THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 10, August, 1932
(Pages 449-453; Size: 18K)
(Number 8 of a 60-part series)
STUDIES IN KARMA
SOME time since, a scientist set forth a list of popular beliefs, each of which, in his estimation, was a wholly baseless superstition. The results of a questionnaire, showing that the great majority of teachers and educators hold one or more -- in most cases the majority -- of these beliefs, he sadly published as portending no good for a humanity thus incurably backward-minded. This list, published in a medium having a circulation of many millions, dared to include, and did include without exciting much opposition, the idea of a "God," or the equivalent thereof. It is significant of the rationalistic trend of the times. In point of fact, what conceivable ratiocination could ever originate or support the idea of "God" as known to Christendom?
This "God" is an all-wise creator. Where in Nature unaided is found any perfectly regulated process? "God" is all-merciful. Where in Nature is to be found a law of "mercy" as understood by men? A Nature which exhibits in all her parts veritable museums of torture-apparatus applied indiscriminately to the pure, the good, the foul and the ferocious?
"God" is omnipotent; yet when and where in history has "He" ever manifested himself such? Where anywhere is there a manifestation of complete good, of complete evil; of complete wisdom, of complete ignorance? Thus not even is there evidence of a God of perfect evil any more than of perfect good; and the Persian Yezidis, more logical than we in that they pray to Satan, who otherwise may injure them, rather than to God, who being good will injure them in no case, have no more factual evidence of omnipotent evil than their Christian contemporaries of omnipotent good.
Everywhere the face of things presents a double expression of mixed good and evil; mixed knowledge and ignorance; partial expressions and incompletenesses, mixtures and contradictions everywhere, of which human nature and human history are fitting phases and manifestations. Yet in the heart of man everywhere is embedded, not to be expunged by reason or experience, a yearning faith in perfection; an enthroned and enshrined ideal of the soul, so powerful that in despite of all it creates new images of perfection and completeness as fast as the old are destroyed. These images in every time and clime are given the name of "God" or the equivalent thereof; and this Protean deity has lived in the heart of man throughout history in spite of all experience racial or individual; in its defense men are impregnable to every weapon, deaf to every argument, blind to every fact. What other can it be than the expression of an idea, or a perception, which is no acquired, reasoned, or imposed thing, but is an integral part of Soul and essential to the existence thereof? What is this basic idea?
Certainly the putting together of millions of its expressions will give us no understanding of its ancient reality; because it exists in every form, from the horned and hoofed terror of the poor savage up to the "Unconscious;" the "Unknowable," the "First Cause," and the "Causeless Cause" of the philosopher.
In the low-minded it takes on the characteristic of sheer brute power; in those of higher thought, this power is mellowed to the might of wisdom, of beneficence and justice. Power in every case; the power of matter ranging to the power of spirit according to comprehension; but every time the nature of that power is to be unlimited; material Omnipotence in the brutish ideal graduates to Omniscience in the mind of the worshipper of intellect; to Compassion Absolute in the devotionally minded. In all, the reaching out is to the limitless, the uncircumscribed.
Now if anything in psychology is objective fact, it is that imagination cannot burn without the fuel of memory, though that memory need not be conscious. Whence then springs this aspiration to boundlessness in all, from high to low, boundlessness regardless of whether the space of it be filled with the imaginings of brute satiety or the formless and unformable intuition of the Ineffable? Has any man had such experience, encountered in the flesh such a Being? Whence this Memory?
It is the memory of his former Self in every man; memory of the ages, of the Nirvanas of long-past Manvantaras(1), during which the Gods who are the Egos of men existed in free-ranging mastery of the matter which environed them; of existence where the wish was the fact because Will was not separate from Substance, and Power was delimited only by the sweep of Imagination!
Thus in these days when the Cosmic Will of Man is drawn down to pin-point concentration upon its own creations, enslaving itself, still remains the memory of unclogged Power. But Man, identifying his individuality with this microscopic mind and still more microscopic body, is wholly unable to conceive himself as the mighty Being of the elder times. The memory he cannot lose; of his present petty frame he cannot make a fit container thereof; hence, the giant shadow of God and Gods thrown outside himself upon the uncomprehended screens of matter!
Again, it is Memory of victory over similar limitations, similar strivings through ages unto omnipotent fulfilments in other, long-mastered spheres of matter, which urges him ever on to make again of the matter of a world the pliant fabric of his own body, re-acquiring Omnipotence on higher spirals. For what human being, regardless of achievement, ever was satisfied, ever found fulfilment in the achieved dream? The Ego of man, essence of the Eternal, never can be satisfied with the bounded; limited to the bounded by his present petty comprehension, he nevertheless transcends its borders every time that he reaches them.
How profoundly the God-Idea contains within itself the Karma of the race and of the individual; how inseparably this idea is interwoven and interblended with our idea of Self, as effect is wrapped up in cause; how the God-Idea arose, persisted through all vicissitudes and mutations of the Intellectual man in the immense eras passed since the later Third Race(2); how it is destined to be transformed and restored to the pristine glory of the Divine man by the self-redeemed Humanity of the coming race and races -- all this is contained and implied in the mission and the message of H. P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist of to-day, imbued with the vital impulse of her work, may read that future in the statement on page 446 of the second volume of her Secret Doctrine, as he may read the past in other statements contained in the same book.
For the benefit of students not conversant with all the varied contents of The Secret Doctrine, two or three quotations on the Karma connected with the God-Idea may prove useful. On pages 272 to 274 of the second volume she writes of our own past when we constituted the Egos of the later Third Race:... the Third Race felt itself one with the ever-present as the ever to be unknown and invisible ALL, the One Universal Deity. Endowed with divine powers, and feeling in himself his inner God, each felt he was a Man-God in his nature, though an animal in his physical Self. The struggle between the two began from the very day they tasted the fruit of the Tree of Wisdom; a struggle for life between the spiritual and the psychic, the psychic and the physical. Those who conquered the lower principles by obtaining mastery over the body, joined the "Sons of Light."(3) Those who fell victims to their lower natures, became the slaves of Matter. From "Sons of Light and Wisdom" they ended by becoming the "Sons of Darkness." They had fallen in the battle of mortal life with Life immortal, and all those so fallen became the seed of the future generations of Atlanteans....Bearing this in mind, even the least patient Theosophist will better understand present-day limitations of the race which impose iron barriers on the efforts of the Master of Wisdom and the philanthropist alike to re-arouse the "Fallen Angels" now become Humanity itself. She speaks of this on pages 326 and 327 of volume one:
It was the Atlanteans ... who became the first "Sacrificers" to the god of matter. ... That worship degenerated very soon into self-worship, thence led to phallicism, or that which reigns supreme to this day in the symbolisms of every exoteric religion of ritual, dogma, and form. ... Such was the secret and mysterious origin of all the subsequent and modern religions, especially of the worship of the later Hebrews for their tribal god.The evolution of the GOD-IDEA proceeds apace with man's own intellectual evolution. So true it is that the noblest ideal to which the religious Spirit of one age can soar, will appear but a gross caricature to the philosophic mind on a succeeding epoch! The philosophers themselves had to be initiated into perceptive mysteries, before they could grasp the correct idea of the ancients in relation to this most metaphysical subject. Otherwise -- outside such initiation -- for every thinker there will be a "Thus far shalt thou go and no farther," mapped out by his intellectual capacity, as clearly and as unmistakably as there is for the progress of any nation or race in its cycle by the law of Karma. Outside of initiation, the ideals of contemporary religious thought must always have their wings clipped and remain unable to soar higher; for idealistic as well as realistic thinkers, and even free-thinkers, are but the outcome and the natural product of their respective environments and periods. The ideals of both are only the necessary results of their temperaments, and the outcome of that phase of intellectual progress to which a nation, in its collectivity, has attained.From this, the Theosophist may see that the source of present-day failures, in the Movement and among individual students, is the prime failure to see the inseparable bond between study and conduct, between the great First Object of Universal Brotherhood and the recorded teachings of Theosophy -- and so seeing, set himself to work to destroy in himself the cause of both past and present evils. This is set out with great clarity and force on page 644 of the first volume:Karma-Nemesis is no more than the (spiritual) dynamical effect of causes produced and forces awakened into activity by our own actions. It is a law of occult dynamics that "a given amount of energy expended on the spiritual or astral plane(4) is productive of far greater results than the same amount expended on the physical objective plane of existence."
This state will last till man's spiritual intuitions are fully opened, ... ; until we begin acting from within, instead of ever following impulses from without; namely, those produced by our physical senses and gross selfish body. Until then the only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony -- a Brotherhood IN ACTU, and altruism not simply in name.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE "COIL OF KARMA"
Question: If another by altruistic service benefits one, is not such action vicarious and inconsistent with Karma?
Answer: A common error, which arises from incompletely viewing the doctrine of Karma, is the idea that we interfere with Karma when we benefit another. The question is equally applicable to the doing of any injury to another. It cuts both ways; so we might as well ask if it is not inconsistent with the law and vicarious for one to do any evil act which results harmfully to a fellow creature. In neither case is there vicarious atonement or interference. If we can do good to our fellows, that is their good Karma and ours also; if we have the opportunity to thus confer benefits and refuse to do so, then that is our bad Karma in that we neglected a chance to help another. The Masters once wrote that we should not be thinking on our good or bad Karma, but should do our duty on every hand and at every opportunity, unmindful of what may result to us. It is only a curious kind of conceit, which seems to be the product of nineteenth century civilization, that causes us to falsely imagine that we, weak and ignorant human beings, can interfere with Karma or be vicarious atoners for others. We are all bound up together in one coil of Karma and should ever strive by good acts, good thoughts and high aspirations, to lift a little of the world's heavy Karma, of which our own is a part. Indeed, no man has any Karma of his own unshared by others; we share each one in the common Karma, and the sooner we perceive this and act accordingly the better it will be for us and for the world. -- W.Q.J.
God in the Kingdoms
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FOUR (4) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(1) "Manvantara" means a particular vast period of Cosmic Evolutionary Activity (a cycle, a period of Manifestion which has a beginning and an ending) -- whether of a galaxy, a solar system, or a planet.
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(2) "Third Race" means the whole Human Race here. The use of this term is that of a Root-Race. Aryan is the name of the present long evolutionary racial period (or cycle) that we are in as a whole humanity, and which is known as the Fifth Race (or the Fifth Root Race). The last long evolutionary racial cycle for humanity was named the Atlantean one, and was the Fourth Race (or the Fourth Root Race). The long evolutionary cycle before that was the Lemurian one, and was the Third Race (or the Third Root Race). A "Root-Race" is contained within a much longer evolutionary period (or cycle) called a Manvantara, which has a beginning and an ending. In the present Manvantara we are in the evolutionary period of humanity known as the Fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. A Manvantara is many millions of years long. Within that immense period there are seven Root-Races, each of which is divided into seven "Sub-Races", which are each divided into seven "Family-Races". It is always cycles within cycles. The shortest of these cycles is about 30,000 years. There is always a long period of overlapping as one racial period of development blends into the next one. But it is we, each eternal soul, individually, and all of us together, who are going through all of these evolutionary periods over and over again, incarnation after incarnation, from age to age, with no final end to this cosmic process.
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(3) "Sons of Light" are those souls who have become Adepts at some level (there is no end to the level of Adeptship that can be reached, as it is forever onward and upward in self-development), or even a Master of Wisdom at a very high level, if not the highest that can possibly be attained, during a particular Manvantara, a cyclic period of evolution. They are also called Dhyan Chohans (or Dhyanis), Mahatmas, Great Souls, Great Adepts, Dragons of Wisdom, Sons of Light, Heavenly Men, Dhyani-Buddhas, Christs, Buddhas, Avatars, Saviors, Gods, Angels, etc., etc.
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(4) "Astral Plane": "Astral" means the Electro-Magnetic spectrum at every level. The "Astral Body" is the electromagnetic design body that the physical molecules adhere to in the building up of every form, in every kingdom, on the physical plane. The theosophical "Astral Light" is the "Ether" of modern science. It is the source of the idea known as the "Recording Angel" -- because every thought, word, and deed is recorded, stored, and magnetically reflected back to its source at a dynamically proper time: in other words, when conditions naturally warrant or permit it. We call this Karma, or Lawful action and reaction. All of us are also magnets for imprints in the "Astral Light" which were put there by others and which are similar to us in character. So we constantly affect and infect each other in this way -- for good or for bad.
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