given by Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov in 1963
When we read the lives of some of the Saints, Prophets and Initiates and see what terrible sufferings they had to endure, we wonder, “Why did they have to go through such martyrdom? They hadn't done anything to deserve it.” But we have to look for the cause of their suffering in a previous incarnation, for the fact that someone has restored a state of divine order within himself does not necessarily mean that all his debts have been paid off or that his past is totally obliterated. Our past is always with us and we cannot be completely free until we have paid every last penny of our debts.
Take the case of Jesus' disciples : they spent all their days with him : they lived in the light and did not sin, and yet they were put to death or thrown to the lions. Why did Jesus not help them? Because he knew that they had not finished paying off their debts. They had commited faults in previous incarnations and had not had time to make reparation before leaving the world. This is why the Scriptures say, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath”, and, “Before the sun sets, go and forgive your brother”. But the true meaning of these precerpts has never been understood. If we take them litteraly, we don't have much time in which to heal the breach with our brother – especially in winter when the sun sets very early. But those words do not refer to the setting of the physical sun. Sunset, in the symbolic language of the Initiates, means man's physical death, his departure to the next world. So, in actual fact, he is given plenty of time, several years, in which to pay his debts. But once his time has run out and the sun sets, if he has forgotten or been unable to pay, the law of karma takes effect. A record exists of everything we have ever done, because everything leaves an imprint which hardens and crystallizes and there is no way of getting off cheaply or settling “out of court” as it were. If we have not cleared all our debts by the time the sun sets, we shall be obliged to pay every last penny in a later incarnation.
And you, who live according to a spiritual Teaching, who live in the light, you are also subject to mishaps and misfortunes. To be in an Initiatic school does not necessarily make you immune from all negative influences. The only way to be sure that suffering cannot touch you is to be free of your past debts. If you still owe something, then, Teaching or no Teaching, light or no light, you are going to have to pay. As you see, the question becomes clearer : you are a faithful follower of this divine Teaching, you live in the light and do nothing but good, but you have to remember that good bears fruit in the future, not in the immediate present. Thus, when you have problems, you should accept them willingly, knowing that they cannot obliterate the good work you have been doing. In fact, you can say to the Lord, “Dear Lord, so much the better if I have to suffer, today. In that way, I shall be freeing myself. Now that I know why I have to endure all this I have no desire to rebel against it ; I don't ask to be spared but to be able to repair.”
Perhaps you will wonder about Jesus : “Does his crucifixion mean that even he had a karmic debt to pay? No, the case of Jesus was completely different. The case of Jesus raises the vital question of self-sacrifice. There are beings who are willing to sacrifice their lives and accept terrible pain and hardship even though they have no debts of any kind. But such beings are the exception. When one does not have a detailed understanding of the question of reincarnation one is liable to be very much mistaken in one's judgements.
People come in four categories as far as reincarnation is concerned. First we have those who are so ignorant and unaware, so lacking in all inner light or moral sense, that they live lives of crime. They break the laws and run up huge debts and, as a result, when they come back to earth, they have to suffer terrible conditions in order to pay their debts and make reparation. This is why they have such unhappy lives.
The second group consists of more highly evolved beings who try to develop the qualities and virtues they need to free themselves. But, however hard they work, one incarnation does not give them enough time in which to settle all their debts, so they have to come back again to complete their task. Next time, better conditions will enable them to work more usefully and on a higher plane. But they must still keep coming back until all their debts are settled and they are completely free.
In the third group are those who have reached an even higher degree of evolution and who return to earth to complete certain specific tasks. They have very few debts still to pay and they stand out from the masses owing to the greath breadth of their consciousness and virtues. Their whole life is spent doing good. When beings such as these leave the world, their task is accomplished and they will not come back again.
Some of them, however, are willing to give up the blissful state of joy and boundless freedom that is theirs in the bosom of the Lord. They are so filled with pity and compassion for men that they leave this sublime state voluntarily and return to earth to help them, even when they know that it will mean torture and violent death. Others, who wish to pursue a spiritual work begun on earth may, without actually reincarnating, come to dwell within a highly evolved human being and manifest himself through him. As a matter of fact, Jesus referred to such a possibility when he said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home within him.” These beings have no need to reincarnate. Without assuming a physical body of their own, they can enter into a living man and accompany him every step of the way, through gestation, infancy, youth and mature adulthood, working with, in and through him.
A great many people desire freedom, but they don't really know what it means. They do everything possible to avoid their obligations, shirk their duty and sever their ties to others – and they think that when all that is done they will be free. But that is not the way to achieve freedom. The first step towards freedom is to pay all one's debts. People want to free themselves from their wife or children, from their boss, society and even life itself by committing suicide. But freedom is an impossible illusion as long as you have still not paid off all your debts and wiped out your karma.
It is perfectly legitimate to want to be free, but freedom can only be achieved in accordance with divine law, and very few human beings know how to go about it. Even here, in the Brotherhood, many of you still see it the wrong way around: you try to achieve independence by dodging your obligations. But this is as though you ate a hearty meal in a restaurant and then tried to slip out without paying the bill. It is a dishonest, dishonourable way to behave and it will not be countenanced by the spirits of light in the world above. People often imagine that they have freed themselves because they have left their job – or their wife – but to do this is to jump from the frying pan into the fire: they will soon see that they picked the wrong solution when they meet all kinds of new problems and fall into new traps.
The best way, the best method to use in order to free yourself, is love. The worst way is selfishness, greed, craftiness and guile. Every time you act with generosity and self-sacrifice, every time you are kind, every time you give, you are working towards your liberation. This is why, instead of clinging to posessions, instead of always trying to dodge the issue or calculate what you can get out of a situation, you must give, give, give. Look at how couples behave when they separate or get a divorce, how fiercely they defend their own interests! What they don't realize is that because of their attitude, they will have to meet and come to terms with each other again in future incarnations.
It is love, kindness, compassion and generosity that set a disciple on the path of true liberation. To be sure, if you talk about kindness and self-sacrifice to the average human being, he will take you for an imbecile because he is not guided by this light and does not know the value of generosity. But an Initiate knows how important it is to give, to help others and be generous and magnanimous, because that is how one frees oneself. So, give! Always give more than justice demands, because this is the quickest way to free ourselves.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
The Bonfin, France, September 29, 1963
Cosmic Moral Laws, Complete Works, © Prosveta Editions