Quotations from theosophical sources: on Karma
Nov 29, 1998 12:28 PM
by W. Dallas TenBroeck
Nov 29th 1998
KARMA - A Survey
The doctrine of Karma is that we have made ourselves what we are
by former actions, and, we are building our future eternity by
There is no destiny but what we ourselves determine. There is no
salvation or condemnation except what we ourselves bring about.
Because it offers no shelter for culpable actions and
necessitates a sterling manliness, it is less welcome to weaker
natures than the easy religious tenets of vicarious atonement,
intercession, forgiveness and death-bed conversions.
In the domain of eternal justice the offence and the punishment
are inseparably connected as the same event, because there is no
real distinction between the action and its outcome.
It is Karma, or our old acts (good and bad) that draw us back
into earthly life.
The spirit-soul's abode changes according to its Karma, and this
Karma forbids any long continuance in one condition, because it
(Spirit-Soul) is always changing.
So long as action is governed by material selfish motives, just
so long must be the effect of that action be manifested in
physical re-births. Only the perfectly self-less man can elude
the gravitation of material life. Few have attained this, but it
is the goal of mankind.
Those who believe in karma have to believe in destiny, which,
from birth to birth, every man and woman is weaving, thread by
thread, around himself, as a spider does his web, and this
destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible
prototype "outside" (or "above") us, or by our more intimate
astral or "inner" man (including the passions and desires -
Kama), who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied
entity called "man."
Both of these lead on the outward (physical) man, but one of them
must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible
affray, the stern and implacable law of compensation steps in and
takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations (of the
motives of the embodied "soul.")
An Occultism or a philosopher will not speak of the goodness or
cruelty of Providence; but, identifying it with Karma-Nemesis,
he will teach that, nevertheless, it guards the good and watches
over them in this as in future lives; and that it punishes the
evil-doer so long as the effect of his having thrown into
perturbation even the smallest atom in the infinite world of
harmony has not been finally readjusted.
For the only decree of Karma-an eternal and immutable decree-is
absolute harmony in the world of mater as it is in the world of
Therefore it is not Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we
who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with,
through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that
harmony depends, or-break them.
Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable were men to work in
union and harmony, instead of disunion and strife. We stand
bewildered before the mystery of our own making and the riddles
of life we will not try to solve, and then accuse the great
Sphinx of devouring us.
But, truly, there is not an accident in our lives, not a
misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to
our own doings in this or in another life. The law of Karma is
inextricably interwoven with that of reincarnation. It is only
this doctrine that can explain the apparent accidents and
terrible injustices of life. Nothing but such a certainty can
quiet our revolted sense of justice.
This law, whether conscious or unconscious, predestines nothing
and no one. It exists from and in eternity truly, for it is
Eternity Itself; and, as such, since no act can be coequal with
eternity, it cannot be said to act, for, it is action itself.
Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plants
and creates causes, and the karmic law adjusts the effects, which
adjustment is not an act but universal harmony, tending ever to
resume its original position.
Karma has never sought to destroy intellectual or individual
liberty. It has not involved its decrees in darkness to perplex
men and women, nor does it punish anyone who dares to scrutinize
its operations. On the contrary, those who seek to unveil its
operations are considered by it to be working for the good of
their fellow-men. Karma is one with the Unknowable.
This doctrine of Karma when properly understood, is calculated to
guide and assist those who realize the truth to a higher and
better mode of life. Not only our actions, but our thoughts
compel succeeding circumstances that will influence for good or
evil our own future, and, more important still, the future of
many of our fellow creatures. This causes consideration of our
responsibility. This focuses on our application of justice,
morality, and unselfishness - so necessary to future happiness
and progress for ourselves and all around us.
[ These passages will be found in the "Key to Theosophy" by HPB
pp. 209 - 214 ]
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