The Law of Karma is closely interwoven with the Law of Reincarnation and with those Laws that govern the inner planes of all life. The study of one must necessarily include its bearing on the others, just as the study of any system in the human body must include its relation to those others which make up the whole body.
Karma is a Sanskrit word that has no English equivalent. It is the name of the primal law of cause and effect and the exacting relation of one to the other. As each effect is produced, it in turn becomes a cause demanding a new effect in a different fulfillment. No two cycles of cause and effect are ever identical, just as each day is different from all others because the earth and the sun are in different places in all space. Thus, the cycle of cause and effect impels atoms, men, and stars to greater expression. The Temple teaches that the purpose of these cycles is conscious unity with God.
The law of cause and effect applies to all kingdoms of nature. It is the directive for the laws of chemistry, physics, electronics, astron omy, botany, physiology, etc. The laws which apply to all those fields of study are accepted by humanity as inviolable. We know that within the context of science there may exist no possible effect without its appropriate cause. These sciences demonstrate to us that we cannot get something for nothing.
The Temple teaches that in all our activities, economics, psychology, ethics, morals, etc., the Law of Karma holds inviolably. We are often unconvinced, chiefly because we cannot yet trace cause to effect through different planes of our life. If we let go of a heavy object, we know it will fall to earth. This we expect of natural law. In the same way, if we see only evil in the world, we may expect natural law to limit our vision.
Our conscience, as the repository of our moral values, has been greatly stultified by the acceptance of many erroneous concepts. Many believe that after death we enter a state of eternal bliss or one of perpetual and fiery damnation. We may also believe that someone else — a Great Soul — has, by his crucifixion, redeemed humanity from all sins. We may also believe that a jealous God has visited all manner of suffering and sorrow upon us; that when such is called predestination it represents a blind and overpowering force of discomfort which is ironclad, inescapable, unalterable, and, especially, undeserved. However, no such questioning protest arises if life is easy. On one hand, we may declare a ruthless belief in “eat, drink, and be merry” as opposed, on the other, to a belief in complete, although resented, mortification of self. At every economic level we have turned these beliefs into an increasingly devastating spirit of competition, mutely justified as the survival of the fittest. Humanity can define these beliefs in only the vaguest personal and theocratic terms, yet we have allowed them to cut ourselves off dangerously from the sunlight of truth.
The Temple teaches that the Law of Karma governs the realm of humanity’s mind and emotions, just as it does the environment of our physical bodies. The subtle planes of mental and emotional action are even more exacting in demands than is the plane of the physiological aspect of humanity. The force of a spoken word extends far beyond its power to strike the ear. As a curse or a prayer or an idle greeting it returns to its originator, freighted tenfold with the concern of good, evil, or carelessness which caused it to be uttered. The look of lust or love, of friendship or enmity, of discernment of beauty, is not lost in the intensity of failing light and focus of vision, but returns to the beholding consciousness with distortion, blindness, despair and bleakness, or with their opposites — exaltation, well-being, spiritual enlightenment and knowledge. Each kind of thought adds to the total of similar thoughts of all mankind. One of the most literal statements of this doctrine of cause and effect says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” All of the Sermon on the Mount is the Teaching of the Masters of the White Lodge on the subject of Karma, restated by the Master Jesus in this 2000-year cycle.
Another imperfect reflection of the Law of Karma is contained in the words, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” The author of those words says explicitly that not one jot or tittle of the law may be evaded, and then loudly proclaims, “Vengeance is mine.” But humanity has taken it upon itself to administer this law, especially the vendetta of reprisal, thereby answering through the ages one crime with another. The Law of Karma insists that every thought, word, and deed must be accounted for in full, balanced and harmonized within the universe. Karma says this does not mean matched in kind — it means changed to the point of no recurrence.
The history of humanity shows our security resting falsely on our ability to do anything we desire with the appropriate reward for so doing. Our history to date has been a record of outrage to our fellow human beings and destruction of our natural environment. Humanity has thought to exempt itself from the fact that all else in the universe is subject to law which no man or woman can change. Consequently, when the finger of God points at us as the debtor to all life, we either protest or deny, whereupon God says in effect, “You have been held to account since your first step. My Sons have told you so.”
This great Law of Karma, which totally engulfs all mankind, is an instrument of destruction only to the extent that we, ourselves, put it into such action. It is the instrument of God’s bounty to the extent that we are likewise living according to God’s Golden Rule. It may be described as a trinity. Its principles are involvement, responsibility, and justice. Nothing can exist outside of its power.
The operation of the Law of Karma is clearly demonstrated by the principle of ecology. In our day, the strict balance of the wildernesses and the cultivated areas of the earth has been realized as a condition which may not be abused without serious disruption and destruction of all kingdoms of nature, organic and inorganic. The results of such violation become known quickly. Immediate loss in the animal and vegetable kingdoms is reflected in the destruction of land, water and air to a point where they cannot sustain any form of life. This intimate relation of cause and effect and balance is a matter of mutual evolutionary survival. While humanity’s greed continues to wreck the natural economy, the handwriting of this greed is on every wall in the world. This patent evidence of cause and effect shows humanity bringing on self-destruction. Each family of life, from tree to grass, from great animals to single cells, from birds and fishes to plankton, bears a most vital relationship to others; death of one brings loss of another until the earth, water, and air turn to poison. The cause and effect of purity is not hap penstance at any level. It is most deliberate.
Humanity has always regarded the terror and destruction of volcano, flood, earthquake, and wind storm as scourges perpetrated upon us by either an unjustified Deity or an elementary blunder of blind natural forces. If there is any truth to the philosophy of cause and effect, then no aspect of manifestation can operate outside of the power of cause and effect. Our misuse of natural kingdoms is responsible for nature’s violence. Our angry use of fire by our bullets, our cursing, our abusive disregard of human rights and total disregard of the right to life of forms lesser than ourselves — all of these are crimes against nature. They are absorbed by the elements which make up nature until the imbalance may no longer be contained, and volcanoes and earthquakes result. The tempest in a person’s emotions is joined with those of others until the whirlwind is reaped. The lighting of a match, a familiar and sometimes careless gesture, is still an occult mystery wherein a fire, which is not understood at all by humanity, releases a force that had to come from somewhere, and is not destroyed by merely being blown out. It becomes a blessing or a curse according to its karmic use. Whether its use is intended or careless destruction, its cumulative effect can well result in any natural disaster such as earthquake, volcano, flood, etc. Or it may be a source of comfort and healing to the one who drew it forth.
The same holds for the fire released in the operation of all things. For instance, the minds and emotions of people driving the automobile turn it into an instrument of destruction or one of constructive service. The blessing or curse is according to the motive of the user. Possibly the greatest crime against nature is waste, as represented by self-indulgence or wanton abuse of material. Great critical balances of fire and water, air and earth are destroyed or restored karmically by everything humanity does.
Everything we do is an expression of a balancing of opposites — love and hate, greed or sympathy, construction or destruction. Every utterance is a measure of truth or falsehood. A pound of iron cannot be created simply out of nothing, nor can it be reduced to nonexistence. No less subject to the laws of creation is the simplest syllable of expression. It came from somewhere; it has not ceased to exist because it is no longer heard. No less potent are our most private thoughts, which could not possibly originate out of nothing, and could not possibly cease to exist because their user had simply forgotten them or dismissed them from his or her mind. According to its motive, its use, does thought become one with the great balance of fire and air, earth and water with more subtle realism than even the physical correspondences, to bless or curse mankind. The karma of such interaction is readily demonstrated in our physical and psychological well-being. It is now readily acknowledged, for instance, that anger creates devastating poisons in the human body. The analogy invites speculation on the consequences of chronic lying, fear, frustration, self-righteousness, or refusal to listen.
The Temple teaches that all disease originates on what may be called inner planes — the mind and emotions of each of us. Today, what we call security may bring to us a realization of the Law of Karma. The assurance of well-being for ourselves and those we love obliges us to be concerned with the rest of the world. Our treatment of the world ultimately determines our assurance of security.
Humanity’s acceptance of false standards — false values of social and economic status — eventually produce a karmic reaction of fear and greed and desperation. We all recognize it well. The more intense the reaction, the greater is the drive to escape periodically by way of indulgence in drugs, alcohol, etc. These and other contrivances distort our natural responsibility to our world in exchange for the privilege of living in it — for contributing to the well-being of the earth itself. Thus, our relationship to the whole universe is called karma.
When faith becomes distrust or hope becomes despair, and the cry of all ages is re-echoed, “Why has this thing happened to me?”, karma compels us to recognize sooner or later that we have brought this thing on ourselves. Karma also puts us, when we suffer, in a position to restore ourselves; for, once we admit to the cause and effect within ourselves, our power of endurance is no longer wasted on resentment or protest. Thus, karma is truly the expression of justice or balance, which is its ultimate purpose.
When we move with implicit faith in the divine power which has brought us into being, we will no longer be terrorized by any thing or being. We will demand no vengeance, no reprisal. We will leave all such to karma.
Karmically, no one may live alone. Our joy and sorrow are our share of the world’s joy and sorrow. Therefore, it becomes our karmic responsibility to enhance the world’s joy and alleviate its suffering.
Poverty and wealth, joy and sorrow, pain and suffering ultimately result in change and growth. This growth becomes contentment, which helps expand our consciousness to the point of loving all others and recognizing a common Father. This equanimity is the goal of the operation of karma. It is the third aspect of a trinity of action, reaction, and realization of Divinity. This is the divine Law of Karma. Divinity itself uses cause and effect to attain this balance, and can accept no less.
Karma is not predestination that brings either privilege or plague. Except to say that there can be no effect of any sort without a suitable cause, karma in no way precludes any possibility of action. Karma is the inexorable operation of Law. It is not a blind, irresponsible pattern, superimposed on unrelated things or conditions. It is truly perfect Love, in balance.
Karma in no way interferes with the right of any of us to choose a course of action. The limitations of that choice are the evolutionary status of each of us. We are free to make of it what we will. Each thought, word and deed of our life is an effect of a previous commitment which, in turn, becomes the cause of a future effect. Each cycle of cause and effect, however great or small, provides the opportunity for enhancing or demeaning the person who made the choice. Karma is a trinity of cause, effect, and corresponding balance. No two cycles of cause and effect can possibly be identical.
There is no such qualification as “good” karma or “bad” karma. The circumstances in which we find ourselves are those which provide us with the only possible way that we can draw our next breath, take the next step in life, or learn the next lesson the law of life requires us to learn. We evoke the law. Our limitations of whatever nature — spiritual, emotional, mental or physical — are the effects of our own created karma. But they are not barriers or handicaps that may not be overcome. On the contrary, they offer us the maximum of opportunity and means to commence a greater life. The resistance of the water to the boat also provides the only means for the boat to move through the water.
Karma uses reincarnation to place us in every circumstance of growth. Material wealth and dire poverty both teach the lesson of responsibility, the simple fact that the earth is the Lord’s and each of us is at best the custodian of its fullness. Our own progress depends not on the amount of our wealth but on our use of it for the benefit of all people. Such use will increase our custodianship just as the selfish use of the same will decrease the total — if necessary, to the point of starvation.
Karma says that a person will be identified with any given race according to the needs and traits of the person. The karmic relation of one race to another varies with the lesson to be learned by any group of people so attracted to each other karmically. The race thus serves in the evolutionary growth of all people, providing the karmic conditions for the learning of those special lessons, very much like grades or departments of education in school.
In order to learn all the lessons of life, each of us will have lived in all races of humanity. Each race has its turn to lead humanity on its evolutionary path. Each also represents the effect of leadership abused. Its apogee and degeneracy are the results, or effects, of previous causes, the accumulated choices of its members. Democracy, autocracy, monarchy, dictatorship are all the accumulated results of acts of mankind. We live therein because we have so chosen; and therein we will learn the wisdom of our choice.
Karma has drawn us to whatever family, whatever friends, whatever enemies surround us. To them we owe a relationship of causes and effects, as do they to us. This is the beginning of our karmic involvement with all mankind. Sharing the earth is karmic involvement. Just knowing the needs of another person is karmic involvement. This age of almost instant audio and visual communication bears an enormous karmic responsibility. No longer may anyone say, “I did not know.”
Karma and reincarnation are interdependent in accounting for the possession of all talents and capabilities. All of us must earn our own. Karma says any one is born great in life only because he or she has earned such capability and responsibility in previous lifetimes. The degree of greatness is relative. We may be a leader to those around us; we are a follower of those who have gone before us and made our progress possible.
The law of Karma identifies each of us with a form of religion that is the summary of our own past deeds. As these deeds represent the Golden Rule, so do they place the doer closer and closer to the true source of all life. This sense of spiritual unity is embodied in a hierarchy of countless Great Souls who have lived a succession of lives in the service of humanity and have become one with all Law. They are servitors of the Will of God. They are the instruments of the Law of Karma. Their lives administer the exact justice which rules the universe. They are teaching younger members of humanity to recognize and abide by that exact justice.
A true Temple member could conceive of no greater privilege and responsibility in all life than the karma of conscious association with The Temple of The People. Such a realization is the karmic crown of the labor of his lifetimes.