THEOSOPHY, Vol. 23, No. 7, May, 1935
(Pages 310-313; Size: 12K)
(Number 27 of a 57-part series)
STUDIES IN KARMA
CYCLE OF FIRE
(Part 2 of 2)
(Concluded from April)
NOTE that had any of these drowned persons been as alert in faculties, as observantly studious of natural forces as really evolved humans should be, they would all have read the danger signs and either not have settled there or have taken warning in time. Further, they were parts of a community, and sharers of the indifference of a community, whose regard for nature is so slight that fires due to human irresponsibility are continually scarring nature, with little interest or protest from the mass, nearly all of whom exhibit similar irresponsibility whenever opportunity offers. That particular locality has been menaced or injured over and over again by fires in the last few years, without being stirred out of general inertia thereby. Next in the chain of causation, the members of the community were part of the voters who maintained in office men so preoccupied with political considerations as to have no interest in serious factual warnings issued by competent and conscientious men. Still further in the chain is the fact that they were acquiescent in a community-wide spirit of irresponsible and selfish real-estate exploitation, whose traits were well exhibited in the sale of flood-channels for residence lots. And last, of course, though most important, come the myriad variant deeds of prior incarnations which built into these characters certain affinitive images deep under the conscious surface, to draw them into the path of events already impending. Conversely, certain persons living there had not long since been drawn away by what at the time had seemed misfortune but turned out to be the best of fortune -- they had no affinity for the natural forces fatally on the way.
When the details of disaster are examined on both the inner and outer planes, almost invariably are found delinquencies of one kind or another influencing nearly all those affected; in other words, one can always find that, even in the immediate visible line of causation, human beings in full possession of the faculties human beings should have, would have escaped, no matter how much an "Act of God" the circumstance might seem. These visible delinquencies do not, in human opinion, measure up to the direness of the visitation, because Nature's scale of responsibility is not our own, that latter being largely artificial and perverted; and because they are coupled with many invisible delinquencies. If by some miracle, a man should in any one incarnation begin to live a truly intelligent, truly moral life, he would probably be immune to retribution, even though a monster in his last past incarnation. But that would truly be a miracle, as the moral delinquency of an incarnation leaves weakening scars, loose bolts on the Karmic doors of the next career, however great the change in state and circumstance, however well-guarded the life.
Half the mystery would disappear from the field of individual and personal Karma were we to take seriously the method of Karmic transmittal from life to life as clearly taught in Theosophy; transmission in the form of mental deposits, the true "chromosomes" that govern the heredity of human fate. That a man steps in the path of an automobile, or cuts himself with an ax, or falls from a cliff, because of a secret desire, would seem sheer absurdity to most; yet modern psychology now openly suspects that fact. It is simply as stated by Judge, repeating Patanjali in modern occidental terms:These thoughts are lodged in that part of man which we have called Manas -- the mind, and there remain as subtle but powerful links with magnetic threads that enmesh the solar system, and through which various effects are brought out. The theory put forward in earlier pages that the whole system to which this globe belongs is alive, conscious on every plane, though only in man showing self-consciousness, comes into play here to explain how the thought under the act in this life may cause result in this or the next birth. The marvellous modern experiments in hypnotism show that the slightest impression, no matter how far back in the history of the person, may be waked up to life, thus proving it is not lost but only latent. Take for instance the case of a child born humpbacked and very short, the head sunk between the shoulders, the arms long and legs curtailed. Why is this? His karma for thoughts and acts in a prior life. He reviled, persecuted, or otherwise injured a deformed person so persistently or violently as to imprint in his own immortal mind the deformed picture of his victim. For in proportion to the intensity of his thought will be the intensity and depth of the picture. It is exactly similar to the exposure of the sensitive photographic plate, whereby, just as the exposure is long or short, the impression in the plate is weak or deep. So this thinker and actor -- the Ego -- coming again to rebirth carries with him this picture, and if the family to which he is attracted for birth has similar physical tendencies in its stream, the mental picture causes the newly-forming astral body to assume a deformed shape by electrical and magnetic osmosis through the mother of the child. And as all beings on earth are indissolubly joined together, the misshapen child is the karma of the parents also, an exact consequence for similar acts and thoughts on their part in other lives. Here is an exactitude of justice which no other theory will furnish. (The Ocean of Theosophy, 1893, p. 92.)The mental images thus carried are not merely images of forms; they are images of actions, too. The picture of an action thus embedded must "out" at a favorable time just as inevitably as a strong picture of a physical form must some time be crystallized in living matter. The mind of a former medieval torturer, for instance, must carry in it a ghastly wound, an attraction for and picture of flames and screams of agony, which will inevitably lead him to fall victim to flames, either by irresistible though unconscious attraction, or by inertia preventing him from escape which would otherwise have been easy. And so on.
But why is this? First, because any deviation from the harmonious archetypal in either form or action is to the Real Self a festering infection, to be expunged by an impulse of spiritual instinct at the first favorable moment. The living of a life as a cripple, or perishing in fire, horrible as these are to the bodily senses and the whole lower nature, are the canceling out, the cleansing and draining of an abscess in the spiritual consciousness; the casting off of a load from which the Ego is then forever relieved, since the "energy of crystallization" that went into the creation of the lethal image is now dissipated, de-personalized, once more one with the forces of nature. Thus the Higher Self is spoken of as That which, "if a man is to perish by water, leadeth him to the water; if he is to perish by fire, leadeth him to the fire." And this eternal and inescapable series of adjustments which constitutes the evolution of every Ego is facilitated and made possible by the blind instinct of our inner "elemental" forces which run into any strong mental image and thus produce a material form or material action, however disastrous to the reasoning mind such form or action may seem. Those who are subject to the "fascination of space," the impulse to jump off high places -- which has caused more than one death -- can understand the apparent paradox of such instincts from personal experience. It is by similar fascination that doomed men establish themselves in the pathways of natural disaster; that men are born in unfortunate families or nations.
Working hand in hand with this, and especially visible in those disasters we have called "Class 1," are the great surges or cycles of changing ascendancy in the forces of Nature. There are times when ordinarily safe and accustomed actions become dangerous. The amazing fire cycle above quoted might be ascribed to a wave of carelessness psychologically transmitted through a wide range of men of similar occupation, habit of thought, and environment. The waves of air disaster are, to a Theosophist, obviously such. Likewise, the two marine accidents of October 10th in San Francisco Bay, are significant. The tug was wrecked through a sudden decision of the pilot to cut hap-hazard across the path of a steamer. The second accident, occurring a little later, was due to the crossing of signals, significantly indicative of the telepathic communication of a spasm of mental confusion. Life all about us abounds with such evidences, had we only eyes and ears in the real sense. Needless to say, no one can fall victim to such an impulse unless he also has the seeds of it in himself. Others are impervious.
However, there are vast tides in Nature which make possible Karmic explosions of causes which otherwise might lie dormant for ages. Was the fire cycle of September due entirely to a wave of carelessness? Probably not. There are times when the fire principle in Nature is unusually active; those times spoken of by Judge as "transits of fire." Forest fires as well as others were exceeding records everywhere. During the construction of the great San Francisco Bridge during the above September, a hot rivet falling from above set fire to a barge hawser -- a most unusual accident. But how many minor, unrecorded incidents of that nature may have belonged to that cycle the world over? It is possible that many of the marine fires were due to the fact that much in the normal handling of materials and juxtapositions of materials, had become productive of fire; for instance, that spontaneous combustion was occurring as a result of combinations usually harmless. Why and how, chemically speaking, may be left to the chemists of a perhaps distant future. Yet, enough has been said to indicate that Karma is no dark insoluble mystery, that it requires no superhuman bodkin to pick the knots of Destiny's web; that man need cry "injustice" in the teeth of Nature only as ignorance and prejudice compel.
STUDIES IN KARMA
"THE WEB OF DESTINY"
(Part 28 of a 57-part series)
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