by Stephen Lampe
“Why Does God Allow Tragedies?” is the question on many mouths and even more minds whenever catastrophes and tragedies strike. This question is asked for many reasons and these reasons may well vary from person to person. A common reason is an unstated, perhaps subconscious, fear that one and/or members of one’s family or friends may become victims of similar or other kinds of tragedy in some uncertain future. Indeed, we would be justified to be fearful if tragedies picked their victims randomly. It would mean that we could not act individually to protect ourselves in the face of ever-increasing frequency of catastrophes, natural and man-made. The truth is that we need not be afraid. However, we must seek to understand the fundamental meaning of tragedies. To do this we need to know of the spiritual nature of human beings and the purpose of human existence. In the search for this knowledge, the only assumptions we need to make is that God does exist and that He is Perfect. Because of His Perfection, He is incapable of acting, and does not act, arbitrarily. Rather, He maintains His Creation by means of immutable Laws to which all creatures, including all human beings, are subject. And built into God’s Laws are Divine Love and Justice.
First, let me comment briefly on the nature of human beings. Human beings are human spirits; their physical bodies are simply the cloaks they must wear to be able to live on earth. Death is the process whereby the human spirit sheds the physical body while the spirit moves on to experience consciously in another part of Creation in pursuit of its goal of existence. Where the spirit finds itself is determined by the Laws of Gravity and of Homogeneity. A noble spirit is light and, therefore, rises towards the lighter and purer realms of Creation, where it joins the company of similar spirits. An ignoble spirit descends to the realms of Darkness, which are the abodes of similarly bad human spirits. The gathering places of ignoble human spirits in the Beyond, brought about by the natural Laws of Gravity and Homogeneity, are what we popularly call Hell. The process of dying may be compared to the process of undressing, of changing one’s clothes, which we all do everyday. Undressing may be easy and painless or difficult and painful, depending on the fabric of the dress, whether or not it fits too tightly, and the condition of the person undressing (whether a child or an adult, ill or handicapped, etc.). In an analogous manner, the process of dying may be painless or painful. The most physically violent death may be completely painless for the spirit concerned; conversely, an apparently painless death (for example, as administered by an euthanasia doctor) may be extremely painful to the spirit. Thus, the spirits of victims of the same tragedy experience it very differently. The more noble and spiritual a person is, the less painful his transition into the Beyond, regardless of the earthly circumstances leading to the destruction of his/her physical body.
The human spirit has its origin in the spiritual part of Creation, commonly called Paradise. In Paradise, it was an unconscious spirit-germ or spirit-seed, and had to descend into the material worlds to gain consciousness, to mature, and then to return to Paradise as a fully conscious human spirit. On its return to Paradise, the developed and fully conscious spirit is able to partake in the further development of Creation in accordance with the Will of God, to which it would have learnt to adjust completely and as a matter of course. The need for the unconscious human spirit-germ or spirit-seed to incarnate in the material worlds to gain consciousness and mature is analogous to the need to plant crop seeds in the soil to enable the seeds attain their potential. Seeds of maize or rice, for example, cannot achieve their potential of becoming living plants producing multiples of their kind if they are not inserted into the soil or other suitable medium.
The process of development from an unconscious spirit-germ to a mature conscious spirit able to contribute to the further development of Creation requires more than one earth-life. Every human spirit is given the opportunity to come to the earth more than once; on each occasion, it takes on a different human body. Any number of earth-lives that a particular human spirit may experience constitutes one continuous existence. There is no break in the spirit’s existence. The spirit continues to live from earth-life to earth-life. And, between consecutive earth-lives, it is very much alive in the so-called Beyond. The earth is neither the beginning nor the end of the journey of the human spirit through Creation; the earth is no more than a necessary transit point. And an earth-life is a very short interlude in the total existence of the human spirit. At the present stage of the development of material creation, no human spirit is incarnating on earth for the first time. Thus, every child is an old soul in a young body. We have all been here before and we have all died before! And we may be back on earth again, of course, in a different physical body.
With the above knowledge, we are able to face the truth that each person is the architect of his or her own fate. Through our volition, thoughts, words, and deeds we prepare our individual fates. With each volition, each thought, each word, and each act, we sow a seed, which will germinate, grow, mature, and ripen for us to harvest at some future date, in accordance with God’s Law of Reciprocal Action, the Law that compels us to reap whatsoever we sow. The interval between sowing and reaping depends on the nature of what is sown. Again, this phenomenon is quite familiar to us. If we plant maize and mango on the same day, we do not expect them to be ready for harvesting at the same time. Indeed, varieties of the same crop planted on the same soil may have different maturity periods. That’s how it is with the seeds we sow with our thoughts, words, and deeds. Some “seeds” planted in one earth-life are not ready for harvest until the next earth-life of the human spirit concerned.
God does not at all intervene in the great and small affairs of men. From the very beginning, God wove into Creation His perfect Laws, which acting somewhat like a computer program, carry out His Will automatically and with perfect justice. God’s Work is without flaws and, therefore, requires no intervention. By voluntarily adjusting our volition, thoughts, words, and deeds to these Laws, human beings automatically receive the immeasurable blessings that are inherent in God’s Creation. When we individually or collectively deviate from His Laws, we invite on ourselves suffering and tragedies. Thus, each person is the architect of his/her own fortunes and misfortunes. And the first step to begin to protect ourselves from tragedies is to keep the hearth of our thoughts pure and to obey the Golden Rule --- “Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be treated if you are in the same exact situation”.
But the law of sowing and reaping is not the whole story. The events in the United States on September 11, 2001 point to an important aspect of the working of the laws of God. Some of the passengers on the Flight that crashed in Pennsylvania consciously and voluntarily decided to sacrifice their own lives to save the lives of other people targeted by the terrorists. Hundreds of New York firemen got trapped and killed while voluntarily trying to save the people trapped at the World Trade Center. These people demonstrated superhuman love. They sowed love and they will, in their continuing existence, definitely reap multiples of the love they sowed. Their courageous acts of love are examples of what is called “mission karma”. It is a fate or a consequence that a person voluntarily accepts in order to fulfill a particular mission. Mission karma explains, for example, how it was possible for Jesus Christ to have been a victim of murder even though He obviously and definitely had not sown any evil seed that could have ripened in the form of crucifixion. Out of love, Jesus incarnated on earth to teach humankind how they should think, speak, and act in order to be admitted into the Kingdom of God, which for us human beings means Paradise. To underscore the utmost importance of His teachings for the salvation of humankind, He did not shy away from the unwarranted crucifixion experience.