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Re to Liesel on karma

May 07, 1995 02:28 PM
by Jerry Schueler


<"Theosophy teaches self-responsibility". It does, but I've also
<learned that you yourself are responsible for your own Karma,
<and that other people need to be responsible for theirs, & that
<you very seldom take on another person's karma upon yourself. It
<doesn't work, for one thing ...

I am not sure what you mean by "taking on" someone's karma, but I
think I disagree with you here to some extent.  My own
experiences have taught me that we interact with each other all
the time on many levels and thus at least influence each other's
karma all the time, if not "taking on" some of it.  Saving the
life of another person is generally considered to be a heroic
act, and generally a "good" thing to do.  Suppose you save
someone's life on Wednesday, and that person gets depressed and
kills three people on Friday? Are you karmically responsible? I
have asked this question to myself many times.  I raise foster
children.  If a child I take care of for a few years later grows
up and destroys something or someone, just how responsible am I?
If I teach a child music, and the child grow up to be a musician,
then surely I must take some responsibility.  I suppose the real
question is, Where do we draw the line? I saved my wife's life
once, and many years later she saved mine.  In a large sense
then, we are responsible for each other.  But, to what extent?

I raise Norweign Forest Cats.  Sometimes a kitten will get very
sick and close to death.  When I "talked" to such a sick animal,
I used to try to save it.  But I began to feel strongly that by
asking it to stay alive, I was setting myself up to be karmically
responsible for it.  Nowdays I simply point out to sick kittens
the benefits of staying alive (fun, having a nice home with
loving owners - which indeed _is_ my responsibility, and other
cat-type things) and then leaving the final decision up to the
kitten.  Some die and some live.  Whichever way it goes (and yes,
I rely on our vet a lot as well, but I am speaking here of those
kittens who have reached the end of whatever good the vet can do
for them) I no longer feel personally (karmically) responsible.
Psychic healing begs this same question about karmic
responsibility.  Should we be like medical doctors and assume
that it is always right and (karmically) correct to heal? I feel
like I _can_ often heal sick animals, children, and sometimes
people, but always wonder if I _should_ do so.

I doubt that it is possible to help others without "getting into"
their karma to some extent.  All communication is a karmic
exchange.  At the turn of the last century in India, a famous
Swami named Ramakrisna was dying of throat cancer.  When his
disciples asked him why he didn't simply heal himself (he was
initiated into Kali Tantra, and could have done so) he replied
that his cancer was the result of taking on the karma of his
students, and that by healing himself he would, in effect, be
giving their karma back to them, which he didn't want to do.  So,
he died that his disciples might be favored by a lesser karmic
burden.  While this represents a tremendous sense of compassion
on his part, it also demonstrates that we can, to some extent,
take on the karma of others (I don't know how the disciples were
favored by his sacrifice, but I assume that they were somehow).

I used to become depressed after spending a year or two to help a
poor "retarded" child to reach a state of normalacy just to have
the State send them back to their parents and poor environment.
A social worker I knew once confided that she drank heavily
whenever children she worked with were sent back to parents who
were no better able to care for them than when they were taken
away.  But my father once said to me that nothing is ever wasted,
and that even though it often seems like a waste, the child is
nevertheless better off than had he or she not had the experience
of a loving home.  This helped.  My niece and her friend once
spent one summer with us, many years ago.  We went camping and
did a lot of silly things together, and had a pretty good time.
Then they went back to their respective homes.  My niece turned
out to be a good homemaker and loving wife.  Her sister, who did
not stay with us, had nothing but trouble; in and out of jail,
several illigitimate children, drug abuse, and so on.  During the
wedding of my niece, I met her friend again, who had grown up
during this time.  She still recalled that summer she stayed with
us.  Both she and my niece began to recall the wonderful times
that we had that summer.  They both then confided that the
experience had helped them through many difficult years of
childhood.  Anyway, the upshot is that while nothing seemed to
have come of our helping these two children (we were unaware of
how we had effected them until the wedding many years later), we
did, in fact, leave a lasting mark on them, which helped them
over some difficult years.  In short, we influenced their karma,
to the good to be sure.  I think that this kind of thing goes on
all the time - we mingle our karmic burdens with others, often
unconsciously at the time, and hopefully for the better.

Just a few thoughts on a very complex subject.


<If the TS doesn't believe in taking part in organized
<religion nor in politics, that doesn't present an obstacle
<for me personally to take part, if I see that
<I'll be able to help with profit in some way.

Exactly.  Sounds like the Adepts and others that Paul J.
talks about in his book.

Jerry S.

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