Reincarnation and Karma in CaoDai

Hum D Bui concludes the series on CaoDai with a look at what it says about how past deeds set the co

Most religions conceive human beings as consisting of three parts: the physical body, the soul, and the spirit.

Hinduism calls the spirit, "Brahman," "Atman" or the absolute (metaphysical) self and the soul "jiva," or the miniature self. Buddhism calls the spirit the true heart, or Buddha-heart, and the soul the earthly heart, or the illusory heart. Taoism calls the spirit god's heart (which is absolute), and the soul the regular heart (which is relative and variable). Islam calls the spirit "Naf-matmainnah," which means "supernatural," and the soul "lawwama," which means "regular." In Christianity, Saint Paul recommends: "May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our lord Jesus Christ." The Vietnamese people call the spirit "linh hon" (sacred spirit) and the soul "tam hon" (emotional soul).

CaoDai believes in the law of justice, or karma, which means that any current situation is the result of past good or bad deeds; and therefore believes that the human soul evolves continuously according to this karmic law through many physical lives to become progressively purer, ultimately to unify with the Supreme Being (in Heaven).

Karmic law is also observed in other faiths:
Hinduism: “This body is called the Field, because a man sows seeds of action in it, and reaps their fruits.”  (Bhagavad Gita)
Buddhism: “Even an evildoer sees happiness so long as his evil deed does not ripen; but when his evil deed ripens, then does the evildoer see evil.”
(Dhammapada)
”Even a good man sees evil days so long as his good deed does not ripen; but when his good deed ripens, then does the good man sees good things.”
(Dhammapada)
Taoism: “Those who do evil in the open light of day---men will punish them. Those who do evil in secret---God will punish them.”
Judaism: “Sow in righteousness, reap in mercy.”  (Hos. 10:12)
"The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh... to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”
(Prov.11:17-18)
Christianity: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
(Gal.6:7)
Islam: “Whatever good you do for others, you send it before your own souls and find it with Allah who sees all you do.”  (Koran 2:104)

Karmic law, or justice, is the divine law, the absolute law that is applied to all souls and that chains men to rebirth; or in other words, it requires that a man make payment for his transgressions: if not in the present life, then in another. Anyone who does anything--whether it be good or evil--receives its result, either in this life or in the next. No one escapes this law. Otherwise, there would be no justice. This law explains reincarnation as the spiritual evolution of all souls.

In accepting the Karma law and reincarnation, then life on this earth is just a place for the souls to experience (to reap) the deed that they have caused (sowed), in order to progress spiritually and to get closer to God in the spiritual journey to their divine origin. The Karma law reflects the absolute law of justice. In realizing this law, no one would not desire to cause to others what one does not desire others to do unto her/him.

CaoDai believes that with compassion, humanitarian service and meditation, one may pay back whatever kind of karmic debt that one had borrowed from previous life and become progressively detached from all secular distractions, therefore free from the effects of karmic law and avoid reincarnation, ultimately becoming one with the Supreme Being.

Hum D. Bui, M.D. was born in Vietnam in 1943. He is a CaoDai scholar working with CaoDai Overseas that is in charge of spreading the faith.
Getty
Show Hide image

Let's turn RBS into a bank for the public interest

A tarnished symbol of global finance could be remade as a network of local banks. 

The Royal Bank of Scotland has now been losing money for nine consecutive years. Today’s announcement of a further £7bn yearly loss at the publicly-owned bank is just the latest evidence that RBS is essentially unsellable. The difference this time is that the Government seems finally to have accepted that fact.

Up until now, the government had been reluctant to intervene in the running of the business, instead insisting that it will be sold back to the private sector when the time is right. But these losses come just a week after the government announced that it is abandoning plans to sell Williams & Glynn – an RBS subsidiary which has over 300 branches and £22bn of customer deposits.

After a series of expensive delays and a lack of buyer interest, the government now plans to retain Williams & Glynn within the RBS group and instead attempt to boost competition in the business lending market by granting smaller "challenger banks" access to RBS’s branch infrastructure. It also plans to provide funding to encourage small businesses to switch their accounts away from RBS.

As a major public asset, RBS should be used to help achieve wider objectives. Improving how the banking sector serves small businesses should be the top priority, and it is good to see the government start to move in this direction. But to make the most of RBS, they should be going much further.

The public stake in RBS gives us a unique opportunity to create new banking institutions that will genuinely put the interests of the UK’s small businesses first. The New Economics Foundation has proposed turning RBS into a network of local banks with a public interest mandate to serve their local area, lend to small businesses and provide universal access to banking services. If the government is serious about rebalancing the economy and meeting the needs of those who feel left behind, this is the path they should take with RBS.

Small and medium sized enterprises are the lifeblood of the UK economy, and they depend on banking services to fund investment and provide a safe place to store money. For centuries a healthy relationship between businesses and banks has been a cornerstone of UK prosperity.

However, in recent decades this relationship has broken down. Small businesses have repeatedly fallen victim to exploitative practice by the big banks, including the the mis-selling of loans and instances of deliberate asset stripping. Affected business owners have not only lost their livelihoods due to the stress of their treatment at the hands of these banks, but have also experienced family break-ups and deteriorating physical and mental health. Others have been made homeless or bankrupt.

Meanwhile, many businesses struggle to get access to the finance they need to grow and expand. Small firms have always had trouble accessing finance, but in recent decades this problem has intensified as the UK banking sector has come to be dominated by a handful of large, universal, shareholder-owned banks.

Without a focus on specific geographical areas or social objectives, these banks choose to lend to the most profitable activities, and lending to local businesses tends to be less profitable than other activities such as mortgage lending and lending to other financial institutions.

The result is that since the mid-1980s the share of lending going to non-financial businesses has been falling rapidly. Today, lending to small and medium sized businesses accounts for just 4 per cent of bank lending.

Of the relatively small amount of business lending that does occur in the UK, most is heavily concentrated in London and surrounding areas. The UK’s homogenous and highly concentrated banking sector is therefore hampering economic development, starving communities of investment and making regional imbalances worse.

The government’s plans to encourage business customers to switch away from RBS to another bank will not do much to solve this problem. With the market dominated by a small number of large shareholder-owned banks who all behave in similar ways (and who have been hit by repeated scandals), businesses do not have any real choice.

If the government were to go further and turn RBS into a network of local banks, it would be a vital first step in regenerating disenfranchised communities, rebalancing the UK’s economy and staving off any economic downturn that may be on the horizon. Evidence shows that geographically limited stakeholder banks direct a much greater proportion of their capital towards lending in the real economy. By only investing in their local area, these banks help create and retain wealth regionally rather than making existing geographic imbalances worce.

Big, deep challenges require big, deep solutions. It’s time for the government to make banking work for small businesses once again.

Laurie Macfarlane is an economist at the New Economics Foundation