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The Justice Of Reincarnation

There are three views entertained by men who believe in the existence of
the soul--there are many shades of belief and opinion on the subject,
but they may be divided into three classes. These three views,
respectively, are as follows: (1) That the soul is specially created by
the Supreme Power at the time of conception, or birth, and that its
position on earth, its circumstances, its degree of intelligence, etc.,
are fixed arbitrarily by that power, for some inscrutable reason of its
own; (2) That the soul was pre-existent, that is, that it existed before
conception and birth, in some higher state not understood by us, from
whence it was thrust into human form and birth, its position on earth,
its circumstances, its degree of intelligence, etc., being determined by
causes unknown to us; (3) That the soul is one of countless others
which emanated from the Source of Being at some period in the past, and
which souls were equal in power, intelligence, opportunity, etc., and
which worked its way up by spiritual evolution from lowly forms of
expression and life to its present state, from whence it is destined to
move on and on, to higher and still higher forms and states of
existence, until in the end, after millions of aeons of existence in the
highest planes of expressed life it will again return to the Source of
Being from which it emanated, and becomes "one with the Father," not in
a state of annihilated consciousness, but in a condition of universal
consciousness with All. This view holds that the present condition of
each soul is due to its own progress, development, advancement,
unfoldment, or the lack of the same--the soul being its own Fate and
Destiny--the enforcer of the Law upon itself, under the Law of Karma.

Considering the first named view, namely that the soul is newly created,
and that its condition has been arbitrarily fixed by the Divine Power,
the student free from prejudice or fear finds it difficult to escape the
conclusion that under this plan of creation there is lacking a
manifestation of Divine Justice. Even admitting the inability of the
finite mind to fully grasp infinite principles, man is still forced to
the realization of the manifest inequality and injustice of the relative
positions of human beings on earth, providing that the same is thrust
arbitrarily upon them; and it would seem that no amount of future reward
could possibly equalize or explain these conditions. Unless there be
"something back of it all," it would certainly seem that Injustice was
manifested. Of course, many argue that the idea of Justice has nothing
to do with the universal processes, but all who think of a Divine Being,
filled with Love, and Justice, are compelled to think that such
qualities must manifest themselves in the creations of such a Being.
And, if there be nothing "back of it all," then the candid observer must
confess that the scheme of Justice manifested is most faulty according
even to the human imperfect idea of Justice.

As Figuier, a French writer said about forty years ago: "If there are a
few men well organized, of good constitution and robust health, how many
are infirm, idiotic, deaf-mute, blind from birth, maimed, foolish and
insane? My brother is handsome and well-shaped: I am ugly, weakly,
rickety, and a hunchback. Yet we are sons of the same mother. Some are
born into opulence, others into the most dreadful want. Why am I not a
prince and a great lord, instead of a poor pilgrim on the earth,
ungrateful and rebellious? Why was I born in Europe and at Paris,
whereby civilization and art life is rendered supportable and easy,
instead of seeing the light under the burning skies of the tropics,
where, dressed out in a beastly muzzle, a skin black and oily, and locks
of wool, I should have been exposed to the double torments of a deadly
climate and a barbarous society? Why is not a wretched African negro in
my place in Paris, in conditions of comfort? We have, either of us,
done nothing to entitle us to our assigned places: we have invited
neither this favor nor that disgrace. Why is the unequal distribution of
the terrible evils that fall upon some men, and spare others? How have
those deserved the partiality of fortune, who live in happy lands, while
many of their brethren suffer and weep in other parts of the world?"

Figuier continues: "Some men are endowed with all benefits of mind;
others, on the contrary, are devoid of intelligence, penetration and
memory. They stumble at every step in their rough life-paths. Their
limited intelligence and their imperfect faculties expose them to all
possible mortifications and disasters. They can succeed in nothing, and
Fate seems to have chosen them for the constant objects of its most
deadly blows. There are beings who, from the moment of their birth to
the hour of their death, utter only cries of suffering and despair. What
crime have they committed? Why are they here on earth? They have not
petitioned to be here; and if they could, they would have begged that
this fatal cup might be taken from their lips. They are here in spite of
themselves, against their will. God would be unjust and wicked if he
imposed so miserable an existence upon beings who have done nothing to
incur it, and have not asked for it. But God is not unjust or wicked:
the opposite qualities belong to his perfect essence. Therefore the
presence of man on such or such parts of the earth, and the unequal
distribution of evil on our globe, must remain unexplained. If you know
a doctrine, a philosophy, or a religion that solves these difficulties,
I will destroy this book, and confess myself vanquished."

The orthodox theology answers Figuier's question by the argument that
"in our finite understanding, we cannot pretend to understand God's
plans, purposes and designs, nor to criticize his form of justice." It
holds that we must look beyond that mortal life for the evidence of
God's love, and not attempt to judge it according to what we see here on
earth of men's miseries and inequalities. It holds that the suffering
and misery come to us as an inheritance from Adam, and as a result of
the sins of our first parents; but that if we are "good" it will all be
evened up and recompensed in the next world. Of course the extremists
who hold to Predestination have held that some were happy and some
miserable, simply because God in the exercise of His will had elected
and predestined them to those conditions, but it would scarcely be fair
to quote this as the position of current theology, because the tendency
of modern theological thought is away from that conception. We mention
it merely as showing what some have thought of the subject. Others have
sought refuge in the idea that we suffer for the sins of our parents,
according to the old doctrine that "the sins of the parents shall be
visited upon the children," but even this is not in accordance with
man's highest idea of justice and love.

Passing on to the second view, namely that the soul was pre-existent,
that is, existed in some higher state not understood by us, from whence
it was thrust into human form, etc., we note that the questions as to
the cause of inequality, misery, etc., considered a moment ago, are
still actively with us--this view does not straighten out the question
at all. For whether the soul was pre-existent in a higher state, or
whether it was freshly created, the fact remains that as souls they must
be equal in the sense of being made by the same process, and from the
same material, and that up to the point of their embodiment they had not
sinned or merited any reward or punishment, nor had they earned anything
one way or another. And yet, according to the theory, these equally
innocent and inexperienced souls are born, some being thrust into the
bodies of children to be born in environments conducive to advancement,
development, etc., and gifted with natural advantages, while others are
thrust into bodies of children to be born into the most wretched
environments and surroundings, and devoid of many natural
advantages--not to speak of the crippled, deformed, and pain-ridden ones
in all walks of life. There is no more explanation of the problem in
this view than there was in the first mentioned one.

Passing on to the third view, namely, that the soul is one of countless
others which emanated from the Source of Being aeons ago, equal in power,
opportunities, etc., and which individual soul has worked its way up to
its present position through many rebirths and lives, in which it has
gained many experiences and lessons, which determine its present
condition, and which in turn will profit by the experiences and lessons
of the present life by which the next stage of its life will be
determined--we find what many have considered to be the only logical and
possible explanation of the problem of life's inequalities, providing
there is an "answer" at all, and that there is any such thing as a
"soul," and a loving, just God. Figuier, the French writer, from whom we
quoted that remarkable passage breathing the pessimism of the old view
of life, a few moments ago, admitted that in rebirth was to be found a
just explanation of the matter. He says: "If, on the contrary, we admit
the plurality of human existences and reincarnation--that is, the
passage of the same soul through several bodies--all this is made
wonderfully clear. Our presence on such or such a part of the earth is
no longer the effect of a caprice of Fate, or the result of chance; it
is merely a station in the long journey that we make through the world.
Before our birth, we have already lived, and this life is the sequel and
result of previous ones. We have a soul that we must purify, improve and
ennoble during our stay upon earth; or having already completed an
imperfect and wicked life, we are compelled to begin a new one, and thus
strive to rise to the level of those who have passed on to higher

The advocates of Reincarnation point out that the idea of Justice is
fully carried out in that view of life, inasmuch as what we are is
determined by what we have been; and what we shall be is determined by
what we are now; and that we are constantly urged on by the pressure of
the unfolding spirit, and attracted upward by the Divine One. Under this
conception there is no such thing as Chance--all is according to Law.
As an ancient Grecian philosopher once said: "Without the doctrine of
metempsychosis, it is not possible to justify the ways of God," and many
other philosophers and theologians have followed him in this thought. If
we enjoy, we have earned it; if we suffer, we have earned it; in both
cases through our own endeavors and efforts, and not by "chance," nor by
reason of the merits or demerits of our forefathers, nor because of
"predestination" nor "election" to that fate. If this be true, then one
is given the understanding to stoically bear the pains and miseries of
this life without cursing Fate or imputing injustice to the Divine. And
likewise he is given an incentive toward making the best of his
opportunities now, in order to pass on to higher and more satisfactory
conditions in future lives. Reincarnationists claim that rewards and
punishments are properly awarded only on the plane in which the deed,
good or bad, was committed, "else their nature is changed, their effects
impaired, and their collateral bearings lost." A writer on the subject
has pointed out this fact in the following words: "Physical outrage has
to be checked by the infliction of physical pain, and not merely by the
arousing of internal regret. Honest lives find appropriate consequence
in visible honor. But one career is too short for the precise balancing
of accounts, and many are needed that every good or evil done in each
may be requited on the earth where it took place." In reference to this
mention of rewards and penalties, we would say that very many advanced
Reincarnationists do not regard the conditions of life as "rewards and
punishments," but, on the contrary, look upon them as forming part of
the Lessons in the Kindergarten of Life, to be learned and profited by
in future lives. We shall speak of this further in our consideration of
the question of "Karma"--the difference is vital, and should be closely
observed in considering the subject.

Before we pass from the consideration of the question of Justice, as
exemplified by Reincarnation, we would call your attention to the
difference in the views of life and its rewards and punishments held by
the orthodox theologians and the Reincarnationists, respectively. On the
one hand, the orthodox theologians hold that for the deeds, good or
evil, performed by a man during his short lifetime of a few years, and
then performed under conditions arbitrarily imposed upon him at birth by
his Creator, man is rewarded or punished by an eternity of happiness or
misery--heaven or hell. Perhaps the man has lived but one or two years
of reasonable understanding--or full three-score and ten--and has
violated certain moral, ethical or even religious laws, perhaps only to
the extent of refusing to believe something that his reason absolutely
refused to accept--for this he is doomed to an everlasting sojourn in a
place of pain, misery or punishment, or a state equivalent thereto. Or,
on the other hand, he has done the things that he ought to have done,
and left undone the things that he ought not to have done--even though
this doing and not-doing was made very easy for him by reason of his
environment and surroundings--and to crown his beautiful life he had
accepted the orthodox creeds and beliefs of his fathers, as a matter of
course--then this man is rewarded by an eternity of bliss, happiness and
joy--without end. Try to think of what ETERNITY means--think of the aeons
upon aeons of time, on and on, and on, forever--and the poor sinner is
suffering exquisite torture all that time, and in all time to come,
without limit, respite, without mercy! And all the same time, the "good"
man is enjoying his blissful state, without limit, or end, or satiety!
And the time of probation, during which the two worked out their future
fate, was as a grain of sand as compared with the countless universes in
space in all eternity--a relation which reduces the span of man's
lifetime to almost absolutely NOTHING, mathematically considered. Think
of this--is this Justice?

And on the other hand, from the point of view of the Reincarnationist,
is not the measure of cause and effect more equitably adjusted, even if
we regard it as a matter of "reward and punishment"--a crude view by
the way--when we see that every infraction of the law is followed by a
corresponding effect, and an adherence to the law by a proportionate
effect. Does not the "punishment fit the crime" better in this case--the
rewards also. And looking at it from a reasonable point of view, devoid
from theological bias, which plan seems to be the best exemplification
of Justice and Natural Law, not to speak of the higher Divine Justice
and Cosmic Law? Of course, we are not urging these ideas as "proofs" of
Reincarnation, for strictly speaking "proof" must lie outside of
speculation of "what ought to be"--proof belongs to the region of "what
is" and "facts in experience." But, nevertheless, while one is
considering the matter, it should be viewed from every possible aspect,
in order to see "how it works out."

It is also urged along the lines of the Justice of Reincarnation, as
opposed to the injustice of the contrary doctrine, that there are many
cases of little infants who have only a few days, or minutes, of this
life, before they pass out of the body in death. According to the
anti-reincarnation doctrine, these little souls have been freshly
created, and placed into physical bodies, and then without having had to
taste of the experiences of life, are ushered into the higher planes,
there to pass an eternal existence--while other souls have to live out
their long lives of earth in order to reach the same higher states, and
then, according to the prevailing doctrine, even then they may have
earned eternal punishment instead of eternal bliss. According to this
idea the happiest fate would be for all to die as infants (providing we
were baptized, some good souls would add), and the death of an infant
should be the occasion for the greatest rejoicing on the part of those
who love it. But in spite of the doctrine, human nature does not so act.
According to the doctrine of Reincarnation, the little babe's soul was
but pursuing the same path as the rest of the race--it had its past, as
well as its future, according to Law and Justice. While, if the ordinary
view be correct, no one would begrudge the infant its happy fate, still
one would have good cause for complaint as the Inequality and Injustice
of others having to live out long lives of pain, discomfort and misery,
for no cause, instead of being at once translated into a higher life as
was the infant. If the ordinary view be true, then why the need of
earth-life at all--why not create a soul and then place it in the
heavenly realms at once; if it is possible and proper in some cases, why
not in all; if the experience is not indispensable, then why impose it
on certain souls, when all are freshly created and equal in merit and
deserts? If earthly life has any virtue, then the infant's soul is
robbed of its right. If earthly life has no virtue, the adult souls are
forced to live a useless existence on earth, running the risk of
damnation if they fail, while the infant souls escape this. Is this
equality of opportunity and experience, or Justice? There would seem to
be something wrong with either the facts, or the theory. Test the
problem with the doctrine of Reincarnation, and see how it works out!

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