Karma: The Law of Ethical Causation
One of the maxims of ancient wisdom is that a Divine Plan that follows fundamental laws is implemented for as long as the universe is in manifestation. Pre-eminent among those laws is the law of Karma. It is also called law of Cause and Effect, of Adjsutment, of Harmony and Ethical Causation.
H.P. Blavatsky defines it as the highest law in Universe, fount, origin and basis of any other law. She states that “it is the invisible and unknown law adjusting with wisdom, intelligence and justice every effect to its cause”. In other words, there can be no result without a cause and no cause without a result. It is everlasting, unchangeable and unviolable; being eternal it represents Divinity itself.
According to the Pythagoreans universal orderly justice rules the physical world in a mathematical structure, obeying a strict mathematical analogy. Such mathematical inflexibility reveals the essence amd meaning of Justice.
To society’s legislator, just is what puts social life in order, in a “heteronomous”, “imperative” and “compulsory” way.
To the Divine Legislator, Justice is the balance between cause and its effect. It is Harmony per se and it reigns as long as Divinity is Subjective or as long as homogeneity prevails.
When the Divine enters the process of heterogeneity or of the becoming, disharmony and lack of balance follow. In-between these two poles, homogeneity – heterogeneity, spirit – matter, good – evil, a third factor comes in to unite the opposites. That third factor is the LAW and, more precisely, the Law of Karma. The Law, belonging to the triptych of Being, acts like a mediator to install harmony and supervise the outcome for the Divine Plan to be accomplished. (Good- Evil – Justice)
Universal Consciousness, source of every soul, is justice, compassion, unity and collectiveness. Any activity contrary to these principles, if self-centered, separative and unjust , brings along disharmony and imbalance. The law of Karma or of Harmony intervenes on all planes of consciousness to reinstate balance onto every action by means of its corresponding effect. Karma is the result of any moral or immoral thought and deed, because what we have come to know as morality is the application of the divine qualities in our world– such application being the ultimate realization of Divine Thought; and morality means “to act in favor of the whole”, not in favor of the “personal ego”.
Our Karma punishes us in response to errors we made; nevertheless, it also leads us, to our benefit, up the loftiest perfection through discipline, rest and reward. It is so rich in action that it simultaneously embraces both our physical and our ethical being.
Karma and Cycles
People in the West are not very familiar with the word “Karma”. As a term it was adopted by the 19th century Theosophists and signifies one of the most important laws of nature. Ceaseless in its operation, it bears alike upon planets, systems of planets, races, nations, families and individuals. It is the twin doctrine to reincarnation or to the law of Cycles.
The Cycle is the Mobilizing Force that induces everything manifested to move, function and complete its predetermined cyclic course. Karma and Cycles are so inextricably interconnected that they cannot be examined separately.
“It is only the knowledge of the constant re-births of one and the same individuality throughout the life-cycle; the assurance that the same Monads ….have to pass through the “Circle of Necessity,” rewarded or punished by such rebirth for the suffering endured or crimes committed in the former life…. that can explain to us the mysterious problem of Good and Evil, and reconcile man to the terrible and apparent injustice of life.” (1)
Knowledge of Karma can explain the mysterious problem of the opposites as:
“Nothing but such certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him, and observes the inequalities of birth and fortune, of intellect and capacities; when one sees honour paid fools and profligates, on whom fortune has heaped her favours by mere privilege of birth, and their nearest neighbour, with all his intellect and noble virtues — far more deserving in every way — perishing of want and for lack of sympathy; when one sees all this and has to turn away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one’s ears ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him — that blessed knowledge of Karma alone prevents him from cursing life and men, as well as their supposed Creator.” (2)
Nothing and nobody in universe is left out of Karma’s reach; everyone and everything is under its sway. It is the law of ethical causation, justice, reward and punishment; the cause of birth and rebirth but also the means for avoiding incarnation. Theosophy regards the Universe as an intelligent aggregate, consequently every motion in it is an action of that aggregate and leads to effects which will, in their turn, become causes for further effects. The ancient Hindus, looking upon it in such a wide perspective, were saying that every being up to Brahma was under the power of the law of Karma.
The law of Karma or Justice sets limits to the human monad, limits that confine the influence of its immoral and egoistic elements. Abiding by and practising the Universal law of Justice reflects and cultivates what we call ethics in every monad in universe.
That is why Karma is directly related to man’s thoughts and deeds. It is the law of harmony that unmistakably re-balances every single disorder.
A man with no refuge or hope, cries out for a God who does not answer; then he begins envying his fellow-beings. The answer he gets is that “it is God’s will”; and yet, he keeps asking “why am I suffering like this?”. We are in the habit of thinking of God as being inaccessible and believing that our misery comes from his arbitrary will.
The truth is that every human being creates and shapes his own destiny, that he is the only one producing the causes for his happiness or unhappiness. During a lifetime he sows and in the next he reaps. That’s how the law of Karma leads him on ad infinitum.
It is … “the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and 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. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable.”(3)
Karma is beneficent, an absolutely compassionate, mercilessly righteous law, because true mercy is not some sort of favor but impartial justice.
“It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or — break them.” (4)
Let us take the movement of the lake – waters as an example:
When a stone falls into the water, it creates ripples. They oscillate backwards and forwards till at last, owing to what the physicists call the law of dissipation of energy, they are brought to rest and the water returns to its former condition of tranquility. Similarly, all action, on every plane, produces disturbance in the balanced harmony of the Universe and the vibrations so produced will continue, if its area is limited, till equilibrium is restored. But since each such disturbance starts from some particular point, it is clear that equilibrium and harmony can only be restored by the reconverging to that same point of all the forces which were se in motion from it. And here you have proof that the consequences of a man’s deeds, thoughts etc. must all react upon himself with the same force that caused their action. (5)
Why do we call it Law of Ethical Causation
“Karma is a word of many meanings, and has a special term for almost every one of its aspects. It means, as a synonym of sin, the performance of some action for the attainment of an object of worldly, hence selfish, desire, which cannot fail to be hurtful to somebody else. Karma is action, the Cause; and Karma again is “the law of ethical causation”; the effect of an act produced egotistically, when the great law of harmony depends on altruism.” (6)
Cosmos, just like man, exists in three states of conscciousness: spititual, mental and physical otherwise spirit, mind and body. Out of these three states, the highest one, the spiritual, although distributing life, is not subjected to the law of karma. This is so, because it does not participate in action, but observes it. The mental and the physical sectors of life are subject to Karma, because they act. Every action aiming at satisfying the personal Ego produces results which, in order to become neutralised, will have to be translated into such deeds of the Ego that produced them as may bring rhythm to perfect balance and harmony. Balancing actions will have to work against separativeness and for the sake of the others. What sustains balance between the one and the many, the individual and the collective, is, save justice and karma, “ethics”, that supports balance and harmony in our physical world.
“…the only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony — a Brotherhood IN ACTU, and altruism not simply in name. The suppression of one single bad cause will suppress not one, but a variety of bad effects.” (7)
“...We maintain 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. (8)
“Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable were men to work in union and harmony, instead of disunion and strife. ….But verily there is not an accident of our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life.” (9)
As a conclusion, this law, by nature, stands for balance, harmony, justice, ethics, and that’s the reason why it is also called law of Ethical Causation.
Ethics and Morality
A philosopher trying to interpret the meaning of the term “ethics” scrutinizes philosophical principles, while a moralist interprets human conduct in a categorical way after his own intentions. According to the Webster encyclopedia, “ethics” has to do with motive and character. “Morality” is a more limited term giving emphasis to the manner, to what is customary and habitual.
Socrates, a truly moral man himself, teaching ethics, came to be commonly considered “immoral” by his contemporaries.. He used to say that no man is voluntarily evil and that evil doing is the offspring of ignorance. Similarly, Patanjali writes in his Sutras that separativeness is the offspring of ignorance. It attracts whatever pleases the personal ego and repels whatever displeases it. It all ends up in the fear of death, a fear grounded on attachment to the fake, the finite and the transient.
In her article “What is Truth?”, H.P.Blavatslky says this:
“Selfishness is particularly conservative and refuses to be disturbed” also adding that:
“SELFISHNESS, the first-born of Ignorance… separate and distinct from the Universal Soul, is “created” – this Selfishness is the impassable wall between the personal Self and Truth. It is the prolific mother of all human vices, Lie being born out of the necessity for dissembling, and Hypocrisy out of the desire to mask Lie. It is the fungus growing and strengthening with age in every human heart in which it has devoured all better feelings. Selfishness kills every noble impulse in our natures, and is the one deity, fearing no faithlessness or desertion from its votaries…. As a result, we live, and move, and have our being in this god of darkness … called RESPECTABILITY.”
But truly, when is a man immoral? When he reasons out the archetype of justice, i.e. ethics, after his own fashion. It becomes evident as he behaves, every time he judges or rejects other people’ s ideas and ideals, without due respect, simply because they are different from his own.
Personal morality, otherwise conformism, is the poor imitation produced for as long as the individual abstains from Truth. As a matter of fact, it is the cause of the sufferings that plague personalities, peoples, nations and races.
The gap between Ethics and moralisation rhetoric is bridged by evolution which progressively disperses fallacies through karma and initiation and, instead, highlights the spiritual goal and its attainment. The result of ethical conduct is a joyful earthly life, calm, remorseless, a potentially “happy” life. Happiness is our good luck, in other words the fruit of our ethical actions paving the way for a good rebirth bringing along harmony to our life.
Harmony is a state where the Divine Ideal dwells, its fulfillment in objectivity being the target of developing life. When man disrupts harmony in universe and in himself, he must reinstate it. The law of karma neither punishes nor rewards. It is only we who reward or punish ourselves according to how strictly we follow the law. The law itself simply adjusts effects to the causes generated by human beings. Consequently, man will have to understand that he inhabits a univese conditioned to specific laws which, once violated by him, only misery and pain will await him.
“Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral, or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man. Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation steps in and takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or carries him away like a feather in a whirlwind raised by his own actions, and this is — Karma.” (10)
All sorts of endless strife and conflict among humans have resulted in dividing mankind into tribes, nations, societies and individuals, into Cains and Abels, wolves and lambs.
“But verily there is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life.”(11)
There are many who believe that personal karma may be erased by entreating and supplicating the personal God or Force we call upon. Theosophists believe in strict and impartial justice.
They hold that the unknown Universal Deity, represented by Karma, is a Power that cannot err, therefore, it has neither wrath nor mercy, but pure Equity, leaving every cause, great or small, to work out its inevitable effects. Jesus’ saying “with what measure you mete it shall be measured to you again” (Matth. Vii., 2) neither expresses nor implies any kind of hope for some future mercy or salvation by proxy.
The Law puts everything in order because Judgement is founded on both Mercy and Righteousness, the two poles of Karma. It is the unerring Ruler affecting in every incarnation the quality of individual life according to what was good or evil in the previous incarnations.
To Buddhism, Karma is the ethical nucleus (of every being) that alone survives death and keeps on migrating or reincarnating and this simply means that nothing is left of any personality except for the causes it produced. Causes that never die, in other words, that can never be erased from the Universe till replaced by their fair effects and, we might even say, till they, too, are erased altogether.
Such causes – unless counterbalanced with the due effects during the lifetime of the person who caused them – will follow the reborn Ego to its next incarnation till harmony between cause and effect is fully restored. Obviously, no “personality” – a mere hodge-podge of material atoms and instinctive and mental characteristics – cannot proceed to the world of pure Spirit, as such.
Only what is immortal and divine, by nature and essence, i.e. the spiritual Ego, can exist for ever. And since spiritual Ego is the chooser of the personality it will inhabit, after every Devachan, receiving, through those personalities, the effects produced by Karmic causes, it is consequently the “self” that constitutes the “ethical nucleus” already referred to and the incarnating Karma, “the only one surviving death”.
There Are Three Types of Karma:
First – Karma that has not yet produced effects in our lives owing to the influence of some other karmic causes upon us.This is so, due to a law well-known to physicists, whereby two opposing forces neutralize each other, and one force may be so powerful as to temporarily hinder the operation of another one. This law works on the invisible mental and karmic planes or spheres of being just as on the material planes. The force of a given set of bodily, mental and psychical properties with their tendencies may completely obstruct causes we are connected with, because a human being’s entire nature is used in carrying out the law. It follows that the weak or the mediocre provide a dim focus for karma, so in their case the overall result of a lifetime is limited, even though they, themselves, may feel it is too heavy. Yet, the man of an open, inquistive and vigorous character will feel a larger quantity of karma acting on him than a weaker one.
Second – Karma we are now creating or storing up by our thoughts and deeds, which is to operate later on in the future when the appropriate body, mind and environment will be chosen in some other lifetime or whenever obstructive Karma is removed.
Under this fall the cases of people who experience sudden reverses of luck or changes for the better either in life circumstances or in character. It has a significant impact on our present behavior. While old karma must work through and cannot be stopped, it is wise for the man to so think and act under present circumstances, no matter what they are, as not to produce any bad or harmful cause for his next rebirth or for the future years of his current life. There is no need for revolt, since the law keeps on working whether we weep or rejoice.
Third— Karma that has already begun to bear fruit. It concerns the now operating karma in the present life of causes produced by other Egos in previous lives. It is in action now because, adjusted to the family gender, the individual body, astral body and race bents of the present incarnation, it simply exhibits itself, while other karma, not yet delivered, awaits its regular turn.
Those three types of Karma govern mankind and the world during periods of evolution. Every single effect follows a former cause and, as all beings are continuously being reborn they continuously experience the effects of their thoughts and deeds (themselves causes) of a former incarnation. No one can get away either by praying or by being favored, by power or any other intermediary. True repentance may smooth out consequences, and then the individual’s will to solemnly and radically change bad inclinations and habits weighs heavily.
Changes may occur during a being’s lifetime, producing some other state of Karma; this may come about in two ways: a) through intensity of thought and vow and b) through natural change owing to absolute exhaustion of old causes.
Karmic causes belong to man’s psycho-mental nature, to his body and his life conditions. Our spiritual nature can never be affected by Karma.
Karma and Skandhas
After offering the human soul that escaped from the turmoil of personal life a sufficient, always hundredfold compensation, Karma, with a whole army of Skandhas, waits at the threshold of Devachan wherefrom re-emerges the Ego for a new incarnation. It is at exactly this moment that the future destiny of the Ego, now at rest, shivers on the ladder of Retributive Justice, as it finds itself once again under the sovereignty of active Karmic law. It is in this rebirth, ready for it, chosen and prepared by this mysterious, inexorable yet unerring Law as to the righteousness and wisdom of its commands, that the sins of the Ego’s former life are punished. Still, it is in no sort of imaginary hell, but literally on this very earth, plane of the sins committed, where he will have to atone for every single bad thought and deed. As he sowed, so will he reap. Reincarnation will bring all around all of those other Egos that have suffered because of it, directly or indirectly, or have been benefited by it. They will be thrown by Nemesis in the way of the new man, concealing the spiritual EGO behind the veil called Causation or body of causes.
Spiritual Soul – Reincarnating Ego – Personality
“A God” is not universal divinity but just a spark from the one ocean of Divine Fire. The God within us or “our Father in Secret” is what we call “HIGHER SELF” or Atma.
Our reincarnating Ego was a God in its origin, like all the primeval emanations of the One Unknown Principle. However, since its “fall into matter”, having to successively incarnate throughout the cycle, from first to last, it is no more a free and happy god but a poor pilgrim on his way to regain what he lost.
Higher Self is Atma, the inseparable ray of the Universal and ONE SELF. The God above us more than within us. When covered with the most finely woven veil of substance, Atma is called Spiritual Soul or Buddhi. When Spiritual Soul or Buddhi brought in union with Manas, the mental principle, it is called Spiritual Ego. Buddhi deprived of the principle of Manas is no Ego, but merely Atma’s veil or vehicle.
When intedependent from Buddhi, Manas, the “Fifth” Principle, is called Higher Ego. It is the “Reincarnating Ego”, also called “human soul”.
Manas has the characteristic of egoicity (I am I). It is the Ego that overshadows every personality which Karma pushes to reincarnate. That Ego is responsible for all sins committed by every new personality, and it is the evanescent mask concealing true individuality during the long series of incarnations. It is the link joining the Spiritual Ego with personality. When solidly joined to the two former -atma and buddhi – it is then called Spiritual Ego.
The individual pulse of life beginning on the subjective plane of nature (Nirvana), pushed forward by Karma and the creative yearning of “Tanha” (inexhausted desire for existence) proceeds to the objective plane of Nature to ultimately return to Nirvana after many cyclic shifts. That pulse has two aspects: a) individuality bearing the spiritual elements – atma, buddhi, manas – belonging to the immortal Ego and b) personality bearing that ever-changing stuff partaking in the composition of bodies. Anything subject to change is transient, finite and illusionary. Eternal is the spiritual soul-monad which returns to the Ocean of Light when the cycle of manifestation rounds up.
The Lower or Personal “Ego” is the physical man in conjunction with his lower self, i.e. animal instincts, passions, desires etc. It is called “false personality” and consists of the lower Manas combined with kama-rupa (body of desire) and operates through the physical body and its phantom or “double”. (12)
The remaining element, “Prana” or Life, literally means Atma’s radiating force or energy in its more exoteric manifestation.
Spirit and Soul
Life manifests in two aspects: as Spirit and as Matter. These two aspects are the stuff cosmos is built of. During manifestation they are interdependent and they compose life in common.
Spirit is the Great Breath, the power and guiding intelligence on the immense plane of cosmic evolution. Matter is the basis of all objective planes in Nature.
Spirit is immaterial, formless and the only real and eternal part of our being. Everything in man, save his spirit, is ephemeral.
Psyche, deriving from the greek verb “psychein”, meaning “to chill”, illustrates motion and differentiation. It is the outcome of the union of spirit and substance- matter; the vehicle of spirit. It is through the soul that the inherent powers of the Monad of Light (spirit) are conveyed throughout the planes of manifestation.
In this way, a descending differentiation scale is formed from the spiritual to the physical plane of the universe and the soul, as the tool of progressive unfold
ment of the inherent divine powers, traversing the planes, cannot but adjust itself to their matter. That is the reason why the submersion of the Monad – Soul into the universe is called “The Cycle of Necessity”.
The spirit exerts constant pressure inside us so it can develop the tools with which it will be able to manifest its potentialities. The realms of Nature -mineral, vegetable, animal, mankind, Intelligent Beings, Divine Beings – are expressions of Life illustrating the orderly and progressive emergence of the successful adjustments; the acting principle constantly directed “from within outwards”, while the vehicle used by the inherent divine force as a link with every given plane and species of life is always the intermediary we call soul.
On the spiritual plane, Soul is a column of Light. Light plunging towards the planes of denser substance-matter wraps itself in thicker veils and this sets limits tο the divine Monad as to its pure light. This is what accounts for the various names attributed to the soul. As far as man is concerned he has a spiritual soul, a human soul and an animal soul. Out of those three only the spiritual soul is eternal. Our existence is rooted in the divine Monad, which becomes Spiritual Soul and then Spiritual Ego, afterwards Reinarnating Ego or human soul and finally personal Ego. Spiritual Soul is that part of nature which is eternal and remains an immortal individualized Entity till the end of our solar system’s manvantara.
National and Racial Karma
Karma cannot be defined in its effects so strictly as to appear that each individual environment and the particular circumstances of life one may be in, is nothing but retributive Karma caused by him during a former life.
The aggregate of individual Karma becomes the Karma of the nation certain individuals belong to and, further on, the grand total of National Karma is that of the whole world. Calamities do not exclusively affect the individual or even the nation; they are more or less universal.
“The interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as “Separateness”; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive.” (13)
The misery of a nation or race is the direct result of the tendencies of the Egos that have composed that race or nation. They violated the laws of harmony. That aggregate of Egos must keep on reincarnating continuously within the bosom of the given nation or race till they all together come face to face with the causes generated. Even though the nation may leave the scene physically for some time, the Egos that have composed it do not leave the world but reappear as generators of some new nation in which they must continue their work to be either punished or rewarded depending on their Karma.
Karma could not restore the balance of power in world life and progress, unless implementing a vast and general line of action. National karma can only poise when the individual does his best for the common good contributing with noble thinking, labor and financial support.
If our present lives depend on the unfolding of certain principles developed from germs left by a former existence, then the law, indeed, validates itself for the future. Any mean and selfish action of ours leads us backward, not forward; on the contrary, any noble thought and unselfish deed is a step toward higher and more glorious planes of being.
“Karma is both merciful and just. Mercy and Justice are only opposite poles of a single whole; and Mercy without Justice is not possible in the operations of Karma. That which man calls Mercy and Justice is defective, errant, and impure.” (14)
Hybris and Nemesis
In ancient greek tradition, Karma was represented by the Moirae (Fates); they were the personifications or forces responsible for allotting mortals’ good fortune or misfortune in life, from the moment of birth to that of death. The Moirae obtained their power from Zeus, who was called Moiragetes (leader of the Moirae) for that matter. Even the gods would obey them; the gods were supposed to have the power to change fate, but such change would disturb the harmony of the entire universe, which means that even gods themselves were confined within the limits of the law of Justice.
The first Moira (Fate), called Clotho, symbolising the present, spins the thread of life; the second one, called Lachesis, symbolising the future, distributes lots, in other words she is the one to decide which lot will fall on whom. Finally, the third Moira, called Atropos, symbolising the past, unhesitatingly cuts the life -thread of humans in due time.
Little do we know about Nemesis, that age-old deity whose name means divine retribution. It was Nemesis who would undertake to punish a mortal for any hybris (extreme haughtiness), lack of respect and arrogance that would over-reach the limits of law and order.
No occultist or philosopher ever speaks about Divine Providence but either of them identifies it with Nemesis-Karma. They both teach that this particular force guards and protects good people in this life and in lives to come, while it punishes evil- doers all the way to their seventh reincarnation, in other words till the effect is worked off for good.
Can we affect our karma?
Yes, we can, on the condition that we make up our minds to change our way of thinking, desiring, change our habits and trends. By observing our behavior and its consequences during our lifetime, if we possess even the slighest discriminnating ability –that is to say, if we are not completely plunged in the wild sea of egopathy, greed, selfishness, arrogance, hypocrisy, despotism and lust – then, yes, we can affect it. Yet, we shall have to come to that decision wholeheartedly and change our conduct in practice. That accomplished, we shall witness in ourselves a progressive turn for the better which will give us a clearer mind and a better understanding regarding our life-goal, and which will help us endure our karmic burdens.
By understanding the origin of Evil, i.e. mean interests of the personal Ego, by undertaking the responsibility of our choices and actions, we can change our inclination and ultimately our karma. Besides, this is the purpose of our being on earth: to learn through individual experience and self-effort, to understand the laws and the goal of evolution and ultimately to apply universal Law on all aspects of our personality (mind, desire, life).
Karma does not create, karma does not plan anything. Man is the one who plans and creates the causes and Karmic law simply adjusts their effects. This sort of adjustment is not doing, but a universal harmony always prone to regaining its original position, like the branch of a tree that had been bent for a long time and is now tossed back equally forcibly to its normal position. Were it to disjoint the arm that tried to bend it down, should we blame the branch for it?
Karma never contracts intellectual and individual freedom. On the contrary, study and contemplation of the law uncovers people’s ignorance and elucidates their imperfect learning of it. Knowledge of Karma is the beginning and end of Knowledge of the universe, man and of the purpose of evolution. Knowledge and understanding of the law brings awareness of the freedom of will and its fruits. It also provides the individual with discerning faculty and the wisdom to perceive the limits of his own freedom, because everything in the universe functions within limits imposed by the law when and where needed. This is called Retribution; a compulsory adjustment through which we learn how to measure our limits and respect the Law.
Can the Mahatmas affect our karma?
It is well-known that our humanity is under the protection of the Hermetic Chain of perfected Beings who belong to the spiritual and mental sphere of universal life. Compassion, mercy and pity for mankind are their motives of existence and activity. Their constant presence and help in purifying and educating earthly nature is depicted in the progressive evolution of our planetary life which would still be swaddled without their assistance and work, without their sense of responsibility and unfailing sacrifice.
The Masters know and respect the LAW, because it is the only MEASURE of manifested life. Karma is the double-pole of Mercy and Justice; therefore, they cannot intervene to change the effects. Yet, it is within their authority to re-adjust an evil karmic effect by transferring it, but not erasing it, to some other moment and circumstance of life and consciousness. To a time when the individual will have lessened his or her bad karma having meanwhile acted selflessly and sacrificially performing his own duty along with the collective one.
Resettling a debt does not allow you to get rid of the debt itself. The law is always there to readjust it to its original harmony through effects; such a debt will then be transferred not only from life to life but from manvantara to manvantara. [Manvantara: sanskrit term meaning a period of manifestation]
But when the debt owed to universal harmony is not paid for within the time-frame fixed by universal Evolution, the immortal spiritual Ego, having, for aeons, been encouraging the earthly personality, withdraws; then, the remaining shadow returns to the storehouse of nature wherefrom it will once again emerge in a future cycle to re-enter the process of individualization and evolution. Yet, even then, isn’t this second chance offered by the Divine Law of MERCY in favor of the individual life that had failed to become aware of the eternal Law and, for that matter, apply it?
1. SD II, 304
2. SD II, 304
3. Key to Theosophy, ch. 11th, p.201
4. SD II, 643
5. KT, p.206
6. SD II, 303 footnote
7. SD I, 644
8. KT, p.207
9. KT, p.211
10. SD I, 639
11. SD I, 643
12. KT, p.176
13. KT, p.203
14. Aphorisms on Karma, by W.Q.Judge
The Key to Theosophy, by H.P.Blavatsky, Theosophical University Press, Pasadena
The Secret Doctrine by H.P.Blavatsky, http://www.phx-ult-lodge.org/SDVolume_I.htm