Beyond the fact that there is such a law, we know little and those who know from experience the factual nature of this return reject earnestly the foolish and improbable details, given out as fact by the theosophical and occult bodies. The Law exists; of the details of its working we know as yet nothing. Only a few things can be said with accuracy about it and these few warrant no contradiction:
1. The Law of Rebirth is a great natural law upon our planet.
2. It is a process, instituted and carried forward under the Law of Evolution.
3. It is closely related to and conditioned by the Law of Cause and Effect.
4. It is a process of progressive development, enabling men to move forward from the grossest forms of unthinking materialism to a spiritual perfection and an intelligent perception which will enable a man to become a member of the Kingdom of God.
5. It accounts for the differences among men and—in connection with the Law of Cause and Effect (called the Law of Karma in the East)—it accounts for differences in circumstances and attitudes to life.
6. It is the expression of the will aspect of the soul and is not the result of any form decision; it is the soul in all forms which reincarnates, choosing and building suitable physical, emotional and mental vehicles through which to learn the next needed lessons.
7. The Law of Rebirth (as far as humanity is concerned) comes into activity upon the soul plane. Incarnation is motivated and directed from the soul level, upon the mental plane.
8. Souls incarnate in groups, cyclically, under law and in order to achieve right relations with God and with their fellowmen.
9. Progressive unfoldment, under the Law of Rebirth, is largely conditioned by the mental principle for "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." These few brief words need most careful consideration.
10. Under the Law of Rebirth, man slowly develops mind, then mind begins to control the feeling, emotional nature, and finally reveals the soul and its nature and environment to man.
11. At that point in his development, the man begins to tread the Path of Return, and orients himself gradually (after many lives) to the Kingdom of God.
12. When—through a developed mentality, wisdom, practical service and understanding—a man has learnt to ask nothing for the separated self, he then renounces desire for life in the three worlds and is freed from the Law of Rebirth.
13. He is now group conscious, is aware of his soul group and of the soul in all forms and has attained—as Christ had requested—a stage of Christlike perfection reaching unto the "Measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ." (Eph. IV.13.)
Beyond this generalisation, no intelligent person will attempt to go. When Christ reappears, our knowledge will become more true and realistic; we shall know that we are eternally related to the souls of all men, and that we have a definite relationship to those who reincarnate with us, who are learning with us the same lessons and who are experiencing and experimenting with us. This proven and accepted knowledge will regenerate the very sources of our human living. We shall know that all our difficulties and all our problems are caused by our failure to recognise this fundamental Law, with its responsibilities and obligations; we shall then gradually learn to govern our activities by its just and restraining power. The Law of Rebirth embodies the practical knowledge which men need today to conduct rightly and correctly their religious, political, economic, communal and private lives and thus establishe right relations with the divine life in all forms. [THE REAPPEARANCE OF CHRIST pp118-119]
Karma. Physical action. Metaphysically, the law of retribution; the law of cause and effect, or ethical causation. There is the karma of merit and the karma of demerit. It is the power that controls all things, the resultant of moral action, or the moral effect of an act committed for the attainment of something which gratifies a personal desire.
LORDS OF KARMA Besides these main presiding Personalities in the Council Chamber at Shamballa, there is a group, of four Beings, Who are the representatives upon the planet of the four Maharajas, or the four Lords of Karma in the solar system, who are specifically concerned with the evolution at the present time of the human kingdom. These four are connected with:—
1. The distribution of karma, or human destiny, as it affects individuals, and through the individuals, the groups.
2. The care and tabulation of the akashic records. They are concerned with the Halls of Records, or with the "keeping of the book," as it is called in the Christian Bible; They are known in the Christian world as the recording angels.
3. The participation in solar councils. They alone have the right during the world cycle to pass beyond the periphery of the planetary scheme, and participate in the councils of the Solar Logos. Thus They are literally planetary mediators, representing our Planetary Logos and all that concerns Him in the greater scheme of which He is but a part.
Co-operating with these karmic Lords are the large groups of initiates and devas who occupy themselves with the right adjustment of:—
a) World karma,
b) Racial karma,
c) National karma,
d) Group karma,
e) Individual karma,
and who are responsible to the Planetary Logos for the correct manipulation of those forces and building agencies which bring in the right Egos on the different rays at the correct times and seasons.
With all these groups we have little concern, for they are contacted only by initiates of the third initiation, and by those of even more exalted rank. [INITIATION, HUMAN AND SOLAR pp40-41]
"The Lords of Karma on our system are under the rule of a greater Lord of Karma on Sirius. We are governed by the Sirian Lord of Karma." [ESOTERIC ASTROLOGY p660]
c. Types of Karma. We might here enumerate the different types of KARMA, even though we have not the time to enlarge upon the subject. A book by itself of vast proportions could not contain all that might be said. We should bear in mind that KARMA is imposed upon the ensouling entity through the medium of matter or of substance itself (which is coloured by it) and that this matter or substance is intelligent material composed of deva essence.
Cosmic Karma—Imposed upon the solar Logos from outside of the system.
Systemic Karma—The working out by the Logos of effects set in motion in previous Kalpas, and which influence His present type of Body.
Planetary Karma—The individual karma of a Heavenly Man, which is just as different from that of another Heavenly Man, as is the karma of the different members of the human family.
The Karma of a chain, which is bound up in the life experience of that entity who ensouls a chain, and is a centre in the body of a Heavenly Man, in the same sense as a Heavenly Man within His scheme is a centre in the body of the solar Logos.
Globe Karma—The individual destiny of the entity who is a centre in the body of the ensouling Life of a chain.
These five existences above enumerated, who are worked upon by karma, are all cosmic and solar Lords of Light, Who achieved intelligence, and passed through the human kingdom many kalpas ago.
Plane Karma—This is inextricably mixed up with the karma of the planetary Logos and of the Raja-Lord, and is dependent upon the interplay between these two opposite poles,—the masculine and feminine aspect of the Divine Hermaphrodite.
The Karma of a subplane, or the destiny of certain lesser entities who manifest through these planes.
In these two types of karma, we have what one might term the "Karma of the Hierarchies" as it has been brought about since the manifesting of the solar system. It is the result of the past of this system, and not so much the working out of effects originating in previous solar systems.
The Karma of the kingdoms of nature as we know them on our planet:
a) The mineral kingdom.
b) The vegetable kingdom.
c) The animal kingdom.
This is necessarily the karma of the different lunar Lords who ensoul these kingdoms, and who are working out their purposes through them. We must note that we have touched therefore upon cosmic, solar, and lunar karma. In the latter is hid the great mystery of the Moon, and her place in the planetary scheme.
The Karma of the Human Hierarchy [54,55,56] in its seven groups, and of the individual Monads. This in itself is a vast and intricate subject and—during the particular cycle of the Earth globe—can be divided into:
a) World karma. (The seven root-races.)
b) Racial karma, or the destiny and purpose of each root-race.
c) Subrace karma, for each subrace has its own destiny to work out.
d) National karma.
e) Family karma.
f) Individual karma.
All these different types of karma are intermingled and bound up in a manner inconceivable and inextricable to man; even the adepts cannot untangle the mystery beyond that of the groups affiliated with them, while the Chohans of the higher degrees work with the karma of the larger groups (which are the aggregates of the lesser groups).
All the lesser grades of devas, "The Army of the Voice," on each plane, the lesser builders and elementals in their myriads, work unconsciously, being guided and directed by words and sound. In this way vibrations are set up in the essence of the planes by the conscious Builders. [A TREATISE ON COSMIC FIRE pp468-472]
ALICE A. BAILEY The third teaching which I came across and which pulled me up short for a long time was the dual belief in the law of re-birth and the law of cause and effect, called Karma and Reincarnation by Theosophists who, so often, like to sound learned. Personally, I believe that all this most necessary teaching would have made far more rapid progress if Theosophists had not been so overcome and glamored by the Sanskrit terms. If they had taught about the law of re-birth instead of the doctrine of reincarnation and if they had presented the Law of Cause and Effect instead of the Law of Karma, we might have had a more general recognition of the truth. I say this in no critical spirit, because I succumbed to the same glamour. Looking back now to my early classes and lectures, I laugh with amusement at my ponderous use of technical phrases of Sanskrit words and of the detailed significances of the Ageless Wisdom. I find that I get simpler as I get older and may be a little wiser.
With the discovery that there was a law of re-birth I found many of my problems, personal and individual, were capable of solution. Many who come to a study of the Ageless Wisdom find it difficult at first to accept the fact of the Law of Re-birth. It seems so revolutionary; it is apt to evoke a spirit of weariness and of spiritual fatigue. One life seems hard enough without contemplating many lives, both behind us and before us. Yet, if one studies the alternatives to the theory, it seems possibly the best and the most tenable. There are only two other theories which really warrant attention. One is the "mechanical" alternative, which considers man is purely material, soulless and ephemeral so that (when he dies) he dissolves again into the dust from which he came; thought, under this theory, is simply a secretion of the brain and its activity, just as other organs produce their peculiar phenomenal secretion and there is, therefore, no purpose or reason for man's existence at all. This I could not accept, nor is it widely accepted anywhere.
Then there is the "one creation" theory of the orthodox Christian, which I had held without any speculation as to its truth. This posits an inscrutable God Who sends human souls into incarnation for one life and, according to their actions and their thinking in that one life so will be their eternal future. It endows man with no past, only an important present and an endless future—a future dependent upon the decisions of one life. What governs God's decisions as to a man's place and background and equipment remains unknown. There seems no reason for what He does under this "one creation" plan. I had worried so over the apparent unfairness of God. Why should I have been born in such good circumstances with money, good looks, opportunity, and all the many interesting experiences which life had brought me? Why should there have been people like that wretched little soldier from whom Miss Sandes had rescued me, who was born with no equipment, with obviously no background, with no money and with no capacity in this life for success of any kind? I knew now why I could leave him to God; that both he and I in our separate places would go on climbing the ladder of evolution, life after life, until some day for each of us it would be equally true, "As He is, so are we in this world."
It seemed reasonable to me that, "As a man soweth so shall he also reap," and it was a joy to me to discover that I could call in St. Paul and Christ, Himself, to substantiate these teachings. Clear light was being thrown on the old theology. I was discovering that the only thing that was wrong was man-made interpretations of the truth and it dawned on me how silly it was just because some learned preacher or scholar said that God meant this or that that we should accept it. He might be right and if so, intuitively one would know it; but the intuition does not work unless the mind is developed and that has been a lot of the trouble. The mass of the people do not think and the orthodox theologian, no matter what he says, can always get a following. With the best intentions in the world he exploits the unthinking. It dawned on me, too, that there was really no reason because a priest or teacher six hundred years ago interpreted the Bible in one way (probably suitable for his time and age) that it should be acceptable now in a different time and age, under a different civilisation and with widely different problems. If God's truth is truth then it will be expansive and inclusive, and not reactionary and exclusive. If God is God, then His divinity will adapt itself to the emerging divinity of the sons of God, and a son of God today may be a very different expression of divinity from a son of God five thousand years ago.
You will see, therefore, how my whole spiritual horizon was opening up. There was light in the heavens and I was no longer an isolated, deserted, struggling disciple, sure of nothing and with nothing to do as far as I could see. It was slowly dawning on me that I was one of a great company of brothers. It was becoming clear to me that I could co-operate with the Plan if I wanted to, find those who in other lives had worked with me, see to it that what I sowed was good and find my place in Christ's work. I could endeavour to approach a little closer to that spiritual Hierarchy which I had always subconsciously known existed, and which seemed to need workers. [THE UNFINISHED AUTOGIOGRAPHY. Pp140-143]
The essential truth lies elsewhere. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" is the truth which needs re-emphasizing. In these words, St. Paul phrases for us the ancient and true teaching of the Law of Cause and Effect called in the Orient, the Law of Karma. To that, he adds in another place the injunction to "work out your own salvation" and—as that contradicts the theological teaching and above all else is not possible to do in any one life—he implicitly endorses the Law of Rebirth, and makes the school of life a constantly recurring experience until man has fulfilled the command of the Christ (and this refers to every man) "Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". Through recognition of the results of action—good or bad—and through constant reliving upon the earth, man eventually attains "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ". [PROBLEMS OF HUMANITY p143]
Saturn "falls" in Aries. This has two meanings, for this is a dual sign. First: Saturn is the Lord of Karma, the imposer of retribution and the one who demands full payment of all debts and who therefore condemns us to the struggle for existence, both from the form side and from the soul side. Saturn, therefore, "fell" when man fell into generation. He "followed the sons of men down into their low place." Second: Saturn's power is completely ended and his work accomplished when man (the spiritual man) has freed himself from Karma and from the power of the two Crosses—the Common and the Fixed. Esoterically, Saturn cannot follow man on to the Cardinal Cross. [ESOTERIC ASTYROLOGY-p105]
The doctrine or theory of reincarnation strikes the orthodox Christian with horror; yet if one asks him the question which the disciples asked Christ about the blind man, "Master, did this man sin or his fathers that he was born blind?" (John IX.2), they refuse the implications; or they express amusement or dismay as the case may be. The presentation to the world of the thought by the average occult or theosophical exponent has been, on the whole, deplorable. It has been deplorable because it has been so unintelligently presented. The best that can be said is that they have familiarised the general public with the theory; had it, however, been more intelligently presented, it might have been more generally accepted in the West. [THE REAPPEARANCE OF THE CHRIST-p116]
INFLUENCES ON KARMA AND REINCARNATION
We can now take up the consideration of karma in its relation to the act of reincarnation. As we are well aware, the law of karma is the most stupendous law of the system and one which it is impossible for the average man in any way to comprehend, for, if traced back along its central root and its many ramifications, one eventually reaches the position where causes antedating the solar system have to be dealt with, and this point of view can only be usefully grasped by a high initiate.
This great law really concerns, or is based on causes which are inherent in the constitution of matter itself and on the interaction between atomic units whether we use this expression in connection with an atom of substance, a human being, a planetary atom or a solar atom.
We might express it also in saying that the will aspect or initiatory impulse is primarily that which produces cause, which is cause itself. It should be remembered ever that cause involves the idea of duality, i.e., that which initiates, and that which is produced simultaneously by the initiation. The two ideas are inseparable, yet nevertheless the second idea in its most abstract connotation must not be considered literally as an effect; true effect involves a third idea. Some appreciation of the problem may be gleaned by a consideration of phenomena which ever involves this dual initiatory cause and its objective effect:
a) Spirit-matter in dual activity produces the objective universe.
b) Electric fire and fire by friction when brought into contact produce solar fire; it flashes forth from darkness, yet a darkness which is potent with energy.
c) Will-desire is the cause of incarnation; the will-to-be reacting on substance (whose main quality is desire or responsiveness to sensation) produces the forms through which the central Life or Existence seeks expression.
d) Ideas and thought-matter together produce thoughtforms.
If the student considers these points, it will become apparent that it is not possible for him to do more than study the effects produced by the juxtaposition of the pairs of opposites; he cannot dissociate them in his mind and deal with Spirit per se, or with matter per se any more than the atom of substance in man's physical body can dissociate itself from that body, and consider itself independently of form influences. All atoms are always controlled by the following factors, just as a man in the body of a planetary Logos, and a planetary Logos within His greater Whole will be equally controlled by the same basic principles:
1. The influence and quality of the organ or unit in which it finds a place. In the human atom this means his group force or influence.
2. The life influence of the entire physical body of which any atom is a corporate part. In the human atom this means the influence of the particular centre in which his egoic group has a place, and the type of energy which it embodies.
3. The life influence of the desire or astral body, the strongest karmic agency which has to be considered. [Page 800] In the human atom, this involves the influence of the three centres in the body of the Heavenly Man which form any specific "force triangle," and which have much to do with the liberation of groups of Egos from manifestation.
4. The life influences of the mental body, or of that principle which imposes upon the atom the quality of activity in form, which governs the reaction of the atom to its group life, and which enables the quality of its life to be demonstrated. In the human atom this concerns those causes which are incident to a man's Ray, or literally the influence of the life of the planetary Logos as He functions as a self-conscious Life on His Own plane, as He works out His Own plans, and consequently sweeps into activity the cells of His body as mere incidents where He (the basic central life) is concerned.
5. The life impulse of the Thinker functioning in the causal body who—though a great abstraction or the Absolute where the cellular life is concerned—is nevertheless a potent and active factor in the imposition of rhythm upon the atom in every body. In the human atom, this brings in the influence of the life of the solar Logos, for that Life imposes rhythm upon every human atom in the system, and does so through the agency of substance and its inherent quality, sensation.
In these thoughts, we have but approached the study of karma from a fresh angle, and endeavoured to show the sources of the "influences" which play upon all atomic lives.
The atom likewise is controlled by its own "esse," or by its own inherent nature or vibration, which was the quality of matter itself before it was aggregated into a solar system, and which was the vibratory activity produced through the rhythmic life of an earlier solar system. This is equally true of all atoms of all grades, but only in connection with the atom of substance, and to some degree with the human atom, is it in any way possible to ascertain the predisposing causes. Until the mystery of the Great Bear is revealed and is known as it is, and until the influence of the Pleiades is comprehended, and the true significance of the cosmic triangle formed by
a) The seven Rishis of the Great Bear,
b) The seven planetary Logoi of our solar system,
c) The seven Pleiades or Sisters,
is revealed, the karma of the seven sacred planets will remain unknown. All that we can see is its working out in the solar system. The intricacy of the whole subject will be apparent when it is borne in mind that not only do these three groups form a cosmic triangle, but that within that triangle many lesser triangles have to be studied. Any one of the seven Rishis with one of our planetary Logoi and one of the seven Sisters may form a subsidiary triangle, and all must thus be studied.
In connection with the karma of the solar Logos, the subject is even more abstract and incomprehensible. It lies hidden—not in the seven constellations—but in the three constellations which concern the three bodies of His Personality and which in themselves are but manifestations of a central LIFE past our concept and our recognition. It concerns the manifestation in time and space of the ONE ABOUT WHOM NAUGHT MAY BE SAID, and Whose relationship to the solar Logos finds a faint analogy in that of the planetary Logos to man, the human unit. It profits not to extend the thought any further.
We are but seeking to emphasise the fact of the interdependence of all atoms and forms, to lay stress upon the reality of the variety of influences which play upon all that is manifesting, and to call attention to the fact of the karma of the past aeons, kalpas and that unknowable period in which the initiatory impulses were set up which are still persisting, and which God, man and atoms are still working out and off. Influences or vibrations, calling forth response, play upon every form and atom in the solar system and all that can be predicated of them is that they tend to develop consciousness of some kind, impose certain rhythms according to that conscious response, and produce aggregations or group activity.
The liberation from karma about which would-be occult students so glibly talk is after all but the freeing of the atom from its own personal problem (the problem of response to unitary sensation), and its conscious acquiescence in group response and work. It marks the dissociation of the human atom from the rhythm imposed upon him by the lower "influences" which find their channel of approach through his vehicles, or lunar bodies, and his consequent willing recognition of the will-impulse of his greater whole, or the life of the egoic group—a centre in the planetary body. It involves atomic control, but involves also conscious subjection to the karma of the Heavenly Man. Man is no longer the slave of the rhythm of matter per se, but controls it in the three worlds of his endeavour; he is still nevertheless controlled by the group karma of the planetary centre, by its influence, life and vibratory impulse. The same can be predicated of a Heavenly Man, and of a solar Logos.
We might, in closing, express the same thought in terms of fire, remembering that words only limit and confine the thought, and that the main reason for this mode of approach is to bring pictorially before man some aspects of the central idea.
"Electric fire, or will-impulse" in conjunction with "fire by friction" produces light or "solar fire." Electric fire is force or energy of some kind, and hence in itself is fundamentally an emanation. "Fire by friction" is substance with the quality of heat as its predominant characteristic; it is latent heat or sensation. Both these ideas, therefore, convey the idea of duality. An emanation must have its originating source, and heat is but the result of friction, and is necessarily dual. Both these concepts involve facts long antedating the solar system, and hidden in the Universal Mind. All that we can scientifically ascertain is the nature of that which is produced by their approximation, and this is solar fire or light. These thoughts may make clear somewhat the significance of the number five, esoterically considered. Electric fire, being an emanation is essentially dual in concept, and so is fire by friction; they together produce solar fire, and thus the esoteric fifth.
It will be apparent that when a man speaks of karma, he is dealing with something much wider than the interplay of effect and cause within the sphere of his own individual routine. He is, in all things, governed by causes originating in the aggregate of lives which form his egoic group, by the aggregate of groups which form one petal in a centre of a Heavenly Man, by force or purpose circulating through a triangle of centres, and by the life energy or purposeful will of the planetary Logos Himself. Finally he is governed by the will of the solar Logos as it demonstrates itself in initiatory activity. Beyond this we need hardly go, but enough has been said to show that every human atom is under the dominance of forces outside his own consciousness, which sweep him and others into situations from which there is no escape, and which are to him incomprehensible.
This has been at no time better illustrated than in the event of the late war and in present world conditions; these are effects of causes having their origin in the renewed activity of a certain planetary triangle, and in the vibration set up by our planetary Logos on the moon-chain, and which had a faint beginning in an earlier solar system. This vibration impinged primarily upon certain atoms and groups of atoms in His body, principally those composing the human and animal kingdoms, and produced the apparently dire results which we have been witnessing. So great was the effect of His energy, that the vegetable kingdom was somewhat (though not so much) affected, and the mineral kingdom felt the effect in a startling manner, far more than the vegetable kingdom and almost as much as the animal. Here we have a setting of circumstances outside human and even group control, which illustrates the helplessness of man in certain conditions, and which serves to bring in factors apparently apart from the individual vibration of the fourth kingdom.
Nevertheless, within limits, man definitely does "control his destiny," and can initiate action which produces effects recognisable by him as being dependent upon his activity along a particular line. He does, on a miniature scale, repeat the procedure of the Logos on a vaster scale, and thus is the arbiter of his own destiny, the producer of his own drama, the architect of his own home, and the initiator of his own affairs. Though he may be the meeting place of forces outside his control, yet he can utilize force, circumstance and environment and can turn them, if he so will, to his own ends.
The working out of karmic law in a man's own life might be broadly divided into three divisions, in each of which a different type of energy is demonstrating, producing effects upon the lower and higher bodies of a definite nature.
In the very early stages, when man is scarcely more than an animal, the vibratory activity of the atoms of his three sheaths (and of the lowest primarily) governs all actions on his part. He is the victim of the vibratory activity of physical substance, and much that occurs is the consequence of the interaction between the Ego and its lowest manifestation, the physical sheath. The centre of attention is the physical body and only faintly are the two subtler bodies responding. The egoic impulse is slow and heavy, and the vibration is directed to producing response between the egoic consciousness and the atoms of the physical body. The physical permanent atom is more active than the other two. It is the aspect of "fire by friction" which is fanned by the egoic breath, with a triple object in view:
a) Co-ordinating the physical body.
b) Increasing the resistance of the etheric web, a work which was only carried to the desired point by the middle of the Atlantean root-race.
c) Bringing certain of the lower centres to the necessary stage of expression.
The heat of the atoms in the bodies is increased during this stage, and their atomic life co-ordinated, while the triangle between the three permanent atoms becomes a demonstrable fact and not a faint indication.
During the second stage, the law of karma or karmic influence (through the inevitable reflex action produced by the increased activity of the sheaths) turns its attention to the working out of desire, and its transmutation into the higher aspiration. Through experience, the pairs of opposites are recognised by the Thinker, and he becomes no longer the victim of the vibratory impulses of his physical body; the factor of intelligent choice becomes apparent. The man begins to discriminate between the pairs of opposites, choosing ever in the early stages that which appeals most to his lower nature and that which he believes will bring him pleasure. The centre of the attention of the Ego is the astral body, and it becomes so closely co-ordinated with the physical body that the two form one united expression of desire. The mental body remains comparatively inactive at this stage. The love nature of the Ego is in process of being developed, and this stage is the longest of the three. It deals with the evolution of the petals of the egoic lotus, and with the blending of solar fire and of fire by friction. Reflex action between the lower and the higher during this middle period produces three effects, which will be seen, if carefully studied to convey much information anent the working out of the law of Karma. These three effects are:
1. The development of the astral permanent atom with a concurrent stimulation of the physical permanent atom, and thus the growth and evolution of the two sheaths concerned.
2. The co-ordination of the threefold man through the innate vitality of the astral body and its effect upon the mental and the physical. This is the kama-manasic period, and as this body is the only complete sphere in the threefold lower man, it is the most powerful body inherently for it embodies (as does the solar system) the heart aspect, or embryonic love nature, which it is the object of macrocosmic and microcosmic evolution to develop.
3. Finally the unfoldment of the nine egoic petals in three stages.
In the working out of the law we must therefore note that man is first of all the victim of the impulses of dense substance or of the brahma aspect, and thus repeats rapidly the evolutionary process of the preceding solar system; in the second stage he is the victim of desire, or of his own love nature.
In the third stage, the law of karma works through a man's mental nature, and awakens in him recognition of the law, and an intellectual apprehension of cause and of effect. This is the shortest stage but is also the most powerful; it concerns the evolution of the three inner petals shielding the "jewel," and their ability to disclose at the right moment that which lies hidden. It covers the period of the evolution of advanced man, and of the man upon the Path. In connection with the human family it covers the first half of the next round, prior to the great separation. Electric fire is beginning to make its radiations felt, and the will or purpose of the Ego is now consciously realised upon the physical plane. The three permanent atoms form a triangle of light, and the petals of the lotus are rapidly unfolding. When the will and purpose of the Ego are realised by man in his waking consciousness in the physical brain, then the law of karma in the three worlds is becoming neutralised, and man is on the verge of liberation. He has exhausted the initial vibration, and there is no response within his sheaths to the threefold vibration of the three worlds; he stands freed from the three kingdoms and the fourth. [A TREATISE ON COSMIC FIRE. pp.798-807]
As I write this instruction I would call your attention to the subject of karma. There comes ever in the life of a disciple and in the soul's experience some one particular life wherein the Law of Cause and Effect assumes importance in the consciousness. From that life and that moment, the disciple begins to deal with karma, consciously and definitely. He learns to recognise it when events and happenings come which require understanding and which evoke questioning; he begins to study the quality of his radiation as a karmic agent, and therefore he becomes the maker and constructor, in a new and important sense, of his own destiny and future. His reactions to life and circumstances cease to be simply emotional in nature and become deliberately dictated by conscious observation; they then have in them a significant quality of preparation which is absent from the life of the average man. For the remainder of this life, therefore, I would ask you to carry the theme of karmic decision and of preparation for the future ever in your consciousness; I would ask you always to take action with as full an understanding of the probable following effects as you can manage to achieve, and to make a real effort to study the Law of Consequence and Compensation. [DISCIPLESHIP IN THE NEW AGE. P538]
In the mastering of the task of karmic adjustment, the guiding disciple is governed by certain requirements. He must ascertain just what karma must be worked out by the aspirant in his charge, during this incarnation. He must then induce him to add to this established karma, what I might call "freeing karma." This is a part of the forcing process to which those who choose the more difficult way of initiation must subject themselves, voluntarily and by free choice. The disciple seeks to do certain things in this connection, referring here to the chela in the Light:
1. He works off unavoidable karma as intelligently and consciously as possible.
2. He takes on some karma which ordinarily would be precipitated in some later life.
3. He begins to shoulder some of the general karma of humanity, thus increasing his own load of karma.
4. He begins to work with and to comprehend something of planetary karma, though as yet he undertakes no responsibility in this connection. Only after the third initiation does he consciously and as an individual cooperate with the karmic responsibility of the planetary Logos.
I would here like to point out that I am referring to good karma as well as bad. It is the task of the helping disciple to guide the chela in the Light so that he does adjust his karma. This the senior disciple does by thought impression. All karma, when consciously faced, is precipitated by the power of thought; this is perhaps the major lesson which the senior disciple has to teach the neophyte. In this way the latter is aided to see "in the light" which falls upon his way, and the disciple who is preparing him for the stage of accepted discipleship is in constant touch with the Master. Thus a triangular relationship is set up which is of occult value. [DISCIPLESHIP IN THE NEW AGE. P727]
THE GREAT INVOCATION The primary result of the correct use of the Great Invocation (as far as humanity is concerned) is acceleration. As I have also earlier pointed out, such an acceleration carries with it its own risks, and consequently we have the appearance of the truly terrific problems and the dire happenings which have for many years overtaken the aspirants and the disciples in the world. They are by this process learning the work of world salvage and becoming gradually fitted for the post of world saviour and to be absorbers of evil karma. You might here quite correctly point out that all the world is now suffering and that the past twenty-five years have been those of a general and most unhappy world karma. Wherein then lies the distinction between the pain and suffering of the world in general and that of aspirants and disciples in particular? I would reply that aspirants and disciples are conscious of this karma and its results in all three vehicles simultaneously—in the mind as well as in the emotional body with resultant physical reactions. This produces an intensification, retrospection and anticipation which the larger group does not register, involving as it does the entire personality. To this, in the case of the disciple in particular, must be added sensitivity and the ability to tune in and to absorb world pain, world reactions, and world conditions, thereby greatly increasing that which they may have individually to bear. The capacity to shoulder and register group pain as well as to bear his own personal karma greatly aggravates the disciple's task. [THE EXTERNALISATION OF THE HIERARCHY. p152.]
THREE KINDS OF KARMA AND GOOD VERSUS EVIL
The whole subject of karma (or the law of Cause and Effect) is dealt with in this sutra, and is of too vast a subject to be enlarged upon here. Suffice it to say that, from the standpoint of the Yoga Sutras, karma is of three kinds:
1. Latent Karma. Those seeds and causes which are yet undeveloped and inactive and must work out to fruition in some part of the present or subsequent lives.
2. Active Karma. Those seeds or causes which are in process of fruition and for which the present life is intended to provide the needed soil for the flowering forth.
3. New Karma. Those seeds or causes which are being produced in this life, and which must inevitably govern the circumstances of some future life.
The beginner in this science of yoga can begin dealing with his active karma, interpreting each life-event and every circumstance as providing conditions wherein he can work off a certain specified series of effects. He can endeavour so to watch his thoughts that new seeds are not sown so that no future karma can be brought to fruition in some later life.
The seeds of latent karma are more difficult for the neophyte to work with and it is here that his Master can help him—manipulating his circumstances and dealing with his surroundings in the three worlds in order that this type of karma may more quickly work out and be done with.
14. These seeds (or samskaras) produce pleasure or pain according as their originating cause was good or evil.
It might be noted that good is that which relates to the one principle, to the reality indwelling all forms, to the Spirit of man as it reveals itself through the soul, and to the Father as He manifests through the Son. Evil relates to the form, to the vehicle, and to matter and really concerns the relation of the Son to his body of manifestation. If the Son of God (cosmic or human) is limited, and imprisoned and blinded by his form, that is the power of evil over him. If he is aware of his own self, unfettered by forms, and free from the thraldom of matter that is the power of good. Complete freedom from matter causes bliss or pleasure—the joy of realisation. Evil causes pain, for just in so far as the Inner Ruler is limited by his body of manifestation just so far does he suffer. [THE LIGHT OF THE SOUL p145-146]
6. Among the forms which consciousness assumes, only that which is the result of meditation is free from latent karma.
Forms are the result of desire. Meditation of the right kind is a purely mental process and into it desire enters not. Forms are the result of an outward-going urge or tendency. Meditation is the result of an inward-turning tendency, of the capacity to abstract the consciousness from form and substance and to centre it within itself.
Form is an effect produced by the love or desire nature of the conscious one; meditation is a producer of effects and relates to the will or life aspect of the spiritual man.
Desire produces effects, and the organs of sentient consciousness then come inevitably the law of cause and effect, of karma, which governs the relation of form—consciousness. The meditation process, when rightly understood and carried on, necessitates the withdrawal of the consciousness of the spiritual man from all forms in the three worlds, and his abstraction from all sense perception and tendencies. Thus he stands at the moment of pure meditation free from that aspect of karma which deals with the producing of effects. Temporarily, he is so abstracted that his thought, perfectly concentrated and having no relation to aught in the three worlds, produces no outward-going vibration, relates to no form, affects no substance. When this concentrated meditation becomes a habit and is the normal daily attitude of his life, then the man becomes free from the law of karma. He becomes aware then of the effects still remaining to be worked off, and learns to avoid the creation of new ones, initiating no actions which will "create organs" in the three worlds. He dwells on the plane of mind, persists in meditation, creates by an act of will and not through the helplessness of desire, and is a "free soul," a master and a liberated man.
7. The activities of the liberated soul are free from the pairs of opposites. Those of other people are of three kinds.
This sutra expresses the teaching in connection with the law of karma in such a strictly oriental manner as to confuse the western student considerably. An analysis of the significance of these words and a study of the commentary of the great teacher Vyasa may serve to elucidate the meaning. It should also be borne in mind that in the fourth book we are dealing with the exalted stages of consciousness reached by those who have followed the eight means of yoga and have experienced the effects of meditation, detailed in Book III. The yogi is now a liberated man, freed from form conditions and focussed in his consciousness outside the bounds of the three worlds of human endeavor. He has reached the realm of pure thought and can hold his consciousness untrammelled and free from desire. Therefore, though he formulates ideas and though he can carry on powerful meditations and though he can direct and control the "modifications of the thinking principle," he creates no conditions which can serve to draw him back into the vortex of lower plane existence. He is freed from karma and originates nothing and no effects can serve to attach him to the wheel of rebirth.
Vyasa in his commentary points out that karma (or action) is of four kinds which are expressed for us as follows:
1. That type of activity which is evil, wicked and depraved. This is called black. This class of action is the product of the deepest ignorance, of the densest materiality, or of deliberate choice. Where it is the result of ignorance, the development of knowledge will gradually bring about a state of consciousness where this type of karma is no longer known. Where dense materiality produces what we call wrong action, the gradual development of the spiritual consciousness will change darkness to light and karma again is obviated. Where, however, it is the result of deliberate choice, or of preference for wrong action, in spite of knowledge and in defiance of the voice of the spiritual nature, then this type of karma leads to what the oriental occultist called "avitchi" or the eighth sphere,—a term synonymous with the Christian idea of the condition of being a lost soul. These cases are, however, exceedingly rare, and have relation to the left hand path, and the practice of black magic. Though this condition involves the severing of the highest principle (that of pure spirit from its two expressions, the soul and the body, or from the six lower principles), yet the life itself remains, and after the destruction of the soul in avitchi, a fresh cycle of becoming will again be offered.
2. That type of activity which is neither all good nor all bad, which is spoken of as the black-white. It concerns the karmic activity of the average man, who is governed by the pairs of opposites, and whose life experience is characterized by a swinging back and forth between that which is kindly, harmless, and the result of love, and that which is harsh, harmful, and the result of hate. Vyasa says:
"The black-white is brought about by external means, as in this, the vehicle of actions grows by means of causing pain to, or acting kindly towards others."
It becomes apparent therefore that the growth of the human unit and his record are dependent upon his attitude towards others and the effect he has upon them. Thus is the return to group consciousness brought about and thus is karma generated or offset. Thus, also, is the swing of the pendulum between these pairs of opposites gradually adjusted until the point of equilibrium is reached, and man acts rightly because the law of love or of the soul, directs from above, and not because either good or bad desire attract him on either hand.
3. That type of activity which is called white. This is the type of living thought, and work, practised by the aspirant and the disciple. It characterizes the stage of the Path prior to liberation. Vyasa explains it thus:
"The white is of those who resort to the means of improvement, of study and meditation. This is dependent upon the mind alone. It does not depend upon external means, it is not, therefore, brought about by injuring others."
It will be apparent now that these three types of karma have direct reference to:
a) The plane of materiality....................the physical plane.
b) The plane of the pairs of opposites...the astral plane.
c) The plane of one-pointed thought......the mental plane.
Those whose karma is white are those who, having made progress in balancing the pairs of opposites, are now engaged in the process of conscious intelligent emancipation of themselves from the three worlds. This they do through:
a. Study, or mental development, through an appreciation of the law of evolution and an understanding of the nature of consciousness and its relation to matter on the one hand and to spirit on the other.
b. Meditation, or mind control and thus the creation of that mechanism which renders to the soul the control of the lower vehicles, and makes possible the revelation of the soul realm.
c. Non-injury. No word, thought or deed brings harm to any form through which the life of God is expressing itself.
4. The final type of karma is described as neither black nor white. No karma of any kind is engendered; no effects are set up through causes initiated by the yogi that can serve to hold him to the form side of manifestation. Acting as he does from the standpoint of non-attachment, desiring nothing for himself, his karma is nil, and his acts produce no effects upon himself.
8. From these three kinds of karma emerge those forms which are necessary for the fruition of effects.
In every life, as it comes into physical manifestation, are latent those germs or seeds which must bear fruit, and it is these latent seeds which are the efficient cause of the appearance of the form. Those seeds have been sown at some time and must come to fruition. They are the causes or skandas which produce those bodies in which the effects are to work themselves out. They are the desires, impulses and obligations which keep a man upon the great wheel, which ever turning, carries a man down into physical plane existence, there to bring to fruition as many of those seeds, as under the law, he can handle or deal with in any one life. These are the subjective germs which produce the form in which they fructify, mature and come to completion. If the karmic seeds are black, the man will be grossly selfish, material, and inclined to the left hand path; if black-white, they will carry him into a form suitable for the working out of his obligations, of his debts, duties and interests and the fulfilling of his desires; if they are white they tend to build that body which is the final one to be destroyed, the causal body, the temple of Solomon, the karana sarira of the occultist. That body, at the final liberation, is itself destroyed and naught then separates the man from his Father in Heaven, and nothing keeps him linked to the lower material plane.
9, There is identity of relation between memory and effect producing cause, even when separated by species, time and place.
A paraphrase of the sutra might serve to elucidate, and might be expressed as follows: No matter what the race may have been, no matter in what continent, past or present, a life may have been passed, and no matter how distant that life may be or how many millenia of years may have elapsed, the memory remains with the ego or soul. In due time, under proper adjustment, every cause then initiated must inevitably work out into effects and those effects will appear, working out in some one life. Nothing can prevent it, nothing can stop it. Charles Johnston expresses it in his commentary in the following words: "In like manner, the same over-ruling selective power, which is a ray of the Higher Self, gathers together from different births and times and places those mind-images which are conformable, and may be grouped in the frame of a single life or a single event. Through this grouping, visible bodily conditions or outward circumstances are brought about, and by these the soul is taught and trained.
Just as the dynamic mind-images of desire ripen out in bodily conditions and circumstances, so the far more dynamic powers of aspiration, wherein the soul reaches toward the Eternal, have their fruition in a finer world, building the vesture of the spiritual man." [THE LIGHT OF THE SOUL pp388-395]
We have already studied (perhaps without realising its implications) our first point under this heading. This concerns the karmic liabilities of the individual, emerging from the subjective vehicles and from the personality as a whole.
As we discussed the psychological causes of disease as they arise in the subtle vehicles in the three worlds or from the disciple's tension as he endeavours to tread the Path, we were in reality concerned entirely with karma or the effect of the inner causes of events, equipment and circumstances upon the physical plane. We saw how the inner bodies, via the etheric body, conditioned the man's outer manifestation, and that disease or health was largely dependent upon them. They are the immediate karmic cause of physical plane existence. If the idea is then extended to include previous incarnations—as must inevitably be the case—then we arrive at the conclusion that the condition of these inner bodies, their limitations and their richness, their defects and their assets, and their general psychic and psychological tendencies are inherited from previous lives, and are therefore responsible for the present earthly situation. We have, consequently, simply pushed the causes of present day conditions still further back, and we could—if we so desired—enter a field of such intricacy and detail that nothing profitable would eventuate. The whole problem of the recovery of past incarnations is one of infinite possibility, and when I use this word "infinite" I immediately put the whole subject out of the control of the finite mind. We are then dealing with something which it is not possible to handle rationally.
Karma was, for infant humanity and for the undeveloped individual, a group matter. The man was a member of a group but without any thought as to the implications and the responsibilities entailed. Later, as the process of individualisation became more effective in character and purpose and more pronounced in temperament, karma became also more personal and definite, and the man in a position to make or work off more causes and effects. The personality not being thoroughly unfolded and integrated, the man was still involved in group life and the interrelations became more extensive. Later on, the personality became the conscious creator of its own causes and the conscious participator in the effects. Upon the Path, the karma of the chosen group, of the individual, and of those with whom the man chooses association through unity of spiritual purpose involves him, and another factor is added to the previous categories of karmic responsibility. Later still, karma in the three worlds is met, overcome and negated; at the same time karma connected with the initiating of causes through world service is added to that which the individual has already experienced, and he shares in the karmic responsibility of the Hierarchy itself. All these stages:
1. Elementary group karma—of the primitive man,
2. Individual karma of the self-conscious developing man,
3. Karma, related to the life of the disciple,
4. Hierarchical karma,
must be added to the well known Karma of Retribution with which the disciple is already familiar; to it must also be added national and racial karma, plus the educational karma which all disciples bring upon themselves when they are desirous of entering an Ashram to prepare for initiation.
There is also the Karma of Reward in contradistinction to that of Retribution; this is a type of karma oft forgotten, but one which will become better known in the coming world cycle. Humanity has worked off much evil karma, and the karma based on causes later to be initiated will not generate such dire effects as that of the past. Not all karma is bad, in spite of what man thinks. Much of it is necessarily punitive and distressing, owing to humanity's ignorance and low stage of development. When karmic retribution becomes acute and terrible, as it is in today's appalling world experience, it indicates that humanity has reached a point where consequences can be meted out on a large scale and with justice. Very little suffering is attached to karma where there is ignorance, leading to irresponsibility and complete lack of thought and there is attached to affairs but little true sense of guilt. There may be unhappy conditions and distressing circumstances, but the ability to respond to such conditions with commensurate pain is lacking; there is little mental reaction to the processes of karmic retribution. This should be borne in mind. The Aryan race is now, however, so developed mentally and on a large scale that karma is truly horrible and agonising and can express itself through world conditions. At the same time, the present widespread distress indicates the extent and success of human unfoldment and is a most hopeful and promising sign. In this idea, you have the clue as to why the good, the holy and the saintly servers of the race carry—in this world cycle—such a heavy load of karmic ill.
It is consequently quite impossible in the scope of this treatise to deal more fully with this subject of karma as it produces the many types of human ills, including disease—only one of its manifestations. The theme is too vast, too complicated and too widely diffusing in its effect. All that one can do is to posit the fact that past actions and reactions have established in previous lives such a karmic rhythm that today all the aspects of the lower nature are involved; and among the commonest and most ordinary effects, and one in which the great Law of Retribution takes effect, is that of disease. This is a point which healers and metaphysicians, so-called, should most carefully consider. [ESOTERIC HEALING-pp289-292]
I have already suggested to you that the entire question of karma is as yet imperfectly comprehended. A great Law of Cause and Effect exists, but one particular aspect of it has never been emphasised, and the knowledge of humanity on the subject of karma is very elementary. Karma has always been interpreted in terms of disaster, and consequences that are painful, of error, of penalty, and of evil happenings, both for the individual and for the group. Yet, such is the beauty of human nature, and much that is done is of such a fine quality and so selfless and so happily oriented, that the evil is frequently offset by the good. There is everywhere, little as it may be realised, an abundance of good karma of a potency (under the same Law) equal to that which is regarded as bad. Of this, small mention is ever made. This good karma brings into activity forces which may work out as healing energies in any specific case. Upon these energies for good, which have been earned and are operating, the healer can always count. This is my first point. Ponder upon it.
Karma is a determining factor, but unless a healer is an advanced initiate and so able to work effectively and intelligently on the causal levels whereon souls dwell, it is impossible for him to decide whether any specific case will yield to healing treatment or not. Therefore, the healer or practising disciple assumes in his mind the possibility of cure (which may be possible or not) and of the patient's good karma, and proceeds to apply all possible aid. This is my second point.
My third point is to suggest to you and to all engaged in the healing art that much of the so-called disaster, involved in disease and in death (particularly the latter) is to be found in a wrong attitude toward death, and to an overestimation of the beneficence of form life. The release of a soul through disease and death is not necessarily an unhappy occurrence. A new and better attitude to the phenomenon of death is essential, is possible and near. Upon this I need not here enlarge. But I do seek to give you a new slant on the subject of sickness and of death.
Will you be astonished also if I state that under the Law it is quite possible to "interfere with karma"? The great Laws can be transcended and frequently have been in the past, and increasingly will be in the future. The Law of Gravitation is frequently offset and daily transcended when an aeroplane is in flight. The energy of faith can set in motion superior energies which can negate or retard disease. The whole subject of faith, and its vital significance and potency, is as little understood as is the Law of Karma. This is a tremendous subject, and I cannot further enlarge upon it. But I have said enough to offer you food for thought. [ESOTERIC HEALING-pp349-350]