"The psychological rule is, that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate" Carl Jung

"It's not what happens to us, but the way we react that counts"

Many people, at one time or another, will likely have asked themselves the question as to why it is that some are born with all the luck, and others seem to have to put up with intolerable suffering.

There seems to be a startling lack of fairness in the way "fate" dishes out its' favours and, being a good or a bad person appears to have little or nothing to do with it.

Or has it?

Those who believe in the philosophy of reincarnation claim there is a very simple answer to it all, and that is that every single person has to accept the consequences of any action that they may have taken in the past.

This may seem like a ridiculous statement, and does nothing to explain why a person may be born a cripple, or die, after a lifetime of service to others, as an innocent victim of war.

However, the philosophy of reincarnation examines the belief in more than one life. In fact it suggests that many lives make up the total existence of every human being in the world.

And we all have to experience everything about life - both the good and bad, joy and sorrow, from the rich and famous to the damaged and betrayed - if we are ever to have real compassion and empathy with our fellow man.

It is said that by studying the pattern of nature, we can see that everyday, every season or year has a beginning and an end, or a life and death also. Each season is just part of the unfolding life cycle of one year, and each year is just a part of a longer time span of a century, or even an aeon in time.

The lives of all of us revolve around time, and sections of time, divided into days, hours and minutes. This is quite acceptable to us, and we all understand that if we drink too much on a wild night out, we will likely pay the price with a violent hangover the following morning.

It is what some might call "Instant Karma" or, to others, just "suffering the consequences" of previous actions the day before.

Is there always a price to pay?

Although most of us accept the principles of paying the price for actions taken, many have not considered the possibility of their own lives lasting centuries longer than the estimated "three score years and ten".

Yet is has been argued that we are all walking in time with the natural process of nature and, just as the sun never dies but disappears from our view at night, only to reappear again the following morning, so our own particular life on earth is not isolated to a "one off", but is just a phase or season of a much larger life, and perhaps even an eternity.

It has also been suggested that life and death as we know it, are just phases of experience that we all have to go through in order to become "aware" of all the things that make up the physical world; that we are all living in a school room, or on a stage, as Shakespeare put it, and we are all trying to learn the lessons of - not maths or english or history - but of life, and how to live it properly.

And just as we can make mistakes and fail our exams, so we can make mistakes in life also, and pay the price accordingly.

We are told that Karma is the result of previous actions and, those who believe in reincarnation can see how the this law of cause and effect can work, not only within one life, but across a series of lives.

Hence there is the claim that there is always a logical reason why some people appear to have to cope with much more suffering than others, but we are only able to observe this from a narrower view point than the greater whole, and that's why it is so difficult to understand.

Is suffering essential?

True to human nature the suffering part of karma seems to catch the attention first, yet it is a popular misperception that karma must necessarily be bad.

We are told it can be good also.

It only depends on what went on before, and karmic conditions are only a process of adjustment to obtain spiritual balance, and if we have "sown" well, we will "reap" a good harvest.

Karma is not a harsh judge, just an honest one, for it requires exact retribution or reward for both previous thought and action. Apparently thoughts are a key factor for, even these and our emotional behavior, have a direct affect upon our lives and those of others.

This reasoning may be interesting to consider for, although reincarnation suggests that the body and personality are born again and again, it is considered that the "higher" part of our mind is only born once, and proceeds with us from life to life; thus learning from, and absorbing experiences in an attempt to reach ultimate perfection.

Bad habits

Difficult karma is said to be born from bad habit patterns and weaknesses that we spend many a lifetime repeating until, through experience, we come to understand exactly what we are doing wrong.

It appears that it is our attitude and motive for actions that are important and, although we may be struck by all sorts of major and minor disasters, it is our REACTION to events that can make the difference between our past sadness and future happiness.

The surest way of knowing if we have reacted properly is when the pressure of the difficulties starts to fall away from us.

It is the emotional upset associated with the problems that causes the trouble, not the problems themselves.

Karma, like most beneficial philosophies, teaches us that it is not HOW we end up that matters, but how we have AFFECTED the hearts and souls of others that really matters.

So we are assured that if we feel we are having a rough time in this life, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot take action to make it easier for ourselves in the next.

It is what we THINK that counts as much as what we do, and acting out the "loving thy neighbour" idea, can be as genuine as true consideration, or as false as our own selfish motives.

We are warned that we can fool others and even ourselves for a while, but eventually events will surround us that will show us the truth of what our motives really are.

And that is all that is needed - just to recognise the truth!

If we take responsibility for our actions, and make the most of our lives, without blaming others or an illusive Creator, we are then more able to get off the wheel of fate and move forward in greater control of our destiny.

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All writings © J.Shell 1981 - 2006 (unless otherwise stated). All rights reserved.