THEOSOPHY, Vol. 69, No. 8, June, 1981
(Pages 241-243; Size: 10K)


KARMA means action or particularized motion. The modes of karma are named Law and are almost always explained in terms of periodicity or cycles, and cause and effect. There is, however, another aspect of Karma spoken of in Theosophy, but hardly elaborated. This is its hidden, unmanifested, subjective root. A statement in The Secret Doctrine (I, 97 fn.) contrasts the two aspects of Karma, the hidden and the manifest: "'Motion is eternal in the unmanifested, and periodical in the manifest,' says an Occult teaching."

Among H.P.B.'s statements regarding Karma are the following: "Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable.... though we do not know what Karma is per se, and in its essence, we do know how it works, and we can define and describe its mode of action with accuracy." (Key, p. 201.)(1) "Karma is one with the Unknowable, of which it is an aspect, in its effects in the phenomenal world." (Key, p. 212.) "Neither Atma(2) nor Buddhi(3) are ever reached by Karma, because the former is the highest aspect of Karma, its working agent of ITSELF in one aspect, and the other is unconscious on this plane." (Key, p. 135.) "It is idle to speak of 'laws arising when Deity prepares to create' for (a) laws or rather LAW is eternal and uncreated; and (b) that Deity is Law, and vice versa." In The Friendly Philosopher (p. 218), Mr. Crosbie(4) says succinctly: "The Self is its own Law."

When Theosophical teachers employ such terms as the "Unknowable," "Deity," and "Self" to designate the hidden and unmanifested side of Karma, it seems best to consider this usage in the light of the first fundamental proposition of Theosophy, as the matrix from which arises the second fundamental, concerned with the periodic aspect of Being. The first fundamental declares "an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conceptions and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude." (S.D. I, p. 14.) "It is," H.P.B. says, "'Be-ness' rather than Being ..., beyond all thought and speculation." As symbol of "Be-ness," Absolute Abstract Motion is said to represent "Unconditioned Consciousness." Change is the essential characteristic of motion, and is said to be "symbolized by theterm 'The Great Breath'," which graphically suggests the outbreathing and appearance followed by the inbreathing and disappearance of manifested universes.

The Reality which is the subject of the first fundamental, being Absolute, includes everything, even time itself, and is therefore Unity. As the source of all it is the One Reality. It is Deity. As the "Be-ness" of all beings, which includes the power to perceive, it is the Self of all Beings. As "Be-ness" or the One Self, it is unconditioned consciousness, represented by that "Absolute Abstract Motion" which "is eternal in the unmanifested and periodical in the manifested." In short, as manifestation the Motion is Karma. Therefore, this fundamental reality can be considered under the aspects of Unity, Deity, Reality, Self, and Karma. Moreover, it can be seen that these aspects are interchangeable, since Deity is the Self within, Unity is Reality, and Karma, too, is Deity. Hence, Karma in its ultimate nature is Unity, Deity, Reality, and Self, and therefore "Unknowable." Karma shapes, affects, and is known to consciousness. "The Great Breath" portrays the coming forth from the Unmanifested of the eternal motion, which becomes rotatory motion. "Deity becomes a WHIRLWIND," (S.D. I, 117.) This motion by reason of the pairs of opposites, becomes periodic in the manifested world. Thus the second fundamental proposition deals with this motion from the moment when it first becomes periodic, revealing "The Universe in toto as a boundless plane, periodically the playground of numberless universes, incessantly manifesting and disappearing." (S.D. I, 16.)

Karma as Law brings about the results of action, governing the process by which these results are produced. However, the hidden aspect of Karma as Law deals with the basis of conscious action, which we can observe as motive. Thus there is a Higher Law -- the "law of Unity," the "law of Deity," the "law of Reality" and the "law of Self." These moral and metaphysical bases of Karma must ultimately prevail in the performance of action. Unawareness of these realities through a feeling of separate identity leads to personal, selfish action, and while such action may seem to succeed -- temporarily -- these realities in their expression as Karma will inevitably exert the "undeviating tendency in the Universe to restore equilibrium," which "operates incessantly."

There are many statements which show the necessity of observing the Higher Law of the hidden aspect of Karma. In The Ocean of Theosophy (p. 89), Mr. Judge(5) connects individual action with the unified Reality by saying that "Theosophy views the Universe as an intelligent whole, hence every motion in the Universe is an action of that whole leading to results, which themselves become causes for further results." In the Bhagavad-Gita (p. 23), Krishna tells Arjuna: "All actions performed other than as sacrifice unto God make the actor bound by action." In other words, in all action we must recognize the reality of Deity, of Unity, or suffer entanglement in the constraints of our own making. Or, to put it another way: Selfless acts are Karmaless acts. They disturb no equilibrium. This thought is simply expressed in the saying, "Act for and as the Self of all creatures." It is the rule of altruism and of the Brotherhood of Man.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here: 
The Path, O Ahura, of Vohu Man

    That One Path hast Thou pointed out to me,

    The ancient Teaching of all Saviours,--

That good deeds done for their own sake lead far,--

    This Teaching leads mankind to Wisdom true,

    That single Prize of Life -- Thyself the Goal.


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The Christian Scheme
GOD: Where? Who? What?
(Article 15 of a 36-part series.)

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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Key" here refers to "The Key to Theosophy", a book written in Question & Answer form, by H. P. Blavatsky.
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(2) "Atma" means Spirit.
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(3) "Buddhi" means Intuition (or Spiritual Soul). "Manas" means mind. "Atma-Buddhi-Manas" means Spirit-Intuition-Mind: the immortal Triad -- the Eternal Pilgrim, the Higher Self, the Reincarnating Ego, what and who we really are: an Eternal Thinker, in or out of a physical body.
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(4) Robert Crosbie was the founder of The United Lodge of Theosophists (U.L.T.).
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(5) "Mr. Judge" was William Q. Judge (W.Q.J.).
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