Most religions have some way for their believers to be released from their errors (sins) through belief in the figurehead of the religion or some procedure tied to that religion’s beliefs. Many religions believe that their religion is THE only valid religion, and following any other religion will lead to their eternal damnation. If merely believing in the religious leader and following the teachings are enough to remove any barriers to progression to Heaven, this could be called the “get out of hell free card”.
Karma is a concept that basically states that whatever you give out, you get back. Spiritualism is not technically a religion. It doesn’t use the word karma in the Declaration of Principles, but the seventh of the Declaration of Principles states:
“7. We affirm the moral responsibility of the individual and that he makes his own happiness or unhappiness as he obeys Nature’s physical and Spiritual laws.”
There is no transfer of an individual’s consequences for one’s actions to anyone else according to the Spiritualists. There is no figurehead in Spiritualism that can bestow forgiveness merely for believing that Spiritualism is a moral philosophy worth following.
Christianity’s “get out of hell free card” is the belief that declaring that Jesus is your Savior is all you need to get to Heaven. Some sects of Buddhism have a belief that frequently sending prayers in prayer wheels will get you to Nirvana. Hindu religion has chanting and sprinkling of holy water (preferably from the Ganges) to ensure progression to a favorable afterlife. Chants are also used in Hinduism to pave the way to a better afterlife.
Muslims are assured a place in Paradise if they live according the Muslim religion, live a worthy life, and ask for forgiveness from Allah. The requirement of forgiveness from Allah indicates that Islam has a “get out of hell free card”, but with additional conditions indicating a formal respect for karma.
If we look at the various teachings of Buddhism, karma appears in all of them in some form. One definition of karma is the connection of a person or organization that does something to the results of their actions. Karma connects us to the “bad” we do. Many forget that karma also connects us to the “good” we do. As the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) once declared, we may not be able to define good or bad, but we usually know whether an action we experience is either good or bad.
There are religions that have a very limited number of people making it to Heaven. The Jehovah’s Witnesses uses Revelations in The Bible to limit the number of followers to 144,000. That’s not a lot of people getting the rewards for good conduct on the earth. The followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints have strict rules on what it takes to earn the right to enter the Temple, and progression to Heaven does not appear to have any shortcuts or exemptions from requiring the following of the rules of the church to get to Heaven.
The beliefs of the interaction of the consequences of our actions and the beliefs on how to transfer responsibility to of these consequences is varied and complex. Some members of religions and organizations are very closely tied to the belief that their group can avoid the consequences of their actions. It is noteworthy that many KKK organizations require a belief in God and accept Jesus as their Savior. This is an extreme application of the “get out of hell free card”, and does not seem likely to work well if there is a Judgement Day.
As a Spiritualist, I believe that we live the consequences of our actions. As an individual, I know that our Souls are eternal and our consciousness exists beyond the death of our bodies. Together, a belief of the existence of karma and the continuation of our consciousness makes Spiritualists realize that they must mandatorily follow the Golden Rule. I also believe if your religion works for you, it works for me that it works for you. Carry on knowing you are here for a purpose, and it is your responsibility to be the best person that you can be.
© Copyright 2022
Rev. Jim Hetzer