The Theosophical Forum – July 1945

KARMAN, THE STRENGTH OF LIFE — John Peck

Inspiring all the great Theosophical doctrines is a Spirit which seems to be constantly congealing into the gem about which all the forms in the universe settle, in much the same way as frost outlines the structure of a plant, or as forms grow out of the photographic negative. On certain fine and beautiful evenings the air becomes live, silent and expectant as dew-point is reached, and in the same live and silent manner Spirit congeals. But it does not entirely congeal and become "fixed," for just as there can be dew in the air and no dew falling, so the spirit reaches the point of congealing and returns into itself. This ethereal form, or gem, then is constantly alive in motion, or being born, and it is really the motion of the spirit which makes the form. The great revolving wheel of a dynamo appears to be still, but it is not so, and it is revolving at high speed. Nor is a form fixed and static.

This form, or appearance, is supremely natural and is, as we have just seen, constantly being born and sustained. The taking of this form is Karman, and the form is Karman.

Now for the forms which grow around the gem of life and which are, indeed, the gem. Many of us have seen a yacht. Some yachts are very beautiful in their lines. They are beautiful because the intelligence of science and art has created an entity in whose form one reads the harmonized rhythm of wind and sea. The swiftness and grace of the yacht in action (with wind and sea and human intelligence) become an indissoluble unity alive with significance. Creative purpose working through an understanding of the inherent natures of wind and sea is Karman, and the action-form is Karman. Thus Karman is the harmony and harmoniser of Life, and it is Life.

A human being is at present a kind of murkiness irradiated with streams of fire. The fire cannot be compared with any ordinary kind of fire, for it neither burns nor dies. The fire glows with a radiance inconceivably intense and fierce, yet it is soft and sweet. So deep and alive is it, that the most intense and shattering experience has no visible effect upon the intensity of the fiery radiance. At the edges of the fiery streams, irradiating the murkiness, are sorrow, vision, understanding, joy, love, pain, fortitude, striving. Here are ever being traced the lines of your forms — every curve declaring its aeonian history of life-experiences of action, thought, feeling, aspiration, striving. The tracing of those lines is Karman, and the lines are Karman into the depths of the forms. The pure natural light of health, of aspiration, and of wisdom is the radiance of Karman whom you are. Look upon another, into his eyes, and recognise his presence.

The living fire is sustained within itself. It is the most virile strength, and the softest tenderness. It is ever being born out of itself and there is no moment of time which can date its birth — so pure and ever-young is it. The sustaining of the living fire by itself is Karman, and it itself is Karman. The attaining of your cosmic purpose is Karman and you are Karman.

Your cosmic purpose knows you, and the knowing is Karman; and you are Karman also, for you are your cosmic purpose. To come to know this is Karman. You reveal yourself to other beings and they reveal themselves to you. You behold each other and you recognise each other's presences. The revealing, the seeing, and the recognising is Karman. Thus relationship is Karman and it is cosmic harmony.

Karman is called the "law of consequences," but that does not mean that there is an abstraction called "law" which binds results. It is often taken to mean that one can generate a "cause" which will produce desired results or conditions. Causes and effects are purely superficial and incidental. Causes cannot become causes until there is action, and immediately there is action there are results. Cause and effect are one unbroken continuity, called Activity. It is often attempted to separate cause from effect and to ignore the full consequence of activity. Activity is inseparable from the being. It is himself showing himself — his Karman which he is. The very life which he truly is, in the most real sense, is ever actively tracing the intricate magnetic karmic lines which give space and body and means to further activity to his form and giving, with karmic precision, every subtlest variation to the outline of his form. Similarly there is not anything in the entire Cosmos which, by its own truest nature — its own unassailable ground of Being — is not also tracing its own indelible karmic lines of magnetism. Also, surely, there can be not the least activity unless there is present another being to be acted upon, that is to respond. It becomes vitally clear that for the full integral activity, or living, of any one single being, whatever it may be, there must be every finest variation of individuality in order that every single magnetic variation may find its "mate" at some point in the karmic rhythm of another being. Thus activity (besides affecting one's forms and faculties and scope for developing deeper activity) creates intricate magnetic patterns upon which, by magnetic affinity, settle the complex structure which we call the circumstances (the so-called good or bad karman) of our lives and our relations with others (human or otherwise). Is it not true also, then, that by consciously setting out to create for ourselves, or others, good or bad karman (so-called), we are indeed attempting to freeze a particular pattern to ourselves? This we cannot do without adversely affecting the lives of other beings, for Life is dynamic. The consequences would be to draw a pattern of retarding beings who would supply what we thought we wanted. That is, in reality, we should become more or less acutely conscious of weight, ineffectuality, or hindrance. This is the Law of Consequences and the Law is our sublimest Nature. It is against our Nature to set itself against itself. The Law cannot repeal itself, for it is the Law. The consequences shall be precisely as determined and, if knowingly determined, may be a hindrance, or evilly destructive, or an act of compassion. Consequences may, of course, be adjusted (but not avoided) by any being whose karmic rhythm or pulse is stronger than that of the pattern which encompasses him. There is no Human, therefore, who cannot rise above his Karman, for he is an integral cosmic being. There is no Human, therefore, who cannot turn his karmic hindrance into a life-long act of compassion. A human being is in danger only when he surrenders his integrity; and his integrity is best maintained by acting always through the entire length of his being. The consequences of so acting can only be sustained and practical altruism. The consequences take care of themselves: they will be harmonious activity and graceful and shapely growth. There is henceforth no question of personal "karman" accruing. Once more we see the lovely gem of Life, with every structural and formal line or curve traced by our own karmic hand of Life. There is no rigid law, for the only Law is Karman. Seek to use it as a lifeless guide-rope and it will vanish utterly from sight and touch: seek deep within the heart and it will be seen shimmering silvery-golden from the heart of the atom to the heart of the loftiest Being, touching all with the radiance from the fire within them.

There is one unassailable point emerging. Karman will never break a human being. It is the strength and depth within his heart — not a formidable array of friends or enemies. The one essential is to remain a being who is human; that is, to remain undivided. Aspire and think intelligently. Remain unswervingly true and sincere to oneself, not only in thought and feeling, but in physical action. Never deny oneself the courage, strength and wisdom to act. Face beauty and ugliness, horror and loveliness squarely with balance and insight. To become undivided there must first be aspiration, action, and awareness in action. One will then become aware of that which may cause conflict within oneself. Real continued awareness will resolve the conflicts, through action, and will straighten the intelligence and strengthen the integrity. Such action, where there is conflict, will bring matters to a head in the form of a choice. Upon this choice will depend whether the action is liberating or not. Liberating action may often be accompanied by a sudden or periodic accession of mixed (and sometimes unusual) good and bad circumstances and influences, which sooner or later pass off; but throughout all these the power of decision will remain whole and clear. They help you to discern, to deepen your insight, and to understand. Straightness of vision and depth of insight and understanding will thus come into ever fuller play.

When action is liberating there grows gradually a fulness of heart (of affection or being "at home'), stability or integrity of purpose, and the steady flame of wisdom. Thus with ever greater freedom from the laws of nature will come almost suddenly (seemingly) the realization that those laws were nothing but your own Cosmic Purpose, of Life, which you yourself conceived — and no other — and which with strong and tender patience, through endless infinitudes sought without pressure to make itself known to you. (Is it not clear why you alone must act from yourself alone, and not by the authority of another, however great and noble he may be?) All the paths of life will be found to be the true path and your heart will be full. You will discover a new sight, keen and penetrating, which can gaze into the unknown and trace new purposes. Such a cosmic Being are you. The loftiest Being awaits you, just as you may await those who follow. Karman is ever present and never failing — so we have found. Try and see?


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