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A present day parable on 
karma and forgiveness
by Rev. Howard Ray Carey

A certain man had a teenage son who had started on the path of drug abuse. When the father asked him about this, the lad blew up in a rage. He jumped in his shiny new sports car which his family had given him for his birthday, gunned it down the driveway, and sped away, vowing that he never would darken that doorway again.

In the big city he lived a life of luxury and idleness, eventually selling his expensive car for money to support his habit. With things going from bad to worse, he eventually landed on skid row, along with many other unfortunates. Finally, sick and discouraged, he found shelter in a skid row mission, where he was given food, shelter and counseling.

Using strong persuasion, the counselor prevailed on the young man to put in a collect call to home. Before he had time to confess his need and his shame, his father interrupted the phone call to say with enthusiasm: ''I will wire you right now the money for a plane ticket home, and I will be waiting for you at the airport. I love you, son, and have prayed for you every day.''

The father provided the best possible program of rehabilitation for his son. Improvement came slowly. In time some of the damage to his brain, his liver and kidneys was reversed, but not all of it. With limited capacity he found himself unable to prepare for a position in the legal profession, which had been his dream. But after many setbacks and much difficulty, he was at last able to get into the work of helping other drug addicts.

Suppose, however, that his father had been unforgiving, and had shouted into the phone: ''Never show your face here again. You no longer are my son.'' How long do you suppose it would have taken the son to complete his downward spiral to complete physical destruction? This parable is presented in an effort to show the relationship between forgiveness and the law of cause and effect. When we are in touch with our true Selves, both principles are at work harmoniously in our lives, with the assurance of forgiveness lifting us to a higher level of experience where karma can be paid off rapidly and with much greater ease.

But too many adherents of Christian churches are taught a sadly distorted view of forgiveness. Many believe that God's forgiveness completely wipes out the consequences of wrong doing, providing an easy way out, abrogating the law of cause and effect, so the individual is thought to go 'scot free'. This in spite of the fact that the New Testament plainly teaches: ''Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.'' (Gal. 6:7)

On the other hand, some persons today who have accepted the idea of karma seem to believe there is no place for forgiveness in life's scheme of things. Both these opposite conclusions are indeed sad distortions (or denials) of the truth.

When I visualize Jesus upon the cross, I hear Him praying for those who have placed Him there and are now railing at Him. He is saying, ''Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.'' I know that word is extended to me also ---- and it lifts me to a new level of hope, of assurance and of encouragement, where I can cope with everything. Of course I know that the law of cause and effect still holds true ---- that I am still responsible for my thoughts, words, and actions. But now I know that the universe is not against me, but with me. So with a song in my heart I can work through all my debts on a new level, with divine help all the way. What a difference!

The difference is this: when a person has not experienced the loving grace or forgiveness of God he feels he is 'behind the eight ball'. How can he escape damnation? But when he comes to the place where he experiences God's forgiveness, he is able to forgive his brothers and forgive himself. Now he has self-esteem and knows that however difficult the path, all experiences now work together for good in his life.

How does this fit with the law of cause and effect? It fits perfectly, for now a new cause has entered the equation, dramatically altering the effect. Why do so many people appear to be unready to experience this boon of forgiving love? Perhaps it is because they are so deeply embedded in their fears and guilts. So, they continue to wallow in a very painful morass of karma.

Fortunately, however, the force of evolution will eventually bring them through to a new level of awareness, where they can experience the healing power of forgiveness. Then the equation of cause and effect will be dramatically changed for the better and they can pay off their debts with the fortification of divine love. Then the progress to freedom will be much more rapid.

On the little family farm in Michigan where I grew up, there was a small swampy area in the pasture lot. The cattle seemed instinctively to avoid that area. One day when I started out across it I found that with each step I would sink into the mire halfway to my knees. The going was very slow and, when I finally emerged, I was exhausted. Putting my feet once more on solid ground felt indeed like an emancipation. To me, that slow and painful walk through the swamp is analogous to the slow and painful process of trying to cope with karma on a level where we feel guilty and unforgiven; whereas, walking with ease on solid ground is like dealing successfully with our karma when we experience the gracious forgiving love of God, which allows us to forgive ourselves.

As I study the many Messages of the Christ I find many assurances of love, light, and divine help for us all. And I find nothing to indicate that the Christ is here to administer wrathful judgment. Let me quote a few of His assuring words given in Messages No. 67 and 136: ''Many there are who fear My advent. The guilt of ages rests upon their shoulders and they trust not.  My friends, through Me shall be created the era of trust, the removal of guilt, the citadel of love...  When you see Me, fear not ----  I come not to scold but to teach.    There are those among you who await Me as a judge and fear My coming. Naught that I say shall disappoint you; naught that I do shall cause you fear.''

What beautiful assurance He gives us. So let us realize that karma and forgiveness fit together like hand and glove, and that the experience of forgiveness lifts us to a new dimension of life ---- where we are in direct partnership with Him ---- and His gracious love aids us beyond measure in our climb up the steep side of life's mountain.

This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005