Marvels: Letters from an Elder, Part 10
Letter of 19th July, 1948
Imagine a baby in a womb: it thinks that ‘Life’ is all about the warm, ever-present interchange of substances from its surroundings with its own organic shape. Then, quite suddenly, it’s ‘outside’ and expected to operate separately from its mother’s body. It quickly learns the basics and starts to adapt and grow in its completely new environment. Something like this happens after ‘death’: the person finds himself floating in a brand new environment, expected to operate free from the old atoms and molecules which supported action and growth and ‘life’ before. Soon, with rest, guidance and support, the person will find himself growing again, this time in new ways.
What will that new life be like?
As it would be difficult to explain life outside the womb to a foetus, so the spiritual life is notoriously hard to explain to someone embedded in a mortal plane. But with analogies, we might be able to get somewhere.
Think of the earlier analogy to do with swimming in a pool: the swimmer, accustomed to moving through water, is strengthening and developing muscles which, when he emerges from the pool, will support him in the many tasks he might find himself required to do in the open air. So what happens to you in the pool has a direct relevance to what happens to you beyond it.
It is not that the pool is ‘testing’ you, though in some ways it could be said to be measuring your muscular strength, your stamina, your ability to manoeuvre, your reflexes and so forth. If, while in the water, you feel weak and unable to manage the flows and currents around you, then the pool is telling you that you need to build up your strength.
Some might see in this the phenomena commonly known as ‘karma’, commonly interpreted to be the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. But that definition of karma is limited. Think of it rather like this: What happens in the pool is directly related to your own movements in the water. The ripples you are creating, in other words, come back at you unswervingly — create unmanageable ripples through your actions in the water, and those same ripples react against you straight away. Thus what you call ‘karma’ is not strictly a system of judgements for past actions, as it has often been interpreted to be in the past: rather, karma is the 'water' which surrounds you as a mortal.
When you reach the higher levels of karma, you might now understand, you no longer have to return to the pool to build your spiritual muscles. You can move up to the more refined spiritual waters and be swimming towards an ultimate goal. As you approach closer and closer to that ultimate, the ripples you are creating, far more refined than in the mortal ‘pool’, spread further and more subtly throughout far vaster spheres of existence, including other universes and the tapestries of things beyond universes.
The mortal ‘pool’ should therefore not be considered a prison or a punishment: it is a set of conditions in which you can learn to build strengths and through which you can grow and develop through to become your ultimate self. I can develop this point further in my letters if you wish.