What type of karma does one have to invite tragic sudden accident, or murder? We see little kids being raped, sodomised, brutally murdered. What karma can possibly result in these types of death? Does it mean that they must have caused a similar type of injury to the responsible person, in some other lifetime? In terms of the experience of the soul: how different is an accidental death or murder from a normal death? Does our higher Self choose the type and time of such a death?
Karma is a highly complex matter: what you see now is the result of of countless actions in the past. It is impossible for a normal human mind to determine what exactly caused a violent death, or being the victim of a crime. Only a true Master can see it.
Yes, it may be that the child now being raped, for example, has done the same thing in an earlier life, maybe a long time ago, as karmic consequences seldom occur right away (instant karma), but are delayed because of the “crosscurrents of the ego”, as Yogananda called it. However, it can also be that child has erred in other ways: maybe it has just allowed such a thing to happen, and now needs to learn never to do so again.
Concerning the difference of the soul’s experience of a normal vs. a violent death: on the deepest level, the soul is ever free from it all. But on the more “incarnated level”, yes, there is certainly a difference. The experience stays with the soul, maybe the shock, or the deep fear, or maybe the anger or hatred. In the next life he easily fears exactly the type of situation (or the kind of person) which has caused him that violent death.
Does our higher Self choose the time and type of such a death? My understanding is that the Higher Self knows, but it’s the law of karma which “choses” (determines) the event. It is good to know however, that the karma may be strong, but is never fixed. Karma can be mitigated by the grace of God or a true Master, by deep meditation (especially Kriya Yoga), and by good balancing actions on the person’s side.
In general: apart from the intervening grace of God, everything that happens to us is like “karmic mathematics”. Also our next birth is not so much chosen by our Self, but (at least mostly) karmically determined. Sri Yukteswar explains in the Autobiography of a Yogi: “A child is born on that day and at that hour when the celestial rays are in mathematical harmony with his individual karma.” Death similarly is a karmic event (again Autobiography): “Ananta cannot live; the sands of his karma for this life have run out.”
All this leads us to faith in God: everything that happens, however, cruel, has a good reason, there nothing is nothing unjust. The more important thing: God’s grace can save us from our mistakes. Of course it’s never enough just to hope for grace. We ourselves have to work positively work out our personal karma. You might enjoy studying the book, The Essence of Self-Realization, which offers a chapter on karma, and one on how to work out karma.
Here is the final solution for everyone: our job is to shift our sense of identity from the ego (which lives in the realm of karma) to soul-consciousness (the soul has no karma, and makes no karma). Here is a good prayer by Yogananda to affirm that free soul identity: “Dear Father, I will remember that the experiences of this life are in reality nothing but dream experiences. We are unaffected by death or anything else.”
All the best, Jayadev