Karma cannot be fully understood apart from the Law of Reincarnation. The two are wholly inseparable. If karma is the Law, then reincarnation is the Vehicle of the Law. The two, working together, can better be understood by the term Cyclic Law, because each acts as an interlocking progressive cycle for the other. It is an understanding of the Law of Reincarnation that explains all the apparent paradoxes of karma. The Inner Workings of Karma To go into karma just a little bit deeper: all the thoughts, actions and emotional desires and cravings we have in life create magnetic vibrations in our aura which affect a bank of psychic mechanisms in our consciousness which are called “Skandhas” in the Ancient Wisdom. The Skandhas (it’s a Sanskrit word) are groups of qualities which make up both the subjective and objective personality of a person. There are five groups of Skandhas in our psychic make-up: 1) Form (Body), 2) Sensations, 3) Consciousness, 4) Motives (Karma), and 5) Knowledge. These Skandhas are constantly—every second of our lives—changing and rearranging themselves according to our every thought and action. It’s our own inner computer. Thus our consciousness improves or degenerates by means of these Skandhas according to the quality of the vibrations we generate. These Skandhas put together what is our “Karmic life disk” —the one which goes into the Cosmic Mainframe and, after being processed, is reformatted for the next life. Thus it is our Skandhas which stay with us from lifetime to lifetime; organizing and determining our spiritual progress towards perfection through everything we think and do. This is the most profound of the operating procedures of the Law of Karma, vividly pointing out that there is a karmic link not only between planes of the visible and invisible worlds but also between our human and psychic bodies as well as our present and past lives. As Marcus Aurelius observed, “That which comes after ever conforms to that which has gone before.” The work of the Skandhas comprises the very foundation of our spiritual growth. This is what is behind the fact that we never reincarnate as the same personality we were in our previous life. We may have some of the same karmic traits, especially mental ones, but we are never the same person. All physical and mental life in the Universe is in constant progressive motion and it is reflected in our new appearance and new purpose in our new life. All of this is controlled by our Skandhas. Thus, our new personality will be the sum and substance of the latest combination of our Skandhas at the end of our previous life and carried over to our new re-birth. And each succeeding incarnating personality will be correspondingly different. Neither will we ever reincarnate as animals, as some people love to speculate. The stream of life flows ever onward, forward and upward and never regresses. We have all been through the mineral, vegetable and animal phases of evolution before we ever reached the human stage on earth and we can be sure that karma is always ongoing, never acting in reverse, i.e., by sending us back to a previous stage of evolution. We should remember this when we come across human beings who act like animals--and there are many. Chances are that they are actually only one or two lifetimes removed from the animal kingdom and they have a lot yet to learn. When we see such people and are disgusted by their manner, it doesn’t hurt to remember that we were once at that stage, too. So be kind to them rather than resentful. It will help their karma and yours, too.