WHEN MEN DECLARE that great injustice lies in the unequal circumstances into which children are born, they do not know what they are saying.
One person persistently affirms: “How, if justice exists, can it happen that a child is born burdened with a hereditary disease? The innocent child must be helping to bear the sins of its parents!” Another declares: “One child is born in rich circumstances, the other in misery and bitter poverty.
How then can one believe in justice!” Or again: “Granted that the parents deserve punishment, but it is not fair that this should happen through the illness and death of a child.
That means that the innocent child must suffer!” These and similar assertions circulate among men by the thousand.
Even serious seekers sometimes rack their brains over it.
The simple statement that “the inscrutable ways of God are all for the best” does not dispose of the urge to find the answer to the “why”.
He who is supposed to be satisfied with such a statement must either dumbly acquiesce or immediately suppress every questioning thought as wrong.
That is not what is intended!
Through questioning one finds the right way.
Apathy or forced suppression are reminiscent only of slavery.
God, however, does not want slaves!
He does not want apathetic subjection, but a free, cognizant looking upwards!
His wonderful and wise dispositions do not require to be enveloped in mystic darkness.
They can only gain in their sublime, inviolable greatness and perfection when they lie exposed before us.
Immutable and incorruptible, with even deliberation and certainty, they unceasingly carry on their eternal activity.
They take no heed either of man’s grumbling or of his acknowledgement, nor do they consider his ignorance, but they return to each individual with minutest accuracy the ripened fruits of the seeds he has sown.
“The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine” is a common saying that so aptly describes this weaving of the inexorable reciprocal action in the whole Creation, the immutable laws of which bear and carry out Divine Justice.
It trickles, flows, streams and pours over all mankind whether they wish it or not, whether they yield to it or rebel against it.
They must accept it as just punishment and forgiveness, or as a reward when they are uplifted!
If a grumbler or doubter could but once catch a glimpse of the transcendental surging and weaving carried and pervaded by the inexorable Spirit, which penetrates and embraces the whole Creation, in which Creation rests, and which in itself is part of this Creation, a living never-ceasing loom of God, he would immediately be shamed into silence and realize with horror the presumption contained in his words!
The serene grandeur and infallibility that he would see there would force him apologetically into the dust.
How small he imagined his God to be!
And what sublime magnitude he finds in His works!
He will then realize that his highest earthly conceptions are nothing but an attempt to belittle God and depreciate the perfection of His great work, through his futile efforts to compress it into the narrow confines brought about by the over-cultivation of the intellect, which can never rise above time and space.
Man must never forget that he stands in the work of God, that he himself is part of this work, and thus unconditionally subject to its laws!
The work, however, not only embraces things visible to the physical eye but also the Ethereal World, in which the greatest part of man’s actual existence and activity takes place.
His occasional lives on earth are only small sections of it, nevertheless always great turning points.
Birth on earth only forms the beginning of a special section in a man’s entire existence, but not the beginning of man himself.
When man as such starts out on his course in Creation he stands free, without any threads of fate attached to him.
These emanate from him later through his volition and proceed into the Ethereal World.
On their way they are continually strengthened through the power of attraction of similar species, they cross and interweave with others, and react upon their originator, with whom they had remained connected, thus bringing about fate or karma.
When certain threads return at the same time their effects intermingle, with the result that the originally sharp and distinct colors of the threads take on other shades and produce new combined pictures.*
Each thread serves as a channel for the reactions until the originator no longer provides an anchorage for similar species in his inner being, i.e., when he himself no longer maintains this channel in good condition.
Then these threads can no longer retain a foothold, cannot attach themselves to him, and must wither and fall away, regardless of whether they are good or evil.
Thus every thread of fate is ethereally formed through an act of will in making a decision to take some action.
This leaves its author and yet remains anchored to him, thus forming a secure path to homogeneous species, bringing them reinforcement and receiving from them in return added strength which flows back to the starting point.
In this happening lies the help which has been promised to those who strive towards the good, or it contains the condition that “evil must continue to give birth to evil”.**
The reactions of these existing threads, to which he adds new threads daily, constitute the fate every man has created for himself and to which he must submit.
* Lecture II–22: “Man and his free will”
* Lecture II–2: “Fate”
All arbitrariness, and therefore all injustice, are thus precluded.
The karma which a man bears with him and which seems one-sided predestination is, in reality, the inevitable result of his past, in so far as it has not yet been redeemed through reciprocal action.
The actual beginning of man’s existence is always good and so also is the end for many; with the exception of those who have become lost of their own accord, when through their decisions they first stretched out their hands to evil, which then completely dragged them down into perdition.
The vicissitudes in man’s existence only occur in the between time, in the period of inner growth and maturing.
Thus man always shapes his future life himself!
He provides the threads and thereby decides the color and design of the garment which is woven for him in the loom of God through the Law of Reciprocal Action.
The causes working to determine the conditions into which a soul is born often lie far back, just as they determine the period under the influence of which the child will enter the physical world, so that during its earthly pilgrimage these conditions may continually influence it and achieve what this particular soul needs for its redemption, molding, casting off karma, and further development.
But this does not happen in a one-sided manner for the child only, but the threads spin on automatically so that the reciprocal action is also felt in the earthly surroundings.
The parents give the child just what it needs for its further development, just as vice versa the child gives to its parents, be it good or evil.
For further development and advancement it is of course necessary in this connection to become free from an evil by personally experiencing it, whereby it will be recognized for what it is and cast off.
It is the reciprocal action which always brings about the opportunity for this.
Without the operation of this law man could never become really free from anything that has happened to him.
Thus the Laws of Reciprocal Action hold as a great gift of mercy the road to freedom or ascent!
Therefore there can be no question of any punishment.
Punishment is a wrong expression, for in these laws lies the greatest love – the hand of the Creator stretched out towards forgiveness and liberation!
The coming of man to earth comprises procreation, incarnation and birth.
Incarnation is the actual entrance of the human being into earthly existence.*
A thousand fold are the threads that co-operate to determine an incarnation.
But in these happenings, as always in Creation, the most scrupulous and absolute justice prevails and contributes to the advancement of all concerned.
Therefore the birth of a child is far more important and valuable than is generally accepted.
For its entrance into the physical world holds a new and special act of grace of the Creator, not only for the child but at the same time for its parents, even for its brothers and sisters if it has any, and for others who come in contact with it, in that they thereby all get a further opportunity to progress in some way.
Through the necessary nursing during an illness, through heavy worries or misery, an opportunity may be offered to the parents to advance spiritually, be it the simple means to achieve some aim, the actual discharge of an old debt, or perhaps even a pre-redemptive measure against some threatening karma.
With a person who has already begun to will what is good it very often happens that, through his voluntary decision to devote himself to nursing his own or some other child, a serious illness which was to have afflicted him as karma, according to the Law of Reciprocal Action, will mercifully be pre-redeemed in consequence of his good volition.
A real redemption can only ensue in the intuitive perception, in the full experience.
* Lecture II–3: “The creation of man”
A genuinely devoted nursing often brings an even deeper experience than that of one’s own illness.
There is deeper anxiety and pain during the illness of a child or of one who is really considered a loved one.
And the joy at his recovery is equally great.
The deep intensity of this experience stamps its imprint so firmly on the intuitive perception, on the spiritual man, that it helps to change him, and in this process the threads of fate that would otherwise still have struck him are cut off.
Through their severance or falling away the threads rebound like stretched elastic in the opposite direction, to the homogeneous ethereal centers, the power of attraction henceforth pulling them from one side only.
Thereby all further influence on the reformed human being is out of the question, because the connecting link is missing.
Thus, if a person will freely and willingly take upon himself some duty towards another out of pure love, there are thousands of ways of achieving redemption in this manner!
In His parables Jesus has given the best examples.
In the Sermon on the Mount and in all His other sayings He has clearly pointed out the good results of such practices. In so doing He always spoke of “thy neighbor”, thus pointing out the best, the simplest and truest way towards redemption of karma and towards ascent.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself” He charged, thus giving the key to the gate leading to all ascent!
It need not always involve a case of illness.
The necessary care and education of children quite naturally offer so many opportunities that they embrace in themselves all that comes into consideration to free a man from his karma. For this reason children are a blessing, no matter how they are born and developed.
What applies to parents applies equally to brothers and sisters and to all who have a lot to do with children. They also have opportunities to profit by this newcomer, be it only through striving to cast aside bad habits or similar things, by practicing patience and giving careful help of different kinds.
The child itself, however, is no less helped.
Birth gives each individual the possibility to advance a mighty step upwards.
If this does not happen it is the fault of the individual himself, because he did not want it.
Hence every birth should be regarded as a benevolent and impartially distributed gift of God. Those who, being childless, adopt a strange child will be no less blessed, indeed the blessing will be all the greater on account of the adoption, provided that it is done for the child’s sake and not for personal satisfaction.
In an ordinary incarnation the power of attraction of what is spiritually homogeneous plays a leading role together with reciprocal action.
Qualities regarded as inherited are not really inherited, but are merely due to this power of attraction.
Nothing spiritual is inherited from mother or father, for the child is as distinct a being as is each of the parents.
It is only that the child has similar qualities through which it felt attracted to them.
But it is not only this power of attraction of the homogeneous that is decisive in an incarnation; other existing threads of fate, to which the soul to be incarnated is bound, also play a part.
Perhaps they are in some way connected with a member of the family into which it is led.
All this contributes, attracts and finally causes the soul to incarnate.
The case is different where a soul volunteers to undertake a mission, either to help some particular persons or to engage with others in some benevolent work for all mankind.
Out of its own free will that soul then accepts in advance all that will happen to it on earth, so that here also there is no question of injustice.
If all has been done in self-sacrificing love without thought of any reward, the reward must come as a result of reciprocal action.
Into families with hereditary diseases souls will be incarnated which, through the reciprocal action, need these diseases for redemption, for purification, or for advancement.
The guiding and supporting threads do not allow a wrong and thus unjust incarnation to take place.
They exclude the possibility of any error.
It would be like trying to swim against a current which follows its orderly course with iron and inexorable power, eliminating all resistance from the start, so that even an attempt to swim against it is altogether out of the question.
However, if its characteristics are precisely respected, it will bring nothing but blessing.
All circumstances are carefully taken into consideration, also with voluntary incarnations in which diseases are voluntarily accepted in order to attain a certain purpose.
If perhaps the father or mother burdened themselves by some sin with a disease, maybe only by neglecting the strict laws Nature lays down for the health of the body entrusted to their care, then the grief at seeing the same illness appear in the child would in itself be atonement and, if the grief is genuinely felt, would lead to purification.
There would be little point in giving specific examples, since every single birth would give a new picture differing from the others because of the many intermingled threads of fate.
Even every homogeneous type must offer thousands of variations on account of the fine gradations of the manifold reciprocal actions.
Let us give just one simple example!
A mother loves her son so dearly that she resorts to all manner of means to prevent him from marrying and leaving her.
She continually chains him to herself.
Such love is wrong, purely selfish, even if the mother, in her opinion, does everything to make her son’s life on earth as pleasant as possible.
With her selfish love she has wrongly interfered in the life of her son.
Genuine love never thinks of itself, but always of the advantage of the beloved one, and acts accordingly, even if it involves self-sacrifice!
The mother’s hour to be called away arrives, and the son stands alone.
Now, however, it is too late for him to arouse that joyful enthusiasm for the fulfilment of his wishes, which only youth has at its command.
But, in spite of all, he has made some gain, for he redeems something through this imposed renunciation.
It may be a similar characteristic in a former life, thereby avoiding the inner loneliness of marriage, which he would otherwise have had to experience, or it might be something else.
He can only benefit through such things.
The mother, however, has taken over her selfish love with her.
Therefore the power of attraction of what is spiritually homogeneous draws her irresistibly to people of similar qualities, for in their vicinity she is able, through the intuitive life of such people, to experience a small part of her own passion when they practice their selfish love towards others.
Therefore she remains earthbound.
Should a procreation take place with persons in whose vicinity she continually finds herself, she will incarnate there through the link of her spiritual enchainment.
But then the tables will be turned!
As a child she will now have to suffer from the same characteristic in her father or mother as she once caused her child to suffer.
In spite of her longing to leave the parental home, and the opportunities to do so, she cannot free herself.
Not until she recognizes through personal experience the injustice of such qualities will she atone for her guilt and be freed from it!
Through his union with the physical body, that is, through his incarnation, a bandage is placed before the eyes of every human being, which prevents him from surveying his past existence.
Like everything that happens in Creation, this also is for the benefit of the person concerned.
Here again is a proof of the wisdom and love of the Creator!
If everyone could precisely recall his previous existence he would merely stand aside and remain a calm onlooker in his new life on earth, in the consciousness that by so doing he was making progress or redeeming something.
However, instead of helping him to advance, this would expose him to the great danger of sliding downwards.
Life on earth must be really experienced if it is to have any purpose!
Only what has been inwardly lived through in all its heights and depths, what has been thoroughly perceived in one’s intuition, only that may one truly call one’s own!
If a man could always clearly know from the very outset the exact course that would benefit him, there would be no occasion for him to weigh and decide.
Hence he could acquire neither the strength nor the independence that are absolutely necessary for him.
As it is, he takes every situation of his earth-life with greater realism.
Every genuine experience leaves a firm imprint upon his intuition, upon the immortal part which, newly fashioned by these impressions, man takes over with him as his own, as a part of himself.
But only that which he has really experienced, for all else is extinguished at physical death!
That which has been experienced remains, however, as the clear extract of his earthly existence, as his gain.
Not all that has been learned has been experienced; but only that which has been learned through experience becomes one’s own.
All the rest of the learned lumber, for which many a man sacrifices his whole life, remains behind as husks. Therefore each moment of life can never be taken too seriously, so that our thoughts, words and deeds shall not deteriorate into meaningless habits, but pulsate with vital warmth!
Through the bandage placed before its eyes at the time of its incarnation the newly-born child seems to be completely ignorant, and is therefore often erroneously regarded as being innocent.
But it often brings a mighty karma with it which offers opportunities to redeem past errors by living through them and fully experiencing them.
In cases of predestination karma is only the necessary consequence of all that has happened.
Where it is a question of a mission karma, in so far as it does not belong to the mission itself, is voluntarily undertaken for the purpose of gaining earthly understanding and maturity in order to fulfil the mission.
Therefore man should no longer grumble about injustice at birth, but gratefully look up to the Creator, Who only grants new mercies with every single birth!
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