The above picture literally breaks my heart. It was taken by a photo-journalist, Kevin Carter, who committed suicide some years back. The violence and degradation he had witnessed in his life, especially in Africa had become too much for him to live with. The above photo is of a Sudanese girl who had collapsed on the ground as she was heading to a relief station. I chose the image above for the main topic of tonight's post-karma. Before getting into that I would like to give some quotes and a link at the end of the post about prominent people who believed in reincarnation. As this series goes along I will continue to give links and stories about situations where the idea of reincarnation seems to work very well. There are two stories that I have lost among the magazines and books that I have that I thought were particularly interesting and hope to paraphrase here, quote directly or find links on the web to. Mark Twain said, " I have been born more times than anybody except krishna." Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, "The soul comes from without the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal." He also said, "It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead and endure mock funerals....and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise." These are just a couple out of a huge number of quotes by famous and not so famous people who had ideas about reincarnation. I included the Mark Twain quote because I thought it was funny in a way, knowing about his many other delightful quotes and I included the Emerson quotes because I thought they were beautiful and thought provoking.
The law of karma and ideas about it may need more than one post to talk about. Karma, broadly stated is simply a law of cause and effect. Most religions and philosophies that adhere to belief in karma believe that good deeds in this life are rewarded in the next incarnation and bad deeds are punished in the next life. I think one of the most intriguing things about the law of karma is that it is not administered by any god or deity in many religions and philosophies. The law of karma just is-much like the laws of nature. This makes me wonder then-how are good or bad karmic actions acknowledged? It seems to me that at some point a mind or consciousness-perhaps universal and cosmic would have to intervene at some point in the process of deciding how a soul's fate is meted out. I will give an example-a thought experiment really-there are probably many, many others people can come up with that just makes me think that at some point a consciousness has to weigh in on certain events. Say a man robs a bank to get money to buy emergency medicine for a group of children who will die without it. The man is very poor and has no time at all to start a charity drive or anything like that, the children will die long before he can do this. This man is generally perceived to be a good hearted family man with a strong character. The man's intentions are good. However in the course of committing the robbery things go terribly wrong. During the robbery a bank guard is killed completely by accident by another guard who is a friend of his in the confusion. The whole plan falls to pieces. The man whose motives for the robbery were noble in a way will now go to jail and his family will be destroyed. The children will die because in my thought experiment this man was the only one who knew of their plight and nobody else will do anything. The guard who accidentally shot his friend will live with the guilt for the rest of his life, even though it was a complete accident.
This very hypothetical scenario leads me to some speculation. Was it wrong for the man who robbed the bank in the first place to have empathy for the children? If he had not cared a whit about them the whole chain of events would not have begun. Did the children who will now die and the guard who was killed do something in a past-life that has led to their fate? What about the guards friend and the family of the man who will now go to jail-did they do something in their past existences to deserve such a fate? In the way karmic law is administered was it wrong for the man to have even considered robbing the bank-even though had it gone as planned it would have been taking paper money to save human souls? Could the universe possibly be this cold? Certainly in our hypothetical story here no one is aware of anything they did wrong in a past life, so how are they supposed to learn any lessons in this web of events? Perhaps the guards friend will now kill himself over his guilt at accidentally killing his co-worker and buddy. Maybe without the man who is now going to jail his whole family will completely disintegrate with the subsequent possibilites of some of his kids becoming homeless, drug addicts and the like. It seems to me that if the chain of events I just described really took place, I can see so many more possibilities for regression and an endless cycle of new bad karmic actions taking place where no one learns a thing, much more than I can see a tale of hope and good karmic actions taking place. Maybe people who will read this will disagree and I completely respect that. It just seems to me that in real life very little good can come from a string of bad events.
This is where the new, quote -un-quote ideas I am trying to develop may or may not be of help. When I look at the human realm I so often see instances of incredible cruelty and magnitudes of injustice. So often I wonder what the hell am I or anybody else supposed to be learning from this? In some instances of people who believe in karma and reincarnation-note to reader here-I am not knocking anyone or any religion or any philosophy, but I think this must be added here for future reference. I actually find many beliefs of Hindu, Buddhist, pagan, theosophy, African and indigenous cultures who believe in some form of reincarnation and karma extremely pleasing and in so many cases I find the belief systems of these cultures and religions much better descriptors of universal reality than western beliefs. That is why I am using these religions and philosphies as a background for the new set of ideas I am trying to work on. There is one area I have seen that I would like to take a glance at because I think this is where some-obviously not the majority of people with these belief systems are getting things wrong. In some instances there seems to be the view that when a person is found to be in a state of disease, starvation, agony, addiction, poverty-etcetera-that that person deserved everything life is throwing at her or him, due to the past-life actions of people in this state. The person who is playing god so to speak when looking at the troubled other and deciding to do nothing to help is in my humble opinion wrong. I think were the more capable person to lend a hand or heart to help the troubled one, it would begin a situation where some soul-learning could actually take place. That is the reason for the above image-can anyone viewing that look at that helpless little child and say 'oh that is just her karma-deal with it'?
Dear reader, I know I said I was not going to do this as far as putting anything else besides poetry and my writing (assuming my muse comes back) while this series is unfolding, but the ideas I am trying to develop may take more time than I originally thought and access to information I do not have readily available. I will not start another 'series' as this one is in progress but as I am looking through massive amounts of material, I have discovered many funny, scary and thought provoking stories I could do as one-posters in between under the subject of the paranormal and if time starts to get lengthy between developing my theory I will start putting some of these in between. To me some of these tales are solid gold so I would like to share them with anyone interested in these subjects. Here are the links this one involving quotes and beliefs of well known people's thoughts on reincarnation http://reversespins.com/famousquotes.html
Here is one involving African beliefs in reincarnation http://www.deathreference.com/A-Bi/African-Religions.html
This is a link to wikipedia about Ian Stevenson's work involving reincarnation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty_Cases_Suggestive_of_Reincarnation
This link is to various other religions that believe in reincarnation http://www.deathreference.com/Py-Se/Reincarnation.html