Karma and Duty
Human beings “…have got so much into the ingrained habit of considering right and wrong, good and evil, as matters of an arbitrary code of law laid down either by men or imposed upon them by a Personal God.”, says H. P. Blavatsky
in the “Key to Theosophy”. According toTheosophists and all initiates, diversity in the destiny of people, nations and racesowes itself to “Karma – Nemesis” which “is no more than the (spiritual) dynamical effect of causes produced and forces awakened into activity by our own actions.”, as HPB says at some other instance.
The thread of human evolution runs from incarnation to incarnation. In between successive births and deaths, a person is given the possibility to awaken his inherent mental powers and to liberate himself from the fetters of physical senses. This individual course through reincarnations –reiterated cycles of life – towards attaining evolution that aims at spirituality, is due to and sustained by the law of Karma or of Harmony. Not only does this uppermost law urge for action in favor of experience and evolution, but it also adjusts the results of actions to the causes produced by man himself, as he either deviates from universal Law or fully applies it.
Indeed, in our life, there is no accident, no unhappy day, or even no sorrow whose cause is not to be traced in our very actions of this or some former life, says H. P. B. explaining the various circumstances of the life of every one of us.
HPB maintains that all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another.(Key to Theosophy, p.190)
There is an antidote to egoism and to the evils of life deriving from it, an antidote that lodges in the conviction that there exists the One Principle which is the cradle of all life in universe. When this experience takes roots inside us then justice and selflessness turn into innate propensities to instinctively produce noble deeds. Co-existence, respect for all species of life and esteem for the fellow human beings regardless of creed, color, race, culture and social status, a sense of responsibility and duty to life as a whole are what can change men and society for the better; because those are the very characteristics of our divine archetype that will have to be translated into deeds during our earthly life for individual and collective harmony to exist. By nurturing such a deep belief, to which observation of the phenomena of life does justice, by contemplating on them and knowing about them, the human ego may minimize separateness and utilitarianism and make room for others.
Both on an individual and a collective level, circumstances in today’s societies are the result of former actions whose dynamic asks to set balance in. Esoteric tradition says that every single action of ours is followed by a series of effects reiterated for seven reincarnations. It also says that good and evil, harmony and disharmony are aspects of the OneWhole and that “as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. It tends to restore disturbed equilibrium in the physical and broken harmony in the moral world…. It always acts so as to restore Harmony and preserve the balance of equilibrium, in virtue of which the Universe exists.” (Key to Theosophy, p.184)
Man’s destiny is deeds and not thoughts!
A deed is the expression and completion of thought in the world of senses. For as long as thoughts and desires remain airy, no matter how beautiful they may be, they are not adequate enough to produce effects, bring about balance and make plans come true. A deed is the link that can join the invisible with the visible, the perfect with the human.
But which is the deed that restores harmony and preserves the indispensable equilibrium in Universe? HPB says that it is …a Brotherhood IN ACTU and altruism not simply in name and also that altruism is an integrated part of self-development.
Genuine altruism is doing our duty towards the others and pursuing their happiness. We do what is right for the sake of right, not anticipating what it may bring in for us. Happiness or rather a feeling of contentment might well be the result of carrying out a certain duty but it is not the motive, nor should it be one. The purpose of our life should be to do our duty for the sake of mankind, our family, for the sake of the mentally, financially and socially feeblest. No debt should be left unpaid as it would leave us moral bankrupts in our next incarnation (Key to Theosophy, chapter: On Duty)
Our personal life as well as the entire present-day political frame is built on disregard for justice and the mercy we would ask for ourselves. Selfishness, disdain of ideals and virtues has turned out to be the cornerstone of modern societies. No matter how hard we try to ameliorate living conditions, our living will not improve unless we turn our personal motives to collective ones. Personal ambition, greed, thirst for power, attachment to sensual things will have to shrink, draw back and give way to those characteristics so many sages, prophets and saviors of mankind have stressed from the far past up to this day. Difficult though it may seem, if we yearn for real change, we shall have to change our animal nature into human –this is the most urgent thing at the moment –and human nature into an angelic one – in the future. Let us stop attributing our everyday problems to social injustice and political tricks and favors. We are the “state”. The state is the outcome of our own selfish bent. Let us change our character, our life, our society through altruistic deeds, deeds of sacrifice in favor of our fellow human beings, aspiring to higher ideals and applying in action the eternal spiritual and virtuous values of life.
Two days after HPB departed, in 1891, the New York Daily Tribune published this: “Madame Blavatsky said that the rebirth of humanity will have to be based on a wider altruism”. Those words have placed her among the great thinkers of all time. Needless to add that the value of the teaching she transmitted to us becomes all the more evident, not only as to what she declared but also as to how truly necessary the application and practice of all she declared on altruism and justice is in our times.