An Occultist 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 — aye, even to his seventh rebirth. So long, in short, 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 matter as it is in the world of Spirit. It is not, therefore, 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. — The Secret Doctrine 1:643
Karma is the habit of universal being, which so works that an act is necessarily followed by a result — a reaction from surrounding nature. The very core of this doctrine is that every thought and deed sets up an immediate chain of causation, acting on every plane to which that chain of causation reaches. But what is this primordial habit of nature, which makes it react to an arousing cause? Cosmically speaking, it is the will of the spiritual beings who have gone before us and who now are as gods, whose will and thought direct and protect the type and quality of the universe in which we live.
But there is no God outside of us which dictates what our destiny or fate shall be. We are free agents, children of the universe, gods going through the sublime adventure of cosmic life. Having free will, intelligence and consciousness, dwelling in a universe of which we are inseparable parts, we are in our inmost essence Parabrahman, and yet in all exterior garments of consciousness we are individualized.
Hence karma is not something outside of us; we are our own karma. We, essentially speaking, are the spiritual part of ourselves; the material or elemental, the psychical and the intellectual, are but aspects of our constitution through which our essential self acts. These subordinate parts are bound to follow the current of the life-stream as it flows forth from the fountain within — from which originate will, consciousness, understanding, and all the other spiritual qualities and energies, such as love and compassion.
To look at the matter from a somewhat different and more familiar point of view: would you expect that the divine part of you would suffer the karma of what the physical body did? Or that your inner god would be a bondslave to what the pranic life-atoms of your astral body do, or to what your brain-mind or emotions may impel you into? Obviously not. We prepare for ourselves the destiny that we are, or will work through, and we do this from within our spiritual nature wherein ultimately originate all karmic activities. Thus whatever happens to us, we bring about either consciously or unconsciously: we have made ourselves what we are now, and are making ourselves what we shall be in the future.
There is an organ in the brain through which act the elemental karmic energies urging an individual into this or that pathway of action and thought and emotion. This has been called the "third eye," or the "eye of Siva,'' and physically it is the pineal gland, the organ that expresses and carries over into the physical body the karmic urges which will impel us to follow this or that course of action, eventuating in either weal or woe. In this regard H. P. Blavatsky writes in The Secret Doctrine (2:302).
Now that which the students of Occultism ought to know is that the "THIRD EYE" IS INDISSOLUBLY CONNECTED WITH KARMA. The tenet is so mysterious that very few have heard of it.
This is a very difficult thing to explain. We are our own karma. That is all we are. We are the effect in our entire constitution of what we were at the preceding instant of time. We are an aggregate of forces, a composite entity with our own characteristics, tendencies and impulses, all of which form and compose us, even to the very shape of our body — all this is our karma, because we and our karma are one.
What causes or controls destiny? Which part of us exercises the greatest sway over what we shall be in the future? It is the higher part; and the lower part is at once our vehicle and our stumbling block. Therefore, as we are naught but an expression of ourselves, an expression of our karma on all the planes, we carve our own future as we have our present and past. We do this by will, by choice, by discrimination, all belonging to the higher part of us which functions as best it may through its own organ, the pineal gland. And this, as said, is as indissolubly connected with karma as it is with each of us, recording succeeding steps in choice and discrimination — or lack of these.
We learn through our faults. Sorrow, pain and suffering are our best teachers. But let us not seek to be ''good,"; the man who seeks to be ''good" is exercising one kind of spiritual selfishness, for he seeks something for himself. The roadway to the mountaintop is impersonality; for the truly and spiritually impersonal man never does an evil or a selfish deed. If he did, he would be personal. Were the impersonal man to turn a deaf ear to a cry for help, to pleadings of compassion and pity, his impersonality would be but a mockery.
He whose vision is clear, whose heart is at peace, whose mind is tranquil, seeks neither for good nor for evil; his whole being is set on the supernal light within. As long as there are good men in the world there will be evil men, and vice versa. The salvation of the human race is coming about, not by a craving for good and to be good, but by a yearning, which passes all ordinary understanding, to be impersonal, self-forgetful, so that almighty love and compassion, which hold the universe in their keeping, can stream through the human heart without any barrier of the lower selfhood.
Karma, like everything else, manifests in energies, varying in strength. The strongest normally come forth first. Every karmic consequence comes into action at its appropriate time and place. No karma can be turned aside. It may, indeed, be dammed back temporarily, but out it will come some day. Actually, the damming back brings about an accumulation of karma: of other karma of a closely connected type which therefore will increase the action of the karma thus held back.
Nor can we excuse ourselves for a wrong action merely by saying: ''How could I help it? It was my karma.'' This is cheating ourselves with words. When we act, we act from choice and make new karma, deliberately directing our mind and consciousness in thought and in action. Is our choice also karmic? Of course, for everything we think or do is karmic; but we can change our karma at any moment by making new and giving easier direction to the old, for we have created energy through our spiritual nature. At any instant of time, man has the divine faculty of free choice; to strike out along new avenues of effort, which the fields of nature provide for him constantly. The universe is limitless in extent; and the consciousness of man is not only coeval with the universe, but spiritually coextensive.
A strong man makes a strong impress on surroundings, on circumstances, on other men; and the reaction upon him is correspondingly forceful. Feckless individuals make a very weak impression, and there action is correspondingly weak. Now the man who has a powerful will, inevitably acts powerfully in all that he does; and whether for weal or for woe there will be an equivalent reaction. Consequently, the higher a man goes along the evolutionary pathway, the more careful must he be.
All karma works from within outwards; it originates within and simply expresses itself on the physical plane. It is man who makes his own karma, because in doing so he makes himself. Man is his own karma, his own destiny -- the destiny he incurs is the one which he has carved for himself, and he does so by making himself, by making his character. What he does, he does from himself, and nature's reactions will fall upon him. There is karma of many kinds: mental, psychical emotional, vital, astral, physical; and there is individual or personal karma as well as collective karma. We have to partake of the karma of the world, of our race, our family, our solar system, and of our universe, because we have put ourselves where we are — none else.
Man can achieve so high a status in spiritual evolution, by unfolding from within himself his inner powers in accordance with cosmic law, that he thereby becomes a direct and self-conscious collaborator in his own sphere with the cosmic laws. Doing nothing contrary to the natural order, there is no reaction from nature upon him, and thus he may be said to have ''risen above karma," insofar as the term karma applies to his own evolution and character and activity as a man.
The spiritual nature is not acted upon by any exterior karma except that of the universe of which we are an inseparable portion, and then only because we have our being as a monadic essence in the aggregative essence of some greater entity. But our own personal karma never acts upon the spiritual plane because that plane is the wellspring from which it flows forth. When a human being has reached the evolutionary stage of being wholly impersonal, he makes thereafter no new personal karma. Consequently, he no longer weaves around himself a web of personal destiny. He becomes an impersonal servitor of his spiritual superiors.
There is, of course, impersonal karma, because karma means the sequence of cause and effect arising out of what an actor thinks and does; but the statement that when one has reached divinity, or even as a human being has become truly impersonal, he weaves no more karma, means that no longer do the bonds of personality enchain him. He is freed from them, living as a worker and collaborator of natural law. Yet the universal karma of cosmic Being is the ultimate background of activity of the karma of any individual, because he is inseparable from the universe. The highest god is as much subject to universal karma as is the humblest ant climbing up a sandhill only to go tumbling down again.
When man has reached quasi-divinity because he has become at one with the divine-spiritual nature of his own hierarchy, he is no longer under the sway of the general field of karmic action in that hierarchy. He has become a master of its life, because he is an agent of its inmost impulses and mandates. Thus it is that a man may rise above the karmic sphere in which he finds himself, while remaining within the hierarchical karma of cosmic Being.
(From the author's Fountain-Source of Occultism, Theosophical University Press; reprinted in Sunrise magazine, April/May 1983.)
Sunrise Back Issues Menu