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Re: Karma and Personal Responsibility

Nov 12, 1995 08:40 PM
by eldon


>Ideas about Karma often appeal to our idea about "fairness" in the
>world process.

Fairness implies that we all play by the same rules that no one
is able to cheat and gain an unfair advantage. In this sense life
is universally fair.

>Although Blavatsky decried anthropomophism at every turn of the
>page I wonder sometimes if karma as often portrayed is a
>projection of our need for good to rewarded and evil to be punished.

We feel that need because that represents justice. And life is
just. The problem is that we don't see the big situation and
expect justice to be served on our own terms according to our
immediate liking. Life doesn't respond in that manner and so
we're dissappointed and may complain that it's unjust when it's
only our limited perception that makes it appear that way.

>Karma is portrayed as a balancing machine but with a human
>face. The Lord Yama and St. Peter at the Pearly Gates
>demand a life review scales in hand.

And at the end of our lives or near-death experience we do
see our lives in review and ourselves judge what we've done.
This is also indicated as a possible spiritual practice where
either at the end of the day just before falling asleep or
at the first waking moments in the morning we review the day
that has passed and judge where we've succeeded or failed and
plan for the morrow.

>But the relativistic problem of good for you and bad for me
>always arises.

But not if each of us stands judge over our own lives.

>Other factors such as chaos fate and randomness are
>discussed also because we all know that on the surface life
>is not immediately or superficially fair.

The feeling of unfairness is similar to the feeling of
suffering. It is self-conferred. We let ourselves be
disappointed in our lives seeing a gap between our
expectations and the actuality of the moment and feel
let down. We don't have to feel that way. Life can be
amazing through both the pain and joy that arises often
beyond our apparent control.

>[Dianna Dunningham] talked about beliefs about karma as popularly
>held in theosophical and new age circles such as: what goes
>around comes around we draw people and events into our life
>for lessons we are working out realtionship problems from past
>lives with the same people again soul-mates and on and on.

In a way the idea that "we draw people" is a form of arrogance.
The draw has to be mutual. Everyone else is the world are also
agents of free will and not the puppets of our personal karma.
We rendezvous with others based upon a mutual attraction based
upon unfinished business between us. But that unfinished business
does not have to be karma to be worked off. It could be a living
relationship that is ripe for further interaction.

>She noted that most of our ideas about karma are based on the
>individual. This seems somewhat grandiose and self-contered in
>some ways. She suggested that karma moves with a much broader
>brush. That is group national and geographic karma far
>outweighs the individual in explaining events like accidents
>hurricanes being born rich or poor etc.

We *participate* in a group; we are not *caused by* the group.
We are within bounds masters of our own destiny and not ants
in an anthill subject to the commands of some "group soul".

The group national and geographic karma represent general
conditions in the world that we participate in. In a sense
nothing can come to us unless we deserve it. In another sense
there is free will of individuals that can make new karma with
us. Regarding groups there is no specific intent of a group
to do something to us. An earthquake meant for Los Angeles does
not itself single out individual victims. We *position ourselves*
for the things that happen to us. Like someone knowing not to
be on that plane that's going down or to stop for a snack on
the way to a train station that's going to be blown up -- there's
an interaction between us and the group event that happening.

>She placed great emphasis on our society as a measure of our
>karma that is racial problems religious wars pollution and
>poverty call us to a response that has little to do with our
>individual karma.

Such things are our individual karma as we make them so.
The responsibility to the needs of the world comes not from
our group karma I'd say but due to our responsibility to
all of life. The fulfillment of this responsibility is found
in the Bodhisattva vow that of harmlessness and of seeking
to end the suffering and misery of others.

>As we examined individual issues such as abortion euthanasia
>suicide and other issues we reiterated that "motive is everything"
>in trying to see an action as good or bad.

Motive is highly important but not I'd say everything. The
Inquisition brought thousands to torture and death due to good
motive but bad ideas. We have to know what we're doing and act
in the most intelligent responsible insightful manner in order
to achieve the best results. Greater harm is caused at times
by well-intentioned people that don't know what they are doing
than by people of ill-intent.

Motive relates to what part of our nature is involved in
the decision-making process and is affected. I'd place
motive and ethics with Buddhi and it respresents the essence
or aroma of actions that which is retained from one life to
the next. From this point of view motive is the part of the
action that persists to cause future causes and effects.

>Her activity in the TOS evidences her view that social
>action is necessary as well as meditation etc. for personal

Karma yoga is important but there are other paths. Regardless
of path we must give tangible expression to the spiritual
in our lives or we're just making a long devachan for ourselves.
That tangible expression though doesn't have to come out in
the form of social work.

>Also our positive response to a stressful event is probably
>more important than the fact that it happen that is everybody
>suffers but handling it with equanimity seems to say more
>than just being "lucky" and never having to face suffering.

The sense of suffering does not have to be there. Handling
an event with equanimity still represents a sense of separation
between oneself and the other. When that is let go of there
is simply a sense of eternal delight throughtout the appearance
of pleasure and pain.

>I'm not doing justice to her ideas but karma has often seemed
>to me to be a zero sum game that is karma is impersonal and
>seeks homeostasis or even stacic non-action rather than being
>a tool of evolution.

That's because you need to refine your model of karma to
make it better explain the actual process of life. Karma itself
is not flawed just the models of karma that you're examining.

>I mean to be karmaless is to be desireless and harmless.

But we don't become karmaless. To be totally karmaless is to
be completely absorbed in nirvana without any active attraction
to any other being in life. This is an ultimate goal but not
before all Seven Rounds are up!

>The pendulum seeks not just to balance the swing but to come
>to rest in stillness.

Although life has many attractive sources so the pendulum
is swinging around in an chaotic manner totally unpredictible
according to some strange attractor!

>Karma seems to wind down in a kind of total entropy of the
>entire system. Thus karma may be a tool but it is not the
>motive behind life consciousness and evolution.

That model of karma needs to grow to better suit life. Karma
is much more than that.

>Negative entropy or negentropy seems to be necessary for life.
>A system must pull energy or more exactly "information" from
>the environment to stay organized. This requires massive
>expenditures and consumption of energy for complex systems.
>Thus the more organization the more entropy.

But we also have the sense of continuous creation. At every
moment in time there is an outpouring of new energy from the
Monad that allows us to continue to exist. And the same for
the world that we live in at a bigger scale from the greater
being whose body it represents.

>I wouldn't be the first to say that this has lends a type
>of dog-eat-dog or big fish eats little fish quality to
>the entire world process.

Not true. At least as I see it. The dog-eat-dog view is one
mode of viewing life but there are other modes. We pick
the mode that we experience life in. Paradoxically all the
modes may be true simultaneously but *for us* we're responsible
for the channel that we tune in to.

>We may even love conflict for its own sake - if we didn't
>why all this expenditure of energy about Masters and Monads
>Blavatsky vs Purucker etc.?

Another story ... Regarding conflict for its own sake we
are faced with it in every moment of life. We have conflicting
ideals that come into play in each choice that we make and
it requires skillful ethics and insight in order to make good

>I love conflict. It tends to energize me and focus my attention.
>Love isn't called warm and "FUZZY" for nothing.

But there are different opponents. The biggest is *ourselves*.
Self-genesis is the biggest battle that we face.

-- Eldon

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