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An apparently serious objection to the doctrine of Rebirth is
constantly being made. It is unjust and useless, people say, to be
punished for misdeeds that are forgotten. As this objection has
reference to moral proofs, we must deal with it here.

Does forgetfulness efface faults or destroy their consequences? Could
the assassin, who has lost all memory of the crime committed the
previous evening, change his deed or its results in the slightest
degree? Rebirths are nothing more than the morrows of former lives,
and though the merciful waters of Lethe have effaced their memory, the
forces stored up in the soul, during the ages, perform their work all
the same in the future.

On the other hand, injustice would exist, and that under a very cruel
aspect, were memory to continue; for the painful vision of a past
always full of weaknesses, even when free from the stain of crime,
would be a continual one. And if, too--as our opponents would
prefer--man knew why he was punished, i.e., if he knew that each of
these past errors and faults, ever present before his eyes, would
carry with it a particular fruit, and that strict payment would be
exacted at every step in his new life, would not the punishment be far
greater than the sin? Would there not rise from every human heart an
outcry of blasphemy against a God who, by means of memory, transformed
life into an endless torment, destroying all activity or initiative
in the anxiety of expectancy, in a word, stifling the present beneath
the heavy nightmare of the past?

Men, though so unjust and little disposed to pity, have always refused
to inflict on a man condemned to death the torture of anticipation;
only at the last moment is he informed of the rejection of his appeal
for mercy. Could divine Law be less compassionate than human law?

Is it not rash for us, in our profound ignorance, to criticise the
workings of a boundless Wisdom? He who takes only a few steps along
the pathway of Knowledge, or enters, however slightly, into the secret
of the works of God, obtains the proof that Providence leaves no part
of the Cosmos, no being anywhere, deprived of its fatherly care and
protection. When, in our blindness, we imagine injustice, a void or an
imperfection of any kind, a radiant beam of light shows us the
omnipresent Life, bestowing love on all its children without
distinction, from the slumbering atom to the glorious planetary
Spirit, whose consciousness is so vast as to enfold the Universe.

It is more especially after death that the soul, set free from its
illusory sheaths, makes an impartial review of its recent incarnation,
attentively following its actions and their consequences, noting its
errors and failures, along with their motives and causes. In this
school it grows in knowledge and power; and when, in a future
incarnation, the same difficulties present themselves anew, it is
better equipped for the struggle; what has been learned, is retained
within the soul; it knows, where formerly it was ignorant, and by the
"voice of conscience," tells the personality[27] what its duty is.
This wisdom, sifted from the panorama of a thousand past images, is
the best of all memories, for on those numerous occasions when a
decision must be arrived at on the spur of the moment it would not be
possible to summon forth from the depths of the past such groups of
memories as refer to the decision to be reached, to see the events
over again, and deduce therefrom a line of conduct. The lesson must
have been learnt and thoroughly assimilated during the enlightened
peace and calm of the Hereafter; then only is the soul ready to
respond without delay, and its command is distinct; its judgment,
sure; do this, avoid that.

When a soul, in the course of evolution, has succeeded in impressing
its vibration--its thought--on a brain which it has refined and made
responsive by a training which purifies the entire nature of the man,
it is able to transmit to the incarnated consciousness the memory of
its past lives; but this memory then ceases to be painful or
dangerous, for the soul has not only exhausted the greater part of its
karma of suffering, it also possesses the strength necessary to
sustain its personality, whenever a foreboding of what we call
misfortune comes upon it.

In the divine work everything comes in its own time, and we recognise
the perfection of the Creator by the perfect concatenation of all

Reincarnation is so intimately bound up with the Law of Causality, and
receives from it such powerful support, that this chapter would be
left in a very incomplete form were we not to say a few words on

Next: The Law Of Causality (karma)

Previous: The Problem Of The Inequality Of Conditions

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