Prometheus bound to the plane of matter
from Classic Myth and Legend
Part 1 In the Beginning
Part 2 The Law Itself
Part 3 Humanity as a Whole
Part 4 Man - as an Individual
Part 5 Reincarnation
Part 6 The Aspirant
Part 7 Epilogue
The Law in its universal sense is the operational direction given to the whole scheme of Nature. As far as our Earth is concerned this is described in some detail in The Secret Doctrine. Our objective planet and all on it comes into manifestation and endures during enormous periods of time, by stages. The most rudimentary forces, or energies, and forms come first; they constitute three elemental kingdoms. From these are eventually born what becomes the mineral kingdom in all its variety, substances which at the physical level come to constitute the elements of the chemists. This kingdom constitutes the base for and eventually gives rise to the vegetable kingdom. From that in turn is born the animal kingdom and then comes the human. This does not mean that minerals, as such, become vegetables and so on. In the Esoteric Science we are told that it is "Life" (dynamism, spirit, consciousness) which always preserving its pristine unchangeable purity assumes "forms" of infinite variety in the kingdoms to give it expression on an ever-ascending scale.
The whole process, however, in its progressive nature, its 'perpetual motion', or 'ever-becoming', is subject to the Law in its cause-to-effect aspect.
In the process man, humanity in the aggregate, occupies a unique position. It is at this point of development that the so-called descending arc of evolutionary progress, i.e. the one in which spirit is, so to say, descending into matter, changes to one of ascent, i.e. spirit emerging from slowly regenerating matter. Coincident with this man's mental unfoldment begins to emerge from the selfish concerns of his personality to the more spiritual ones of his innate but up-till-then dormant individual spiritual Ego. A reflection of the One Universal SELF.
This scheme of things is pre-ordained according to Law and its working out according as each man (human being of either sex) responsibly works out his own 'destiny'. Mankind as a whole progresses only by the aggregate of the progress made by the individuals comprising it.
The Secret Doctrine makes it clear that the whole process of Nature and what the literature calls "a man-bearing globe" such as our Earth, is centred in the spiritual development of man. This is accomplished by way of his innumerable incarnations during which he slowly develops his vehicles of consciousness at the mundane level to a point where they can be responsive to, and then reflect, the ever-growing, truly spiritual nature of the individual inner man. By this means the whole of humanity is brought to a state of spiritual perfection in time:
The Grand Cycle includes the progress of mankind from the appearance of primordial man of ethereal form. It runs through the inner cycles of his (man's) progressive evolution from the ethereal down to the semi-ethereal and purely physical; down to the redemption of man from his coat of skin and matter, after which it continues running its course downward and then upward again, to meet at the culmination of a Round, when the manvantaric Serpent "swallows" its tail" and seven minor cycles are passed.... [S.D.I, 642]
KARMA-NEMESIS is the creator of nations and mortals, but once created, it is they who make of her either a fury or a rewarding Angel. Yea - "Wise are they who worship [In a footnote H.P.B. says that "dread" would be a better word than "worship"] Nemesis" - as the chorus tells Prometheus; and as unwise they, who believe that the goddess may be propitiated by whatever sacrifices and prayers, or have her wheel diverted from the path it has once taken. "The triform Fates and ever-mindful Furies" are her attributes only on earth and begotten by ourselves. There is no return from the paths she cycles over; yet those paths are our own making, for it is we, collectively or individually, who prepare them. Karma-Nemesis is the synonym of PROVIDENCE, minus design, goodness, and every other finite attribute and qualification, so unphilosophically attributed to the latter.... For the only decree of Karma - an eternal and immutable decree - is absolute Harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of Spirit. It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or - break them. [S.D.I, 643]
Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable were men to work in union and harmony, instead of disunion and strife. For our ignorance of those ways - which one portion of mankind calls the ways of Providence, dark and intricate, while another sees in them the action of blind Fatalism, and a third, simple chance, with neither gods nor devils to guide them - would surely disappear, if we would but attribute all these to their correct cause. With right knowledge, or at any rate with a confident conviction that our neighbours will no more work to hurt us than we would think of harming them, the two-thirds of the World's evil would vanish into thin air. Were no man to hurt his brother, Karma-Nemesis would have neither cause to work for, nor weapons to act through. It is the constant presence in our midst of every element of strife and opposition, and the division of races, nations, tribes, societies and individuals into Cains and Abels, wolves and lambs, that is the chief cause of the "ways of Providence". We cut these numerous windings in our destinies daily with our own hands, while we imagine that we are pursuing a track on the royal high road of respectability and duty, and then complain of those ways being so intricate and so dark. We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making and the riddles of life that we will not solve, and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us. But verily there is not an accident in our lives; not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life. If one breaks the laws of Harmony, or, as a theosophical writer expresses it, "the laws of life", one must be prepared to fall into the chaos one has oneself produced. For, according to the same writer, "the only conclusion one can come to is that these laws of life are their own avengers; and consequently that every avenging Angel is only a typified representation of their reaction".
Therefore, if anyone is helpless before these immutable laws, it is not ourselves, the artificers of our destinies, but rather those angels, the guardians of harmony. 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 is productive of far greater results than the same amount expended on the physical objective plane of existence." [S.D.I, 644]
There are passages in The Secret Doctrine which tell us how the Karma of the human race was developed. One significant factor in this was brought about by entities who had developed their spirituality to a considerable degree in past cycles but who were, however, destined by the Law to incarnate into human forms at a very lowly state of development. Some did not incarnate, and incurred a Karmic debt which they had to discharge later by assuming even less developed human bodies. This had considerable repercussions in man's relationship to the animal kingdom. This is all described in some detail in Vol II.
There are many specific references to the consequences of this delayed incarnation by those superior Beings. In Vol II, 679, there is a discussion involving the effects of the "sin of the mindless", and later of the transgressions of the early Atlanteans on the future of the human race. The effects of these 'sins' could not be avoided. There is a short but significant statement as follows:
... but Karma is a mysterious law, and no respecter of persons. [S.D.II, 679]
In places The Secret Doctrine, particularly Vol II, makes some quite specific statements regarding prehistoric man. In general terms it describes the movements of human stock from continent to continent.
As to the African tribes - themselves diverging offshoots of Atlanteans modified by climate and conditions - they crossed into Europe over the peninsula which made the Mediterranean an inland sea. Fine races were many of the European cave men; the Cro-Magnon, for instance. But, as was to be expected, progress is almost non-existent through the whole of the vast period allotted by Science to the Chipped Stone-Age. The cyclic impulse downwards weighs heavily on the stocks thus transplanted - the incubus of the Atlantean Karma is upon them. Finally, Palaeolithic man makes room for his successor - and disappears almost entirely from the scene. [S.D.II, 740]
There are some general statements as to how Karma regulates the human race stocks: plain statements to the effect that all the race-remains of earlier types, i.e. the Yellow Races and the Black Africans down to the present European Whites, are dying out:
It is a most suggestive fact - to those concrete thinkers who demand a physical proof of Karma - that the lowest races of men are now rapidly dying out; a phenomenon largely due to an extraordinary sterility setting in among the women, from the time that they were first approached by the Europeans.
Why does this (Karmic) sterility attack and root out certain races at their "appointed hour"?... Ethnology will sooner or later have to recognize with Occultists that the true solution has to be sought for in a comprehension of the workings of Karma.... "The time is drawing near when there will remain nothing but three great human types" ... the white (Aryan, Fifth Root-Race), the yellow, and the African negro - with their crossings (Atlanto-European divisions).... Those who realize that every Root-Race runs through a gamut of seven sub-races with seven branchlets, etc., will understand the "why". The tide wave of incarnating Egos has rolled past them to harvest experience in more developed and less senile stocks; and their extinction is hence a Karmic necessity. [S.D.II, 779-80]
One has only to read the history of the races of men who have inhabited our Earth up to the present one, the 5th Root Race, to discover that human imperfections throughout, including those stemming from the descent of Spirit into matter with its lower urges, passions, have broken the Law. In the words of The Secret Doctrine, "they have sinned", and thereby incurred Karma, the effects of which persist to the present time:
And if we say "sin", it is merely that everyone should understand our meaning; as the term Karma would be the right one to use in this case; while the reader who would feel perplexed at the use of the term "spiritual" instead of "physical", iniquity is reminded of the fact that there can be no physical iniquity. The body is merely the irresponsible organ, the tool of the psychic, if not of the "Spiritual man". While in the case of the Atlanteans [the fourth race], it was precisely the Spiritual being which sinned, the Spirit element being still the "Master" principle in man, in those days. Thus it is in those days that the heaviest Karma of the Fifth Race was generated by our Monads [Monads here is used in the sense of the homogeneous Monad plus individual Manas]. [S.D.II, 302]
In many places Karma or the Law is related to Deity or God, whose attributes are compared with it. Occultism, however, states categorically that Deity is Law and Law is Deity.
The "still greater and still more exacting divinity" than the god of this world, supposed so "good" - is KARMA. And this true Divinity shows well that the lesser one, our inner God (personal for the time being), has no power to arrest the mighty hand of this greater Deity, the CAUSE awakened by our actions generating smaller causes, which is called the LAW OF RETRIBUTION. [S.D.II, 555fn]
In its broadest sense the law of Karma applies to individuals, groups and even nations. A student asks:
Are there any causes, other than the spread of Theosophy, which may operate to reverse the present drift towards materialism?
The answer is:
The spread of the knowledge of the laws of Karma and Reincarnation and of a belief in the absolute spiritual unity of all beings will alone prevent this drift. [C.W.IX, 103]
That quotation is a clear indication of the Society's responsibility via its members to let it be known that such a thing as Theosophy exists.
Another question posed was:
Is there not some connection between the Karma of man and elementals?
And the reply:
A very important one. The elemental world has become a strong factor in the Karma of the human race.... In the earlier ages, when we may postulate that man had not yet begun to make bad Karma, the elemental world was more friendly to man because it had not received unfriendly impressions. But so soon as man began to become ignorant, unfriendly to himself and the rest of creation, the elemental world began to take on exactly the same complexion and return to humanity the exact pay, so to speak, due for the actions of humanity.... And, being unconscious and only acting according to the natural laws of its being, the elemental world is a powerful factor in the workings of Karma. [C.W.IX, 110]
In the discourse between an enquirer and a theosophist there are the following passages:
THEO. In every conceivable case he [the theosophist] himself must be a centre of spiritual action, and from him and his own daily individual life must radiate those higher spiritual forces which alone can regenerate his fellow men.
ENQ. But why should he do this? Are not he and all, as you teach, conditioned by their Karma, and must not Karma necessarily work itself out on certain lines?
THEO. It is this very law of Karma which gives strength to all that I have said The individual cannot separate himself from the race, nor the race from the individual. The law of Karma applies equally to all, although all are not equally developed. In helping the development of others, the Theosophist believes that he is not only helping them to fulfil their Karma, but that he is also, in the strictest sense, fulfilling his own. [Key, 236]
The law of Karma is often closely associated with the doctrine of reincarnation and in many places in the literature it is said that a knowledge of these two could be the salvation of mankind and lead it safely along its evolutionary path. It is said that it requires no special education or intellectual capacities to understand this dual doctrine. Nevertheless the subject is treated in great depth, leading to a real understanding of how both the Law and reincarnation are parts of the grand process of the Universal Life.
It does not require metaphysics or education to make a man understand the broad truths of Karma and Reincarnation. [Key, 246]
The chief point is to uproot that most fertile source of all crime and immorality - the belief that it is possible for them [criminals] to escape the consequences of their own actions. Once teach them that greatest of all laws, Karma and Reincarnation, and besides feeling in themselves the true dignity of human nature, they will turn from evil and eschew it as they would a physical danger. [Key, 248]
One further interesting piece of information is given us:
It is, moreover, unquestionable that in the case of human incarnations the law of Karma, racial or individual, overrides the subordinate tendencies of "Heredity", its servant.
In the literature it is explained that there are a finite number of monads associated with our planet; they are all subject to a vast cyclic evolutionary scheme by Races and sub-Races. The seventh Race will be the last and the most perfect.
... Mankind, from the First down to the last, or Seventh Race, is composed of one and the same company of actors, who have descended from higher spheres to perform their artistic tour on this our planet, Earth.... Our macrocosm and its smallest microcosm, man, are both repeating the same play of universal and individual events at each station, as on every stage on which Karma leads them to enact their respective dramas of life. [C.W.XIV, 303]
1. I.U. ISIS UNVEILED, Vols I and II, all editions same pagination. H. P. Blavatsky.
2. S.D. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vols I, II and III, Original Edition and C.W. series [Vol III is 1897 ed. or in C.W.XII] H. P. Blavatsky.
3. C.W. THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY, 14 Vols, edited by Boris de Zirkoff
4. Key THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, Original Edition. H. P. Blavatsky.
5. MLC THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT, Chronological Edition
[Same content but different pagination in 2nd and 3rd Editions]
First published 2001 by The Theosophical Publishing House, London. Theosophical Society in England, Bookshop link
Available from: The Theosophical Society in England, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA
Theosophical Society in England, Bookshop link