Does Karma account for the first incarnation? I have seen the statement that it does not. Will the Students' Column please answer this? — F. E. B.
Was there ever a first incarnation? I do not think we can answer such a question. Infinity is a concept beyond our powers of reason, we but faintly touch it by a higher part of our being, yet we dimly know that the soul ever was and ever will be. To answer this question might be compared to finding a beginning to eternity.
We have been taught that life is cyclic, that just as we incarnate again and again on earth, so do the worlds and universes appear and disappear, one succeeding another as the successive embodiments of the World-Soul or the Cosmic Universal-Soul. On any one of these new worlds or universes there would then be a first incarnation for each individual soul, but such would be strictly according to Karma, i.e. to causes set up in previous existences on a previously existing world.
In the question, however, it is very possible that a limited meaning has been given to the term, Karma, considering it merely as the result of, or the law governing the result and connecting it with, the cause, in the sense of a definite act. But Karma in its full meaning also includes the operation of the law in regard to inherent or previous conditions or states which, just as much as acts, are causes leading inevitably to results. Were it not for this there could be no growth, no evolution, but merely repetition of past acts.
It has been said that it is the inherent nature of the soul to seek to express itself and that it does this through and in matter. Thus if this be its nature it provides the karmic cause for incarnation even apart from any previous or a first incarnation. For the soul by incarnating does but follow the law of its own being and this following out its own nature is the primary aspect of Karma from whence later proceeds that aspect under which Karma is more generally spoken of, viz., as the law relating effects to causes which are in the form of definite action. — J. H. Fussell