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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.,

ixed 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!