust. then. And surely a beneficent God* would do no less for His children. According to this teaching."* Could that be true? An average human being would not intentionally show such partiality. and if he could do well by one he could do as well by the others also. unfairness and cruelty to his children even if he planned to adjust it later. Further. but a balancing of justice does require an existence after death during which we will reap the effects of those acts which do not come to a fruition in this life. In the light of this idea. A theory of life. Controlled Events Next let us pass on to the "controlled events" under group 2. A loving human father would at least try to do the best he could for his children. how then could it be charged to God*? Therefore. will be balanced. The wrongdoer would escape the results of his evil acts. No intelligent human being would accept responsibility for such a headless plan. the chain of cause and effect can readily be seen. this balancing must take place in some future existence. We cannot therefore explain the inequalities that come to us at birth as "the will of God"* for this would place God* below the level of even an ordinary human being. must therefore include both an existence prior to birth in our present bodies and a survival after the death of the body. It must be during some existence after death that unbalanced causes. It must have been during some such pre-existence that man sowed the seeds which he reaps as the inequalities of birth.
What theory will satisfy all these requirements?
AN ANCIENT DOCTRINE There is a very ancient doctrine. it does not "make sense. in the course of which it is born repeatedly in human form in order to learn and advance by means of the experiences that human life offers. this "Pilgrim" or "Monad" as it is sometimes called. and not the result of injustice or chance. then. however. our present circumstances are the direct results of our own acts during some former life. It fits in with the scheme of evolution for it shows that. for the cause and the effect are inextricably interwoven in the man's character. it relates events whose causes have to be looked for on earlier pages. In either case. It appears in the great religions of the past. If this single "page" is read by itself without reference to what preceded it and without reference to what follows." It just gives a few odd fragments in the middle of a long story. or it may be delayed and follow in a later life. which is the real man. and the circumstances of our future lives will be the results of our thoughts and deeds in this life. which is seen everywhere in Nature. is a doctrine that harmonizes with the general plan of repetition. for it shows that we shall reap what we sow and it explains how and where the reaping is done.Such a theory of life should also satisfy man's higher aspirations and longings as well as his reason and logic. and was held by some of the early Fathers of the Christian church. According to this doctrine of repeated earth-lives. and it describes happenings which will culminate in some future chapter. this doctrine teaches that there is in man a center of consciousness which is a part of the Universal Consciousness. is engaged in a pilgrimage of evolution. This doctrine teaches that man's present life here on earth is only one of many such existences. it is sure to come. It satisfies our logic and reason. It is found under some form or another in the great philosophies of the past and has been accepted by individual philosophers throughout the ages from the great thinkers of antiquity down to modern times. This center of consciousness. It should accord with the idea of a just and beneficent God* and it should fit in with the scheme of evolution and some worthy purpose in life. Our thoughts and acts are seeds implanted in our character which belongs to the permanent part of our nature. and briefly sketched. This center of consciousness. Here. that he has lived here on earth before as a human being and that he will live here again many times in the future in human form. of pages. the seeds sprout and grow and the effect of the deed reacts on the doer. It recognizes the inequalities of existence but shows that they are in full accord with the law of cause and effect. According to this doctrine our present earth life is like a single page in a book with hundreds. perhaps thousands. as we have had infinite
. When the circumstances of life are favorable. traces of which are found all over the world. In order to understand the contents of this page it is necessary to read both what precedes it and what is to follow. This effect may follow during the same life as the act. has lived in human bodies an inconceivable number of times in the past and will do so again in the future. and sooner or later he will reap what he has sown whether it be good or evil. Omitting all details.
The erroneous notion that man's consciousness enters animals after death is due to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of Transmigration. then. and carnis = flesh." thus referring to the idea that the indwelling consciousness has again taken upon itself a body of flesh. (2) Survival after death.
SURVIVAL AFTER DEATH Relation of Consciousness to Body No physical means can be applied to investigate after-death states. and hence possibilities of rising towards perfection. anything that is unacceptable to reason and logic. when seen from the viewpoint of a single earth life. not retrogression. or "again in flesh. We shall begin with survival after death. a theory which shows what appeared to us as injustice and chance. This doctrine of repeated earth-lives.* ---------* There is a great deal of misinformation current regarding the doctrine of Reincarnation. but are of his own making. is governed by the Law of Cause and Effect. Evolution tends to progress. Let us now examine these propositions to see if there is anything fundamentally unsound about any of them. turns out to be justice and law when seen from the viewpoint of repeated earth-lives. but may sometimes be delayed. It shows man that he is individually responsible for all his acts and hence teaches him the wisdom of beneficent and harmonious action.opportunities for growth in the past. for it shows that man's misfortunes are not inflicted on him from outside sources. This doctrine of repeated earth-lives is commonly known under the name "Reincarnation" from the Latin: re = again. This is not the doctrine of Reincarnation. It accords with the idea of a just and beneficent God*. Only enough has been given here to show how the doctrine solves the problem of injustice. since they fall beyond the scope of the present discussion. hence it is
. The whole subject is reserved for separate treatment. We have found a theory which solves the problem of injustice and shows that everything in Nature. We notice that the doctrine of Reincarnation includes the following three propositions: (1) Pre-existence. is the missing key that solves the problem of injustice in the world. then. some people even taking it to mean that man's consciousness after death enters the bodies of animals. we shall have infinite opportunities in the future. . Once the consciousness has reached the human stage it cannot embody itself in anything subhuman. The various aspects of this teaching are purposely omitted here. in = in. human life included. (3) Effects do not always follow immediately upon the causes that produced them. ---------We have found in Reincarnation.
but when the body recuperates. There are. The unconsciousness of sleep. there are certain observations which may throw some light on the subject. In our present degree of evolution we know very little about consciousness in its various states. but did not destroy the consciousness. has been a temporary disconnection of the consciousness from the material plane. then. a ruler of this little kingdom which we call a human being. hence we are largely limited to such proofs as reason and analogy furnish. the body. When the instrument of consciousness. What might be the state of our consciousness during periods of so-called "unconsciousness"? There is a great gap in our knowledge of other states of consciousness. A common fainting spell may be induced by a mental shock. which sits like an observer and. In case of injury to the brain and in certain fevers and other diseases. In every instance. the nature of which we do not yet understand. desires. his feelings. but it was not a destruction or annihilation of consciousness. and finally a center of consciousness. Where is the consciousness in the meantime? Is it destroyed? Evidently not. unconsciousness was a withdrawal of consciousness. There are other conditions under which the consciousness temporarily abandons the body. The disability of the instrument prevented the consciousness from contact with this plane. Evidently it must have had some sort of existence. but as soon as the instrument is repaired. the mind. to an extent. else it could not have returned exactly as it was before going to sleep.. the nature of which we do not understand. for upon awakening it again begins to function as it did before sleep. the consciousness is unable to function through its disabled instrument. inert and unresponsive. The sleeping body is merely an animated corpse. During sleep the consciousness temporarily abandons the body. This center of consciousness. However. the consciousness returns unchanged. is the most essential part of man and our problem simmers down to this: can and does this center of consciousness survive death? It is evident that consciousness must have a physical body in order to contact the physical plane. waking state that we are all familiar with to some other apparently latent state. then. neither did it cause any change in it. etc. then. but this disunion has not destroyed the consciousness and has caused no change in it. It was the passing of consciousness from the active. This something else includes. a sudden fright or some physical injury.impossible to bring in proofs of a material nature that man's consciousness survives death. since we who are conscious on this material plane do not observe any consciousness acting outside of any such body. It is again shut off from contact with this plane. But let us not forget that it is equally impossible to introduce material proofs that man's consciousness perishes at death. the consciousness returns and resumes its activity where it left off before the injury. aspirations. a number of circumstances which may result in unconsciousness. among other things. his mind. but does such ignorance justify us in saying that such other states of consciousness do not exist?
. the brain. They all have one feature in common: they consist in changes in the instrument of consciousness rather than in the consciousness itself. are restored to normal the consciousness returns unchanged and resumes its former activity. this spectator of the drama of life. Man is a physical body plus something else.
Dreams prove to us the existence of one such state. but neither are we in a position to disprove them. which now must be scrapped. but the current cannot flow over the broken circuit and the light does not manifest. may not the consciousness of man remain unaffected by the death of the body. Death is usually preceded by a period of unconsciousness. If we jiggle the bulb we may cause the filament wires to touch inside of the bulb and the light again appears. the consciousness manifests normally. and this time no amount of jiggling will repair the bulb. as the light did with the repaired filament wires. The power plant is still running. but if the damage is beyond repair. the various processes are all alike: they all consist in a withdrawal of consciousness induced by damage to the instrument. Is there any more proof that death would annihilate the consciousness? The action of electricity in manifesting as light resembles that of consciousness acting through a human body. and who can say how many other similar or different states there may be? We may not yet be able to prove the existence of other states. as in fact we know that it does remain unaffected by sickness and by sleep? Is there any more reason to think that the consciousness has ceased to exist when the body is destroyed. etc. Is there anything to show that the unconsciousness of death is any different from the unconsciousness of sickness or of sleep. sometimes very brief. If we unscrew the bulb we break the contacts and the light goes out. other times lasting for weeks or months. As in one case the electric energy remained unaffected by the destruction of the bulb. They differ only according to the degree of damage produced in the instrument. May it not be the same with the consciousness of man? When the body is healthy. the consciousness does not return. This time we must have a new bulb if we want the light to reappear. Sometimes death takes place during sleep. then. but as soon as the new bulb is provided the light manifests. If the damage can be repaired. The unconsciousness of death. and this time can no longer return to the worn-out body any more than the light to the burnt out bulb. brain. At death the body is worn out and consciousness again disappears. except that it must be of longer duration? Sleep and sickness did not materially alter the nature of the consciousness itself. So far. In sickness there is a bodily disorder that shuts consciousness out the same as the broken filament shuts the light out. like that of sleep or sickness. But a time comes when the filament burns out completely. The electric current will manifest as light in a bulb as long as the contacts are good and the filament wires inside the bulb are perfect. the consciousness returns. consciousness returns. than there is to think that the electric energy is annihilated because the bulb is destroyed? Matter and Energy Exist in Different States. the light also goes out. is induced by wear and tear or injury to the instrument. In sleep we disconnect the consciousness from this plane the same as when we unscrew the bulb. and the consciousness ceases to manifest. Why Should Not Consciousness Do the Same? By chemical action the appearance of substances may change so completely that
. If the filament is injured. showing that the source of the light was unaffected by the injury or destruction of the bulb. the body. Is there anything to show that death would alter the nature of the consciousness any more than did sickness or sleep? Sleep and sickness did not annihilate the consciousness. If health returns.
Active electrical energy is changed in a storage battery into chemical energy and can then be stored in a latent state for long periods of time. it does again change back into a waking state.. The water can again be broken up and changed back into its two constituent gases. in interpreting death as simply a change in our state of consciousness? The awakening from this state will be considered further on. it must have a body through which it can be transformed into an active state. For instance. a liquid. It can travel in the atmosphere and produce rain. It forms bridges over lakes and rivers. Energy also exists in different states. does exist in different states such as solid. the nature of which we do not understand.the resulting product in no way resembles the elements of which it is composed. This energy is latent. thus producing mechanical energy. An explosive such as dynamite is latent or stored energy which remains inactive until the explosion takes place. chemical energy. why should it not be possible for consciousness to change from a state of activity to latency and back to activity again? In fact. Sodium is a metallic substance resembling steel. liquid and gaseous. when the energy changes into an active state. results of chemical or physical activities in the brain. the chemical energy will be transformed back into active electrical energy. greenish. electrical. Matter and Energy Are Indestructible. A chemical combination of the two is water. it forms our rivers and drives power plants. turbine. as a colorless liquid. Hydrogen and oxygen are two invisible gases. but when the "proper circuit" is formed. is not this exactly what takes place in sleep? Our consciousness is changed into a latent state. Others look upon the subject differently and see in consciousness and mental activities primary functions which
. It may be active or latent. why should it not be possible for consciousness to exist in different states also? If energy does exist under different forms such as mechanical. then. the stored energy is released as heat and this heat in its turn can be utilized in driving a steam engine. Why should there not be as many states of consciousness as there are states of matter and of energy? Is there anything unnatural. and it can easily be changed from one state into another and then back again into the first. and finally the latent energy emerges as active energy: electricity. but so soft that it can easily be cut with a knife. chlorine is a yellowish. If it is to be put to useful work. It will remain inactive as long as it is retained by the dam. When the proper circuit is formed. penstock. then. Water can exist as an invisible vapor. Who knows how many states of consciousness there are which differ from our waking state? The field is almost entirely unexplored.. generator. Why Should Not Consciousness Be the Same? What is mind? What are thoughts? What is consciousness? Some say by-products of matter. inactive. Yet it is all the same substance in different states. or as a solid block of ice. etc. A lump of coal represents solar energy which was stored thousands of years ago. as well as in numberless chemical combinations. and if it sometimes remains dormant and stored for long periods as latent energy and at other times is active. If matter. When these two substances are combined chemically we have common table salt. The body in this case consists of the gate. but if the coal is allowed to burn. etc. strong enough to carry heavy loads. The water behind a dam represents the stored energy of the sun. poisonous gas. it forms our oceans and carries large ships.
are accompanied by. but that consciousness is not? Scientific investigations have shown that not the smallest amount of either matter or energy can be annihilated or lost. He would not lavish his best gifts on his cattle and withhold them from his family. as far as this planet goes. Assuming again that the purpose of life is the attainment of perfection. which is the highest part? It would be as though a farmer would bestow greater care and solicitude for the soil of his farm than he would for his own children. Under these circumstances. despite all the changes they might undergo. or depend on. Very little is known today about consciousness and the methods through which it expresses itself. The great promises that life held out before him have not
. which are the tools of consciousness. The material part is simply the tool of the consciousness. would it not be reasonable to draw the conclusion that if matter and energy are indestructible. even if he still clings to his ideals. and the most important part of man is not the material part. In other words. His work is not finished and even he needs more time. man represents the highest form of life. but rather that his increased capacities have opened to him new fields of discovery? He sees beyond his present state new horizons with greater possibilities which he wants to explore. Tasks that he began are left incomplete. How. but the mind and consciousness. furnish the necessary mechanism through which consciousness acts when it functions on the material plane. There would be no hope for the savage to attain the state of his more developed brothers if he were limited to the span of a single life on earth. man's consciousness and his mind affect and alter the material world about him. Youth starts out in life with high ideals. must it not also include indestructibility of consciousness or a survival after death? Life Must Have A Purpose Next let us see how the idea of a purpose in life affects the problem of survival. but few of his dreams have been realized. as it were. When man stands at the door of death. hoping to accomplish great things and with faith that they can be realized. then. Does it seem likely that the great Intelligence which planned this Universe would have bestowed the gift of indestructibility on matter and energy. far from being attained. No normal human being would be guilty of such unbalanced judgment. could this purpose be served if death were the end of all? Man ranges in development all the way from a brute savage to the highest intellectual type. and refused immortality to the consciousness itself. or mind has control over matter. And is it not true that even the most highly developed man on earth does not feel that he has attained perfection. Would it be reasonable to assume that matter is endowed with indestructibility. arts that he tried to learn were never mastered. but one thing is certain: consciousness and thought are realities of some kind. can we expect God* to do any less? If there is an intelligent plan back of this Universe and this plan includes indestructibility for matter and energy. consciousness and mind must be indestructible also and that hence man's consciousness survives the transformation called death? A Comparison of Values Let us next consider the subject of survival in connection with a beneficent and omnipotent God*. for consciousness can control and direct thought and thought guides and determines actions. But years pass and. It is evident that. various chemical or electrical activities in the brain which. yet these are far.
he must have infinity before him to accomplish this task . overtaken by the infirmities of old age. All the evidence enumerated above is in favor of such survival. We have nothing to show that death is not another latent state of consciousness. and this perfectibility calls for the necessary time for its attainment. sometimes latent. there is nothing irrational or unnatural in assuming that consciousness survives death. neither are there material proofs that it perishes at death. Consciousness survives the gap of sleep and sickness.
. why should not consciousness be the same? If God* bestowed indestructibility on matter and energy. could He have given anything less to consciousness and mind? If there is a purpose in life worthy of this great Universe.and this cannot be accomplished if consciousness is annihilated at death. why should it not survive death? Matter and Energy exist in many different states and can be changed from one into another and back again. and may change back and forth between these states. There is nothing to show that the unconsciousness of death is any different from that due to sickness or sleep. While we do not understand the nature of the after-death state. Consciousness is sometimes active (waking). This hopeless picture would be true if death were the end of all. if man is to attain perfection. man's consciousness must survive death. Summary Summarizing our observations on survival after death. the visions of youth fade like mirages. After running a few laps the contestants drop by the wayside. we find: While there are no material proofs that consciousness survives death. and may change back and forth between these states. death ends the futile effort and nothing is left but the body to furnish food for worms. From the standpoint that life must have a meaning.been fulfilled and never will be if death is the end of all. Could it be possible that the ideals and hopes of youth were false promises. sometimes latent (sleep). Their hopes are shattered. but the time allowed much too short and no one would be able to finish the race. He made the conditions impossible. the rules of the game did not allow sufficient time. promises that never could be. then. An endless army of new victims is put through the same treadmill. and never were meant to be fulfilled? Then life would be a race in which prizes were offered. then life would have no meaning. But is it possible that this great planet was condensed in space for no higher purpose than to furnish a stage for the repetition of such a meaningless drama? Is it possible that the Intelligence which planned this Universe with such marvelous skill in detail and in execution should have failed so completely in furnishing an adequate purpose for its existence? No normal human being would waste his energy and time in building an elaborate mechanism that had no purpose. Why should not consciousness do the same? Energy is sometimes active. but when the effort was made the gifts were withdrawn. It would be as though a father promised his children beautiful gifts in order to have them strive. only to finish in the same way. The ideals were lies to spur the individual to a useless effort. If this were true. Matter and Energy are indestructible. A plan worthy of this Universe must include the perfectibility of its parts. life would be a ghastly farce.
What is infinite in one direction. If we try to imagine that this line extends in one direction only. Then it rests. in
. then it is equally impossible to create them. for the idea that the line extends in the other direction also forces itself on our mind. If they are indestructible. Why should this be the one and only time? All through nature we see an ebb and flow. It can change from state to state. we find ourselves unable to do so. even against our will. Is there anything unreasonable in this proposition? If consciousness can exist without a physical body after death. If consciousness is governed by the same laws as matter and energy. a period of activity followed by a period of rest. this means that they must have existed throughout the eternities of the past and that they will continue to exist throughout the eternities of the future. why is not birth an awakening from some other state of consciousness? Birth and death are doors through which the consciousness comes and goes." Nature does not do this in other fields. We spend our day in activity. it too is indestructible and could not have been created. it can just as well exist without a physical body before birth. and each time there is opportunity for a little improvement. repeated again and again. as it seems to be. Repetition . He applies it in the schools. If the human consciousness passes out into the unknown through the door of death. but it can never be destroyed. The tree sends forth its leaves and blossoms and bears its fruit. If death is a going to sleep from this state of consciousness. for what has been done once can easily be done again. must be infinite in the opposite direction also. If it is impossible to destroy or annihilate matter and energy. there is no reason why it could not have done the same many times in the past or why it cannot repeat the same cycle many times again in the future. to develop something higher and more perfect from something inferior.Nature's Working Method What is more logical than to assume a birth to be the return of a human entity to earth. Man recognizes the value of repetition. then rest and recuperate in sleep. If it is the purpose of Nature. only to repeat the cycle the next year. but must have existed from the infinitudes of the past and must endure throughout the eternities of the future. to take up again its unfinished tasks of long ago? If consciousness has entered this life through the door of birth and left it through the door of death. is it not equally possible that the same human consciousness will some time. If we use a straight stick to represent a line. in the future re-enter this world through the door of birth? Is it not reasonable to see in the birth of a little child a return to our material world of a human consciousness which left it at death of someone in the past? If birth is not such a return of a human consciousness. this method of repetition is undoubtedly the most effective one. we know that the stick itself is only a short section of a line that extends infinitely in both directions.EXISTENCE BEFORE BIRTH That Which Is Indestructible Is Uncreatable The doctrine of Reincarnation also includes the teaching that man has existed prior to his birth. then what is it? Where does the consciousness which unfolds itself in the growing child come from? It could not have been "created out of nothing.
If it is in Nature's plan that some of our acts are to be balanced right here on earth. No workman becomes skilled who has not performed the same operation many times." If attainment of perfection is the object of life. where should we be sent to continue our studies. As these earth lives will be repeated in the future. then when and where is this balancing to be done? In order that justice may be the most perfectly balanced. which do not bring their due reward or punishment. we reap it where the seed was sown. and did not finish our lesson. "Practice makes Perfect. The idea of an existence before birth is less familiar to the western mind than that of an existence after death. are to be balanced in some future existence. if not back to the same school from which we failed to graduate? In our ordinary education we do not attend one school today and another tomorrow.manufacturing. until we have learned our lessons and attained the goal? We Reap in the Some Field as we Sowed We have seen that pre-existence and survival are necessary to demonstrate the rule of justice in our lives. If the inequalities of birth are due to actions of the individual in the past. And where can these conditions be better duplicated than right here on earth? If we sow a seed in one field." one human life. then why should not all of our acts be balanced right here? Is there anything reasonable in the assumption that some of our actions must be balanced in a heaven or a hell. we do not go to another field and reap the harvest. so have they also been repeated in the past. it will be followed by other lives in other human bodies right here on earth. when more experience will be gained. is it not here on earth that we should expect that act to be balanced? We know that justice balances some of our acts right here on earth and during this life in which the cause was sown. Is it likely that the Intelligence which planned this Universe would have formulated a less effective plan? Is there a more logical explanation than to look upon the life of a human being as a period of training and experience for a human soul on its journey towards perfection? As one such period is insufficient to attain the goal. then. but one is just as reasonable as the other. for this would be wasteful of effort. And if we perform an act here on earth. in fact everywhere. naturally the balancing should be done under circumstances as near as possible duplicating those under which the act was performed in the first place. when other acts of a similar nature are balanced right here on earth. There should be no difficulty for one who accepts the idea of survival also to accept the idea of pre-existence for the arguments which support one support the other. then what better method to attain this purpose could be chosen than a repetition of our life here on earth. when and where did he perform these acts? If the acts of this life. We attend the same school until we have mastered all that this school can teach us.
. and all of them could be similarly balanced in a future life on earth? If we were "sent to school" here on earth for one "day. Between each one of these earth lives there will be a period for rest and assimilation. Everyone will readily admit the truth of the maxim.
yet we know it is there. The touch on the trigger did not determine the strength of the explosion. its force was great or small in exact proportion to the quantity of the charge. Each day we put a few grains of powder in it. for instance. is no sign that this effect will not follow later. If such storing and releasing of energy can take place on the material plane. Other times the effect may be delayed. Is there anything unreasonable in this? Physical Effects Are Frequently Delayed We know that during our present earth life effects do not always follow immediately upon their cause. invisible energy grew in proportion as the powder charge increased. The energy had been accumulated long before. No one would have known by looking at the gun whether it contained a large or small charge or perhaps no charge at all. Let us suppose. The same reasoning applies also to man's acts. perhaps even centuries. before it was pushed over the edge and allowed to resume its fall. The effect of these may be delayed. the nature of which we do not yet understand? The fact that we see no immediate effect. The energy changed suddenly when the proper conditions were provided. is it not reasonable to assume that the effects of man's thoughts and acts may be similarly delayed and held in some sort of invisible storage. In the material world an effect sometimes follows immediately upon its cause as when a stone is thrown in the air it falls to the ground where it strikes with an effect which depends on the height to which it was thrown. If physical effects can be thus delayed without being changed or lost. too. How do we know but what this effect may be stored as some kind of latent energy or powder in some sort of gun in a corner of man's invisible nature? How do we know but what some thought or act or outward circumstance may be the touch
. but not changed. and hence must have some kind of an effect. but they. but no explosion took place until the trigger was touched. It was only the means of releasing an accumulation of energy already existing. The stored. The powder is of course visible. that the stone landed on the top of a building where it remained for years. but when the explosion took place. Suppose. Touching the Trigger Gunpowder is a combination of chemicals which contain energy in a stored or latent state. The effect was delayed. and the charge goes off. then. but nothing happens. but we do know that thought is an energy of some kind and therefore must have some sort of an effect. Dissipation in youth often does not bring its full effect until old age is reached. and in some way associated with the chemicals. for the sake of illustration. represent the expenditure of some kind of energy. its striking effect was the same as it would have been if it had fallen at once. when the powder was made and later placed in the gun. sometimes there may be a long delay between the two. Then one day someone brushes against the trigger. but the stored energy is not visible. When it finally did hit the ground. from a latent and invisible state to an active and visible one. may it not be possible that the effects of man's thoughts and acts are similarly stored and released? We know nothing about the "mental gunpowder" that a thought may produce and we know nothing about the type of mental gun in which it may be stored. that we have an old muzzle loader standing in some corner with the trigger cocked.The explanation of justice offered by the doctrine of Reincarnation further includes the idea that an effect does not always follow immediately upon its cause.
which we assume to be true. and if energy can be stored for long periods in invisible states as in the case of gunpowder . is just as reasonable as the first proposition. and why should not the effects. or it may lead to blood-poisoning. the difference in effect must be due to other and now invisible causes. proof is defined as "a preponderance of evidence that brings conviction to the mind. sometimes slight. Our watch is slow and we miss a train and have to wait for the next one. as in the case of the stone. it may result in a slight bruise or it may be a skull fracture. yet in the end produce the same result as if the effect had been immediate.are the discharges of latent accumulations of energy which we ourselves stored up in the past? They may be either good or bad. be exactly the same as if they had taken place immediately? Certainly the last proposition. An innocent cold may pass off quickly or lead to pneumonia and perhaps death. are we to explain the varied effects. Why do such insignificant causes sometimes pass off so lightly and other times produce such far-reaching effects? If there is law and order in Nature. etc. the effect should always be proportionate to its cause. favorable or unfavorable. Man has not yet learned to look beyond birth and death and hence is unable to ascertain what takes place there by direct observation. One of the trains is wrecked and all on board are injured or killed. Summary If.. the doctrine of heaven and hell and other religious beliefs of this nature. In courts of law. when they do appear. The slow watch might have saved our life or caused our death.the accidents in human life . and as there must be law.why is it not just as reasonable to assume that the effects of man's thoughts and acts may be delayed and accumulated in some invisible state until circumstances permit them to express themselves. and perhaps death. no effect would follow. in the material world effects may be long delayed. then. Would not these great differences in effect be easier to explain if we looked upon the scratch on the finger. sometimes serious. the only test man can apply to problems of this nature is that of logic and reason. the evidence in its
. which we know to be true. A little scratch on the finger may heal in a couple of days. otherwise. but in either case they are the effects of our own repeated thoughts and acts." If we are to judge Reincarnation on this basis. that often follow such insignificant events as those illustrated below? We slip on the sidewalk and fall. May it not be that the chance-events . as only the touch on the trigger and the variation in effect as due to the accumulation of powder in the gun? If there were no accumulation of powder. the slow watch. then.
IS REINCARNATION TRUE? What Is Proof? How are we to judge the truth of any doctrine which deals with life after death and before birth? The theory of the materialist that the death of the body is the end of all. are alike in that they can neither be proved nor disproved by any material tests. Evidently.on the trigger that sets off the charge? How.
are the delayed effects of our own acts in former incarnations. If we are born with talents and "natural gifts. it means that we lived clean and wholesome lives in the past. Survival of consciousness after death is in harmony with the indestructibility of matter and energy which exists in Nature. but seem to escape the consequences of our act. we should be ready to accept it. It shows that this suffering is not meted out by a capricious God. Let us therefore test Reincarnation as we would any other theory. cause injury to others." it is because we cultivated these "gifts" in the past. it is because in past lives we permitted such weeds to grow in our character. If we have a sickly body. by our wrongdoing. who wills that some shall suffer while others live in happiness. Reincarnation removes this difficulty. we shall be the victims of similar circumstances at the hands of someone else. Reincarnation Explains If we have a healthy body now. shortcomings. it is the pay for something done in the past which did not bring its due reward at that time. The only valid reason for rejecting it would be the appearance of a more logical doctrine.favor would be its ability to answer the questions and solve the problems of life in accordance with reason and logic. Existence of consciousness before birth harmonizes with the idea that what is indestructible could not have been created. If fortune comes to him unearned. Accidents and other chance-events that affect our lives and seemingly come to us without any cause. the effect is not lost but will come later in this life or in a future incarnation. If we are unjustly accused or our efforts misunderstood. If a person works hard. Like matter and energy. starting perhaps in infancy. If Reincarnation does this better than other theories of life. If we are born in favorable circumstances in life. and similarly. It shows that all our
. and if we are willing to approach the subject in the scientific attitude of the open mind. which often occurs in Nature. and if we are born in wretched conditions. If we act for good or ill. the opposite was the case. have always found it difficult to explain the injustice and unmerited suffering in the world. it is a sign that we provided favorable circumstances for those born to us in past lives. If we are born with handicaps. it is the balancing of some wrongdoing of ours in the past. Those who believe in a personal God as a father loving his children. If we live contrary to the rules of health now but still enjoy good health. but appropriate effects do not follow immediately. he is paying back some old debt he had contracted in a past life. the opposite was true. If we. it is because we gave such assistance to others in the past. some time. somewhere. if we are the victims of dishonesty and fraud. by checking it against the problems of life. it is because of some similar injustice done by ourselves to others in the past. If our way through life is made easier by the help and encouragement of others. and warped tendencies. The delay between cause and effect. but does not get ahead financially and perhaps loses all his possessions. makes it easy to accept the idea that similar delays may occur in human life. the effect of this indulgence will show in disease in future lives. and let it stand or fall on its ability to solve these problems. it must have preexisted in some state.
It may be our turn next. hopes and dreams that never were realized. and Nature reacts accordingly. takes the form of repeated existences in human bodies here on earth. so we are in no position to pass judgment on them or condemn them. for it removes the sting of injustice from our suffering. A life span of 70 years cannot take us far on the journey to perfection. The doctrine of Reincarnation adds dignity and responsibility to life. but when that past service has been exhausted. it is an indication that in past lives we rendered service for which we did not then collect. all these will have opportunities for fulfillment in future incarnations. and many other chances to make good in future lives on earth. there will be nothing more to collect. our effort. If it is possible for us to continue drawing benefits from this bank without depositing. we meet one
.we are taking it out. The Bank of Life Our work. We ourselves violated the laws of harmony in the past. Those who missed their chance in this life. but it is also a help to know that no suffering can come to us which does not belong to us and that. this school of experience. may be compared to capital deposited in a bank. Our present thoughts and acts are seeds sown in our character and their nature will determine the harvest which the future will bring us. if we were limited to one earth life alone. when the cause has been exhausted. one earth life is utterly inadequate to reach that goal. We shall have new opportunities to develop those qualities which we only began cultivating in this life. unfinished tasks. the greater will be the credit side of our balance in this Bank of Life. We have to go through with this suffering now. We may have much greater debts to pay off than they are now paying. this account is closed and there will be no more suffering from that source unless we again repeat the cause. It also makes us more understanding and charitable and sympathetic with those who suffer. impossible of realization.suffering and all our misery are of our own making. our contribution to life. until he has reached the highest state of perfection that can be attained here on earth. This thought is a most helpful one. Each earth life will take us one step nearer the goal of perfection. Nature's working method of repetition. and those who committed wrongs that they now regret. If the purpose of life is to attain perfection. We are now collecting the reward for that past service. When this point is reached. The more we put in of constructive work. for it shows us that we are the makers of our own future. so man returns life after life to this earth. will have another chance. But Reincarnation explains how the needed time is provided. when applied to man. As a child returns day after day and passes from one grade to another in the same school until he has mastered all that this school has to teach. The possibilities for our growth and unfoldment are infinite. The visions of youth would be false promises. The balance in the bank is in exact accord with our deposits less our withdrawals. If we do not render service but seek to live off the work of others we are not putting capital into this bank . Our future destiny is in our own hands. and so we shall return here again and again in the future as we have already lived here numberless lives in the past. Unfulfilled aspirations. Hardships are easier to bear when we know that they are not imposed upon us by someone else. but are of our own making.
for we know that the latter will take care of itself. who starts out in life with high ideals. if we take care of the former. He would know that. a theory which shows that human acts are subject to the same Law of Cause and Effect that operates everywhere else in Nature. A selfish man with a lower standard of action would be strongly affected by the knowledge that he would have to reap his own sowing. and that if we want to draw any more benefits we must now deposit new capital. is it not reasonable to suppose that they did the same in past lives also? And in that case. These reverses are the notices from the bank that our cash balance is gone. It may be possible that our position in the world is so well established that. what is more natural than that the majority should now find themselves engaged in paying off old debts? Once we become convinced of the truth of Reincarnation we will not feel at ease if we are constantly drawing on our bank account.
BENEFICIAL EFFECTS Next let us see what would be the effect on the individual. then. In that case we are actually running into debt and are now borrowing capital from the bank. By the light of Reincarnation we can readily see how these readjustments can be made. in spite of all appearances to the contrary. his efforts at right action will bring results. that action and reaction are equal and opposite and in the end must balance? Suppose that a young man. for do not the majority seek to get a living with the least effort? If they do so in this life. In the new birth that follows we are no longer in a position of power. This time we will find ourselves the victims of others who will now live off our labors. has an assurance that these ideals have a philosophical basis . We may hold the most trumps in this life. and hence on the world.of these inexplicable reverses or misfortunes that come to us by chance and that seem so puzzling to us. and this knowledge would give him added strength to lead a noble life. We have in Reincarnation. even after we have withdrawn all our capital from this Bank of Life. do we not see illustrations of this? How much greater is the number of those who labor and get little in return than the few who prosper! Is not this what should be expected. for in reality we are only returning our loan to the Bank of Life. no more. We will take considerable more interest in doing and giving than we will in getting. and the trumps pass into other hands. But we should not complain. He would know that he could never get "something for nothing" and that lasting benefits can only be obtained as the result of
. but in each new incarnation there is a reshuffling of the cards and a new deal.that they are actually founded on Nature's laws. and if we sow evil we gather evil fruit. our position of power still enables us to exact a living from others. that if we sow good seed we reap accordingly. In a future life this capital has to be repaid and a new cash balance started before we can begin to draw any benefit from our efforts. of a firm faith that justice and law govern all affairs of life. If we look about us in life. a theory capable of explaining life on the basis of justice. How will we act if we know positively that we shall reap what we sow. no less. At the new birth we are drawn by psycho-magnetic attraction to those parents who can give us the circumstances most like those that we have earned for ourselves.
He has interfered with the orderly working methods of Nature and thereby forced his consciousness out of physical life into another state of existence for which Nature has not yet prepared it. When our minds grasp the idea that we shall reap what we sow. If they do not belong to us the situation will soon clear up. It would be useless for us to try to shirk unpleasant or trying circumstances which life may place in our path. The fact that it is possible to make gains by dishonest means would not constitute a temptation to him. Is not a realization. there would be no advantage in criminal action and nothing to be gained from it? Would he not then scrupulously avoid anything that might approach fraud and shun it as he would the fire? No financier would want to live off the labors of others after he realized that in the course of time he would have to render full return for all his undue gain. when he had to make full restitution for all his acts. for he would also know that if he practiced fraud on others he would eventually lose what he had gained by fraud. those incapable of the simplest reasoning. and there is no debt hanging over us to be collected in the future. Compare this with the honest method of making the same gain. we brought those experiences on ourselves and we would be wiser if we faced them bravely rather than tried to evade them. No dictator would plunge the world into war if he knew that he himself would have to experience the suffering he brought down on others. Would not even the criminal lose interest in his "profession" when he came to realize that there is a higher law of justice that he cannot "beat. it becomes at once evident that it is not only unwise but downright stupid to seek gain by wrongdoing." but which will catch up with him in the end and return to him each and every one of his acts as the pendulum returns the impulse given to it? Would he not realize that. when he will again be compelled to face the same problem and solve it. so why not face them at once and be done with them? The suicide may think that his act will solve his problem and free him from an unhappy situation. No politician would betray his trust if he knew that he himself would become the victim of a similar betrayal in the future.honest and productive work. we take on credit from the Bank of Life and set the stage for our own defrauding in the future. would still try to get "something for nothing. and experience the same suffering he caused others. and only the mentally deficient. and here it must suffer the consequences of such unpreparedness. and if they really are ours. We then pay cash. there would be nothing gained by dishonesty and for his own self-protection he would avoid storing up trouble that he would have to reap in the future. but he has only postponed the settlement to some future life. It is a stop signal to the selfish man and the criminal." When we defraud others. It appeals to the better side of the noble man as well as to the self
. In this case we earn the right to our gain by work and effort in the first place. If justice rules. If we succeed in evading them now. By his act of violence he has deprived himself of all opportunity for growth and development in this life. that justice rules in all our affairs a most powerful incentive to right action and a means for bringing harmony into the world? It strengthens the man of moral tendencies and gives him faith that right action will bring its due reward in time. they will turn up in some other way later on. Under such circumstances. for it shows them that wrong-doing results in future grief. then. no amount of shirking or side-stepping can remove them from our path.
to fulfill all duties conscientiously. evidently because the one who practices them is put to a disadvantage unless they are applied by others also. but in neither case is any reason given why such action is recommended." The former is an injunction to practice Brotherhood. each Nation contributing according to its own innate characteristics. hard-boiled common sense. The effect on the individual will eventually make itself felt by the Nation.
ARE ETHICAL TEACHINGS PRACTICAL? Ethical teachings appeal to men to be honest and upright. ethical teachings urge men to practice brotherhood. do ye even so to them" (Matt. to "cast thy bread upon the waters. the latter is an injunction to avoid injuring others. we could probably not find a more allinclusive one than the Golden Rule: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you. for the effect of this will return to us in the course of time. If our lives are governed by chance and our actions may or may not bring their appropriate effects. it is plain. but each would work for the common good of all. As already pointed out. We have noted the effect on the individual of a faith in justice. it is certainly plain common sense to sow good seeds. to think more of the welfare of others than of one's own.interest of the selfish man. What is it we want others to do unto us. and it is likewise plain common sense to avoid injuring others." to "love they neighbor as thyself". yet few people apply these principles or do it only to a limited extent. to practice Brotherhood. this earth would become a paradise compared to what it is today. If a body of teachings which admittedly would benefit mankind is considered impractical. The Golden Rule simply instructs us to use this as a rule for our own conduct and drops the matter there. No Nation would then oppress or enslave another Nation. then the Golden Rule is not practical. The Golden Rule does not speak of the reward that will follow from its application. If. It strikes at the tap-root of all wrong-doing by showing that selfishness is self-defeating and that our own self-interest as well as our better impulses both call for altruistic action.
. in brief. then the Golden Rule is not only practical. to a more harmonious and grander civilization of the future. and therefore they are usually put aside as being impractical. If we were to choose a single one as typical of all the rest. and in time Nations would be guided in their actions by principles of justice. either these teachings must be intrinsically false or there is something lacking in their presentation which would show them to be practical. and what is it we want others to refrain from doing? We naturally want others to act in a way that will benefit us and avoid doing us harm. for such injury will also return to us. our lives are governed by Justice and we reap what we sow. for by applying it we would only play into the hands of any selfish individual who might choose to take advantage of us. It is generally agreed that if these teachings were applied in practice. to practice brotherhood. on the other hand. to give rather than take." There is another version of the Golden Rule given by Confucius: "Do not do unto others what you would not have others do unto you. If we reap what we sow. vii. 12). or as usually worded: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
it speaks only of the sowing. be looked upon as advising men to apply it for their own benefit. It says: "Sow good seeds. Before we can demonstrate that the Golden Rule and other ethical teachings are practical. but it can easily be shown to be actual justice and in harmony with the Law of Cause and Effect if we accept the idea of repeated lives here on earth. The doctrine of Reincarnation.
SUMMARY If justice rules our lives we shall reap what we sow.
. Faith in justice cannot be established unless we can show how justice operates. It follows that we shall benefit by sowing good seed that we shall suffer by sowing evil seed. Although the Golden Rule makes no reference to the law of cause and effect.It does not mention the harvest. however. avoid sowing tares. for in this case all we need to do is to take care of the sowing. This injustice cannot be denied if we accept the theory of a single life on earth. A knowledge that justice rules will be a strong force influencing men to right action. it may be noted that it is in full harmony with it and might. thereby gradually eliminating the suffering and misery which result from wrongdoing." and leaves the matter there. it is necessary to prove that human actions are governed by the law of cause and effect and that we shall reap what we sow. solves the problem of injustice. If we accept the idea of an orderly Universe. indeed. yet when we consider it in its relation to this law. then Reincarnation becomes a logical necessity. The chief difficulty in accepting the law of Cause and Effect as governing human actions has been the injustice apparent in human life. the law of cause and effect will take care of the result. governed by Law and justice. but we can see the wisdom of this advice if our acts are governed by the law of cause and effect. then.