June 2010

A Karmic Mystery Observed

   In "Aphorisms on Karma," William Q. Judge writes that "there is no Karma unless there is a being to make it and feel its effects." While the self-evident truth of this aphorism is as clear as placing one’s hand on a hot stove and getting burned, it may not be apparent that this aphorism has the power to transform us into conscious creators of karmic conditions.

While the logical and moral truth of this doctrine of Karma is easy to grasp, it is much more difficult to realize the extent to which we are the creators of all our present and future conditions. We may fail to see the original cause that generated the present realities of our lives, or the fruition of our countless actions. Yet, if we are to become conscious servants of the Law, then the attitude to be developed is that we are the creators of Karmic conditions.

Three classes of Karma have been described in the philosophy. There is the Karma that we are making now which will be experienced at some time in the future when conditions are right. There is the Karma that we are experiencing now through the appropriate conditions for the manifestations of that Karma. There is also the Karma that is being held in abeyance and will be experienced when the appropriate condition is available. It is an individual being or collection of beings who provide the conditions for the experiencing of Karma and the feeling of its effects. The seeds for those conditions are planted in the mind.

The three fields of our being where we experience the effects of Karma are the physical body and circumstances, the psychic department, and the mental plane of being. The different bundles of attributes that make up these departments of our being are called Skandhas. They are the "agents" of Karma because it is through them that we experience Karma. Those that are the most influential on our Karma are those that determine the quality of our passions and desires and those that determine our mental qualities of thought, feeling, will, imagination and memory. This is because all Karmic action has its origin in the mind. The desire to act first arises in the mind. The will initiates the plan of action determined by the ideas held in the mind and initiates a chain of cause and effect which, eventually, manifests the idea held in the mind.

The Spiritual Man, Atma (Spirit), Buddhi (Spiritual Soul), and Manas (Mind) is not a field of Karmic action. The immortal Ego is the witness of Karma, the enjoyer or sufferer of Karma throughout innumerable lives and its progress may be checked by Karma.

It may grow in knowledge, power and experience through Karma, but its essential nature does not change as a result of changing Karmic conditions.

The key point is, for the immortal Ego, Karma is not held in abeyance. The condition is always right to witness the immediate result of thought and feeling and to know directly that we are the creators of Karma. In every other department of our being, Karmic effects are held in check until the conditions are right. For example, the immediate result of placing one’s hand on a hot stove may be delayed or modified. How can we make this self-evident?

Regardless of the physical, psychic or mental landscape of our being, our

experience of it is immediately altered when we act by taking a different position as the observer of the conditions. The conditions are still there, but now, as the observer, we can experience them free of mental and emotional attachment. We no longer identify ourselves with them, nor are we compelled to act because of repulsion or attraction for them. We are free to think and act differently to achieve a better condition in the future for the realization of our ideals.

It is the continuous practice of this meditation that nourishes the attitude, through self-evident knowledge, that we are the creators of Karma. In its universal application, Karma is the Law that creates, preserves and regenerates harmony wherever it has been disturbed. The highest ideal for a human being is to assist nature and humanity by becoming a conscious, voluntary, creative servant of that Law.




MOVEMENT MAGAZINE vol. 74, p.149-153

The first duty of a human being to himself and to all others is to inquire into his own motives and methods. Why do we desire this thing? Why are we inclined to run away from that other thing? Is this habit of ours right and just? And so on. Such questions make us inquire into the meaning of our very existence, compel us to examine our own thoughts and ideas, our own feelings and emotions. Such inquiry and examination are the first steps in the right direction of living. If we insist on understanding the meaning of our own actions, we shall very soon be ready to appreciate the explanations and teachings that Theosophy offers.

The first great principle that should become an ingredient in the foundation of our life is the truth that each one of us is a Spirit-being. We are neither our ever-changing bodies, nor our ever-moving and ever-wandering minds. Our desires change, and with them our moods. But the Soul in us, the Eternal Observer and Witness of all changes of mind, moods and body, is ever there. This Soul or Spirit-being uses mind and body, presides over all our actions, is the enjoyer of good actions done by mind or body, and is also the admonisher and adviser. When we indulge in bad thoughts, selfish feelings and evil actions, it does not and cannot approve. And because it is the Silent Spectator and Witness of all processes, it is called Upadrashta. Higher than that Spirit-being in us there is nothing; therefore it is also called the Great Lord, Maheshwara, the Supreme Person. That is the Gita teaching and it is reiterated by Theosophy.

It is by the mind, generating right ideas of duty and of sacrifice, under the guidance of the Spirit in us, the Higher Self, that we are able to overcome our weaknesses, to elevate our character, to increase our knowledge, to spread purity and transform our surroundings, making them radiant with peace and prosperity. If we are weak and suffer poverty, moral or mental, which is far worse than the physical, we do so because our thoughts in the past have been wrong; right thinking, correct ideation, brooding over the spiritual aspects of Duty and Sacrifice, will bring us inner peace and contentment born of understanding, and make us friends and helpers of all humanity.

All of us, now and here, as we are, immersed in the affairs of ordinary life, are bound by a silver thread to the Great Master. Who is He? Krishna or Christ, Avalokiteswara or Ahura Mazda. All Lanoos and Chelas recognize this truth of truths and call their own Higher Self the Great Master. Let us seek that Great Master, the Mighty Lord, in the cave of the Mind, in the sanctuary of the Heart, and our lives will become noble, full of the strength of Wisdom.

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