Tales of Karmic Becoming

Ræl H. Bishop


“Do you see the humans down there, my successor?” said Clairvoyance the Elder. “It’s remarkable. When I started my reign here, many millennia ago, this very world was on a downturn. The once noble states that marked its surface were rich in deceit and corruption. Humans treated one another like savages. Eventually, societal order collapsed completely. All the old works were lost to time – it’s a wonder my cult survived. But as time progressed, righteousness returned. People began to see the err in their ways. They rediscovered compassion. I feel you’re taking the reins at a good time, my successor.”

Clairvoyance the Younger nodded. Clairvoyance the Elder was up in his years, and decided to take a younger god under his wing before it was too late. He had taught him all the duties of being a loyal god, of maintaining a good following, and of proper defense in the event the jealous gods attacked. But one last thing needed to be taught.

“Elder, how come you worry so much about the well-being of your followers?”

The elder took in a deep breath. “What do you know of the laws of action?”

“Kind actions get rewards, cruel actions get punishments. What of it?”

The Elder pointed to the lands below. “You see, successor, all actions have consequences. Look down there. That poor slug was once an exuberant merchant in a past life, but his greed and malice towards others resulted in his present birth.”

The Younger shrugged. “Yeah yeah, what of it?”

The Elder spoke, holding his back. “My friend, that poor man could be us one day. We have it good here and now, but upon our eventual death, we have no knowledge of where we will be born. We can see the fruitioning of the acts of others, but not our own. So, do not take your luxuries here for granted. I’ve seen gods here end up in deplorable lives because they’ve done such. In many ways, your acts determine who you become – both here and in later lives. So, my friend, treat your followers well. Never miss out on an opportunity to help others.”

Clairvoyance the Elder gripped his back in pain. He became visibly distressed; he knew he was at the end of his line, and his aging process was the most pronounced of the gods. Despite all his noble deeds, darker ones from deep in his past were surfacing as pain and various ailments.

Suddenly, a beam of light shone down from above, blinding him. Though he didn’t know the source of this light, it felt remarkably familiar… and remarkably calming. The pains were still present, but his worries about his future were gone. He felt – he knew – somehow things were going to work out.

Clairvoyance the Younger did not see the light, but instead felt another’s presence. He scanned his surroundings, and out of the corner of his eye a hidden jealous god leapt towards the Elder.

“Elder, look out!”

Before he could turn, the jealous god thrust out his sword and cleaved Clairvoyance the Elder’s head clear off his shoulders. Clairvoyance the Younger stood mortified. The jealous god then turned to Clairvoyance the Younger and darted to him, but the Younger fled. The battle of the heavens had started once again. Clairvoyance the Elder’s head lay on the ground with a smile on its face; for in his last minute of life, he knew where he was destined to go was better than anything a reign of godhood entails.


0. Image at the top of the page is a modification of “Vyasa telling Drupada about the previous lives of the Pandavas and Draupada”, unknown illustrator, in the public domain according to the Wikimedia Commons.

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