The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
February 2003 Vol. 5 Issue 12
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. 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.
Among these hierarchies are the lipikas (Sanskrit for "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. – H. R. Opdenberg
The past is not lost, but lives on in us here and now; the seeds of our catastrophes were sown maybe in Rome and Babylon; the high thoughts that visit us with illumination were winged on their way perhaps by sages in China or India millenniums ago. Thus if a person strives hard to be his better self, his struggles are no private affair of his own, for humanity is one now and through all the ages, and we are helped or thwarted today by the thoughts of every person living or long forgotten – for they were and are ourselves.
Yes, civilizations rise and fall; everything that is born in time must die in time, but Man goes on. Egypt and Babylon, Greece and Rome, China the Saracens, Christendom – it is always the same human stuff that is taken and remodeled, and in each case the beauty and durability are dependent on the quality of the fabric it is made of – human nature. We are each God and brute; as we discover the God in ourself and master the brute, we are improving the whole of humanity. There is no other way. There is no Big Man Evolution to shunt us forward willy nilly and no Big Man God to arrange everything for us. Individual human beings must carve out the way. What a place this gives to us in the scheme of things! – Kenneth Morris
"God, God's Will, and Karma" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: Why do things happen? Are events in our lives caused by our own acts and thoughts; by divine will; or by chance and accident? How far are we responsible for our circumstances, and how far the victim of them? Is there a God who interferes directly in terrestrial affairs? And what do we mean by God or gods? Is divinity external, within us, or both? How does karma relate to who we are now and to our future? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
The topics for the monthly discussion group for the next few months are:
March 6: How Can We Find Peace?
The first thought that comes to mind is, Why would one want to escape karma? To answer, one must first have a good understanding of the principles of karma and how it functions on our plane. What is karma? Where does it come from? How does it work?
Karma, according to H. P. Blavatsky, is "the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being" (The Key to Theosophy, p. 201). It is also commonly referred to as the law of action and reaction, or simply sowing and reaping; it is most assuredly a law of balance and justice.
The origins of karma are rooted far in the past; our karma goes back to mankind's first awakening and beyond. During each successive life we exhaust some past karma and accumulate new. So one can safely say that we are each our own karma. To understand how karma works we must know a little about reincarnation, for it is through reincarnation that karma functions on this plane.
After a period of rest, the reincarnating ego is drawn to leave its after-death existence to reimbody on earth. Our soul upon reentering this plane takes up its former life-atoms, which are stamped with the individual's karma. These life-atoms are like a blueprint. We bring only our own karma into this world – no one else's – so at each new birth "we inherit ourselves." We are our own karma.
Coming back to this world the soul chooses a course that will allow for the best karmic expansion. We align ourselves with particular races and nations and are drawn to parents with whom we have karmic ties from the past. Love and hate are two of the most compelling reasons the ego incarnates again and again. We ourselves choose when to incarnate and seek a proper vehicle and the circumstances best suited for meeting past karma.
Just before birth the soul is shown what lies ahead and the reasons for it; then we mercifully forget. This is similar to the panorama we experience at death when we are shown the vista of our karma, and see the wisdom of what we have been through. Under normal conditions incarnate humans do not recall past lives. There must be a perfectly good reason why nature does not reveal our former lives to us. If we think about it this can only be based on compassion. Perhaps we should be grateful and, if we have a good understanding of karma and how it functions, we can gain insights into our inner consciousness with less danger from tampering with the unknown.
Most people are concerned with two aspects of karma – what they call "good" and "bad." Judging all pleasant karma as reward and all unpleasant karma as punishment is a grave mistake, for we can perceive only the outward situation, not the inner. In every so-called "bad" karmic experience lie seeds for good, and vice versa. It is better to see karma as opportunity for growth.
Free will is the most wonderful and the most dangerous tool nature has given us. How can we use it wisely? First, we must take full responsibility for our actions. By so doing we also accept responsibility for the effect of our actions on our brothers. By right action we send out into the cosmos good influences from which all can benefit. Many of us are so occupied with past karma that we pay little attention to the karma we are making now, which is the one we have the most control over.
Most of us have difficulty comprehending suffering and why there are accidents, illness, and poverty. True, suffering may be a form of retribution, but it may equally well be part of the soul's striving for growth. There is much truth in the thought that greater spiritual evolution is obtained through adversity well handled than through unlimited good times which could lead to complacency. If all is karmic, including suffering, does that alter our obligation to help? Can we turn aside and say, "Well, that's their karma"? That might be true, but it is equally our karma to help. In accepting responsibility for our actions, we realize that not only what we do creates karma, but what we do not do creates karma also.
We can use the tool of our free will wisely and plant good karmic seeds for the future benefit of all mankind. We are never given too heavy a load. Justice pure and simple is at the root of it, and it is always there. By use of free will we can modify the effects of past actions although we can never escape them. Whether a person believes in karma or not, it governs all alike.