WQ Judge on Karma
Sep 16, 2001 12:14 PM
by Nick Weeks
Karma is of three sorts:
First -- that which has not begun to produce any effect in our lives owing to the operation on us of some other karmic causes. This is under a law well known to physicists, that two opposing forces tend to neutrality, and that one force may be strong enough to temporarily prevent the operation of another one. This law works on the unseen mental and karmic planes or spheres of being just as it does on the material ones. The force of a certain set of bodily, mental, and psychical faculties with their tendencies may wholly inhibit the operation on us of causes with which we are connected, because the whole nature of each person is used in the carrying out of this law. Hence the weak and mediocre furnish a weak focus for karma, and in them the general result of a lifetime is limited, although they may feel it all to be very heavy. But that person who has a wide and deep-reaching character and much force will feel the operation of a greater quantity of karma than the weaker person.
Second -- that karma which we are now making or storing up by our thoughts and acts, and which will operate in the future when the appropriate body, mind, and environment are taken up by the incarnating Ego in some other life, or whenever obstructive karma is removed.
This bears both on the present life and the next one. For one may in this life come to a point where, all previous causes being worked out, new karma, or that which is unexpended, must begin to operate.
Under this are those cases where men have sudden reverses of fortune or changes for the better either in circumstances or character. A very important bearing of this is on our present conduct. While old karma must work out and cannot be stopped, it is wise for the man to so think and act now under present circumstances, no matter what they are, that he shall produce no bad or prejudicial causes for the next rebirth or for later years in this life. Rebellion is useless, for the law works on whether we weep or rejoice. The great French engineer, de Lesseps, is a good example of this class of karma. Raised to a high pitch of glory and achievement for many years of his life, he suddenly falls covered with shame through the Panama canal scandal. Whether he was innocent or guilty, he has the shame of the connection of his name with a national enterprise all besmirched with bribery and corruption that involved high officials. This was the operation of old karmic causes on him the very moment those which had governed his previous years were exhausted. Napoleon I is another, for he rose to a very great fame, then suddenly fell and died in exile and disgrace. Many other cases will occur to every thoughtful reader.
Third -- that karma which has begun to produce results. It is the operating now in this life on us of causes set up in previous lives in company with other Egos. And it is in operation because, being most adapted to the family stock, the individual body, astral body, and race tendencies of the present incarnation, it exhibits itself plainly, while other unexpended karma awaits its regular turn.
These three classes of karma govern men, animals, worlds, and periods of evolution. Every effect flows from a cause precedent, and as all beings are constantly being reborn they are continually experiencing the effects of their thoughts and acts (which are themselves causes) of a prior incarnation. And thus each one answers, as St. Matthew says, for every word and thought; none can escape either by prayer, or favor, or force, or any other intermediary.
Now as karmic causes are divisible into three classes, they must have various fields in which to work. They operate upon man in his mental and intellectual nature, in his psychical or soul nature, and in his body and circumstances. The spiritual nature of man is never affected or operated upon by karma.
One species of karma may act on the three specified planes of our nature at the same time to the same degree, or there may be a mixture of the causes, some on one plane and some on another. Take a deformed person who has a fine mind and a deficiency in his soul nature. Here punitive or unpleasant karma is operating on his body while in his mental and intellectual nature good karma is being experienced, but psychically the karma, or cause, being of an indifferent sort the result is indifferent. In another person other combinations appear. He has a fine body and favorable circumstances, but the character is morose, peevish, irritable, revengeful, morbid, and disagreeable to himself and others. Here good physical karma is at work with very bad mental, intellectual, and psychical karma. Cases will occur to readers of persons born in high station having every opportunity and power, yet being imbecile or suddenly becoming insane.
And just as all these phases of the law of karma have sway over the individual man, so they similarly operate upon races, nations, and families. Each race has its karma as a whole. If it be good that race goes forward. If bad it goes out -- annihilated as a race -- though the souls concerned take up their karma in other races and bodies. Nations cannot escape their national karma, and any nation that has acted in a wicked manner must suffer some day, be it soon or late. The karma of the nineteenth century in the West is the karma of Israel, for even the merest tyro can see that the Mosaic influence is the strongest in the European and American nations. The old Aztec and other ancient American peoples died out because their own karma -- the result of their own life as nations in the far past -- fell upon and destroyed them. With nations this heavy operation of karma is always through famine, war, convulsion of nature, and the sterility of the women of the nation. The latter cause comes near the end and sweeps the whole remnant away. And the individual in race or nation is warned by this great doctrine that if he falls into indifference of thought and act, thus molding himself into the general average karma of his race or nation, that national and race karma will at last carry him off in the general destiny. This is why teachers of old cried, "Come ye out and be ye separate."
With reincarnation the doctrine of karma explains the misery and suffering of the world, and no room is left to accuse Nature of injustice.
The misery of any nation or race is the direct result of the thoughts and acts of the Egos who make up the race or nation. In the dim past they did wickedly and now suffer. They violated the laws of harmony. The immutable rule is that harmony must be restored if violated. So these Egos suffer in making compensation and establishing the equilibrium of the occult cosmos. The whole mass of Egos must go on incarnating and reincarnating in the nation or race until they have all worked out to the end the causes set up. Though the nation may for a time disappear as a physical thing, the Egos that made it do not leave the world, but come out as the makers of some new nation in which they must go on with the task and take either punishment or reward as accords with their karma. Of this law the old Egyptians are an illustration. They certainly rose to a high point of development, and as certainly they were extinguished as a nation. But the souls -- the old Egos -- live on and are now fulfilling their self-made destiny as some other nation now in our period. They may be the new American nation, or the Jews fated to wander up and down in the world and suffer much at the hands of others. This process is perfectly just. Take, for instance, the United States and the Red Indians. The latter have been most shamefully treated by the nation. The Indian Egos will be reborn in the new and conquering people, and as members of that great family will be the means themselves of bringing on the due results for such acts as were done against them when they had red bodies. Thus it has happened before, and so it will come about again.
Individual unhappiness in any life is thus explained:
(a) It is punishment for evil done in past lives; or
(b) it is discipline taken up by the Ego for the purpose of eliminating defects or acquiring fortitude and sympathy. When defects are eliminated it is like removing the obstruction in an irrigating canal which then lets the water flow on. Happiness is explained in the same way: the result of prior lives of goodness.
The scientific and self-compelling basis for right ethics is found in these and in no other doctrines. For if right ethics are to be practised merely for themselves, men will not see why, and have never been able to see why, for that reason they should do right. If ethics are to be followed from fear, man is degraded and will surely evade; if the favor of the Almighty, not based on law or justice, be the reason, then we will have just what prevails today -- a code given by Jesus to the west professed by nations and not practised save by the few who would in any case be virtuous.
On this subject the Adepts have written the following to be found in the Secret Doctrine:
"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 neighbors will no more work harm to us than we would think of harming them, 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. . . . 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 beings 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 another life. . . . Knowledge of Karma gives the conviction that if --
'virtue in distress and vice in triumph
Make atheists of Mankind',
it is only because that mankind has ever shut its eyes to the great truth that man is himself his own saviour as his own destroyer; that he need not accuse heaven and the gods, fates and providence, of the apparent injustice that reigns in the midst of humanity. But let him rather remember and repeat this bit of Grecian wisdom which warns man to forbear accusing That which
'Just though mysterious, leads us on unerring
Through ways unmarked from guilt to punishment'
-- which are now the ways and the high road on which move onward the great European nations. The western Aryans had every nation and tribe like their eastern brethren of the fifth race, their Golden and their Iron ages, their period of comparative irresponsibility, or the Satya age of purity, while now several of them have reached their Iron age, the Kali Yuga, an age black with horrors. This state will last . . . until we begin acting from within instead of ever following impulses from without . . . Until then the only palliative is union and harmony -- a Brotherhood in actu and altruism not simply in name."
a.. (From The Ocean of Theosophy by W. Q. Judge)
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