BN-Basic Course Syllabus
The Ancient Wisdom Tradition
IV Karma & Reincarnation -The Reciprocal Laws Of Development
- Karma - The Law Of Responsibility
(Wm. Q. Judge, Articles, Vol. I, p. 112)
"Whatever action he performs, whether good or bad, every thing done in a former body must necessarily be enjoyed or suffered."
In the hermetic doctrine, as well in science, the axiom holds true: for every action, there is an equal reaction.
(Anugita, Ch.. III.)
There is good Karma, there is bad Karma, and as the wheel of life moves on, old Karma is exhausted and again fresh Karma is accumulated. Although at first it may appear that nothing can be more fatalistic than this doctrine, yet a little consideration will show that in reality this is not the case. Karma is twofold, hidden and manifest, Karma is the man that is, Karma is his action. True that each action is a cause from which evolves the countless ramifications of effect in time and space.
"That which yea sow ye reap." In some sphere of action the harvest will be gathered. It is necessary that the man of action should realize this truth. It is equally necessary that the manifestations of this law in the operations of Karma should be clearly apprehended.
Karma, broadly speaking, may be said to be the continuance of the nature of the act, and each act contains within itself the past and future. Every defect which can be realized from an act must be implicit in the act itself or it could never come into existence. Effect is but the nature of the act and cannot exist distinct from its cause. Karma only produces the manifestation of that which already exists; being action it has its operation in time, and Karma may therefore be said to be the same action from another point of time. It must, moreover, be evident that not only is there a relation between the cause and the effect, but there must also be a relation between the cause and the individual who experiences the effect. If it were otherwise, any man would reap the effect of the actions of any other man. We may sometimes appear to reap the effects of the action of others, but this is only apparent. In point of fact it is our own action.
The first great result of Karmic action is the incarnation in physical life. The birth-seeking entity consisting of desires and tendencies, presses forward towards incarnation. It is governed in the selection of its scene of manifestation by the law of economy.Whatever is the ruling tendency, that is to say, whatever group of affinities is strongest, those affinities will lead it to the point of manifestation at which there is the least opposition. It incarnates in those surroundings most in harmony with its Karmic tendencies and all the effects of actions contained in the Karma so manifesting will be experienced by the individual. This governs the station of life, the sex, the conditions of the irresponsible years of childhood, the constitution with the various diseases inherent in it, and in fact all those determining forces of physical existence which are ordinarily classed under the terms, "heredity," and "national characteristics."
A very important question is here presented: Can an individual affect his own Karma, and if so to what degree and in what manner? It has been said that Karma is the continuance of the act, and for any particular line of Karma to exert itself it is necessary that there should be the basis of the act engendering that Karma in which it can inhere and operate. But action has many planes in which it can inhere. There is the physical plane, the body with its senses and organs; then there is the intellectual plane, memory, which binds the impressions of the senses into a consecutive whole and reason puts in orderly arrangement its storehouse of facts. Beyond the plane of intellect there is the plane of emotion, the plane of preference for one object rather than another: the fourth principle of the man.These three, physical, intellectual, and emotional, deal entirely with objects of sense perception and may be called the great battlefield of Karma.1 There is also the plane of ethics, the plane of discrimination of the "I ought to do this, I ought not to do that." This plane harmonizes the intellect and the emotions. All these are the planes of Karma or action: what to do, and what not to do. It is the mind as the basis of desire that initiates action on the various planes, and it is only through the mind that the effects of rest and action can be received.
An entity enters incarnation with Karmic energy from past existences, that is to say the action of past lives is awaiting its development as effect. This Karmic energy presses into manifestation in harmony with the basic nature of the act. Physical Karma will manifest in the physical tendencies bringing enjoyment and suffering. The intellectual and the ethical planes are also in the same manner the result of the past Karmic tendencies and the man as he is, with his moral and intellectual faculties, is in unbroken continuity with the past.
(HPB, Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 679)
Karma - Physically, action: metaphysically, the LAW OF RETRIBUTION, the Law of cause and effect or Ethical Causation...Karma neither punishes nor rewards, it is simply the one Universal Law which guides unerringly, and so to say, blindly, all other laws productive of certain effects along the grooves of their respective causations. Karma is a mysterious law, and no respecter of persons.
(HPB, Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p.643)
For the only decree of Karma - an eternal and immutable decree - is absolute Harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of Spirit. It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or - break them.
(HPB, Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 304-05)
This Law -- whether Conscious or Unconscious --predestines nothing and no one. It exists from and in Eternity, truly, for it is ETERNITY itself; and as such, since no act can be co-equal with eternity, it cannot be said to act, for it is ACTION itself...Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position...
(HPB, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 305)
KARMA is an Absolute and Eternal law in the World of manifestation; and as there can only be one Absolute, as One eternal ever present Cause, believers in Karma cannot be regarded as Atheists or materialists still less as fatalists.
(Wm. Q. Judge, Ocean of Theosophy, p. 89)
Karma...one of the most important of the laws of nature. Ceaseless in its operation, it bears alike upon planets, systems of planets, races, nations, families, and individuals. It is the twin doctrine to reincarnation. So inextricably interlaced are these two laws that it is almost impossible to properly consider one apart from the other. No spot or being in the universe is exempt from the operation of Karma, but all are under its sway, punished for error by it yet beneficently led on, through discipline, rest, and reward, to the distant heights of perfection. It is a law so comprehensive in its sweep, embracing at once our physical and our moral being.
(Wm. Q. Judge, Ocean of Theosophy, p. 89)
Applied to man's moral life it is the law of ethical causation, justice, reward and punishment; the cause for birth and rebirth, yet equally the means for escape from incarnation. Viewed from another point it is merely effect flowing from cause, action and reaction, exact result for every thought and act. It is act and the result of act; for the word's literal meaning is action.
(Wm. Q. Judge, Ocean of Theosophy, pp. 89-90)
It is not a being but a law, the universal law of harmony which unerringly restores all disturbance to equilibrium.
(Wm. Q. Judge, Echoes from the Orient, p. 44)
When a being dies, he emits, as it were, a mass of force or energy, which goes to make up the new personality when he shall be reincarnated. In this energy is found the summation of the life just given up, and by means of it the Ego is forced to assume that sort of body among those appropriate circumstances which together are the means for carrying out the decrees of Karma.
Reference for further reading
HPB, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, pgs. 634-647,
HPB, The Key To Theosophy, Section VIII -"On Re-incarnation or Rebirth"
HPB, The Key To Theosophy, Section XI -"Mysteries Of Re-incarnation
HPB Articles: "Our Cycle & the Next"
HPB Articles: "Cyclic Evolution & Karma"
Wm. Q. Judge, The Ocean Of Theosophy, Ch's VIII, IX & X