When Pope Francis, head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, came to the Philippines early this year, one girl posed a question that he could not answer. If I remember correctly, it was, “Why does God allow human suffering in the world?”
And the good Pope, in his characteristic straightforward, honest manner, replied: “I do not know.”
Indeed, this is one of the greatest puzzles in life for which we could find no universally acceptable answer. Why are some people born blind or crippled, others healthy and strong? Why are some born rich and powerful, others poor and obscure? Why does God allow so much hatred, violence and inequality when he could easily prevent them if he wanted to?
Perhaps, one possible answer may lie in the Eastern concept of karma, which has been variously defined as the “universal law of cause of effect,” the “natural law of compensation,” the “law that refers effects back to their rightful causes,” and so on and so forth.
Karma, indeed, is not an easy concept to understand or explain. In the Philippines it is grossly misused and misunderstood. Literally, karma comes from the Sanskrit word which means “action” or “deed.” The word “action” does not refer only to physical acts, but also includes mental acts, such as desires, intentions or choices.
Karma is a central doctrine in Buddhism. It is regarded as the law of moral causation. It is believed that nothing happens to a person that he does not, for some reason, deserve. And that the invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, but may be traced to a remote past life. The concept of karma is, therefore, tied or connected to the belief in reincarnation or multiple rebirth.
The twin concepts of karma and reincarnation are explained in great detail in Buddhism, but they are too complicated and difficult to understand for ordinary mortals like us. So let me try to explain it in more simple language, not from the point of view of a religion, but from some other sources.
One of the more recent explanations of karma which I find easier to understand comes from the American psychic and prophet Edgar Cayce, who died in 1945, leaving behind over 14,500 psychic readings in response to questions posed to him by thousands of individuals while he was in a trance.
Cayce said that karma is simply “meeting one’s self,” meaning to say that karma is the law or mechanism by which a person meets the consequences of his actions, which may have begun in a distant past life, and he is facing the consequences only in the present life.
For example, you stole property from a person in your past life a thousand years ago; in this lifetime you may also be robbed of your property by that same person who may even be your relative or trusted friend now. This seemingly long time gap is understandable to me because time does not exist on the mental or spiritual planes. It exists only on the physical plane.
I see a lot of examples of such karmic retribution in my seminar on “Soul mates, Karma and Reincarnation,” in which I conduct two past-life hypnotic regressions for participants. In one case, a housewife, who drove her philandering husband out of the house, discovered that in one past life, their roles were reversed. The wife was a man who was married to her present husband. As a man, this housewife was the one doing the womanizing. And so, in this lifetime, she is only meeting the consequences of her past deeds. She got what she deserved.
Another was the case of a fat lawyer in Mindanao who is admittedly gay. In a previous life as a Stone Age man, he stole bread and was caught. As punishment, he was starved to death. That is why, in this lifetime, he loves to eat and no matter how many reducing programs he has attended, he remains fat.
Why is he gay in this lifetime? Well, he also found out during the regression that in one past life he was an executioner of gay persons or homosexuals. So, in this lifetime, he was given the opportunity to understand the life of a homosexual by being one himself.
Strictly speaking then, karma is not a reward for something good we have done in the past, nor a punishment for something bad we have done.
Karma is neutral; it is neither good nor bad. It is simply the consequence of whatever we have done in the past which we are meeting now.
Why is there suffering and great inequality in the world? Because we have brought it about ourselves. We cannot blame God; we can only blame ourselves.
The next “Soul mates, Karma and Reincarnation” seminar will be on Sept. 19, 1 to 7 p.m. Interested parties may call tel. nos. 8107245 or 0998-9886292, or e-mail [email protected]