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Does Chance or Justice Rule Our Lives?

Essay by

NILS A. AMNEUS

Author of LIFE'S RIDDLE

Originally published by Thomas Amneus, Los Angeles, CA. Theosophical University Press electronic
version ISBN 1-55700-156-1.
In the following discussion the "Law of Cause and Effect" refers to the orderly processes
which operate in nature according to which the same cause always produces the same
effect. If this law operates in human affairs and we reap the effects of our own acts, our
lives are governed by justice; if not, they are governed by chance.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part 1
A Vital Problem

The Material World

The Mental Plane

A Universal Mind

Life Must Have a Meaning

Human Life

Law or Chance?

Part 2
Requirements of Theory
An Ancient Doctrine
Survival After Death
Existence Before Birth
Delayed Effects
Is Reincarnation True?
Beneficial Effects
Are Ethical Teachings Practical?
Summary
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A VITAL PROBLEM

Conflict of Facts and Ideas


Our observations of everyday life show that there is a great deal of injustice and a great deal of chance
in the world. We see many instances where the innocent suffer while the guilty escape; where the
honest fail while the dishonest prosper. We see many cases where the carelessness of some will cause
accidents that may bring misfortune and death to innocent victims. We see a great injustice in the
uneven distribution of wealth and the opportunities of life. We see some children born healthy while
others are born invalids, some born to the most favorable circumstances, while others are born into
wretched conditions. Is it any wonder, then, that we should ask ourselves the question: "Does Chance
or justice rule our lives?"
If we turn to the Christian scriptures for an answer we find such statements as the following: "Judge not
that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measures ye
mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. vii, 1, 2.) and ". . . all they that take the sword shall
perish with the sword." (Matt. xxvi, 52.) In Galatians vi, 7, St. Paul says: "Be not deceived; God is not
mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Similar statements are also found in
other great religions of the world. From such statements we are led to believe that men's lives are
governed by justice. Man's intuitions and his sense of moral values also tell him that justice must rule,
but our observations of life do not bear this out. On the contrary we see a contradiction, a clash, an
unbridgeable gap between the reign of law and justice that ought to be on the one hand and the facts
and experiences of every-day life on the other. This glaring contradiction of what is and what ought to
be presents a problem that has puzzled thoughtful people in all ages, and many have dropped it,
despairing of ever finding a solution.
Man's failure to demonstrate that justice rules in human affairs has led to very serious consequences. It
has undermined man's faith in religion and removed an important incentive to right action: the
assurance of reward. A disbelief in justice is a belief in chance and this gives encouragement to
selfishness and all kinds of wrongdoing by holding out hope that the wrongdoer may escape the effect
of his evil deeds.
The selfishness of the individual, reinforced by the belief that he may escape the effect of his evil
doing, is the main cause of the disharmony, strife and warfare in the world today, for the action of the
nation, the party, the small group is simply the collective action of individuals. The ideas that govern
individual action will eventually govern national action, and as nations act they determine the fate of
civilization. We see the truth of Plato's statement: "Ideas rule the world." The idea that we can escape
the consequences of our acts has given free rein to selfishness, brutality and international lawlessness,
which threaten to destroy our Western civilization. A solution of the problem of injustice, then, is vital
to the world's welfare. As conditions in the world ultimately can be traced back to the thoughts and
actions of individuals, let us study the effect that the unsolved problem of injustice has produced on the
individual.
The Individual Looks at Life
Let us take, for example, a young man who has finished his education and enters business life. We will
assume that he has had a good home, where high ideals, right action and nobility of character have been
emphasized. He has been told that honesty is the best policy and that it is more profitable than
dishonesty. He has been taught to follow the Golden Rule in all his undertakings.
He now enters business life and tries to put his ideals into practice. He finds that in the world about him
most people are striving to accumulate money as a means of satisfying their various needs and desires.
After the necessities are supplied the surplus goes to secure various pleasures and comforts, leisure,
travel, social position, power, etc. The more money, the more of these desires can be satisfied, hence
everybody is working at top speed with this aim in view. It is a race to get rich and the quicker one
reaches the goal, the better.
There are certain ethical principles that are supposed to govern in business as elsewhere, but as he
looks about he finds that very few people follow a strict moral code; in fact, he has to compete with
others who are tricky and dishonest. He also finds that selfishness and dishonesty often pay more than
right action. He frequently sees the unscrupulous prosper while the honest man fails. In brief, he sees
numberless instances where honesty does not pay while dishonesty does.
There is law and order throughout nature; his education has shown him that, and his sense of the
"fitness of things" tells him that the same law and order should apply to all human dealings also. But he
sees many instances where this is not the case. The facts and experiences of everyday life do not always
bear out the teachings of religion. He recognizes the beautiful sentiment of the Golden Rule and other
ethical teachings, but, also, that there are no means for enforcing these. He knows that man-made laws
cannot be enforced unless they have "teeth"; that is, unless a violation of the law will be followed by a
suitable punishment. But ethical laws evidently have no "teeth." We may follow these laws if we
choose to, but there is nothing to compel us to follow them if we do not want to do so. The realization
that honesty does not always pay, and sometimes may even be a hindrance to worldly success, is a
handicap in his honest endeavors and may in time lead him into dishonesty.
There is in man an innate sense of right, a moral force that urges him to do his duty by his fellows, and
it is indeed fortunate that so many follow this urge. Under normal conditions this may be sufficient to
influence men to right action, but occasionally temptations will present themselves which may prove
too strong. We know the old saying: "Everyone has his price," and while the price varies with different
individuals, if it is really great enough we know that many would yield. There are those who would not
lower their standards under any circumstances, but even these will pause and wonder why it is that
justice often is so imperfect and how it can happen that the dishonesty of their competitor may bring
him prosperity, while their own honesty actually retards their success. Is it strange, then, that many
such good people in time give up their ideals and become cynical and indifferent and perhaps lower
their standards and become dishonest?
The selfish man is found in all pursuits: in business, in politics, in finance, and in common crime. His
methods may vary according to his situation, but his objective is the same in every case, namely to gain
advantages for himself with little or no regard for the rights of others. How is such a man, who is not
restrained by any moral considerations, affected by the apparent prevalence of chance in human life?
He sees instances where others of his kind have enriched themselves by dishonest means without
suffering any apparent evil consequences as a result. He figures that where they succeeded he can
succeed. To him this seeming absence of justice is an invitation to try his luck. The usual aim is to get
rich. If he could do this honestly it would be preferable, for it would involve less risk. But honest
methods are often slow and require hard work. A dishonest method may offer a short-cut to wealth and
require less labor. The only objection to the latter method is that he might get caught and punished. He
knows the law will reach out its arm and try to get him, but he also knows that it is possible to "beat the
law" and that this depends on good planning, luck, cleverness, daring, a position of power, money for
bribery, etc. If he succeeds in beating the Law, he may win a great stake, and he will not have to suffer
any evil effects. He weighs his chances of success and if they look favorable he goes ahead.
We see from the above how the unsolved problem of injustice has had an undermining influence on the
individual's behavior and how it has encouraged selfishness and a disregard for the rights of others.
Naturally, the effect will be the same on the social body and the various groups within it, and the same
applies to whole nations. The motives, the ideologies of thousands and millions of individuals become
the factors that determine the acts of nations. Is it any wonder, then, that selfishness and aggressiveness
have become so powerful in the world that they threaten the existence of our entire civilization?

Vain Appeals to Practice Ethics


The seriousness of this situation is well recognized by leaders of church and state. We hear appeals
from the pulpit, the lecture platform, from educators and from public officials. Here are a few taken at
random from the public press:
"Put Christ in the marketplace." "How are we to evangelize economics?"
"Application of the Golden Rule would give the world international peace and individual well being.
What a sad commentary on our rationality, that we have not attained the wit to apply the principle!"
A member of the British Parliament once said: "I believe that the British Parliament and the British
nation, if they really believe in the Gospel and in doing to others as they would be done unto, could
lead the world in a new campaign."
A ruler in India says: "Scientists, doctors, engineers, social reformers, religious seers, all are making
things new, but selfishness, race hatred, narrow nationalism, and greed have thrown all into chaos. . . .
Our economic and political problems are ethical and spiritual problems."
One churchman says: "Application of the principles of Christ by 'civilized' nations would end the
existence of struggles with which we are now confronted." And another writes: "Until business is
converted and conducted in the sight of God, . . . no change in technique will be of paramount
value. . . . Moral standards everywhere have been challenged and sometimes discredited."
And what is the effect of these appeals?
We read on other pages of the same publications that crime is increasing. In the early thirties, the total
cost of crime in the United States was estimated at 13 billion dollars per year. In 1940 the figure had
risen to 15 billion. By way of contrast, the estimated total cost of all education from kindergarten
through college, public and private, reported to the United States Office of Education in 1931-32 was
approximately 3 billion. The cost of crime was five times that of education.
The means used to reform criminals have not been successful. A large percentage return to crime after
release. One investigator reports that out of 923 boys, who had been given various kinds of reform
treatment by juvenile courts, 88% had continued their delinquency during the first five years after
treatment. In another case 510 men who had spent time in a reformatory were investigated and it was
found that 80% of them were still continuing their criminal careers.
A professor of pediatrics at one of our large universities expresses the opinion that a criminal is very
much like an ordinary individual, who strives to satisfy his comforts and desires, but, failing to achieve
his purpose or to accept his limited circumstances, he resorts to aggressive methods. Many persons who
are situated in high places would do the same were it not for their favored position which gives them,
without the need for aggression, the comforts and pleasures that they desire.
It has been suggested that more education would solve our problems. Our public schools and colleges
are making great efforts to prepare youth for honest and useful lives and if it were not for these efforts
conditions in the world would undoubtedly be much worse than they are. But education has not solved
our ethical problems and has not proved a guarantee against wrong action. The knowledge acquired
through education can be used to promote selfishness as well as human welfare. The wrongdoer is not
always stupid or ignorant; he often shows a great deal of intelligence and in some cases he has had a
good education.
The appeal to follow religion, to apply the Golden Rule in daily life may have some effect on those
who are naturally inclined to right action, but it is evident that it has little or no effect on the selfish
type.
If these teachings had been effective, we would not have had a world war followed after a brief period
by a second one.
Why then do ethical teachings have so little effect in the world? Surely, the fault cannot lie in the
doctrines themselves for almost anyone will admit that the "Sermon on the Mount" and the "Golden
Rule" contain teachings which would transform this earth into a paradise if they were only applied in
daily life. Even a depraved nature would probably agree to this. Why is it, then, that in spite of the
efforts continued throughout the centuries they are no nearer to a realization than they were 2000 years
ago? Is it not precisely because of the unsolved problem of injustice? Is it not because men feel, when
they notice the injustice in human life, that the ethical teachings of religion, although beautiful, are not
true since they fail to work in practice? If a good man has the courage to apply them, a selfish man will
take advantage of him. The unselfish will "sow good seeds" and the selfish will step in and reap a good
harvest without any sowing and so it does not seem to be true that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall
he also reap," and therefore men lose faith and give up trying.
We notice that ethical teachings are often given in the form of injunctions or commands, encouraging
unselfishness and right action. They seem to harmonize with the law of cause and effect, as for example
the statement: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," but they are not backed by any
philosophical explanation of how the reaping is done. A spiritual appeal may be sufficient for
spiritually-minded people, yet the modern, inquisitive man wants to know the "why" and the "how"
before he is willing to accept any idea and act upon it.
If we could only add to ethical teachings an explanation showing what they are based on, we would
satisfy man's inquisitive mind and thus make the ideas acceptable to the skeptic. If we could show that
man's actions are governed by laws that are just as sweeping and just as unerring as the laws that
govern material nature; if we could show that ethics have a philosophical as well as a spiritual basis,
then the appeal to man's spiritual nature would no longer be in vain, for it would also appeal to man's
mind.

When is Selfishness Profitable?


If justice governs human life we shall reap what we sow. If we shall reap what we sow it is to our own
advantage to sow good seeds. The more good seeds we sow the greater will be our harvest of good. In
due time our acts will return to us. If our acts are of a beneficial nature and helpful to others, the return
that comes to us will be beneficial also. Under these conditions it is simply good business policy, plain
common sense to practice altruism. It may seem that this is putting ethics on a very low plane, but it
just cannot be helped that it "pays" to do right and that ethics and common sense coincide if justice
governs our lives.
Again, if justice governs human life and we shall reap what we sow, it follows that selfishness or any
kind of wrongdoing can never be to our own advantage, for the evil effects of such actions will in the
course of time return to us and we ourselves shall have to experience the suffering we cause others. To
do an injury to another under such conditions is to do an injury to oneself. If we defraud others, we
shall become the victims of fraud. Whatever has been gained by such fraud must in the course of time
be returned to the victim. If we use violence and bring injury and death to others, exactly the same will
happen to us. We do not want to reap evil; no one in his right mind does. The only way to avoid reaping
evil is to avoid sowing evil. Under such circumstances any wrong doing, any act that will bring injury
and suffering on others, not only does not "pay," but is detrimental to our own self-interest. Any person
capable of straight thinking would shun such actions as he would shun the fire. Here, then, is an appeal
to the selfish man, which the selfish man can understand: "Do good: it is sure to bring dividends. Avoid
evil and you will escape future trouble." Whatever push we give to the pendulum, the pendulum will
return to us.
A burglar would not break into a house if he knew that a dozen policemen were on the inside waiting to
catch him. A man would not try his luck at the gambling table if he knew that the roulette wheel was
fixed so that he could not win. There would be nothing gained by trying in either case. A knowledge
that we shall reap what we sow would have the same restraining effect and keep man from doing wrong
for he would realize the folly of bringing trouble on himself.
Selfishness or any kind of wrongdoing can be profitable only if chance rules our lives; only if it is
possible to sidestep and avoid the effects of such wrong doing. In that case it would be possible to take
advantage of others and to reap benefits which we had not sown and to do harm to others without
having to experience the evil effects of such action. It is not difficult to see that those who practice
wrongdoing believe that chance rules their lives. A politician who betrays the trust placed in him, a
business man or financier who defrauds others, a gangster who kills his rivals, a dictator who inflicts
suffering on his fellow men, an aggressor nation that oppresses its weaker neighbors, one and all base
their actions on a belief that they can escape the effects of their evil doing. If they realized that they
would have to suffer as they had caused others to suffer, they would act differently, for they would not
want to inflict this on themselves. Their actions are proof that they believe in chance and not in justice,
no matter what they may say to the contrary.
If men were convinced that their lives are governed by justice and not by chance, then the appeals of
ethics and religion urging men to altruistic action would no longer be in vain. Man's innate, better
nature, which prompts him to unselfishness, would be reinforced by his knowledge that such action is
to his own advantage and that selfishness is to his disadvantage. Only a person lacking intelligence and
common sense would act selfishly under such circumstances.
It may now be seen how vital to man's welfare and the future of civilization is a solution of the problem
of injustice, as all wrong-doing is based on a disbelief in justice. A belief in justice brings out the
advantages of unselfishness and the disadvantages of selfishness so clearly that it becomes an incentive
for right action, while at the same time it removes the incentive for wrongdoing. If then we can show
that justice rules our lives, we shall have taken the first step towards a solution of the problem of
selfishness and crime.
Let us now turn to the main question: "Does Chance or Justice rule our Lives?" and seek an answer by
examining nature and man and by reasoning from such data as we may be able to gather.

THE MATERIAL WORLD


From CHEMISTRY we learn that certain atoms of one element combined with a fixed number of
atoms of another element will produce a molecule of a new substance in a fixed relation to the original
elements. The same ingredients will produce the same result every time. The result never varies. The
same causes always produce the same effects.
In PHYSICS we learn that if a body falls in space its velocity will increase with a uniform acceleration.
After a certain number of seconds we will have a certain velocity and after so many more seconds
another corresponding velocity, always the same for the same number of seconds. The force of gravity
follows definite laws.
Many of the laws of ELECTRICITY are known and the electric current is always found to act the same
way under the same circumstances. In other words, effect here also follows cause with absolute
regularity.
Examples could be multiplied almost indefinitely. Heat, light, sound, all are governed by laws well
known to any student of these subjects.
Turning to ASTRONOMY we find that the planets are moving in fixed orbits around the sun with such
regularity that their positions can be calculated far in advance. The sun, again, with its family of planets
moves in a greater orbit of its own, and further, our entire "home-universe," the Galaxy, seems to travel
on a still grander pathway.
As far as we have been able to investigate we have found a reign of law, order and harmony among the
stars and planets in space. They all move in accordance with the law of gravitation. What may at first
appear as a departure from this law is found upon closer investigation to be in full accord with it. At
one time, for instance, Uranus was considered the outermost planet in the solar system. By careful
observations and calculations, astronomers found that Uranus did not strictly follow the path that it
should have taken if influenced only by the sun and the other known planets. This aroused the
suspicion that there might be another, unknown body in the solar system which caused the irregularities
in Uranus' orbit. Calculations were then made to find the location and mass of a body which would
produce such irregularities, and the planet Neptune was discovered. What at first looked like a defect in
the operation of the gravitational force turned out to be a demonstration of its perfect dependability.
Astronomers tell us that gravitation acts throughout the whole of space, that every body in space exerts
a pull on every other body, no matter how far apart they may be, and that its action is so perfect that we
cannot move a finger but what this motion affects all the stars.
We are also told that the length of the day as determined from eclipse observations extending over
some 3000 years has not varied as much as one one-hundredth of a second during this long period.
There are many other interesting facts furnished us by Astronomy which demonstrate the extreme
regularity with which the celestial bodies move in space and thus prove the reign of law in this
department of Nature.
Wherever man has been able to subject Nature's forces to rigid tests he has found that these forces obey
certain invariable laws and that under the same conditions they will always produce the same effect. It
has often happened in early experiments that irregularities appeared in the results, but that later and
more carefully conducted experiments showed that these irregularities were due to causes that were at
first overlooked and that when all contributing causes were taken into account, there were no
irregularities in the entire process.
There are of course many phenomena of Nature that are not yet understood, but past experience
indicates that, as our knowledge increases it will be found that these phenomena are also governed by
the law of cause and effect.
THE MENTAL PLANE
It is not easy for man to determine what thoughts are or how they operate, for they are not of a material
nature and therefore cannot be examined by man's five senses. As a result our knowledge of the mental
plane is very limited as compared to that of the physical plane. Certain mental processes, however, such
as used in mathematical work, can be studied directly.
In GEOMETRY, for instance, by starting from a few axioms, or self-evident truths, we can demonstrate
certain other truths that are not so self-evident. The mental process is one of placing together certain
facts and showing that from these other facts must follow. In other words, the process is governed by a
law of cause and effect. Who would know, for instance, by simply looking at the figure of a right angle
triangle with squares drawn on its three sides, that the square on the hypotenuse equals the sum of the
squares on the other two sides? Yet this has been demonstrated from a few simple axioms by such a
step-by-step method of reasoning as above referred to. We are so sure of the absolute truth of this
proposition that, if we measure the areas referred to and find a slight inequality, we know that this error
is due to faulty measurements, and not to an error in the proposition. The latter is proved without a
chance for an argument.
To use another illustration: when we sit down to play a game of chess, we reason about the various
moves and the consequences that will follow from each. Every new move makes a new combination of
causes and the possible effects are all in exact relation to the new set of causes. An experienced player
will be able to trace in his mind the chain of cause and effect for several moves in advance. An
inexperienced player will only see a few of the effects that follow from a certain move. The entire game
might be said to be a mental exercise with the visible pieces simply aids to the memory of what has
been done and furnishing starting points for the mind to work from. All the mental processes involved
consist in tracing the relations between causes and their effects.
We can form some idea of the nature and operations of thoughts from the effects they produce on the
material plane.
An inventor holds in his mind a certain idea and builds around it a mental picture of a machine that will
make this idea workable. Then he proceeds to make drawings as the next step and finally he has
experienced mechanics build the machine to these drawings. A change in the idea will result in a
change in the machine. Here, then, there is an orderly sequence of events: a cause on the mental plane,
a thought, expresses itself as an effect on the material plane, a machine.
Mathematics, or the science of numbers, is the basis of engineering, and engineering is the basis of
construction. A bridge or a skyscraper cannot be built without mathematical analysis and calculations.
Here it may be said that the physical forms are based on numbers.
The painting of the artist is but the physical effect of a thought or an image in the artist's mind.
In many instances we can trace relations between forms, sounds and other manifestations on one hand
and numbers or mathematical expressions on the other. Every algebraic expression can be represented
by a corresponding curve. A different expression will have a different curve, but each curve is
invariably fixed and determined by its own equation.
The musical scale is built upon a series of numbers. The variations in sound depend on varying wave
lengths and frequencies of vibrations. And again there is a relation between sounds and material forms.
This may be seen if a thin metal disc, fixed at its center and sprinkled with fine sand, is caused to
vibrate by the bow of a violin drawn against its edge. If two points on the edge are kept stationary, the
sand will assume a certain pattern, a symmetrical and beautiful design. If the distance between the two
stationary points is varied, the sand will assume a different pattern. Thus the form changes when the
vibration varies. The change in the vibration is directly related to the number of vibrations per second.
Here, then, is a relation between numbers or mental concepts and physical forms, the patterns in the
sand.
The tones of an organ will cause vibrations in a building that can be plainly felt. Low notes will cause
stronger vibrations than high ones. In the Alps, avalanches of snow have been started by the sound of a
human voice. A steamer whistle blown in the neighborhood of a glacier will, by its vibrations, cause
immense blocks of ice to break off and drop into the ocean. A shrill sound would not produce the same
effect. In each of these instances a change in the number of vibrations produced a difference in the
effect, showing that there is a relation between numbers and effects on the physical plane.
The illustrations given above show that there is a relation between the mental plane and the material
plane and that phenomena on the material plane may be affected by causes on the mental plane. It
seems that we are beginning to trace vaguely the "laws" that govern the material plane back to some
underlying principles on the mental plane. Where we can make a theoretical calculation and check the
result by corresponding measurements on the physical plane, we find a close agreement. If the
calculation is based on a true theory we know that the calculated result is more accurate than the
measured one.
If the material plane is governed by law, as scientific investigation indicates, is it not reasonable to
assume that the mental plane, which seems to be the basis of the material plane, must also be governed
by law?
The thought that the mental is the basis for the material has been held from remotest antiquity by some
of the greatest intellects. Pythagoras taught that "the Universe is built on numbers." Plato said: "God
geometrizes." Sir James Jeans, the modern astronomer, suggests that "the Great Architect of the
Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician" and also that "the universe begins to look
more like a great thought than like a great machine."
We know that our thoughts affect our emotions, and medical science tells us that the emotions have a
powerful influence on the body. A person may die from an excessive grief or joy. Happiness or anger
can be aroused by thinking of past events that were pleasant or unpleasant. These thoughts and
emotions, if harbored continually, will in time affect the expression of a person's face. Grief and worry
will lower the vitality and interfere with digestion.
In summarizing our observations on the mental plane, we find:
1st. -- Those mental processes which can be checked directly, such as used in mathematics, show an
absolute and most perfect relation between cause and effect.
2nd. -- Those actions on the mental plane, which can be traced by their effect on the physical plane,
show a distinct relation between physical effect and mental cause.
3rd. -- Since theoretical calculations are known to be more exact than physical measurements, it seems
reasonable to conclude that the laws that govern the mental plane are, if possible, still more rigid, or at
any rate no less rigid than those which govern the material plane.
4th. -- There are cases where we are unable to trace effects of mental causes either on the mental or
material plane, on account of our limited knowledge. There is, however, nothing to prove that such
effects do not follow, even if they may be long delayed. Such researches as we have been able to make
show the mental plane to be governed by the Law of Cause and Effect.
A UNIVERSAL MIND
So far we have built our reasoning on more or less direct observation. There is some indirect evidence
which may be helpful to us.
Having found such wonderful reign of law and order in every field that we are capable of exploring, it
is only natural that we should ask ourselves the question: Who or What laid down the "plan" or "framed
the laws" or principles which seem to govern the processes of Nature? The orderly working of Nature
could not have sprung into existence spontaneously or accidentally. There must have been someone or
something, an intelligence or intelligences of a superior kind that did the planning, and formulated the
laws according to which Nature operates. We seem justified in this assumption, because we know from
our own experience on a small scale that even the simplest work requires planning. A heap of building
materials will not turn into a house without an architect to draw a plan and experienced builders to
shape the material and construct the building. On the contrary, we know for a fact that, if a beautiful
building is to be erected, first the design must be beautiful and then the workmanship must be perfect.
And we further know that if there is anything lacking in the plan or in the workmanship, the finished
building will show it.
A railroad system could not operate successfully without a time-schedule, train dispatchers and a vast
organization of cooperating officials and workers, and back of all this is a unified plan. This plan did
not come into existence by itself. It was the product of some mind or some minds that formulated it and
drew up the rules or "laws" of operation.
When we look at a building, the architect may not be on hand to answer our questions regarding it, but
we can judge something about him from the building itself. When we travel on a train we do not see the
operating staff, but we can judge something about this also by the service we receive. And so it is with
the Universe; we dwell in it; we are "passengers" on one of its planets, but the Power that planned it is
not on hand to answer our questions. However, if we could judge something about the architect by
examining the house, and something about the railroad management by observing its operation, it
should be possible for us to draw some conclusions regarding the Power back of the Universe by a
study of that Universe, for "the work reveals its Creator." We have to admit our inability to get a full
understanding of this Power or these Powers, for man's finite, limited mind cannot comprehend
something so vastly superior to itself. This inability to get a full understanding should not, however,
prevent man from using such powers of observation and reason as he may possess to gain at least such
partial understanding as he is capable of. People of all ages have sensed the existence of such Power or
Powers and referred to them under many different names. The Hindus call it BRAHMAN; Emerson
called it the OVERSOUL. Ancient philosophies state that it is infinite and hence cannot be personified
or limited by any human description. While there are probably no two human beings that would fully
agree in their understanding of it, yet most people will in all likelihood grant that there must be such a
Power or Powers. Agreeing to disagree as to its exact nature, let us for the purpose of this discussion
refer to this power or these powers by the term: God.* Judging God,* then, by His work, we have seen
that He was able to lay down a plan according to which all nature works, from the miniature universe
of the atom to the star-clusters in space, millions of light-years distant. From the magnitude of the
work, we cannot fail to recognize the infinite greatness and power of its Originator. We have further
seen that God* formulated unvarying laws that govern the operations of Nature so that there is always
an exact relation between cause and effect in these. From this we must conclude that order, law and
harmony are attributes of God.*
*In the following discussion the asterisk (*) is used with the word God* in order to call
attention to this footnote and to the fact that this word is not here used in any sectarian or
limited sense or as referring to a personal God, but is used for want of a better word to
allude to that Power or those Powers behind Time and Space, which man seems compelled
to postulate as the unseen Cause of the Universe.

A Power that can construct such a marvelous Universe, could just as well destroy it with all the life that
it contains, if it were so disposed. But the universe evidently has endured for countless ages -- and
Nature provides food and other necessities to sustain life. Therefore God* must be beneficent in His
purposes. These are some of the conclusions we can draw about God* by observing His work which we
see around us.
May we not by analogy draw some further conclusions regarding other attributes of God?*
A cell in our body is a living entity with evidently a certain kind of intelligence and a certain degree of
free will, but in general regulating its life according to the laws that govern the body as a whole.
We can understand considerable about the cell, but the cell can know very little about us. The lesser
cannot comprehend the greater in its fullness. Is it reasonable to assume that the cell possesses greater
qualities than the man of whose body the cell is a part? Is it not more reasonable to conclude that any
power which may be inherent in the cell will also be found in the man and found there in a much higher
degree of perfection?
Man is but a cell, or less than a cell, in the great body of the Universe. Is it not reasonable then to
assume that any faculty that exists in man must also exist in the "soul of the universe," in God*? And
further, is it not reasonable to suppose that the degree of perfection of the qualities of God* must be as
far superior to the degree of perfection of man's qualities as the "works" of God,* the Universe, are to
the works of man? God* then must possess all human virtues in their highest degree of perfection.
Among human beings we respect such qualities as intelligence, justice, and love. A man who lacked
these characteristics would not be held in high esteem by his fellows. If these qualities are necessary in
the make-up of a good man, must they not also be necessary in the make-up of God*? To assume
otherwise would be to assume that man possessed qualities greater than God.*
For the purpose of the present discussion let us consider only one of these qualities -- that of justice.
In all ages justice has been considered one of the great virtues. We cannot think highly of a man who is
not just. From time immemorial all peoples have made laws and established courts for the
administration of justice. Man-made laws are imperfect; frequently their administration has been
imperfect also, but with all that, all men recognize justice as an ideal to be striven after.
If justice, then, is such a necessary quality in our ideal of a good man, is it not still more necessary to
our conception of God*? To assume the contrary would be to place God* on a lower level than a good
man.
Parents who love their children and desire their welfare, know how necessary it is to show justice and
impartiality in training them. They know that training cannot be successful if inconsistent and
contradictory methods are used. They know that certain rules of conduct, with suitable rewards and
punishments affixed, must be set up and consistently adhered to, until the children learn by repeated
experiences. They know that if they punished an act today and rewarded the same act tomorrow, the
child would become confused. It would not know what was right or wrong and would soon give up all
effort at self-improvement.
If this is true for the family, it is equally true for the human race as a whole. Absolute justice or a
perfect reign of orderly laws of cause and effect are necessary for the growth and development of
human character. If justice were imperfect, or if chance ruled in human affairs, men would become
confused and discouraged. They would consider it useless to strive towards self-improvement if their
efforts counted for nothing and they would sooner or later give up trying.
If then man recognizes the necessity for justice in character development, must not this necessity be
still more fully recognized by God*? A God* without justice would be an absurdity, for it would
indicate such a flaw in His nature that it would place Him below the ideal for a good man. As man is
more perfect than the cell, so God* must be more perfect than man.
An assumption that God* might have wished to provide for justice in the world, but was unable to
formulate and establish laws of cause and effect that would be workable and binding in all details of
human life, is untenable. A God* that can lay down and enforce laws of cause and effect that operate
unfailingly in the physical world has also the ability to lay down laws that will work unerringly in
human life.
An assumption that justice rules in the world to a certain limited extent, but that it is not perfect in all
details, is also untenable. Imperfect justice is after all not justice. If it is justice at all, it must be 100%
perfect. This is man's ideal and nothing less can be the ideal of God.*
On the basis of this Universe being the result of intelligent planning, then, we are forced to the
conclusion that justice must be a part of the Universal Plan.

LIFE MUST HAVE A MEANING


We may not all agree that there must be some purpose in life, but probably most people feel that this is
so. It does not make sense to assume that the only purpose of life is for man to spend a few score of
years here on earth, pass through some commonplace experiences and perhaps a few odd ones, and
then vanish without any permanent benefit resulting from the experience. Such performance would
seem so futile, so useless that it would probably be rejected by most people, who feel that there must be
some higher purpose in life. And what could such purpose be but growth, evolution, the gradual rising
into some higher state of consciousness and life, a pilgrimage towards perfection?
If we are to become perfect, if we are to learn by experience, law and order in the universe around us
are necessary for this purpose. We find that we are surrounded by law and order; but we are so
accustomed to the orderly processes of Nature that we often overlook their existence. We take them for
granted and do not recognize that life as we know it would be impossible if Nature did not operate
according to law.
Suppose gravitation suddenly ceased to act. If we dropped a stone, instead of falling to the ground it
might go up in the air, or remain suspended, or perhaps shoot off to one side, nobody knows in what
direction. A railroad train might leave the track any minute and start off into space; water might run
uphill; buildings would not stay on their foundations, in fact they could not be built for there would be
no weight to keep one brick on top of the next. Complete chaos would result, for nothing would "stay
put." It would be impossible to plan or provide ahead for anything, for no two times would the same
effect follow from the same cause and there would be no experience to be guided by.
On the basis that life has a meaning, that it is a school, wherein man learns by experience, the existence
of law and an orderly sequence of cause and effect are necessities.

HUMAN LIFE
Let us now turn our attention to the field of human relations; how men act towards one another and the
effects that follow their actions. Also to those events and experiences that life deals out to us, and over
which we have little or no control, such as circumstances of birth, inborn capacities, "luck," accidents,
etc. -- or what we might summarize under the term "Human Life."
Is there an orderly sequence of cause and effect here? Is there a reign of justice and law that governs
our lives? Do men's actions always and unerringly bring to men their just deserts?
The most important parts of a man's life are not his physical actions and experiences, but his thought
life, his aspirations and longings, feelings and emotions. None of these are directly visible to others,
except occasionally in their effects. To trace a chain of cause and effect in human life is therefore very
difficult, for men's motives and the links that connect causes with their effects are largely concealed
from our view. Let us, however, consider some of the common experiences in life.
In certain cases of wrongdoing what would seem like appropriate effects follow, as when a person lives
a life of dissipation, or otherwise breaks the laws of health, disease often results. But this is by no
means always the case. It frequently happens that people violate many of the laws of health and abuse
their bodies without apparently being much the worse for it; whereas it frequently happens that people
who live with the most regular habits and take the best care of their bodies are overtaken by disease and
suffering, for which we can find no cause.
We often see persons who work hard all their lives to provide for their families and lay up a little store
for their old age. In many cases they are successful in their efforts, but they often meet unexpected
reverses and the work of a lifetime is lost. Other people may be shiftless and irresponsible; in that case
they usually do not get far, but it frequently happens that they have "good luck" and fare better than
many who work hard and conscientiously.
Occasionally we see striking examples of "luck," good or bad, as the case may be. One person will be
pursued by ill luck and will lose his fortune, perhaps accumulate another and then lose that also,
seemingly through no fault of his own. Another person makes no great effort to accumulate wealth, but
money seems to "fall into his lap." We have read of cases where the owner of some apparently
worthless land became rich overnight when oil was discovered on his property.
Almost anyone can cite similar instances from his own knowledge.
Take the matter of acting according to one's conscience in, say, a case where a contrary action would
promise a better material reward. Here the person who follows his conscience will have a certain
satisfaction in the knowledge of having acted rightly, but the one who silenced his conscience and acted
contrary to its dictates, may as a result have enjoyed a material advantage in gaining wealth, position or
power. Here "luck" or chance seems to play a part, and if the wrong act is not found out, the actor may
end his days in full enjoyment of the respect of his fellow men plus the added wealth and position that
would never have come to him if he had obeyed his conscience.
Consider the life of a criminal. In some cases the first act of wrongdoing is discovered and the man is
punished according to human law. Here again the personnel of the jury, the character of the judge, and
the ability of the attorneys may have a great influence on the severity of the sentence and thus the
punishment may be greater or less according to the court before which the prisoner happens to be tried.
Another criminal may commit many crimes before he is discovered; or if he is very "lucky," as we say,
he may escape detection altogether and may end his days as a respected member of society.
In the illustrations given above it could be noticed that man's actions towards his fellows perhaps more
often than not brought the results they merited, but it was equally noticeable that in many cases the
appropriate effects did not follow. In fact, wrong could often be done without the wrong-doer suffering
the consequences of his acts. From this it would seem quite possible at times to sow without having to
reap.
The circumstances in which men are placed at birth certainly have a great influence on their lives.
Some men are born into families where the moral atmosphere is of the best. The influence of the home
tends to build up and strengthen a noble character in the child. The financial circumstances may be
favorable and the child may receive a good education. Influential relations and friends will use their
power to aid the individual and the combination of all these circumstances will certainly be a great help
towards an honorable life later on.
Other men may be born in circumstances which are the opposite of those cited. In their case the home
influence tends to degrade the character. The examples of the grownups may be an education in crime
for the child. His direction is wrong from the start. The circumstances were against him; "he had no
chance," we say.
It may be argued that a man's character is the greatest determining factor in his life, and that individuals
with strong characters have been born in the most degrading circumstances, but in spite of all obstacles
have lived noble lives and been of great service to their fellow men. But the fact remains that on less
strong characters these unfavorable circumstances have a very detrimental effect. Hence the
circumstances of birth constitute serious obstacles to faith in justice.
Children who are born and brought up under the same circumstances show great differences in health,
character, disposition and natural talents or gifts. Some of these differences may be modified by
education, but even education cannot greatly alter the dissimilarities that exist from birth. In some cases
a child will be possessed of a healthy body, a strong character, an intelligent mind, and a pleasant,
winning disposition which will prove a great aid on his path through life. Another child is born without
these gifts and may indeed be burdened with a sickly body, a weak, vacillating character, a dull mind
and a sullen, irritable disposition, all of which may be serious hindrances to a life of happiness and
service.
The circumstances outlined above have perhaps been the extremes in both the favorable and
unfavorable direction, but of course there are all grades and conditions between these two. Whether
extreme or moderate, such differences all indicate an element of injustice.
Accidents have a way of striking right and left without any apparent cause. Sometimes a reckless
person will meet with an accident, but very often the most cautious and careful individual will also be
struck. One person may go on some wild adventure and return without a scratch. Another may stay at
home, trip on a rug and break his neck. One person plans to take a trip on a certain steamer. There is a
traffic jam on the way to the wharf which causes him to miss his connection. Another person had no
intention of taking this boat, but by some unexpected turn of events was caused to take the trip. The
steamer is wrecked and all on board are lost. Here chance seemed to be the deciding element.
Summarizing our observations of human life we note that whereas man's actions sometimes bring
appropriate effects, they often do not.
Unless we choose to ignore the evidence, we must admit that within the span of one human life here on
earth perfect justice simply does not exist, but chance and injustice do play a large part.

LAW OR CHANCE?
Let us now review our earlier observations and see how the evidence stands.
In the material world we found a most perfect reign of the Law of Cause and Effect.
On the mental plane we found a perfect reign of law wherever we were able to investigate.
We found that if there is a God* and an intelligent plan back of the Universe, justice and law must be
parts of this plan.
We also found that if the purpose of life is evolution, growth and an advancement towards perfection,
law and justice are necessary to achieve this end.
In addition to this our moral nature, our sense of "the fitness of things," tells us that there must be law
and justice in the Universe.
When we consider human life we find on one hand that the majority of human actions are governed by
justice, but also on the other hand that much chance and injustice seem to operate in human affairs.
To summarize: we find that the evidence in favor of law and justice is overwhelming, but it is not
100%.
The injustice apparent in human life, then, is the "fly in the ointment," the flaw in what otherwise
seems such a perfect plan. It is this which undermines our faith in justice and in God.*
Two alternate theories present themselves in explanation of these injustices: either (1) these events
actually do happen without due cause, or (2) they are effects of causes which we cannot see.

1st Alternative
If the first proposition is true, then Human Life would be an exception to the general plan of Nature.
Even though we human beings are a part of Nature, our actions would be outside of the law and order
which governs the rest of Nature. Law, symmetry, harmony, order everywhere in Nature; but Human
Life in contrast to all the rest subject to disorder, confusion, chance. This would mean that the laws of
the Universe would not be universal; they would apply in spots but not everywhere.
Would we accept such a proposition in regard to other matters with which we are more familiar? Would
we not, for instance, consider it absurd to claim that gravitation works in parts of the Universe, but
breaks down and fails to operate in other parts?
When we turn the switch that controls the light in the ceiling we know that the electric current travels
over wires concealed in the wall and reaches the bulb where the light appears. We know that there is no
accident or chance connected with the entire operation. But suppose that a primitive man were
suddenly transported from his obscure jungle and placed in our midst; how would he view the sudden
appearance and disappearance of the light in the ceiling, especially if the switch were located in another
room? He would know nothing about the electric current, or the wires concealed in the wall. He might
think that the light came on or off by chance.
Not so long ago we too were ignorant of the laws governing electricity. How would the light
phenomenon have appeared to us then? With our present knowledge we are unable to trace the
connection between chance-events in Human Life and their causes, but shall we say that, because we
are unable to trace the wires hidden in the wall that there are no such wires and that there can be none?
Are we justified in smiling at the ignorance and lack of logic on the part of our jungle man if we take a
position similar to his? Would it not be more reasonable to take the stand that, since the Universe is
governed by the law of cause and effect in other departments, human actions and experiences must also
be governed by this law, and recognize that what to us appears as chance because we cannot see the
hidden cause, must be the result of the thoughts and acts of individuals, who thereby reap what they
have sown in the past? Let us then consider the second alternative and see if it is not more logical than
the first.
2nd Alternative
A scientist, who is confronted with a phenomenon which he does not understand, will not accept
chance as an explanation. Knowing that it must follow certain laws, he starts to investigate and
experiment to discover these. If he is successful in his search he traces the event back to its cause. If he
is not successful, he still does not believe that the phenomenon was the result of chance, but trusts that
future research will reveal the underlying cause.
A few centuries back man knew very little of the law that governs gravitation, but Sir Isaac Newton's
investigations resulted in his formulating this law. Of course this law existed from time immemorial
and had been operating before it was discovered just as much as afterwards, but, as far as being
recognized by man is concerned, it was non-existent until formulated by Newton.
Newton's third law of motion states that: "to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," and
this statement has been tested experimentally and found to be a fact in regard to material bodies. In
human affairs action and reaction would be equal and opposite if a man's acts returned to him,
meanness for meanness, service for service, injury for injury, kindness for kindness. If it is true in
material things that "action and reaction are equal and opposite," may not the same be true regarding
human actions also, and how do we know but what some future "Isaac Newton" will find some way of
demonstrating this experimentally?
Our astronomers tell us that the Universe (on its material side) is so marvelously balanced, that cause
and effect are so delicately and accurately adjusted, that if we move a finger, the effect of this motion is
felt on the farthest star in space.
If gravitation can bridge the inconceivable distances of space and, without visible connection, link a
cause on our earth with an effect on the farthest star, why should it be any more unreasonable to assume
that there is some other force or principle, attraction or repulsion, some invisible wiring that links our
thoughts and our deeds with their effects? If gravitation operates unaffected across space, why should
not this other force act independent of time and outward circumstances? Surely the latter assumption is
no more unreasonable than the former, and if Nature can provide the mechanism in one case, it can also
provide the mechanism in the other.
In human affairs we may have to leave the full explanation of how effect is linked to cause, the wire-
tracing, to future research. But may it not be possible that an advancing science will some day trace the
wires that are now concealed from us and solve this problem as it has solved so many others in the
past?
Perhaps investigators of the future will have at their disposal more sensitive instruments than we have,
or perhaps man will evolve faculties within his own nature that will enable him to see directly and
without the need of any instruments the connection between cause and effect everywhere.
In our present state of ignorance we have to admit our inability to follow the chain of causation and to
link the cause to the effect, but in view of all past experience is it not reasonable that we should
recognize that such a chain must exist?
If, then, we accept the idea that such a chain of causation exists, and while we are waiting for a
complete demonstration of how it operates, let us use the method of the scientist who seeks to solve his
problem. He examines all the known facts before him and then casts about for a theory or a working
hypothesis which fits these facts and also explains the phenomenon which he is investigating.
As new discoveries are made, the theory is checked with these and altered if it no longer fits the facts,
or perhaps it is completely discarded for a new and better theory.
If, then, the law of cause and effect governs human affairs, it should be possible to find a theory which
explains how it operates.
What are the requirements which such a theory must fulfill?

Does Chance or Justice Rule Our Lives? by Nils A. Amneus


Theosophical University Press Online Edition

Part 2
Requirements of Theory

An Ancient Doctrine

Survival After Death

Existence Before Birth

Delayed Effects

Is Reincarnation True?

Beneficial Effects

Are Ethical Teachings Practical?

Summary

Return to Part 1

REQUIREMENTS OF THEORY
If we examine the events of chance and injustice in human life we notice that they can be grouped
under two general headings:
1st -- "Uncontrolled events" or those over which the individual has no control, but which apparently
come to him without any action on his part, such as inherited health or disease, favorable or
unfavorable circumstances of birth and inborn characteristics, that help or hinder him. To this group
belong accidents and also such experiences as are forced on us by the actions of other people, for we
are often affected by the deeds of others, even though we have no control over them.
2nd -- "Controlled events" or those acts performed intentionally by the man himself, which were not
followed by their appropriate effects, such as wrongdoing that brought no suffering in its train, and
efforts for good that bore no fruit.
Let us first seek an explanation for the "uncontrolled events" of group 1.
Uncontrolled Events
Evidently there are two explanations possible if these events obey the law of cause and effect.
(a) Either the injustice of these events may be balanced in some existence after death;
(b) Or these events are the effects of acts performed by the individual himself during some existence
before birth.
Which is the more logical of these two explanations?
If the soul begins its existence with birth into a human body, then the individual is in no way
responsible for the conditions in which birth places him. And yet, these conditions have a powerful
influence for good or ill on his destiny, and at death he is a better or a worse man partly due to these
conditions. Even if it is true that this injustice may be balanced in a future life, the man's character may
in the meantime have been made worse and this is a new injustice following from the first.
Further, we cannot help asking: What is the purpose of all this difference in opportunities? Why must
we endure all this injustice in the first place? Some people believe that it is the "will of God."* Could
that be true?
An average human being would not intentionally show such partiality, unfairness, and cruelty to his
children even if he planned to adjust it later. It would be meaningless to do so.
A loving human father would at least try to do the best he could for his children, and if he could do well
by one he could do as well by the others also, and he would certainly give them all the best chance.
And surely a beneficent God* would do no less for His children. He would see to it that one and all of
His children would have the best possible start in life.
We cannot therefore explain the inequalities that come to us at birth as "the will of God"* for this
would place God* below the level of even an ordinary human being. Further, it would be utterly
meaningless to impose such injustice first, only to balance it later. No intelligent human being would
accept responsibility for such a headless plan; how then could it be charged to God*?
Therefore, we have to admit that the inequalities of birth cannot be explained by a balancing after death
for this would be both unjust and meaningless.
The only alternative now left open to explain the inequalities of birth and other "uncontrolled events" is
that the individual himself must have existed previous to birth. In that case all the chance-events of life
can be explained as the effects of actions which the individual himself performed during some such
previous existence.
There is no violation of justice in this proposition. In the light of this idea, the chain of cause and effect
can readily be seen. This will be developed more in detail later on.

Controlled Events
Next let us pass on to the "controlled events" under group 2. Under this heading come the acts of the
man himself, which did not bring their appropriate effects in this life.
If justice is to be done in this case, then death cannot be the end of our existence for this would
preclude the balancing of justice. The wrongdoer would escape the results of his evil acts. The suicide
would be able to step out of the difficulties that surround him without having to face and solve his
problems. There is only one possibility left open. If justice is to be balanced at all, this balancing must
take place in some future existence.
One version of this idea of delayed justice is the doctrine of heaven and hell. According to this
teaching, as usually given, a man enjoys bliss or suffers tortures for eternity for the acts committed
during his life on earth. If this were true, it could not be considered just, for the effect would be out of
all proportion to the cause. Even an ordinary human being would not be so unjust; how much less then
could a beneficent and just God* inflict such punishment on His children? Punishment of this kind
would be a greater injustice than to let the wrongs of one earth life remain unbalanced.
The doctrine of eternal bliss or suffering, then, does not offer a solution that accords with justice, but a
balancing of justice does require an existence after death during which we will reap the effects of those
acts which do not come to a fruition in this life.
A theory of life, which is in accord with justice, must therefore include both an existence prior to birth
in our present bodies and a survival after the death of the body. It must have been during some such
pre-existence that man sowed the seeds which he reaps as the inequalities of birth. It must be during
some existence after death that unbalanced causes, which he has set in motion in this life, will be
balanced.
Such a theory of life should also satisfy man's higher aspirations and longings as well as his reason and
logic. It should accord with the idea of a just and beneficent God* and it should fit in with the scheme
of evolution and some worthy purpose in life. What theory will satisfy all these requirements?

AN ANCIENT DOCTRINE
There is a very ancient doctrine, traces of which are found all over the world. It appears in the great
religions of the past, and was held by some of the early Fathers of the Christian church. It is found
under some form or another in the great philosophies of the past and has been accepted by individual
philosophers throughout the ages from the great thinkers of antiquity down to modern times.
This doctrine teaches that man's present life here on earth is only one of many such existences; that he
has lived here on earth before as a human being and that he will live here again many times in the
future in human form.
Omitting all details, and briefly sketched, this doctrine teaches that there is in man a center of
consciousness which is a part of the Universal Consciousness. This center of consciousness, which is
the real man, is engaged in a pilgrimage of evolution, in the course of which it is born repeatedly in
human form in order to learn and advance by means of the experiences that human life offers.
This center of consciousness, this "Pilgrim" or "Monad" as it is sometimes called, has lived in human
bodies an inconceivable number of times in the past and will do so again in the future.
According to this doctrine our present earth life is like a single page in a book with hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of pages. If this single "page" is read by itself without reference to what preceded it and
without reference to what follows, it does not "make sense." It just gives a few odd fragments in the
middle of a long story; it relates events whose causes have to be looked for on earlier pages, and it
describes happenings which will culminate in some future chapter. In order to understand the contents
of this page it is necessary to read both what precedes it and what is to follow.
According to this doctrine of repeated earth-lives, our present circumstances are the direct results of our
own acts during some former life, and the circumstances of our future lives will be the results of our
thoughts and deeds in this life. Our thoughts and acts are seeds implanted in our character which
belongs to the permanent part of our nature. When the circumstances of life are favorable, the seeds
sprout and grow and the effect of the deed reacts on the doer. This effect may follow during the same
life as the act, or it may be delayed and follow in a later life. In either case, however, it is sure to come,
for the cause and the effect are inextricably interwoven in the man's character, and sooner or later he
will reap what he has sown whether it be good or evil.
Here, then, is a doctrine that harmonizes with the general plan of repetition, which is seen everywhere
in Nature. It recognizes the inequalities of existence but shows that they are in full accord with the law
of cause and effect, and not the result of injustice or chance. It satisfies our logic and reason, for it
shows that we shall reap what we sow and it explains how and where the reaping is done.
It fits in with the scheme of evolution for it shows that, as we have had infinite opportunities for growth
in the past, we shall have infinite opportunities in the future, and hence possibilities of rising towards
perfection. It accords with the idea of a just and beneficent God*, for it shows that man's misfortunes
are not inflicted on him from outside sources, but are of his own making. It shows man that he is
individually responsible for all his acts and hence teaches him the wisdom of beneficent and
harmonious action.
This doctrine of repeated earth-lives, then, is the missing key that solves the problem of injustice in the
world.
The various aspects of this teaching are purposely omitted here, since they fall beyond the scope of the
present discussion. The whole subject is reserved for separate treatment. Only enough has been given
here to show how the doctrine solves the problem of injustice.
This doctrine of repeated earth-lives is commonly known under the name "Reincarnation" from the
Latin: re = again; in = in; and carnis = flesh; or "again in flesh," thus referring to the idea that the
indwelling consciousness has again taken upon itself a body of flesh.*
*There is a great deal of misinformation current regarding the doctrine of Reincarnation,
some people even taking it to mean that man's consciousness after death enters the bodies
of animals. This is not the doctrine of Reincarnation. Evolution tends to progress, not
retrogression. Once the consciousness has reached the human stage it cannot embody itself
in anything subhuman. -- The erroneous notion that man's consciousness enters animals
after death is due to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of Transmigration.

We have found in Reincarnation, then, a theory which shows what appeared to us as injustice and
chance, when seen from the view-point of a single earth life, turns out to be justice and law when seen
from the viewpoint of repeated earth-lives. We have found a theory which solves the problem of
injustice and shows that everything in Nature, human life included, is governed by the Law of Cause
and Effect.
We notice that the doctrine of Reincarnation includes the following three propositions:
(1) Pre-existence.

(2) Survival after death.

(3) Effects do not always follow immediately upon the causes that produced them, but may
sometimes be delayed.

Let us now examine these propositions to see if there is anything fundamentally unsound about any of
them, anything that is unacceptable to reason and logic.
We shall begin with survival after death.
SURVIVAL AFTER DEATH

Relation of Consciousness to Body


No physical means can be applied to investigate after-death states, hence it is impossible to bring in
proofs of a material nature that man's consciousness survives death. But let us not forget that it is
equally impossible to introduce material proofs that man's consciousness perishes at death. In our
present degree of evolution we know very little about consciousness in its various states, hence we are
largely limited to such proofs as reason and analogy furnish.
However, there are certain observations which may throw some light on the subject.
Man is a physical body plus something else. This something else includes, among other things, his
feelings, desires, aspirations, his mind, etc., and finally a center of consciousness, which sits like an
observer and, to an extent, a ruler of this little kingdom which we call a human being.
This center of consciousness, this spectator of the drama of life, is the most essential part of man and
our problem simmers down to this: can and does this center of consciousness survive death?
It is evident that consciousness must have a physical body in order to contact the physical plane, since
we who are conscious on this material plane do not observe any consciousness acting outside of any
such body.
During sleep the consciousness temporarily abandons the body. The sleeping body is merely an
animated corpse, inert and unresponsive. Where is the consciousness in the meantime? Is it destroyed?
Evidently not, for upon awakening it again begins to function as it did before sleep. Evidently it must
have had some sort of existence, the nature of which we do not understand, else it could not have
returned exactly as it was before going to sleep. The unconsciousness of sleep, then, has been a
temporary disconnection of the consciousness from the material plane, but this disunion has not
destroyed the consciousness and has caused no change in it.
There are other conditions under which the consciousness temporarily abandons the body. In case of
injury to the brain and in certain fevers and other diseases, the consciousness is unable to function
through its disabled instrument. It is again shut off from contact with this plane, but as soon as the
instrument is repaired, the consciousness returns and resumes its activity where it left off before the
injury. The disability of the instrument prevented the consciousness from contact with this plane, but
did not destroy the consciousness, neither did it cause any change in it.
A common fainting spell may be induced by a mental shock, a sudden fright or some physical injury,
but when the body recuperates, the consciousness returns unchanged.
There are, then, a number of circumstances which may result in unconsciousness. They all have one
feature in common: they consist in changes in the instrument of consciousness rather than in the
consciousness itself. When the instrument of consciousness, the brain, the body, the mind, are restored
to normal the consciousness returns unchanged and resumes its former activity. In every instance, then,
unconsciousness was a withdrawal of consciousness, but it was not a destruction or annihilation of
consciousness. It was the passing of consciousness from the active, waking state that we are all familiar
with to some other apparently latent state, the nature of which we do not yet understand.
What might be the state of our consciousness during periods of so-called "unconsciousness"? There is a
great gap in our knowledge of other states of consciousness, but does such ignorance justify us in
saying that such other states of consciousness do not exist?
Dreams prove to us the existence of one such state, and who can say how many other similar or
different states there may be? We may not yet be able to prove the existence of other states, but neither
are we in a position to disprove them.
Death is usually preceded by a period of unconsciousness, sometimes very brief, other times lasting for
weeks or months. Sometimes death takes place during sleep. The unconsciousness of death, like that of
sleep or sickness, is induced by wear and tear or injury to the instrument, the body, brain, etc. So far,
then, the various processes are all alike: they all consist in a withdrawal of consciousness induced by
damage to the instrument. They differ only according to the degree of damage produced in the
instrument. If the damage can be repaired, the consciousness returns, but if the damage is beyond
repair, the consciousness does not return.
Is there anything to show that the unconsciousness of death is any different from the unconsciousness
of sickness or of sleep, except that it must be of longer duration? Sleep and sickness did not materially
alter the nature of the consciousness itself. Is there anything to show that death would alter the nature
of the consciousness any more than did sickness or sleep? Sleep and sickness did not annihilate the
consciousness. Is there any more proof that death would annihilate the consciousness?
The action of electricity in manifesting as light resembles that of consciousness acting through a human
body. The electric current will manifest as light in a bulb as long as the contacts are good and the
filament wires inside the bulb are perfect. If we unscrew the bulb we break the contacts and the light
goes out. If the filament is injured, the light also goes out. The power plant is still running, but the
current cannot flow over the broken circuit and the light does not manifest. If we jiggle the bulb we
may cause the filament wires to touch inside of the bulb and the light again appears. But a time comes
when the filament burns out completely, and this time no amount of jiggling will repair the bulb, which
now must be scrapped. This time we must have a new bulb if we want the light to reappear, but as soon
as the new bulb is provided the light manifests, showing that the source of the light was unaffected by
the injury or destruction of the bulb.
May it not be the same with the consciousness of man? When the body is healthy, the consciousness
manifests normally. In sleep we disconnect the consciousness from this plane the same as when we
unscrew the bulb, and the consciousness ceases to manifest. In sickness there is a bodily disorder that
shuts consciousness out the same as the broken filament shuts the light out. If health returns,
consciousness returns, as the light did with the repaired filament wires. At death the body is worn out
and consciousness again disappears, and this time can no longer return to the worn-out body any more
than the light to the burnt out bulb.
As in one case the electric energy remained unaffected by the destruction of the bulb, may not the
consciousness of man remain unaffected by the death of the body, as in fact we know that it does
remain unaffected by sickness and by sleep?
Is there any more reason to think that the consciousness has ceased to exist when the body is destroyed,
than there is to think that the electric energy is annihilated because the bulb is destroyed?

Matter and Energy Exist in Different States. Why Should Not Consciousness Do the Same?
By chemical action the appearance of substances may change so completely that the resulting product
in no way resembles the elements of which it is composed. For instance, chlorine is a yellowish,
greenish, poisonous gas. Sodium is a metallic substance resembling steel, but so soft that it can easily
be cut with a knife. When these two substances are combined chemically we have common table salt.
Hydrogen and oxygen are two invisible gases. A chemical combination of the two is water, a liquid.
The water can again be broken up and changed back into its two constituent gases.
Water can exist as an invisible vapor, as a colorless liquid, or as a solid block of ice. It can travel in the
atmosphere and produce rain; it forms our oceans and carries large ships; it forms our rivers and drives
power plants. It forms bridges over lakes and rivers, strong enough to carry heavy loads. Yet it is all the
same substance in different states, and it can easily be changed from one state into another and then
back again into the first.
Energy also exists in different states. It may be active or latent. Active electrical energy is changed in a
storage battery into chemical energy and can then be stored in a latent state for long periods of time.
When the proper circuit is formed, the chemical energy will be transformed back into active electrical
energy.
The water behind a dam represents the stored energy of the sun. It will remain inactive as long as it is
retained by the dam. If it is to be put to useful work, it must have a body through which it can be
transformed into an active state. The body in this case consists of the gate, penstock, turbine, generator,
etc., and finally the latent energy emerges as active energy: electricity.
A lump of coal represents solar energy which was stored thousands of years ago. This energy is latent,
inactive, but if the coal is allowed to burn, the stored energy is released as heat and this heat in its turn
can be utilized in driving a steam engine, thus producing mechanical energy.
An explosive such as dynamite is latent or stored energy which remains inactive until the explosion
takes place, when the energy changes into an active state.
If matter, then, does exist in different states such as solid, liquid and gaseous, as well as in numberless
chemical combinations, why should it not be possible for consciousness to exist in different states also?
If energy does exist under different forms such as mechanical, electrical, chemical energy, etc., and if it
sometimes remains dormant and stored for long periods as latent energy and at other times is active,
why should it not be possible for consciousness to change from a state of activity to latency and back to
activity again? In fact, is not this exactly what takes place in sleep? Our consciousness is changed into
a latent state, the nature of which we do not understand, but when the "proper circuit" is formed, it does
again change back into a waking state. Who knows how many states of consciousness there are which
differ from our waking state? The field is almost entirely unexplored. Why should there not be as many
states of consciousness as there are states of matter and of energy?
Is there anything unnatural, then, in interpreting death as simply a change in our state of consciousness?
The awakening from this state will be considered further on.

Matter and Energy Are Indestructible. Why Should Not Consciousness Be the Same?
What is mind? What are thoughts? What is consciousness? Some say by-products of matter, results of
chemical or physical activities in the brain. Others look upon the subject differently and see in
consciousness and mental activities primary functions which are accompanied by, or depend on,
various chemical or electrical activities in the brain which, as it were, furnish the necessary mechanism
through which consciousness acts when it functions on the material plane. Very little is known today
about consciousness and the methods through which it expresses itself, but one thing is certain:
consciousness and thought are realities of some kind, for consciousness can control and direct thought
and thought guides and determines actions. In other words, man's consciousness and his mind affect
and alter the material world about him, or mind has control over matter. Would it be reasonable to
assume that matter is endowed with indestructibility, but that consciousness is not? Scientific
investigations have shown that not the smallest amount of either matter or energy can be annihilated or
lost, despite all the changes they might undergo. Under these circumstances, would it not be reasonable
to draw the conclusion that, if matter and energy are indestructible, consciousness and mind must be
indestructible also, and that hence man's consciousness survives the transformation called death?
A Comparison of Values
Let us next consider the subject of survival in connection with a beneficent and omnipotent God.* It is
evident that, as far as this planet goes, man represents the highest form of life, and the most important
part of man is not the material part, but the mind and consciousness. The material part is simply the
tool of the consciousness. Does it seem likely that the great Intelligence which planned this Universe
would have bestowed the gift of indestructibility on matter and energy, which are the tools of
consciousness, and refused immortality to the consciousness itself, which is the highest part? It would
be as though a farmer would bestow greater care and solicitude for the soil of his farm than he would
for his own children. No normal human being would be guilty of such unbalanced judgment. He would
not lavish his best gifts on his cattle and withhold them from his family. How, then, can we expect
God* to do any less? If there is an intelligent plan back of this Universe and this plan includes
indestructibility for matter and energy, must it not also include indestructibility of consciousness or a
survival after death?

Life Must Have A Purpose


Next let us see how the idea of a purpose in life affects the problem of survival.
Assuming again that the purpose of life is the attainment of perfection, could this purpose be served if
death were the end of all?
Man ranges in development all the way from a brute savage to the highest intellectual type. There
would be no hope for the savage to attain the state of his more developed brothers if he were limited to
the span of a single life on earth. And is it not true that even the most highly developed man on earth
does not feel that he has attained perfection, but rather that his increased capacities have opened to him
new fields of discovery? He sees beyond his present state new horizons with greater possibilities which
he wants to explore. His work is not finished and even he needs more time.
Youth starts out in life with high ideals, hoping to accomplish great things and with faith that they can
be realized. But years pass and, even if he still clings to his ideals, yet these are far, far from being
attained. When man stands at the door of death, but few of his dreams have been realized. Tasks that he
began are left incomplete, arts that he tried to learn were never mastered. The great promises that life
held out before him have not been fulfilled and never will be if death is the end of all. Could it be
possible that the ideals and hopes of youth were false promises, promises that never could be, and
never were meant to be fulfilled? Then life would be a race in which prizes were offered, but the time
allowed much too short and no one would be able to finish the race. After running a few laps the
contestants drop by the wayside, overtaken by the infirmities of old age. Their hopes are shattered; the
visions of youth fade like mirages; death ends the futile effort and nothing is left but the body to furnish
food for worms. An endless army of new victims is put through the same treadmill, only to finish in the
same way. If this were true, life would be a ghastly farce. It would be as though a father promised his
children beautiful gifts in order to have them strive, but when the effort was made the gifts were
withdrawn. He made the conditions impossible, the rules of the game did not allow sufficient time. The
ideals were lies to spur the individual to a useless effort.
This hopeless picture would be true if death were the end of all; then life would have no meaning. But
is it possible that this great planet was condensed in space for no higher purpose than to furnish a stage
for the repetition of such a meaningless drama? Is it possible that the Intelligence which planned this
Universe with such marvelous skill in detail and in execution should have failed so completely in
furnishing an adequate purpose for its existence? No normal human being would waste his energy and
time in building an elaborate mechanism that had no purpose. A plan worthy of this Universe must
include the perfectibility of its parts, and this perfectibility calls for the necessary time for its
attainment. From the standpoint that life must have a meaning, man's consciousness must survive
death.

Summary
Summarizing our observations on survival after death, then, we find:
While there are no material proofs that consciousness survives death, neither are there material proofs
that it perishes at death. There is nothing to show that the unconsciousness of death is any different
from that due to sickness or sleep. Consciousness survives the gap of sleep and sickness; why should it
not survive death?
Matter and Energy exist in many different states and can be changed from one into another and back
again. Why should not consciousness do the same?
Energy is sometimes active, sometimes latent, and may change back and forth between these states.
Consciousness is sometimes active (waking), sometimes latent (sleep), and may change back and forth
between these states. We have nothing to show that death is not another latent state of consciousness.
Matter and Energy are indestructible; why should not consciousness be the same?
If God* bestowed indestructibility on matter and energy, could He have given anything less to
consciousness and mind?
If there is a purpose in life worthy of this great Universe; if man is to attain perfection, he must have
infinity before him to accomplish this task and this cannot be accomplished if consciousness is
annihilated at death.
While we do not understand the nature of the after-death state, there is nothing irrational or unnatural in
assuming that consciousness survives death. All the evidence enumerated above is in favor of such
survival.

EXISTENCE BEFORE BIRTH

That Which Is Indestructible Is Uncreatable


The doctrine of Reincarnation also includes the teaching that man has existed prior to his birth. Is there
anything unreasonable in this proposition?
If consciousness can exist without a physical body after death, it can just as well exist without a
physical body before birth.
If we use a straight stick to represent a line, we know that the stick itself is only a short section of a line
that extends infinitely in both directions. If we try to imagine that this line extends in one direction
only, we find ourselves unable to do so, for the idea that the line extends in the other direction also
forces itself on our mind, even against our will. What is infinite in one direction, must be infinite in the
opposite direction also.
If it is impossible to destroy or annihilate matter and energy, then it is equally impossible to create
them. If they are indestructible, this means that they must have existed throughout the eternities of the
past and that they will continue to exist throughout the eternities of the future. If consciousness is
governed by the same laws as matter and energy, it too is indestructible and could not have been
created, but must have existed from the infinitudes of the past and must endure throughout the
eternities of the future. It can change from state to state, but it can never be destroyed.
If death is a going to sleep from this state of consciousness, why is not birth an awakening from some
other state of consciousness?
Birth and death are doors through which the consciousness comes and goes. If the human
consciousness passes out into the unknown through the door of death, is it not equally possible that the
same human consciousness will some time in the future re-enter this world through the door of birth?
Is it not reasonable to see in the birth of a little child a return to our material world of a human
consciousness which left it at death of someone in the past? If birth is not such a return of a human
consciousness, then what is it? Where does the consciousness which unfolds itself in the growing child
come from? It could not have been "created out of nothing." Nature does not do this in other fields.

Repetition -- Nature's Working Method


What is more logical than to assume a birth to be the return of a human entity to earth, to take up again
its unfinished tasks of long ago? If consciousness has entered this life through the door of birth and left
it through the door of death, there is no reason why it could not have done the same many times in the
past or why it cannot repeat the same cycle many times again in the future. Why should this be the one
and only time?
All through nature we see an ebb and flow, a period of activity followed by a period of rest, repeated
again and again. We spend our day in activity, then rest and recuperate in sleep. The tree sends forth its
leaves and blossoms and bears its fruit. Then it rests, only to repeat the cycle the next year.
If it is the purpose of Nature, as it seems to be, to develop something higher and more perfect from
something inferior, this method of repetition is undoubtedly the most effective one, for what has been
done once can easily be done again, and each time there is opportunity for a little improvement.
Man recognizes the value of repetition. He applies it in the schools, in manufacturing, in fact
everywhere. No workman becomes skilled who has not performed the same operation many times.
Everyone will readily admit the truth of the maxim, "Practice makes Perfect."
If attainment of perfection is the object of life, then what better method to attain this purpose could be
chosen than a repetition of our life here on earth, until we have learned our lessons and attained the
goal?

We Reap in the Same Field as we Sowed


We have seen that pre-existence and survival are necessary to demonstrate the rule of justice in our
lives. If the inequalities of birth are due to actions of the individual in the past, then, when and where
did he perform these acts? If the acts of this life, which do not bring their due reward or punishment,
are to be balanced in some future existence, then when and where is this balancing to be done?
In order that justice may be the most perfectly balanced, naturally the balancing should be done under
circumstances as near as possible duplicating those under which the act was performed in the first
place. And where can these conditions be better duplicated than right here on earth? If we sow a seed in
one field, we do not go to another field and reap the harvest; we reap it where the seed was sown. And
if we perform an act here on earth, is it not here on earth that we should expect that act to be balanced?
We know that justice balances some of our acts right here on earth and during this life in which the
cause was sown.
If it is in Nature's plan that some of our acts are to be balanced right here on earth, then why should not
all of our acts be balanced right here? Is there anything reasonable in the assumption that some of our
actions must be balanced in a heaven or a hell, when other acts of a similar nature are balanced right
here on earth, and all of them could be similarly balanced in a future life on earth?
If we were "sent to school" here on earth for one "day," one human life, and did not finish our lesson,
where should we be sent to continue our studies, if not back to the same school from which we failed to
graduate? In our ordinary education we do not attend one school today and another tomorrow, for this
would be wasteful of effort. We attend the same school until we have mastered all that this school can
teach us. Is it likely that the Intelligence which planned this Universe would have formulated a less
effective plan?
Is there a more logical explanation than to look upon the life of a human being as a period of training
and experience for a human soul on its journey towards perfection? As one such period is insufficient
to attain the goal, it will be followed by other lives in other human bodies right here on earth, when
more experience will be gained. Between each one of these earth lives there will be a period for rest
and assimilation. As these earth lives will be repeated in the future, so have they also been repeated in
the past.
The idea of an existence before birth is less familiar to the western mind than that of an existence after
death, but one is just as reasonable as the other. There should be no difficulty for one who accepts the
idea of survival also to accept the idea of pre-existence for the arguments which support one support
the other.

DELAYED EFFECTS
The explanation of justice offered by the doctrine of Reincarnation further includes the idea that an
effect does not always follow immediately upon its cause; sometimes there may be a long delay
between the two. Is there anything unreasonable in this?

Physical Effects Are Frequently Delayed


We know that during our present earth life effects do not always follow immediately upon their cause.
Dissipation in youth often does not bring its full effect until old age is reached.
In the material world an effect sometimes follows immediately upon its cause as when a stone is
thrown in the air it falls to the ground where it strikes with an effect which depends on the height to
which it was thrown. Other times the effect may be delayed. Suppose, for instance, that the stone
landed on the top of a building where it remained for years, perhaps even centuries, before it was
pushed over the edge and allowed to resume its fall. When it finally did hit the ground, its striking
effect was the same as it would have been if it had fallen at once. The effect was delayed, but not
changed.
If physical effects can be thus delayed without being changed or lost, is it not reasonable to assume that
the effects of man's thoughts and acts may be similarly delayed and held in some sort of invisible
storage, the nature of which we do not yet understand? The fact that we see no immediate effect, then,
is no sign that this effect will not follow later.

Touching the Trigger


Gunpowder is a combination of chemicals which contain energy in a stored or latent state. The powder
is of course visible, but the stored energy is not visible, yet we know it is there, and in some way
associated with the chemicals.
Let us suppose, for the sake of illustration, that we have an old muzzle loader standing in some corner
with the trigger cocked. Each day we put a few grains of powder in it, but nothing happens. Then one
day someone brushes against the trigger, and the charge goes off. The stored, invisible energy grew in
proportion as the powder charge increased, but no explosion took place until the trigger was touched.
No one would have known by looking at the gun whether it contained a large or small charge or
perhaps no charge at all, but when the explosion took place, its force was great or small in exact
proportion to the quantity of the charge. The energy changed suddenly when the proper conditions were
provided, from a latent and invisible state to an active and visible one. The touch on the trigger did not
determine the strength of the explosion. It was only the means of releasing an accumulation of energy
already existing. The energy had been accumulated long before, when the powder was made and later
placed in the gun.
If such storing and releasing of energy can take place on the material plane, may it not be possible that
the effects of man's thoughts and acts are similarly stored and released? We know nothing about the
"mental gunpowder" that a thought may produce and we know nothing about the type of mental gun in
which it may be stored, but we do know that thought is an energy of some kind and therefore must have
some sort of an effect. The same reasoning applies also to man's acts. The effect of these may be
delayed, but they, too, represent the expenditure of some kind of energy, and hence must have some
kind of an effect. How do we know but what this effect may be stored as some kind of latent energy or
powder in some sort of gun in a corner of man's invisible nature? How do we know but what some
thought or act or outward circumstance may be the touch on the trigger that sets off the charge? How,
otherwise, are we to explain the varied effects, sometimes slight, sometimes serious, that often follow
such insignificant events as those illustrated below?
We slip on the sidewalk and fall; it may result in a slight bruise or it may be a skull fracture, and
perhaps death. Our watch is slow and we miss a train and have to wait for the next one. One of the
trains is wrecked and all on board are injured or killed. The slow watch might have saved our life or
caused our death. A little scratch on the finger may heal in a couple of days, or it may lead to blood-
poisoning. An innocent cold may pass off quickly or lead to pneumonia and perhaps death.
Why do such insignificant causes sometimes pass off so lightly and other times produce such far-
reaching effects? If there is law and order in Nature, the effect should always be proportionate to its
cause, and as there must be law, the difference in effect must be due to other and now invisible causes.
Would not these great differences in effect be easier to explain if we looked upon the scratch on the
finger, the slow watch, etc., as only the touch on the trigger and the variation in effect as due to the
accumulation of powder in the gun? If there were no accumulation of powder, no effect would follow.
May it not be that the chance-events --the accidents in human life -- are the discharges of latent
accumulations of energy which we ourselves stored up in the past? They may be either good or bad,
favorable or unfavorable, but in either case they are the effects of our own repeated thoughts and acts.

Summary
If, then, in the material world effects may be long delayed, yet in the end produce the same result as if
the effect had been immediate, as in the case of the stone, and if energy can be stored for long periods
in invisible states as in the case of gunpowder -- why is it not just as reasonable to assume that the
effects of man's thoughts and acts may be delayed and accumulated in some invisible state until
circumstances permit them to express themselves; and why should not the effects, when they do appear,
be exactly the same as if they had taken place immediately?
Certainly the last proposition, which we assume to be true, is just as reasonable as the first proposition,
which we know to be true.

IS REINCARNATION TRUE?

What Is Proof?
How are we to judge the truth of any doctrine which deals with life after death and before birth?
The theory of the materialist that the death of the body is the end of all, the doctrine of heaven and hell
and other religious beliefs of this nature, are alike in that they can neither be proved nor disproved by
any material tests.
Man has not yet learned to look beyond birth and death and hence is unable to ascertain what takes
place there by direct observation. Evidently, then, the only test man can apply to problems of this
nature is that of logic and reason.
In courts of law, proof is defined as "a preponderance of evidence that brings conviction to the mind."
If we are to judge Reincarnation on this basis the evidence in its favor would be its ability to answer the
questions and solve the problems of life in accordance with reason and logic. If Reincarnation does this
better than other theories of life, and if we are willing to approach the subject in the scientific attitude
of the open mind, we should be ready to accept it. The only valid reason for rejecting it would be the
appearance of a more logical doctrine.
Let us therefore test Reincarnation as we would any other theory, by checking it against the problems
of life, and let it stand or fall on its ability to solve these problems.
Survival of consciousness after death is in harmony with the indestructibility of matter and energy
which exists in Nature.
Existence of consciousness before birth harmonizes with the idea that what is indestructible could not
have been created. Like matter and energy, it must have pre-existed in some state.
The delay between cause and effect, which often occurs in Nature, makes it easy to accept the idea that
similar delays may occur in human life.

Reincarnation Explains
If we have a healthy body now, it means that we lived clean and wholesome lives in the past. If we
have a sickly body, the opposite was the case. If we live contrary to the rules of health now but still
enjoy good health, the effect of this indulgence will show in disease in future lives, starting perhaps in
infancy.
If we are born in favorable circumstances in life, it is a sign that we provided favorable circumstances
for those born to us in past lives, and if we are born in wretched conditions, the opposite was true.
If we are born with talents and "natural gifts," it is because we cultivated these "gifts" in the past.
If we are born with handicaps, shortcomings, and warped tendencies, it is because in past lives we
permitted such weeds to grow in our character.
If a person works hard, but does not get ahead financially and perhaps loses all his possessions, he is
paying back some old debt he had contracted in a past life. If fortune comes to him unearned, it is the
pay for something done in the past which did not bring its due reward at that time.
If we act for good or ill, but appropriate effects do not follow immediately, the effect is not lost but will
come later in this life or in a future incarnation.
If our way through life is made easier by the help and encouragement of others, it is because we gave
such assistance to others in the past, and similarly, if we are the victims of dishonesty and fraud, it is
the balancing of some wrongdoing of ours in the past.
If we are unjustly accused or our efforts misunderstood, it is because of some similar injustice done by
ourselves to others in the past.
If we, by our wrongdoing, cause injury to others, but seem to escape the consequences of our act, some
time, somewhere, we shall be the victims of similar circumstances at the hands of someone else.
Accidents and other chance-events that affect our lives and seemingly come to us without any cause,
are the delayed effects of our own acts in former incarnations.
Those who believe in a personal God as a father loving his children, have always found it difficult to
explain the injustice and unmerited suffering in the world. Reincarnation removes this difficulty. It
shows that this suffering is not meted out by a capricious God, who wills that some shall suffer while
others live in happiness. It shows that all our suffering and all our misery are of our own making. We
ourselves violated the laws of harmony in the past, and Nature reacts accordingly. This thought is a
most helpful one, for it removes the sting of injustice from our suffering. Hardships are easier to bear
when we know that they are not imposed upon us by someone else, but are of our own making. We
have to go through with this suffering now, but it is also a help to know that no suffering can come to
us which does not belong to us and that, when the cause has been exhausted, this account is closed and
there will be no more suffering from that source unless we again repeat the cause. Our future destiny is
in our own hands. Our present thoughts and acts are seeds sown in our character and their nature will
determine the harvest which the future will bring us.
The doctrine of Reincarnation adds dignity and responsibility to life, for it shows us that we are the
makers of our own future. It also makes us more understanding and charitable and sympathetic with
those who suffer. We may have much greater debts to pay off than they are now paying, so we are in no
position to pass judgment on them or condemn them. It may be our turn next.
If the purpose of life is to attain perfection, one earth life is utterly inadequate to reach that goal. The
visions of youth would be false promises, impossible of realization, if we were limited to one earth life
alone. A life span of 70 years cannot take us far on the journey to perfection.
But Reincarnation explains how the needed time is provided. Nature's working method of repetition,
when applied to man, takes the form of repeated existences in human bodies here on earth, and so we
shall return here again and again in the future as we have already lived here numberless lives in the
past. The possibilities for our growth and unfoldment are infinite. Each earth life will take us one step
nearer the goal of perfection. As a child returns day after day and passes from one grade to another in
the same school until he has mastered all that this school has to teach, so man returns life after life to
this earth, this school of experience, until he has reached the highest state of perfection that can be
attained here on earth.
We shall have new opportunities to develop those qualities which we only began cultivating in this life.
Unfulfilled aspirations, unfinished tasks, hopes and dreams that never were realized, all these will have
opportunities for fulfillment in future incarnations.
Those who missed their chance in this life, and those who committed wrongs that they now regret, will
have another chance, and many other chances to make good in future lives on earth.
The Bank of Life
Our work, our effort, our contribution to life, may be compared to capital deposited in a bank.
The more we put in of constructive work, the greater will be the credit side of our balance in this Bank
of Life. If we do not render service, but seek to live off the work of others, we are not putting capital
into this bank -- we are taking it out. The balance in the bank is in exact accord with our deposits less
our withdrawals.
If it is possible for us to continue drawing benefits from this bank without depositing, it is an indication
that in past lives we rendered service for which we did not then collect. We are now collecting the
reward for that past service, but when that past service has been exhausted, there will be nothing more
to collect. When this point is reached, we meet one of these inexplicable reverses or misfortunes that
come to us by chance and that seem so puzzling to us. These reverses are the notices from the bank that
our cash balance is gone, and that if we want to draw any more benefits we must now deposit new
capital.
It may be possible that our position in the world is so well established that, even after we have
withdrawn all our capital from this Bank of Life, our position of power still enables us to exact a living
from others. In that case we are actually running into debt and are now borrowing capital from the
bank. In a future life this capital has to be repaid and a new cash balance started before we can begin to
draw any benefit from our efforts.
By the light of Reincarnation we can readily see how these readjustments can be made. We may hold
the most trumps in this life, but in each new incarnation there is a reshuffling of the cards and a new
deal, and the trumps pass into other hands. At the new birth we are drawn by psycho-magnetic
attraction to those parents who can give us the circumstances most like those that we have earned for
ourselves.
In the new birth that follows we are no longer in a position of power. This time we will find ourselves
the victims of others who will now live off our labors. But we should not complain, for in reality we are
only returning our loan to the Bank of Life.
If we look about us in life, do we not see illustrations of this? How much greater is the number of those
who labor and get little in return than the few who prosper! Is not this what should be expected, for do
not the majority seek to get a living with the least effort? If they do so in this life, is it not reasonable to
suppose that they did the same in past lives also? And in that case, what is more natural than that the
majority should now find themselves engaged in paying off old debts?
Once we become convinced of the truth of Reincarnation we will not feel at ease if we are constantly
drawing on our bank account. We will take considerable more interest in doing and giving than we will
in getting, for we know that the latter will take care of itself, if we take care of the former.
We have in Reincarnation, then, a theory capable of explaining life on the basis of justice; a theory
which shows that human acts are subject to the same Law of Cause and Effect that operates everywhere
else in Nature.

BENEFICIAL EFFECTS
Next let us see what would be the effect on the individual, and hence on the world, of a firm faith that
justice and law govern all affairs of life. How will we act if we know positively that we shall reap what
we sow, no more, no less; that if we sow good seed we reap accordingly, and if we sow evil we gather
evil fruit; that action and reaction are equal and opposite and in the end must balance?
Suppose that a young man, who starts out in life with high ideals, has an assurance that these ideals
have a philosophical basis -- that they are actually founded on Nature's laws. He would know that, in
spite of all appearances to the contrary, his efforts at right action will bring results, and this knowledge
would give him added strength to lead a noble life.
A selfish man with a lower standard of action would be strongly affected by the knowledge that he
would have to reap his own sowing. He would know that he could never get "something for nothing"
and that lasting benefits can only be obtained as the result of honest and productive work. The fact that
it is possible to make gains by dishonest means would not constitute a temptation to him, for he would
also know that if he practiced fraud on others he would eventually lose what he had gained by fraud.
Under such circumstances, there would be nothing gained by dishonesty and for his own self-protection
he would avoid storing up trouble that he would have to reap in the future.
Would not even the criminal lose interest in his "profession" when he came to realize that there is a
higher law of justice that he cannot "beat," but which will catch up with him in the end and return to
him each and every one of his acts as the pendulum returns the impulse given to it? Would he not
realize that, when he had to make full restitution for all his acts, and experience the same suffering he
caused others, there would be no advantage in criminal action and nothing to be gained from it? Would
he not then scrupulously avoid anything that might approach fraud and shun it as he would the fire?
No financier would want to live off the labors of others after he realized that in the course of time he
would have to render full return for all his undue gain.
No politician would betray his trust if he knew that he himself would become the victim of a similar
betrayal in the future.
No dictator would plunge the world into war if he knew that he himself would have to experience the
suffering he brought down on others.
It would be useless for us to try to shirk unpleasant or trying circumstances which life may place in our
path. If justice rules, we brought those experiences on ourselves and we would be wiser if we faced
them bravely rather than tried to evade them. If they do not belong to us the situation will soon clear
up; and if they really are ours, no amount of shirking or sidestepping can remove them from our path. If
we succeed in evading them now, they will turn up in some other way later on; so why not face them at
once and be done with them?
The suicide may think that his act will solve his problem and free him from an unhappy situation, but
he has only postponed the settlement to some future life, when he will again be compelled to face the
same problem and solve it. By his act of violence he has deprived himself of all opportunity for growth
and development in this life. He has interfered with the orderly working methods of Nature and thereby
forced his consciousness out of physical life into another state of existence for which Nature has not yet
prepared it, and here it must suffer the consequences of such unpreparedness.
When our minds grasp the idea that we shall reap what we sow, it becomes at once evident that it is not
only unwise but downright stupid to seek gain by wrongdoing, and only the mentally deficient, those
incapable of the simplest reasoning, would still try to get "something for nothing."
When we defraud others, we take on credit from the Bank of Life and set the stage for our own
defrauding in the future.
Compare this with the honest method of making the same gain. In this case we earn the right to our
gain by work and effort in the first place. We then pay cash, and there is no debt hanging over us to be
collected in the future.
Is not a realization, then, that Justice rules in all our affairs a most powerful incentive to right action
and a means for bringing harmony into the world? It strengthens the man of moral tendencies and gives
him faith that right action will bring its due reward in time. It is a stop signal to the selfish man and the
criminal, for it shows them that wrongdoing results in future grief. It appeals to the better side of the
noble man as well as to the self-interest of the selfish man. It strikes at the tap-root of all wrong-doing
by showing that selfishness is self-defeating and that our own self-interest as well as our better
impulses both call for altruistic action.
We have noted the effect on the individual of a faith in justice. The effect on the individual will
eventually make itself felt by the Nation, and in time Nations would be guided in their actions by
principles of justice. No Nation would then oppress or enslave another Nation, but each would work for
the common good of all, each Nation contributing according to its own innate characteristics, to a more
harmonious and grander civilization of the future.

ARE ETHICAL TEACHINGS PRACTICAL?


Ethical teachings appeal to men to be honest and upright, to fulfill all duties conscientiously, to think
more of the welfare of others than of one's own, to give rather than take, to "cast thy bread upon the
waters," to "love they neighbor as thyself"; in brief, to practice brotherhood. It is generally agreed that
if these teachings were applied in practice, this earth would become a paradise compared to what it is
today, yet few people apply these principles or do it only to a limited extent, evidently because the one
who practices them is put to a disadvantage unless they are applied by others also, and therefore they
are usually put aside as being impractical.
If a body of teachings which admittedly would benefit mankind is considered impractical, either these
teachings must be intrinsically false or there is something lacking in their presentation which would
show them to be practical.
As already pointed out, ethical teachings urge men to practice brotherhood. If we were to choose a
single one as typical of all the rest, we could probably not find a more all-inclusive one than the Golden
Rule: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them"
(Matt. vii, 12), or as usually worded: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
There is another version of the Golden Rule given by Confucius: "Do not do unto others what you
would not have others do unto you." The former is an injunction to practice Brotherhood, the latter is
an injunction to avoid injuring others, but in neither case is any reason given why such action is
recommended.
What is it we want others to do unto us, and what is it we want others to refrain from doing? We
naturally want others to act in a way that will benefit us and avoid doing us harm. The Golden Rule
simply instructs us to use this as a rule for our own conduct and drops the matter there.
If our lives are governed by chance and our actions may or may not bring their appropriate effects, then
the Golden Rule is not practical, for by applying it we would only play into the hands of any selfish
individual who might choose to take advantage of us. If, on the other hand, our lives are governed by
justice and we reap what we sow, then the Golden Rule is not only practical; it is plain, hardboiled
common sense. If we reap what we sow, it is certainly plain common sense to sow good seeds, to
practice Brotherhood, for the effect of this will return to us in the course of time; and it is likewise plain
common sense to avoid injuring others, for such injury will also return to us.
The Golden Rule does not speak of the reward that will follow from its application. It does not mention
the harvest; it speaks only of the sowing. It says: "Sow good seeds, avoid sowing tares," and leaves the
matter there, but we can see the wisdom of this advice if our acts are governed by the law of cause and
effect, for in this case all we need to do is to take care of the sowing; the law of cause and effect will
take care of the result.
Although the Golden Rule makes no reference to the law of cause and effect, yet when we consider it
in its relation to this law, it may be noted that it is in full harmony with it and might, indeed, be looked
upon as advising men to apply it for their own benefit.
Before we can demonstrate that the Golden Rule and other ethical teachings are practical, however, it is
necessary to prove that human actions are governed by the law of cause and effect and that we shall
reap what we sow.

SUMMARY
If JUSTICE rules our lives we shall reap what we sow.
It follows that we shall benefit by sowing good seed that we shall suffer by sowing evil seed.
A knowledge that justice rules will be a strong force influencing men to right action, thereby gradually
eliminating the suffering and misery which result from wrongdoing.
Faith in justice cannot be established unless we can show how justice operates.
The chief difficulty in accepting the law of Cause and Effect as governing human actions has been the
injustice apparent in human life.
This injustice cannot be denied if we accept the theory of a single life on earth, but it can easily be
shown to be actual justice and in harmony with the Law of Cause and Effect if we accept the idea of
repeated lives here on earth.
The doctrine of Reincarnation, then, solves the problem of injustice.
If we accept the idea of an orderly Universe, governed by Law and justice, then Reincarnation becomes
a logical necessity.