Letter on the Lipikas

By H. R. Opdenberg

The Netherlands, October 3, 2000

What a variety of totally different kinds of karma a human being creates in one lifetime -- what a mass of desires, thoughts, words, positive and negative -- so many different and often conflicting chains of cause and effect. For mankind this mass must be incalculably great when viewed over periods of time in which rivers formed plains from the debris of mountains, and oceans roll where countries and cities once existed. How is it that all those impulses going in every direction come forth in a pattern, a coherent story with a profound meaning? Uncontrolled discharge of all these forces would spell instant annihilation, but there always emerges precision in timing and wonderfully structured organisms and worlds.

What is the intelligent link that always brings order and arranges cosmos, whether the cosmos of a human life or of a solar system? There could be no worlds without protecting intelligences channeling the processes of nature, keeping them in equilibrium. No wonder so many traditions speak of guiding intelligences, gods, or architects.

The hierarchies of compassion are the embodiment of dharma, a word that comes from a root meaning "to bear, to support." They are present from beginning to end, guiding without imposing anything, and to utter certainty.

Creating without claiming,
Doing without taking credit,
Guiding without interfering,
This is Primal Virtue. -- Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching, 51

Among these hierarchies are the lipikas (Sanskrit, "scribes"):

they are the Recorders or Annalists who impress on the (to us) invisible tablets of the Astral Light, "the great picture-gallery of eternity" -- a faithful record of every act, and even thought, of man, of all that was, is, or ever will be, in the phenomenal Universe. . . . this divine and unseen canvas is the BOOK OF LIFE. -- H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:104

They reflect in themselves the entire history of the universe and so become the torchbearers of karma, carrying in themselves the structural plan of everything that will present itself anew. We could also call them the alpha and the omega: everything that happens in the world is imprinted on the aura or essence of these intelligences. In the universe the small reflects the great endlessly -- each part has all the qualities of the greater in itself.

An inner lipika is found in the recesses of every being. In this "book of life" is all that we are to the smallest particulars, what we really are: unflattering, but also without omission of even the weakest good impulse, it is the imprint of ourselves. Some might call it a guardian angel, others the inner christos, part of the texture of the universe, in whose essence or aura our lives and thoughts are enacted. This inner lipika carries within it all the characteristics of the future child, to the very smallest detail, the deposit of all that happened and was said and thought in times gone by. The birth of a child is the continuation and unraveling of what was before, just as a world is the outcome and continuation of a preceding world, of all that happened and developed there, including the lipikas themselves.

(From Sunrise magazine, December2000/January 2001; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)

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