None who is observant of common human experience, especially that of suffering, can deny at least the existence of the cruelest injustice in human affairs. No thoughtful individual can long be blind to the inequalities of health and opportunity under which children are seemingly innocently and helplessly born. In this, as in so much else, one must accept the existence of inequality.
One person is born a prince, while another is born a pauper. One is strong while another is a weakling. One is handsome and attractive, while another is ugly and repulsive. One is saintly while another is satanic. One lives up to a hundred years, while another faces death in the prime of life or even in infancy. One rolls in luxury throughout one’s life, while the other drags on a miserable existence from the womb to the tomb. One is loved by all while another is hated by millions. One meets with a happy and natural death surrounded by one’s near and dear ones who bestow all love and care on that person, while another dies, despised as a criminal on the scaffold. The whole nation mourns the death of one person, while another dies unknown, unwept, unhonored and unsung. One baby has a perfect physique, while another is sadly deformed at birth. One child easily becomes an adept artist or a gifted musician with very little training, whereas in some aristocratic families, we find that in spite of tremendous effort of highly qualified teachers and hard work on the part of the youngster himself, he is hardly able to make any progress in learning. There are also child prodigies with no background of training and experience, who display enormous talent, without any hereditary factor.
Out of two children born of the same parents and brought up under the same environments, one turns out to be a brilliant scholar with fine manners and the other becomes a dull-witted, good-for-nothing vagabond for no apparent reason.
Why all this disparity? What could be the cause?
There can never be undeserved human suffering. Every experience is the product of preceding action by the individual to whom the experience comes, whether that action was performed in the present life or some past life. The conditions of human life, whether of health, happiness, capacity and opportunity, or of disease, sorrow, weakness and limitation, are the results of the operation of the Law of Karma. They are reaping from past sowing. As we sow, so we reap.
Combined together, the doctrines of reincarnation and karma provide a solution to the problem of inequalities of human birth and opportunity, child prodigies and people with past life memories, consistent with logic and justice. The divergences and differences in physical and mental condition and capacity and the varied environments into which we are born and in which we live, are the direct results of our own preceding conduct.
Each one gets what one has asked for, by one’s own thoughts, speech and actions. We ourselves have prepared the blueprint for the present life. The past has decided the present.
Life can be understood only on the assumption that each existence is bearing the penalty or enjoying the fruits, of vice or virtue, earned to our debit or credit in some former period or prior existence and that is the only logical explanation for the disparity between man and man, his environments and his experiences. No deed small or great, good or bad can be without effect: this is the Law of Karma; the Law of Deed, the Law of Causality, Compensation and Retribution, in the spiritual world.
If it is conceded that the present is the effect of the cause that was the past, it necessarily follows by the same logic, that the past and the present together decided the future. The past has already been lived and therefore cannot be unlived, but the effect can be exhausted without accumulating further causes which may produce undesirable effects in the future.
The Law of Karma says: “As you sow, so you reap.” Then there must have been a period when the seed was sown, even before this existence started as the very present existence starts with the disparities mentioned above.
Life is governed by a system of cause and effect. It is a universal law, like the law of gravity. These laws are impartial. There are no exceptions or exemptions.
Our karma-s are the blueprint that determines the kind of body, family and environment we have. They determine our birth in an environment that is tailor-made for the exhaustion of the fruits of our karma-s.
Action is like a seed that grows into a sapling, plant, tree and bear fruits accordingly. A mango seed will grow mango tree and will give mangoes. It will yield no other fruit but mango. It cannot become a guava tree. So also seeds of bitter gourd will yield bitter gourd and not any sweet fruit. Similarly, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. A negative action will only result in grief and sorrow; it cannot give happiness. If we want fruits of happiness, we must sow seeds of happiness.
Only humans are gifted with choice of action. Every action leaves a distinct footprint on our personality. Irrespective of our past, we can sculpt a brilliant future by consistently choosing positive thought, speech and action in the direction of our goal.
The two doctrines of reincarnation and karma are thus found to provide a completely satisfying philosophy of life. They answer otherwise insoluble problems and perplexities. Rightly understood and intelligently applied, they also provide a strong incentive to self-discipline and an infallible guide to the attainment of health, happiness and liberation from the wheel of birth and death, with all its miseries and to the discovery of the sure path leading to the fulfillment of life.
Action performed free of selfish desire and with no anxiety for its fruit, does not create karmic bondage. So, continue good selfless action without anxiety. Then the action will be perfect.