Karma? Part 1 of 3

reincarnation 9

Yesterday we started on reincarnation. Today we examine the rationale behind it, and why karma is not the fair way some people think it is. First, let’s define what we mean. Karma is the force generated by the sum total of a person’s actions, whether good or bad. If you have done well in this life, you will be rewarded in the next life by being reborn as a god, a demigod, or as another human being; but if you have done evil, then you will be punished by being reborn as an animal, a hungry ghost, or in hell. However, in Buddhism these realms are not permanent. You can be reborn again after you served your punishment, used up your negative karma, and paid your dues. How you live in one life will determine the quality of your next life, or putting it in another way, you reap in your next life what you sow in this life. If you fail this time, just do better the next time around, as there is a second chance. In fact, there are many chances, and an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth, until the soul finally reaches nirvana or heaven.

On the surface this seems fair and very attractive:
1. A person is responsible for his own actions;
2. You reap what you sow;
3. You work your way to heaven, by your own efforts, not dependent on anyone else; and
4. There are many chances.

Some even claim that 1 and 2 are consistent with the Bible, which teaches that:
* Deut 24:16 Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin. (Also 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chron 25:4)
* Job 4:8 As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.
* Prov 11:18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
* Ga 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Are they the same? Definitely not! Let’s work our way backwards and look at #4 first. The law of karma requires many reincarnations for a person to improve and earn his way to heaven. But if there is no reincarnation, as there is no solid evidence for it (refer yesterday’s post), and therefore no second chance after death, then the foundation for karma is destroyed. Karma becomes only a figment of one’s imagination, a delusion without basis. Indeed there are many chances, but all in this life, not the next. But let’s play along and see where the other premises lead.

#3 assumes that by gradually improving from one life time to another, one can work their way up to nirvana. This is attractive to many people, as it appeals to their pride. They want to be master of the own fate, and not dependent on God’s grace. Basically they don’t want to be accountable to anyone, except themselves. But can man work their way to heaven gradually? Most certainly not! They would have as much success as trying to jump to the moon gradually. The standard is simply too high. You see heaven is perfect, without any sin, so the criteria for entry is perfection. But nobody is perfect. Not even if you try your very best in a million life times. Just as one pin is enough to burst a balloon, one sin is all it takes to disqualify us from heaven. Man can dream to make it on their own by lowering the entry standard, and by over-estimating their achievements, but then it would not be the real heaven, only a make-believe heaven they fabricated to suit their own thinking.

Actually I have many logical and philosophical problems with karma, but we’ll leave that for tomorrow.

(To be continued)

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