The mistake is being made by a great many persons, among them being Theosophists, of applying several of the doctrines current in Theosophical literature, to only one or two phases of a question or to only one thing at a time, limiting rules which have universal application to a few cases, when in fact all those doctrines which have been current in the East for so long a time should be universally applied. For instance, take the law of Karma. Some people say, "yes we believe in that," but they only apply it to human beings. They consider it only in its relation to their own acts or to the acts of all men. Sometimes they fail to see that it has its effect not only on themselves and their fellows, but as well on the greatest Mahatmas. Those great Beings are not exempt from it; in fact they are, so to say, more bound by it than we are. Although they are said to be above Karma, this is only to be taken to mean that, having escaped from the wheel of Samsara (which means the wheel of life and death, or rebirths), and in that sense are above Karma, at the same time we will find them often unable to act in a given case. Why? If they have transcended Karma, how can it be possible that in any instance they may not break the law, or perform certain acts which to us seem to be proper at just that juncture? Why can they not, say in the case of a chela who has worked for them and for the cause, for years with the most exalted unselfishness, interfere and save him from suddenly falling or being overwhelmed by horrible misfortune; or interfere to help or to direct a movement? It is because they have become part of the great law of Karma itself. It would be impossible for them to lift a finger.
Again, we know that at a certain period of progress, far above this sublunary world, the adept reaches a point when he may, if he so chooses, formulate a wish that he might be one of the Devas, one of that bright host of beings of whose pleasure, glory and power we can have no idea. The mere formulation of the wish is enough. At that moment he becomes one of the Devas. He then for a period of time in its extent incalculable, enjoys that condition — then what? Then he has to begin again low down in the scale, in a mode and for a purpose which it would be useless to detail here, because it could not be understood, and also because I am not able to put it in any language with which I am conversant. In this, then, is not this particular adept who thus fell, subject to the law of Karma?
There is in the Hindoo books a pretty story which illustrates this. A certain man heard that every day a most beautiful woman rose up out of the sea, and combed her hair. He resolved that he would go to see her. He went, and she rose up as usual. He sprang into the sea behind her, and with her went down to her abode. There he lived with her for a vast length of time. One day she said she had to go away and stated that he must not touch a picture which was on the wall, and then departed. In a few days, fired by curiosity, he went to look at the picture; saw that it was an enameled one of a most ravishingly beautiful person, and he put out his hand to touch it. At that moment the foot of the figure suddenly enlarged, flew out from the frame, and sent him back to the scenes of earth, where he met with only sorrow and trouble.
The law of Karma must be applied to everything. Nothing is exempt from it. It rules the vital molecule from plant up to Brahma himself. Apply it then to the vegetable, animal and human kingdom alike.
Another law is that of Reincarnation. This is not to be confined only to the souls and bodies of men. Why not use it for every branch of nature to which it may be applicable? Not only are we, men and women, reincarnated, but also every molecule of which our bodies are composed. In what way, then, can we connect this rule with all of our thoughts? Does it apply there? It seems to me that it does, and with as much force as anywhere. Each thought is of definite length. It does not last for over what we may call an instant, but the time of its duration is in fact much shorter. It springs into life and then it dies; but it is at once reborn in the form of another thought. And thus the process goes on from moment to moment, from hour to hour, from day to day. And each one of these reincarnated thoughts lives its life, some good, some bad, some so terrible in their nature that if we could see them we would shrink back in affright. Further than that, a number of these thoughts form themselves into a certain idea, and it dies to be reincarnated in its time. Thus on rolls this vast flood. Will it overwhelm us? It may; it often does. Let us then make our thoughts pure. Our thoughts are the matrix, the mine, the fountain, the source of all that we are and of all that we may be.
1. Reprinted from The Occult Word, Rochester, N. Y., May, 1886. This magazine, published and edited by Mrs. Josephine W. Cables, between the years 1884-88, was the first Theosophical magazine that appeared in the U. S. A. There are only a few copies extant today. — Eds. (return to text)