What is the law of consequences?
Jesus explains it here. In this world, whatever done to others will come back to us. When we treat others poorly, we will be treated poorly. When we treat others fairly, we will be treated fairly.
Oh, but we don't always see this manifest immediately? Yes, it is true that we may not always receive the corresponding treatment we put out come back immediately. Sometimes we may receive quite the opposite immediately, as we may treat someone nicely and they lash back at us for little reason.
The reason for this is that most of the consequences of our activities take some time to manifest. A thief, for example, may steal for many years without getting caught. Eventually he will, however. And once he does, everything he possesses will be taken from him - including his freedom - as he is thrown in jail.
Some consequences occur over lifetimes as well. We may, for example, be born into a family where the drunken father beats the children. What did we do to deserve this?
This, by the way, is something that the interpretations of sectarian institutions cannot answer. They cannot answer why children are born into a suffering situation. They cannot answer why people suffer in general. So they make up reasons, such as saying that God has lost control and now Satan controls the world.
God never loses control
And there is a good reason why a person is born into a suffering situation, or into a family where the father beats them. It was something done by that person in a previous lifetime. Perhaps they beat their wife or children in their previous physical body, and had yet to receive the consequences of those actions.
Oh, but we don't believe that we could have previous lifetimes?
It is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of science. Each of us is a spiritual person inhabiting a physical body. We are not these bodies, and this can be shown scientifically.
Consider our physical body when it was a baby. Let's look at a picture of that body. Where is that body now? Scientifically we know the molecules and atoms that made up that baby body are now gone and are replaced by the atoms and molecules that make up our current adult body. Scientists have determined that all the body's atoms and molecules recycle within five years.
This means that we have effectively changed bodies from our baby body to our adult body. We are now wearing a different body. We can see this easily as we look at that body as well. The baby body is a lot different than the body we are wearing now.
Yet we are still the same person. We are the same person that inhabited that baby body. We are now inhabiting an adult body, with different skin, blood, organs and so on.
This means that we have effectively changed bodies, from our child body to our adult body.
The eyes between our baby and adult body might look a bit similar, however. This is because the same person inhabited both bodies, and the eyes reflect the personality within.
Now that we have established scientifically that a person changes bodies throughout this physical lifetime, we can more easily understand how a person can inhabit another physical body at the end of this physical lifetime.
It is because the person inhabiting the body is not physical. The person - you and I - is a spiritual being. A being of another substance - a spiritual substance not perceived by the physical eyes.
This can be understood at the moment of death. When a person dies, the life of the body leaves. The body - formerly animated - now lies lifeless. Yet the makeup of that body has not changed. The dead body contains every element the living body had - all the cells, DNA, brain and so on. What is missing is the person - the spiritual being.
There are many scientific studies that show we are not physical but rather, are spiritual beings. Consider the millions of clinical death cases where the person describes rising above their clinically dead body, and seeing things that the dead body could not have seen. Who is rising above the body? Consider also new research from MIT showing that infants already have a developed sense of morality and selfishness. Where did they get this from without any training?
These and more studies indicate we are not these physical bodies, but we are beings of another dimension: Not perceivable by the physical eyes. We are spiritual, not physical.
Did Jesus teach this?
It is clear that he did. Along with statements regarding the two types of resurrection, consider, for example, this question raised by Jesus' disciples about a man who had been born blind:
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2)
Now if Jesus had not been teaching his disciples that the person can have a physical body prior to this one, how could they have questioned whether the man sinned prior to his being born blind?
So what is the spiritual being doing within a temporary physical body?
We have been thrown out of the spiritual realm, because we became self-centered. The spiritual realm is a place of love. The citizens of the spiritual realm are loving caregivers of the Supreme Being, and they exchange loving relationships with each other, along with a unique loving relationship with God.
But because love requires freedom, each of us has the freedom to love or be self-centered. Those of us who became self-centered were tossed out of the spiritual realm because we no longer belonged there. This event was described in Genesis 3 with symbolism (see The Meaning of Genesis for these verses and their meaning).
A world for the self-centered
The physical world was set up by the Supreme Being to provide a place for those of us who became self-centered. Because we rejected the supremacy of the Supreme Being, He set up this world so we did not have to see Him. Here, within these temporary physical bodies, we can pretend He doesn't exist as we play out our self-centered desires.
But this physical dimension is also a place of consequences as Jesus describes here. This is because the physical world is not only a place where the self-centered could escape the love of the spiritual realm: The physical world is also a rehabilitation center. The Supreme Being programmed the physical world to help rehabilitate us - to encourage us to return to Him and our home in the spiritual realm.
Consider for a moment the purpose of consequence training for children. Child psychologists have now concluded that this is the best way to raise a child. Why? Because a child learns better by experiencing the consequences of their actions, rather than simply being disciplined out of context of the action.
And this is precisely why the Supreme Being programmed the physical universe with consequence learning, as Jesus explains here. He is trying to rehabilitate us.
So what is the consequence learning system of the physical world intended to teach us?
Just consider a person, as mentioned above, who beat his wife and children in one lifetime and received no consequences in that lifetime, but in their next lifetime they were themselves born into a family where the father beat his children. What would happen to the child?
Hopefully, that child's experiences being beaten would result in them becoming opposed to family violence. They would know how it feels to be beaten, and would hopefully not beat their own children. This is what consequence learning does. It puts us in the very position that we put others in, in order to teach us.
What do we need to learn?
And what does the accumulation of consequence learning teach us in general? To care for others. To think of others as we think of ourselves. To put ourselves in the position of others. This is called empathy, and empathy is the gateway to resuming our natural loving nature.
Our spiritual selves are loving by nature. This is why we each seek to love and be loved throughout our lifetimes. We may treat others poorly through our self-centeredness, but within - our spiritual selves - we simply want to love and be loved.
We seek the love of others as we attempt to achieve fame, fortune and success. We seek the love of others and seek to love others as we conduct our family lives. But these activities are mixed with self-centeredness - our disease. And the purpose of the consequence training of the physical world is to cure us of our disease of self-centeredness.
Our escape hatch back to the spiritual realm is not just cleansing our self-centeredness: It is resuming our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. A person who has progressed in consequence training will naturally reach out to the Supreme Being. We may not be perfectly cleansed of our self-centeredness, but we are at the stage where we can understand what love means and what service means.
We have forgotten our Best Friend
The Supreme Being is our forgotten Best Friend. He is our forgotten Constant Companion. This is why we seek that perfect "soul mate" throughout our lives. We know there is someone special out there. What we don't realize is that the Supreme Being is that "someone special."
Once we reach out to the Supreme Being, He will guide us back to Him. This may take some time, as we gradually become purified of our self-centeredness and our many residual desires. He will lead us through many learning experiences and situations that expand our consciousness - not only of ourselves, but of Him. Slowly, we will come to know Him more and more - and assuming we are willing - fall in love with Him again.
This resuming of our eternal relationship with the Supreme Being is what concludes the cycle of birth and death that we each experience in the physical world of consequences, as we hopefully evolve from lifetime to lifetime. Should we progress to the condition of resuming our loving relationship with the Supreme Being, we will certainly leave this physical world and return to the spiritual realm.
But we don't have to if we don't want to. If we would rather just focus on our own well-being, then we will continue to dwell in the physical world. But don't count on returning to a human form. There are thousands of other species of physical bodies we can also inhabit, that are perfectly designed for our particular consciousness.
Just consider a person who envies the "easy" life of his dog. And their whole lives are focused upon the life of the dog. Do you think they will take on another human form even though they spend much of their life in this body focused on the dog? Certainly not. They will most likely take on a dog's body in their next lifetime, quite possibly within the same litter as the dog they had as a pet.
But with their being born into a dog's body also comes an ignorance of the Supreme Being. Animals have reduced intellect, and less ability to focus on the Supreme Being. They essentially forget the existence of God as they focus on their self-centered animal perspective.
This is, quite simply, hell
As many Saints have warned, should we not focus our lives on evolving spiritually, we will succumb into the depths of hell.
Taking on the physical body of an animal is the depths of hell.
Hell, essentially, is ignorance of the Supreme Being. Those who have completely lost any remembrance of God are lost in hell. We may imagine hell as a place of suffering - and truly it is, as we can see all of the physical forms - every organism - as suffering pain, disease and death.
But because these physical bodies are not us - we are merely occupying them temporarily just as a person would drive a car around - the real meaning of hell is being removed from any consciousness of our Best Friend's existence: Ignorance of God is hell.
So let's use whatever intelligence we have now to evolve spiritually during this lifetime. Let's not put it off. Let's not wait until we are on our deathbed to consider God carefully. We may not even have a deathbed. Our body may die in our sleep or in an auto accident. So we should take this very moment in our lives to reach out to the Supreme Being to help us guide us back to Him so that we can return home to the spiritual realm, and resume our loving relationship with Him.
This is Jesus' ultimate request for us, and why he said:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27)