Karma as opportunity


Theosophy Karma as opportunity 2

[The magazine Vidya , edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published the following article in its Summer 2016 issue; here is a slightly revised version.]

Karma, the Sanskrit word for action, has become a familiar term. William Q. Judge defines karma as “the adjustment of effects flowing from causes.” Thereby equilibrium is restored where there has been disturbance. Karma is not a strange idea since most people have heard the phrase “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Furthermore, our individual experience teaches that our actions bring discernible consequences. Imposing personal disciplines to avoid harmful effects and start new lines of karma are familiar to us. Less understood are the various levels of collective karma. We may discern some characteristics of family karma, however hidden. Analyzing national karma is far more elusive. The particular actions of leaders can be analyzed to see if they lead to economic prosperity. But how do we explain the seemingly random acts of mass violence? Am I, an individual citizen leading a well-ordered and kind life, responsible for one man's violence 3,000 miles away? The karma of a modern nation state is very difficult to explain. How do we know the karma of the souls who incarnate in a particular society? How do we honestly recognize our sins of omission and not just focus on the bad deeds of others? At the global level, our ignorance of the complex interdependence in the natural environment feeds a willful misuse of essential resources.

The chains of karma can be changed by thinking more carefully of wise choices. Correction is possible and indeed necessary. Life in a body offers a ceaseless education in karma, whatever our likes and dislikes. Karma provides unerring accountability that is both merciful and just to each and all. Restricting actions that bring unnecessary negative consequences and choosing thoughts, words and deeds that bring beneficial results is our challenge and duty. Indeed, karma should not just be seen as punishment for bad choices. Karma, this great law of life, should be seen as opportunity. It is karma that enables us to create the future and make evolutionary progress. We do this not just by improving the virtues in our individual self, but by expanding our vision of how we can help all humanity seek the Universal Good. This “Good” from a Theosophical perspective is the growth in mental, moral and spiritual understanding of what is true, what is real, and what fulfills the full potential of all that lives

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