Joseph J. Weed
If I were to ask anyone of you the definition of Karma, You would tell me that it is a Hindu word used to describe the law of cause and effect. This answer would be absolutely true but it would not be clear enough. It is an over simplification.
It is true that the word Karma denotes the working of the law of cause and effect but it includes much more than this. For example it refers to the working of the law of cause and effect under certain special conditions and not under others. The law of cause and effect applies on all planes and under all circumstances . A tumbling pebble an a mountainside can precipitate a landslide but it is only by a stretch of the imagination that we could refer to the landslide as a karmic result of the pebble's motion.
"Karma" means "Action" and we use the word Karma to refer to the results engendered by volitional activity. Karma in its very essence implies the presence of motive, which in turn necessitates the exercise of a free choice. Thus, Karma may be defined as the working of the law of cause and effect as it applies to the results of decisions reached and thoughts held by ensouled forms capable of free choice.
Man is just such an ensouled form and it is Karma as it applies to individual man that we will discuss here. However, groups of men, both small and large, permanent an temporary, are also ensouled forms and as such they create Karma. This accounts for group Karma which applies to the family, the city, the nation, and the race as permanent groups and also to such temporary groups as societies, business organizations, etc.
In considering Karma as it applies to man we will study :
In considering the causes of Karma, we must first understand quite clearly that every thought, every emotion or wish and every action creates Karma. If these thoughts, ideas, desires, passions are benevolent, good Karma is created. If they are malevolent, evil Karma is created. Thus good or evil Karma attaches itself to us and remains in our life current until we have satisfied or counteracted it.
The laws of nature are invariable and immutable. Man recognizes this although he frequently attempts to defy these laws. The chemist in the laboratory knows that he may expect certain well defined results if he places two elements in close proximity in a definite set of conditions. If these results are not achieved he does not say that the law has changed or look upon the result as an aberration of the law. He considers that he himself has made an error. As human beings we should realize that we are here to be happy, to be successful, to enjoy the fruits of this world and to progress onward quite simply and easily to the fruits of another and higher world. If we do not do so, we may know quite certainly that we have broken natural law, either currently or sometime in the past, and that we are now suffering the penalty of this infraction. If we obey the law we may confidently predict the result, for nature is conquered by obedience to its laws.
The most persistent and lasting Karma comes from the thought forms that have been energized by the will. The great master K.H. has described it as follows : "Every thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world, and becomes an active entity by associating itself, coalescing we might term it, with an elemental--that is to say, with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence--a creature of the minds begetting--for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active, beneficent power, an evil one is a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current space with a world of his own, crowded with the off-spring of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, a current which reacts upon any sensitive or nervous organization which comes in contact with it, in proportion to its dynamic intensity."
Now, let's see what this means. In our present stage of development every single one of our thoughts passes through and is colored by our desire body on its way to and from our active consciousness. Created originally as a mental entity it comes into being as a vibrating force on the mental plane. These vibrations from the original idea or pattern which remains on the mental plane attract and mold the forces of each plane below the mental on the way to our physical consciousness. These energetic creations so molded by the idea attach themselves to us and remain with us for a longer or shorter time, depending upon the original intensity of the thought which created them and, of course, the re-energizing effect that repetition of this thought has upon them.
It is this cloud of self created, energetic beings, elementals so to speak, existing in the finer grades of matter and hovering about each one of us, that creates our Karma. These active entities are responsible for what we know as sensation. They translate the vibrations that approach our consciousness into what we know as feeling, taste, sight, etc. They manifest themselves not only physically in this manner but also, and very strongly, in the emotional field. This is the reason we are said to live in a world of Illusion peopled by phantasms of our own creation.
Now by our will, our emotions and desires we influence these countless beings which sensitively respond to all the thrills of feeling that we send out in every direction. In the same manner do these elementals respond to vibrations approaching them from without. Therefore, we see just how we became aware not only of physical objects but also of the feelings of others, and sometimes of their thoughts.
Not only do we generate and send forth these thought forms but we also act as a magnet to draw to ourselves the thought forms of others. We may thus draw to ourselves reinforcements of energy and it lies with us to decide whether these forces we draw from without shall be for good or for evil. If our thoughts are pure and noble we will attract hosts of beneficent entities. Sometimes one may even wonder at the tremendous power of achievement that seems so much beyond normal ability which may come in answer to noble and unselfish effort. On the other hand, low thoughts have a disturbing and evil effect, sometimes astonishingly beyond the actual intention of the individual. "Some devil must have tempted me" is the cry that is often heard and it is true that these additional evil forces sympathetic to and added to his wrong intentions have provided the strength for the deed. Please observe, we are not "attacked" by these entities, we attract them to us.
At this point some of you may think, "what is the difference between good and evil action and how may we distinguish it?" The answer, I am sure, you already know. A good thought, wish or action is one which conforms to the Law. As to how to know the Law at the time the action takes place-- that is another matter. In the long run we can only know the law through our experiences. It is a trial and error method. However, if we will accept advice from higher intellects and more advanced souls we can save ourselves much struggle and pain. These elder brothers of humanity, the Saints of various churches, the Masters of wisdom, have from time immemorial been precipitating into the consciousness of mankind advice and directions based on their own experience. Thus, the words of Christ "Love One Another" are not an abstract religious precept but a scientific technique found workable and successful by Him, which he passes on to us as a short cut to the working out and elimination of Karma.
The good thoughts or evil thoughts, desires and intentions which we create and harbor, not only have an effect on ourselves but also may have an effect on others. These elementals have a tendency to be attracted to others of a similar kind and when a man sends out a thought form it not only keeps up a magnetic link with him but it is drawn toward other thought forms of a similar type. These together accumulate to form a good or evil force as the case may be, and to this aggregation of similar thought forms are due the characteristics of a strongly marked family, or local or national influence. This is very clear to us today when a divergence between national ideologies is so well defined and we may note that family or national karmic surroundings largely modify an individual's activity and limit to a very great extent his power to express the capabilities he may posses. Each idea is colored and distorted by the atmosphere which surrounds him and its limitations are sometimes far reaching.
Thus we see how Karma is created. Every thought, every wish, every desire and every act of ours is recorded in the imperishable film of the Akasha. There they remain and print out duplicates in the emotional and physical world life after life until satisfied or corrected. These desires and acts may be only noble and good, they may be all evil or they may be a combination of both. But even if they were all good and all noble, there would still be a karmic result and a karmic debt to be paid as long as the individual retained a self conscious focus. But more of this later.
In considering the effect of Karma or the working out of karma, we will concentrate here only on its working in the physical life. It is quite true that Karma has a great effect during the after life, the life between incarnations, but this is a deep study and one not essential to our present observations.
We see that in the working out of karmic law :
Likewise the negative aspects of the foregoing result in negative results. As for instance, the refusal to accept opportunity results in frustration in later life ; evil thoughts become evil tendencies ; evil action results in limiting of action, such as a dwarfed mind, a diseased or mutilated body, a sudden and violent death, etc.
We said earlier in this talk that Karma is the working of the law of cause and effect but that it is something more than this. There is something added. This added something is an intelligent guidance in the unraveling of the many colored threads which go to make up our karmic destiny. While it is true that there is a Divine Intelligence in the working of the law of cause and effect, it is, nevertheless, an impersonal Intelligence, the Intelligence which working as Law has resulted in the order which now exists in place of the original chaos. But in the case of Karma, the Intelligence guiding its working out is an extremely personal one. It is just as if God were devoting himself to each individual personally to see that the most fitting incidents should occur in his life, incidents best suited to guide, urge, direct and sometimes force the individual into learning the law and following it. Thus the body we use, the parents we have, the circumstances under which we are brought up, the country in which we live and the type of life we lead are all selected for us by the Divine Intelligence acting in a personal way for our individual welfare.
It is true that we ourselves are responsible for all of these physical factors in our existence, but the expression of these particular circumstances in this particular life is at the discretion of the guiding Lipika and the great Lords of Karma, who, observing the panorama of our entire existence, decide that now and at this time it is best that one person should live in New York and another in Philadelphia.
In the working out of Karma we see many strange things. We find ourselves in contact and close association with individuals who have been close to us before. Frequently these associations are repeated in many lives and they must continue to appear and re-appear until the scales are equally balanced on both sides. Thus, the tyrannical father of one life may re-appear at a later time as a poor relative for his existence on the very whims of his former son. The loving and devoted mother may show herself in the future as a happy and well cared for sister, daughter or wife. Likewise, do we owe debts to certain countries and for this reason we re-appear again and again until we have discharged these obligations. We are led back there by those very tendencies and affinities described before, which continue to attract us until balance is achieved and the accounts are written off the books.
Very gradually at first, but later with increasing speed, we learn from many repetitions and sometimes disastrous results that certain actions are against the Law and must be avoided. There is built into our consciousness a recollection that wanton killing, for example, brings extremely unpleasant results. Finally there comes a time when, faced with the temptation to kill, we are stricken in advance by a feeling which we can only describe as a kind of remorse, a remorse for something which we have not yet done. The temptation to kill is overcome by this remorseful feeling and we obey the Law instead of breaking it. This peculiar feeling, this inner guidance is known as conscience, if we eagerly seek to hear the voice of conscience every time we are faced with the necessity for new and unique action, we shall find a never failing guidance, which with use becomes increasingly more and more successful in keeping us within the Law.
It is at this point that we begin to liquidate more karmic debts than we currently contract, we begin to free ourselves from some of the myriads of subtle beings that hover about us. Here we learn the proper conduct in order that new karmic conditions may not be created. We learn not to regret loss, nor to be over-joyed at gain. We learn to live for the sake of others and not selfishly for ourselves, we learn to think not as an individual but as part of a group.
The Law of Karma may be likened to the physical law of momentum. A plate falls from the table. If allowed to strike the floor will break. The result in a small way will be cataclysmic. But if the observer is quick, if he sees in advance what will happen and acts to prevent it, he can interpose between the falling object and the floor and either catch the plate or deflect it in such a way that the force of the fall will be broken. Here we see that the momentum generated by the falling body has either been met and opposed by an equal force or diverted by a force coming at an angle with the result that the impending breakage does not occur.
It is in just such a manner that impending karmic results can be altered. As the student advances it is frequently given to him to see certain karmic conditions which are about to precipitate themselves into action. Sometimes, to quote a modern example, he learns that the city in which he lives is about to be bombed and he counteracts this by the simple expedient of moving away.
Or again, he may meet a man, drawn together by karmic ties from the past, and observing that this man intends nothing but evil for him, he can refuse to contend with him. To fight back will only continue the warfare. The successful technique is to meet ill will with good will, hate with love, and so disarm and dis-integrate the malevolent intentions of the other. It is in this simple manner that we may prevent the worst blows of personal Karma.
Therefore, against falsehood send forth truth. Against selfishness oppose charity, in the presence of foulness emanate purity. These are the actions, fiery in their essence, which burn up the demons which Karma brings to our door.
It is true that there may be no interference with Karma but we may modify its action by knowledge. When we know how, we may thus use karmic forces to effect karmic results and once more conquer Nature by obedience to her Laws.
As knowledge grows it becomes easier and easier to get rid of the Karma of the past. It becomes possible not only to look backwards, tracing the karmic lines up to the present and take action to counteract or divert karmic results, but it is also possible to look forward and see the effects in the future that we may be generating today.
With such knowledge of causes it is possible by utilizing the Law and relying on its unchangeability to set up the effects in the future which we desire. In physics it is possible to neutralize a sound wave with the same pattern which starts from the opposite pole. The result is equilibrium or silence. In just the same way the vibrations of hatred can be neutralized by setting up against them the vibrations of love and the much desired equilibrium reached.
As long as any karmic ties remain we shall, of necessity, return to the physical body again and again. Good Karma drags us back as relentlessly as bad and the chain formed out of our virtues holds us just as firmly as that created by our vices. We shall only become free when we have learned the proper technique and this lies not in our actions but in our desires, or rather our lack of desires. As long as there is the slightest tinge of self in any of our actions, as long as we are being good because we hope for reward, then willy nilly we shall have to return here in order to receive that reward. Every cause has its effect, every action its fruit and desire is the cord that links them. When this thread is broken and burned out, the connection will end and the soul will be free. True, it will continue to act but no longer for the self. Even thought of self will then be gone and consciousness will then be merged into the Larger Life.
But, beware. We do not break the bonds of the heart by trying to kill the heart. We do not break the chains of desire by trying to turn ourselves into stone or by steeling ourselves against all feeling. The true disciple becomes more sensitive and not less so as he nears his point of liberation. He becomes more tender and less hard and the perfect student is one who answers to every thrill in the outside universe, who responds to everything, but desires nothing. Truly this perfection of balance may seem unattainable to us here and now but those who have preceded us on the way are our assurance that it can be accomplished. Let us strive that we may attain.
Joseph J. Weed
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A Rosicrucian Speaks
Joseph J. Weed
Copyright, The Chatsworth Press
Last Modified: January 19, 2014