The doctrine of Spiritual Cause and Effect is based upon the great truth that under the Law each man is, practically, the master of his own destiny – his own judge – his own rewarder – his own awarder of punishment.
That every thought, word or action, has its effect upon the future life or lives of the man – not in the nature of a reward or punishment (as these words are generally understood) – but as the inevitable result of the great Law of cause and effect. The operation of the Law in surrounding us with certain sets of conditions in a new birth, is influenced by two great general principles:
(1) The prevailing desires, aspirations, likes and dislikes, and longing of the individual at that particular stage of his existence, and
(2) By the influence of the unfolding Spirit, which, pressing forward eagerly for fuller expression and less restraint, brings to bear upon the reincarnating soul an influence which causes it to be governed in its selection of the desirable conditions of its new birth. Upon the apparently conflicting influences of these two great forces rests the whole matter of the circumstances and conditions surrounding the rebirth of the soul, and also many of the conditions surrounding the personality in the new life – for these conditions are governed greatly all through life by these conflicting (or apparently conflicting) forces.
The urge of the desires, aspirations, and habits of the past life, is strongly pressing the soul towards incarnation in conditions best fitted for the expression and manifestation of these likes, tastes and desires – the soul wishes to go on along the line of its past life, and naturally seeks circumstances and surroundings best fitted for the freest expression of its personality. But, at the same time, the Spirit, within the soul, knows that the soul’s unfoldment needs certain other conditions to bring out certain parts of its nature which have been suppressed or not developed, and so it exerts an attraction upon the reincarnating soul, drawing it a bit aside from its chosen course, and influencing that choice to a certain degree.
A man may have an overpowering desire for material wealth, and the force of his desire will cause him to choose circumstances and conditions for a rebirth into a family where there is much wealth, or into a body best suited for the attainment of his desires, but the Spirit, knowing that the soul has neglected the development of kindness, will draw it a little aside, and cause it to be brought into the sweep of circumstances which will result in the man being made to suffer pain, disappointment and loss, even though he attain great wealth in his new life, to the end that he may develop that part of his nature.
We may see illustrations of this last mentioned occurrence in some of the very rich men of America. They have been born into circumstances in which they have had the freest expression of the desire for material wealth – they have possessed themselves of faculties best adapted to that one end, and have managed to be surrounded with circumstances best calculated to give the freest manifestations of those faculties. They have attained their heart’s desire, and have piled up wealth in a manner unknown to former ages. But yet they are most unhappy and dissatisfied as a rule. Their wealth is a weight around their neck, and they are tormented by fears of losing it and the anxiety of attending to it.
They feel that it has brought them no real happiness, but has on the contrary separated them from their fellow men, and from the happiness known to those of moderate means. They are feverish and restless and constantly on the search for some new excitement which will divert their minds from the contemplation of their real condition. They feel a sense of their duty toward the race and although they do not quite understand the feeling behind it all, they endeavor to balance matters by contributing to colleges, hospitals, charities, and other similar institutions which have sprung up in response to the awakening consciousness of the race to the reality of the Brotherhood of Man and the Oneness of All.
Before the end comes, they will feel in the depths of their soul that this success has not brought them real happiness, and in the period of rest which will follow their departure from the physical body, they will “take stock” of themselves, and readjust their mental and spiritual affairs, so that when they are again born they will no longer devote their entire energies toward the piling up of wealth that they cannot use, but will live a more balanced life, and will find happiness in unexpected quarters and will develop more spiritually. This is not because they have been impressed with the sense of any special “wickedness” in abnormal money getting, but because the soul has found that it did not secure happiness in that way, and is seeking elsewhere for it, and because it has lived out the desire for wealth, and has turned its attention to other things.
Had the Spirit not exerted its influence, the man might have been born into the conditions tending to produce wealth, and yet not have been made to see the one-sidedness of such a life, in which case it would have continued to be possessed of such an abnormal desire for wealth that it would have been born again and again, with increasing power each time, until it would have become practically a money demon. But the Spirit’s influence always counteracts abnormal desires, although sometimes several incarnations have to be lived through before the soul wears out its desire, and begins to be influenced by the Spirit to a marked extent. Sometimes the Spirit’s influence is not sufficiently strong to prevent rebirth into conditions greatly favoring old desires, but in such cases it is often able to manage affairs during the life of the man, so as to teach him the lesson needed to call a halt upon his unbridled desires, by bringing him into the, sweep of the Law of Attraction and causing certain pain to befall him – certain disappointment – certain failures – that will cause him to realize the pain, disappointment, failures and sorrow of others, and to bring upon him a course of living which will help to unfold his higher faculties.
Many of the sudden strokes of “misfortune” are really brought about by this higher principle of the man, in order to teach him certain lessons for his own good. It is not necessarily a higher power which makes a man realize these lessons of life, but it is generally his own higher self – the Spirit within him – which brings about these results. The Spirit knows what is really best for the man, and when it sees his lower nature running away with him, tries to swing him from his course, or to bring him to a sudden stop if necessary. This is not as a punishment, remember, but as the greatest kindness.
The Spirit is a part of that man, and not an outside power, although it is of course the Divine part of him, that part of him in nearest touch with the great overruling Intelligence which we call God. This pain is not brought about because of any feeling of righteous indignation, revenge, impatience or any similar feeling on the part of the Spirit, but is akin to the feeling of the most loving parent, who is forced to take from the hands of the little child some dangerous thing which may injure the little one – it is the hand which draws back the child from the brink of the precipice, although the little one screams with rage and disappointment because its desires are frustrated.