The Theosophical Forum – January 1943


In pondering over the workings of Karman in our own destiny, we must not become so interested in our own fate as to overlook the consequences of what we have done to other people. It is pointed out by H. P. Blavatsky in "The Beacon of the Unknown," in the October number of this magazine, that to have one's own sins forgiven does not undo the wrong we may have done to other people. In Dickens's Little Dorrit, Mrs. Clennam, a sombre type-figure of extreme Calvinism, has committed a grave wrong against others. But, instead of making the reparation, easily within her power, but involving self-sacrifice, she considers that her own protracted sufferings from paralysis have sufficiently expiated her guilt. Dickens is of course indignant at this selfish keeping of a personal balance-sheet with the Almighty, regardless of the interests of injured parties. If I have caused much mischief and suffering among other people by my misdeeds, does it set matters right, or ease my feelings, if I am made to undergo the same sufferings in my own person?

What we can glean about Karman from competent teachers is that by it we are all linked together; and it would seem that to dwell too exclusively on the personal aspect of the question is to reintroduce the old evil which so often attaches to the idea of vicarious atonement.

We are taught that the first step to knowledge is to overcome the sense of personal separateness, and to give up making self-interest the mainspring of our life. It may well be that failure to make enough progress in this first step is at the root of our failure to understand Karman. And so we call it abstruse and contradictory; and well it may seem so, to such distorted vision. But the universe is not constructed on any such plan; and what seems so mysterious when we try to fit it into our own scheme, may appear in its grand simplicity when viewed in the clear light of an unobstructed vision.

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