Law of Karma and Reincarnation
Also known as the Law of Cause and Effect, Karma is the cyclic mechanism, structured on the basis of outstanding accounts, which governs the life of human beings in their different lives on the face of the Earth. Its philosophy starts on the premise that the soul has a particular history and travels in time through different bodies, both animal and human. This “biography” of souls contains all the good and bad actions they have done in their different paths, and therefore is a kind of continuous assessment of the decisions made in each of the past lives. From these individual stories, each person has a karmic burden which will carry in this life, and according to which their actions will take a new meaning; hence the importance of reflecting on our actions.
The good, the bad, and the “karmic payments”
The good and bad actions involved in Karma are not linked to moral or ethical criteria for a society, a religion or the individual parameters of a person; quite the contrary, “good” and “bad” have a special and general sense. Every good action is one that has allowed us to grow spiritually or that caused improvement in others.
So, a good person -in karmic terms- scores points for his soul, which thus is putting together a “positive karma”; in contrast, someone who exerted negative actions for themselves or their environment, is consolidating a “negative karma”.
The positive are favourable debts which life will be returning in the form of good surprises and assistance throughout this life or those that follow, while the negative are payments that must be met and which are equivalent to living painful, difficult or problematic situations from which spiritual lessons must be discovered and learned. These outstanding accounts that the soul must be settling along its passage through the Earth are called “karmic payments”.
Reincarnation: a new chance on life
Approached from different perspectives and from different religions, reincarnation is the belief that people have an essence (we can call it soul, energy, consciousness, etc.) that incarnates in new bodies once those where they inhabited die.
Reincarnation (re-incarnation), too, is linked to other ideas: transmigration (the soul migrates through several bodies), Renaissance (rebirth in a new body), and recorporation (return to a body to have a physical presence). All these concepts refer to the more general idea, related to reincarnation.
Initially, reincarnation does not necessarily involve a debt of past life that moves to the present, but a cyclical process of output and input from one body to another after death. However, the experiences of past life regression show certain characteristics of people whose origins are in the remote past, of which they had lost record.
Why are these reincarnations Karmic?
From the point of view of karma and reincarnation, it is easy to think that many philosophies and religions have linked them, since their processes are similar. However, it is important to distinguish that in the karmic return, the aim is to pay or collect debts acquired in past lives, while reincarnation also alludes to the idea that one life is not enough to learn everything a soul needs to learn to become wise and free.
Reincarnation and karma in the different philosophies
Reincarnation also has another name: palingenesia, derived from the Greek palin (again) and genesis (birth). Socrates and Plato believed in reincarnation, as the theologian Tertullian, who defended this idea since the very first Christian Church.
Buddhism believes in karmic reincarnation, with the idea that in the present life we must face the consequences of our actions in past lives, according to the law of action and reaction.
Read also: Do Buddhists Believe In Reincarnation?
The Druids, Celtic priests, also defended the faith in reincarnation, while in ancient Egypt death was also considered as a step towards a next life.
Within Christianity, the Gnostic group is the one who has advocated the defense of palingenesia, it states that numerous passages from the Bible make allusion to this phenomenon and, further, that the very resurrection would indeed be a reincarnation: while the resurrection of the body is a reincarnation, the one of the spirit expresses the immortality of the soul.
Read also: Do Christians Believe In Reincarnation?
Karma and Reincarnation in popular media
Karmic reincarnation, that is, the return of a soul who comes to settle a score, is such a fascinating subject that became the argument of various fictional stories. In the film, palingenesia was the core of many successful films; so if you want to go further on this issue from a more playful side, these are good film recommendations:
Don’t Die Without Telling Me Where You’re Going (Argentina, 1995).
Birth (United States, 2004).
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (USA, 1975).
Rinne (Japan, 2006).
These are four excellent choices to see the myriad of ways in which the karmic reincarnation can be treated, beyond religions and philosophies.
Soul mates through different lives
Karmic reincarnation theories also consider this important aspect of life: the bonds of love, either friendly, familial or romantic. Thus, it is said that in our present life we are surrounded by many soul mates, that although they are not a perfect match as would be the twin souls (for those who believe in them), these are people we have shared good times in the past and with whom we were fortunate to find again in the current life.
Among these soulmates there are always constructive relations, mutual learning, albeit with some differences: that’s why we distinguish between “karmic souls” and “dharma souls.” Karmic souls are those with which subsists some opposition, some friction, because there were issues to be resolved or forgiven, but this will not ruin the relationship. The dharma souls, however, are ones that do not keep any debts; so they meet again to help each other and undertake new experiences from affinity and affection. Let’s go deeper into the subject of reincarnation and karma by analyzing the work of Edgar Cayce.
What do Edgar Cayce readings tell us about reincarnation and karma?
Reincarnation and karma
Edgar Cayce held his first reading in 1901, dedicated to a health problem that concerned him personally. He gave many more, but the concept of reincarnation did not appear until 1923, in a session executed for Arthur Lammers, a printer in Dayton, Ohio. It should be mentioned that one of his readings had addressed the topic twelve years earlier; however, the reference was ignored for a long time, because nobody surrounding Cayce was familiar with the concept at the time. In the end, reincarnation was the main subject of almost two thousand of his readings, called “life lessons”. It is the second major theme evoked by Cayce while in trance.
Cayce’s view on reincarnation excludes metempsychosis or transmigration of souls, according to which humans can be reincarnated in animal form. At the same time, it provides a philosophical framework for the past, with particular emphasis on how to take our present existence: we must live in the present moment, trying to develop spiritually and help each other. The readings teach that the journey we have made has brought us to where we are. However, what matters is not who we were or what we have done before, but how we react to opportunities and tests emerging now, wherever we find ourselves. In fact, our choices and behavior in the moment, from our free will, are what really matter. Cayce’s perspective, not at all fatalistic, opens almost unlimited horizons.
In his readings, Cayce also noted the danger of incorrectly understanding reincarnation. He stated that certain theories altered its true meaning. In particular, all those that did not recognize the free will created what he called “a karmic monster”, that is a misconception that does not take into account the real facts, nor the close connection between karma, free will, fate and grace. Even today many people are wrongly interpreting reincarnation as an inevitable linkage or concatenation of experiences and relationships imposed by our karma. If that was the case, our previous decisions would force us through a path marked with specific events, and our future would already be predetermined. This view is totally different from Cayce’s, since his readings emphasize that the past does not provide but a possible or probable situation. They show that, far from being mere spectators, sometimes reluctant, we play an active role in the development of our own existence.
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The word “karma” is a Sanskrit term meaning “work, fact or act”. It is often given the sense of “cause and effect”. The readings are consistent with this meaning, but add the new and exclusive philosophical notion that karma can be defined as a memory. Therefore, it is not a “debt” we pay according to some universal criteria, or a series of experiments determined by our previous actions, good or bad. Karma is only a memory, a source of information including “positive” elements and other seemingly ‘negative’, in which the subconscious look for the data to use in the present. This explains, for example, spontaneous affinities and animosities felt by certain people. Although the subconscious mind is reflected in our appearance and influences our thoughts, reactions and decisions, we can always resort to the free will to guide our lives.
Cayce’s readings mention that when we die, we do not reincarnate immediately. Because what we call subconscious on the physical plane becomes our conscious in the afterlife, the soul recapitulates everything that has gone through and chooses among the lessons to be learned, which feels able to take now to further its evolution. Then awaits the right time to be reborn on Earth. Ordinarily, it chooses an environment that it has known before. In each new life, it can choose a male or female body, according to the purpose of its incarnation. In addition, it selects the scope and conditions (parents, family, place, time, etc.) that allow us to improve and meet what is expected to perform. However, its experience will depend on how it uses the free will within that context. Indeed, we can consider our troubles as obstacles and impediments or, conversely, turn them into win-win situations, opportunities to raise our level of consciousness. The process of reincarnation continues until we embody universal love in the world and express our divine essence in every aspect of earthly life.
It should be noted that talents and qualities are never lost, so faculties cultivated in each incarnation add to the capital of the future. For example, the gift of child prodigies is the resurgence of a talent exercised in one or several previous existences. Also, an excellent teacher of literature could have been a writer, historian and scribe in previous lives. In fact, our skills are manifested depending on the subject of our current incarnation.
The readings show that karma is not established among individuals, but only with oneself. In other words, “you always confronts yourself”. Consequently, the course of our existence is based on the decisions we make to respond to the situation that we ourselves have raised. However, the most difficult concept to understand is that, in general, we are given the opportunity to solve our own karmic problems through our interactions with others. Therefore, instead of accepting full responsibility for our failures and disappointments, we tend to attribute those to others.
Thus, our karma is personal, but we are constantly attracted by people or groups who offer us favorable opportunities to assume it. Similarly, they come to us on their individual journey to meet their karmic memory. Therefore, our relationships with others allow us to face ourselves and live events that teach us and help us to advance on the spiritual path. Often, the episodes experienced in group reappear in later incarnations, such as familial, cultural, professional, or ethnic. The readings emphasize that we never find someone accidentally because coincidences do not exist. Similarly, on a first impression, we do not experience profound sympathy or antipathy toward people unless we’ve met them before.
We should stick to the consequences of our decisions and previous attitudes, as we inevitably reap what we have sown. The Bible says, “Whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. Proponents of reincarnation often say. “Like attracts like.” This implies that, someday, we will have similar experiences to those that our elections have caused in the lives of others.
Unlike other doctrines that present an immutable fate, Cayce’s theory asserts that we are masters of our destiny. Indeed, we can control our thoughts, words and actions and choose our behavior before circumstances that we have generated ourselves. We understand that everything that happens in our lives is the fruit of our own making, and that our troubles always contribute to our development when we consider them as opportunities to correct past mistakes or to acquire wisdom and understanding.
Discovering why we are in either situation is not necessarily important: the bottom line is how we face it, because from our reactions are born our future experiences. So, two people can take a very different approaches in comparable cases, for example regarding to the loss of a job. While one will be anxious and bitter, the other will see an unexpected chance to rebuild their life and to engage in any activity that they’ve been passionate about for a long time.
Reincarnation is a concept contained in the great religions of the world and is not limited to Eastern philosophies. It professes tolerance and compassion, answers many questions and gives meaning even to the smallest aspects of existence. Some find it profitable, some controversial. Anyway, what others think about it is irrelevant. Serious followers accept reincarnation, not to dwell on the past or perhaps boast of having previously enjoyed notoriety, but to grow in spirit and help improve the world in which we live. Cayce illustrates this idea in the following statement:
“Determine why you are looking for that information. If it is to hear that you lived, died and were buried at the foot of the cherry tree at the back of the garden of your grandmother, this does not make you a better neighbor, citizen or parent! However, if it is to know that you’ve spoken harsh words, of which you have felt guilty, and now can redeem acting fairly, then yes, it’s worth!”
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