Reincarnation and Karma

Seeds of our soul

It is the soul who is reincarnating, not the personality. So our present personality is not what will reincarnate. Our soul essences and qualities will reincarnate, but not all of our personality stuff. There are some soul-qualities in our personality; so in this sense, there are essences in our personality (the soul essences) that will reincarnate. But generally speaking, most of what we experience as 'our self ' is our temporal personality, of which its character is dependent on the temporal social and existential circumstances of this particular time. In other words, when the circumstances change, when the physical body is different, and the emotions are influenced by a completely different social environment, and when the mind is thinking about completely different challenges, and when new memories become in the forefront; then this will be a completely different personal experience – a very different self-experience.

So what of me is a carry-over from past lives, and what of me carries on? First what will remain and carry on are the essences of our self, the essences of our inner soul. There are three essential aspects of soul. These will have various possible names, depending on the discussion, but those terms can still be categorized into three basic aspects, with the various terms essentially related. The triadic nature of the soul is preserved, no matter how many terms we might use to describe each aspect. Three of the terms will be chosen here to represent each aspect of the soul's triad. Used here will be: will, love, and intelligence. These seem to be the most useful terms, in relation to how we can understand the main aspects of our being. Each of these is represented, in esoteric teachings, by one of the primary colors.

Thus, the soul can be understood as a mixture of 3 kinds of seeds, which gives the person its potentials or capacities, and also which carries on through generations. These three kinds of seed are will, love, and intelligence, and each of these seeds holds its unique kind of potential for the person. These are the essence seeds of our individual soul, carried forth from our past live to the person we are now. Then, at our own person death, these seeds carry on to the next incarnation, though hopefully more evolved each incarnation.

In many cases, the very same seeds carry on to the next incarnation. But it is possible for these soul-seeds to actually develop in their capacity during each lifetime. In other words, the soul can develop further, or evolve greater, through any given lifetime. This requires some amount of conscious work by the person – which is called soul-work. But in many cases of incarnation, there is no further work accomplished and no further development, usually because this personality vehicle never consistently connects with its soul, and therefore the soul is cut off from personality interaction, and thus it remains in limbo, as it were, until other opportunities/incarnations later come about.

Who is continuing on?

Our soul carries on. But then, how is our soul different from our personality? Our soul is the essence of our true being, which contains our spiritual qualities. These spiritual qualities are meant to be realized, actualized and expressed in each lifetime through the faculties of personality. Unfortunately though, this does not always happen and is never guaranteed. But whether or not the soul is realized in any given lifetime, it nonetheless carries on to other lifetimes. This is the spiritual process of reincarnation, also called the transmigration of the soul.

The next lifetime will have the same soul as before, with the same soul-potentials. But the personality in each lifetime will be different; that is, the mind, emotions and physical body of each lifetime will be different. This is because each personality is developed with influences from the surrounding world of that person, such as parents, culture, and world circumstances, as well as the unique circumstances of each unique physical body.

Our personality is three-fold. It is the sum of our beliefs and thoughts, in regards to our self and the world around us. It is our emotions and feelings in relation to others and the world. And it is how we act and express ourselves in the world. Because our personality is in relation to the world we live in, it is dependent on the particular relationships of our world and our present time and place.

Our personality is a unique collection of beliefs and desires, ideals and emotions, most of which are completely related to this particular physical life, this physical body and the particular circumstances of this unique time and place. So if you think about what kind of person you are, you might see how so very much of who you are is dependent on this particular physical life, in this particular time and place, with these particular friends, family and relatives, etc. Even one's particular ideas and beliefs, and feelings about this or that, were formed from our unique personal history and education in this unique particular time and place.

So as the soul moves on to future times and places, then surely our relationships will not be the same, our world-conditioned beliefs will not be the same, our thoughts and feelings about this or that thing will not be the same. And thus, our personality will be different than it is now. Our personality beliefs, our self-images, and our unique emotions will be different, just as our physical body and physical circumstances will be different.

So the answer to any question about reincarnation or about afterlife will depend on what we regard as our self, because the usual question is something like, what will happen to me, or will I continue on? Therefore, the question depends on what is meant by me, or by I.

Most of what we identify-with as being 'myself', 'I' or 'me' is this particular body, or this personality and its relationships. Our usual self-identity and thought-reality depends upon and is created by our interaction with others and the environment around. If one knows of nothing of oneself that is beyond this, then what could continue after the death of these relationships? If we are continually wrapped up in thoughts and feelings that concern our body, our friends, our local community, what needs to be done tomorrow, and all the reactions about survival and maintaining our particular identity, then what will continue on after these particular relationships and concerns are gone?

If my personality is different in the next lifetime, then my present experience of who I am will be mostly different in the next lifetime. I, as this unique personality, will not quite be the same. My soul-being will be the same, but not this unique personality. Therefore, if the main experience of myself is this personality, then this will not be continuing on. For this unique personality experience is just temporal and will eventually fade into nonexistence.

Yet it is this unique personality that is usually identified as being oneself, as being who I am. So if this personality asks, will I continue on after physical death, the answer is mostly no. The underlying patterns and essences of this personality can continue, but not this exact particular personality. Thus, the answer depends on who is asking, and also depends on how surface-superficial one's self experience is. For our personality self is temporal and will not last, since it is dependent on the particular circumstances and relations in this unique particular lifetime.

Influences from the world

Each soul enters into incarnation from a past life incarnation. The soul incarnates through three interconnected, interpenetrating 'bodies' – mental, emotional and physical -- which we are calling the 'personality'. This personality has to go through developmental stages; that is, our physical, emotional and mental parts have to develop and mature. The soul gives life essence and spiritual intelligence to these bodies and to their development.

The soul is incarnating for the purposes of spiritual experience, creative expression, and service in life; and the personality bodies are meant to be the 'vehicles' for these soul purposes. The soul is continually being a subtle influence on these developing aspects of personhood, always trying to lead the personality mind, emotions and physical body towards greater health, love and intelligence. Yet because these three aspects of the person have to develop in the world-at-hand and are even existentially dependent on the physical and social world, the soul is but one possible influence on the developing person, and most often the physical and social world is far more dominating than the soul influence – unless there is a conscious effort to nurture the soul and not allow the outer world to repress or squash it.

So, these personality bodies are susceptible to energies, patterns, manipulations and even assaults from the outer world – physically, emotionally and mentally. Thus, the soul is not fully in charge, nor fully directing, because the inner soul cannot control the outer world and how the world affects the personality bodies. The outer world, including physical circumstances and social influences, can be quite helpful and nurturing to the health and spiritual development of the personality bodies; or conversely, the world of other people and circumstances can be harmful to the positive development of the personality. One's outer social world can be nurturing, yet can also be repressive to one's inner soul direction and potential qualities.

The main idea here is that the physical and social world can be very powerful and influential in the development of our personality. The soul has influence, but it can be overpowered by a dominating outer world. The soul has goodness and wisdom in it, but this may not incarnate fully into the personality, due to outer influences. The outer can cause all sorts of problems in the personality, which is elaborated on by psychology. Yet the idea to understand here is that the developing personality is susceptible to outer influences -- meaning that problems in a group, family or culture can be passed into the children, which then very often linger on as influences in adulthood as well. This makes for a continuation of psychological problems through the medium of social influence. In fact, cultural imbalances and unhealthy patterns can be passed down generation upon generation, by way of the outer world and interactions between personalities.


What determines how our next life will be? The general answer is karma. Karma generally means that how one will be in the next life, or what happens, is determined by causes self-produced in previous lives. The analogy is that you later reap what you sow. Additionally implied in this is that each person is a cause and is responsible for their future lives, or future outcomes. These are the basic beliefs in the concept of karma. Reincarnation, then, is the outcome of karmic causes. But karma is not quite so simple, even though these are the basic principles.

First of all, causes in our personal lives and in our world are often complex, involving a mixture of individual, group and societal causes. In other words, not all causes are simply individual-created. Certainly, there is an individual or a group of individuals which is the agency or the hand (so to speak) of any action; and thus, one could understand this one individual, (or group of), as being the cause of what happens – what happens in the world and what happens in the lives of those affected by this caused-action. But there are also causes of these causes, and causes before these, and so on. Seldom, then, is an individual cause without some previous causes. So, causes are usually like links in a long causal chain; thus, seldom does one individual create a first-cause from no causes before it.

We would still have to conclude that each individual cause, in being an individual link in a causal chain, is still causally responsible – to some degree at least. Yet on the other hand, to some degree each individual is not fully responsible, since they and their actions are, to some degree, effects of previous causes. So, the degree to which we can say a single individual is responsible for their actions, causes and karma, is the degree to which they can be regarded as free – of having some free will which is sufficiently free from outside social and world influences. Therefore, karma (cause and effect) is a complex mixture of – individual causes & responsibilities with group/societal/ and world causes & responsibilities. And thus, what happens and what shall be in the next lives is a mixture of self-causes with other-causes –from other people, society, culture, and the world in general.

One misconception sometimes heard about in reincarnation is that our life is 'planned out' – either planned out by our karma, or planned out by our soul, or by God, to be the perfect learning experiences we need in this life. These ideas are simple enough and can be appealing to believe; but our lives and reincarnation are not so planned out and predetermined. Rather, each life is an opportunity to learn, develop and evolve as a self-person; and we often learn by trial-and-error combined with our developing intelligence. Each life and each lifetime is an undetermined process of learning, with many opportunities and missed opportunities.

Karma is a determining factor in how our life is and what happens; but karma is not the only causal factor in life, and karma does not absolutely organize the events of life as if life were merely the outcome of a karmic computerized program. Our life is much more of an uncertainty and a learning experiment, than it is a determined outcome. And this makes sense, because if karma were determining everything in life, then there would be no freedom to break out of karmic chains and life would just continue forever in a mechanical cause-effect way. So, karma is not absolutely deterministic; in fact, the teachings of karma include the possibility of breaking free from past causes.

Therefore, even though karma is a causal factor in our lives, life is always somewhat of an uncertainty, rather then being a predetermined planned out drama of lessons and solutions. Each lifetime is a dynamic experiment, with opportunities for learning and self-evolution; but nothing is for certain, because the process depends on our moment by moment choices, including our sometimes failures and sometimes successes. We can only do our best, but there is no reality in the concept of any lifetime being 'perfect'. We don't need to think of ourselves as either 'perfect' or 'imperfect'; we just have opportunities to do better and be better in who we can be.

Therefore, our lives are not determined, as though our life was 'planned' by our soul – as either 'needed experiences' or as 'lessons' or as 'punishments/rewards'. We each have a spiritual soul trying to influence our life, trying to guide us and better us. But for many people, the soul has little real influence because it is ignored, or the personality-mind is simply unaware of any soul feelings or guidance, or because the personality is so wrapped up in its own pride and its material desires. For many people, their soul is just a potential that never really gets realized or expressed, so it isn't even a factor in their lives and in their choices; their soul is like sleeping beauty never awakened. This is an unfortunate possibility in each life; there are no certainties and guarantees. So it could be that the soul remains unfelt, unrealized, and disconnected from the personality or from the personal life-in-action. In such a case, the next lifetime will be another chance for this soul to be realized and brought into expression through this next personality/body.

Another misconception about karma is that there is vast cosmic memory which records every good and bad deed, and each of these deeds will eventually be returned back to the person, as if a big cosmic computer programs the future with a complex set of instructions for doing all of this with exactness and precision. Within the cosmic ethers, probably everything is recorded; but the idea that every little action we do is later returned or later mirrored back to us, is much too simplistic. It is true as a general principle of karma that there is a returning back of energies, or a mirroring effect. The past tends to return again, which is its karmic reincarnation. But each particular action we do in a lifetime does not matter so much in karma. Every particular action is not so significant to karma. Rather, it is the general patterns and qualities we have and express as a person, which are most significant in karma and in reincarnation. In other words, karma really stems from who we are as a person, our patterns and qualities rather than from each specific action we make in the world. These personal patterns and qualities, whether they are positive or negative, then reincarnate into the next lives and so continue on. Therefore for instance, negative patterns continue (reincarnate) as karma, until these patterns are either released or transformed.

The quality of our heart and mind is what really matters. For what carries on is the quality of our being. The quality of our being is the true cause of karma, and also the best understanding for what reincarnates. So if the quality of one's heart, mind, and personality is such that one goes around harming or stealing from others, then this personality pattern and this lack of love will simply reincarnate again. It will just carry on – until there is an awakening of love and an intelligent understanding of inter-relational causes and effects, and until there is a transformation of these negative patterns. On the other hand, if the quality of one's heart and mind is expansive, loving, and has a sense of fairness, then these positive spiritual qualities will carry on. Thus, a lower quality of being will tend to manifest lowly or stupidly harmful deeds, while a higher quality of being will tend to manifest loving and good deeds. Most actions are simply the effects of certain states of mind and qualities of being. So rather than be overly concerned about the karma of little specific actions, the more important concern is about the quality of one's heart and mind, and the general patterns we have, because good or less-good actions will usually follow from these general patterns and from the quality of one's heart and mind.

Also, persons with a lower quality-of-being will tend to attract lower actions to themselves, while the higher quality people will attract more higher good deeds. Therefore, a higher quality of being – with higher qualities of love and intelligence – will tend to be rewarded by more positive effects. In other words, karmic effects correspond to being-qualities. That is, how we are in our being, in our heart and in our thoughts, is what attracts the kinds of energies and happenings that tend to come to us. This is generally known as the law of attraction and is essentially part of the law of karma.

However, these laws only create influences and tendencies, and are not absolutely deterministic, because other factors can also be involved in how life is and what comes to us. These other causal factors include the freedoms and mistakes of other people, and also the karmically repeating causes from societies, cultures and religions. Remember that since everyone is a causal agent, no one single individual can be the only causal agent for what happens in our interrelated lives and world.

Understanding karma

Karma is not like a vast cosmic intelligence that figures out what is karmic justice for each situation or person. This would imply a vastly complex engineering of all life and world events, in order to make everyone's situation (including what others do) rightly fit the karma. It would also imply an extremely mechanical world, without any uncertainties of undetermined personal freedom.

In a correct view of karma, the continuing patterns of each person are the karmic causes of future effects, though these do not exactly determine any particular events. Instead, all karmic causes are general influences. Related to reincarnation, karma is simply the continuation of our emotional and mental patterns in our emotional and mental bodies that are carried on with our soul.

The law of karma is that things continue along the same patterns – unless changed, altered, transformed or transmuted. The particular emotional and mental content and patterns from the previous life are not continued into the next life. Instead, they are distilled into essence-patterns, which become general dispositions in the seed-structure. In other words, most simply, karma is the continuation of general emotional and mental patterns, or dispositions, or character tendencies. And it is these personal patterns which attract either positive or negative energies, as well as shape our personal experience.

Karma is simply the natural law that whatever is done, or thought, or even how a structure or pattern is, becomes a cause. In other words, actions, thoughts and patterns create effects in the world and in the future. Everything has a cause, and there are basically two types of causes. Natural cause is unintentional and is actually a natural reaction to other causes. The processes of nature are natural causes and effects. Responsible cause, on the other hand, is intentional and has some degree of freedom within it, some degree of free choice in it. This is what makes it 'responsible', in the sense that a person is responsible for making it happen; though not necessarily implying that the person is 'a responsible kind of person', nor implying that the person is even mindful of being a cause to things (both in relation to oneself and in relation to others).

Also significant in a right understanding of karma is that karma is not simply an individual cause-effect. Individual causes certainly create real effects, but social causes also make real effects in people's lives and in the world. So in relation to the law of karma, there is individually created karma, but also social, cultural and religious created karma. Each person is responsible for what they do, think, feel, and how they are. Yet much of the content of a person's emotional and mental patterns are actually given or encultured into the person from social causes. This is the social karma that is involved. So to some extent, each person is responsible for how their life is. Yet to some extent not, since our personality and our life circumstances are much determined by social causes and karmas.

Thus, what happens in an individual's life and what happens in our shared world is a result of both individual and social causes. Therefore, there are general social causes and effects, as stemming from general social patterns, and these certainly have significant effect on individuals. Though of course, individuals can create positive or negative effects in their social world. So there is an ongoing interaction between individuals and their social world, which forms an interaction of karma – between individual karmas and social karmas.

Reincarnating karmas

It is our soul that is carried on into further reincarnations, and this soul is composed of three essences, or three 'seeds'. Yet surrounding this kernel of soul is an outer shell of our karmic attachments and continuing patterns from the previous lives. These are our 'personal karmas' (also known as samskaras). These are karmic emotional and mental patterns from past lives that exist deep in the subconscious of our psyche, and thus affect our personality development. Meaning really the same thing, in Buddhism these are called skandhas – usually described as emotional and mental predispositions, which keep on continuing through lifetimes as personal karma, until redeemed or transformed.

Therefore, patterns from previous lives, both good patterns and not-so good ones, will continue on into the next personal psyche. Included are any unresolved emotions, self-identifications, stuck desires, and other emotional patterns and attachments from the previous psyche. These karmas continue on into future lives and are what one has to deal with and try to transform; otherwise, they just keep continuing on.

Good qualities, thoughts, emotions, patterns and actions, created or developed in one life, continue on and create good merit (good results) for the next lives. This is all part of the law of karma and reincarnation, following the natural law of cause and effect. By the same principle, negative qualities, thoughts, emotions, patterns and actions produce negative effects.

Positive and negative karma

Reincarnation can be seen in both a positive and negative way. Positively, one is able to have more chances and also work on becoming successful at new challenges. Negatively, one might see reincarnation as an unfortunate return of one's negative bundles and patterns -- which include negative reactive patterns and attachment patterns. Positive karma created in previous lives brings positive influences into the next life. Negative karma brings negative influences. The worse negative karma is caused by hurting others and by intentional deceit, and also by participating in actions that are unjust to others. But negative karma is mostly caused by more subtle activity, such as negative emotional patterns, false self-beliefs and negative thoughts, and compulsive self attachments and desires, and by a lack of gratefulness, caring and love. So this is not something the average person will be able to avoid. But that's alright; we are all on a journey of learning and improvement. One gets more time later to work on transforming this stuff. Also, negative karmas are somewhat offset by each moment of new learning and accumulated wisdom gained from each life experience. For we have the power to transform negative karma into positive karma, which could be said as what we are here in life to do.

Reincarnations are connected to one another in two ways. One is that each new life has the same inner soul of divine potentials. In other words, there is an individual soul who is reincarnating and essentially learning from these experiences. The other connection is karma, the law of cause-effect, such that patterns from one life are carried on to another -- giving some degree of continuity, and yet these can be transformed and changed at any time through self-learning and healing.

Positive and good karma is what we all want, yet we somehow manage to create or continue elements of negative and bad karma. Good karma is like a sweet surprise gift that may come anytime in the mail. Let us not even imagine what bad karma is. Yet most of us have negative states, negative thoughts, negative emotions, and other patterns that we wouldn't want to carry on to our children, let alone onto ourselves in another lifetime. But if these are carried on, then how do we ever get out of these patterns?

First, we can learn from our mistakes. Though to do this, we have to self-observe and acknowledge that we are making mistakes, or that we are foolishly identifying with negative states, thoughts or emotions. Also remember that these negative states are often subtle and often hidden underneath normal awareness; therefore, one has to practice deeper self-inquiry and self-investigation. Second, we can develop greater mastery over our energies and mechanical patterns, and thus modify our responses to new situations in a way that does not merely repeat previous negative reactions. A tendency is to keep repeating the same general patterns of reaction or decision, in relation to similar situations. This is our mechanical repeating self-karma. But we can develop mastery, which is to have enough power and intention to actually modify or improve the next response we have.

Thus, by learning from our acknowledged mistakes (to increase our wisdom) and by developing mastery over our energies and patterns, it is possible to overcome and transform the previous bundles of karma, these cyclical patterns of cause and effect. We need both, learning and mastery. And this is what the soul offers, because the soul learns wisdom and develops mastery over continuous reincarnation. This wisdom and mastery enters into the personal mind/psyche.

So what we have going are a number of factors. We have these repeating patterns of the psyche, which is 'self-karma', both positive and negative, and this continues into each personal existence. And also we have the soul's ever-increasing wisdom and mastery. And as well, we have soul-divine qualities, which help to heal and evolve all aspects of manifested life. So negative karma can be offset by learning and mastery. As each negative occurs, there is also a possible learning, and thus an increase in wisdom. This increase in wisdom gives us more insight into how to improve our future responses, our thoughts and actions. So this increase in wisdom, due to learning from mistakes and learning from observed negative patterns, gives us more ability to modify the upcoming karma and improve our lives. Then, with each new learning and with each new practice of our new wisdom, we develop more power of mastery, which then also gives us more ability to modify the upcoming karma and improve our lives.

Therefore, karma is not an ever-repeating affair, due to our increased learning and mastery, which improves over each incarnation. And thus, negative karma is continually being transformed into a more positive karma, in spite of the repeating nature of negative karma.

Desires and other emotional attachments

Attachments can be of many kinds, but really all attachments are forms of desire. An attachment is actually the adhesive property of a desire. And this adhesive property explains how these desires patterns get carried on with the soul; they get attached to the soul.

There are many varieties of desire, from physical, sexual, material gain, social success, to power. Desires also range from most physical to most sublime; for example, on one end are all of the physical and sexual desires, while at the other end are desires for love and beauty. These more sublime desires are really 'desires of the soul,' which are natural in the soul, so they deserve special respect.

For best understanding, desires can first be grouped into three kinds. These are base desires at the more physical level, ego desires at the social level, and soul desires which really come from the Divine. We can understand this useful distinction; however, soul desires are not a separate element from the three seeds already mentioned, but rather they are part of those three aspects, mainly part of the soul's will aspect, so there really is no difference in meaning between 'soul desires' and the 'will of our soul'.

Physical and sexual desires, and other base desires, are natural in each physical body, but they can be refined in a way that brings them into harmonious fusion with the higher sublime desires of the soul. For example, sexual desire can harmoniously blend with the soul's quality and expression of love. Though in some cases, sexual desire is quite divorced from real love. Very often, the base desires are on a track all their own; that is, they often have a power all their own, regardless of either ego or soul desires; in which case, this will cause conflict in the person. The same could be said of our ego desires, in that these too could follow a track all their own regardless of soul desires or even regardless of the physical.

But ideally, from a spiritual perspective, both physical and ego-social desires will need to subordinate in harmony with the soul. Yet this is hardly an easy task, mainly because so many of the base and ego desires simply do not match well with soul desires. Some can be harmoniously integrated, but many cannot. Thus, there is a need sometimes for sublimation, refinement, or transformation; pick your favorite term. This is a work in itself, often called self-work, or it might also be called self-struggle, though the power of our soul can help in this. But one should also remember that this self-work of refinement does not have to be all so difficult or like an uphill battle; instead, it can be as easy as letting go and allowing oneself to float above the base levels of desire, even transcending the power hungry desires of self-ego.

These seeds of desire, as we might call them, are also very related to attachments. Now this word, attachment, is quite appropriate to what is going on here. This concept is used well in Buddhism; for as is often said, our attachments of desire will hold us on the wheel of rebirth. To best understand this, realize that each desire is also an attachment, so each desire has a sticky quality. That is, it tends to stick to us and go with us. These then attach to our transmigrating soul, forming an outer shell surrounding the inner core seeds. Simply put, our desires and attachments carry on into future lifetimes, just as they were carried on into this one. Until they are either transformed, refined, or discarded.

Also understand that specific-desires do not carry on into another incarnation; rather, it is desire patterns that continue. In other words, a specific desire for chocolate caramels or for baggy pants are not what is carried on. It's the general pattern of these desire which continues on. It's the psychological pattern of this attachment that carries on. As one might ask, what is it in me that becomes so desirefully attached to these things. Or, what is the kind of desire going on here, or the kind of attachment. Very often these desires have a physical component, in that they are based on a physical impulsive energy, mixed with some sort of psychological component. Though in other cases, the base energy propelling the desire is more social, like wanting to be socially accepted or popular. Most of our baser desires are propelled either by physical or ego-social energies.

In addition to the possible continuation of desire-patterns is the continuation of emotional reactive patterns. Patterns of emotional reaction are like the other side of desires, in the coin of emotional attachment. Desires and reactions are two cornerstones of our emotional being. So our reactive patterns are also carried on, unless transformed or discarded in a particular lifetime. And remember, it is our reactionary patterns that are carried on, not our specific-reactions to specific things or circumstances. Our more general patterns are carried on though our emotional body seeds. Our specific reactions are not carried over, because these are specifically related to the physical and social life that we are passing on from.

Karma and freedom

Our soul itself is pure in its essence and untainted by karma. The soul has all of the divine potentials in it. For each soul is a child of God. The only sense of karma that could be understood as in the soul is as follows. First, there is the inevitability that every soul is in a gradual process of expanding love and wisdom; in other words, the average soul will still be in a process of expanding its love and wisdom. So no individual soul is an omniscient master of love-wisdom who is always perfect in all areas of life. But nonetheless, we can count on our inner soul for love-wisdom guidance, for this is our highest capacity at this time. Second, each soul is limited in its developed power of freedom and so each has some degree of a tendency to become attached and engrossed with various phenomena of life.

Soul is essentially pure, but karmas carry on through the outer shell of reincarnation. These are known in Buddhism as the skandhas, which are the tendencies (or predilections) of a soul to become attached to or engrossed with the various phenomenon of physical life, such as the sensations from the five senses and the bodily feelings of incarnation. In a sense, a soul gets engrossed in the physical incarnation. This happens more or less, depending on the particular soul's power of freedom (a power of soul-will) or depending on how advanced the soul is, as it were. So, each soul has its three seeds (or petals) of pure divine essence - relating to will, love and intelligence. But also in the soul, or in its outer layer, are these skandhas which are the reincarnating tendencies for engrossment and attachment.

It might also be said here that there is a possible advanced level of soul, correlating to a higher soul initiation, in which these skandha tendencies are no more, and this results in a power of this soul to incarnate without its personal vehicles becoming attached or engrossed in anything, which also means that this person will only express its pure soul qualities of love, wisdom, and service to all life. To some extent at least, we can all work towards this advanced way of being.

As a soul advances in its incarnating power and as the psyche (the outer part of the soul) advances spiritually, there is greater freedom and less attachment to old patterns. In one sense, and according to the Buddhist path, freedom is the ultimate spiritual goal. So as each self spiritually advances through reincarnation, higher levels of freedom are achieved; freedom from past patterns of identification, attachment, and reaction. And at each higher level of freedom, there is greater love and compassion for all beings, since ego selfishness and separate-self identification become less and less 'real', and self-understanding has expanded beyond all concepts of my-self.

Moving through levels of freedom

The soul-psyche self, moving through successive reincarnations, while also ascending towards God, is also moving through levels of freedom. Ascension towards God, the Light, the One, is an ascension towards greater freedom. For in God there is absolute freedom. For isn't God absolutely free?

So as we ascend towards God, we are ascending into freedom. Of course though, this is freedom in love. It is not equivalent to the so-called 'freedom' of a selfish person, or the kind of freedom that justifies a 'do whatever I want' attitude without any love-consideration of others.

Freedom is a free from, so what is one becoming free of? One is becoming free of self desire, attachments, identifications, emotional pain and turmoil, mental confusion, anxiety, our mechanical habitual nature, and our past karma. Imagine having all of this float away. What a relief! This is freedom. So through reincarnational experience, and propelled by the soul ascension, one gradually climbs the ladder of freedom, moving up levels of freedom. This is real spiritual advancement.

One is essentially freeing oneself of karma, becoming free of all past causes, and thus not being determined by anything. One can still be influenced by higher wisdom and by love; but one is not determined by past karma, by astrology, by society, by family, and not by one's own physical urges, nor by the selfish or praise-grasping ego. This is freedom. Hallelujah, oh wonderful Heaven. No more lower self at all. No more illusory-self, no more karmic self. This is where the soul is headed, and this is the final goal of our self.

Mastery is towards freedom

As the personal psyche becomes more free of attachments and identifications, the impermanent patterns of the psyche dissolve more easily. But how can the personal psyche/mind become more free? How can a mind with attachment patterns free itself? How could we get to higher levels of freedom, if we are continually determined by karma, by cause-effect determinism?

This would be an inescapable situation of karmic cyclicity. But karma and determinism are not all there is at play. The psyche/mind is not merely a complexity of attachment patterns, nor does it merely function with mechanical cause-effect. Instead, there is more to the psyche/mind than mere attachments and personality stuff. There is a deeper level, and this deeper level is independent of the outer layers of personal attachments and personality patterns. This deeper level is the soul, which is the essence of who we really are. This is our Buddha nature which is karmically free. This is our indwelling soul which contains the divine (God) qualities, including love and freedom. So our lives can be inspired by the purse divine qualities our soul. This gives the capacity for freedom.

Soul is the deeper consciousness who is experiencing life. Soul is the deeper loving self, underneath and at the true core of all emotion, which sincerely wants to love and feel loved. Soul is the deeper wisdom within mind, a wisdom that has been accumulating through the experiences and lessons of many lifetimes. Soul is our core power of will, including the will-to-live, the will-to-love, the will-to-learn, and the will to be creative and expressive of our developing human abilities. And ultimately, the soul is the key ingredient of freedom, without which we would be lost in an endless chain of cause-effects, each link causing another effect which in turn causes another, etc. Our soul is our own personal savior. Though ultimately every soul depends on the Love and Wisdom of God, the One source of Light, the First Cause and Final Destination of all souls. All souls first came from the Divine Freedom, but then sacrificed some of this in order to incarnate into this world of structure and limitation; yet every soul is also on a path of return, which is the ascension back to God, or the Unity of Heaven, or Freedom Consciousness without any limitations or attachments.

So, we are not merely fated by past karma, because in each incarnation our inner soul provides the potential/capacity of wisdom and the power of creative freedom to move beyond such karma. We are not merely in an inescapable karmic chain, completely being determined by cause-effects, because at each new step we have an 'as-yet-actualized' inner potential (from the inner soul) for becoming free in our consciousness-mind, and also we have an inner-potential ability to master new circumstances.

That is, in each new circumstance of life we can act with a new and greater freedom of mind and with a greater degree of self-mastery, rather than merely repeat the patterns from before (which keeps the karma going). This is because of our inner (as-yet-unrealized) potential (of our soul) is continually trying to emerge and actualize, and also because our intelligence is always in a process of learning -- so after every experience (even from mistakes) we learn at least something from this, which then increases our mastery ability to do better the next time. Sometimes we are slow to learn and sometimes we are faster to learn. But eventually, a greater mastery should prevail. Therefore, we can do something the next time in a more intelligent and loving and masterly way, and in a more free way -- free from our past patterns of egotistic reaction or mistake.

Mistakes in right-action are inevitable along any learning curve, so we need to forgive and be compassionate for both ourselves and others. Mistakes made (or poor response) cause negative effects, negative karma. But we need not become overly dreary about this, because along with these karmic effects there are also learning effects, in that we can learn from these mistakes and so modify our action the next time, and thus transform the old negative karma into new good karma. Thus, in spite of karma's repetitious cyclical nature, karma is eventually being transformed, from negatives to positives, because of each person's intelligence-learning process and increases in their mastering-abilities. This kind of back and forth play, as it were, between karma and intelligent mastery, continues throughout reincarnations. This should give us overall hope, that life should be getting better as time and experience goes on.

Chosing the circumstances of the next life

Generally speaking, we cannot choose circumstances of our next life. But the more complete answer is not so simple. We might be able to choose, but this will depend on factors such as the will power of our soul and the karma that we are still involved in. Some new age teachings say that each soul chooses its life circumstances or that each soul creates everything that happens to a person. Generally, this is nonsense, because such a teaching is forgetful of karma and forgetful that each soul is here to learn. Learning always comes as a surprise and is part of an planned out adventure; so it wouldn't even make any sense that a soul (here to learn) would create its own learning circumstances, or even be able to (especially since there are a lot of other people involved with the making and deciding of circumstances). However, each soul does have a potential power to be more able to choose, rather than be completely at the whim of karma, circumstances, and other people.

First of all, any 'freedom of choice' always depends on the power of freedom that one has and also on the power of choice one has. Both of these are intrinsically connected – the power of freedom and the power of choice. Not all people are equal in these powers. Not all souls have the same degree of power in their freedom and in their free choice. Those who are most free, and thus who have most choice, are the more advanced souls, especially masters (those who have self-mastery and mastery in their choices). Whereas, the ordinary person, and also the average soul, has less freedom and less choice; that is, the average soul has not yet developed its potential divine capacity of free will (actual free will).

Any freedom of choice, or actual free will, depends on two related factors. One is the soul's developed degree of spiritual will {or spiritual power}; for remember that will is one of the primary aspects of each soul, to be developed or to actualize from inherent divine potential. The related factor in this question of free choice is how truly free one is from past karmas.

Karma is indeed one of the main factors involved in the circumstances of a next life. Karma is, in fact, a main factor in whatever happens in our future; for the law of cause and effect is universally inevitable. What we do and, even more important, how we are, become causes – setting energies into motion that will reverberate into the future. Yet before becoming too despairing about this, understand also that karma can be transformed, even redeemed. The law of karma cannot be changed, but any particular karma (or cause-effect reverberation) can be transformed, redeemed, or dissolved.

The power to transform or dissolve karma is a potential power in each soul, but it needs to be developed, just as all powers of the soul need development. This power to dissolve karma, and thus to be free from that conditioning factor, will depend on two things.

First, the power of Light can dissolve karma. Light can dissolve (or esoterically speaking, 'destroy') karma, repeating patterns or habits, and false delusions. This is because Light illuminates the dark, and thus eliminates the dark, and also because Light enlightens, and thus dispels false illusions and delusions (or false beliefs). The two main factors sustaining particular karmas are repeating patterns and repeating false beliefs.

Second, in order to dissolve karma, requires a sacrificing or a letting go of one's self-attachments – which includes any particular desires, demands, fixed beliefs, or any negative feelings about anyone or anything. For as long as one is holding on to any of this, or to anything, this will all be the stuff of self-attachment which will prevent one from being actually free. Any attachments are forms of karma, which will be one's hindrance to real freedom of choice. Therefore, in order for a soul to be able to actually choose a next life, or the initial circumstances of rebirth, depends on its freedom from attachments and its freedom from karmas. It depends on the soul's actual sacrifice and release of its self-attachments, self-desires, self-repeating patterns, and fixed beliefs. It depends on the soul's freedom from illusions and self-delusions. And it depends on the soul's degree of Light or enlightenment, which dissolves all that is false and illusory.

What can help in our understanding of all this is to consider who a spiritually advanced soul is, in relation to this freedom and power to choose. A more enlightened soul (having more light permeating their being) is referred to as a Master (not a master over others, as in manipulating others, but as a master of oneself). This advanced soul will have sufficient power {or ability} to choose their next life, the circumstances of their rebirth. Yet any such power can only be in a very basic sense, since no one could have complete power to choose all sorts of circumstances and details of a future lifetime – simply because this would entail having power over many other people to be or do as one chooses, which is quite impossible since all these other people (including parents) have their own degrees of free choice.

Yet, in a basic minimal sense, a master could choose some aspects of their next incarnation. As for example, they could focus their incarnating power on a particular place or particular parents – choosing this with a larger purpose {a serving purpose}. The master would be choosing their new circumstances on the basis of a larger purpose to serve humanity and life, or on the basis of a plan to work in the world in a particular way. The master would not be choosing their future circumstances on the basis of self-serving desires. Their choice would be based on an intended work of spiritual service, rather than based on a personal desire. For instance, a master might choose a particular family in a particular place and culture, and at a particular time, in order to do some special work on Earth, or to work with this particular culture, place, etc.

Thus, a master, or any soul with an incarnating intention of world-service could be able to choose some aspects of their incarnation which will help provide a useful circumstance and opportunity for a larger purpose of spiritual service in the world. They can do this because their intention is right – they have a spiritual intention {to serve}, rather than a selfish intention to get something better for their own self. Therefore, this higher soul is selflessly choosing, rather than selfishly choosing; also choosing in order to serve life, rather than choose in order to get something such as possessions or pleasures.

And this makes perfect sense, along the laws of karma. Because the selfish-wanting soul will still be holding onto their self-serving desires, which are karmas; so this karma will determine their next incarnation. Or in other words, this kind of person will not be able to freely choose their next life, because they are still drifting along with the forces of karma. While in contrast, the selflessly serving soul, who only has a serving intention, will be free of karma and thus able to freely choose.

Also, masters will be able to pass through the afterlife stages much quicker than an average person, because they are free from self-desires and other emotional attachments. As well, a master will not get stuck in the illusory dream world, as would the average person who is susceptible to the many glamours and illusions of this astral realm (which have been created by people throughout history).

So then, all of this thinking about masters; what does it mean to the rest of us? It teaches us what we are all capable of. So as a person becomes less attached in life and more free in their being, this person will be able to pass more quickly through the astral world and also be free of karma. One might not yet be a full master of all this, but at least we can each approach this potential.

Reincarnating thoughts and emotions

Ultimately there is One Spirit, One Life, which will continue on, even without this personality-me. But in order for Spirit to manifest, it needs human beings and the Earth to be its vehicles of expression. It does not necessary need little me, but it does need someone(s). Thus, our little personal self is, in the bigger picture, fairly insignificant. This of course is quite unflattering, but it doesn't have to lead us into existential depression or a feeling of cosmic worthlessness. For it is possible that we can each participate significantly in the larger process of spiritual-cosmic purpose, and we can create and emanate positive energies, thoughts and feelings, that will go on beyond our life-span and even help in the larger evolutionary process of humanity and our world. So we have the potential, in each lifetime, to participate in the conscious transformation and evolution of world energies, emotions, thoughts and ideas. We also then participate in the larger process of transforming our shared karmas and reincarnations.

If we see that our self-experience is mostly made up of thoughts and feelings, then consider this – that these are basically the same-similar thoughts and feelings as experienced by others, like the same basic story-lines but involving different names and places. These thoughts and feelings float around the earth and through us, taking on different sub-tones depending on the person. These shared thoughts and emotions, and general story-lines, then continue on through many lifetimes, many persons. They continue through all of us and our common life circumstances. They keep on reincarnating through each of us; until transformed into higher qualities. However, what incarnates through us is always a choice, but only if we consciously make such choices. Most people do not, and thus are passive receivers and transmitters of whatever thoughts and emotions happen to be present around.

Thoughts and feelings are shared throughout the human family. These thoughts and feelings are alive, and they seek receptacles for expression. We acquire these through karmic attraction and also by allowing them to exist through us. We can then alter them, transform them, or merely ignore them.

We tend to think that our thoughts and emotions are just our own. They are our own, but they have incarnated into us from the greater field – as shared by all humanity. This is our common-shared field of mind, developed over all the incarnations of souls on Earth. Because generally, reincarnation is a continuance of thought-forms and emotions, through living people on earth, though also a continuance of the higher spiritual qualities of souls.

So, part of the spiritual work of a human being is to participate in consciously transforming and evolving our commonly shared thoughts and emotions. In energy terms, we can help raise the vibration of humanity to a higher level, and we do this through work on ourselves and positive creativity in the world. The energy that we transform in ourselves creates a harmonic transforming effect in the overall mental and emotional energy field of humanity. Thus, we can each be a positive and transforming influence on others, in the world, and into the future. For as we evolve and transform our own mind and emotions to higher levels of truth, love, goodness and beauty, the future generations (future reincarnations) will then begin their life journey from what we leave to them.