Schoolhouse Earth * Why the World Does Not Get Better But We Can

Reincarnation is the one philosophy which makes sense of life on earth, in all its drama, horror, and beauty. Without this framework of understanding, we are doomed to either the dull pessimism of conservative views -or the continual disappointment of failed liberal and neo-New Age dreams promoting a power to change and control events on Earth.  

This is a power we simply don’t have. We have something better – the great laws of the Universe – especially those of karma, grace, and reincarnation, within which humanity is enfolded.

The conservative (especially Christian) view of humanity and its sojourn here on earth is too well-known to spend much time on here. The ruling paradigm is that sinful humanity gets one chance here on earth to find salvation, not perfection.

Human efforts will change neither the fundamental nature of human tendency toward evil, nor can it create a world of peace. Only the First or Second Coming of some version of the Messiah will achieve profound change to the conditions here on Earth.

The conservative picture is – on the whole – more accurate than the liberal, but for the wrong reasons, which I’ll get to shortly.  But first, we need to examine why the liberal tradition of peace-seeking may be more uplifting but is still wrong, and leads people to frustration and disappointment, over and over again,

What I am calling “liberal” here goes back a long way, at least in the West, to such movements as the Enlightenment, and the belief that with each successive generation, humanity is making strides in the creation of a better and better world. For example, in the well-known work by Deepak Chopra, Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence To An End (2005),  Chopra tells us, as do countless other authors in the liberal tradition, that we can rid the world of war and violence.

There are pages and pages of endorsements which preface Peace Is the Way. These include luminaries of the world’s best-known peace activists, such as Gandhi’s grandson, the Delai Lama, Rabbi Alan Lew, and so on. To be not only “pro-peace” but to advocate that individual efforts – or even collective efforts – will bring an end to war and violence is now considered a moral norm in liberal circles. This creates false hope and a false burden, for the belief that we can, separately or together, create a world of peace, is a fallacy.

The belief that peace is within the scope of human control is one problem of secular liberal thought. Another problem is the equally false assumption that we can shape our own lives as if we hold the levers of control.

This form of liberal spirituality appeared during the New Age of the 1960’s, fuelled by faith in the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  It was certainly believed that peace was just around the corner, though due to a cosmic age, rather than to human effort. In the beginnng, though, New Age thought did understand that reincarnation and karma were fundamental laws behind all individual and collective progress.

What I call the neo-New Age movement emerged in the decades which followed. It buried much of the original New Age thought under the weight of mediumship/channelling which offered slogans such as “You Create Your Own Reality” (Seth and Jane Roberts). A major spin-off was The Abraham-Hicks work.  The messages from beyond now boldly side-stepped – and at times denounced – the ideas of rebirth and karma as a long-term teaching framework.  They insisted that so long as we changed our conscious thinking, we could change ourselves and everything around us.

Life here on earth, in the neo-New Age movement, should be joyful, easy, and even luxurious, if only we could get our thinking – conscious creation – straight. A Christian version took root, touting something called Properity Gospel which almost obliterated categories of sin and suffering while promising that the pursuit of wealth and comfort was compatible with salvation. This of course picked up on an old thread in protestantism, the notion that prosperity showed God had already preordained your salvation.

In the context of these cultural movements, the notion of reincarnation and karma became quite unpopular over the past decades. I found, as a practising psychic and astrologer myself, that more and more people were put off, obviously uncomfortable, even a bit dismayed, at the emphasis in their Readings on past lives and the laws of cause-and-effect which might be creating their current reality. They believed it to be much lighter, more uplifting, to focus on the Now, and the power of positive thinking, especially in the new forms of visualization and manifesting. Increasingly, the power of Mind was seen as a new technology, a very western view indeed.

Many people, however, did admit to me that they seemed to have “failed” positive thinking – that they had been unable to manifest health, wealth and happiness. Despite their faith in Seth’s mantra – You Create Your Own Reality – their lives seemed to have unfolded in its own way, not their willed way. Instead of questioning the doctrine, many blamed themselves.

I feel badly for those who feel this way – they have failed nothing. They were never expected to consciously create the larger frameworks of a particular lifetime, but rather to embrace and fulful its potential.

To many, reincarnation and karma represent a slow, pessimistic, and possibly darkly fated Path, not an easy vision to accept in this feverishly hurried western world. Yet when we look around us, we can see the truth staring us in the face. We do not have power over the great movements and currents of world history; these repeating dramas of war and peace, love and hate, revenge and forgiveness, continue to unfold with or without our approval. Even the great Gandhi, we now know, unwittingly contributed as much to the violence of India’s partition in 1947 as to the hope of peaceful solutions.

I am not advocating that we stop efforts at peace or the creation of more just societies. For part of our spiritual evolution, as we learn through many lifetimes, is love for our neighbour, putting others first, sacrificing personal goals for a larger good. So it is not that we opt out, or drop out and let the world go its own way.  Our personal growth is often profoundly interwoven with group and historical events. What we do, how we choose – this is precisely where the role of the world around us comes in.

But what I am saying is that we need to let go of trying to achieve control. Truly we need to “let go, and let God.” It helps no one if we feel lost and guilty over the evil we see in the world. We did not make this Cosmos. We are not in charge. We are beloved parts of a vast creation, and we play a role, though we cannot know entirely what this is. There are invisible laws at work in all that we see around us. Our personal as well as collective, national, gender, race and other group identities take us down roads we cannot predict.

But events along these roads do unfold in meaningful ways – as long as we take the long view, knowing we have a past which has shaped our present, just as our present choices will shape our future and its lifetimes.  Those who have near-death experiences often come back with the message that they could see that everything has its place – even murders, wars and other forms of darkness.  What we call darkness arises from the same laws that bring us joy and happiness.

Nations and groups can experience karma just as individuals do – and that may mean a period of war or calamity in the life of a nation which seems needless and full of horror to those of us looking on. But all events are shaped and come into being according to laws which “balance” out our knowledge and balance out our deeds. When we choose birth in a nation or gender or race, we choose some of the collective experience which belongs to that group. We may come to teach or come to learn within that group – sometimes it is hard to tell – often it is for both.

We cannot assume responsibility for events today which have their roots not only in visible, recent history, but often in long-ago lifetimes – of a nation or a person – which are hidden to us. Nor can we stop or change them from unfolding. Far from being a pessimistic doctrine, reincarnation and karma set some limits on our expectations. It does not mean we should make no effort to raise consciousness, to campaign for peace, to demand justice for visible wrongs. It does however set limits on notions of failure when these efforts do not succeed. It does explain to us why there is more involved than a simple “awakening” to the possibility of peace.

One thing stands out in our human experience: Often we look back on what seemed a tragedy when it happened and realize with fresh eyes that it was a turning point in our lives. Surprisingly, people not only endure and survive shockingly harsh events in war or other situations yet come to understand that it set them free. This is always surprising, yet it is extremely common. Our ideas of darkness and light are not so much wrong as incomplete. If our goal is spiritual growth then one day we will reach transcendance of all worldly goals and attachments.

While we are here we can and should love the world and all those in it; yet realize our Road leads Home, and it will be good to rest, and leave the world for the next wave of pupils.

What I offer here is, I hope, some light in dark times. Let us realize that, indeed, the universe is unfolding as it should, that this troubled planet Earth, with all its darkness, is as it should be. It has not truly changed in thousands of years – nor will it in the next thousand – because it is functioning as it should.

We come here, as to a gymnasium or a schoolhouse. Here, we participate in a vast variety of group and personal dramas. In each life, we taste of different knowledge and experience, some dark, some light. All that we experience, the joy, the pain, the dispair and the hope, all develops us as spiritual beings.

The Schoolhouse does not need to change – it is perfect for all grades and classes. It is we who move from grade to grade, choosing new classmates, new courses, until at last we are ready for new realms – some of which we can already glimpse in our great music, great art, and great deeds of love.

© Carol Leigh Rice 2024

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