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Re: Law of Karma?

Dec 31, 1996 01:57 AM
by Murray Stentiford


>I appreciate the views of various contributors on the theme of Karma, but
>I am not satisfied.

That's the best way to be, I reckon.

>In my opinion one can only address this subject if one is prepared to drop
>all emotional attachment to Theosophical dogma on this subject.

In my opinion, a considerable wall of thought has built up around the
subject - some of it not very helpful. To break free and start walking, is
the only way to go ....

>Karma is described by HPB in the Key as:
>"We believe firmly in the Law of Retribution, and in the absolute justice
>and wisdom guiding the Law, or Karma."

It's what she meant by these words that we have to decide. The overtones
(and even more important, *undertones*) of language 120 years old may not
always serve the truth, whatever it is, that the concept of karma is trying
to point to.

>True Theosophy, as formulated at the foundation, is IMHO .... an endaevour
>to look at issues free of  pre-conceived opinions.

I strongly agree. The first thing is to become aware of those preconceptions
and then, the first step has already been taken.

You bring up several considerations in relation to karma. To my mind, this
is excellent, the very thing we should all be doing; actively looking for
points of agreement *and* those of disagreement with the concept of karma
(or anything else) we currently hold.

>We talk about responsibility of an individual for his behaviour. However,
>a person is the product of family genes, environment, fate etc. Aren't
>these haphazard circumstances of birth also a form of injustice ?

In my opinion, to be of any real value, our idea of karma needs to be wide
enough to embrace all the phenomena of the physical world as well as any of
the inner realms. That means that genetics, environment, and chance, all
have to be part of the overall picture, not pieces that stick out on their
own or get brushed to one side. Where events, intention, meaning and
experience coexist in a multi-leveled energy system of life, the physical
sometimes being a precipitation of more inward "causes", and sometimes
producing more inward forms of energy. Ie energy and influence flowing
around, not only on each individual level but between levels.

And we have to accept, IMO, that some things are not necessarily specially
caused by some grand thing in the past. They can arise from relatively
trivial and local (space and time-wise) situations, and even, thinking of
the chaos/order pair, out of no single identifiable cause at all.

>Especially so, as we have little or no proof that being born under a
>particular set of circumstances is a result of a past life.

Such proof, in the ordinary sense, is rather unlikely, but we can still ask
if the concept of karma we are exploring matches reality as we observe it
(as you said) and is internally consistent, etc.

>One may wonder about the past lives of identical twins. Would those have
>been identical too? Latest research amongst identical twins separated at
>birth and raised in different families, shows that to a striking extent
>personality traits develop independent of surroundings or (foster)
>parents. (One of the few preferences that differ are the choice of
>partners in marriage) and are therefore solely hereditary.

I would say that physical heredity is not the only possible factor. It must
have its place of course, but again, if there are multiple levels of reality
and they are connected, then heredity must be embedded in a multi-faceted
reality which flows and becomes as a whole.

>Another consideration is that the individual has apparently so little free
>choice. To be firm and try to correct one's faults may not be a merit at
>all but an inherited family character trait.

Why should not both be true? In due proportion, of course. We are not cut
off or entirely separate from our family, anyway. It could be a flow of
"merit" or anything else that flows from one generation to the next, for
each to work with and transform to its best ability.

So much depends on your concept of what it is to be an individual. For most
of us, most of the time, it may seem cut and dried, but it is my belief that
a widening of consciousness, which we are all courting in one way or
another, can bring about a significant change in what we consider ourselves
to be, and a radical change in the scope of that "me". As I've said before,
it can shift the foundation of the whole question to the point that it has
to be put a very different way.

>Having bad luck in one life and good luck or not in another, but certainly
>not retribution.

I think retribution is a lousy word for it - typical 19th century vocabulary
and outlook. The sooner we leave it behind, the better. There is a sense, of
course, in which it appears to be true, but it's buried in the negative and
anthropomorphic associations.

>One's state of mind make one attuned to similar minds.

Yes, indeed.

>There may be other influences that act upon one's life, but there is no
>Karma in the traditional manner. The dogma of Karma  is only blocking our
>view.  It is a useful, yet worthless piece of consolation for people who
>cannot accept life as it is.

The traditional manner, as you seem to be perceiving it, and which I am well
aware of for myself, certainly needs to be left behind. The faster, the
better. As it stands, it is little consolation indeed, being so poorly
founded in reality. But that doesn't mean there's nothing beyond ...

> ... since
>genetic influences dictate most of one's behaviour anyhow (or should the
>ancestry be held responsible for passing on a particular genetic code?).

Connectedness, flow and multiple levels all interacting, help to resolve
this apparent question, IMO. Sorry not to be explaining in more detail.

>Is there any form of cosmic justice, or is the hankering for it a
>reflection of our unsuccesful search for justice in human society?

Pehaps we humans have to look a bit deeper at what we consider justice to
be, and what it could possibly mean when taken out of the hands of human
beings. What can we think of? Balance, connectedness, appropriateness,
embedded love, wide-ranging consciousness, impartiality, .... . Are these
properties of not only the ideal human being, but also of the amazingly vast
energy system we live in? In some way, I suspect they are. It boils down
again to the different forms consciousness can operate within, I guess.

>My apologies for all ill-considered contributions in 1996.
>It is merely a product of my genetic make-up.

I enjoyed your contributions. Pehaps the word "mere" is one of the merest
words around! Turn it on itself now and then - like doubt; remember always
to turn doubt on doubt itself when it seems to be getting too uppity! :-)

Thanks for your best wishes. The same to you.


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