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Annotations on Karma


A Study in the Law of Equilibrium
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Students of esoteric philosophy must be honest in every aspect of life. This tenet includes issues involving power, leadership and ‘personal influence’.  
All subconscious mechanisms of selfishness are subject to Karma and must be known and neutralized as one makes progress in the way to Knowledge.
Theosophists have therefore the duty not to suggest or indicate by subtle means that they have personal access to some “exclusive” and “special” sources of information. This sort of sophistry is a dishonest trick to mislead people into blind belief. [1] The illusion of personal status must be averted.
Any student of philosophy trying to present himself as a sage who knows much better than the others causes harm to his own Antahkarana. However disguised, pride and vanity prevent the functioning of the bridge to one’s own higher self. The opposite feelings of despondency and depression have the same result. The functioning of Antahkarana both needs and stimulates  an impersonal sense of equilibrium, as well as stability.  
True teachers do not exaggerate the importance of the powers of perception belonging to Initiates. They highlight, instead, the immense possibilities of every pilgrim as long as he makes a sincere attempt to learn by self-devised efforts.
No Saints Above the Law
Naïve researchers may falsely suppose that “there can be no Karma, unless there is someone to produce it or to feel its results”. Such an illusion must be shown as such. The word “Karma” means “action and its reactions”, or “movement in its context”. Karma and its blissful influence are present everywhere, all the time, across manvantaras and pralayas, when the universe acts and when the universe sleeps.
There is nothing outside the law of karma. Swindlers and false occultists will not escape from it. The childish fancy of “saints transcending the law” should be avoided. On the physical plane, even the three laws of Newton are but aspects of the Law. Above present humanity, the immortal masters of the wisdom are humble servants of the Law of Equilibrium. [2]
In 2020, it was not hard to see naïve theosophists writing that “Karma is the adjustment of effects flowing from causes”, as if this was a great axiom.
In fact, karma is also original action. The most important kind of Karma is the new Karma being created in the “present moment”.
While Karma includes adjustment, its main aspect is ever New and, if seen in the human realm, it is connected to each one’s free will. The sense of self-responsibility - the balanced feeling of authorship of what one does,  is the golden key to right action and correct reaction.  
Karma is a unified field of causes and effects, in which all things and beings constantly adjust to each other and act of their own initiative. They do so in countless ways, with a transcendent variety of rhythms and dimensions of space and time. Karma is an infinite net of interdependent causations.
Karma and Time
As a cycle makes progress, Karma is rather  unpredictable in the precise way it eliminates old forms and structures, so as to restore justice, establishing harmony again, and equilibrium.
It has been wrongly said that “Karma is not subject to time”. Karma and Time are essentially one and the same.  They are not independent or separate from one another. Karma expresses itself along Time and through Time. One can say that Karma is not limited to conventional external time, yet Time and Karma are inseparable. There is no opposition or distance between them. Saturn, for instance, is both the master of Time and the master of Karma. Action and reaction exist in time, and they are the very substance of Time.
Deluded minds may say that Karma is “unknowable” if seen from the point of view of the average student of theosophy. In fact, Karma is Life itself. Everyone has a degree of knowledge about it. “Our science”, says a Master of the Wisdom, “is preeminently the science of effects by their causes and of causes by their effects, and it is also the science of things deduced from first principle”.[3]
The statement means that theosophy or esoteric philosophy can be defined as the science that enables people to study and know the law of Karma in its dynamics.
Thinking that such a fundamental tenet of philosophy as the law of Karma is “unknowable” constitutes at best a childish fancy and no more. It is in misguided churches only, not in schools of philosophy, that individuals are stimulated to believe instead of thinking, and to consider as “unknowable” the principles that rule the Universe. 
The Knowledge of Karma
There is no theosophical purpose in pretending to show a separation between sages and non-sages. The first step to wisdom consists in seeing that unity is more important than differences.
A naïve theosophist might think that the action of Karma can be “calculated” to know it. The science of Theosophy does not consist in astutely calculating anything. The science of Theosophy consists mainly in producing good Karma. Through right action one learns. The best way to “know” the future is to actually build it through wise and brotherly action. 
As to the obstacles humanity must face, in Letter Ten of the Mahatma Letters, a master of the wisdom makes it clear that there is no real evil, except the one that is created in human imagination. Ignorance is the real obstacle. [4]
Those who haven’t properly studied theosophy yet may think that “the Karma of this earth and our present humanity began in a past too far back for human minds to reach”, and that investigating its beginning is “useless and profitless”.  
The idea is remarkably false and stimulates people to mental laziness. The beginning of this planet is one of the main subjects of “The Secret Doctrine” and a priority for every student of classical theosophy. Each individual reincarnation is intimately connected with the planetary and cosmic cycles and must be understood in their wider context. The study of “The Secret Doctrine” and of the origins and future of mankind as shown in that work is therefore an essential task for those who want to have a knowledge of esoteric philosophy and to understand human karma and dharma.
How Karma Expresses Itself
It is said in semi-theosophical circles that in the life of worlds, nations, and individuals, Karma “cannot act unless there is an appropriate instrument” for its action. In fact, Karma acts all the time through all kinds of “instruments”. Every existing thing expresses Karma, although calling it a mere “instrument” of Karma is not quite correct. On the other hand, Karma will get ripe in its own Time.
There is no radical separation between matured Karma, the Karma one must face by now, and new (or stored) Karma, which is still to ripen.
The process through which Karma ripens, unfolds and actively expresses itself is slow and gradual. However, it has its moments of sudden change and quick transfiguration.
The Karma that is not matured yet has a degree of “scarcely perceived” but real influence on current affairs. A sort of “osmosis” occurs from the beginning.
The Karma Being Planted Right Now
Superficial minds see Karma as something that one must “harvest”. In fact, human beings not only confront the consequences of what they previously did. They also create Karma, or Destiny, and the production of new Karma - as humans act and react - is far more important than the “destiny” they harvest. This is the reason why Ethics and sincerity are essential parts of the science that studies the Law.
Ethics is the art of sowing good Karma.
“Smart knaves” have no chance. No one cheats the Law of the Universe. It is by planting the karma of truthfulness and wisdom that one liberates himself from the painful inheritance of illusion and ignorance.
The Alchemy of One’s Intentions
Probably the most important task of a student, regarding the Law of Karma, consists in improving the quality and nobility of his intentions, on the various levels of consciousness.
The goals of the pilgrim, on the different planes of existence, create the dominant color in his Karma and define the general direction in which he makes progress. As his efforts unfold, a constant alchemy is necessary. He must fearlessly see his mistakes and illusions at all time and transmute them into awareness and wisdom. This is achieved through combining a severe examination of facts and a calm detachment regarding personal matters.  
The power and energy of sacred commitments can elevate one’s soul and strengthen his noble intentions. [5]
The physical, emotional and mental instruments of the pilgrim are tools through which he can gradually stop the karmic process of ignorance and accomplish the dharma and duty of learning about the Law. His vehicles of action and perception are both appropriate and limited. They can be improved through the practice of altruistic intention, or they can get less effective through an intention that suffers from moral weakness.
There is no real struggle or opposition between justice and compassion. They are different aspects of the same wisdom. Goodness and severity, discipline and freedom are inseparable factors. [6]
As the student of esoteric philosophy understands Karma, he begins to leave aside the selfishness of those who think too much about their own instruments of action and perception. He starts to forget himself in the work for mankind. In doing so, he naturally learns how best to control and use his own tools, physical, vital, emotional and intellectual.  
The very act of adopting a noble cause as the central motive in  one’s life will lead to a purification and improvement of one’s several levels of consciousness. The process of learning will not be too comfortable. It will teach the pilgrim in due time all necessary lessons in altruism and discernment.
On the other hand, ‘spiritualized selfishness’ can produce but illusion, for the simple fact that its intention is vitiated and, as a result, its direction is illusion.
On Judging Karma and Life
Ill-informed individuals use to nurture fancies like this one: “No man but a sage or true seer can judge another’s Karma.”
In fact, no one can make a firm decision except through judgment. We  all must judge and evaluate actions of people around us and our own actions. Before judging and deciding, however, one must examine the different sides of reality.
Superficial opinion and brainless judgment should be avoided. One must be open to reexamine previous views and judgments. Paul, the Christian apostle, is right in recommending in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians:
“Put all things to the test: keep what is good and avoid every kind of evil” (Chapter 5, verses 21-22).
It has been said:
“Judging is that which we do before making decisions. Every decision is based on some sort of judgement. It is therefore no use to pretend we do not judge people or situations. We do that all the time. However, the idea of judging includes the duty of being just and fair. It provides us with the opportunity of paying attention to facts, a practice which is most beneficial - in the first place - to ourselves.” [7]
The Karma of Cataclysms
Geological and sociological cataclysms express the ups and downs of the moral condition of humanity and passing civilizations. This universal principle is stated a number of times in the Jewish Torah, the Christian Bible, the Taoist “Wen-Tzu”, the “Tao Teh Ching” and other Scriptures. The Mahatma Letters make the issue clear with great precision, and they should be respected as a sacred source of esoteric learning. A helpful text by Damodar Mavalankar is available on the subject. [8]
A Master of the Wisdom wrote:
“When [present humanity] will have reached at its zenith of physical intellectuality, and developed the highest civilization (remember the difference we make between material and spiritual civilizations); unable to go any higher in its own cycle - its progress towards absolute evil will be arrested (…) by one of such cataclysmic changes; its great civilization destroyed (…) after a short period of glory and learning.” [9]
There is no fixed date for that to occur. Meanwhile, the duty of every good-willing individual is to work for the best. Common sense indicates the goal of humanity is to obtain spiritual learning and ethical awareness, while avoiding unnecessary pain.
The suffering that has not occurred yet can be avoided, as the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali clarify in their book II, aphorism 16. Future pain can be at least reduced. The way to do that is by fighting its causes. The origin of suffering is in spiritual and ethical ignorance.
At any time or circumstances, a pilgrim can remember the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus and perform the right action that is within his limits to do.[10]
The karmic affinity of the pilgrim with eternal wisdom is his best personal safeguard. His understanding of the law of universal brotherhood provides him with the deepest source of inner contentment and bliss.  
[1] The article “Four Ideas for a Brotherly Power” examines solutions for the problem of power structures in associations whose goals are altruistic.   
[2] See the article “Thoughts Along the Road” in the April 2020 edition of  The Aquarian Theosophist”.
[4] The Mahatma Letters”, Letter X, pages 56-59.
[5] See for instance the articles “The Seven Clauses of a Pledge”, “Commentaries to the Golden Stairs”  and “How a Sacred Decision Unfolds”.
[6] The point is examined in Robert Crosbie’s article “Mercy and the Law of Karma”.
[7] From the article “How Best to Judge People”.
[9] From Letter 23-B, pages 156-157, in “The Mahatma Letters”.
[10] Click to read “Doing What Depends on Us”.
The above article was published in the associated websites on 19 April 2020.  
Regarding Karma, consider reading “Immortal Sages Humbly Obey the Law” and M. C.’s Text on Karma, Annotated”.
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Annotations on Karma