Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
May 1999 Vol. 2 Issue 3

Karma by H. P. Blavatsky

Karma is action, the Cause; and Karma again is "the law of ethical causation"; the effect of an act produced egotistically, when the great law of harmony depends on altruism.

It is only the knowledge of the constant re-births of one and the same individuality throughout the life-cycle; the assurance that the same MONADS . . . have to pass through the "Circle of Necessity," rewarded or punished by such rebirth for the suffering endured or crimes committed in the former life; . . . it is only this doctrine, we say, that can explain to us the mysterious problem of Good and Evil, and reconcile man to the terrible and apparent injustice of life. Nothing but such certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him, and observes the inequalities of birth and fortune, of intellect and capacities; when one sees honour paid fools and profligates, on whom fortune has heaped her favours by mere privilege of birth, and their nearest neighbour, with all his intellect and noble virtues -- far more deserving in every way -- perishing of want and for lack of sympathy; when one sees all this and has to turn away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one's ears ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him -- that blessed knowledge of Karma alone prevents him from cursing life and men, as well as their supposed Creator.

This Law [of Retribution] -- 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. It is not the Wave which drowns a man, but the personal action of the wretch, who goes deliberately and places himself under the impersonal action of the laws that govern the Ocean's motion. 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, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigour. If it happen to dislocate the arm that tried to bend it out of its natural position, shall we say that it is the bough which broke our arm, or that our own folly has brought us to grief? Karma has never sought to destroy intellectual and individual liberty, like the God invented by the Monotheists. It has not involved its decrees in darkness purposely to perplex man; nor shall it punish him who dares to scrutinise its mysteries. On the contrary, he who unveils through study and meditation its intricate paths, and throws light on those dark ways, in the windings of which so many men perish owing to their ignorance of the labyrinth of life, is working for the good of his fellow-men. 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: for Karma is one with the Unknowable, of which it is an aspect in its effects in the phenomenal world. -- The Secret Doctrine

New Online

Theosophical University Press has recently added the following to

Also, the entire working manuscript of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (A-Z) edited by G. de Purucker is now available online.

Monthly Discussion Group

This month "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" is our subject. We will discuss such questions as: How can we understand the painful and tragic incidents that happen to fine and honorable people, to children, and to whole groups? Is God or the Devil responsible, are they inexplicable matters of chance, or are we ourselves responsible in some way? What is the role of evil, suffering, war, violence, illness, and natural catastrophes in the universe and in human evolution? Come share your ideas!

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.

Upcoming Topics
June: How Can We Achieve Brotherhood?
July: The Mystery of Death
August: One God or Many?

Theosophical Views

What Price Progress?

by Lydia Ross, M.D.

"I have often wondered of late about the dazzling, white, eerie glamour with which the Northland weaves its spell about the heart of a man. I know of nothing on earth so strange, so wonderful, withal so sad. Pursuing our course through Melville Bay, I felt the fatal magic of it enthralling my very soul." -- Frederick A. Cook

The romantic reality of humanity's cyclic history, as outlined in The Secret Doctrine, shows the source of universal myths and legends whose inner meaning has survived the ages of time and the repeated innate urge of idealism, mark the indelible imprint upon the dawning consciousness of the newly-incarnating souls, then being initiated into material existence. For, in the beginning, "gods walked the earth and mixed freely with mortals." As gently and happily as a mother guides her child's first steps, the creative deities taught and guided the early races. Thus --

"It is through these 'Sons of God' that infant humanity got its first notions of all of the arts and sciences, as well as of spiritual knowledge; and it is they who have laid the first foundation-stone of those ancient civilizations that puzzle so sorely our modern generation of students and scholars." -- The Secret Doctrine 1:208.

The ancient record stages the Age of Innocence at the North Pole, adding that the sacred land has never been submerged, as have continents further south. The exact geographical area is not clearly defined. Perhaps the Aurora gives rare glimpses of the light of other days -- who knows? The gateway to the old Paradise is guarded, not by a flaming sword, but by the frozen breath of Mother Earth. However and wherever the sacred land may be, in that vast desolation of polar ice and snow and bitter winds, the impress of humanity's first vibrations may still persist. There, the ethereal waves broadcasted by thought and feeling of bygone races would not be blurred by the restless static of later civilizations. So that an explorer of intuitive mood might unconsciously "tune in" on an ancient standard of life, and thus vision, by contrast, the real status of our modern world progress. If we can pick things out of the air at will by radio, why not expect to pick up programs of past history tomorrow? Everything is recorded on the ethereal screen of time.

In view of the foregoing, one may read some significant meaning in the reply of Commander Richard Byrd, when Robert H. Davis, of the New York Sun, unexpectedly asked him: "What were you thinking about when you crossed the North Pole in the air?" Byrd is reported to have said:

"I thought of the infinitesimal proportions of mortal man, of the frailty of the atoms that occupy the spaces, of the limitations of those who have taken over the conduct of civilization. I caught for the first time, as in a flash of understanding, the inadequate results of the effort to solve not the enigmas of space and duration, but the problems of mankind.

"Beneath me lay a vast, silent, unoccupied field of snow and ice, varying in tone and without life. My knowledge of what existed beyond every degree of the circle, plus my imagination, carried me into the temperate and tropical zones, the peopled places, the seats of empire, the scenes of turmoil and conquest, and the survival of the fittest.

"War, destruction, hatred took the saddle at the peak of civilization. Today a shot fired in any country is not only heard but felt around the world. The distant tread of soldiers shakes the whole globe, affects all its inhabitants, disorganizes all classes, saps the vitality of every nation. A declaration of war is an earthquake that racks both hemispheres. We have remade the world, ripped it asunder and remade it time and again.

"We have improved and progressed and developed, but we have failed to make the most of ourselves. We have explored everything except our consciences. We are still a horde of pygmies, selfish and envious, each striving for individual supremacy.

"We have come through the ages worshiping in our different ways the Supreme Being that best suits our multiplied faiths, but the sum-total of our occupation of this shrinking planet is a pitiful demonstration of weakness. It is not the geographical but the moral limitations of the world that must be charted and the really great explorers will be those that find the way to universal reconstruction, the first step in which is the abolition of war and the needless destruction of human life."

That is a remarkable document. Truly, "we have improved, progressed and developed, but we have failed to make the most of ourselves. We have explored everything but our consciences." Materially and intellectually we have arrived. But what shall it profit a man to gain the whole outer world and lose sight of his inner self? What price progress?

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