In karma we find a key to many puzzles of contemporary history. It is a doctrine which warns us that we have prepared the cocoon of our present lot largely by the thoughts and deeds spun out of ourselves during bygone earth-lives and the present re-embodiment. Now the doctrine is as applicable to the history of whole peoples as to the history of single individuals. Its corollary is that our characters and minds are in travail through the ages; some are old with the rich experience of a hoary past but most are young, unwise, and ungoverned. Its lesson is that the changing tides of public fate and private fortune are not meaningless. On the contrary, they invite our philosophical consideration so that we may understand how neglected duties or positive wrong-doing are the hidden root of our troubles. Those who understand the principle of karma aright, who do not misunderstand it as being an external independent fate but see it as a force originally set in motion by our actions, understand also the significant part played by suffering in the lives of men. It is educative rather than retributive. Merited punishment is really a crude form of education. Thoughtful men learn lessons from their sorrows and resolve not to commit the same sin or the same error a second time.
-- Notebooks Category 9: From Birth to Rebirth > Chapter 3: Laws and Patterns of Experience > # 1
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