KARMA and REINCARNATION
By: LES COOMBES
Although the term karma is used widely now it is not an
original English word and as such is classed as a loan word. (A
loan word is a term or word adopted or used by a race or culture
other than the one that originated it). Reincarnation has its
roots in Latin and comes to us with several different meanings.
Karma is a Sanskrit term and is a noun and all nouns in Sanskrit are derived from verbal roots. The verbal root for the term karma is KRI, which means to do or be active. This then literally means deed or activity.
As we go about our daily lives, we engage in three basic activities. These activities can be physical, mental or verbal. Every activity we engage in results in a reaction or effect.
THE PHYSICAL PERSON YOU ARE NOW HAS NEVER LIVED BEFORE
The Universal English dictionary defines karma as: An act considered in its causal relation to a persons fate or destiny. In Buddhist philosophy it means; the sum of a man's acts, words and deeds which decides his fate in each stage of existence. Sometimes the word karma is used as a synonym for fate or destiny.
Karma and reincarnation are the pillars of Hindu philosophy and belief. The Hindu culture and its belief in reincarnation and the application of karmic law can be traced back thousands of years. The deeper meaning and the many aspects of the term karma will always be a mystery to many of us. However, if we understand the terms cause and effect, we should be able to glean sufficient information to be able to lead a more balanced life. There is no necessity to turn to the Eastern philosophies for direction and information about cause and effect as these are not unique to that culture. We do not need to be a follower of any creed, dogma or way of life, nor do we need to believe in a supreme being to be able to understand cause and effect and reincarnation. All you need is your 'little grey cells' and a burning desire to pursue the truth --- "Knock and the door shall be opened---"
According to the Universal English dictionary, the word reincarnation is a noun and has two distinct meanings:
1. (a) Act of reincarnating.
(b) State of being reincarnated.
2. The doctrine of metempsychosis by which the soul, after the death of the body appears again with a new body.
METEMPSYCHOSIS describes the act of passing from one body to another. This word derives from Latin and Greek. Incidentally, the word soul has a very long listing in the dictionary I am using and as such I am not going to list all of its meanings. My interpretation of 'soul' is the carrier for 'spirit', the etheric substance needed by pure spirit to enable it to enter a physical body. To me, the 'soul' is electromagnetic in nature and at some stage in the progression of the spirit entity is discarded.
The latter is my interpretation as there is also the psychological and the theological explanation. I am of the opinion that the theological explanation is lacking in substance and the psychological is too clinical and as the soul/spirit is an important part of the act of reincarnation and is entwined with the term karma, one cannot emotionalise or intellectualise the discussion. Every time I hear someone say I was such and suich in a past life, I wince, for the physical person you are now has never lived before. I have even heard some say, "so what I have another life to live." Using the 'little grey cells' and a little common sense one can easily surmise that the persons who utter these statements are not fully aware of the laws governing life.
Recently I heard of a lady who committed suicide because she had been told that she had been a mass murderer in a previous life. Whether or not this person would have taken their own life at another time is immaterial for the responsibility, at the time is with the person giving such information. The law of cause and effect states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction may not be the same as the action because time may elapse before the law takes effect. Reaction will be in kind, exactly what that kind will be is not for me to say. Be advised that it does balance and we are only responsible for every word, thought and deed committed in this life. We do not have karmic debts to pay from previous lives, how could we? How can anyone be made to pay for some deed committed in another time?
Progress is open to all. The idea that one would 'have to pay' for acts committed in another time is tantamount to saying that one will be punished if they do wrong. There can be no wrong because of the law of cause and effect. Conversely there is no right.
There are many words in the English language that are loan words and ordinarily this doesn't cause too many problems. The difficulty is presented by the true meaning of the word being misinterpreted or if the original meaning is lost. Many of you can remember the days when we had HALT signs rather than STOP signs. This is an example of a loan word. Halt and stop mean the same but halt is from the German language and stop is English. A very clever lawyer argued successfully that the word halt could not be used as a sign on our roads as it was not an English word and in that sense how could anyone be expected to obey it. The reason I have cited this example is to illustrate that the term karma has been taken from another language and used, quite often, without any knowledge of its correct meaning.
LIFE IS NOT A SERIES OF LESSONS
As explained earlier, kri is the verbal root of the term karma. Karma, is a term, that is, it describes actions or deeds. So karma, in its original concept, means the total of a persons actions or deeds. It is a term used in Hindu philosophy to describe how, after passing over, a spirit is shown its 'life' and how each thought, deed or action has had its effect. It is from this 'reviewing' of the 'life' just experienced that the spirit entity is best able to judge what it requires for its next incarnation. As a new 'life' is created, this is 'seen
on the spirit level and those that have the job of assigning a spirit to a body check, the akashic (also a Sanskrit term), records to find a spirit that is best able to utulise the 'life' provided. Contrary to popular belief "life is not a series of lessons." Life is experiences and it is your perception of these experiences that determine the cause and effect of your life. For many, as soon as something goes wrong, or, if their life seems to them to be on a downer all the time, blame fate or worse, blame someone else for their difficulties. Like attracts like. If you perceive life as a series of lessons to be endured, then it will be. It takes a brave person to go beyond the conditioning and restrictions that we at times seem to be surrounded by and question adn keep questioning until the answers are provided... "seek and you shall find..."
WE DO NOT HAVE KARMIC DEBTS TO PAY
Reincarnation is not a difficult term to come to grips with. Many believe that the spirit has many different lives and this belief is not restricted to any creed or dogma. Simply stated, a vehicle is created, (the body), and a spirit is assigned the 'life'. Naturally there are many that do not believe in reincarnation but they still say it's 'their karma' if anything goes wrong for them. I guess there's nothing like having a bet each way... just in case!
It's this mixing of ideas and terms that create confusion. How many times have you met someone who admits that they have no belief in religion or are not religious and yet they will not eat meat on Good Friday? The thing that makes each persons life unique is the way each handles the ups and downs that they encounter. I realise that it is not easy and I am not saying that it is, for there is always a new experience to be faced and handles with the amount of knowledge each has. The development of an individuals consciousness is subject to variables, the country of birth, social status, etc. To understand cause and effect is to give one the knowledge to face 'life's little tests' with confidence and balance. This then is the role of the 'vehicle'. The spirits role is slightly different for it experiences the energy that is generated by the 'life' and it is by this energy that it learns to evolve its consciousness.
Life is a series of experiences for the body and the spirit is the sum total of all experiences in all life times. Hence the doctrine of reincarnation and karma.