Dec 14, 1999 09:57 AM
by Gerald Schueler
>>It boils down to whether there is a moral equivalent of what goes around
comes around or in other words whether a core law of the cosmos involves
some form of moral feedback. That is core belief behind belief in
reincarnation and is core belief for all ancient traditions. It is essence
of what is called "classical natural law theory."
Moral feedback is in the eyes of the recipient. I see it everywhere, but
some folks don't see it at all. That's because I want to, and they don't.
This is all part of our having free will.
The problem with reincarnation and karma is that we have, so it is said,
been reincarnating for a very long time. According to Buddhism, we have
been around so many times that just about everyone on Earth has been our
mother at least once, and this thought is supposed to help us love one
another. If anywhere near true, then it is clear that we have committed
just about every sin imaginable somewhere along the line, and so we are each
in line today to suffer for just about anything at all. The whole logical
cause-effect principle fails here because there is enough time in our past
to have developed a cause for just about anything. The whole karma
business, as packaged by exoteric writers, Theosophical and otherwise, is
illogical at best and stupid at worst (stupid in the sense that it is an
insult to my intelligence).
I prefer the idea of collective karma - which says that we agreed to accept
certain restraints and chaotic conditions when we signed up as members of
this human lifewave. Collective karma can be explained in terms of modern
chaos theory, and so I find it acceptable and logical. The notion that I
suffer a cold today because I stole $25 from a little old lady six lifetimes
ago is too much for me to buy.
>>The problem with Theosophy now is that it has become ossified into
organizational stuff that no longer works real well, so there is a thrashing
around to try to find the stuff that will and that leads to intellectual
obscenities like the Sacred and Holy Labyrinth.>>
Chuck, all human organizations tend to ossify sooner or later and the TSs
are no exception. One reason that it no longer works real well is that it
over-emphasises the exoteric, which is not always logical nor spiritually
uplifting. The TSs missed the boat when they omitted Enlightenment and the
possibility of consuming karma ala the jivamukti. No one, including myself,
likes the notion of reincarnating ad nauseum forever. And this business of
doing good in this life so that our next will be better is not only the same
spiritual selfishness that Theosophy claims to abhor, but doesn't work in
today's better-educated society. Theosophists seem content to let the
Adepts have spirituality all to themselves, while waiting for future lives.
This attitude is self-defeating and the result is a serious lack of
<< I think that there is a basic assumption that a lot of people make about
karma which the Theosophical writings belie: that there is some connection
between karma and morality, that when we receive karma, it is because we
"deserve" it in a moral sense. Just because we cause
something to happen doesn't mean we deserve it to happen. Here's a case
in point: A person is walking through the woods alone. He trips, falls
in a ditch, and breaks his leg. He slowly dies of thirst. Did he cause
his death? Certainly. Did he deserve to die? Certainly not. >>
Yes, he deserved it. Doubtless he did something very bad in a past life. Or
maybe it was just God's will? The whole theory of karma, as espoused in
Theosophy and Buddhism, is that every event in our life has causes that we
are ultimately responsible for. The fact that he died is part of accepting
collective karma - we humans are born to die.
>>The major reason why karma is mentioned in the Theosophical writings is
that it teaches right and wrong in a much broader sense.>>
Broader than what? Right and wrong are entirely social and cultural
definitions. The notion that karma is somehow a universal law that addresses
local right and wrong issues seems terribly illogical to me.
>When one acts in a selfish manner, one creates karma.
One creates karma by any action soever. In fact, HPB states clearly
that even the failure to act produces karma. We can't get away from
causation any more than we can logically explain it.
>>One has no control over how it comes back, and nobody can guess
what form it will take >>
Then why worry about it? All we human beings can possibly be expected
to worry about is whatever we have control over. We should not worry over
those things that we can't control. BTW, this kind of control is called
magic, and it is what real magic is all about.
>>That makes it damned difficult to detect, and why it
takes so many lifetimes to learn, and even then a little prodding here
and there is required (possibly the major purpose of the Theosophical
Society is to provide that prodding).>>
Here I think you are avoiding the issue by handing it over to the future.
What is wrong with assuming that we did this during our last life?
The prodding that the TSs are doing are for newbies and for those
uninitiated masses who need it. The problem, as I see it, is that the TSs
keep this stuff up ad nauseum with everybody, even those who shouldn't need
it any longer. Ethics can be learned, but once learned needs to be
transcended into spontaneous action. The TSs are good with the ethical
learning business, but very poor on its transcendence - most not even
accepting that such a thing is necessary. They leave spontaneous action to
Adepts and make no attempt at it at all even though it is the hallmark of
Zen, and HPB and Olcott were said to have been Buddhists. I find the spirit
of Zen, of the pure joy in being, of the transcendence of the personal self,
all sadly lacking in our TSs.
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