I’ve been contemplating the doctrines of karma and reincarnation, and how they work co-dependently. From my research I have discovered there are many ways of viewing karma and its effects on reincarnation. I have made a list of possible options/view points to see if anyone agrees or disagrees with my logic in any of them because as I discover more, I find there seems to be a contradiction in each possible perspective. Please tell me what you think.
Option One: Karma is the necessary reason for all life’s existence. In other words, you are only living this life due to karma that you have produced and accumulated from past lives, and it’s not that you want good karma in order to escape the cycle of rebirths, but you want neutral karma. Neutral karma is necessary because then you have completed your dharma which is neither good nor bad, and you thus have zero attachment to this illusory world. If your karma is neutral then you have nothing else to “pay off” in a future life, but if you have good karma then you must come back and live out your better life in order to rid yourself of the good karma. If this is the method of thinking, then our contradiction is - We would have no first birth. Some people say we would be born with perfect karma in our first birth, but if karma is entirely actions based then we would have neutral karma (due to never existing until creation). And with no karma to pay off then there is no reason for a birth in the first place.
Option two: The application of Karma began after we were created by the gods. In other words, we were created… without real reason to begin with (I have looked around, and I cannot find the reason in which Hindus believe the gods created human life forms) So, we were created without any karma attached to us yet, therefore, everyone is on the same playing field. But then due to our freewill (which we were born with good and bad in us automatically) we started the process of karma on our own by behaving according to our nature. The problem with this is two fold. 1) If we are all on an equal playing field from the beginning, and we can reincarnate as different animals (going to a lower life form for bad karma), and if everything is one, then there should not have been any diversity in the creation until AFTER the first death. But that’s not what we see. Instead, creation was automatically diverse, therefore, all living things did not start off with equal karma which is very unjust. 2) If we initiated our karma after our creation, and we were not made perfect in the beginning (like in the bible) but instead we were made with both good and bad in us, then it would come to follow that we were essentially damned from the beginning to fall into the karmic cycle.
Option three: Instead of karma taking place after creation by the gods, we instead (due to our ignorance) broke free from Brahman on our own and this ignorant act of pulling away initiated karma. Essentially, this has moved from a “creator/created” world view, and instead a pantheistic world view. Well if we are Brahman, and it’s just due to our ignorance that we fell away, then that means Brahman itself is ignorance because there cannot be any distinction between us and the “ultimate divine.” Here’s the contradiction: Why would we need to rid ourselves of our karma, begun by our act of ignorance if Brahman is equally ignorant? We are already one in the same, so we must have unity and common characteristics ie- ignorance! Thus, poof, we should all be gone back into this so called “ultimate being” regardless of our karma or awareness.
Option four: Karmic reincarnation is even more diverse than what we ever realized AND the whole system is stacked against us! People can be reborn as insects, plants, animals, humans, microbes, or temporal divine beings. Furthermore, hell is only a temporal place for cleansing of the soul until you return to earth to complete any unfinished business. This implies that earth is the only place that we are able to “break free” of this process of rebirths. Furthermore, this implies that ONLY WE can accomplish this liberation on our own. Here’s the issue: why can’t hell fully cleanse us, then if we have good karma we need to pay off why not immediately go to “heaven” temporarily then wallah we are cleaned of all good and bad? Why is the system so heavily based on us? If the system of karma can’t even be implemented in a way to prevent the continued cycle of rebirths and only we can break it, then that implies that we are more powerful than karma itself. How can we be trapped by something we are stronger than? Through ignorance? Well, then please refer to option three. If all is one then either the law of karma also has capacity for ignorance OR karma is the most powerful law of reason that even gods are subject to OR karma is an illusory law just like the world itself according to hinduism.
I know this was a long post, but in all honesty it was also a way for me to work out my thoughts on the whole issue as well. Has anyone else found logical contradictions or justice issues within the laws of karma and reincarnation? Thank you for your opinions