Karma -

“As you sow, so shall you reap.”

“He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

The principle of karma and re-incarnation was prominent in early Christian theology but was removed from official church doctrine in the 4th century on the insistence of the Roman Emperor Justinian at the council of Nicea.

 He argued that if people thought they had more than one life then they would be inclined to take it “spiritually easy” in this life on the principle of why do today what you can put off ‘till tomorrow.

Every action one performs attracts a karmic reaction. This is a similar principle to the law of physics that for every action there is an equal & opposite reaction. What goes ‘round, comes around.

We are tightly bound up by the stringent laws of material nature.

We enjoy or suffer in the future the results of our present actions and we are enjoying or suffering now as a result of previous activities performed, not only in this life but in previous lives as well, even though we have no re-collection of having performed these acts.

Thoughts do not attract a karmic reaction.

Only when thoughts are translated in to action does the law of karma take effect.

Broadly speaking activities which are beneficial and auspicious attract good karma whereas actions which are harmful and cause suffering and pain produce bad karma.

As the law of karma only accrues where the individual has the freedom of choice thus only in the human form does the living entity have the power to make moral choices which makes us responsible for our actions and thus attracts the law of karma.

In all other species of life one is forced to act according to the body one has and thus without the power to make moral choices, karma does not accrue.

Karma does not apply to the actions of a child whose ability to make moral choices is severely restricted.

On the material plane one cannot escape the past which invariably comes back to haunt us. However by pursuing a spiritual life one negates the effect of past karma and does not create future karma; in other words one become karma free. Immediately one feels a great relief as the heavy weight of our past misdeeds is lifted off our shoulders and an auspicious future is assured.

Re-incarnation – transmigration of the soul 

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change”. Bhagavad-gita  (2.13)

“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones”.  Bhagavad-gita (2.22)

According to one’s work in life, the consciousness one develops through out life and ones accrued karmic reactions will determine the next body one is awarded through the agency of the stringent laws of material nature.

Of course the cumulative effect of the thoughts and actions of one's life influences one's thoughts at the moment of death; therefore the actions of this life determine one's future state of being.

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body that state he will attain without fail”.  Bhagavad-gita (8.6)

If one is transcendentally absorbed, meditating on the Supreme Divine, Sri Krishna, then his next body will be transcendental (spiritual), not physical.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt”. Bhagavad-gita  (8.5)

Whilst entrapped within the material world the eternal soul transmigrates in an evolutionary process through the different species of life. In sanskrit this is called “samsara”- the wheel of birth and death.

“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas”. Bhagavad-gita (15.8)

The astral body (mind, intelligence and ego) accompanies the soul in its sojourn through the species.

For those travelling on the spiritual path any progress that is made on that path is never lost and carries with the soul even after the demise of the body. A favourable human life is guaranteed in the next life and they begin their spiritual quest once again from the point where they have left off in this life. Similarly in this life they are starting their spiritual quest from the point that they left off in their previous life. This transcendental evolution of the soul continues life after life until spiritual perfection is achieved and they return to the spiritual world.

“One who is progressing on the spiritual path but does not attain perfection takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom.

On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success.

By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles – even without seeking them.

And when the seeker engages himself with sincere endeavour in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, achieving perfection after many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal”.   Bhagavad-gita (6.42-45)