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Re: More on Karma

May 09, 1995 05:41 PM
by jrcecon


>>JRC:... the "Law" of Karma ...seems straightforward
>>when looked at in broad, general terms, but seems
>>absolutely unknowable when minutely analyzed ...
>I have been saying this for many years.  You can't
>begin to know how glad I am to hear this from a
>fellow theosophist...Karma is infinitely more complex
>than we can possibly imagine.  Anyone who thinks
>that karma "explains" our life is a lazy thinker

Yes yes yes! Goodness its good to hear this.  Karma seems, for
some reason, to inspire people to make large, broad statements
with tones of absolute authority ...  but most of what I hear, in
both New Age and Theosophical circles seems phrased in terms that
assumes a 19th century scientific paradigm (which is when most of
the thoughts were formulated) ...  e.g., prior to the knowledge
of quantum mechanics, chaos and complexity theory & etc., the
entire world was assumed to be deterministic, and hence "Karma"
was easily explained as an extension of physical laws to the
moral/behavioural arena (i.e., "for every action there is an
equal and opposite reaction etc., etc.); Metaphysics (IMO) has
only barely begun to integrate and appreciate the worldview
gradually emerging out of late 20th century science ...  a
worldview that fundamentally deconstructs most of the foundations
upon which 2 or 3 millenia of "truths" about karma are built ..
and at this point is far more complex and "occult" than most of
the ponderous pronouncements of Piscean "occultism".

>>JRC:...for instance, that one wishes to act in a
>>situation, but that one needs to somehow take the
>>karma of another into account, or somehow be careful
>>about "taking on" someone else's karma seems kind
>>of ridiculous .... *Gravity* is another "universal"
>Actually, I rather think that we can, and do, take on
>other's karma.  I also think that we should consider
>the karma of others at times before we act.
>Psychology tells us that there is a difference between
>forcing our help on someone else and really helping.
>When help is forced, there is usually an underlying
>need for control and/or domination (we thus act from
>our own karmic burden rather than from compassion).

Yes, but this isn't really about karma ...  its a discussion
about how to love and serve intelligently, which is a whole
different topic (and one probably well worth pursuing on the list
IMO ...  I agree that much service in this current world is
"given" by people on the condition that the value system of the
giver is accepted by the recipient ...  and is often given to
fill buried voids within the giver ...  but again, this is a
whole different discussion...).  My point in saying its not worth
it to consider "karma" in action is that it is an unanswerable
question ...  how can any of us *know* the nature of our current
or past karmic relationships with *anyone* in anything other than
a speculative fashion? Karma (for instance) is usually spoken of
in quite a linear fashion, i.e., "he murdered me in life A, I
murdered him in life B" etc., etc., but what if karma is far more
of a complex, multi- dimensional web than a single line of
action/reaction (which seems, IMO, far more likely) ...  we may
have, with any person that comes into our sphere of influence,
everything from *no* karmic past whatsoever, to multiple past
relationships of all sorts (and in combinations of both genders,
cultural roles, familial relations, etc., etc.) *many* of which
have some sort of karmic results still pending ...  and this
doesn't even take into account the others with whom many of those
relationships may be linked (the "three-body problem" of
classical physics may apply as much to karma as to planetary
bodies, eh?).

On the other hand, a simplistic view of Karma *is* very
attractive because: 1) it can be used to explain all sorts of
uncomfortable and strange things that happen to everyone during
the course of life (a Christian might say "Jesus is testing me",
a Hindu can say "It's my karma" ...  and 2) it provides wise
persons and teachers a fertile field for countless articles in
metaphysical journals (giggle).

>>In most cases, it pays to ask if the person
>>wants our help first before we charge in and do
>>something that we assume needs doing.  And we can't
>>communicate with another person in any way without
>>coming into their karmic sphere of influence, and
>>thus mixing in their karma to some extent.  I am
>>not saying that this is wrong; obviously we
>>would have to live in isolation to avoid karma
>>altogether (and I would guess that isolation brings
>>its own kind of karma anyway).

Well, yes, I suppose so, but I guess I believe that there is such
an enormous number of people asking, often desperately, for help
that I can't conceive of ever needing to try to "force" my
service onto anyone.  Plus I guess I believe "service" to be at
root an orientation towards life rather than a series of discrete
acts ...  every job I hold (volunteer or paid) is simply an
avenue of "service".  And the second point you make is part of
the one I was attempting to make: That it is impossible to avoid
affecting (often deeply affecting) the lives of others ...  and
the more powerful one's growth, the greater the breadth and depth
of the affects on others ...  and those who are (arguably)
further along the path often affect enormous numbers of people
....  besides the fact that too much worrying about one's
"personal" karma simply re-affirms the illusion of a seperate,
personal self, there is also the fact that concernig oneself with
such questions could potentially paralyze large-scale service ...
how far would HPB or HSO have gotten if they started trying to
figure out the ramifications of every individual they affected?

I guess I also consider it at least possible that
the concept of "Karma" is some form of Plato's "Noble
Lie" (as I consider the concepts of Heaven and Hell to
be) ... a common formula in many religious traditions
in which a "Truth" is introduced, a truth *intended* to
become dogma, that is not true in itself, but that will
cause those of limited understanding to act with
compassion and service prior to the time when their
awareness has expanded to the point of grasping the
actual truth of why such intentions and behaviour is to
be preferred above all other motives.

>>Gravity seems to me to be a bad example here, as it
>>relates only to the physical plane.  How about the
>>Law of Attraction?

Ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh! I'd love to talk about this, as I'm
currently fleshing this out for a book in process.  I *don't*
think gravity only relates to the physical plane, but rather that
the *phenomena* called "gravity" by physicists is but a
cross-section of a much larger principle that works in all space:
Newtonian formulations of gravity have its force directly related
to the mass of the bodies, and inversely related to the distance
between them ...  but Einstein's formulations hold that what
Newton understood was an aftereffect, a surface appearance, of a
deeper principle; that mass bends space itself.  Presume, for a
moment (if, that is, you feel like fooling around with this),
that this holds true in *any* manifested space; that (for
instance) a "thought- form" *has the analog of "mass" in mental
space*, and hence has a "gravity" of sorts that can begin
attracting other thoughts that resonate with its animating
impulse ...  that we each live as tiny "suns" with constantly
produced (and dissipated) "planets" orbiting our sphere, and even
further, that these tiny suns tend to orbit larger "galactic
centers" ...  i.e., political parties, religious ideologies,
social movements all exert a huge gravitational pull that cause
whole groups of individuals to orbit central idea-complexes
(which are often embodied by individuals) ...  but again, this is
another discussion :-) ...

<...much interesting stuff snipped cause this post is
already too damn long ...>

>In the same way that many Teachers have described
>karma in simplistic terms, so they have described
>its elimination.  Theosophists have, by and large,
>stayed away from the whole idea of eliminating karma
>in the sense of jivamukti (liberation of the jiva or
>self).  The concept of karmaless action begs for
>techniques and initiations, which are anathema to
>the TS.  Yet the idea is found in virtually all
>schools of magic and throughout Eastern esotericism.
>But just as defining karma is complex, so is its
>elimination.  It takes more than intuition, insight,
>satori, mystical experience, gnosis, initiation,
>enlightenment, and so on (I would say it takes a
>combination of all of the above).  Being able to
>act totally selfless is not as easy as it might

Yes, I suppose all of this is personal predilection.  I do
believe the *concept* of karma is probably useful, and once
accepted and internalized can be relied upon to deliver
"intuitions" about its "real" nature, but intuition is a
notoriously tricky thing ...  I know good Christians who "know"
clearly the moment they meet a person whether that person is
going to "heaven" or "hell".  I guess at this point I might
accept the possibility that some principle may exist (whether
"universal" or not I couldn't say) that is at least partially
responsible for that large group of disconnected phenomena
commonly lumped together and labelled "karma", but have concluded
that so long as I operate within that *highly* limited (by its
very nature) range of awareness of an incarnate human I not only
do not, but *cannot* know the "truth" of karma to the degree
necessary to use it as a modifier of action.  I guess I've just
concluded that attempting to lose oneself in service seems a far
more direct road to the Innermost than countless speculations
about how to "eliminate" "karma".

But then, maybe its just my karma to act within this belief
structure (-:


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