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ESSENCE OF JAINISM

By Manubhai Doshi

Chapter 5: THEORY OF KARMA AND CYCLE OF REBIRTH

We have seen that the reasons of our comfortable or uncomfortable situations lie in the activities undertaken by us during this or earlier lives. This automatically assumes the theory of rebirth. It is the law of nature that we reap as we sow. This reaping does not necessarily occur in the same life. The Law moreover is not restricted to the physical activities. It applies to our persisting tendencies and instincts as well, even though they may not be
translated into action. Whatever thoughts we may relish, even in the midst of mountains or within a remote cave, would have their consequences. No one can escape them. Appropriate consequences of our physical activities and of mental attitude are invariably extended to us. It is not possible to deceive the nature. Consequences have to be borne sooner or later and no one is immune therefrom. This law of Karma in spiritual science is not different from the law of cause and effect or that of action and reaction in physical sciences. In spiritual field its scope is extended to the realm of emotions and feelings as well.

This law of Karma and theory of rebirth need not be brushed aside as a fancy of spiritual thinkers. Recent psychological research bears testimony to their validity. The modern psychologists have been increasingly veering to accept it. Dr. Alexander Cannon during his experiments of age regression observed that the causes of his patients phobias lay in earlier lives. Reasons for such ailments in many cases could be traced back even to the Roman period. After surveying the results of 1382 reincarnation sittings, as he calls them, he writes as under in his book entitled :The Power Within. "For years the theory of reincarnation was a nightmare to me and I
did my best to disprove it * * * and I have to admit that there is such a thing as reincarnation. It is therefore only right and proper that I should include this study as a branch of psychology, as my text bears witness to the great benefit many have received psychologically from discovering hidden complexes and fears which
undoubtedly have been brought over from past lives.

This study explains the scales of justice in a very broad way showing how a person appears to suffer in this life as a result of something he has done in a past life through this law of action and reaction known in the East as Karma. * * * A person cannot see why he suffers one disaster after another in this life, yet reincarnation may reveal atrocities committed by him in lives gone by."

We can consider ourselves fortunate that we could obtain, as part of our heritage, what science has been revealing now. Most of us have, in background of mind, the consequences of what we have been doing
now. That helps us in restraining our emotions and we can stay more or less tolerant in adversity. We do not tend to react very violently even when hurt physically or otherwise. It is therefore worthwhile to examine the impact of this theory of Karma for the broad spectrum of society

If every one knew that one day he is surely going to bear the consequences of whatever he does or thinks, no one would dare to indulge in any thing that would hurt others. All conflicts and wars, disputes and violence, enmity and vengeance, parochialism and selfishness would come to an end. If one ponders rightly, he can
realize that hatred, jealousy etc. may or may not hurt the person against whom they are aimed at, but they surely hurt the user; since his sense of discretion and equanimity gets obscured by being overcome with defilements. No one in that case would harbor any evil and everyone would abide by the code of conduct that is beneficial to the society. Even if someone gets any way hurt by others, he would be inclined to consider it as a consequence of his own past evil Karma. Instead of adversely reacting, he would therefore bear it with
a sense of equanimity. The world would in that case turn into a sort of paradise.

Unfortunately all people are never going to realize it and the living beings have to bear the brunt of evils generated from passions and different types of evil instincts. The seers have brought out the
truth that every being is governed by the inviolable law of Karma. Realizing that meritorious deeds would be ultimately helpful in pursuit of happiness, one can try to ensure ones own future well-being by making use of his ability and resources for the benefit of all. The nature has left to us whether to abide by that law and stay
happy by extending happiness to others or to learn the lesson hard way by undergoing the miseries and pains arising from evil Karmas.

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