I do not know and can never know (at least intellectually) what happens after death. Promises to lead my life in a certain way based on what happens after death doesn’t work for me. I do not want to be guided by fear, shame, and guilt throughout my life due to how I might be judged after death. This includes the law of reincarnation. Some people tell me I will become an insect or a lowly brainless creature if I don’t act well in this life. I do not scientifically know if reincarnation is actually real. I refuse to act on the basis of this.
I cannot intellectually believe in the law of Karma. I am tainted by knowing that mind searches for causality. If you meet an accident, a natural question arises in mind— why did this happen to me? A computation starts in the mind trying to find reasons for why did the accident happen. Based on intellectual merit and upbringing, the reasons can vary like the cat crossed my path on my way here, God was angry with me for what I did the other day, the luck is not with me today, etc. Law of Karma naturally arises from this type of questioning. Karma spanning over several lives is an internally consistent theory but there is no reason or scientific evidence that the world really is this way.
It doesn’t mean that there is no causality. There indeed is causality in a lot of things. There are physical causalities in mechanics, electromagnetism, etc. Those causalities can be hidden and tricky to uncover, but our mind is very good at searching for causalities. We’ve scientifically uncovered causalities in larger spacetime scales. The light that we receive from a distant star originated from that star billions of years ago. The star that we’re “seeing” might even have died by now. There are relationship causalities— angry outburst often begets an angry response. Again this can happen over large time and space scales. My supposed bad response in an incident with my friend in 2016 came up again as blame 2 years later in 2018. Similarly, relationship causalities can happen over large spaces; I define large spaces in relationships as the edge distance in the relationship graph. If my roommate’s mom was angry with them, they might respond with anger with me, and I might become angry towards a driver on the highway who responds angrily to someone else and so on.
Moreover, believing in absolute causality is detrimental to my life. Believing in absolute causality implies rejecting free will. Since absolute causality, also called absolute determinism, means that how you act and what happens to you from the day you were born to the day you die is all pre-determined by God or by nature or by past-life Karma, etc. There might be absolute causality but I choose to believe in free will. I choose to believe that I can steer my life where I want to steer it. Existence of free will feels true in my living. I feel I have the ability to switch my values, how I choose to behave with others, what I choose to work on etc.
So it seems to me that this world operates on a mixture of causality and absurdity. Some things happen for a reason and some things just randomly happen with absolutely no reason at all. My view is strengthened by looking at modern physics. There is classical physics that includes mechanics and several laws such as the law of gravity which precisely define mathematical relationships between cause and effects. Given all the variables, one can calculate what will happen when in a classical system. However, quantum physics and statistical mechanics is absurd by its nature. You can only hope to capture probability distributions of how likely something is to happen, but principles such as Heisenberg uncertainty principle state that these systems have inherent uncertainty- you can never predict absolute properties of the system no matter how accurate is your experimental setup.
Hence if something bad happens, the proper response is not to take a self-centered approach of victimizing oneself trying to find reasons of why it happened and then hold yourself hostage to the misguided promises of God’s plan. The proper response is to accept the inherent absurdity of nature, deal with your circumstances, learn from your suffering, and move on.