Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Little Religio-Political Talk (from a paper for school)


~ Adapted from an online debate years ago ~

The law of cause and effect to which on the “spiritual” plain is called Karma. One writer says of the law:[1]

Karma simply means that there remains naught after each personality but the causes produced by it. No “personality” – a mere bunch of material atoms and of indistinctual mental characteristics – can of course continue as such, in the world of pure Spirit.

The fundamental idea behind karma is that of action followed by reaction. The Bhagavad-Gita, one of the best-known Hindu scriptures, defines it quite simply as “the name given to the creative force that brings beings into existence” (8:3). Thus, it may be viewed as the fundamental creative action that is perpetuated in each individual soul.

Practically, karma is somewhat like Isaac Newton’s law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”[2] Mark Albrecht continues:[3]

It could be pictured as a set of moral scales; all the bad deeds piled up on one side must be balanced by good deeds on the other.

Yet it is more complicated than that. Perhaps the best way of picturing karma and its relationship to rebirth (reincarnation) is something like this: Each person is a sort of electronic sensor or microphone with a wire hooked up to a great computer in the heavens; the computer is ‘GodEach thought, motive and act, as well as all the things that happen to us, are relayed back to the computer and filed away. Upon death the data bank in the computer is activated, and the ‘readout’ of our next life or lives, is cranked out and handed to us. If our negative karma (deeds, thoughts, motives, circumstances, and so on) outweighs our positive karmic pattern, we are assigned a more miserable existence in the next round, and vice versa. We have nothing to say about it. There is no mercy, forgiveness or court of appeals.

Earlier Albrecht made the point that:[4]

Hinduism and Buddhism teach that humans can only achieve final liberation from the round of rebirths by this doctrine. Only through the pitfalls and travails of the human condition can a soul earn sufficient merit to warrant its release or liberation (Sanskrit: moksha or samadhi). Thus, a soul must evolve through various life forms to the human state, the evolutionary plateau where moral lessons are learned through multitudes of reincarnations.

If you are born into a family that is well off, and you have a good family relationship, then you are being rewarded for some good work[s] from a previous life. If you are born into a famine-ridden area, destitute, or mentally or physically incapable of caring for yourself, then you are in retribution for the “cause and effect” law of karma. This is the reason that there is no firm “right or wrong” in this life according to Eastern thought. All people who are treated unfairly or unjustly -- like slaves were in America, racial wars, famine and disease in undeveloped nations -- are merely reaping what they sowed in a previous incarnation. In addition, to interfere with this process -- outlaw slavery, end racial strife, feed and heal the hungry and sick -- is to interfere with a person’s karma, which is strictly forbidden in the eastern philosophies! (Alternatively, doing so has no intrinsic value – e.g., no real positive moral benefit.)

It is laughable that some defend this doctrine tooth and nail. However, if really believed, they would come to realize there is no real good or evil! The Inquisitions, the Mumbai terror killings at the hands of Muslims, as examples, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous lives. Therefore, when those here defend karmic destiny in other posts speak of the horrible atrocities committed by religion,” they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death, which are illusory. The innocent victims of the Inquisitions, terror attacks, tsunamis, or Crusades then are merely being “paid back” for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the actions said persons did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people who are believers in reincarnation say that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, I will remind them that evil is merely an illusion (maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation demands.

[1] Mark Albrecht, Reincarnation: A Christian Critique of a New Age Doctrine (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Vasity Press, 1982), 20.

[2] The American Heritage Science dic-tion-ar-y (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2005), cf. Newton’s laws of motion, 429.

[3] Albrecht, 20.

[4] Ibid, 19.