“If we are ever to know anything clearly, we must be released from the body, that the soul by itself may see things by themselves as they really are.” – Socrates
We need scarcely say that we fully agree with the above remarks of Plato’s teacher. While in the body we are completely fenced in by delusive appearances, and had the Greek sage been alive today those prominent individuals who so loudly and glibly speak and write upon the subject of Karma would have been very greatly inconvenienced by the Athenian’s terrible logic.
“Karma is the law of consequences,—of merit and demerit”, say the Buddhists. “It is that force which moulds our physical destiny in this world, and regulates our period of misery or happiness in the world to come.” We are also further informed that “Karma is the cold, inflexible justice which metes out to each individual the exact same measure of good and evil at his next physical re-birth that he measured to his fellow-men in this.” Not only so, but this karma at death remains somewhere or other down upon the astral planes of the planet, like an avenging demon, waiting anxiously for the period of Devachanic happiness to come to an end, in order to re-project the poor unfortunate soul once more into the magnetic vortices of material incarnation, where, with its load of bad karma hanging like a millstone round its neck, it will in all human probability generate a still greater load of this theological dogma, and consequently, at each re-birth it will sink deeper, unless the spiritual Ego can bring it to some consciousness of its fearfully sinful state. How this may transpire is not very satisfactorily explained. If the human soul only receives punishment for the sins and wrongs it inflicted upon others during a previous life, then, surely, the soul when it first became incarnated must have started on its human journey without any karma to suffer for. One is naturally led to ask, then, how it first began to commit sin? For we are distinctly told that what we now suffer at the hands of others is only a just repayment for our own past sins. If, then, we had no past sins, we should be perfectly free from trouble. We are distinctly taught that the first or pre-adamite men, i.e., those of the golden age, were perfect. How, then, did this abominable karma get a start in the world? This question it is our duty to fully explain in the present chapter.
We have given a general idea of the Karma of Theosophical Buddhism, and before revealing the origin of this Oriental delusion we will present the Hermetic doctrine of Karma.
- Karma is not an active principle, but, on the contrary, it is crystallized force. It is the picture gallery or cosmic play of Nature.
- Karma constitutes the scenery, essence and mental imagery of a person’s past existence. It is a picture of their acts while on earth that become living realities to them in the soul world.
- The karmic sphere of an individual’s existence, exists as the astral life currents along which the soul has traveled and which become crystallized forms, expressive of the actions and the motives which prompted them. Therefore, our past karma constitutes the soul’s past history in the astral light, and can be deciphered by the properly trained lucid, and even by some mediumistic clairvoyants.
- Karma is the offspring of everything; everything possesses pictorial records of its past evolutions; stones, plants, animals and men. It is by means of this karma that the Psychometric sensitive can read the unwritten past of small karmas. Without karma, the powers of Psychometry would be useless. On a grander scale exists the karma of moons, planets, suns and systems. Races of men, species of animals and classes of plants, also evolve special racial karmas which constitute their astral world.
- The harmonies and discords of cosmic evolution generate their special karma just the same as thoughts and emotions produce corresponding reactions.
- Karma is absolutely confined to the realms of the astral light, and consequently, is always subjective. Therefore, Karma can exist only as long as the soul, which generates it, is attached to the same planet. When a soul leaves the planet its karma disintegrates. A soul cannot carry its karma around the universe with it, because this astral light differs in quality and degree upon each separate orb. See Chap. II.
- When a soul enters the spiritual states of the soul world (which Buddhists term Devachan), the power of its earthly karma can never re-attract it to earth; its influence over the soul is forever lost.
The lower can never control the higher, when once they exist apart. To assert that past fossilized karma can re-attract the soul from the realms of spiritual happiness and re-project it into the mire of earth is to exalt matter to the throne of Deity, and degrade pure spirit to the level of a passive brute substance.
From the above seven statements it will be seen that the Hermetic initiates assert that karma is not the primary law of consequences and destiny. It is not an active principle, always at work, re-adjusting Nature’s ridiculous mistakes. Nature never yet made a mistake. On the contrary, karma is shown to be a result; the subjective outcome of innumerable laws and forces, and in this life it is utterly powerless to effect either good or evil, so far as our destiny is concerned upon the external plane. But, upon the interior plane, that is, upon or within the astral sphere of the disembodied soul world, this karma becomes the Book of Life from which all our actions in this world are judged. At death, we are surrounded by and compelled to exist within our own karma. We are forced by the laws of magnetic affinity to work out our own redemption, ever face to face with the grim idols of our earthly past. The foul, unlovely pictures of every unclean imagination will haunt us, and set our very souls aflame with the consciousness of every injustice and wrong we have committed. The only redeeming feature will be the good karma, the kind unselfish thoughts and noble aspirations we have evolved; all our true, unselfish love for our fellow creatures will spring up like flowers at our feet, and help to aid and brighten our path upward and onward through the spheres of purification and purgatory. At last we shall enter the sphere of immortal life where those whom we have loved below may be waiting to greet us.
We have asserted that karma is utterly powerless to effect either good or evil in so far as the material destiny is concerned. While this is true within certain limits because karma is but the astral record of the past, yet this statement requires explanation. It is not the actions we commit, that can, in themselves, bring happiness or misery, benefit or misfortune to the person, but it is the effects which our actions have upon others that really produce immediate material results. The precise effect which any action will have depends entirely upon the peculiar mental states surrounding us at the time and our own intentions. For instance, in one age it may be considered a very meritorious action to roast a poor helpless medium under the name of a witch, but at another period such an action will be followed by an indignant spirit of public resentment, and a terrible penalty will be imposed by the law of the state to satisfy the public sense of justice. The praiseworthy actions of one age become the criminal acts of another. We see, therefore, that the result of any action upon the material plane depends upon the physical, moral, mental and spiritual development of the race. This is not the case, however, within the astral soul world, where absolute justice is the universal law. The mighty hero of a thousand fights, who dies surrounded by all the pomp and vanity of public worship, comes face to face with the fearful reality that he is, nevertheless, a blood stained murderer, and as such he must work out his own salvation amid trial and suffering. His purgatorial state will depend in a great measure upon his motives, and the consciousness of his earthly actions. If he was a true patriot, who fought against cruel oppression simply for the love and liberty of his country and people, his conscience will deal very lightly with him. But if love of fame and martial glory were his chief motives, and constituted the greater part of his karma, then so much the worse for him.
The reader will notice that in the Hermetic definitions of karma, the soul when working out its past iniquities is perfectly conscious of its task, and knows the true why and wherefore of its suffering. Not only so, but it has also the certain hope of final emancipation, not, however, until, as the parable says, “thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Herein, then, is the truth and justice of Nature’s laws revealed. But in the definition of Buddhism, this justice is absolutely wanting. In their outrageous scheme of esoteric philosophy, millions of souls upon the earth are perfectly ignorant of what they are suffering for. They are ushered into the world for the purpose of undergoing the fiery torments of their old fossilized karma, and are completely ignorant of the fact. How can the average mortal work off his bad karma when he does not know that he has any, nor what he is working and suffering for? If we cruelly abuse a dog when it is full grown for some offense committed when a puppy, it would be considered an outrageous piece of cruelty, because the dog would be perfectly ignorant of what the punishment was for. The same may be said of inflicting punishment upon the material man for some forgotten offense of his infancy. The reader should ever remember that no punishment is just, when the one punished is ignorant of the cause. Punishment under such circumstances not only ceases to be just, but becomes diabolical injustice. The common justice of humanity condemns such a proceeding. If this is true, how much more severe must be the condemnation of that justice which is divine?
At this stage of our subject, the student will doubtless ask, “if human suffering is not the result of previous karma, what is the real cause of so much misery in the world?” To this we reply, human suffering is the result of innumerable laws, which in their action and reaction produce discord at certain intervals in the scale of human development. For all practical purposes, they may be classed under two heads as primary and secondary. The primary cause is that of racial evolution. Each round and each race of the round of human beings, requires different external conditions in order to evolve its chief attributes; for each round and race become the special means by which a certain one of the souls attributes is rounded out or developed. Let us illustrate. The first or primal race were those of the Golden Age. They were a purely ethereal race of beings, and cannot be strictly classified with what we know of humanity, nor can they be said to have been really incarnated in gross matter at all. For this reason, their penetrative power was very small; hence, though highly spiritual, they were correspondingly simple; they lived an ideal life amid semi-spiritual surroundings. The second race, that of the Silver Age, penetrated deeper into matter than their Golden Age forefathers, and their bodies, consequently became more dense and less sensitive. Toward the termination of this race, and the beginning of the third or Copper Age, the equator of our racial arc was reached in the descending scale. Here it was, that the first murmurings of a mental storm began to manifest themselves; emigrations and partings took place between what had previously been a united people, and consequently separate national interests began to evolve. When our earth reaches the equinoctial points of the year, storms and tempests abound. Upon a higher plane, it is the same with the progress of man around the cycle. With the Copper Age race a still further descent took place, and a still greater increase of self-interest was evolved; from the national was evolved that of the family. Kings ascended thrones and sacerdotal systems were formulated; the strong began to assert their greater force, and the weak gradually sank into subjection. A still further descent and we come to the fourth race, the bottom rung in the cyclic ladder, and fittingly known as the Iron Age. This was the turning point of the seven races wherein the soul attains its greatest penetrating power; spirit can descend no lower. Kings and their priestly counsellors became true despots, and the people were helpless and oppressed.
Next comes a higher evolution. The fifth race, beginning at the end of the fourth, reaches up to the equinoctial line of the mental arc in the ascending scale, and consequently another stormy period commences. All is strife and turmoil. It is the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressor. It is not the gentle mental storm of the Silver equinox, because a spiritual period of light had preceded that era, but it is the storm of war and bloodshed; of a fierce democracy battling for the divine rights of man against usurped authority. It is thus because the Iron Age of oppression has preceded it. We are at the present day passing through this fearful equinocial period. The fifth race is coming to a close, and already forerunners of the sixth race are among the people, aiding in the spread of glorious truth.
A spiritual, intellectual and scientific awakening is now taking place. All peoples of the world are seeking truth and justice. While the scientific world is producing miracles in their efforts to annihilate time and space, and solve the many hidden mysteries of life. See La Clef, Chapter VI. The sixth race of human beings now externalizing here on the earth will develop intuition as a sixth sense, perception through spiritual sensation, and learn to consciously use it in their daily lives. They will intuitively know a thing without any material evidence to support their knowledge, yet will find the truth upon application or verification of the information received.
The secondary causes of human suffering are mans ignorance, and the re-actions of his animal nature. That is to say, man makes the conditions that are necessary for his progress by alternately struggling with and yielding to his own animal desires. But for this nature and the experience the soul gains thereby, material incarnation might be dispensed with. The state of suffering depends upon the race, as before stated, but the effects of that suffering are in exact fulfillment of Mother Nature’s requirements. Mighty causes produce mighty effects; results, let us say, and vice versa. This law is absolute. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every spiritual atom of life is the direct result of a cause. These atoms differ in power and potency, as the stars differ in magnitude. Nature’s aim is for diversity. In spite of the apparent fact that all forces are ever striving for equilibrium. Nature’s end, is the very opposite of equality; for the grand ultimate aim of every force is the production of variety. The only real difference in any of her infinite number of parts is that of polarity. For instance, the only difference between the Hottentot and the intellectual genius of modem civilized society is that which marks off their souls’ respective polarity. It is only a question of personal opinion as to which of the two is the best and wisest. The civilized shams and personal adornments of society may more than counterbalance the crude decorations of the savage. The false Theology and cant of orthodox religion, combined with the many erroneous theories of so-called science, may more than make up for barbarian ignorance; for many savages are more learned in the real laws of Nature than some of our college professors. But be that as it may, the savage will be the real gainer of the two in most cases, for he will not have false dogmatic opinions to unlearn and forget. And, lastly, we would add, that the moral character of any savage will compare very favorably with the morality of our populous cities. In fact; making allowance for the planes of life occupied by each, the external differences between the two are only appearances, evolved chiefly by our own thoroughly biased and artificial educations. Another factor in these secondary causes of human suffering is the human will, or rather, man’s capacity for utilizing the great will-force of the cosmos. Ignorance alone limits human possibilities in this direction. It is man’s place in Nature to sway the mighty pendulum of force between the higher and the lower states of life (the super-mundane and sub-mundane realms of being) and in so doing his mission consists in evolving the attributes of his soul, and gaining all the experience possible. If suffering is necessary to enable him to accomplish this, then he will suffer. But, be the causes and consequences what they may in this life, depend upon it that what the soul suffers from discord it will be justly compensated for by the sum total of results when the cycle of its purification is over, and the past can be measured at its true worth.
We have now presented, as concisely as possible, the Hermetic explanation of karma, and shown that it is not the all-ruling force that Buddhism would make us believe.
Now we will expose the oriental delusion, and reveal its priestly origin. To begin with, we must carefully bear in mind a few all important facts regarding the esoteric philosophy of the dreamy Orient.
- Anciently the real truths of all religion, especially those relating to the soul, its nature, incarnations and karma, were rigidly concealed from the people by a jealous priesthood with approval of the ruling monarch.
- Fiction was substituted in the place of truth, or, in other words, the real truth was veiled and the appearances of truth was taught instead. And in order to obtain absolute power for the monarch and the church, it became necessary to formulate the dogma that their high priest, the pontiff or hierophant as he was called, was a direct incarnation of the Deity, or a re-incarnation of that being.
- In process of time the priests themselves became corrupt and worldly, consequently, their spiritual perception sank into mental reflection. They not only lost the secrets of their religion and mythology, which were never committed to writing, but became themselves the dupes of their own theology, and accepted their formulated husks as divine truth.
- Edward Gibbon, in his historical classic, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” published in 1776, records a thousand years of wars, frauds and persecutions. Emperors and bishops fought to control; religious dogma was forced on the people, they had no choice; the Athenian Philosophers were exiled or killed and their schools closed and teachings forbidden. We have a similar example in the Christian clergy of today, as they seem determined every one must accept their faith.
The researches of all genuine Occultists support the above assertions. The book “Isis Unveiled”, teems with facts corroborating our statements on karma and re-incarnation. And Hermetic initiates assert most emphatically that both karma and re-incarnation are nothing more than theological dogmas of an interested sacerdotal system. That is to say, the teachings based upon these doctrines by the Buddhist and other religious systems are false because the real facts of reincarnation and karma were originally concealed, and then forgotten in the lapse of time. It is very easy indeed to prove that the accepted theories of the Theosophical Buddhists of the present day are the popular external dogmas taught to the ignorant masses ten thousand years ago. In support of this, the student should read “Illuminated Brahmanism, the true theosophy” by Ranga Hilyod, an ancient sage of India.
The oldest records we possess show that human re-incarnation and karma were the popular doctrines of the people. Upon this matter A. P. Sinnet says; “This doctrine of karma is one of the most interesting features of Buddhist philosophy. There has been no secret about it at any time.” Certainly, this is exactly what Hermetic initiates claim. It is a dogma of the Buddhist church, and was never concealed because, being false, it was not worth concealing. On the contrary it was always taught to the suffering masses groaning beneath despotic rule. It was exceedingly potent as a means of making the people submit quietly to the authority of the church and the tyranny of the king, who always went hand and glove with the priest. The masses were taught to believe that by submitting to the yoke they were thus working off previous bad karma; a very convenient doctrine we admit.
The chief Hierophant of Buddhism and the Thibetan adepts is the Taley Lama of Lhassa. “Every Lama,” says Madam Blavatsky, “is subject to the grand Taley Lama, the Buddhist pope of Thibet, who holds his residence at Lhassa and is a re-incarnation of Buddha.” This assertion fully corroborates what we said previously. Note well the last sentence, “and is a re-incarnation of Buddha.” Compare this with the fact II on a preceding page, and you will see once more that we find the leaders of Theosophic Buddhism re-asserting the theological dogmas of a church and teaching them for truth. Buddhists would have us really believe that Buddha continues to incarnate and re-incarnate age after age. We can only say that no soul who has passed through the trials of material incarnation and the fires of spiritual purification would submit to continually exist within a material organism, and endure from age to age the hell of a Grand Lama’s life. For the formulas, ceremonies and usages of a religious potentate are indeed a hell to the pure in heart.
We shall be met face to face with the assertion that with very high adepts and other exalted souls these things are different, that Nature’s laws are either reversed or transcended. To this we would say that such statements are false; they are of the same stamp as the Roman Catholic Bulls of the past, nothing but priestly word-juggling. Nature is no respecter of persons, and neither Buddha nor any other soul can continue to re-incarnate from age to age. The most that such a dominant mind could do would be to obsess and mould an unborn foetus to suit its purpose and then, by virtue of such obsession, partially inhabit the same. Under these circumstances the physical body is but the helpless machine of a dominant foreign mind, and we need scarcely say that no purified soul would sink to such a plane of existence. This question of obsession brings us to the subject of our next chapter, therefore, we must bring the present one to a close.
The whole teaching of Re-incarnation and Karma as taught by Buddhism, esoteric (?) or otherwise, is purely dogma; it is materialism run to seed, combined with oriental speculations. It is a huge system of selfishness, to work out good here for the sake of greater good hereafter. Such motives of exchange are corrupt. As Socrates says; “We give up some small pleasures for still greater pleasures.” This, instead of being truly good, is the polar opposite. MOTIVE ALONE is the proper cause of action, according to the Hermetic doctrine. Do good for the sake of simple goodness and virtue alone, not for the sake of gaining favor. There is too much of this “I am holier than thou” about the oriental teachings of karma. A prosperous, self-righteous Pharisee gloats over his previous good karma when he sees his downtrodden brother and when he aids it is because he thinks the karma of the action will well repay him. Then again, when any serious case of suffering is presented to these great Buddhist souls for their magical intervention and psychological aid, we are piously told that karma cannot be interfered with. If, instead, they said that to aid was beyond their reach of power, they would probably speak the real truth. Lastly, let us say distinctly that the author has put the assertion of old Socrates (at the head of this chapter) to the test. The whole of these Hermetic teachings have been personally verified within the realms of spirit when free from the control of the body, and therefore, we know whereof we write.
In our next chapter we shall deal with some of the so-called evidences of re-incarnation and karma, and show them to be nothing of the kind.