In this section we look at Reincarnation and Karma.  This will be the last section we are going to study in The Key to Theosophy.  The remaining themes on practical theosophy and aims etc are already well covered in our study groups on The Art of Living and Sacred Texts.


ENQUIRER. You mean, then, that we have all lived on earth before, in many past incarnations, and shall go on so living?

THEOSOPHIST. I do. The life-cycle, or rather the cycle of conscious life, begins with the separation of the mortal animal-man into sexes, and will end with the close of the last generation of men, in the seventh round and seventh race of mankind. Considering we are only in the fourth round and fifth race, its duration is more easily imagined than expressed.

ENQUIRER. And we keep on incarnating in new personalities all the time?

THEOSOPHIST. Most assuredly so; because this life-cycle or period of incarnation may be best compared to human life. As each such life is composed of days of activity separated by nights of sleep or of inaction, so, in the incarnation-cycle, an active life is followed by a Devachanic rest.

ENQUIRER. And it is this succession of births that is generally defined as reincarnation?

THEOSOPHIST. Just so. It is only through these births that the perpetual progress of the countless millions of Egos toward final perfection and final rest (as long as was the period of activity) can be achieved.

ENQUIRER. And what is it that regulates the duration, or special qualities of these incarnations?

THEOSOPHIST. Karma, the universal law of retributive justice.

ENQUIRER. Is it an intelligent law?

THEOSOPHIST. For the Materialist, who calls the law of periodicity which regulates the marshalling of the several bodies, and all the other laws in nature, blind forces and mechanical laws, no doubt Karma would be a law of chance and nomore. For us, no adjective or qualification could describe that which is impersonal and no entity, but a universal operative law. If you question me about the causative intelligence in it, I must answer you I do not know. But if you ask me to define its effects and tell you what these are in our belief, I may say that the experience of thousands of ages has shown us that they are absolute and unerring equity, wisdom, and intelligence. For Karma in its effects is an unfailing redresser of human injustice, and of all the failures of nature; a stern adjuster of wrongs; a retributive law which rewards and punishes with equal impartiality. It is, in the strictest sense, “no respecter of persons,” though, on the other hand, it can neither be propitiated, nor turned aside by prayer. This is a belief common to Hindus and Buddhists, who both believe in Karma.

ENQUIRER. In this Christian dogmas contradict both, and I doubt whether any Christian will accept the teaching.

THEOSOPHIST. No; and Inman gave the reason for it many years ago. As he puts it, while “the Christians will accept any nonsense, if promulgated by the Church as a matter of faith . . . the Buddhists hold that nothing which is contradicted by sound reason can be a true doctrine of Buddha.” They do not believe in any pardon for their sins, except after an adequate and just punishment for each evil deed or thought in a future incarnation, and a proportionate compensation to the parties injured.

ENQUIRER. Where is it so stated?

THEOSOPHIST. In most of their sacred works. In the “Wheel of the Law” (p. 57) you may find the following Theosophical tenet: -“Buddhists believe that every act, word or thought has its consequence, which will appear sooner or later in the present or in the future state. Evil acts will produce evil consequences, good acts will produce good consequences: prosperity in this world, or birth in heaven (Devachan). . . in the future state.”

The Key to Theosophy  pp 197-199 (original edition)


Comments and questions welcome.

Follow on passages can be found here:

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 6.

Part 7:

Views: 907

 Reply to This

Upload Files

Follow – Email me when people reply

Replies to This Discussion


Why re-incarnate at all? 


What's the thinking or question behind your question, Jeffrey?  Will you say a bit more.


Why go through this grand adventure of birth, death, re-birth?  If we are one with the Divine, individual points of being emanating form the One, what's the point of going through this process? 


Good question, Jeffrey.  To be honest, I don't know the answer.  We could talk about it in various ways, such as the journey and development of the soul as in the SD's Third Fundamental Proposition, or the out breathing an in breathing of the Great Breath, the Unconscious gaining self consciousness through diversity and differentiation as the One becomes the many which rebecomes the One, the dewdrop returning to the Ocean & so on & so on ....  the list of reasons is almost endless and each spiritual tradition can gives its own variation on the theme.  But why the ONE becomes the many in the first place, why the universal law is at it is, seems to be beyond finite comprehension.  The Secret Doctrine can set out the 'what' in the form of the Three Fundamental Propositions in terms of a) the fundamental Principle of the Absolute, the Law of Cycles or periodicity and the journey of the pilgrim soul through all the stages of life from 'ignorance of its true nature to Divine Wisdom', but it does not give the 'why' of why that all of this comes into being in the first place. 

I guess what we can explore is the nature of the universe in which we find ourselves; the laws that operate within it and which govern us; the nature of the self and Self, whether we are separate beings or really of the One-ness of life; the causes of ignorance and suffering and the causes that lead to the cessation of ignorance and suffering; whether there is a path from ignorance and suffering to wisdom and liberation and how to travel it etc etc.

I hope that is some kind of answer to your specific question, even though it starts and must end with 'I don't know'.


Actually, I didn't expect an answer.  We could also ask why are we here and alive at all?  Why does the earth revolve around the sun?  I think some things, at least for the time being, will simply remain a mystery.  I think this is good as life would be a bit boring if we had all the answers. 


I have come up with no apparent reason for the One to individualize and travel the often treacherous road of birth and death.  One could also ask why do people climb Mt. Everest, go bungie jumping, and wrestle alligators.  I always try to remind myself that life isn't about the destination, its about the journey. 


The problem is we don't self-consciously know or realize our unity with the One. We are by and large ignorant of the larger cycles of life, we are disconnected from each other and the parent earth, disconnected from our Spiritual parents and we fumble about making all kinds of mistakes that lead to suffering and pain for ourselves and others.  To remedy this we need Wisdom and that involves a process, a process by the way you cannot just opt out of.  It is kind of like Hotel California you can check out any time you like but you cannot leave!

Life on earth is a school and each life time school is in session, when we pass out of incarnation we have a chance to rest and assimilate.  It is all very natural really.   Plants do it.


Why should we seek liberation from the cycle?  There are many good things in this world and nature is full of beauty.  Perhaps it isn't about liberation (one must not desire anything, as it holds one back from progress) but perhaps it is about learning to love and to be content in whatever environment and situation one finds himself/herself.  That is liberation, is it not?


Here is the next passage in our study:

Part two:

THEOSOPHIST. . . . .  In the “Wheel of the Law” (p. 57) you may find the following Theosophical tenet: -“Buddhists believe that every act, word or thought has its consequence, which will appear sooner or later in the present or in the future state. Evil acts will produce evil consequences, good acts will produce good consequences: prosperity in this world, or birth in heaven (Devachan). . . in the future state.” 

ENQUIRER. Christians believe the same thing, don't they?

 THEOSOPHIST. Oh, no; they believe in the pardon and the remission of all sins. They are promised that if they only believe in the blood of Christ (an innocent victim!), in the blood offered by Him for the expiation of the sins of the whole of mankind, it will atone for every mortal sin. And we believe neither in vicarious atonement, nor in the possibility of the remission of the smallest sin by any god, not even by a “personal Absolute” or “Infinite,” if such a thing could have any existence. What we believe in, is strict and impartial justice. Our idea of the unknown Universal Deity, represented by Karma, is that it is a Power which cannot fail, and can, therefore, have neither wrath nor mercy, only absolute Equity, which leaves every cause, great or small, to work out its inevitable effects. The saying of Jesus: “With what measure you mete it shall be measured to you again” (Matth. vii., 2), neither by expression nor implication points to any hope of future mercy or salvation by proxy. This is why, recognising as we do in our philosophy the justice of this statement, we cannot recommend too strongly mercy, charity, and forgiveness of mutual offences. Resist not evil, and render good for evil, are Buddhist precepts, and were first preached in view of the implacability of Karmic law. For man to take the law into his own hands is anyhow a sacrilegious presumption. Human Law may use restrictive not punitive measures; but a man who, believing in Karma, still revenges himself and refuses to forgive every injury, thereby rendering good for evil, is a criminal and only hurts himself. As Karma is sure to punish the man who wronged him, by seeking to inflict an additional punishment on his enemy, he, who instead of leaving that punishment to the great Law adds to it his own mite, only begets thereby a cause for the future reward of his own enemy and a future punishment for himself. The unfailing Regulator affects in each incarnation the quality of its successor; and the sum of the merit or demerit in preceding ones determines it.

ENQUIRER. Are we then to infer a man's past from his present?

THEOSOPHIST. Only so far as to believe that his present life is what it justly should be, to atone for the sins of the past life. Of course―seers and great adepts excepted―we cannot as average mortals know what those sins were. From our paucity of data, it is impossible for us even to determine what an old man's youth must have been; neither can we, for like reasons, draw final conclusions merely from what we see in the life of some man, as to what his past life may have been.

The Key to Theosophy pp199-201


It seems that Reincarnation and Karma go hand in hand and we cannot consider one without taking into account the other.  Here’s a summary of the main points from what HPB has said so far, as I understand it.  Please add any comments or additions of your own based on what HPB has written:

We have all lived before and shall go on doing so.

The personality does not reincarnate. We incarnate into new personalities in each new birth and it is this succession of births that is meant by the term ‘reincarnation’.  

Reincarnation may be conceived as alternating periods of activity and rest, day and night for the Reincarnating Ego, otherwise known as the Individuality.

Reincarnation is a necessity for the Individuality and provides the means of perpetual progress towards it’s full development over great lengths of time.

The duration and quality of each incarnation is governed by the Karma.

Karma is not an entity or a being of any kind.  It is a universal and operative Law - impartial in its workings, which exhibit absolute unerring equity, wisdom and intelligence.

Karma, as an impartial and universal Law, cannot be appeased or turned aside by prayer.  Hence, there is no ‘forgiveness of sins’.

Karma is sometimes referred to as the Law of Retribution for in its effects it appears as a redresser of human injustice and the failures of nature.  It ‘rewards’ or ‘punishes’ in future incarnations according to the thought, word or deed of the originator in the 'present' incarnation.

Our present life is the result of Karma we have created in past lives.

Those who injure us create negative Karma that will come back to them in some future life due to the Law of Karma.  Therefore better to forgive them than to seek revenge and inflict a punishment of our own, for this creates fresh negative Karma for ourselves, thus perpetuating the cycle of karma.


Hi Peter:

I do not have anything to add.  We have already touched most of these ideas when we first studied Re-incarnation and Rebirth and on the various post-mortem states.  It is hard to discuss these themes since most of us do not remember any of our past lives.  For now we just "accept" it based on faith.  One thing, I am curious about, which is, do all the souls have to return back to this planet?  Can some continue their journey on another planet?  Do some people visit other planets in their post-mortem state?



I was thinking the same thing, Barbara, when I was looking through this section prior to posting.  We've covered a lot about reincarnation when we looked at Reincarnation and Rebirth, just as you say.  We've also gone over it a number of times looking at the theme of the Individuality and Personality, the skandhas & so on.    Perhaps there are some things we can point out for those new to the study and to the study of Theosophy in general. 

As I understand the doctrine of rebirth and post-mortem states, only Adepts and sorcerers are conscious after death.  The fifth principle becomes unconscious immediately after death and only begins to regain a conscious state towards the end of the Gestation period, just prior to entrance into Devachan.   That would suggest that 'souls' don't travel anywhere, as such, after death but pass through kama-loca and devachan (states rather than a places) as described in our earlier  study.

We are part of the Human life wave which is progressing on this planet so I would think this is where we always come back, particularly as this is where our karmic connections are formed and have to be worked through.  IOther planets in our solar system are said to be at different stages of their evolutionary development compared to us e.g. Venus is said to be in its 7th Round, I believe.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 12, 2014 at 6:36pm

True that we are part of the human life wave and our karma tie us to this planet, but one would imagine that it is possible for some souls to be on another planet for a period of time.  Similarly,  there may be other beings from faraway, visiting earth to serve some specific purpose, as well. 

Just a wild guess. 

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 13, 2014 at 6:13am

Sounds plausible, I believe Annie Beasant mentions this in one of her books.  Also, Alan Keradac (a spiritualist, sometimes read by BPB) also mentions this. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 13, 2014 at 7:42am

Barbara - yes, indeed.  I'm skeptical about the idea that we incarnate on other planets, partly for the reasons already stated.   However,  there may well be very advanced souls from other planets that visit us.  For example, the Earth and Venus are said to be intimately connected occultly, and as Seventh Rounders they may well have more 'freedom' in the solar system as a whole than ourselves.

Here’s what the Mahatma KH says about the Buddha, which may have a bearing on your question:

“When our great Buddha – the patron of all the adepts, the reformer and the codifier of the occult system, reached first Nirvana on earth, he became a Planetary Spirit; i.e. – his spirit could at one and the same time rove the interstellar spaces in full consciousness, and continue at will on Earth in his original and individual body. For the divine Self had so completely disfranchised itself from matter that it could create at will an inner substitute for itself, and leaving it in the human form for days, weeks, sometimes years, affect in no wise by the change either the vital principle or the physical mind of its body. By the way, that is the highest form of adeptship man can hope for on our planet. But it is as rare as the Buddhas themselves, the last Khobilgan who reached it being Sang-Ko-Pa of Kokonor (XIV Century), the reformer of esoteric as well as of vulgar Lamaism. Many are those who “break through the egg-shell,” few who, once out are able to exercise their Nirira namastaka fully, when completely out of the body. Conscious life in Spirit is as difficult for some natures as swimming, is for some bodies. Though the human frame is lighter in its bulk than water, and that every person is born with the faculty, so few develop in themselves the art of treading water that death by drowning is the most frequent of accidents. The planetary Spirit of that kind (the Buddha like) can pass at will into other bodies -- of more or less etherialised matter, inhabiting other regions of the Universe.”

Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, no. 9  (Barker Edition)

One question would be, 'what does other regions of the universe refer to?'  It could be different regions in outer space or inner space or both.

ps:  Buddha is said to be a 'sixth rounder' in terms human development on this planet.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 17, 2014 at 4:59pm

Along the same line, what happens to our life-atoms, those that make up our bodies, when we die? 

I wonder if any of these atoms could originate from other planets?  And could this be a reason why some people, in addition to the planetary configuration at birth, are more affected by particular planets?   

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 18, 2014 at 3:32am

Interesting question, Barbara.  I would think the life atoms are themselves monads undergoing development.

What do people think about Barbara's question?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 15, 2014 at 10:07am

This is an excellent summary and extremely helpful to see put this way. HPB and the founders of the modern theosophical movement put particular emphasis on these twin doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation. Why do students think this was important to do?

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 13, 2014 at 7:55am

Here is the next passage in our study.

Part three:

ENQUIRER. But what is Karma?

THEOSOPHIST. As I have said, we consider it as the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown lawwhich adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable.

ENQUIRER. Then it is the “Absolute,” the “Unknowable” again, and is not of much value as an explanation of the problems of life?

THEOSOPHIST. On the contrary. For, though we do not know what Karma is per se, and in its essence, we do know how it works, and we can define and describe its mode of action with accuracy. We only do not know its ultimate Cause, just as modern philosophy universally admits that the ultimate Cause of anything is “unknowable.”

ENQUIRER. And what has Theosophy to say in regard to the solution of the more practical needs of humanity? What is the explanation which it offers in reference to the awful suffering and dire necessity prevalent among the so-called “lower classes.”

 THEOSOPHIST. To be pointed, according to our teaching all these great social evils, the distinction of classes in Society, and of the sexes in the affairs of life, the unequal distribution of capital and of labour — all are due to what we tersely but truly denominate KARMA.

 ENQUIRER. But, surely, all these evils which seem to fall upon the masses somewhat indiscriminately are not actual merited and INDIVIDUAL Karma?

THEOSOPHIST. No, they cannot be so strictly defined in their effects as to show that each individual environment, and the particular conditions of life in which each person finds himself, are nothing more than the retributive Karma which the individual generated in a previous life. We must not lose sight of the fact that every atom is subject to the general law governing the whole body to which it belongs, and here we come upon the wider track of the Karmic law. Do you not perceive that the aggregate of individual Karma becomes that of the nation to which those individuals belong, and further, that the sum total of National Karma is that of the World? The evils that you speak of are not peculiar to the individual or even to the Nation, they are more or less universal; and it is upon this broad line of Human interdependence that the law of Karma finds its legitimate and equable issue. 

ENQUIRER. Do I, then, understand that the law of Karma is not necessarily an individual law? 

THEOSOPHIST. That is just what I mean. It is impossible that Karma could readjust the balance of power in the world's life and progress, unless it had a broad and general line of action. It is held as a truth among Theosophists that the interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as “Separateness”; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive.

The Key to Theosophy pp 201 - 203

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 13, 2014 at 11:31am

It's often asserted that everything that happens to us in life is the result of our own 'individual karma', i.e.  the effects of causes that we generated in a previous life.  HPB says this is not the case and that we need to consider two things when we try to understand the workings of karma:

- the interdependence of Humanaity

- Distributive Karma.

Would anyone like to explain or sum up what HPB is seeking to explain to the Enquirer?

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 16, 2014 at 1:12am

There is a theory about karma which says that nations and cultures also create their own karma, so each individual who belongs to a certain country or culture also partakes of that culture's/country's karma, for good or bad.  I would suppose that each individual is born into a culture or country for their own reasons and through their lives add to and take from the associated karma.

We must remember that our every action and thought cause repercussions throughout the universe, throughout out cultures and countries.  Humanity and all life is interdependent and karma that belongs to a nation is distributed to all who belong to that nation. 

In the case of the US, I feel that that we are still dealing with karma that has to do with slavery.  Whether or not we were part of the slave trade or owned slaves or were slaves we are all part of this nation and so we are all still dealing with the repercussions of enslaving and torturing our fellow men and women.   This, of course is all due to the selfishness and feeling of separateness that HPB mentions above.  Hopefully we will learn our lesson.....

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 17, 2014 at 4:00am

Jeffrey - yes, that seems to be along the lines HPB proposes about National Karma.  I imagine that just as in a 'body' there are those parts that are directly affected by a disturbance and those that suffer indirectly, and those again that are affected but may not suffer quite so much, the same applies to a nation & so on.

Slavery appears to have been a part of life at all times throughout recorded history, therefore I imagine that for so long as we collectively continue to treat each other in this way then those cycles of abuse will keep returning in one form or another as karma seeks ever to adjust effects to their causes.

If we behaved differently towards one another would karma need to find another way to redress the balance, I wonder?

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 18, 2014 at 4:08am

I am not sure if we should view karma as something that redresses or acts.  I think it is more of a process.  Intention and behavior take us down certain paths and with those paths come consequences.  As long as we continue down those paths we will continue to face the consequences of our behavior and intentions.  Once we have learned the error of our ways and make honest changes to our behavior and intentions the karma should be fulfilled.  I don't believe that the Universe is vindictive as there is no purpose in being vindictive.  It is all about learning to love and be compassionate, to care about each other, to love each other and the Divine.  Otherwise why go through life at all?

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 21, 2014 at 6:08am

I can see your line of thought, Jeffrey.  I think Karma certainly includes our learning the error of our ways and making honest changes and there may well still be a karmic debt to be repaid before karma is fulfilled - or to put it in HPB's terms, the forces which we set in motion by our actions (thoughts, words and deeds) may still need to be restored to equilibrium even after we recognise the error of our ways.  That doesn't necessarily imply vindictiveness, just the law seeking to restore harmony and equilibrium.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 17, 2014 at 10:15am

Mr. Judge's Aphorisms on Karma touches on your point.

(29) Race-Karma influences each unit in the race through the law of Distribution. National Karma operates on the members of the nation by the same law more concentrated. Family Karma governs only with a nation where families have been kept pure and distinct; for in any nation where there is a mixture of family — as obtains in each Kaliyuga period — family Karma is in general distributed over a nation. But even at such periods some families remain coherent for long periods, and then the members feel the sway of family Karma. The word “family” may include several smaller families.

See all of them here:Aphorisms on Karma

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 17, 2014 at 4:33pm

It's a nice passage, Gerry - thanks. The notion of Family Karma really seems to touch on the interconnectedness between beings.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on July 17, 2014 at 12:34pm

There are some modern day psychologists who claim to help people through "past life regression".  What is the theosophical view of this practice?

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 18, 2014 at 11:25am

Theosophy is open to free inquirery.  Nothing should be discounted unless proven to be false.  I find the past life regression thing very fascinating.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 18, 2014 at 6:43pm

I am not familiar with "past life regression."  Can you describe what it is supposed to do?  And how the psychologists do it?

Thank you.

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 19, 2014 at 5:59am

Past life regression is the use of hypnosis to bring a subject back to a time prior to their current birth/life.  There are many books out there on the subject, very fascinating reading.  Do a search on  Keep in mind that opinions concerning the reality of hypnosis are many.  Some psychologist discount hypnosis is hokum, while others acknowledge that hypnosis is helpful but that there is no way to prove that a story recounted under hypnosis is a true account of a past life.  You be the judge.

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 19, 2014 at 3:44am

Past Live regression appears to be helpful and of a positive nature for some, however it can and does have the opposite effect for others.

The reason is possibly due to the fact that, according to the Teachings, it is only an enlightened Yogi, seer, or Adept who is able to accurately determine theirs and others past lives. As most practitioners and patents don’t fit this category the results are questionable at best.

Yoga Sutras Book 3 gives power available to the enlightened Yogi, Sutras 18 is on past lives

Quote from Key section 11

ENQUIRER. Are we then to infer a man's past from his present?

THEOSOPHIST. Only so far as to believe that his present life is what it justly should be, to atone for the sins of the past life. Of course -- seers and great adepts excepted -- we cannot as average mortals know what those sins were.

It is my belief that one has to have developed the ability to correctly read the Astral Light which is made up of the experiences of all humans, plus thought forms, desires and imaginations, astral shells, etc.  As I understand it only the trained occultist with Egoic consciousness has the discriminative power to accurately do this. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 21, 2014 at 5:42am

Here is the next study passage.

Part 4:

ENQUIRER. And are there no means by which the distributive or national Karma might be concentrated or collected, so to speak, and brought to its natural and legitimate fulfilment without all this protracted suffering?

THEOSOPHIST. As a general rule, and within certain limits which define the age to which we belong, the law of Karma cannot be hastened or retarded in its fulfilment. But of this I am certain, the point of possibility in either of these directions has never yet been touched. Listen to the following recital of one phase of national suffering, and then ask yourself whether, admitting the working power of individual, relative, and distributive Karma, these evils are not capable of extensive modification and general relief. What I am about to read to you is from the pen of a National Saviour, one who, having overcome Self, and being free to choose, has elected to serve Humanity, in bearing at least as much as a woman's shoulders can possibly bear of National Karma. This is what she says:

      “Yes, Nature always does speak, don't you think? only sometimes we make so much noise that we drown her voice. That is why it is so restful to go out of the town and nestle awhile in the Mother's arms. I am thinking of the evening on Hampstead Heath when we watched the sun go down; but oh! upon what suffering and misery that sun had set! A lady brought me yesterday a big hamper of wild flowers. I thought some of my East-end family had a better right to it than I, and so I took it down to a very poor school in Whitechapel this morning. You should have seen the pallid little faces brighten! Thence I went to pay for some dinners at a little cookshop for some children. It was in a back street, narrow, full of jostling people; stench indescribable, from fish, meat, and other comestibles, all reeking in a sun that, in Whitechapel, festers instead of purifying. The cookshop was the quintessence of all the smells. Indescribable meat-pies at 1d., loathsome lumps of 'food' and swarms of flies, a very altar of Beelzebub! All about, babies on the prowl for scraps, one, with the face of an angel, gathering up cherrystones as a light and nutritious form of diet. I came westward with every nerve shuddering and jarred, wondering whether anything can be done with some parts of London save swallowing them up in an earthquake and starting their inhabitants afresh, after a plunge into some purifying Lethe, out of which not a memory might emerge! And then I thought of Hampstead Heath, and — pondered. If by any sacrifice one could win the power to save these people, the cost would not be worth counting; but, you see, THEY must be changed — and how can that be wrought? In the condition they now are, they would not profit by any environment in which they might be placed; and yet, in their present surroundings they must continue to putrefy. It breaks my heart, this endless, hopeless misery, and the brutish degradation that is at once its outgrowth and its root. It is like the banyan tree; every branch roots itself and sends out new shoots. What a difference between these feelings and the peaceful scene at Hampstead! and yet we, who are the brothers and sisters of these poor creatures, have only a right to use Hampstead Heaths to gain strength to save Whitechapels.” (Signed by a name too respected and too well known to be given to scoffers.)

ENQUIRER. That is a sad but beautiful letter, and I think it presents with painful conspicuity the terrible workings of what you have called “Relative and Distributive Karma.” But alas! there seems no immediate hope of any relief short of an earthquake, or some such general ingulfment!

THEOSOPHIST. What right have we to think so while one-half of humanity is in a position to effect an immediate relief of the privations which are suffered by their fellows? When every individual has contributed to the general good what he can of money, of labour, and of ennobling thought, then, and only then, will the balance of National Karma be struck, and until then we have no right nor any reasons for saying that there is more life on the earth than Nature can support. It is reserved for the heroic souls, the Saviours of our Race and Nation, to find out the cause of this unequal pressure of retributive Karma, and by a supreme effort to re-adjust the balance of power, and save the people from a moral ingulfment a thousand times more disastrous and more permanently evil than the like physical catastrophe, in which you seem to see the only possible outlet for this accumulated misery.

The Key to Theosophy pp 203-205

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 23, 2014 at 2:20am

This is where individual responsibility comes. Personal centred consciousness, which sees nothing beyond its petty personal concerns, couldn't care less  whither the world is going. It is only when we broaden and grow to a higher awareness through a study of philosophy, that an understanding of how, and to what extent, each one of the units of mankind is our brother's keeper, begins to dawn upon us. That's an initial fundamental personal transformation, from carelessness to mindfulness.  

As each individual tries to live the Higher Life--not spasmodically but continually--striving to bring his whole nature to accord with the Higher Self, the Self of All, that the spiritual influences, in his measure, begin to  radiate from his life, having an elevating effect on the whole race, significantly affecting for good the destiny of mankind. Not only mankind but the kingdoms of Nature which go to make our lower nature, and which depend on Man for their progress into higher life, get a higher impulse through such efforts. 

One who studies Theosophy seriously and aspires to live the Higher Life, grows in self-responsibility. He finds chords of sympathy of his heart responding to the woes of the world, clearly sees the cause of it all, and understands where the only true and lasting solutions lies, and feels called to do his mite in supplying that want.

HPB says to the effect  that one who does his duty in the right way in the station of life in which Karma has placed him or her, he / she can make the world his / her debtor.

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 23, 2014 at 4:15am

Thanks, Ramprakash. Yes, study brings knowledge and knowledge brings responsibility. It's what we do next which seems to be the important step, which in turn might have karmic consequences.

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 23, 2014 at 3:42am

"When every individual has contributed to the general good what he can of money, of labour, and of ennobling thought, then, and only then, will the balance of National Karma be struck, and until then we have no right nor any reasons for saying that there is more life on the earth than Nature can support."

That there is more life on earth than Nature can support has certainly become a question raised in our very modern age.  I believe the world population was just over 1.5billion around HPB's time.  Now it's around 7billion!  That must surely be a huge amount of karma playing out and also being created during our epoch.  

"It is reserved for the heroic souls, the Saviours of our Race and Nation, to find out the cause of this unequal pressure of retributive Karma, and by a supreme effort to re-adjust the balance of power, and save the people from a moral ingulfment a thousand times more disastrous and more permanently evil than the like physical catastrophe, in which you seem to see the only possible outlet for this accumulated misery."

What is the "moral ingulfment" that HPB warns us about?  Why is this so much more disastrous than the physical catastrophes in the world?

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 25, 2014 at 12:10am

HPB clearly and unmistakably marks out for us to see the source of the world's woes, of the social evils which are eating into its entrails, the cancerous growth which is dealing a death blow to this all material civilization, which, in its intense selfishness and insatiable greed, is scripting its own obituary.   

See the portends of climate change, the wars and bloodshed unprecedented in history waged with weapons with increasing destructive power, killing, maiming civilian populations, dismissing it all as merely  'collateral damage.' Several hundred millions were killed, many more ravaged beyond description. 20th century has bee'n the bloodiest in the millennium. Will 21st century be any better ? Is not the same trend continuing ?

The very social philosophy and economic order of the civilization is soul-blind, exploitative, greedy, acquisitive, founded on the principle of ends justifying means, has ruined ecosystems around the world, poisoned rivers, oceans, soil and air, contaminating biological systems with irreversible genetic modifications endangering health of man and animals--all for profit, more and more profits, unlimited greed.

Hundreds of millions of indigenous people and traditional farming communities forced our of their traditional social, economic and cultural bases, robbing them of access to Nature's free gift which they have held in common for ages--to make way for industrialists and miners, profiteers and war-mongers.

HPB's indictment of modern civilization in her article "Death of Art and Beauty" and "Tidal Wave", in this context, is very relevant.

She has warned that unless theosophical ideas of Universal Brotherhood, of Karma and Reincarnation, becomes widespread and take roots in the mind of the race, bringing about a higher perception and a change towards a nobler ideal, it will inevitably be overtaken by the cumulative effects of its own misdeed in such horror that the history of the world has not seen before.

The subsequent chapter in the Key are very important in this context. It is application of Theosophy in life, to know what our real Duty is, and do it, not for our individual salvation only, but for a better world, for higher and a nobler civilization--to help on, as HPB says, mankind to move on to higher and more glorious spheres of Being.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 25, 2014 at 4:29pm

Excellent commentary, sir, well said

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 31, 2014 at 12:45pm

I wonder if a moral ingulfment amounts to a tipping point where there is very little room for backing off of calamity.  This point is made in the story of the Mahabharata where a war could have been avoided but became inevitable.  In more recent times we have the example of Nazi Germany that went over the edge and created karma that led to unimaginable suffering for so many.  So perhaps ingulfment means being overwhelmed such that it creates a point of no return.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on August 1, 2014 at 12:44am

Moral ingulfment, I think, refers to extreme blunting of moral nature, inability to distinguish between right and wrong. Extreme selfishness leads to it. It is the path to "spiritual death." We have examples in abundance :

Take the unethical practice of vivisection in the name of science and industry. Poor dumb animals are subjected untold pain and trauma in trying out all sorts of experiments on them by medical and pharmaceutical labs and perfumery industrial research. 

Even humans are used as guinea pigs; as western countries have banned it, the research labs in the west try out new drugs on poor people of the so-called third world countries luring them with money. It is happening in India.

Making revenue by governments by sale of liquor--as in India--which utterly ruin the lives of the poor people in hundreds of millions--morally and physically, for many lives to come. Gandhi protested and tried to reform but did not succeed. Habits once formed is difficult to eradicate.

Some such thing goes on in the west too. 

Our whole economic system is so heartless, greedy, exploitative, violent beyond description, which, if it gives material comforts to, what HPB calls the upper ten of the social elite, (which artificial comfort and luxury benumbs their souls and cut them off from Nature and natural ways) it utterly ruins the lives of the other 90, besides devastating the natural ecosystems. This macabre dance of death is happening in India before our eyes in the name of progress and development, a heart rending sight. 

What HPB said about the terrible human condition in East End London, is happening in the ever-growing urban slums of India, shanties, to which rural folk, and indegenous tribal folk, driven from their traditional farming and rich socio-cultural life in touch with nature and natural ways, to give place to industries and urban concrete jungles.

These are by way of a few examples. Many more can be cited.

The outer events are the reflection of the inner state of the mind. It is spiritual darkness and utter moral bankruptcy of the civilization which is "moral ingulfment."

Will not the Karmic effects of such unconscienable actions follow ? HPPB says that it will, in good time, and when the cumulative causes reach a certain point nothing can stop the consequences from precipitating on the race. 

"I am Time matured, come here for the destruction of all these creatures" says Krishna in the 11th chapter of the Bhagavadgita.

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 21, 2014 at 5:56am

The next passage.  

Part 5

ENQUIRER. Well, then, tell me generally how you describe this law of Karma?

THEOSOPHIST. We describe Karma as that Law of re-adjustment which ever tends to restore disturbed equilibrium in the physical, and broken harmony in the moral world. We say that Karma does not act in this or that particular way always; but that it always does act so as to restore Harmony and preserve the balance of equilibrium, in virtue of which the Universe exists. 

ENQUIRER. Give me an illustration.

THEOSOPHIST. Later on I will give you a full illustration. Think now of a pond. A stone falls into the water and creates disturbing waves. These waves oscillate backwards and forwards till at last, owing to the operation of what physicists call the law of the dissipation of energy, they are brought to rest, and the water returns to its condition of calm tranquillity. Similarly all action, on every plane, produces disturbance in the balanced harmony of the Universe, and the vibrations so produced will continue to roll backwards and forwards, if its area is limited, till equilibrium is restored. But since each such disturbance starts from some particular point, it is clear that equilibrium and harmony can only be restored by the reconverging to that same point of all the forces which were set in motion from it. And here you have proof that the consequences of a man's deeds, thoughts, etc. must all react upon himself with the same force with which they were set in motion.

The Key to Theosophy  pp205-206

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 21, 2014 at 4:39pm

Perfect example of "What goes around, comes around", and an excellent description of karma and the effects of our actions and thoughts on  the universe and those around us.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 27, 2014 at 4:48am

Unfortunately the Church of Rome did great disservice to the Western World in anathematizing the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, though Jesus clearly, unmistakably taught it, as also did St. Paul. This has had a catastrophic consequences, psychologically and morally, on the Western mind, and the materialism of the day is directly traceable to it, and the blame is to be laid squarely at the door of the Church.

'Judge not lest you be judged,' 'with what measure you mete, it will be measured unto you, heaped up, pressed down, running over,' -- these word of the Master by no means, even by remotest implication, justify salvation by proxy, held out as one of the pillars of Church dogma. The Popes think they are wiser than Jesus and know better, and yet millions follow blindly the self-proclaimed, 'infallible'  'Vicar  of Christ.'

Reincarnation is plainly and tacitly known to people for whom Jesus came, and he did not have to teach it as a new truth, but is subsumed throughout his teachings.

If the true teachings of Jesus had prevailed, with Karma and Reincarnation as the self-evident truths, which they are, the whole trend and character of Western civilization would have been radically different from what it is now, more in tune with truth and reality.

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 27, 2014 at 5:56am

While I agree with you in one sense Ramprakash, however if we take a look at some of the goings on in India, especially towards woman, when they have all grown up with reincarnation and the law of karma as self-evident truths, one can see that it not the deterrent it should be. 

Now in my view it has a lot more to do with one’s consciousness and point of evolution, than the church. If everyone lived by the Christian ‘Ten Commandments’ there would be little problem.

Also if we understand to some degree the Rounds and Races, we will realize that most of humanity needs to at least reach the ‘physical intellectuality’ of the fifth sub-race to evolve the mind, and this is normally aided by lives of materialism. 

Also most of humanity is still Atlantian in consciousness although the Western world with its modern education system is fast moving on

 Quote M.L.  I told you before now, that the highest people now on earth (spiritually) belong to the first sub-race of the fifth root Race, and those are the Aryan Asiatics; the highest race (physical intellectuality) is the last sub-race of the fifth — yourselves the white conquerors.

However we also need to remember judgment day of the fifth round by which time 2/5 of humanity who have not made an acceptable point of evolution, end up in paralaya until another suitable globe becomes available for them to carry on evolving.

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 27, 2014 at 9:04am

There’s a sobering passage related to this in the SD, where HPB talks about the turning point of the mid Third Root-Race and onwards.

“Then, from the turning point, it is the Higher Ego, or incarnating principle, the nous or Mind, which reigns over the animal Ego, and rules it whenever it is not carried down by the latter. In short, Spirituality is on its ascending arc, and the animal or physical impedes it from steadily progressing on the path of its evolution only when the selfishness of the personality has so strongly infected the real inner man with its lethal virus, that the upward attraction has lost all its power on the thinking reasonable man. In sober truth, vice and wickedness are an abnormal, unnatural manifestation, at this period of our human evolution – at least they ought to be so. The fact that mankind was never more selfish and vicious than it is now, civilized nations having succeeded in making of the first an ethical characteristic, of the second an art, is an additional proof of the exceptional nature of the phenomenon.”

SD II  210  (underline emphasis is mine)

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 27, 2014 at 9:45am

"In sober truth, vice and wickedness are an abnormal, unnatural manifestation, at this period of our human evolution"

Given the fact that we are in the 5th sub-race of the 5th Root Race, the Race is well up on the ascending arc of evolution, towards higher Manasic development, the prevailing trend of strong individualism may be abnormal. Perhaps, the Atlantean Karma is still being worked out. Our economic philosophy, our idea of progress, the international relations governed as they are by intense selfishness and opportunism are all pointers in that direction.    


Permalink Reply by Peter on July 27, 2014 at 9:58am

Just by way of giving a bit more background information...

“…most of the peoples of India – with the exception of the Semitic (?) Moguls – belong to the oldest branchlet of the present fifth Human race, which was evoluted in Central Asia more than one million of years ago. Western Science finding good reasons for the theory of human beings having inhabited Europe 400,000 years before your era – this cannot so shock you as to prevent your drinking wine to-night at your dinner. Yet Asia, has as well as Australia, Africa, America and the most northward regions – its remnants – of the fourth – even of the third race (cave-men and Iberians). At the same time, we have more of the seventh ring men of the fourth race than Europe and more of the first ring of the fifth round, as, older than the European branchlets, our men have naturally come in earlier. Their being “less advanced” in civilization and refinement trouble their spirituality but very little, Karma being an animal which remains indifferent to pumps and white kid gloves. Neither your knives nor forks, operas and drawing-rooms will any more follow you in your onward progress than will the dead-leaf coloured robes of the British Esthetics prevent the proprietors thereof and wearers from having been born among the ranks of those, who will be regarded – do what they may – by the forthcoming sixth and seventh round men as flesh-eating and liquor-drinking “savages” of the “Royal Society Period.”

from The Mahatma Letters to Sinnett, letter no.18 (Barker edition)

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 27, 2014 at 9:26am

James, you are right. If in India the real sense of Karma and Reincarnation were understood, it wouldn't be in this miserable, disgraceful condition it is in. The tragedy of India is it has lost Theosophy, and only dead letter and superstitions prevail. Materialism of the crudest kind rules lives of people of modern India.   

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 27, 2014 at 6:35pm

I am afraid Gandhi warned about this.  Materialism is a disease that is now world wide.  And it takes many forms.  Religion itself became materialistic when we talk about a personal god, a physical heaven, an eternal resting place where we occupy our current body etc.  Theosophy means metaphysics and the highest ethics.  It means universal brotherhood with no exceptions.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by barbaram on July 27, 2014 at 2:40pm

Yes, regardless of the nobility of the doctrines, people can only interpret the ideas based on their level of consciousness.  We see the sublimity of teachings being degraded to a compendium of superstitions and empty rituals.   Lofty doctrines become distorted and use as techniques to benefit oneself and the idea of karma is no different.  This is the sad status of humanity at the current time.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 27, 2014 at 10:44pm

I think it is imperative that no matter what group of humanity and from which time period or location we speak, we are still talking about and learning about ourselves.

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 27, 2014 at 10:58pm

Correct Gerry,  but how many want to learn about themselves

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 27, 2014 at 11:29pm

Hopefully the people, here with us, as fellow students on the Tnexus.  Walt Whitman shows such interest of seeing himself in all of humanity in his wonderful Leaves of Grass.

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 28, 2014 at 3:13am

The main reason why humanity has a tendency to the physical and material side of life is because our bodies, lower mental, astral, physical-etheric are made up of lunar lords/elementals which are part of the Spirit of the Earth and are all on the involutionary arc. The natural trend of these elementals is to point us towards physical/sensual/material gratification of some sort, thus blocking and frustrating our efforts to soul consciousness, making it easier for us to follow the path of least resistance and obey their will rather than the will of God. For them it is their way of evolution and it is that which will eventually bring them on to the evolutionary arc.

The sum total of the Planetary Spirit will condense and become the mineral kingdom of a new planet in another Manvantara, thus start their evolutionary journey. The mineral kingdom is the turning or halfway point. Three down, one turning, three upwards before becoming an individualized Deva in the formless worlds

For us we have to learn to control them by being if full control of each of our bodies, especially our mind as it is this that makes us either a ‘Buddha or a Beast’.

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 28, 2014 at 5:57am

"The sum total of the Planetary Spirit will condense and become the mineral kingdom of a new planet in another Manvantara.."

Do you have a reference for this, please, James.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 28, 2014 at 9:19am

James I am not sure I am following you either.  What is the will of God you are referring to?  What is God to you?  Does "God" have a will like human beings do?  If so is that not personalizing, limiting, truncating the Godhead?

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 28, 2014 at 1:20pm

Hi Peter

Not sure at this point where the Planetary Spirit quote came from as when teachings ideas become clear in my mind the process just stays there. I would need a book to write all the quotes down in to remember where they came from. However I will endeavor to look over the next few days.

Planetary Spirits is an unclear name as in some parts it refers to Higher Spirits while other places its lower. Spirit of the Earth is used as well

SD 1/176

Three stages (sub-physical) on the elemental side; the mineral kingdom; three stages on the objective physical* side—these are the (first or preliminary) seven links of the evolutionary chain.

Gerry,  perhaps one could say the ‘will to evolve’, the ‘evolutionary process’  or the ‘Divine Plan’,  its just a phrase 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 28, 2014 at 1:58pm

Thanks James.  I get it now. Whew! You had me worried. I thought I was going to have to go back to confession! It would be embarrassing to reveal how long it has been from my last confession, and that is the first question they ask!

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 29, 2014 at 8:54pm

Hi Ramprakash & Peter

1..The point of my comment was to show that the elemental essence that makes up our bodies is on the downward arc with its goal as becoming physical. This makes the line of least resistance for us is towards physical/sensual/material experiences, blocking and frustrating our efforts to soul consciousness.....Would you agree on this point? ...You have agreed in principal that the elementals become the mineral kingdoms at a future point, correct?

2..My next comment is what is causing some confusion .."The sum total of the Planetary Spirit will condense and become the mineral kingdom of a new planet in another Manvantara, thus start their evolutionary journey" ..this was not the main point, just an add on showing the end of the downward arc.

By sum total of the Planetary Spirit I mean the elementals that make up the body of the Spirit that control that particular rung, or that kingdom,  are collectively that Spirit themselves

Edited Quotes from SD Commentaries page100 on
The Planetary Spirit of the Earth is also called the terrestrial spirit of the earth, is not of a very high grade, and has nothing to do with the spiritual man, but with things of matter and cosmic beings 
Q. Do they act under the guidance of the Terrestrial Planetary Spirit?
A. I have just said that they were collectively that Spirit themselves. I wish you to understand that they are not an Entity, a kind of a personal God, but Forces of nature acting under one immutable Law, on the nature of which it is certainly useless for us to speculate

I hope this clears up your inquiry. 

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 29, 2014 at 10:04pm

As I understand it and incase it is not clear enough; 
The present Mineral Kingdon is collectively the physical body of the Terrestrial Spirit of the Earth.

In the previous Manvantara this Planetary Spirit would have been one rung lower and the Elemental Kingdom would have collectively been that Spirit. (by one rung lower i am referring to the 10 rung ladder of Barborka's and the elemental kingdom I am meaning is the one prior to the mineral)

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 30, 2014 at 1:31am

Hi Gerry,

Have you ever thought that going to confession where you sit in a darkened  confined space and talk to through a screen/veil to an unseen Priest who is acting as a mediator between mortal man and God/Spirit is a distorted physical plane reflection of Raja yoga meditation where a mortal sits eyes closed and attempts to communicate with his inner God/Soul/returning Nirvanee who is our mediator between ourselves and Spirit. 

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 22, 2014 at 2:07am

Here we have an analogy of the ‘Three Gunas’  

Tamas; makes things heavy and inert, its tendency is downwards   (the stone)

Rajas;  tends to action, its tendency is outwards.  (the outward flow of the waves)

Sattva;  harmonises, its light and luminous, its tendency is inwards   ( returning to the point of calm tranquillity)

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 22, 2014 at 4:21am

Interesting analogy, James.  How would you adapt it for Karma that is rajasic in origin?  Should we also assume, then, that anything sattvic is karmaless?

Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 22, 2014 at 8:53pm

If we take the non-stop outwards tendencies of our monkey mind as being rajasic, over a day these ceaseless uncontrolled thought patterns would very likely have created some future karma for us.

Now if we take that same rajastic mind and learn to completely control it, bringing it to a state of quiet, calm, tranquility so it acts as a reflector/receiver for that which is above, (a carrier tablet, HPB ) then it would be Sattvic and karmaless.

But by blanking one’s mind mistakenly thinking it was sattvic, will produce karma by making one’s mind dull and inactive.

Also to stand by in a motionless (Sattvic) state while a horrendous crime is being committed without taking some appropriate form of action will result in future karma for that individual.


Permalink Reply by james E Orchard on July 22, 2014 at 9:08pm

I posted this analogy as I thought it was a perfect backdrop for any Western students who have a problem understanding the Gunas. By standing back and looking at these three actions described in one thought, one can get a picture of the three different energies associated with the Gunas.

It is not possible to directly associate any one Guna with karma unless a particular action or event is linked to it as I attempted to show in reply to your meaningful questions

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 23, 2014 at 1:03am

Thanks, James - yes, using that analogy is a good way bring the idea of gunas to life, so to speak.  As you rightly say it isn't possible to relate any one guna with a specific  karma but to 'play' with the two in a general way as you have done is valuable and provides food for thought and for further understanding.

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 24, 2014 at 2:02am

Part 6:

ENQUIRER. But I see nothing of a moral character about this law. It looks to me like the simple physical law that action and reaction are equal and opposite. 

THEOSOPHIST. I am not surprised to hear you say that. Europeans have got so much into the ingrained habit of considering right and wrong, good and evil, as matters of an arbitrary code of law laid down either by men, or imposed upon them by a Personal God. We Theosophists, however, say that “Good” and “Harmony,” and “Evil” and “Dis-harmony,” are synonymous. Further we maintain that all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another. Hence Karma gives back to every man the actual consequences of his own actions, without any regard to their moral character; but since he receives his due for all, it is obvious that he will be made to atone for all sufferings which he has caused, just as he will reap in joy and gladness the fruits of all the happiness and harmony he had helped to produce.

The Key to Theosophy pp 206-207

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 24, 2014 at 6:53am

"...all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another."

The above is a powerful statement by HPB.

"...since he receives his due for all, it is obvious that he will be made to atone for all sufferings which he has caused, just as he will reap in joy and gladness the fruits of all the happiness and harmony he had helped to produce."

HPB's previous analogy of the stone dropped in the pond comes to mind here.  The effects of our actions don't stop at the limits of our immediate environment.   They ripple out into 'the collective' through those close to us and the environment in which we live - from moment to moment.  They may still be rippling out into the collective after we have learned the error of our ways, thus leaving karmic debts waiting to be fulfilled in some life or another.  Yet it may also be possible that a change of heart and 'the good' that we do mitigates to some extent the past negative karma that we have created.

Thoughts? Anyone.


Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on July 27, 2014 at 12:52pm

I don't feel as if the actions ( or in other words, effects) determine the Karma. Our intentions and beliefs are what become ultimately shared. For example, the act of killing a person itself holds no negative karma, yet the thoughts/idea's/emotions of the one who committed the killing, as well as the subsequent survivors of the victim leads to a cycle of karma which continues to produce similar events. 

That which requires healing is our minds and hearts, so we may relinquish the negative thoughts and feelings we hold (Anger, Fear, Shame, Guilt, and so on) which perpetuate the correlated experiences (or Karma).

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 27, 2014 at 6:37pm

Are you saying that we need to get to the root cause?

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on July 27, 2014 at 8:00pm


Cause lies in the Mind. (Ultimately, the Absolute Mind). 

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 28, 2014 at 7:18am

Perfectly right. One may wage an unsought righteous war--as exemplified in Mahabharata war-- and yet be free from retributive Karmic effects, if the soldier acts on the orders of his superiors, and has no hatred and malice but fights as his duty. Take the case of the second world war. It was thrust on allies, and they had to fight. It is the motive and the intent which generates good or evil Karma.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 28, 2014 at 9:36am

The more human beings see war as an analogy of the struggle that goes on inside the human breast between one's higher and lower nature and not a struggle between human beings themselves the better off we will all be.  Talk to or read about any WWII veteran, about their experiences during the battles (if you can get them to talk about it at all) and you will discover they are scarred for life with horrible images that haunt them for a life time.  Only a Sage could act without malice or hatred in an act of duty.

That is a very high state of mind.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Peter on July 28, 2014 at 11:10am

Some thoughts and questions:

It is not our bodies that create our karma, it is we human beings as moral agents (minds, manas) that create karma and reap the 'rewards' and 'punishments' that are the effects. I think we all agree on this, if I have understood correctly what people have said so far.

It is ourselves, as moral agents, who choose our own course of action or choose to act on the orders of others.  With this in mind is it possible to relinquish ourselves of our responsibility (i.e. karma) for our acts on the basis that we carried out the orders of another being -  even if we do so without malice or hatred?

To kill another person does not just kill a body, it destroys the instrument through which that incarnated Ego, or Mind, would have fulfilled its karma and karmic responsibilities towards others it was destined to live out during that lifetime, which in turn affects the lives and destinies of all those others & so on.  With this and the above paragraph in mind, can killing another person ever be a neutral karmic event?

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on July 28, 2014 at 7:34am

..all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another."

Very important statement, as Gerry says.

She also gives us a clear line of demarcation--a perfect basis for discrimination--to ascertain what is good and what evil in action, in the Key.

If the motive is selfish it cannot but produce disturbance in the universal harmony, which ever tends to restore the balance, and, consequently, pain and suffering must follow actor. If thoughts and actions are unselfish and for universal beneficence, the good of all, it will be harmony with Life, and cannot but produce all round happiness.

This moral law is not understood not only in the West but in the East also, the latter having lost its moorings in ancient wisdom traditions. Hence such awful degradation and suffering in the world.

If this truism were well known, social relations as well as international relations would be such as to promote mutual cooperation and mutual help, not cut-throat competition as now prevails.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on July 28, 2014 at 9:29am

Perhaps we cannot still karma so much as rise above the results of it.  The more we identify with the vehicles the more we fear the consequences of past actions.  The more we genuinely identify with the Perceiver, we might gradually rise above the plane of effects and calmly endure whatever effects were put in motion by past personalities.  I suspect the first step is to stop the chain of actions that are causing the imbalance first.  This takes knowledge, and thinking things through to their root causes, which is not easy but necessary.