"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand... and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it's too late.
The past week has been something of a rollercoaster in theosophical circles. First we hear that there is a proposal before the general council (sort of the theosophical senate) to take away the voting rights of the members and have the president elected by the general council. I started a poll which shows that out of 52 people to vote a large majority 88.5% agree that the members should decide who the next president should be.
The other issues I put up for voting were:
Should the general council only meet when more than half its members are present? A majority thought that was a reasonable rule change: 87% out of 46 votes.A slight majority of 51% out of 47 felt that the term of presidency should be 5 years. Another 19.1% felt the term should be even shorter: 4 years. A respectable minority felt the term should stay 7 years: 29.8%.
There are many kinds of Karma according to the Buddhist scriptures.
That which bears fruit in the present existence.
That which bears fruit in rebirth.
That which bears fruit at no fixed time.
By-gone karma, weighty, abundant, close-at-hand, productive, supportive, counteractive and destructive.
Karma may be likened to a seed which produces fruit of its own kind, as for instance the acorn which can only produce an oak tree; so each kind of Karma bears fruit of its own kind, good or bad, immediate or delayed, weak or powerful.
I do not think it is possible to understand the Buddhist idea of Karma from the exoteric scriptures alone. It would appear from those available to us in the West, that there is no ego after death. Therefore what is it that reincarnates, and of what avail is Karma? It is often stated that only Karma remains, but if there were no relatively permanent reincarnating unit, how did Buddha achieve Buddhahood as the result of innumerable lives of effort, or be able to look back upon his past lives? A continuing entity is a logical necessity.
In the writer's opinion, the Buddhist scriptures are not to be taken too literally. Like all sacred scriptures, they were written for the profane, while the inner teaching was reserved for the elect, those who were capable of understanding the deeper meaning behind the facade of apparent contradiction. One must remember, too, that innumerable commentaries have been written in interpretation of Buddha's teaching, and not all by wise men.
We must, therefore, in interpreting the Buddhist scriptures, put them before the bar of reason, and avoid the mistake common to so many adherents of Buddhism, of becoming confused about the theory of non-ego. The fact that Buddha is said to have maintained silence on both questions, ego or non-ego, obviously implies that the ego was not denied.
Karma is one of the basic teachings of Buddhism, and must logically rest upon the necessity of a reincarnating unit. A great deal of Buddhist thought deals with the law of cause and effect, and why there should have arisen confusion of thought about the permanence of the Self or Ego, it is difficult to understand, except as a result of corrupt teaching.
The higher ego is called, by the Hindus, the thread-soul, the sutratma. It is this which reincarnates and inherits its own karma, and only the lower personality which perishes at death, as each of its lower principles disintegrate. It is upon the thread-soul that rests the karmc responsibility of all its lower lives, and even though it dwells upon its own higher plane and only sends down a Ray to dwell in denser layers of matter, it yet assimilates the experience of all these lower lives.
Theosophy explains a great deal that is obscure in the Buddhist scriptures and particularly so in regard to Karma and the nature of the Self. While the lower self has no permanency, changing from life to life, the real Self never dies, because it has always been; it has no beginning and no end. For vast, and to us incalculable periods of time, the reincarnating units exist as separate entities, to be ultimately absorbed into the parent source. (This is a great cosmic mystery which can only be fully understood when we reach the threshold of Nirvana).
With a continuing spiritual entity carrying responsibility from life to life, one can understand the theory of Karma, the reason for existence, the struggle between good and evil, the striving to reach the goal of perfect knowledge, the successes and failures of evolution.
To return to the Buddhist scriptures. Some of them enumerate twelve kinds of Karma which I append for the reader's reflection.
KARMA WHICH BEARS FRUIT IN THE PRESENT INCARNATION. This results from actions in the present life. (If we burn our fingers, we have not to wait until another life before we feel the pain). Accidents in this life may be the result of present carelessness irrespective of the past. We can set fresh causes in motion at any moment. On the other hand it may be the result of our immediate past life or of one much earlier. It is said that the Karma of humanity is so heavy from Atlantean times that a great deal of it is held back by the Elder Brothers of the race until there is strength to bear it. Those who have entered the Path find their lives full of trouble and pain, because before they can become perfect, they must exhaust their bad Karma. Therefore, Karma that would in the ordinary way be spread over a number of lives is concentrated into one. No one is immune from this law. One can realize the accumulation of weighty Karma that is being liquidated by greatly suffering egos during this war, and indeed during the period preceding it. Unfortunately a fresh set of weighty Karma is being engendered by those who are the instruments of Karma. "Needs must that evil comes, but woe unto him by whom it cometh." Bad karma generating bad karma is a vicious circle which can only be broken by knowledge and forgiveness.
KARMA WHICH BEARS FRUIT IN REBIRTH. This is the Karma which we are making at every moment of our present lives and which may have to wait for circumstances of future births before it can be worked out.
KARMA WHICH BEARS FRUIT AT NO FIXED TIME. This is often called fluidic karma, i.e., our thoughts and actions may bring upon us karma that would not otherwise have fallen upon us. (It bears fruit whenever it can find an opportunity). We can modify past karma by our reactions to life. We can neutralize it by setting other forces in motion.
By-gone Karma is dealt with above.
WEIGHTY KARMA WHETHER GOOD OR BAD such as cruelty, murder, suicide, or lofty deeds, bears fruit before lighter karma. H.P.B. stated in the Secret Doctrine that Patriotism and great actions in national service are not altogether good from the point of view of the highest. To benefit a portion of humanity is good, but to do so at the expense of others is bad. Therefore, in patriotism, the venom is present with the good. In this war, therefore, however patriotic the instincts of the fighting men may be, they are inevitably creating bad karma by the violent deeds they have to perform. War brings out all the worst in human nature, and few are pure and passionless enough to act without attachment to their deeds.
ABUNDANT KARMA bears fruit before that which is not abundant. This presumably means that continuous acts will produce abundant karma, isolated acts "not abundant".
CLOSE AT HAND. Karma remembered at point of death. The karma which a man remembers at death springs up with him in rebirth.
HABITUAL KARMA. That which has become habitual through much repetition. This will produce endless rebirths.
PRODUCTIVE OR SUPPORTIVE KARMA either good or bad. Supportive karma is not supposed to produce fruit, but when rebirth is the result of other karma, it supports the ensuing happiness or misery.
COUNTERACTIVE KARMA. Often counteracts fruit of other karma, suppresses it or does not suffer it to continue.
DESTRUCTIVE KARMA. Destroys weak karma, preventing it from bearing fruit and makes room for its own fruition.
The insight into Karma and the fruit of karma possessed by the Buddhas was not shared by their disciples.
There is individual karma, sex karma, or race karma. Egos are magnetically attracted to those races and countries where their special characteristics can find an outlet.
With regard to sex karma, egos are born into both sexes according to the needs of their karma. Some students say three lives in a man and three in a woman, but I question a fixed number of lives in each sex, everything depending upon individual karmic obligations. It is certain that the wrongs inflicted by one sex upon the other will be expiated. Experience in both sexes is necessary for complete evolution.
There are also distinct differences between physical, emotional, mental and spiritual karma. Each works out in its own plane. It is possible to suffer physical pain as a result of past physical karma, yet to inherit good emotional and mental karma, so that despite physical handicaps, a good deal of happiness is enjoyed. The emotional and mental states of past lives govern our emotional and mental opportunities in this one, and our reactions to these opportunities will govern our future lives. There is a never ceasing play of cause and effect.
The only karma that frees the ego from rebirth is PASSIONLESS KARMA, deeds without attachment. The ideal conduct is to be "In sorrow not dejected, in joy not overjoyed, dwelling outside the stress of passion, fear and anger." To be without attachment breaks the round of births and deaths. Therefore, it is enjoined upon us to act without thought of merit. Good karma is as binding as bad, and a good man far removed from a Wise one.
The two potent causes of rebirth are Love and Hate. We are drawn life after life into incarnation with those we have either loved or hated. It may be that the hatred is only on one side. Personal love has to be transmuted into universal compassion, for it is as binding as hate and will create rebirth. The great battle ground for the spirit is Mother Earth. Spirit is deeply encased in matter while on earth and has to free itself by knowledge and lack of attachment.
The Buddhist ideal of conduct is lofty indeed, and has shone like a jewel throughout the centuries. It is difficult to achieve a passionless state, yet it is the only way to freedom from rebirth and suffering. To begin even in a small way to destroy the fruits of action, is to achieve a peace that is not easily shaken. It is a test that everyone can apply to himself.
It is certain that in every present moment lies the Karma of the distant future, as well as the karma of the past. H.P.B. stated that every one of our egos has the karma of past Manvantaras behind.
Christ sets His followers no tasks. He appoints no hours. He allots no sphere. He Himself simply went about and did good. He did not stop life to do some special thing which should be called religious. His life was His religion. Each day as it came brought round in the ordinary course its natural ministry. Each village along the highway had someone waiting to be helped. His pulpit was the hillside, His congregation a woman at a well. The poor, wherever He met them, were His clients; the sick, as often as He found them, His opportunity. His work was everywhere; His workshop was the world.
A priest and a pastor from the local churches are standing by
the road, pounding a sign into the ground, that read:
The End is Near!
Turn Yourself Around Now
Before it's Too Late!
As a car sped past them, the driver yelled, "Leave us alone,
you religious nuts!"
From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.
The priest turns to the pastor and asks, "Do you think the sign should just say, 'Bridge Out'?"
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