Grace vs. Karma
"Karma" ties in with the New Age! Beware and stay away...
When things happen unexpectedly, it’s fashionable these days to chalk it up to Karma.
The basic idea is that you reap what you sow. There are different definitions of Karma but many Buddhists believe that nothing happens to a person that they don’t for some reason deserve. Not everything is attributed to Karma but it means you eventually feel the effect of what you’ve done in this life or even a previous life.
I don’t have any doubt that we reap what we sow. Often enough I see the consequences of my good, bad and just plain stupid actions. But Christians don’t consider finding a choice parking spot payback for a good deed done in a past life. We believe all things except sin happen through God’s grace.
Grace: God’s free giftThe Catechism defines grace as free and undeserved help from God to respond to His call to become His adoptive children, partakers of divine nature and eternal life. Grace is a participation in God’s life, an introduction into the intimacy of Trinitarian life. (CCC: 1996-1997)
Besides the fact that it’s a free gift that we don’t deserve, grace is veiled in mystery. What we know about it comes from the way it operates in the soul. The Catechism says it belongs to the supernatural order, and that it escapes our experience and can’t be known except by faith. (CCC:2005)
Knowing this about grace, St. Joan of Arc’s accusers tried to trap her: “Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.'”
Whether we can sense it or not, we need grace for our spiritual life as much as we need oxygen to live. The grace of Christ is infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it and sanctify it. The Catechism identifies two types of grace:
- Sanctifying Grace: Received at baptism. “…a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by His love.”
- Actual Grace: God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification. (CCC:2000)
Effects of GraceBesides salvation and eternal life, the effects of grace include faith, holiness, contrition, chastity, the building up of the Church, forgiveness of sins, virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
God initiates with grace which “precedes, prepares and elicits” our free response. He gives us the grace to welcome His revelation in faith. The New Law, which is the perfection of the divine law and Christ’s work expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ. It is a law of love and freedom–and also of grace because it gives the strength of grace to act by means of faith and the sacraments. (CCC: 35, 1972, 2022)
In other words, grace is a gift but we have to make the effort to receive it. For example, contemplative prayer is a grace received in poverty and humility–a combination of grace and determined response. If we commit grave sin and lose our baptismal grace, we can ask God to help us recover the grace of sanctification by confessing our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation.
While Karma says we get what we deserve, God responds to our sorrow for mistakes by giving us more grace. According to St. Paul: “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.” (Rom. 5:20)
What is Karma?
The word karma itself comes from the Sanskrit language, and is often translated as an act of volition, an effect, destiny or an action. It is important to understand that karma is the action itself, not necessarily the good or bad results of that action. Some Eastern religions call these inevitable reactions vipaka. Karma and vipaka are considered to be the basis for a cosmic law of cause and effect, although many Westerners use the word karma by itself to suggest causality.
The concept of karma is central to both Buddhism and Hinduism, since both religions believe in reincarnation as a means of spiritual renewal. In the purest sense, karma is any action willfully performed by a person who understands the goodness or evilness of that act. Karma is essentially the stone that causes future ripples in a soul's lifestream. The fruits of that karma may be seen right away, or they may takes several reincarnation cycles to manifest themselves.
The idea that the effects of karma may not be experienced in one's current lifetime is one incentive for believers to consider each of their actions carefully. The accumulation of bad karma over several lifetimes can cause a person to experience a lifetime of misery and sacrifice. In some Eastern belief structures, karma can affect the actual form a reincarnate soul will take. Those with an abundance of good karma may return as higher forms of life, while those who have accumulated bad karma may become creatures of a lower form.
In the Western sense of karma, many people tend to view it as a cosmic version of "what goes around, comes around" or "you reap what you sow". In one sense, karma does indeed address the idea of causality, or the principle of action and reaction. If someone chooses to commit a criminal act, for example, he or she should be aware that there will be a cosmic price to pay for their action. Consequently, if someone chooses to perform an act of charity, the concept of universal karma dictates his or her selfless action will eventually be rewarded.
Karma is not necessarily experienced in an overt way. One cannot simply perform a good act with the express hope of receiving karmic payback instantaneously. As with the Western belief in God's benevolence towards mankind, karma also works in mysterious ways. A lifetime of performing good works often results in a sense of satisfaction during one's old age, which is essentially the message inherent in a belief in karma.
Karma is a theological concept found in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. It is the idea that how you live your life will determine the quality of life you will have after reincarnation. If you are unselfish, kind, and holy during this lifetime, you will be rewarded by being reincarnated (reborn into a new earthly body) into a pleasant life. However, if you live a life of selfishness and evil, you will be reincarnated into a less-than-pleasant lifestyle. In other words, you reap in the next life what you sow in this one. Karma is based on the theological belief in reincarnation. The Bible rejects the idea of reincarnation; therefore, it does not support the idea of karma.
Hebrews 9:27 states, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…" This Bible verse makes clear two important points which, for Christians, negate the possibility of reincarnation and karma. First, it states that we are "destined to die once," meaning that humans are only born once and only die once. There is no endless cycle of life and death and rebirth, an idea inherent in the reincarnation theory. Second, it states that after death we face judgment, meaning that there is no second chance, like there is in reincarnation and karma, to live a better life. You get one shot at life and living it according to God's plan, and that is it.
The Bible talks a lot about reaping and sowing. Job 4:8 says, "As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it." Psalm 126:5 says, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Luke 12:24 says, "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" In each of these instances, as well as all the other references to reaping and sowing, the act of receiving the rewards of your actions takes place in this life, not in some future life. It is a present-day activity, and the references make it clear that the fruit you reap will be commensurate with the actions you have performed. In addition, the sowing you perform in this life will affect your reward or punishment in the afterlife.
This afterlife is not a rebirth or a reincarnation into another body here on earth. It is either eternal suffering in hell (Matthew 25:46) or eternal life in heaven with Jesus, who died so that we might live eternally with Him. This should be the focus of our life on earth. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:8-9, "The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will also reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Finally, we must always remember that it was Jesus whose death on the cross resulted in the reaping of eternal life for us, and that it is faith in Jesus that gives us this eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." Not of works, as of our own growth, or from ourselves: but as from the grace of God. Therefore, we see that the concept of reincarnation and karma is incompatible with what the Bible teaches about life, death, and the sowing and reaping of eternal life.
Concerning karma, the concept doesn't make sense because if for people to "get back what they put out" or as said, to have negative or positive consequences for a financial act, and for everything they do, karma would have to be alive and have a mind and be intelligent and know right from wrong, and have the desire to judge and punish or reward or give consequences. Even if karma were not that specific, it would still have to have intelligence in order to do such things. How can a non-living thing, like a rock, tell the difference between a good or bad act, or good or bad speech? Further, it would have to coordinate all of the "positive or negative" things it did to people so that each one got what it deserved, otherwise it would be chaotic and nonsensical. On top of that, karma would also have to deal with giving positive or negative things to non-human things, even aliens if they existed (what most people today believe to be aliens, are in fact demons). How could a non-living thing, unless it was programmed with future events, know how to respond in every situation? And how is it able to manipulate every single thing in such a way that everyone "gets what they deserve" or "gets What they put out"? It would have to be a computer far more advanced that we can comprehend, and the one who programmed it even more advanced since it would have to know how to program such complex tasks and would have to have the power to give the computer such power to manipulate the countless things in this universe so that everything came out as the programmer wanted it to. Karma then wouldn't be karma as Buddhists, Hindus or New Agers claim it is, but a tool of a being who would be best described as God, and who has destined all things already since this karma machine would always achieve its goals. And no Buddhist, Hindu or New Ager has ever even hinted that karma fails. And even if it didn't always work out, what would their point be? It would be self-defeating to argue that since they would be admitting that karma isn't just, but unfair, and it wouldn't explain how karma knows what to do to a person for their actions, how it knows a good thing from an evil thing.
Another problem with karma is that it justifies any evil act committed against another person, because according to the doctrine on karma, whatever bad thing happens to you, you deserve. So if a baby or little kid or anyone is abused in some way, sexually or not, or murdered, it was because they deserved it. Is that true? According to the Bible even a person who is suffering or who is in need or handicapped, isn't always suffering or in need or handicapped because God is punishing them, but sometimes to test them (as evidence for or against something, like if they are patient or impatient, good or bad), or to show his love through them, like when Jesus healed various people who were handicapped.
What good comes out of a drive-by killing, someone might ask, or the death of a teenager through overdose, or a daughter's rape, or child abuse? The answer is that a commensurate good doesn't always come perceptibly out of those individual situations, though God is certainly capable of redeeming any tragedy. Rather, the greater good results from having a world in which there is moral freedom, and moral freedom makes moral tragedies like these possible. This observation reveals an interesting twist in this problem. If morality freely chosen can only happen in a world where evil is possible, then heaven will be a place where there will be no moral growth, where moral choices will not be possible because all the inhabitants of heaven will be immutably good. Growth of the soul is only possible and available to inhabitants of a fallen world. Two Scriptural observations lend credibility to this view. First, in recounting the great heroes of faith, the writer of Hebrews mentions that some were rescued by faith, but others endured by faith "...in order that they might obtain a better resurrection." (Heb. 11:35) Second, St. Paul tells St. Timothy that "...godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Tim. 4:8) Both of these verses indicate that conditions in this life affect conditions in the next. Bearing up under evil in this life improves our resurrection in the next. Godliness in this life brings profit in the next. These benefits are not available after this life or there would be little urgency to grow now; all eternity would be left in which to catch up. A deeper, more profound good results when virtue is won by free, moral souls struggling with evil, rather than simply granted to them as an element of their constitution. There's a sound reason why God has allowed man the freedom to choose evil. It doesn't conflict with His goodness. God is neither the author of evil, nor its helpless victim. Rather, precisely because of His goodness He chooses to co-exist with evil for a time, that His goodness may be all the more manifest in those who overcome it by freely choosing to do good and avoid evil. Romans 8:28: "And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints."
Another problem with karma is that it justifies (according to the doctrine or personal belief of many who believe in karma) someone giving things to the rich who don't need what they give them and which rich people have no intention of giving what they received from that person to the poor, little or anything of the things they already have, even things they most likely don't or won't need in the future. And the personal beliefs of many who believe in karma, even justify giving such things to the rich even if those rich people are stingy and hoard their wealth. But according to the doctrine or personal belief of others, those things, including gifts, should be given to the poor who need them, even the sinners, but especially to ones who are righteous or good, and to such poor who even share with others who are poor. So who does karma consider to be in the right? And according to the simplistic doctrine that most have on karma, if an evil person who mostly does evil, but to whom mostly good is done, deserves that goodness. So for example, when Hitler was murdering the Jews and was having good things done to him and when many were doing almost whatever he asked them to do, it was because he deserved it. Or if someone was hoarding their wealth all throughout their life and using it for little good or only using it to make a profit and doing it oppressively in general (there have been many people like that all throughout history), and those people had many good things done to them, more than the evil things, it was because they deserved it.
Another problem with karma, is how to know how to comply with it so that what you want to happen to you, happens, but the problem is, how can I know what it considers good or evil being that it doesn't show it in any way and can't be found or accessed? Does it consider it a good thing to kill a person who is deserving of death according to the Divine law? Does it consider it an evil eating certain food in front of another person considers immoral to eat? Does it consider saying, "Allah doesn't exist", "Buddha doesn't exist", or "Moses didn't exist" evil things to say? Does it consider that one person's conscience isn't the same as someone else's, and that some people have no conscience? Does it consider any lying to be evil, even when one commits a lie that doesn't seem to harm anyone but instead saves a life or lives, or does it consider it to be less evil and forgivable? Does it consider stealing a weapon or what someone intends to use as a weapon to commit murder a good thing or a bad thing? and does it consider it as stealing at all? Where is the rule book or commandments of karma? Some might argue that karma judges you by your own standard, but if that is true, and my standard is to do whatever I feel like: steal, lie, commit adultery, hate people for no good reason (hate the evil deeds of the person, not hating the person himself; we must wish all persons good and wish that they may be converted), dishonor my parents even when they do good to me, abuse animals, endanger the lives of others, including by polluting in such a way that it is a certain danger to others, or murdering people whenever I feel like it, and I do those things, then shouldn't karma "reward" me? Some might argue that no one is like that, but that isn't the point, the point is that that can be a standard, and besides that, there are people like that, and hundreds of millions of people have died because of people who made it their standard, at least for a moment, to speak and act in those wrong ways.
"Karma" ties in With the New Age! Beware and stay away...
TheosophyTheosophy is a term used in general to designate the knowledge of God supposed to be obtained by the direct intuition of the Divine essence. In method it differs from theology, which is the knowledge of God obtained by revelation, and from philosophy, which is the knowledge of Divine things acquire by human reasoning. It is often incorrectly confounded with mysticism, for the latter is properly the thirst for the Divine, the aspiration for the invisible, and hence a natural manifestation of the religious sentiment. By intuition or illumination the initiated Theosophists are considered to be in harmony with the central principle of the universe. This knowledge of the secret forces of nature of the true relation between the world and man frees them from the ordinary limitations of human life, and gives them a peculiar power over the hidden forces of the macrocosm. Their exceptional faculties are alleged as experimental proof of their superior science: they are the only guarantee of the truth of their teaching. They are said to transmit this truth by way of revelation. Thus theosophy appeals to tradition but not in the Christian sense.
(1) India is the home of all theosophic speculation. Oltramere says that the directive idea of Hindu civilization is theosophic. This development covers a great many ages, each represented in Indian religious literature. There are formed the basic principles of theosophy. Knowledge of the occult laws in nature and in life, the intuitive method, superhuman powers, hostility to established religion are not all equally apparent in each age, but are present conjunctively or separately through the whole course of its history. The early Brahmanic writings contain the germs, which have gradually developed into a rich vegetation of ideas and beliefs. These ideas are organized into systems, not however homogeneous or autonomous but mixed with other belief. Then they leave the schools to act upon the masses, either in forming a religion, e.g. Buddhism, or in penetrating popular religions already existing, e.g. Hinduism. Thus the Upanishads teach: that the individual soul is identical with the universal soul, hence the doctrine of advaita, i.e. non-duality; that the individual existence of the soul is a state of suffering, hence the doctrine of samsara, i.e. metempsychosis; that the individual soul is delivered from suffering by its reunion with the universal soul, a reunion realized by seizing the consciousness of identity with it, hence the doctrine of moksa, i.e. salvation. The basic doctrines of the Vedanta and Saukhya systems are monistic Pantheism, intuition as the supreme means to reach truth, metempsychosis, the world of sense is only a very little part of the category of things, the theory and method of salvation strictly intellectual. These systems developed form the Upanishads. The final development is the Yoga. Yoga, i.e. "one who fits himself, or exercises", refers to the exercises practiced to free the soul from the body, which to it is like a string to a bird. Some of these exercises were: to rid one's self of moral faults (though the masters do not agree as to what these faults are); to sit in certain painful postures, check the breath, and reduce thought to a minimum by staring at the tip of the nose; to place the soul in a particular part of the body, and so gradually acquire mastery over it, or, rather, let the soul, the true self, acquire mastery over the body; to stave and learn to subsist on air or even without it; to concentrate thought by meditation, i.e. to think of nothing. Thyana, the highest state of which is the cataleptic trance samadhi, in which the mind is suppressed but the soul is in full activity. In this state the person is a mahatma, i.e. master-soul and can enjoy a temporary release from the body which it leaves to go roaming about, performing wonderful feats on material nature and controlling other less powerful souls. This latter was the secret of the Yoga's real power and was supposed to be done by a transfer of soul. When the soul re-enters the body, the Yoga wakes and is like other people. By repeated exercises the soul can become so strong that is secures perpetual release from the body, thus, according to the older Yoga teaching, it flies to heaven where it enjoys great happiness, riding in a celestial car attended by lovely women and music; but with the latter Yogas, on breaking all bodily bonds it formed immediate absorption into the Supreme Soul.
(2) Theosophic teaching comes to the front in the third period of Greek philosophy. Hence it is found in the Jewish-Greek philosophy with the neo-Platonists. The theosophic atmosphere due to the influence of the Orient is plainly shown in Plotinus. The Gnostic systems reveal more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Renaissance brought into modern thought neo-Platonism and the Kabbala, e.g. Reuchlin (d. 1492), Agrippa (d. 1535), Cardano (d. 1576), Paracelsus (d. 1540), Weigel (d. 1588). More important is the teaching of Jakob Böhme (d. 1624). He taught that the "eternal dualism" of God is the ultimate cause of all evil; that there is a "dark" negative principle in God, which evil element makes manifest His goodness. Without this there would be no revelation. Further, were it not for this principle God could not know Himself. Böhme's teaching influenced Baader, Schelling, and Gegel. Theosophic principles colour the theology of Swedenborg, and are found in the group of modern thinkers, especially neo-Hegelians, who claim that the existence of God is know by direct intuition or by a special faculty of the soul.
A new importance of these teachings in modern thought is due to the school of Modern theosophy dating from the foundation of the Theosophical Society in New York City by Madame Blavatsky in 1875. She is the chief and only authority for the revelation of so-called Tibetan occultism. A.P. Sinnett however used the term Esoteric Buddhism. They claimed to have the true solution for the problems of the universe and of man from the Upanishads and Buddhist Sutras through Oriental savants, mahatmas, the faithful depositories of a profound and superhuman wisdom. In fact, a great part of their nomenclature is derived from India, and they seek there for a justification of teachings drifting about in modern thought and derived to a great extent, if not wholly, from neo-Platonic and Jewish sources through the Renaissance. The objects of the society are: to form the nucleus of a universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour; to encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy, and science; to investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man. This last clause gives occasion to include magic, the occult, the uncanny, and the marvelous in any and every form. Madame Blavatsky, with Colonel Olcott, went to India in 1878. Shortly afterwards her frauds were exposed through letters written by her and published by Columb and his wife, who had been in her service. This was acknowledged by the London Society of Psychical Research, which in Nov., 1884 sent R. Hodgson, of St. John's College, Cambridge to investigate (Edmund Garrett, "Isis very much Unveiled", London, 1895; Francis Podmore, "Studies in Psychical Research"). In spite of this, however, the teaching was continued and propagated by her disciples Mrs. Besant, Col. Olcott, A.P. Sinnett, and others.
Modern theosophy claims to be a definite science. Its teachings are the product of thought, and its source is consciousness, not any Divine revelation. As a science it is supposed to be based on investigation and experimentation of the occult laws in nature and in human life. Only those qualified for the inquiry can grasp these laws and they gain from this knowledge certain superhuman powers. Mrs. Besant calls it the great synthesis of life, i.e. of religion, science, and philosophy, as old as thoughtful humanity, proclaimed in a new form suited to the present time. Its aim is that spirit is and can become the master of matter. Hence it is considered as a protest against materialism which teaches that thought and feeling are the results of the aggregations of matter. Theosophy on the contrary sees in matter an instrument of life, and in thought the creative and moulding power of matter.
The basic teaching of theosophy is the universal brotherhood of humanity. Hence springs the preaching of toleration to all persons and to all varieties of belief, e.g. Buddhists, Christians, Atheists, It considers the different religions as methods adopted by man in the search for God. They are of necessity various, because men differ in temperament, type, needs, and stages of evolution. Hence they are different and imperfect expressions of truth. As such it says: "we cannot afford to lose any of the world's religions, for each has its partial truth and its characteristic message which the perfect man must acquire." Hence theosophy appeals to men as the great peacemaker, for it teaches that all religions mean one and the same thing, or rather that they are all branches of a single tree. In this sense it attacks comparative mythology which tries to show that religion was originally the fruit of man's ignorance wand will disappear with the increase of knowledge, whereas in fact religion comes from Divine knowledge, i.e. theosophy.
The principle of universal brotherhood rest upon the 'solidarity' of all living, of all that is, in the one life and one consciousness. Solidarity springs from the belief in the immanence of God, the only and external life manifested in the multiplicity of creation. All forces are external; there is no supernatural, except the superhuman and supersensuous, i.e. powers greater that those normally exercised by man, which, however, can be developed. Ignorance therefore makes the miracle. Hence there is on personal God, and for this reason Madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant say that theosophy is more readily embraced by Atheists and Agnostics. Hence also Colville could teach that the spirit or soul in man is the only real and permanent part of his being; everything else pertaining to him is illusory and transitory. Solidarity, i.e. the common life pervading all things, is thus made the basis of morality. Hence a wrong done to one is done to all, as e.g. an injury inflicted on one part of the human organism results in pain diffused and felt throughout. At the same time we are told that God is good and man immortal, that the "immanence of God justifies religion", i.e. the search after Him, that all things move to good and to man's benefit, that man must understand and co-operate with the scheme of things.
Man has seven aspects, or rather is being composed of seven principles. These are viewed in two groups: the Quarternary, corresponding to our animal nature, i.e. soul and body, the mortal part of man, the products of evolution; and the Triad, corresponding to our spiritual nature, i.e. spirit, for theosophists say that Christian philosophy hold the threefold division of body; soul, and spirit in man. The Quaternary is made up of Sthula Sharira, i.e. physical body; Linga Sharira, i.e. astral double; Prana, i.e. principle of life; Kama, i.e. our passional nature. The Triad is composed of: Manas, i.e. mind or the thinker; Buddhi, i.e. the dwelling-place of spirit; Atnir, i.e. spirit. Hence we find Atnir-Buddhi used conjointly. This Triad is called the Immortal Triad. It is united to the Quaternary by Manas, in itself viewed as Higher Manas, sending out a Ray, which as Lower Manas is imbedded in Karma. Thus Kama-Manas is the link joining our animal to our spiritual nature, and is the battle-ground of life's struggles. Man is primarily divine, a spark of the Divine life; this living flame passing out from the Central Fire, weaves for itself coverings within which it dwells and thus becomes the Triad, the Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the Immortal Self. This sends out its Ray, which becomes encased in grosser matter, in the Kamic body, in the Astral Double, and in the physical body. The Astral Double, i.e. rarer matter, the exact double of the physical body, plays a great part in spiritualistic phenomena. The Manas is the real I, the reincarnating ego makes the human personality. The Quaternary as a whole is viewed as the Personality, i.e. the shadow of the self. In fact each principle or aspect may be considered a Personality in so far as it undervalues Atma, i.e. throws its shadow over Atma, i.e. the One Eternal Existence. The seer however knows that Atma is the one reality, the essence of all things, that Atma-Buddhi is the Universal One Soul, itself an aspect of Atma, that Atma-Buddhi-Manas is the individual mind or Thinker, that the shadow of Manas, our Atma-Buddhi, makes men say "my soul" and "thy soul", whereas in reality we are all one with Atma, the Unknown Root. After death all of the Manasic Ray that is pure and unsoiled gradually disentangles itself, carrying with it such of life's experiences as are of a nature fit for assimilation with the Higher Ego. The Manasic Ego united to Atma-Buddhi passes into the Devachonic state of consciousness, rapt in blissful dreams coloured by the experiences of the earth-life. This state is a continuation of the earth-life shorn of its sorrows, and a completion of its noble and pure wishes.
Theosophy is not only a basis of religion; it is also a philosophy of life. As such, its main teachings are reincarnation and the law of Karma. Karma is the outcome of the collective life, a law of ethical causation. In the past incarnation the ego had acquired certain faculties, set in motion certain causes. The effect of these causes and of causes set in motion in previous incarnations and not yet exhausted are its Karma and determine the conditions into which the ego is reborn. Thus inequalities of natural gifts, e.g. genius, of temperament and of character are explained. The law of progress is the law of involution and evolution, the returning of the Divine Spark into a unity with Spirit through various reincarnations, which are viewed as a process of purification. Sin, poverty, and misery are the fruits of ignorance, and are gradually removed as the spirit in us becomes freed from earthly dross. There is no heaven nor Hell. Death is the passage from this state of life to another. There is an evolution behind and before, with absolute certainty of final attainment for every human soul, i.e. to be one with the Absolute. As man advances in this process his spirit becomes stronger, and can develop latent powers, not shown in ordinary mortals.