[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Esoteric Karma

Aug 18, 1995 09:27 PM
by Jerry Schueler

Fred: <Likewise, I acknowledge I may not understand the
distinction you draw between the esoteric and exoteric concepts
of Karma. Would you expand on them?>

Well, I thought that I did that. Maybe I can say the same thing
in another way? Exoteric karma is the "karma nemesis" described
by HPB in the SD. It is also very elegantly described by G de P
in several of his books. To my knowledge, no one has actually
come out and said that this is purely exoteric, and that an
inner, esoteric, meaning is also available. I have to admit that
this is my own idea (unless someone else can give me a good
quote?). However, it follows logically from the fact that the
exoteric version is an endless wheel rolling on virtually
forever. Now, many folks like this idea. And I am not terribly
against it myself. Just because something is exoteric, doesn't
mean that it is bad or wrong. Merely that it can be put into
words and conceived of within the human mind. When an idea can
be conceptualized, it becomes exoteric. Ideas that have not yet
been conceptualized, or that can only be partially so (like
infinity or eternality, or Thatness, or Beness for examples) are
said to be esoteric or hidden or occult. I reached the
conclusion in order to account for the Eastern idea of moksha
(liberation) and especially jivamukta/jivamukti (liberation while
living, or one who is able to become karma-less in her actions.
One is the person or jiva, while the other word is the process).
This notion of liberation while living can be found in both
Hinduism (Swami Ramakrishna talks a lot about it, for example),
and Buddhism (Tibetan Buddhism, especially, where the poet
Milarepa is but one example of one who accomplished this feat).
In short, the teachings says that our karma can be consumed in
the purifying fires of enlightenment which liberates us from the
necessity of further embodiment - of course we can always return
if we want to, to help others, for example as per the bodisattva
vow; but we no longer HAVE to. We become rather like captains of
our souls and we direct our future consciously rather than being
blown about by the winds of karma. I would compare this to the
process of having lucid dreams at night, where we can direct and
consciously change our dream content.

In order for moksha to work (i.e., in order for us to be able to
eliminate our personal karma - our collective or group karma is
something else and pertains only to the bodisattva) karma cannot
really exist as an endless chain of cause and effect. In short,
the equation karma=causality must only be partially true, or
seemingly true. Some other factor must exist that can alter this
equation. I would say it this way: karma=causality+chaos, where
chaos is the "chaos factor" (i.e, it is unpredictible) that is
currently hidden (and thus esoteric) behind the scenes.
Causality simply cannot account for everything - or moksha (and
most ESP and psychic experiences, for that matter) cannot be
real. Take your pick. The conclusion that I reached based on
moksha, that causality cannot account for everything, was
discussed by Carl Jung as part of his explanation for his theory
of synchronicity.

But things get even weirder. Having just stated that a chaos
factor is needed to explain breaks in the law of causality, I now
must state that moksha itself is under the law of karma in that
it is the effect of long lifetimes of hard work - i.e., of
treading the Path. OK, so where does chaos come in? It comes
into play in the sense that WHEN liberation occurs is totally
unpredictable. Zen Buddhism, for example, has a great many
stories showing that enlightenment or satori can come to one at
any time; the most everyday natural event can trigger the event
in a way that is very much like that described in chaos theory
when a complex system is pulled by a strange attractor into an
unstable condition.

Jerry S.

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application