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Social And Philosophical Conflicts Of Karma And Reincarnation

Karma, understood as a relationship between cause and effect, reflects action and reaction by defining the laws that govern the energies of attraction and/or repulsion between entities, without judgment. Reincarnation gifts humanity with many lifetimes which means more experiences to learn and an increased opportunity for all the forces involved to fulfill their cosmic order.

Reincarnation doesn’t discount heaven, hell or death. It claims that all of it does in fact happen, over and over again. Therein lies the fundamental difference with judeo-christian thought but it also begs the question, what would be the purpose for such repetition, recognizing that what one had experienced is not ordinarily remembered, precluding any learned lesson.

If reincarnation is deemed credible, something from a previous life must be retained, at least in theory; a distilled impression somewhere just below conscious awareness, that can be triggered. All of which still doesn’t explain how rebirth would bring enlightenment, unless the opportunity to repeat the same mistakes opens up the possibility that a different approach will be taken, an experience learned and the direction encourages a fundamental change in understanding.

Reincarnation could also be misunderstood and used to justify prejudices and explain social injustice: a young child run over by a car; a seemingly innocent life until its suggested that “perhaps in a previous life, this is the karma the child earned”. Besides being insensitive, it portrays karma as partial and judgmental.

The African-American experience can be oversimplified by saying that Black people today are the reincarnated white slave owners of past who are now being subjected to the indignities they inflicted during and after the abolishment of slavery. Perhaps then also post-war Jews are reincarnated German Nazi’s or anyone who is anti-Semitic for that matter, to teach them the reality of both sides, that what they do will come back to them. However, in all these cases, this explanation defines the sufferer as the cause of his suffering. When described by a charismatic orator, this theory sounds quite reasonable and thought-provoking.

Although plausible in isolated situations, the above mentioned cases can be strongly argued, assuming that one is privy to the forces at play, but they are nonetheless stereotypical and controversial in nature, which overlooks the fundamental ideal that conveys individual karma. It could also earn the wrath of many who are part of a suffering group and who see that kind of reasoning as prejudicial. What reincarnation and karma explain is debatable, but it is a belief system a large part of the world’s population subscribes to.

Understanding Karma