One of the great dramatic moments in the cycle of human life is before a Reincarnating Ego is born on Earth in a new body — an event which has recurred many times. While as yet the Ego is not invested with the bodily and mental equipment of the new incarnation, there is presented to it a picture of that portion of its cosmic charge-account which is to be paid during the life it is entering.
This statement enumerates the physical and mental capacity, the environment and opportunity, in other words, the karman or results of past thoughts and acts now reaching fruition, some of it fortunate, some less so, and some frequently what we as human beings look upon as tragic. But the Ego, not yet limited to the brain-mind instrument of the new life, still retaining the deeper memory that includes remote causes, sees the justice of all that is to be, and undertakes to discharge the debts incurred in past lives, all of which have been entered in the cosmic records.
Do you doubt the existence of such records? Has it never occurred to you, when man is so careful to preserve data concerning births, marriages, and deaths, as well as the many other human happenings and doings that stenographers are taking down; when there is in every good-sized town a special building for the safekeeping of such records; that, in a great universal institution, including both visible and invisible worlds, there is a method of recording, a staff of recorders — not one recording angel, but a whole hierarchy of them — ever at work, efficient even to the numbering of the hairs on the head and every thought and act of the Egos that constitute the Humanity of this period of manifestation? Would it not be in the nature of a cosmic joke if it were not so? Is it not foolish and blind to suppose that, in a universe in which law prevails, there should be no method as much greater than man's efforts to establish justice as the universe is greater than man? If you are interested in this cosmic bookkeeping, its records, and its staff of accountants, read in the Theosophical literature about the Lipika and the Astral Light.
We have only to read history to know what we as Egos in past lives on Earth were doing to make karman. In those terrible wars, those devastating invasions, those times of cruel private vengeance and of wholesale persecution, were we always mere lookers-on? Hardly; even if we have learned since to look on these things with horror, to be more humane and merciful — that is, if we have learned.
It looks as if the come-back of such violence as man has now at his command would be at least as severe as the known effects produced in our day. Individual violence and cruelty come home unerringly to the doers, though their results mystify those ignorant of the law of Karman. Collective violence also returns upon those who, in some remote period perhaps, originated it. This Theosophical teaching explains much in life that is otherwise inexplicable.
On March 18th of this year, in the Texas town of New London, more than 400 school-children and some of their teachers, gathered in the auditorium of what was looked upon as one of the finest school-buildings in the State, were, without warning, hurled to a violent death by an explosion that wrecked the building. How account for this slaughter of the innocents? We must look deeper than the physical causes in order to answer the agonized questions inevitably rising in the minds of these stricken parents and friends. Theosophy gives the only reasonable explanation of such a catastrophe.
To cut off these young children, who had not lived long enough to have done anything to deserve such a cruel fate! Young and innocent, yes; and the Egos, old and experienced, like you and me, who therefore can feel no vestige of a right to judge them, for which of us knows what tragic items of our account remain as yet undischarged? And though the brain-minds did not know when and where were sown the seeds of violence that came to fruition on that March day, their Egos did remember, did know, and consciously took it upon themselves to pay the price.
And there is another thought that can serve to lessen the horror of this event. It is that it is possible for an Ego, an experienced, highly developed Ego — and who knows how many of these children were such Egos? — deliberately to choose to expiate a heap of unexhausted karman all at once and make an end of it.
The pity of it is that many of those who have suffered by this catastrophe have none of these Theosophical ideas with which to supplant the old conceptions of one life on Earth followed by an eternity of heaven or hell, or the other idea that death ends all. But Theosophy enables us to picture these Egos so suddenly flown, reborn, perhaps very quickly, in new bodies, resuming their progress, free of that load of karman for ever.
And it is not only wrong done that returns. Love is eternal. Those Egos who came to loving parents this time, will find their way as inevitably again to those they loved and who loved them.
Let us then, not think of those tortured, broken bodies, but of souls, winging free, free of an ancient burden, to the pathways of rebirth.