ASPECTS OF DIVINE LAW
In instructions to aspirants on the spiritual path duty is much stressed. It is not always clear what our duty in certain instances is. The following passages are helpful:
... it is always wiser to work and force the current of events than to wait for time ....
If it is right to care for the poor and those who suffer, it is right to care for the rich and all those who will unavoidably be brought to far greater sufferings, unless warned and shown the true cause of all such Karmic sorrows. The poorer a man, the more sad his life, the nearer he is to the end of his punitive Karma; the richer his neighbour, the more full of pleasures his life, the nearer he is - unless he acts in the right path - to his Karmic doom. Help the poor, but pity the ignorant rich. [C.W.XII, 60-1]
The qualifications required of a chela, i.e., a student / aspirant after knowledge of the Ancient Wisdom are listed. The fourth of these requirements is as follows:
Truthfulness and unswerving faith in the law of Karma, independent of any power in nature that could interfere: a law whose course is not to be obstructed by any agency, not to be caused to deviate by prayer or propitiatory exoteric ceremonies;... [C.W.IV, 608]
Misconceptions regarding the Masters of the Wisdom or Mahatmas are rife; occasionally some plain statements help to put matters right.
The Mahatmas are the servants, not the arbiters of the Law of Karma. LAY CHELASHIP CONFERS NO PRIVILEGE UPON ANYONE EXCEPT THAT OF WORKING FOR MERIT UNDER THE OBSERVATION OF A MASTER. [C.W.IV, 611]
Many who read this will be associated with the Theosophical Society or another such organization. The following will be interesting to them:
Each of us and all will receive his or her Karma in it [the Society], but the vehicle of Theosophy will stand indestructible and undestroyed... [C.W.VII, 165]
The Law is universal and applies universally to all things in existence, both creatures and men - even to the Masters:
... he [the Master] is himself under the inexorable law of Karma, which no one from the Zulu savage up to the highest archangel can avoid ... [C.W.VII, 243]
H.P.B. tells us about her shortcomings and her heavy Karma as one committed to the Path:
Imperfect and faulty is my [H.P.B.'s] nature; many and glaring are my shortcomings - and for this my Karma is heavier than that of any other Theosophist..... as soon as one steps on the Path leading to the Ashrum of the blessed Masters ... his Karma, instead of having to be distributed throughout his long life, falls upon him in a block and crushes him with its whole weight. [C.W.VII, 247]
Many an aspirant on the Path is concerned to know the role of the Master towards him. Most of us have not knowingly made such a contact. What would our relationship be with one in the matter of Karma? Answering the question "Do Masters punish?":
Now, I'm not going to tell you all about this. They are just; They embody the Law and Compassion. Do not for an instant imagine that Masters are going to come down on you for your failures and wrongs, if any. Karma looks out for this. Masters' ethics are the highest. From the standpoint of your question. They do not punish.... Karma will do all the punishing that is necessary. [C.W.X, 270]
By now it is clear that of whatever Karma we have been the cause we can in no wise escape the effects:
The acceptance of Truth and the practice of virtue cannot avert Karma waiting from other lives, but can produce good effects in lives to come, and what the extreme practice of mental curing does is to stave off for a time an amount of Karma which will, later on, reach us. We prefer to let it work out naturally through the material part of us... [C.W.X, 288]
Returning to the relationship between the Adept and the pupil (chela) it is repeatedly made clear that the teacher - the Adept - under no circumstances interferes with another's Karma:
The true Adept of the "Right Hand" never punishes anyone, not even his bitterest and most dangerous enemy; he simply leaves the latter to his Karma, and Karma never fails to do so, sooner or later. [C.W.XIV, 31fn]
Many who read this will be Christians with its doctrine of atonement, the forgiveness of sins. This has been dealt with previously but the idea that Karma and reincarnation are implicit in the New Testament writings will perhaps come as a surprise.
Jesus, the Adept we believe in, taught our Eastern doctrines, KARMA and REINCARNATION foremost of all. When the so-called Christians will have learnt to read the New Testament between the lines, their eyes will be opened and - they will see. [C.W.XI, 61]
The mass of human sin and frailty is distributed throughout the life of man who is content to remain an average mortal. It is gathered in and centred, so to say, within one period of the life of a chela - the period of probation. That which is generally accumulating to find its legitimate issue only in the next rebirth of an ordinary man, is quickened and fanned into existence in the chela - especially in the presumptuous and selfish candidate who rushes in without having calculated his forces. [MLC 134, 441]
Further advice is given to the would-be aspirant which indicates the immense difficulty on the path he is intending to tread:
Desire is an energy which ought to be repressed;... It is got rid of by the man himself when repressed, but if given effect hangs round his neck like a mill-stone in the form of Karma.... On his return thence [from death] man finds the Karma of unrepressed Desire waiting for him at the threshold.... Thus the Mahatma, being without desire is outside of the sphere of action of Karma;... [C.W.XIII, 365]
Many consciously on the long road to the fulfilment of their human existences, the road to human perfection, have tried to avoid the effects of Karma by complete inactivity. The following is a warning to all those who think so:
Not only European Sanskritists but also exoteric Yogis, fall into the grievous mistake of supposing that, ... a human being can escape the operation of the Law of Karma by adopting a condition of masterly inactivity, entirely losing sight of the fact that even a rigid abstinence from physical acts does not produce inactivity on the higher astral and spiritual planes. [C.W.V, 338]
The aspirant should take note of and heed each of the following paragraphs:
We [theosophists] believe the human body to be but the shell, cover or veil of the real entity; and those who accept the esoteric philosophy and the theory of "Karma" (the universal law of ethical causation) believe that the entity, as it travels around certain major and minor cycles of existence with the whole mass of human beings, takes on a different body at birth, and shells it off at death, under the operation of this Karmic law. C.W.XII, 302]
Every transgression in the private life of a mortal, is, according to Occult philosophy, a double-edged sword in the hand of Karma; one for the transgressor, the other for the family, nation, sometimes even for the race, that produced him. [C.W.XII, 385
Crimes committed in Avidya (ignorance) involve physical but not moral responsibilities or Karma.... But the case of each of you, pledged to the HIGHER SELF, is quite another
matter.... consciously you have invoked the divine justice of Karma to take note of your motives, to scrutinize your actions, and to enter up all in your account.... Never again can you force yourself back into the Matrix of Avidya and irresponsibility... And know further that if Karma relentlessly records in the Esotericist's account bad deeds that in the ignorant would be overlooked, yet equally true is it that each of his good deeds is, by reason of his association with the Higher Self, an hundredfold intensified as a potentiality for good. [C.W.XII, 503-4]
In the The Key to Theosophy (p 204) H.P.B. tells a story of a lady who had occasionally visited Hampstead Heath north of London and also its East End. Hampstead Heath she found a delightful place with open skies, fresh air, trees and flowers but the East End was the exact opposite: terrible poverty, squalor, noxious smells, with children scratching a living there as best they could. She came to the conclusion that its social problem was too big and not much could be done about it. She did, however, take some flowers to one of the children's school. They were a source of great delight. The story illustrated the lady's genuine concern for the children and her willingness to do something to alleviate their lot.
This kind of squalor, in western cities at any rate, has become a thing of the past. Social reformers, local governments and even national governments have made the necessary provisions to clean up slum areas with new or renovated buildings, proper sanitation, running water, etc. and provided schools for even the most deprived children. The grinding poverty of the people and its consequence disease, misery and generation deprivations which were prevalent at the time of H.P.B.' story have been virtually eliminated.
Things have changed. Now, even in the case of world-wide disasters like wars and natural catastrophes massive aid is now quickly available thanks to the initiatives of large international charitable organizations and the more affluent countries. The public conscience has been awakened and much has been done to alleviate suffering on a wide scale. Nevertheless there are still areas relatively untouched, of child abuse and exploitation. Moreover, large tracts of the world are being deprived of their natural resources at an alarming rate. All these things will necessarily incur a Karmic reaction. The social one will react into the conditions both ecological and those affecting most people on the planet and will affect not only the physical but the inner worlds, notably the elemental kingdoms. Karma will restore balance or harmony sometime and in some way. The way is not predictable but it is inevitable. All the extracts comprising this work confirm the inexorable workings of the Law, for good or ill.
The matter of waste is one that surely must be addressed soon by the civilized and better-off countries of the world. Present practices are unconscionable, i.e., the profligate use of energy in electric signs, the lavish use of heating and air-conditioning in properties is taken for granted. Humanity behaves as if there were no tomorrow. Waste of good food as garbage, waste of natural resources, e.g., in terms of massive, largely unread newspapers and magazines, use up the natural resources of the earth faster than they can regenerate. In the matter of food production it is said that it takes ten times as much vegetable fodder to feed to animals for meat than it does to provide that same value food direct for human consumption. In view of the ever-lessening of supplies and the continual increase in world population the lesson of the optimum use of food stuffs and other resources must sooner or later be learned.
Our present survey of how the Law works indicates that it is all-mighty and unerring. It can never be stayed in its course towards harmony and equilibrium. We flaunt it at our peril. We do this out of pure ignorance. We are motivated by unthinking greed. Nevertheless, we have to learn that we cannot continue our ruthless exploitation of Nature. We are ourselves a part, we cannot continue our ways without dire penalty both in the short and the long term. All our activities in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, not to mention the human, involve the Elementals in the invisible worlds directly, thereby affecting all the other planes. The disturbances we cause, both good and bad, at these levels, necessarily have their effects at physical level. Nature has to be accorded a due respect. We must awaken to our responsibilities, start thinking and grant her a proper concern. We interfere with her exquisitely balanced processes at a potentially enormous cost to our own welfare and happiness.
So much for our environment. As far as humanity is concerned let us end by repeating the passage from S.D.I, 643:
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.
Is such a faith really beyond our achievement? We could try to be ever mindful of it, both as regards ourselves and our world when, as we have seen, both are in the deepest sense One.
In conclusion here is a quotation at the end of an article by H.P. Blavatsky, "Our Cycle and the Next" (May 1889):
If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy IS ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then, the GOLDEN AGE will be there, indeed. [C.W.XI, 202]
But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilization
and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel
History has never yet recorded.
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,
[Same content but different pagination in 2nd and 3rd Editions]