03. Karma Klatch
Spiritual Web Chat
Session 1: Sat 27 Sep 1997

Ben< Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning "a deed". In Hinduism and Buddhism, the doctrine of karma is that the totality of a person's actions in any one state of existence (or lifetime) determines his or her fate in the next.

Ben< Initially, there are two ways of looking at this concept. First, what happens to you now has its roots in what you did previously, or in a previous life. Second, what you do now determines what happens to you later in this life, or your future life.

Ben< Let's look at prior karma first, in two ways. What if you believe this doctrine? And what if it is true?

Ben< Okay, that sketches an outline for discussion. What will you think or say or expect, if you believe that what happens to you (and others) now is determined by what you (or they) did in the past or in a previous life? YOUR TURN

FRAML< I have never believed in Karma. However, in the past few years I have realized that reincarnation is possible, but I don't make a link to past errors or successes affecting the present life.

greyman< The concept is easy to buy into if you believe that there are consequences to your actions.

HopToad< Well, I imagine one would think, "Damn! Not THAT karma again!"

kalia< I'd say we would have to pay more attention and be in more control of our actions and thoughts.

bindi< For me, I would want to know all about the past lives that I have been through and learn from them.

FRAML> Destiny? You are saying that what happens to you in a previous life determines the way you are in a current life. Is there any way you can find out exactly what it is?

bindi< Don't you need to know where you came from before going into destiny?

LEGS< I have a friend who uses this belief to excuse her shortcomings in character now, more than her failings at the physical things she does: like, "Oh, I'm lite-fingered because I suffered from having no trinkets in my past lives. It's my Karma to help myself make up for that." And then she laughs about shop lifting.

Jalena< There is almost a certain aspect of predestination when one is talking about Karma. I don't believe in determinism, but I think I do like to consider hardships as a lesson.

Ben< Jalena: Yes, "determines" is a key word in this doctrine.

Jalena< Whose doctrine, Ben? Is determinism the doctrine of Karma?

Ben< Jalena: The Hindu and Buddhist doctrine of karma, as I described it a little while ago. That is how it is popularly understood.

Jalena< I am convinced that reincarnation is a reality, but not a dogmatic notion of it as in Hinduism.

c-breeze< I believe we might be living many lives at one time, and that actions in one life definitely affect both the past and future lives we are in.

HopToad> Then I would try to make amends in some compassionate fashion and hope for a better fate in the next go round.

bindi< Is there not a process we should go through to understand our past lives, and then work from that basis?

greyman< I wonder if the concept was created as some means of social conditioning: "If you're bad, you may come back as a slug, or much worse, a used car salesman".

LEGS< greyman: *smiling*

FRAML< greyman: Good point -- a variant of Santa Claus is watching, or an omnipresent god seeing everything you do and marking the bad against you.

bindi< And why is it then that it seems that all past lives have something negative in them?

HopToad< bindi: Because we are all human and flawed?

Ben< bindi: Good point. I'll try to get into "good karma" and "bad karma" later.

bindi< Is this all just an excuse for the way things might happen in our present lives?

Ben< Suppose you believe this doctrine and use it to explain why a child was born crippled? Or died young? YOUR TURN

c-breeze< I think we choose our present life. We could die as a child in order to release some karma in the parents' lives. Or crippled because we did not show compassion for the lame.

Jalena< I think the child born crippled or the one who dies young is not paying off Karma. I think they needed to experience those life effects. Or else they left early when the lesson was learned. Or they left after fulfilling duty to another.

Jalena< Of course, in Hindu doctrine, the child born crippled is paying off karmic debt. I think it possible to create serious judgments through the use of Karma to explain such things.

bindi< As human beings it is natural for us to seek answers for the unexplained, and that may be what Karma is about: giving us an answer that is guiding and fills the gap of the unknowable. So if part of Karma is about our past lives, then let's explore them and learn from it all, from everyone's experiences.

kalia< I am wondering if that mechanism called Karma is mathematically exact or if its judgment is somehow more warm and therefore perfect.

Energie< In order to turn a couple of tons of iron ore into a shiny new car, the iron ore has got to be worked over pretty good. Is that something like karma?

HopToad< But is being born crippled or dying young a "bad" thing? Wouldn't an early death be a sign that they had achieved all the learning or karmic work and were released into the next life?

FRAML< HopToad: And dying young in a car crash signifies what?

HopToad< Death is death, what does it signify to you, FRAML?

FRAML< HopToad: I see death as death, the soul is released to go to the light. I don't see the 'learned the lessons needed' you mentioned, but the lesson one needs to learn to get them to the Light will hopefully be learned before death.

Jalena< FRAML: What judgment does one attach to death at an early age? Are you asking if there is meaning, or assuming it is senseless?

FRAML< Jalena: I see no judgment in the case of a child killed in an auto accident where he was a passenger (for example). Just something that happened to the child.

HopToad< So the "crippled" one is also there to engender compassion in others?

greyman< Who would choose to come back deformed?

Jalena< greyman: Deformity is a subjective performance.

greyman< I can't help but think that our investment into this concept is based on our choice.

LEGS< My perception was of Karma being a lesson unlearned previously, as in other lives, and that is exactly what you would be here to learn this go round, but is very hard for me to accept... just that way.

Ben< Okay, good comments. As I see it, the predeterminism in the usual doctrine of karma tends to lead to a sort of fatalism about one's present life, and it can lead to a lack of compassion for others: "He must have brought it on himself, by something he did in a past life." That reaction is seen in some parts of India, where one steps politely over the starving beggar so as not to disturb his karma. Unless one is Mother Teresa, that is.

Ben< Now let's look at the forward aspect of this doctrine: Why you do now will determine your fate in the future. What does that concept mean to you? Does it provide motivation or inhibition for present actions? YOUR TURN

Ben> Hmmm... that's a significant typo. I meant to type "what you do now" and instead typed "why you do now." I didn't intend to get into that difference just yet.

c-breeze< It makes me strive harder to learn my "lesson" in this life, so I won't have to repeat the lesson.

greyman< c-breeze: I can see the ripples in the pond of time by that statement.

c-breeze< I hope so, greyman -- if I understand your meaning.

bindi< I feel that it is important to understand the previous before moving onto the future.

kalia< Maybe it might provoke any one of the two reactions. It only depends on us.

HopToad< Both reactions. Isn't this just a huge concept of a cosmic conscience? It's within and without.

dancer< I believe in karma, but also believe karma can be transcended.

kalia< dancer: How do you think karma can be transcended?

dancer< kalia: Love and forgiveness and release.

FRAML< dancer: Touché.

dancer< FRAML: Thanks. Lessons learned the hard way. {grin}

FRAML< Ben: It also reminds me of Predestination of Souls as preached by John Calvin. (Perhaps getting ahead of you.) Also, I see how we live now as affecting whether we cut loose of what binds us to this realm and lets us go to the Light, or reincarnate to continue enjoying earthly pleasures/vices.

bindi< Everything is about the choices we make in our lives. It is a matter of taking the information we do know and using that as a form of guidance for us to make our own decisions.

Ben< bindi: Understanding our past (as in past life regression) can help in our decision-making here and now. But some who experience past life regression then want to continue what they were doing in the past life, so it can have mixed results.

bindi< Ben: Isn't that a matter of choice for them to continue in their past life, and maybe they are not ready to move on and learn from their past life? Or maybe they have unfinished business in their past lives.

Ben< bindi: Bingo! "Unfinished business" is important. That thought moves us from "What if you believe this doctrine?" to "What if karma or something like it is true?" Past life regression very often discloses some type of unfinished business.

LEGS< Ben: In the case of my sister, invalided with MD, I've been told she chose this for this life in order to catch up and by-pass the several lives of less suffering that this one life would equal... on the path to bettering her spirit.

kalia< Why is it that we do not remember the things we have done in past lives as we remember what we have done in this one? I think it is better for us not to be conscious about these things while we are not spiritually strong enough.

Ben< The mechanical, deterministic, concept of karma leads to thoughts or statements such as: "If you murdered, you must come back and be murdered; if you torment someone now, you must come back and be tormented." (Obviously this is "bad karma" but that's what gets most of the attention.)

c-breeze< Ben: I don't think it works exactly like that. But then, we don't know exactly how it works, do we?

Ben< c-breeze: I don't know exactly how it works, but I have a pretty good idea of how it works in some cases.

HopToad< And good karma... ?

c-breeze< I think you can have a very rewarding life, then move to one where you kill yourself or something -- just more lessons.

bindi< Is our spiritual life not a path leading to somewhere?

FRAML< bindi: Unfinished business is a reason to reincarnate, in that it is more important to finish the business than it is to cut the links to this plane of existence and get out of the Reincarnation cycle.

bindi< FRAML: Do we really choose whether or not we reincarnate?

Jalena< Dying also discloses some unfinished business, Ben.

FRAML< bindi, Jalena: I see reincarnation is possible but not preferable. That there is a better way for the soul to go after death of this clay vessel than to reincarnate.

greyman< Hummmm, maybe, if we choose to focus our energy on blessing rather than suffering, we might grow out of the "Karmic debt".

bindi< greyman: I agree with you that we should concentrate on positives, and through positive affirmations we can have the power to change the negative no matter how deep rooted they are.

dancer< greyman: Yep, live in a state of grace.

bindi< dancer: Grace, not denial.

dancer< bindi: I'm not an advocate of denial. If you close your eyes to the problems of life, nothing is cared for ... and caring is love manifested.

Jalena< FRAML: It is a privilege to reincarnate, in my opinion, not a punishment for Karma. But then the Hindu doctrine would probably not agree with me.

Ben< Okay, to move to another series of thoughts on this subject: mechanical karma only considers deeds. What if one *wanted* to do something but didn't do the deed? Would that have an effect? YOUR TURN

FRAML< Yes, you would be back on this planet to try again, bound here by "unfinished business"

bindi< Ben: Can you be more specific?

Ben< bindi: Yes. Suppose I wanted to marry a girl in a previous life, but it was impossible. Might my love for her have effects in this life? Or suppose I wanted to be a doctor, but couldn't. See?

HopToad< No, Ben, I don't see. What's your answer?

Ben> HopToad: The effects of "karma" are caused by desires whether the desires are acted upon or not.

bindi< All of that, though, is unfinished business, and yes, it can come back to effect us in our present lives if we are open and willing to look and learn from it.

Jalena< If one is talking about Karma in the Hindu doctrine, then one would repeat a life for not doing a deed one "wanted" to. The effect would be to live again. And in Hinduism, one would be born into a lower caste for the neglect. I don't agree with this doctrine.

greyman< Ohhh, Jalena, you must have a young healthy body. Talk to someone who is under a lot of physical or emotional pain. Or simply grow old.

Jalena< greyman: You assume much. *S* Adversity is subjective depending on judgments.

greyman< Jalena: Or when you realize adversity.

Jalena< greyman: Why do you assume I have not experienced adversity, old age, or poor health based on the opinions I have presented?

greyman< Jalena: This started as a rhetorical question. I sincerely apologize if my meager assumptions have in some way offended you.

Jalena< greyman: I am not offended. How could I be? You know nothing about me. But your assumptions suggest limitations to my opinions. No problem.

greyman< Jalena: Peace.

dancer< Ben: This is interesting. I know that plants will die if a lot of negative energy is directed at them. Maybe our negative thoughts can create illness in others. I know that they do within ourselves.

windy< I agree, seeming bad fortune is not necessarily a punishment. A spirit who is very active in its manifestation, very physical, might perhaps fall behind in developing other attributes and choose a body which lacks the capacity to be very physical in order to pursue this development. In another vein, a person who lacks an appreciation for the physical, always in their head or on some outer plane, might choose a crippled body to learn to appreciate the body's ability to move, to flow, to dance in its expression through life. A rather strange aspect of my own karma is my lack of concern with material possessions and money and acquiring it. I think I have been too much unconcerned with these things, and in this world where one cannot live without "making a living" and dealing well with money and acquiring it ... I have problems. Fortunately, I have karma of helping others, which perhaps has earned me the right to have others help me, but I think in the future I shall pay more attention to striking a balance in the financial arena. *S*

windy< sorry, all ... I guess I got carried away ... didn't realize I wrote so much.

Ben< Summary of my opinions to this point in the discussion: I think the mechanical doctrine of karma was put forth as a form of social control: "You will be rewarded for your good deeds and punished for your bad deeds, sooner or later, if not in this life, then in the next."

MonaHawke< Ben: Absolutely. In my humble opinion, most 'doctrines' have control as their motivation.

bindi< Can we not take pieces from the doctrine to enhance our present lives, as opposed to simply rejecting it?

Ben< I believe we carry our desires with us, and those desires influence us until they are set aside or resolved. This is the concept of "attachment" in Hinduism and Buddhism, and especially in Raja Yoga.

Jalena< Ben: You are presenting a case for determinism, right?

windy< I think our attractions draw us back even more so than our karma, if they are not part of one another.

Jalena< windy: I think I agree with you.

windy< Ben: Are you saying then, that the *mechanical* doctrine of karma is not an accurate interpretation of karma? I think karma is more like consequences than determinism... but I guess in some ways, the two concepts are similar.

Ben< Jalena, windy: I don't buy the mechanical, deterministic doctrine of karma. I do believe in the concept of attraction and/or attachment.

bindi< Yes, Ben, I agree that desires are the messages from our past lives leading us in a direction, whether we are aware of it or not.

Jalena< So, is it overcoming the desires of the body that is central, Ben?

FRAML< Jalena: Yes, that is one of the key points I see as getting me out of the reincarnation cycle. Yet we can have caring connections to loved ones that will stretch from here to the Light.

Tigerlily< FRAML: So you are saying it is preferable to only reincarnate once?

FRAML< Tigerlily: For me, it is preferable to end the reincarnation cycle in this lifetime. I do not speak to number of times. I suspect I may have reincarnated, by some personal quirks that are coming into focus, but I previously believed that I was a new soul and wanted to return to whence I came. I merely do my best to follow my spirit guide.

Tigerlily< FRAML: Are you then speaking of Christ when you say you do your best to follow your spirit guide? I have never heard you use the terminology of spirit guide. *s* Sounds more like me.

FRAML< Tigerlily: We are in synch. *S*

LEGS< Ben: If the Karma and past lives is true, then are there really new souls? those here for the first time around? or are all at this point being recycled? in theory?

[Ben< LEGS: That is another large subject. There are several theories about the origin of souls.]

bindi< LEGS: I have heard that souls are in a sense recycled, but our souls are growing closer to enlightenment with each learning cycle.

windy< I don't think reincarnation is like recycling. It is more like a continuation. We don't consider ourselves to be recycling our bodies every time our body puts on a different set of clothing.

Ben< /topic Open Discussion of "Karma"

windy< Ben: Would you consider that it is our attachment to certain things that set our karma in motion? And given that we detach ourselves from a particular attraction, then we also transcend our karma regarding that attachment?

Ben< windy: Yes.

bindi< windy: Aren't we, as we realize the consequences of our actions, therefore choosing our destiny?

windy< bindi: At which point are you saying we realize the consequences of our actions? If you mean in between lives, then I guess I would agree with you ... at least for all but very young souls (if there be such a thing), but in the physical world, I do not think that everyone, perhaps not even most people, realize the consequences of their actions. If we did, I think the world would be quite different.

Tigerlily< As I have understood karma (not much), it is basically cause and effect, and it can be dissolved by love, service, and spiritual devotion.

dancer< Ben: I agree with you on attachment. We bring into our lives what we strongly believe in or are attached/attracted to. I think our thoughts are magnetic in a sense. Lots of self-fulfilling prophesies. If one doesn't feel worthy of love (ingrained belief) they find abuse, neglect, etc.

bindi< dancer: So true.

dancer< bindi: It takes a lot of introspection to work through and release that form of karma.

Yopo< Ben: So, attractions and attachments are the attributes our souls carry on a voyage through many lifetimes ... are those the things which most determine the circumstances into which our vessels sail?

Ben< Yopo: Yes, I believe that we (souls) are led by our own desires, attractions, attachments. Therefore, *what we desire* is the key. Desire determines direction, and direction determines destination, which is another name for destiny.

c_breeze< I don't really see attachments to loved ones bringing us back. We could all be together in other dimensions. There has to be more.

Ben< Hinduism and Buddhism both speak of reincarnation as being trapped or bound to the wheel of karma, and therefore something to escape from. Hinduism makes that escape seem almost impossible. Buddha taught an "easier" or more effective way to do it.

Lotus< Ben: Respectfully, as I just slid in here ~ but Hinduism's vehicle is very profound, not at all slow.

[Ben< Lotus: I didn't mean to imply that Hinduism's concept of escape from the Wheel of Karma is trivial or slow, only that it is usually presented as very difficult to do, which perhaps makes it seem more difficult than it actually is or can be.]

Tigerlily< Ben: I think a lot of Westerners take a more fluid approach to karma, and don't see it as black and white and classical definitions. I was under the impression that we reincarnate to learn more about love.

[Ben< Tigerlily: Yes, I am sure that many souls reincarnate to learn more about love -- but I am equally sure that many do so for a wide variety of other reasons.]

MonaHawke< Ben: I'm curious what you think of the idea that before we incarnate each time, we get a good overview of our lives laid out for us according to what we are coming in to work on and have a fair degree of say-so beforehand regarding how our lives will unfold.

Ben< MonaHawke: Yes, regression to the planning stage prior to this life can yield some interesting data. However, some souls seem to come back with little or no planning, just to "get back in the game".

Awenydd< I believe I reincarnated to learn my Karmic lessons ... and once regaining my "glory" to be the guide and teacher to my children, to show them a light that is not common in this world today.

LEGS< Awenydd: Beautifully stated...

Deer< Ben: My life has been a hard one with so many things wrong with me. All I can figure is I must have been a real jerk. Have you ever found a way to deal with karma in the here and now to make this life any easier?

Tigerlily< Deer: I was in a very profound "stuck" place for about 20 years. Every day I prayed to be shown a way to be released. Nothing changed right away, but I have to say that prayer helped. Eventually my relationship with God became the primary thing in my life. Then, about 13 months ago, I really, really hit the LIGHT. It made me glad I had prayed and had not given up.

Awenydd< Tigerlily: That is refreshing and inspiring. Thank you for sharing that with us. That means a lot to me.

Lotus< Tigerlily: That's beautiful***

Deer< Tigerlily: I never give up. I just step back once in a while and yell, but always come back. I just get depressed sometimes.

dancer< Tigerlily: I also am glad you shared that... thank you.

Yopo< Ben: Sometime (to continue the analogy) I would be curious to know what other attributes you believe this soul carries with it from lifetime to lifetime, what is our permanent cargo, and what is not. But that, I suppose, would be another topic.

Ben< Yopo: Spiritual "baggage" of the soul also addresses a lot of things that souls do or try to do even if they don't reincarnate. Like five generations of ghosts still trying to run the family business through one incarnate descendant, for example.

greyman< Yopo: Not sure about everyone. My "excess baggage" was a love of mathematics from a very early age. This must have come from an early life.

Tigerlily< greyman: I am a good cook, but never learned how... once had a past life fragment about being a baker's daughter. *s*

Yopo< greyman: I wonder if "love of mathematics" is the thing carried, or the thing attracted. One might, perhaps, carry a strong desire for order, and that might then attract one to mathematics, or perhaps turn one to the composition of symphonic music. I can see this quickly becomes complicated. (*smile*)

greyman< Yopo: Yes, strong emotional loading. Natural inborn encouragement. If somehow bottled, I wonder if it can be directed for a helpful purpose?

windy< greyman: Mathematics are helpful in so many professions. I don't know why, but architecture and computers keep coming to mind.

greyman< windy: My biological sister has a talent for music. I wish I had her talent. But I wonder if I had the natural attraction for it, things might be different?

Tigerlily< Deer: Dark nights of the soul can last a long while, but faith enters in. I still get depressed, but there is now a joy in my heart that hardly ever leaves. I figure I earned it ... but maybe that's too egotistical. It was grace.

FRAML< Tigerlily: Not egotistical. You struggled, never gave up, and were partly carried until you were out of the shadows of the canyon to the sunlit rim.

LEGS< FRAML: What you said to Tigerlily is well phrased and is probably true of many of us. And so important that she has this now to reach out to others, and perhaps help carry them to the sunlit rim... or beckon them onward.

Ben< Lotus, Deer: The question is: how can a soul escape from the wheel of karma in *this* lifetime? There are more than one teaching of how to do that, and more than one envisioned outcome of doing so. This is what I would like to set up for discussion next week.

Lotus< Ben: A wonderful topic for next week***

Deer< Ben: I would love to be involved it that topic.

Lotus< Only thing is, if one has not experienced the various traditions for some time, it is difficult to experientially understand their power and true meanings.

dancer< I have experienced a new twist in my meditations, as I have sought Oneness with the light above all else. Everything including me becomes just molecules floating and intermingling ... it is so easy to see the oneness when that happens. Sounds strange, but it is wonderful to experience.

c_breeze< dancer: I would like to get to that place.

dancer< c_breeze: It has just started happening within the last few months. It's incredible.

c_breeze< dancer: I am going to try -- will probably take a while.

dancer< c_breeze: Never know, might not take long at all. *s*

FRAML< c_breeze: Click on Ben's name or my name and then look for "A Small Explanation." It is a place to begin, and where I began. It is another way of discernment. In sorting out whether the message is coming from a messenger wishing to help or one desiring to control you.

c_breeze< OK, FRAML, I already have you book-marked. Just had not gotten that far. Thanks.

dancer< FRAML: I printed that a few days ago... I love it.

windy< If you all haven't gone to Ben's page, I recommend it. He discusses his personal experiences with the topics that he discusses here with us ... and also discusses the concepts themselves in depth.

Tigerlily< dancer: I sometimes use the word "God realm" to describe the feeling of oneness that sometimes comes. I also kind of use this term/feeling/intuition to discern whether or not I trust a spiritual teacher/healer... sometimes I get a "God realm" feeling from them... other times not.

dancer < Tigerlily: I like that term. I also live pretty much instinctually... what feels right, what doesn't.

greyman< Tigerlily: Neat.

Deer< Tigerlily: I find your words soothing.

Tigerlily< Deer: This makes me feel good ... thanks for telling me.

03. Karma Klatch
Session 2: Sat 04 Oct 1997

Ben< Last week I mentioned that there are several concepts of how to escape from the wheel of karma in one lifetime. Tonight I'd like to explore one set of those concepts. I have extracted four passages of scripture and will post one of them. After we have discussed it, I will post another. Hopefully, we will discuss all four passages tonight.

Ben< These scriptures are from The Bhagavad-Gita (Translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood), Chapter IX, The Yoga of Mysticism

Ben< (1) "They that are versed in the triple Veda [scriptures], worshipping me [Krishna is speaking as an avatar of the god Vishnu, the Preserver] with the rites appointed, drinking the wine of the gods' communion, cleansed from their sinning; these men pray for passage to Heaven, thus attaining the realm of Indra, home of the happy. There they delight in celestial pleasures. Pleasures more spacious than any earthly they taste for awhile, 'till the merit that won them is all exhausted; then they return to the world of mortals. Thus go the righteous who follow the road of the triple Veda in formal observance; hungry still for the food of the senses, drawn by desire to endless returning."

Ben< Okay, what does this say to you? What do you think of it? YOUR TURN

searchin< It says that if you study the scriptures and observe their rituals, do good works and enjoy mortal pleasures during your lifetime on earth, you will return to spirit and enjoy that world until your "deposit" has been used up. You will then return in another incarnation to learn more.

greyman< Seeking pleasure for it's own sake seems a tad self centered.

LYRA< greyman: I don't see indulging in pleasures there as being self centered but merely a resting period before the next incarnation.

greyman< LYRA: If I had access to that realm, I think I would search for more wisdom and fellowship. The reference to indulging in pleasures reminds me of the folks getting "stoned" in college dorm rooms in the 60's and 70's. They were in "orbit" with pleasure, but not of much use.

LYRA< greyman: OK, now I understand what you mean. Yes, I agree in that sense with you.

FRAML< Ben: Two points: (1) that all our goodness here is only temporary once our soul ascends. (2) that those who are good but like "the good life" are going to bring themselves right back to this plane of existence.

LadyV< I feel that the circle does not end for them.

LYRA< LadyV: Is there an end to incarnation? and if so what is at this end??

Ben< LYRA: One of the risks in reincarnation is that the soul may become trapped as an earth-bound ghost, lose track of time, and eventually wither away.

Trudy< Ben: What is this about spirits withering away? I didn't think they did that, unless they just gave up and became inert.

Ben< Trudy: Yes, that is how souls wither away. They give up and become inert.

LadyV< I feel from the passage that they are foolish; they pray to go into heaven and reach bliss, and return to reality, and then seek yet again the heaven for their desires. To me it is a circle without end. The end would be to cease the desire.

FRAML< Another aspect is that if you expect to find pleasures in the spirit realm that you find here, then you will go up (providing you are good) but not to the highest level where you would stay.

Ben< I see this passage as saying that scripture study is not enough, and that religious formalities and rituals won't hack it. The key is in the last line.

Trudy< Desire brings you back to reincarnate time and again... that's what the last line says.

[Ben< Trudy: Yes. And it also identifies the primary type of earth-binding desires: "hungry still for the food of the senses, drawn by desire to endless returning."

Ben< (2) "Those who sacrifice to the various deities will go to those deities. The ancestor-worshippers will go to their ancestors. Those who worship elemental powers and spirits will go to them. So, also, my devotees will come to me."

Ben< What does this passage say to you? Or remind you of? YOUR TURN

FRAML< Who or what you worship is where you will go to after death. If you worship the trees, I guess that means you become one. I'll leaf it there.

LYRA< It tells me that what we treasure is what we get; what we sow, we harvest. If I treasure to help, I will be rewarded for it. If I treasure to hurt others I will feel pain myself.

searchin< We will all go to the Creator we have followed after mortal death. But is it possible to go to different deities in different incarnations?

Ben< searchin: It is possible to worship different gods in different incarnations.

Caelum< Different Gods in different incarnations? How can there be different Gods?

Ben< Caelum: A god is an object of worship. Whoever or whatever you worship is your god. Thus, there are many such objects of worship.

searchin< Ben: That is strong support for the different beliefs. If we experience following a different deity in each incarnation, we would be better rounded in training, yes?

Ben< searchin: No, it isn't as simple as that. The various paths don't all lead to the same destination. Some paths are dead ends. Some are traps.

searchin< Ben: Yes, you are right. I forgot there are false religions that can mislead those who are eager to learn.

Ben< ALL: Suppose your god is Mammon, the Syrian god of worldly wealth. Where would that god lead you?

Trudy< Mammon will lead you back to earth, where you can accumulate money, and all that money will buy.

LadyV< I am confused here, as it states the food of the senses is what draws them back. What do senses have to do with heaven unless one perceives heaven this way? The question to me would be, What is the desire? As to 2... like returns to like, and what one perceives is what one is both here and there... I feel.

LYRA< LadyV: I call food of the senses earthly pleasures and desires. That is what draws some to return here.

greyman< If that is the case, I'm in big, big trouble! I like technology. I will miss electricity!

LadyV< greyman: Yes, and for me, I want a cigarette ... that I am denied here. (smiling)

FRAML< FT. Knox & Nieman Marcus, here I come.


greyman< LadyV, LYRA: Amen, sisters!

LYRA< greyman: *S*

Ben< LadyV: "Hungry still for the food of the senses" is any desire for physical, sensual, sensory experience. Any such desire requires a physical body.

LadyV< Ben: Yes, and then in order to have this, they return to a physical body. Is it by choice? or do they inhabit someone else?

Ben< LadyV: Souls who want a physical body may try to take over someone else's body, or they may take a new body from conception to death (that is reincarnation).

LadyV< Ben: You mean people return for the pleasure of it? I am serious... who would want to suffer again this life? This I do not comprehend.

Summer< LadyV: I don't think we look at it as suffering when we are deciding when to reincarnate, I think we look at it as a way to grow, since our spirit doesn't look at things the same way as our ego.

Yopo< Hmm... It is difficult to imagine a place or a state where things are NOT things of the senses. They are our windows on reality. To desire what we know by them in a way is to desire being itself. I am confused.

LadyV< Yopo: Good point. One may have to change a bit the perception of being.

LYRA< LadyV, Yopo: I think once we let go of thinking or imagining ourselves in this body and further look at what can be done without touch, etc, we get closer to understanding how to exist without those senses. One example is love... I don't need a body to feel love for another being. *S*

FRAML< Yopo: In the after-life we shouldn't need our physical senses.

LadyV< FRAML: Speak for yourself on that one. I think we feel physical, but in a different sense of sharing. We share auras there... I feel... we can share them here also... but then that is another thing.

Ben< Yopo: Incarnate souls tend to rely so much on the physical senses that they forget they have spiritual counterparts of those senses. It's like a radar navigator who forgets he can look out the window. I've been there, done that. (smile)

Yopo< Ben: Ah, yes... We have our little windows to peer out through here, but the panes are small and dirty, and our view beyond the glass at times obscured by our own reflections.

Lor< Yopo: I perceive we tend to be "blinded" by the inputs from our physical senses to the degree that our perceptions of the still inner voice deep within our being is hardly noticed unless we make the effort to focus on what that voice says to us.

Yopo< Lor: (nodding)

Trudy< Ben: I would think it would be important for us to remember past lives, if for no other reason than to offer us incentive not to come back here. Why can't we, as a rule, remember?

Ben< Trudy: We can remember to some extent, but it's basically a blessing that we don't remember more than we do. Not remembering our past lives gives us a fresh start. If we remembered more fully, we would be more likely to remain in whatever rut we were in, chasing the same old desires, trying to fight or re-fight the same old wars. A fresh start is better for most of us.

Ben< (3) From the Bhagavad-Gita: "Whatever man gives me in true devotion: fruit or water, a leaf, a flower: I will accept it. That gift is love, his heart's dedication."

Ben< What does selection (3) say to you, or remind you of? YOUR TURN

LadyV< I have felt that the Bhagavad-Gita is based mainly on love anyway. I agree with number 3. I feel it is true.

LYRA< In my interpretation, it tells me not to turn down a gift that comes from the heart.

greyman< It's the thought that counts!

Yopo< Hmm... Think I concur with greyman on this point. The outward form of the ritual is not relevant, only that it be an expression of love and devotion.

Summer< It doesn't matter what the gift is as long as it's from the heart. When we give ourselves to God in love, it doesn't matter how we got there or how many sidetracks we took.

searchin< The honor afforded is not the gift itself, but the love in which it was given.

Ben< searchin: Yes.

Summer< I like searchin's idea. It doesn't matter whether the gift was something expensive or something tattered and worn, we should look at the manner in which it was given. I would feel more honored to receive something that may be useless but was the person's only possession than to receive an expensive gift from someone who has a lot of money.

LYRA< Summer: Fully agree with you there. *S*

Trudy< Summer: That was exactly the point to the gift from "The Littlest Angel."

Lor< Trudy: I believe that we are granted the privilege of being able to incarnate into this experience to learn or develop how we want to choose as to how to react with others, including what would be our choice as to the nature of the God we would choose to hold in esteem. Such opportunities on the other side apparently are quite different, to the point that we do not learn or develop as quickly and effectively there. For one thing, we tend to lose track of what time and space mean there, from what I have been able to determine.

Ben< Lor: This planet is subject to more-or-less periodic mass extinctions. After the next one, it will be rather more difficult to find a berth (birth) on this planet in which to learn our lessons.

Lor< Ben: Your point is well taken, as it places a sense of urgency to get things straightened out right now while we can.

Ben< As I said, the Bhagavad-Gita is not the only source for essentially this same teaching.

FRAML< Ben: Are we to make physical sacrifice to the god/s, as cattle, sheep and doves were offered in ancient Israel?

Ben< FRAML: No, that isn't what the Bhagavad Gita teaches. It isn't the physical gift or the sacrifice, but the love that motivates the gift.

LadyV< Lor: The term reincarnation is new to me. If I chose to return and were allowed to do so, I would want to clean up the mess I made in the first place. I would want to attain the highest heaven... if this be so. Perhaps this is what you are also saying but in a different way?

Lor< LadyV: I refer you to my remarks in the session two weeks ago (found on Ben's site under Seminars). This should help clarify my concept of what incarnating is all about.

LadyV< Lor: Thank you.

Ben< (4) From the Bhagavad-Gita: "Whatever your action, food or worship; whatever the gift that you give to another; whatever you vow to the work of the spirit; O son of Kunti [Arjuna, a human], lay these also as offerings before me. Thus you will free yourself from both the good and the evil effects of your actions. Offer up everything to me. If your heart is united with me, you will be set free from karma even in this life, and you will come to me at the last."

Yopo< Freeing ourselves from BOTH the good and the evil effects.

LYRA< Ben: One thing I don't understand there is, why do I have to free myself of good effects ?

Ben< LYRA: Good karma is also binding, because we may well want to do it again and again.

LYRA< Ben: Oh, wow, never thought of it that way. Thank you.

FRAML< If our actions are to selflessly help others, and not for the pleasure in doing it, then there is a chance to get out of the Karmic reincarnation cycle.

LadyV< FRAML: Then if I hear you right... the key to staying put is to sacrifice? Where does it say in the scriptures it is better to obey than sacrifice? Yes, I see what you are saying.

FRAML< LadyV: Not necessarily to sacrifice, but to help others without any strings attached. I come in here and treat others as I want to be treated. I practice rather than preach. If any choose to follow the same spiritual path as me, then that is good, but I am not concerned as to how many, if any do. I am a sower of seeds, God is the reaper of the crop.

LadyV< FRAML: Unconditional love will get you into bliss for sure. Few attain this. It is the goal we all seek. It is the basis for most religious doctrine, whatever it is. I feel, however, that only the love of parent is truly unconditional, and even then I have questioned this. I see the points you are making. In a sense what good one does returns. It is the law of life, just as evil returns. I understand, I think. Well, OK I'm working on it. (smiling)

searchin< Whatever we do, we are to offer it in love, not any other motivation, on His behalf, as we are a part of him. This will protect us from evil that may come about from another force as a result of our actions. If we offer our actions in this way, we will incur no karmic debt should it go wrong somehow.

Lor< searchin: Well stated -- seems like you are coming closer to finding the object of your searching.

searchin< Lor: Some days I understand more than others! I still have a long way to go! Bless you for your statement, though! :)

Yopo< I recall this discussion between Krishna and the warrior took place before Arjuna went into battle. Arjuna had expressed his reluctance to slay his friends, his kinsmen, who were in the opposing army. As did he, I find this an "evil" action to contemplate. Krishna is encouraging him to proceed.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, people have made much of the setting of the Bhagavad-Gita, and thus missed the message. Krishna is telling Arjuna that what Arjuna is concerned about really doesn't matter in terms of the life of the soul.

Yopo< And yet, Arjuna's concerns seem to stem from love. Perhaps I'm not quite ready to "get" this yet.

Ben< All this comes back to what I said a couple of weeks ago: What one desires (loves, wants, yearns for, craves) determines the direction a soul will go. The fact that Arjuna doesn't *want* to kill his kinsmen indicates he has already released his desire to kill (karma of hatred), and so he will not reincarnate to do that again.

LadyV< Ben: In that case, we had best work on letting go of many things... which is wiser anyway and allows the soul to go on to the source. If this reincarnation be proven true, then we had best work hard in the now to do this... but then again who among us is able to do this? Interesting...

FRAML< LadyV: Letting go of things is the key. To let go of the desire that the pleasures, people, material items of this life are the entire meaning of existence. We can establish stretchable caring connections to loved ones that will let us go up to the Light and be out of the reincarnation cycle.

LadyV< FRAML: Thank you.

Yopo< This still perplexes me. We think we know good from evil. If we free ourselves from their effects, does this not imply the distinction does not really matter?

Summer< Yopo: Good point! Would there be a distinction if we freed ourselves from it?

SEEK< Well said, Summer.

searchin< Yopo: It is all in the motivation for the action.

Yopo< searchin: Sometimes not, when you are on the receiving end of an "evil" act prompted by a "good" motivation. Alas, such distinctions can become very subjective.

searchin< Yopo: I may have misunderstood, but I thought the quotation from Ben dealt with things that we, ourselves do. If any evil should befall another when we have made an action motivated by love, we would not incur bad karma as a result. // Ben... is that correct?

Yopo< searchin: I would very much like to believe that. And yet, in this world at least, turbulent energies move through nature, and through the world of men. Even if all were motivated by love, things we deem "bad" or "evil" would of necessity still occur. Hmm... There's something important in that observation, I think, but it eludes me.

LadyV< searchin: I am curious about that also. Is love the saving Grace for our human errors?

searchin< LadyV: Love is the saving grace. If we could all learn to love, true pure love, then we could achieve what was meant to be from the beginning.

Ben< searchin: Those who have unintentionally harmed someone else may feel an awful need to make it right, a karmic debt, that they may not be able to pay. How can one be released from this karma?

LadyV< karmic debt, meaning you know when you get to the other side that you messed up and did not know about it, but you have to, or choose to, come back to get it straight... with whomever. Which means they have to meet you in at least one life to resolve it. Seems complicated to me.

searchin< Ben: Ask forgiveness from the injured party.

Ben< searchin: Yes! In soul rescue work, those who need to ask forgiveness of someone are helped to find that soul so they can do so. Thus they are released.

LadyV< Who is chosen to do this soul-rescue work?

Ben< LadyV: It isn't a matter of being "chosen". Those who do soul-rescue work are assisted by the angels who also enjoy rescuing souls.

LadyV < Ben: Do the angels choose the soul rescue workers because the person is striving to get their act together, or is this the choice of the perceived God?

Ben< LadyV: It isn't very complicated. If you saw someone trying to help a child in need, would you try to help that person help the child if you could? There is a God who rescues souls. Those who rescue souls are helped by the angels who are agents of that God.

LadyV< Ben: That makes sense. (smiling) The only thing is that life has taught me that one had best think about rescue in less serious terms, as you suggested, because if you interfere in the work of the Spirit in the life of that person, the Holy Spirit will pick you up and put you aside. He or she has other plans. But this is only my belief system. What I am saying is, the matter is serious and not to be entered lightly and first and foremost. The ego-center had best be reckoned with.

Ben< LadyV: Yep, there is such a thing as a "do-gooder" who goes around trying to "rescue" folks who don't need it or don't want it. The angels usually don't help them. However, a lot of rescue work is done by angels responding to those who simply pray for another.

greyman< Ben: Yes, mis-guided boy scouts.

LadyV< Ben: In this we agree. I feel that prayer is this, whether it be with drums, incense, or a cross, or whatever, it is asking for the angel to sit next to you and aid you. Yes, I agree. It is universal, I feel.

Ben< LadyV: One of the lessons of the Bhagavad-Gita is, the form doesn't matter; the desire does.

LadyV< Ben: True.

LadyV< Yopo: I agree with you that there is not perfection... good and evil reside together. In my mind they do.

searchin< Yopo: I cannot agree with you without reservation. I have never experienced a world of pure love, but I would think that in such a world, evil could not exist.

Yopo< searchin: I understand your distinction. I was talking about THIS world, where we have natural disasters, where one animal must kill another to live, where cultures compete for resources too few to maintain them all.

searchin< Yopo: Yes, that is the way of THIS world. On that I agree. *smile*

Ben< Yopo: This world is an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. (smile)

Lor< Yopo: Not just freeing ourselves from evil effects, but developing our innate understandings about appreciating what is truly good and how to do good, how to interact helpfully, fulfillingly with others, as well.

LadyV< Well, I don't mind giving a hand up, but then my hand may be smacked, so I question this.

Lotus< Yopo: It is suggested that "bad or evil" and dualistic concepts like that are mental perceptions, ultimately not existing in the pure ultimate state of being. So the more one links to the greater love, the less one is bound by these concepts in motivation or action.

Lor< Ben: Re your remark about not wanting to live in this world: Don't we sense that we have elected to incarnate here in this world for some purpose -- not for just some of its worldly pleasures, but for what it offers us as a training facility and the chance to better express and enter into loving relationships that we can take back with us?

Yopo< Lor: Yes, I suspect that must be true. I don't believe we just get thrown into this mess to see if we can work our way out of it. There must be a purpose for coming here.

Lor< There is a wise saying that we should not be attached to things of this world, but note that does not define what is of value in the spirit world, such as love and laughter, etc.

LadyV< Lor: Touching heaven here is not so hard, I think, when times come and great joy is experienced, perhaps those are things of the spirit world sharing with us. I would hope so anyway... truly I would hope so.

Lor< LadyV: There is surely a useful reason that we experience both good and evil in this dimension, for without either one we would lose a sense or measure of the other.

LadyV< Lor: Good point!

Ben< Yopo: The things we deem good and bad are often erroneous assumptions -- or false doctrine. Thus we are led to want what we do not need, and to flee what we need not fear. This is delusion, Maya, which we need to transcend by seeking to learn the truth, especially what is truly good and truly bad for souls.

Yopo< Ben: Well, I must admit that good oftentimes comes from things we might initially deem evil. The growth one might experience in coming to terms with the death of a friend, perhaps. I suppose we seldom see all of the truly relevant results of any particular happening.

Lor< LadyV: I guess what is bothering me about Yopo's remark about the need to let go of what we think of as good perhaps goes too far if it includes spiritually good things that we experience while being incarnated in this domain.

greyman< Lor: Yes, but I hope I can learn vicariously. There are too many evil things that do not need to be experienced.

Lotus< Yopo: The ultimate nature of beingness speaks to our "perceptions" of "this" world. Ultimately, there is no death, no destruction or creation. From that state there is only that pure state with no perception of opposites. It is a little difficult to understand initially, but eventually becomes more clear with study and one's spiritual practices.

Yopo< Lotus: My higher self agrees. My monkey-body recoils in horror. (*smile*)

Lotus< Yopo: Hahahaha ~ yeaaaah, I know exactly what you mean! Thank goodness the higher self... eventually... prevails. **hahaha** (we hope)

LadyV< I feel that when evil comes, or perceived evil, whether one can detach and forgive is the essence. It cannot be stopped. There is a higher hand that does this, but to resist just gets you more of it. There are others that do this for you... the angels I suppose.

Ben< ALL: Here's another type of karmic debt to consider: Suppose someone did you dirty and you honestly feel that he or she owes you an apology. What then?

searchin< It is best to forgive the person. Otherwise it would bind you both.

LadyV< searchin: I agree. Let it go... and pray for the turkey!

LYRA< searchin: I agree. What is the sense in keeping your feelings attached to it? There are other more important things to think about than to carry hurt feelings around with us.

greyman< I'd just get over it. Not much value as time goes on.

Yopo< I suppose it depends: If making your displeasure known serves the end of greater understanding, well and good. If, on the other hand, you simply want to "even the score", you are being drawn into a negative sort of attachment.

Lotus< Well, it is probably best to look at your own "identification" with the karmic debt, and let go of your expectation of an apology. Otherwise you will keep yourself bound in the dualistic seesaw of good-bad and slow down your inner awakening to higher love.

searchin< But there is more to that. If I think I have forgiven, but continue to think about the incident and feel resentment, I have not truly forgiven. It is only when I can FORGET as well as forgive that I can achieve true freedom from it.

LEGS< Ben: If someone did me dirty, I first would pray that it didn't happen to me or anyone else from them again... and ask that the error of the ways be shown... especially if I provoked the action inadvertently.

LadyV< When a man makes me mad, he has got me. Interesting... and so true.

Lor< Yopo: With re to learning from a grieving experience, etc., I perceive at least one reason for choosing to incarnate into this mess is that we get to learn better as to what and how to consider what is "good" and what is not. Our experience here can serve to remove some of our confusion. Hopefully, we do not incur too many spiritual type debts that are beyond our ability to repay.

Ben< Yopo: As long as we think someone owes us an apology, and especially if it is true, we place a string to our feelings in his or her hands.

Yopo< Ben: Didn't quite mean it that way. Sometimes confrontation is useful; I may come to understand my own misinterpretation of events by expressing my feelings. Or the other party may reflect on their own actions, and understand our relationship better. Perhaps I just want to give that string a bit of a yank, before letting it go. (*smile*)

Ben< Yopo: You can only yank a string that you hold in your hand. However, yes, I agree: sometimes confrontation is useful, even necessary. The point is to be free of our own programmed reactions, free to choose.

greyman< Yopo: Insightful, at times the required course of action. *G*.

LadyV< Yopo: You mean "Discuss the contract." Sometimes that may help. I see what you are saying. I would feel that behind all anger is pain anyway, and Yopo would see this. But then not all are as sensitive as you are. (smiling) And it is a risk to walk the extra mile with your brother. Tell you what, if I need a friend on my side I would call for you. Yes, I see what you mean.

Yopo< LadyV: You honor me with kind words and thoughts, perhaps undeserved, but I thank you.

FRAML< LadyV: Example: A year ago last spring I was visiting my home town and saw my ex-wife at church. For the FIRST time in 17 years of being divorced from her, I felt neither hurt from the memory of her walking out on me nor desire or hoping that she was hurting for what she did. Somewhere in prayer I finally forgave both her and myself for what happened. But it was a bitter 17 years before it happened. Thus I detached one "earth binding" link.

Lotus< {{{FRAML}}}

LadyV< FRAML: If she left you, she was most unwise, and I would want to unbind her also. How about that!

greyman< FRAML: I can just hear that broken link pinging down that rocky gorge. LadyV: I do not think that is a problem. At least I hope so.

LadyV< FRAML: Yes, I see your points made.

searchin< I think the more resentment, anger, etc., we carry with us, the harder it is to learn. Like having cataracts on your eyes.

LadyV< searchin: I agree with you. It is hard to sleep at night with fear on one side and guilt on the other. Better to let it go.

Lor< searchin: Forgetfulness is not the best attribute, as it is not really very practical (I keep remembering), but choosing to just let the matter drop, i.e.: let it go, seems best to me.

Ben< searchin: To forgive means to release, to let go. It does not mean to pardon or excuse or exonerate -- only to "Let the trespass go into the past and let the trespasser go his own way." That sets us free.

LadyV< Someone said to me today that people who perceive wisely have had many spiritual lifetimes, and in these lifetimes they have sacrificed personal pleasures and in the end they aid mankind... consciously or unconsciously. Ben, would this be a true statement about reincarnation?

Ben< LadyV: Some souls do that. However, one can sacrifice personal pleasures and aid mankind without reincarnating. That's what the angels and as-angels do, when they descend from the Light to help. Reincarnation is motivated by some type of earthly desire.

Ben< ALL: This has been an excellent discussion. Thank you all. I know I loaded a lot of scripture this time, and you may want to take another look at it after I get this session posted, to see what else it implies.

03. Karma Klatch
Session 3: Sat 18 Oct 1997

Ben< The future aspect of the mechanical doctrine of karma basically says: What you do moment by moment tends to accumulate, toward good or evil, and the balance of that accumulation will determine your future state of existence. Thus it portrays an inevitable feed-back to the individual in which good deeds will be rewarded and evil deeds will be punished.

Ben< In effect, this doctrine is a form of religious governance that tries to motivate people to do good and not evil, right here and now, by predicting their future rewards and punishments. This effect is similar to the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem doctrines of judgment, in which everyone will be repaid for their good or evil deeds. All such doctrines implement a desire to govern people without having to resort to violence. And more important, they reflect the nearly universal desire for justice, in which good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Justice is portrayed as inevitable in the next life, or the next world, or the last day, because it certainly doesn't happen often enough in this world.

Ben< Okay, what are your observations, comments, or questions about those two postings? YOUR TURN

JamesRD< Those beliefs, to me, seem to dwell deep within, and I believe are in all of us to some extent.

Ben< JamesRD: Surely the desire for justice is deep within most of us. And we are frustrated when we see it not happen.

JamesRD< And therein lies what we truly feel within, Ben. I don't feel religion of any sect has anything to do with what we all know and believe within. Karma appears to me to have become another label for what it is we feel.

HeartDancer< Ben: Metaphysical definition of oneness and duality.

FRAML< Ben: So be good or you'll suffer in the future -- for Karma, back here, for Judeo-Christians, in hell.

K'am< So, Ben, Karma is a guide to your actions in this life, to motivate you to do good so that you will reap rewards in the next life?

Ben< K'am: That is the effect of belief in that teaching. At this point, I'm not considering whether or not the doctrine is true, only the effects of believing it.

K'am< Then surely if the belief in Karma is strong, the lives of those who follow the role of goodness would make the world a better place in which to live, regardless of any rewards that were to come now or later. And as to the lack of justice in our world ... it is so warped that we may never see it be what it should be in our lifetime!

blueye< Very well said, K'am. I agree.

Ben< K'am: Yes, if belief in Karma is strong, lives can be affected for the better. (However, some say, "Oh well, I'll goof off this time and try to do better next time")

Yopo< Well, it is hard for me to know if the expectation of justice preceded the karma and reward/punishment concepts, or if my expectations arise as result of those concepts being here already.

greyman< It would appear that some people come to do as they please regardless of any religious governance doctrine.

Ben< greyman: Yes, many people seem to arrive on this planet determined to do just as they please, regardless of any religious or other form of governance.

Yopo< I would like to think of these ideas as being more than mere cultural mechanisms for social control.

Cassandra< Can we alleviate our Karma by doing something to help someone? not for that reason, of course. We help them because we want to, but does it also help our Karma?

Ben< Cassandra: There are teachings on how to balance one's karma. Some of them seem more difficult to accomplish than others.

FRAML< K'am & Ben: But if one bad deed means you reincarnate on a lower level, there would seem to be no incentive to be good after the first bad act. Also, doesn't this also reinforce a social caste system?

Ben< FRAML: The doctrine of karma is not usually interpreted as referring to one bad deed, but to the accumulation and balance of all one's deeds.

PANDORIA< FRAML: I do not believe that a person can be reincarnated into a lower level, because we stay where we are until we have finally reached our own oneness.

FRAML< PANDORIA: I am referring to the levels in the Hindu social caste system of 5 levels, from Brahmans down to the Untouchables. Not to a spiritual caste system.

LEGS< Ben: Do those believers in faiths that speak of such Karma believe that the same people will carry forward in their new life, and boons or ills will be exchanged according to what happened between them in the former life?? or just good or bad in general.

Ben< LEGS: Yes, the doctrine of karma does address relationships and deeds between individuals -- and that's where it gets complicated!

Yopo< Uh, perhaps the idea of the "just" punishment society metes out for those it perceives as evil-doers? We seem to think we incur no karmic debt for inflicting such "just" punishments.

Ben< Yopo: Earthly governments basically confine their promised rewards and threatened punishments to this life. And those who implement such laws think they incur no karmic debts ... but it may be quite otherwise.

Yopo< Ben: Uh oh ... I see how this DOES quickly become complicated.

K'am< But don't you believe that our choices are affected by the role that we have been given to lead ... good, evil, or indifferent?? and that Karma can enhance our choices ... whatever they are ... whichever way we tend to choose to act. Or do we really have a choice in the way that we perceive and react in situations? Is it predestined as to our Karma?

HeartDancer< To me, karma is a head-center experience, cognition of the laws of cause and effect. To step off karma is a function of the heart center ... and the mythological-socio-religious doctrines we all recognize some of the pieces of are evidence of the fact that we all inherently realize this. When drawn deeper into the heart center, fear and its effects are diminished. Is this not true?

blueye< I feel, if you have had many bad deeds in your life but have turned your life around to good deeds, that is much gain, and your bad deeds wouldn't be accounted for if you now live and feel for good in the lives of others.

Cassandra< I have found out in my lifetime that I have been hurt in the same way I have hurt others (this is feeling-wise). So our deeds do come back to haunt us.

windy< A possible exception: you choose a difficult lifetime in order to progress at a faster rate ... ?

Cassandra< I have read that is true, windy.

greyman< windy: Faster rate?

windy< greyman: I think most souls have some say in what kind of life they will live, and one might choose a difficult set of circumstances in order to learn faster, much the same way we do in the physical world when we challenge ourselves.

gladtobe< I have thought that our thoughts were our karma. Lots of times I have made a judgment, not understanding how someone could do something or be in a certain situation, then later I find myself there -- and then I understand. Ouch!

windy< gladtobe: Ain't it the truth! ;-)

K'am< gladtobe: I think that is what Cassandra meant ... do unto others ... and when you do badly ... either way, it comes full circle.

windy< Also, possibly, teachers, way-showers, have difficult lives that they did not "earn".

blueye< I am sure there are many who have difficult lives that they feel they didn't earn. Maybe haven't earned this life but needed lessons in this life that had not been learned in past life.

LEGS< Ben: The exceptions being perhaps when a person has great physical suffering in this life or one of their lives that atones for much of the bad or evil done in former lives, so that they erase more than perhaps one lifetime with one?

Ben< LEGS: Massive personal atonement is one part of the doctrine of karma.

Ben< ALL: Okay, next posting. There are some exceptions to this general pattern of religious governance. Can you think of any? YOUR TURN

greyman< Yes, Federal Government punishes efficient work with less resources, rewards ineffective efforts by throwing more money and resources to the venture. *sigh*

windy< greyman: *sigh*

K'am< Ben: Are you speaking of something like missionary work?

Ben< ALL: I was thinking of religious or spiritual paths that don't rely on such rewards or punishments.

hummingbird< Ben: Yes, the Inca philosophy comes to mind.

windy< The Tao? Does the Tao speak of reward and punishment?

Yopo< Well, most of the New Age folks I know don't think in terms of punishment or reward, but instead of furthering one's spiritual growth. I must admit, this makes a great deal more sense to me than the idea of some sort of divine judgment or having one's heart weighed in a scale.

LEGS< Yopo: It sounds so good that perhaps it is wistful thinking ... changing the rules to comfort the masses and draw followers to a less demanding regimen.

Yopo< LEGS: Well, perhaps, but if one takes such ideas seriously, and tries to work at them, you still tend to become a brighter being. Not exactly a "cop out". (*smile*) One's fate is truly in his or her own hands.

Ben< Yopo: Yes, future rewards and punishments are a large part of what the New Age movement has rejected. Native American religions have little if any of it. Druidism does not emphasize it. Wicca has the "Rule of Three" (what you do comes back to you threefold) but it is usually interpreted as referring to this life.

windy< Chopra doesn't talk in terms of rewards and punishments, does he?

Ben< Okay, there are several examples of paths like that. Here's another one:

Ben< Guatama Buddha essentially opted out of the entire system of present and future desires, attachments, rewards and punishments. He said: (1) to live is to suffer, (2) suffering is caused by desires, (3) desires can be destroyed, (4) and this is how to do it. Then he went on to prescribe a way of life (the Noble Eightfold Path) that eventually leads to Nirvana.

Ben< Nirvana literally means "to blow off" and is defined as the mental state of perfect tranquillity produced by the elimination of one's desires.

hummingbird< Ah, to not care that we don't know that which we don't know.

Trudy< Buddhism -- the middle path. Get to the point where there is no desire, and so be free of the cycle of death and rebirth.

Ben< Trudy: Guatama Buddha said that his basic (Theravada) path is the way to eliminate suffering in this life.

PANDORIA< Ben: Could that also be true self acceptance?

Ben< PANDORIA: Perhaps.

Cassandra< However, before Buddha thought of a way to get out of this life, he went through suffering, karma, etc. So did his karma teach him how to reach Nirvana? Without it would he have come to his conclusion?

Ben< Cassandra: Good question. I don't know the answer.

K'am< Ben: How does the Theravada path prevent suffering?

Ben< K'am: Theravada Buddhism is designed to eliminate the desires that cause suffering.

windy< I think desire is a good thing. What one desires might be bad, but to desire ... I think the world would be full of zombies if it weren't for desire.

Yopo< windy: Gotta agree with you there. Perhaps it is what one desires that makes the difference.

[Ben< Yopo: Yes. It is specifically *what* one does and doesn't desire that makes the difference. It is like driving a boat: selecting what we do and don't desire is like steering the boat; eliminating all our desires is like turning off the motor.]

K'am< windy, I agree. With no desires, there would be no goals, no risks, no greatness. Complacency would rule ... and that wouldn't be good, I don't think.

hummingbird< windy: Desire is a tough one to let go of, I understand. However we have to be able to let go of desire if our expectation of it does not match reality.

greyman< windy: What of desires not of this Earth?

windy< greyman: I don't mean specific desires ... just "to desire". Desires can be emotional, physical, spiritual.

Praxus< Yes, but our desire to attain knowledge can cause suffering ... yes?

Ben< Praxus: That's true. Ignorance is not bliss if we want to attain knowledge.

hummingbird< Ben: How does one discern the difference between a desire that causes suffering and one that causes joy?

Ben< hummingbird: A desire causes joy when it is fulfilled, and suffering when it is frustrated. Total tranquillity of mind (Nirvana) is neither joy nor suffering.

K'am< Ben: I don't think I could follow that then. As you see my feeling from my last posting, no desires may lead to no suffering, but it also would lead to no miracles ... new research medicine/cures/surgical ideas ... etc.

[Ben< K'am: Having no desires equals having no motivation. That is what I was saying to Yopo in my post about turning off the motor.]

Ben< ALL: Okay, last posting for tonight coming up. It is also an exception to the rule of religious governance, although you might not expect it in this religion.

Ben< Jesus prescribed realignment rather than extinction of desires. He said: (1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, (2) Love your neighbor as yourself, (3) Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also; (4) Truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has already passed from death to life.

Ben< In this doctrine, the goal is abundant and eternal life (Hebrew *chaiyim*, Greek *zoe*, which means liveliness, vigor, vitality, energy, enthusiasm, and not merely existence).

K'am< Thank you, Ben ... my belief!

windy< That's a beautiful quote, Ben. :-) Good choice!

Yopo< Wonderful words! Alas, I fear the teachings of the man called Jesus may be a bit too radical for most modern-day Christians. At least, for those I have most often encountered. (*smile*)

Ben< Yopo: Yes, indeed. There is an awful contrast between the teachings of Jesus and many of those who now claim his name. It often seems that their entire doctrine boils down to "Join our church and help pay the bills, or you'll burn in Hell." (sigh)

greyman< No semiconductors in heaven. *Sigh*.

Ben< greyman: Maybe you can *be* a semiconductor in heaven, one that conducts blessings and nothing else. (smile)

greyman< Ben: *Grin* Thanks.

gladtobe< But that part about coming into judgment, couldn't that be a karma?

windy< Ben: Do you think that in this quote Jesus is outlining a way to transcend karma?

Ben< windy: Yes, I do. That's why I included it in this discussion. His teachings emphasize devotion to one Deity, which is explained in the Bhagavad-Gita, and detachment from *earthly* desires, as is found in both Hinduism and Buddhism, plus he emphasizes that our love of our neighbors is essential for our own eternal liveliness.

windy< I often wonder if this isn't what the parable about the men working in the vineyard is all about ... some come at the beginning of the day ... some not until almost the end ... they all get the same reward. :-)

K'am< ((((windy))))) Yes!

gladtobe< windy: Which always brings the question: which would you rather be?

Ben< windy: The early followers of Jesus spoke of dying to the way they were and being born anew. A fresh start, in this life, without having to reincarnate. And they maintained that God did not count against them anything they had done which they no longer did.

K'am< Ben: Which is what blueye said earlier: that when a person "turns" their life around, that person can redeem whatever ills they did earlier by the way they live their life from then on ... "born again" Christians??

Ben< K'am: I tend to be somewhat skeptical of those who claim to be "born again Christians" because I've seen more than a few of them who simply became more arrogant.

K'am< Yes, Ben, but the true meaning of that "label" is to be able to live a "new" life without being condemned by the past events. And yes, as in everything, people do take advantage of being classified that way, and some become smug and arrogant ... which in actuality defeats what they had hoped to do and proves that they are indeed NOT "born again" but merely the same person as they were. But those who really embrace the NEW LIFE are most wondrous lovely persons who generate love and generosity of spirit.

LEGS< Ben: Hmmm ... making a distinction between "born anew" and "born again". There is arrogance in every walk of life.

Ben< K'am, LEGS: Yes, I know some folks who are truly "born again" in the sense that their whole set of attitudes and behaviors has changed.

windy< I agree, K'am, regarding born-agains. I think many have grown over the years, and truly embraced Jesus' teachings, and gotten past some of the judgmental attitudes that seemed so prevalent a decade ago.

Ben< By the way, in the statement "You must be born again" the Greek word translated "again" actually means "from above". That's worth thinking about.

LEGS< Ben: Since that is the Greek for it, I think I like it better than the usual way it is stated. Makes one realize the source.

Ben< /topic Open Discussion of Karma

LEGS< Ben: Now, what about the predestination part of Karma? Does that mean that we choose before returning to this life (any life) what we will be working on Karma-wise and that is all we are allowed to work on? I have heard some say that a death is predestined and that one chose that manner and time and place of dying before they entered life in a body. What does this do to the free choice? Is choosing Jesus as Redeemer the only Free choice allowed in a Karma believer?

Ben< LEGS: Past-life regressions have indicated that some souls do plan to work on certain things in their next life, and some do not. There are indications that some souls pre-plan one or more exit points, but can change their minds later. No, choosing Jesus as redeemer is not the only free choice allowed, by any means.

Yopo< LEGS: Many paths, One Destination. (*smile*)

windy< I find following the Light path quite rewarding. To me, there is no other greater reward than Love. I don't see much happiness in the faces of the greedy, those scratching after material things. They run around the world in their fancy cars and gold snuff boxes complaining (maybe it's the price one pays). Not that all wealthy people are unhappy, but happy seems to correlate more with goodness than with evil, or so has been my experience. Still I think its always nice to know that the door's open, if one is only first getting the message. da? ;-)

blueye< I think no matter what we like to think, there are always some out there for greed. I never knew what drew them so, but I have asked myself the same question. If they only could feel the true happiness there would be no greed.

LEGS< Ben: With such glorious doctrine, why so many unbelievers? Is it because many have turned from the belief in Karma and punishment, soothing themselves with ideals of walking with the Gods, of being gods themselves???

Ben< LEGS: I think a lot of people simply don't want to hear any warnings about the future consequences of their actions or their desires. However, many of those who come into SWC describe themselves as "ex-Christian" for very good reasons. Basically, they have been burned by the churches or by very bad doctrines. I can agree with almost everything they say about what Christianity has come to mean to them, because of what they have experienced.

windy< Ben: It is said Jesus died to erase original sin ... (karma?)

Ben< windy: "Original sin" is another very handy political doctrine. The only truth I see in it is: If we were all that good, we wouldn't be here. (smile) And yes, I know Jesus sends angels to help rescue souls who fell from the Light. I've been part of that work many times.

windy< On the other hand, I love material things ... flowers, trees, lush fabrics, pretty tiles, wooden floors, a verandah ... my computer ;-) PEOPLE :-)

Yopo< windy: Seems it is really a question of whether one owns stuff, or the stuff owns you.

FRAML< Yopo: Your reply to windy is IMHO correct. Even to the point where I have heard some boast that they believe in reincarnation so that they can come back and have more sex ... it is their only goal in life.

windy< Agreed, Yopo. I think it's harder to be rich ... especially to be born rich ... but I don't think it's bad to be rich. :-). I more meant people who spend their lives acquiring things ... fame, fortune, whatever ... yet it doesn't seem to make them happy, nor do they use what they have earned to find out what does.

FRAML< windy: One doesn't need to be born rich to have desires for that which only money can buy. Look at the fights & killings among kids to get the expensive jackets or Nike shoes. Material possessions are the only thing they understand.

celtic< Religion is the insight into which the human existence endeavors to place those things of mystical nature which are beyond their realm of understanding.

FRAML< K'am: I see releasing desires as letting go of those things that you make the entire focus of your life to the point where you "lust" after them. You would rather have more of something than to be willing to say, "There is a time for this now, but it is not what controls my life."

K'am< Well, guess that in the extreme, FRAML, desires could be taken to be that ... things that are lusted after, but then those desires become sins ... not desires.

windy< Light and love, K'am. My whole response earlier was in response to something someone said about my comment on the grape grove story in the Bible. I was trying to say that goodness, spiritual choices, are their own reward ... the most rewarding of these being Love. I was trying to come with an example of people who seek material pleasures who although they get what they seek are not satisfied, are not truly happy.

FRAML< K'am: re: when desires become sin. I want to read all the books on history, that is a driving force in my life. I fear dying only because I know it will come before I FINISH all the books I want to read. That "UNFINISHED" business is a link to this realm that could cause me to reincarnate.

windy< FRAML: I think reading history books is a worthy desire, and if it causes you to reincarnate in the next lifetime with the same desire ... well, maybe its because the world needs you! :-)

FRAML< windy: I am a historian, However I have no desire to reincarnate, but to release the binding chains of earthly desires and return to the Light and do whatever work Jesus has for me to do.

windy< FRAML: Jesus chose to be of this world (IMHO). Jesus (and God) must believe this world is pretty important ... and historian is an important job. What makes you think being the best historian you can be isn't exactly what God (or Jesus) wants you to be?

FRAML< windy: Yes, I agree that God may want me to be a historian in this life. (After having spent 20 years in the Army. *G*) But Jesus didn't speak of reincarnating. He spoke of going to him in the Kingdom of Heaven. I have no desire to reincarnate, and have never believed in it. I do not doubt that those who do believe in it may have done it.

celtic< To enter this place you should open your mind and disengage judgment. Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.

Ben< celtic: Well said! "Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves" should be added to the list of beatitudes.

celtic< Ben: Yes, I think that would be correct.

K'am< celtic: *G* I have that saying posted above my desk at work! And do I stay amused!

celtic< It would be nice if everyone had it. Life should be fun ... or funny. Karma is not a certainty, it is a choice. Live your life in that manner.

PANDORIA< I have different beliefs than that of religion, accept for the belief that we all are one of the same, and that my journey is one that will show me all that I am and accept all that is, so that I may once again become one with the one from whom we all have come. Love thy neighbor as thy self has come to mean to me that my neighbor is of myself, and I can accept myself as well as any because we are all of the same and some day we will once again become the one that we have come from and are and have been and will be. And until complete acceptance of the ultimate sadness within all that is and all that we are and all that we have been, good, bad and indifferent included, not until then will we be able to once again become the one that we are, and become the one we all desire (so to speak).

Jasmine< Well spoken, PANDORIA. I have often thought the same because all religions say that we all come from one.

FRAML< PANDORIA: You stated that your neighbor is yourself. I believe that you have corrupted the meaning of the commandment. It is our neighbor that we must treat as we wish to be treated.

Jasmine< FRAML: But also couldn't it mean that we are spiritually related to everyone here on earth through our creator?

FRAML< Jasmine: I have never considered that. However, I don't think being spiritually related makes our indifference or hurtfullness toward our neighbor any less harsh. Or that it is easier to be good to them.

Jasmine< FRAML: Loving your neighbor isn't any different from loving your parents or brothers or sisters. We still disagree and fight, but we are truly of flesh and blood so why should being hurt by your neighbor be any less harsh?

FRAML< Jasmine: I think we are in a semantic problem. Your neighbor can be your blood brother or sister just as easily as the person across the street. One must treat EVERY person you come in contact with as you wish to be treated. Being genetically or spiritually related has no impact on how you treat others. Also I made no mention of my reaction of how they treat me.

Jasmine< FRAML: I understand, but my problem is that I believe that everyone is related spiritually through God who has created every single one of us.

FRAML< Jasmine: OK, I can accept that; however, to me that does not affect the need to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I think we are saying the same thing in two different ways. If I may ask -- What is your personal Christian denominational preference, if one in particular? I belong to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Jasmine< FRAML: I used to be Pentecostal but I am now evangelical (Evangelical Free Church).

Caelum< Hi everyone ... Karma is a wonderful thing, it makes everything in life worthwhile! I smile when people are ugly to me because what comes around goes around ... right?

windy< I think the idea that, since there is reincarnation, I can just do what I want and put off choosing the right path, was one of the reasons the early Church chose to kick reincarnation and karma out of their dogma. Early Christians evidently did not disbelieve reincarnation. I am referring to the story about when the apostle asked why a man was blind, was it because of something he did in another lifetime? Jesus said no, that it was solely so he could glorify God by healing the man's blindness. But Jesus did not deny reincarnation. Also as Ben said some time ago, reincarnation was believed by many people at that time, including the early Christians. It wasn't until about the 5th century that the Church decided to remove it from the dogma and call it a false teaching

Ben< windy: At least some branches of Christianity taught about reincarnation until 553 AD when the Roman Emperor Justinian made a church council declare the whole idea of the preexistence of souls anathema (accursed).

LEGS< Ben: I wish it were common knowledge about the Justinian edict.

windy< LEGS: Me three on the Justinian edict.

Ben< windy: I'm working on a brief summary of what happened to Christian doctrine. Not sure where I'll post it, since my site is experiences rather than study papers. I may have to open a new section.

windy< Ben: I will be looking forward to that. From time to time I have people who want "the facts" like the 5th century ruling, the Justinian Edict.

Ben< windy: Sixth Century (553 AD), at the Second Council of Constantinople. The bishops at that council did what Justinian told them to do.

Jasmine< Ben: Why is it you do not seem to like Christianity? I would think that as long as you are taught of right and wrong and good morals that everyone would be happy with whatever religion it was.

Ben< Jasmine: I love the teachings of Jesus. I do not like what Christianity became. That is why I call myself a "First Century Christian".

Jasmine< Ben: What parts of today's Christianity don't you like? I think the only problem with today's religions is that we have lost touch with the meaning and reason for Jesus.

Ben< Jasmine: I don't subscribe to most of the doctrines and dogmas of any branch of modern Christianity, and virtually none of medieval Christianity.

Jasmine< Ben: Then what hope do you have if you don't have some kind of faith? Believing in a higher being gives as much faith as you can take.

Ben< Jasmine: Don't mistake my words. I have a fervent faith in Jesus and in God our Father. But I have no faith in organized religion as such.

Caelum< Ben: I have found that churches serve themselves more than they serve God.

celtic< Christianity has become churchianity: it is no longer the soul that the church saves but the building. All for the cause and not for the spirit.

Jasmine< celtic: I do agree with you that today's Christianity has lost touch on saving souls. That's why people have to show that faith to one another and be inspired through the word of God by reading it themselves and praying to God and most importantly believing he can do anything.

Ben< celtic: Yes, I use those same terms: Christianity and churchianity, just as you do. The focus of churchianity is on preservation of the organization.

Jasmine< The only reason that religion is organized is so that others who believe that miracles can happen may join together and be able to talk about what God has done for them. In today's society, children are not allowed to speak of God in classrooms, instead they have to come before school to join with others who are like them. Children must also grow up in a society that condemns Christians and where violence has taken over.

windy< Jasmine: I am not exactly understanding you. Do you mean here, tonight, in Amazon now ... or the SWC in general? I have hope, lots of hope. In fact hope is practically a nickname with me :-) and I do believe in God's grace. I think that the times we are in now are God's grace to the wicked, giving them even more time to change from their path, and also to those seeking the Light a chance to reach a higher Heaven. Miracles abound in our world. Grace is everywhere. :-)

Jasmine< windy: I meant the whole world, not just the people in this chat room. It just depresses me that it seems that you guys are trying to contradict what God has said in the Bible.

FRAML< Jasmine: I don't see Ben or windy contradicting anything in the Bible. However they are disagreeing with doctrine and dogma that has been created in the last 1900 years, and the fact that too many "Christians" do not practice what they preach.

windy< Jasmine: I think you are misunderstanding Ben. I consider Ben a very active Christian. He's an "everything old is new again" Christian. Christianity became political along the way to today ... he (IMHO) takes it back to its roots.

Jasmine< windy: I get your point, but the problem that I have is that no one in here seems to have hope for something good to happen out of the grace of God.

Ben< Jasmine: You might enjoy some reports of good things that have happened out of the grace of God. Visit my site, click on "Sampler" and then on "Spiritual Search and Rescue Operations" and read the last one first.

Jasmine< Ben: I know that good things have happened out of the grace of God because I am a prime example. I was almost killed 11 years ago in a really bad accident but I believe that God kept me here because I had work to do for him.

FRAML< Jasmine: I too agree with the concept of "Grace of God."

Jasmine< FRAML: What parts of "Grace of God" do you agree with?

FRAML< Jasmine: I believe that God forgives our sins through acceptance of him through Jesus, that baptism is the symbol and actual cleansing of them.

celtic< At any given time you can take yourself off the wheel of life (karma). It is not a certainty; it is a choice. We are creators of our place on earth; we say what we are going to do in the next life, not God. God sent his son to show us the way back and we keep missing the directions. He wants us to come home to him, not spend 1,000 life-times on this earth. He has shown us the way. Why don't we follow?

Ben< celtic: Well said.

LEGS< celtic: Yes, it sounds restful to me, to take myself off the wheel of life and accept Jesus as the Way ... to follow seeking his path as my own, and come to know that great Truth which is our God, his and our Father.

Jasmine< celtic: I disagree, because I believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us. He doesn't force us to make the decisions that he wants us to make, instead he lets us choose on our own and teaches through what we have decided.

celtic< I agree that you disagree, if you believe as you have stated. Then where is our free will? God can not be in control of our lives and we have free will. Make up your mind and decide which is it.

Jasmine< celtic: It can be both. God does frown upon us when we make bad choices but he always forgives us no matter what we have done.

Caelum< We are all children of time and free will creatures. But then honor God's plan ... the mind reels.

Jasmine< I would like to know what parts of today's Christianity that you don't believe, because it hasn't been stated very clearly.

celtic< Jasmine: The truth is "God" could care less. We were created by "God" out of God being alone. He wanted to experience every facet of his creation, so he created us to be that extension, so why would he control us?

Jasmine< celtic: He doesn't control us, he just made us to be in his image, and he is in my life every day. He has done miracles for me that no one else could understand; he has saved me, and I'm proud of that, and I live by his rules everyday, so therefore he is in my life.

celtic< He has done all those things and more for me, so what is the point?

Jasmine< Why don't you believe that? It's been in the religion ever since the beginning of time. My point is that God is in our lives. He does have a plan for us, but by making mistakes he teaches us.

FRAML< Jasmine: But must we learn from him only through our mistakes? Can't we hear him in prayer and meditation and follow his guidance given to us in that clear, small voice?

Jasmine< I believe that we learn from God through our mistakes and prayer and we learn about God through reading the Bible.

Ben< Jasmine: I agree with you that a lot people (and this society in general) seem to be rejecting Christianity. For example, almost exactly half of the people who were in this room left immediately as soon as I posted the teachings of Jesus.

LadyV< Ben: I wonder why the teachings of Jesus would frighten so many people? Or is it easier to be unaware? May I ask?

Ben< LadyV: Many don't want to see the name "Jesus" or the word "Christian". You've seen that happen in these chatrooms before, haven't you? Basically, they expect that every Christian is just about to tell them they're going to Hell.

LadyV< Ben: I see. That does not speak so well of Christians does it? to say that any Brother or Sister is doomed? It is putting the Christian on the Cross. There is only one that did this ... so sad ... I see the point.

Jasmine< My question is why are they rejecting God? The way they have come to know him is that he is gentle and kind but firm and can bring destruction upon whole countries.

Ben< Jasmine: Many are rejecting God because God has been portrayed to them as "Santa Claus with a flame-thrower."

Jasmine< Ben: How do you think they got this image?

Ben< Jasmine: It is implied by church doctrines of reward and punishment.

celtic< Jasmine: You miss the point. We are not rejecting "God". We have moved from 1st grade to 12th grade in our understanding of "God". We have grown in our knowledge of his teachings, his word, his spirit. You need to pass to the second grade.

Jasmine< Excuse me, but I'm 16 years old, celtic, and I'm not saying that you're rejecting God fully, but if you reject his rules and what he is then you do reject God.

Jasmine< Celtic: Maybe I didn't get my point across. In your last comment you were making me out to be this naive person and I don't take too kindly to insults.

celtic< Jasmine: If you only accept what was taught to you, and you haven't formed your own opinion of what "God" means, then you live by the word of another's teaching. What I believe in is what I have taught me over many years. I respect your age, but take off your blinders and begin to see the world of religion as it is, not as you see it.

Jasmine< celtic: Trust me, I know all about other religions and what their beliefs are. I'm not the one with the blinders. I am not living through what I've been taught, instead I have taken what I have been taught and formulated my own opinions, and my parents respect that.

Ben< Jasmine: Your youth is showing. I've been studying religions for 50 years, and I would not say, "I know all about other religions and what their beliefs are."

celtic< Jasmine: I leave you with your belief. May you be soft on yourself when the world doesn't fit like it should, because your belief has no room to grow. Your fire is great, but your path is narrow.

Jasmine< celtic: I don't believe the world to be a certain way. I take a little from each religion that fits with another.

FRAML< Jasmine: The term I see used most often is "hypocritical". Also that many were "chased away" from their churches (both Catholic and Protestant) when they ask "Why and where did this doctrine come from?" And the reply was, "If you had faith, you wouldn't be asking why, but would believe it anyway."

Jasmine< Don't pastors know that you become more firm in your religion by asking questions and getting answers?

Ben< Jasmine: My compliments to your pastor. No, most pastors and priests do not welcome serious questions about their church doctrines or dogmas.

FRAML< Jasmine: My pastor does, however the pastors and priests of those I have spoken to here over the past year have not. I have found that it is easier to get across the message of Jesus by asking them why they no longer believe, and then discussing with them the questions they had. I rarely quote scripture directly, because it is a turn-off for them. I do paraphrase it and often get "now I understand it."

Jasmine< Oh, my pastor or my youth leader don't like it that I have different concepts of God through being raised Pentecostal, but I stand up for my beliefs.

LadyV< Pastors and Priests are men or women, human! They are comforters first and teachers next, shepherds if they do the job well. To my mind God has compassion on them. They are expected to be super-human, and this is not possible. The best teacher and leader is one that leads with kindness and trust in what he knows ... right or wrongly it is for God to determine. Some are called for reasons that are not clear, yet they touch lives. To all of them I raise my glass. I would not want the job.

FRAML< LadyV: Nicely said.

Jasmine< In fact, I have been insulted by the youth leader for having Mormon friends, but it doesn't stop me. Instead I try to put my ideas out on the table and show them what else is out there.

Ben< Jasmine: Good for you!

Jasmine< Thank you, Ben. This thing with celtic is that I go to a church where everyone is brought up with this one set of beliefs, and they don't have their own opinion, so when some one tells me that I don't have my own opinions they are getting in to a very big argument.

LadyV< Jasmine: You mean you think! Good for you. If you have formulated your belief system at 16 years you are way ahead ... and by 20 years, you may formulate them again. The important thing is that you and God consider together, and listen to what is spoken to you. In the end it is you and The God. Good for you. Never accept anything because so and so says it. Test the waters, look at the life they lead ... the life, not the words, is the key to any belief system. That is my soapbox. (grinning)

Jasmine< LadyV: I try to keep an open mind, and when I talk to someone about religion I sometimes take bits and pieces of what they think. And thanks, that really encourages me.

FRAML< Jasmine: Well, continue to persevere in serving the Lord. To claim that he only accepts one particular human denomination's belief as the ONLY way to him is one of the "hypocrisies" some ex-Christians have seen. I hope he doesn't chide you for having friends that are Lutheran, Methodist, Jewish or Catholic.

Jasmine< FRAML: I think God accepts all religions and that's why I haven't been as faithful at church as I should be. I just see these leaders who tell me that I should base my friendships on religion and I don't believe that.

LEGS< Jasmine: You are essentially saying the same thing that FRAML is, but with a wee bit different terminology. The point of this discussion tonight was not to convince people to start believing in Karma or Buddhism and renounce their Christian beliefs. It is an academic concept phrased in, so to speak, layman terminology, with input invited. I chose Jesus as my Savior at the age of eight, and have not wavered from Christianity as my faith, but choose to learn what motivates others in their lives. You should uphold your beliefs... bravo.

Ben< ALL: Okay, friends, it's time for me to get some rest. Peace and blessings to each of you. Goodnight.

Jasmine< Ben: I plan on becoming a historian and I read constantly. I know most religions and their basic beliefs.

Ben< Jasmine: Suit yourself. // ALL: Namaste. *poof*

Jasmine< You know what though, if you quote scripture it shows that you have proof of what you are saying.

FRAML< Jasmine: I have found the quickest way to turn off non-Christians and former Christians in SWC is to come in here quoting scripture after scripture. Instead, I introduce the points of scripture in my discussion, and if they say, yes, they agree, then I tell them where I found the topic.

Jasmine< FRAML: I would never quote to a non-Christian. I thought you were talking about when a pastor and you contradict each other.

FRAML< Jasmine: Keep on reading. Examine what you read and study, learn as many points of view as possible. Your faith will grow as you do. Continue to ask questions, always seeking truth, rather than just for argument. And at times suffer in silence, as we all have had to do at specific points in our lives.

Jasmine< Thanks, FRAML!

LEGS< Jasmine: There are however various dogmatic versions of following the path of Christianity. This is where it sometimes becomes an uncomfortable or glaringly inept example of what following Jesus originally meant. This is what Ben means when he refers to himself as a First Century Christian ... back to the original precepts taught by Jesus and his Apostles ... some of those same precepts as voiced by you tonight.

Jasmine< LEGS: So let me get this straight. You're saying that I'm kind of saying what Ben is saying?

FRAML< Jasmine: Ahh, that's were the confusion was. And take that as an example of defining the words you use in a discussion. Ben is teaching this series to get people to understand the meanings of the words used in spiritual discussions, and to learn the actual teachings of different religions, rather than "I think soul-spirit-reincarnation means this (partly because I want it to)." If you book-mark his site, he has the text of his earlier classes on the meaning of the words soul, and spirit, and the first two sessions on Karma.

Jasmine< Thanks again. I'm leaving, too. Good night all.

LEGS< Jasmine: Ben will have this entire script from tonight on his page, probably by Monday. At that time you can review and study what was said ... in detail. It is not easy for the most learned of scholars to state some concept exactly the same. That is where experiences change the perspective and the explanations are stated a bit differently. All here tonight apparently (barring those who had different feelings and didn't express them) do believe in a greater being, a supreme one who conducts our lives. Many of us accept Jesus and base our religion in following Him; others see Jesus as another prophet, not the Son of God; but tonight's discussion was not to address the validity of each person's belief, merely to explain the process of Karma.

Jasmine< Thanks LEGS, and have a good night.

celtic< LEGS: Well said. I agree.

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