THEOSOPHY, Vol. 37, No. 7, May, 1949
(Pages 316-318; Size: 9K)


[Article number (20) in this Q&A Department]

HOW can we be SURE there is no personal God?

Well, one thing is certain: no matter how hard we seek, we shall not find that surety in the printed word, by whomsoever written. The conviction must be that of the self within, or it is worthless. If it springs from within, what better proof can we ask of the reality of the soul; and if the soul is a reality, where is there room, in this world or any other, for a personal God?

Even if we lack a real conviction, however, there are still some points we can consider. Which idea -- that of soul or that of God -- makes us act in the highest way possible, draws out of us the greatest aspiration and courage and dignity? If these qualities exist in a man who "believes" in God, we may be sure that the God he worships is not a personal god, or he could not evoke impersonal, unselfish qualities. Again, suppose those who believe in soul and do not believe in a personal deity should prove to be mistaken. Surely no God who deserves our respect and obedience could punish us for errors which he, in his omniscience and omnipotence, permitted us to make; and surely, if his existence were a reality, he would have the patience to see that all truth-seekers must eventually come to acknowledge it. In short, if it is fear of God which makes us unwilling to dismiss him from the universe, let us recognize this fear as unworthy of ourselves and an insult to true deity, and let us take the position that it is better to perish, even, denying such a fearsome creature than to live in the shadow of it.

If we say an unkind word to a person, does the result return to us necessarily from that same person?

There would seem to be no hard-and-fast answer for this. If we say an unkind word to a person, we reap an immediate result in our own character, quite regardless of any external reaction. Even if nobody else changed his attitude toward us one iota, our very unkindness would have changed ourselves to some degree, so that our relationship with every other human being would be correspondingly altered. We would be something less than we had been before, no matter by how little our inner stature was diminished.

Now if the person to whom we uttered the unkind remark was on the same imperfect level as ourselves, our action undoubtedly would rouse resentment in him, to which he might or might not give expression. If he said nothing, but thought much, perhaps, we are not to think that no reaction returned to us from him, for, as H.P.B. wrote, "Esoterically, thought is more responsible and punishable than act." It is possible, of course, that the person may, by an act of will, refuse to submit himself to the "elemental reaction" of giving unkindness for unkindness; and may, by a positive and constructive act, break the vicious cycle we had begun and lead us out of it. This is the kind of action the wise man strives to perform.

Do we always improve with every effort we make to bring about certain results?

Yes -- though the improvement may not be exactly in accord with what we expect it should be or, even, in the direction of the results we are attempting to bring about. There is no meaning to the law of Karma if there is not an equal effect for every cause set in motion. Whenever we find cause to doubt this, we can be sure that we are looking for the result in the wrong place. We must admit that our judgment is often at fault; we either forget or refuse to take all the factors of any situation into account. Like a boy who shoots an arrow into the air, and then complains of trickery when he cannot find it where he expected it to land, we often upbraid the universe unjustly. We would find it simple to explain to the boy with the lost arrow that his hand may have failed to direct the shaft where his eye and mind were fixed; or that he did not in his search make allowance for the wind which shifted its course; or that he flattered himself that his arm was stronger than it really was, and that the arrow could be found much closer at hand.

This is not by way of discouragement, but simply to indicate how far we are from the true perception of cause and effect. Mr. Judge wrote in "Occultism: What Is It?" that the law of transmutation among forces "will baffle any one who has not the power to calculate the value of even the smallest tremble of a vibration, not only in itself but instantly upon its collision with another, whether that other be similar to it or different." It will be some time before we shall be able to calculate to such a nicety, but the fact that there are beings who can do this with scientific certainty should reassure us of the justice and dependability of the universe.

If a criminal is allowed to go free without capital punishment, would the Law of Karma mete out justice according to his offence?

This is a good question, for it raises the problem of what alternative can be proposed if capital punishment is abolished. The Law of Karma of course will "mete out justice" to the criminal, but in the interests of humanity, all will agree, something must be done to keep the man from continuing on his criminal course in the meantime. If a man performs a wicked act, knowledge of the law of Karma does not prompt those around him to do nothing and content themselves with the thought that eventually he will reap the effect of that act; any more than they would see a man in the act of drowning and stand by inactive, saying that Karma would govern the question of whether or not he would be saved.

The first thing we need to remember, then, is that Karma works always through beings, of one order or another. It is not some abstraction which mysteriously produces the necessary effects, without recourse to material agents. This would be to say that the greatest office human beings can perform is to remain inactive completely, and allow the Law to act. We can see that this is ridiculous.

After we have satisfactorily determined this question, and seen that in the case of the criminal some action must be taken, we come to the problem of determining what action. And here we should perhaps refer to Mr. Judge's article, "Men Karmic Agents" (THEOSOPHY XIV, 412), for we will find that he warns us against the delusion that we are the administrators of the law. We have not the knowledge to pass judgment on, or punish, any man.

Through our present system of punishment, the spirit of society's vengeance communicates itself infallibly to every rebel, and incites in him further evil impulses. A knowledge of Karma should help us to find constructive methods of dealing with all kinds of ignorance, crime among them. Our purpose should be to so educate the wrong-doer that he will be able himself to mitigate, perhaps, some of the evil Karma following on his acts.

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(June 1949)
[Article number (21) in this Q&A Department]

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