Question: When a man lives a life of sorrow and suffering we may account for it by the fact that he is reaping now what he has sown in former lives, but how can we reconcile the awful suffering and torture of animals with the justice of God? What will be the fate of those who now mistreat animals? (Vol. II, #18)
Answer: To view life from the standpoint of present conditions alone is just as inconsistent as it is to look upon a man as having neither childhood behind him nor old age before him. Our present life, and many lives before that, have made us what we are now, and from that past is determined in a large measure the direction which we shall follow in future lives. At the beginning of manifestation the Spirit was free and like the Father save in one thing, namely that it had no self-consciousness, and the pilgrimage through matter was undertaken in order that this might be gained. To further this object the Spirit was crystallized into vehicles during the process of involution. A physical, a vital, and a desire body were gradually drawn around it to limit it and shut it off from all other spirits. Then by the gift of mind the Ego or individual was finally formed. Imprisoned in the various veils mentioned, the Spirit can no longer contact the outside world directly, but turning its gaze inward it sees itself and recognizes itself as "I." At the same time, however, it feels its limitations; it recognizes the fact that it is feeding upon husks and that it is necessary to return to the Father's house in order to take again its place as a Son of God.
The resolution to return to the Father is made more intense by the fact that pain and sorrow are experienced on account of the limitations of the present mode of existence. The cramping conditions of the prison house which the Spirit feels are a goad to drive it on. "No one cometh to the Father but by me," said Christ, and it is a fact that whenever the Christ is born within us we become men and woman of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Treading the path of probation, of purity and spiritual endeavor, draws the face with lines of pain, and gradually the body is broken up; it becomes more ethereal and leaves the Spirit more free. In the measure that we subdue our passions we kindle the fire of fellow feeling which will eventually burn up the dross of the flesh and leave the spiritual increment of our natures free to function in the new heaven and the new Earth where pain, sorrow, and death are overcome. This will be a foretaste of conditions in the Jupiter Period when we shall function in our vital bodies and be free from the physical vehicle with its attendant discomforts. At present the thought of the ordinary individual has little or no power, but in that day our thoughts will be capable of giving life to a certain order of spirit, and therefore it is of the greatest importance that we should first become thoroughly purified before such a terrible power is given us.
The path of evolution is not a circle but a spiral. We are a better humanity than the angels were when they were human during the Moon Period, and the animals which will be human during the Jupiter Period will be a better humanity than we. As the lowest globe at that time will be in the Etheric Region, only a vehicle made of ether will then be used by any being. The finer forces of nature will be available to all during that time, and the humanity of the Jupiter Period as well as ourselves will be able to wield the lightning. Therefore it is necessary that they should know by experience the nature of pain which may be inflicted by the misuse of a superior power. To give them the necessary compassion they have been made in certain respects like ourselves, capable of feeling the pain and suffering incident to physical existence. Thus from the present evil there will come good to both man and beast.
The fact must nevertheless be taken into consideration that there is woe in store for him by whom evil comes. The lower kingdoms act as stepping-stones for the higher. Did not the mineral exist, plant life would be an impossibility, for it could not take root and obtain the sustenance necessary for growth. If there were no plants, animal and man would have no means of obtaining earth bodies. The service rendered by the lower to the higher as stepping-stones can only be paid for by service. The higher owes the lower a debt of gratitude. Christ recognized this, that without pupils there could be no teacher, and in gratitude for the privilege of teaching and bringing into the world the wonderful Christian religion He washed His disciples' feet. In future aeons the lower kingdoms now acting as stepping-stones and a means of growth and experience to us will need help and service, which just be given by us. Thus the human race, which now abuses the animals, will then have to act as their servitors, aiding them to attain the very utmost from the school of evolution as it will be carried on in that day. The animal spirits whose bodies we now torture and destroy will in that day become our pupils, and it will be our duty as their guardians to help them grow and propagate the life we now deprive them of.
Question: It is taught in the Higher Philosophy that children who die in infancy are brought to rebirth in from one to twenty years. Do they return to the same station in life, or do they sometimes return to a different environment, more or less desirable, from wealth to poverty, or vice versa? (Vol. II, #20)
Answer: This question was asked years ago when the writer (Max Heindel) was a novice in the investigation of the spiritual world, and it was answered correctly at that time. But later investigations make it possible to give more detail based upon what has actually happened in a considerable number of cases. Notes were made of the results at the time of the investigations, but these have been mislaid. Nevertheless, according to our recollection, it was found that out of twenty children we watched who came to rebirth within five years of the time of death, fifteen or sixteen went back into the same family. It can be seen at the time when a child dies whether it will be a long or a short time in the invisible worlds. We therefore selected another group of twenty which are still in the invisible world and not expected to take rebirth until ten or more years have passed. But the tendencies are already quite plainly shown, for when a Spirit seeks rebirth it is usually drawn to the prospective mother years before it enters the womb, and sometimes women still unmarried are surrounded by their prospective children even before they have become engaged. Judging from this fact what the results will be, we find that out of the group of twenty only three are staying with their former mothers; the other seventeen are scattered among other families, and two of them are keeping company with small girls, showing that they are waiting for them to grow up and become their mothers.
This tendency of Spirits who are seeking embodiment to follow their prospective mothers around for years sometimes gives rise to laughable and embarrassing situations in connection with mediums who do not understand the conditions. We remember the case of a young lady who went to a seance and was told that she had a child in spirit land who was standing beside her and calling her mother. Naturally she denied the allegation indignantly, and arose and left the meeting. So there was a case where both were right though making diametrically opposite statements; each thought the other dishonest because each lacked the knowledge to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable.
Question: It is taught in the Higher Philosophy that every evil act in life is expunged in the purgatorial state after death. It is also stated that death does not liquidate an injury any more than moving to another city pays a contracted debt, that ripe fate has its root in a former life and that we cannot escape from this debt of the past. How can these statements be reconciled? surely we are not made to suffer twice for the same thing. (Vol. II, #26)
Answer: You are right. God does not want us even to pay back once, if by thorough repentance and reform suffering is made unnecessary. But the problem of liquidating a chain of causes in a life is much more complicated than to pay a bill for goods received. There are many sides to each case. Let us take as an illustration an alcoholic who makes a beast of humself and at the same times abuses his children, depriving them of the necessities of life and the education which they ought to have, who beats his wife, setting the children an example they may follow, and generally lowering their moral standard.
After death that man will feel in purgatory, first, the tortures of a craving for drink, which he is not able to satisfy, and second, he will feel all the suffering which he inflicted upon his family. He has then paid for his wrongdoing, and it is true that he comes back to rebirth with a perfectly clean slate so far as the actual suffering which he caused them is concerned. But he took a vow to love and cherish the woman who became his wife, and by the performance of the creative act and furnishing the nucleus for a body he assumed the responsibilities of fatherhood toward the children which came to him for help and a suitable environment. These parental responsibilities he also neglected to fulfill, and there is consequently a tie between him and the members of his family. He still owes them a debt of love and service which must be rendered at some future time and therefore in a later life these souls will be brought together and so placed that he may have an opportunity for doing good toward them. If he does not then take the opportunity, he may in a still later life render an adequate service to someone else. It is for his sake that service must be rendered so that the love nature may be evolved and expanded to become universal and all inclusive.
The same rule holds good in all other cases and as the extreme conditions make the best illustrations, we may take as another instance the relationship between a murderer and his victim. After death he suffered in purgatory and the actual debt is there wiped out. But a tie has been established between these two Egos, and in a future life they will again meet so that the murderer may have the opportunity of serving his erstwhile victim, that they may become reconciled as friends. Fellow feeling must become universal, since it is the basic principle in the kingdom of God.
To sum up then we may say that all our debts are paid in purgatory, so far as the commission of wrong is concerned; our debts of love, friendship, and service remain for liquidation in later lives.
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. II," by Max Heindel.