Karma and Grace
   Two essential and complementary universal laws, and their corollary: Self-effort and Grace.

   - forthcoming - In the meantime, highly recommended is this summary presentation from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton.

   "Those who say that the idea of Grace violates the concept of universal law do not look into it deeply enough. For then they would see that, on the contrary, it fulfils the law of the individual mind's effort, which they believe in, by complementing it with the law of the Universal Mind's activity inside the individual, which they ought also to believe in. God cannot be separated from man. The latter does not live in a vacuum....Karma must operate automatically, but the Power behind karma knows all things, controls even karma itself, knows and understands when forgiveness is desirable."

   "All this working of Grace takes place outside of the level of ordinary consciousness, whether above or beneath it is a matter of there point of view."

   “This whittling away of the ego may occupy the entire lifetime and not seem very successful even then, yet it is of the highest value as a preparatory process for the full renunciation of the ego when - by Grace - it suddenly rises up in the heart.”

   D.T. Suzuki, from Shin Buddhism

   "...Jiriki is self-power. Tariki is other-power. The Pure Land school is known as the other-power school because it teaches that tariki is most important in attaining rebirth in the Pure Land or regeneration or enlightenment or salvation. Whatever name we may give to the end of our religious efforts, that end comes from the other-power, not from self-power. This is the contention of Shin followers...

This doctrine, other-power... is based on the idea that we humans are relative-minded, and as long as we are so constituted there is nothing in us, no power which will enable us to cross the stream of birth and death. Amida must come from the other side and carry us on the boat of all efficient vows - that is, by means of his hongan, his friendly Dharma.

There is a deep and impassable chasm between Amida and ourselves, and we are so heavy-laden with Karma hindrance that we cannot shake it off by our own power. Amida must come and help us, extend his arms of help from the farther end. This is what generally is taught by the Shin school. But from another point of view, however ignorant and impotent and helpless we may be, we will never grasp Amida' s arms unless we exhaust everything we have in our efforts to reach the other end.

It is all right to say other-power does everything by itself. We just let it accomplish its work, but we must nevertheless become conscious of the other-power's doing its work in us. Unless we are conscious of Amida's doing his work, we shall never be saved. We can never be conscious or sure of the fact that we are born in the Pure Land and have attained our Enlightenment. To acquire this consciousness, we must exhaust all our efforts. Amida may be standing and beckoning us to come to the other shore where he is standing, but we cannot see Amida until we have done all we can do. Self-power is not what is needed, really, to cross the stream. Amida will extend his arms of help only when we realize that our self-power is of no account.

Since we cannot achieve the end we try to accomplish, Amida' s help must be recognized. We must become conscious of it. In fact, recognition comes only after we have strained all our efforts to cross the stream by ourselves. We only realize the inefficacy of self-power when we try to make use of that power, when we become conscious of how worthless self-power is. The other-power is all-important, but this all-importantness is known only to those who have striven, by means of self-power, to attempt the impossible.

This realization or the worthlessness of self-power may also be Amida's work. In fact it is, but until we achieve recognition we do not realize that Amida has been doing all this for us and in us. Therefore, striving is a prerequisite of realization. Spiritually or metaphysically speaking, everything is finally from Amida, but we must remember that we are relative beings. As such, we cannot survey things unless we first try to do our best on this plane of relativity. Crossing from the relative plane to the transcendental or absolute plane - the plane of the other power - may be impossible, logically speaking, but it appears an impossibility only before we have tried everything on this side..."

   Fenelon, from The Complete Fenelon

   "It is hard to convince us of the goodness of God in loading those whom he loves with crosses. "Why," we say, "should he take pleasure in causing us to suffer? Could he not make us good without making us miserable?" Yes, doubtless he could, for all things are possible with God. In his all-powerful hands he holds our hearts, and he turns them as he will, as the skill of the workman can give directions to the stream at the summit of a hill. But able as he may be to save us without crosses, he has not chosen to do so, just as he has not seen fit to create people at once in the full vigor of adulthood, but has allowed them to grow up by degrees amid all the dangers and weaknesses of childhood and youth. In this he is the Master: we have only to adore in silence the depths of his wisdom without understanding it...In this process of detaching us from our self-life and in destroying our self-love, it would take a powerful miracle to keep the work of grace from being painful. Neither in his gracious nor in his providential dealings does God work a miracle lightly. It would be as great a wonder to see a person full of self become in an instant dead to all self-interest and all sensitiveness, as it would be to see a slumbering infant wake up in the morning a fully developed adult. God works in mysterious ways in grace as well as in nature, concealing his operations under an unseen succession of events. In this way he keeps us in the darkness of faith. Not only does he accomplish his designs gradually, but also he does so by means that appear the simplest and best designed to accomplish the end in view, in order that human wisdom may ascribe the success to the process, and in this way make his own working be less evident! Otherwise every act of God would seem to be a miracle, and the state of faith, in which it is God's will that we should live, would come to an end."

   "God renders the working of grace slow and obscure, then, so that he may keep us in the darkness of faith. He makes use of the inconstancy and ingratitude of the creature, and he makes use of the disappointments, the surpluses, and the excesses that accompany prosperity, in order to detach us from them both. He frees us from self by revealing our weaknesses and corruptions in a multitude of back sliding. All this dealing appears perfectly natural, and it is by this succession of natural means that we are burned as by a slow fire. We would like to be consumed at once by the flames of pure love, but such an end would scarcely cost us anything. It is only an excessive self-love that desires to become perfect in a moment and at so cheap a rate."