An Essential Element of Mysticism
Law of Compensation - KARMA
Legislative bodies create laws for the good and welfare of those governed. If the laws are ineffective, that body can change them at will. The Cosmic, however, "legislates" 'Laws of Nature' which cannot be changed at will or by the desire of any human being. They must be obeyed whether the individual approves or not. Especially is this true with compliance with the Cosmic Law of Compensation - KARMA. Come what may we are all under its judgment and are bound by its tenets.
Let us briefly examine this law and examine its ramifications. What is the Law of Compensation - KARMA of which we speak? In a few words the Law of Compensation is that group of principles which take into account our thoughts and actions in any incarnation from where a Cosmic judgment is rendered according to the results of our thoughts and actions, our deeds and misdeeds - the principle of duality in action.
It should be stated at the outset that the Law of Compensation - KARMA is not a law of retribution or retaliation or a 'pay-back' nor a 'benefit', and in its negative perception it does not seek to cause suffering, nor in its positive aspects - joy.
The purpose of the law is to bring to our consciousness the realization of our acts of omission and commission, the duality of our being in both positive and negative polarities. Its main objective for us is to make compensation for the errors and wrongs we have committed and to benefit from the good or benefits which we have provided for the lives of others. Once we have become conscious of these positive or negative attributes of our own lives, the Law of Compensation has been fulfilled. Once the good which we have done has been realized, the law ceases to operate until the next episode.
Some people fear KARMA as an act of retribution. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact KARMA is a learning process. The purpose of KARMA is not to instigate punishment, worry, strife, loss, or mental suffering, but to reiterate, to bring our thoughts and actions into our conscious mind. Remember the word - REFLECTION. KARMA should cause one to stop and REFLECT. KARMA is impersonal, and it is not the monster that some may envision.
Some of the unexplained joys and good fortune, or what some say, is 'good luck' come to us as a consequence of the good acts which we have performed in the past and the negative side is also true. This is only a very brief explanation.
In life we 'Dare to Do' - to think, to act, and often our thoughts and actions not only affect our own lives but also those of others with whom we come in contact. Our thoughts and actions involve what many refer to as duality and polarity.
Our thoughts and actions, guided by our desires and our will, manifest as a cause and effect, action and reaction positive and negative. The 17th century English scientist, Sir Isaac Newton discovered a universal Cosmic law which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since Cosmic law is everywhere the same, it not only applies to physical science but to our every-day lives in many ways. In our vital life force every thought and action, therefore, has an equal and opposite reaction even though there may be a considerable time separation between the two, possibly an incarnation before the effects of these two attributes are discerned.
Therefore, the effects of our thoughts and actions generate the Law of Compensation - KARMA, and somewhere and at some time seek an accountability and to establish a balance, so to speak, where the plusses and minuses of life find a form of justice. And as the old saying goes: "If you dance, you must pay the piper." The equities and inequities of life are weighed on the scales of Cosmic Law and justice.
It should be emphasized that the principles of revenge, and an eye-for-an-eye, the price of good and evil, pleasure and pain have naught to do with the Law of Compensation - KARMA. KARMA becomes a teaching tool for the REALIZATION of our positive and negative thoughts and actions, which not only benefit our lives, but also others, and also accounts for the errors of our ways. This learning process then becomes the fulfillment of the Cosmic Law of Compensation - Karma.
Buddhism and Karma
The ideas and tenets that comprise the Law of Compensation - KARMA have a long history. If one examines the general concepts of Buddhism, the ideas associated with this form of belief play an important role. Although there are several schools of Buddhism, each with something different to offer the student, most all generally agree in the belief in the theory of Karma. Karma is usually translated into English as thought, action, and deed. It has a very wide spectrum of meaning, but it places a great emphasis on what the perceptive individual thinks and speaks. According to Buddhism, all phenomena of the universe or the universe of the perceptive mind, are the realizations of one's mind. Whenever the individual thinks, speaks, or acts, the mind is doing something, and that 'something' must produce its results, no matter how far it may manifest in the future. This result of realization and manifestation, regardless of the time frame results in a form of retribution of the Karma. The Karma is the cause and its retribution is the effect.
The present incarnation of a being is only one aspect of this whole process. Transition (death) is not the end of one's being, but only another aspect of the process. That which an individual is or becomes in the present incarnation, comes as a result of what that person thought, said or how one acted in the past, and that which one does now will determine how the future will judge the situation. Therefore, what one does now will bear fruit in yet another life to come, and so on ad infinitum. This cause and effect chain is what is called 'Samsara', the Wheel of Birth and Death. It is the main source from which joy and suffering come to all people. The only hope of escape lies in replacing ignorance with enlightenment which in Sanskrit is called 'Bodhi'. In the course of many rebirths, the individual may accumulate Karma which does not crave for or cleave to things, but avoids them. The result is an emancipation of the individual from the Wheel of Birth and Death. And this emancipation, this freedom is referred to as 'Nirvana'.
This in brief may provide the reader with some insight to the meaning of the Buddhist conception of Karma. Karma also plays an important role in the thinking of mystic philosophy. May we now observe the thoughts of two mystic adepts on the issues concerning the Law of Compensation - KARMA, former Imperators of the Rosicrucian Order, the founder of the Order in the United States, Dr. H. Spenser Lewis and his son, Imperator Ralph M. Lewis. We begin with the ideas and views of Dr. Lewis.
Dr. H. Spenser Lewis Speaks:
"Man has in many ways to emulate or reduce to material form the cosmic law of compensation; and while he has made a miserable failure of it in most ways, still, the spiritually minded person has succeeded in establishing in his own life and in the rules of his affairs, some principles which are truly representative of the Cosmic Laws of Compensation - KARMA.
Material rewards and compensation to others for their efforts in one's behalf create a false medium, an arbitrary one, created by man without having the least relationship to the ideals of the Cosmic law. While many people seek compensation from others, the Cosmic law of compensation also operates to bring to each one of us a true compensation for what we have done. And in each element where man's method of compensation fails to reward or punish, adequately, for each good or evil deed, the Cosmic law properly, efficiently, and sufficiently compensates and makes full adjustments.
Man may scheme and plan to prevent the Cosmic law of compensation from operating in an individual case, and he may try to stay the great Cosmic laws from adequately adjusting the compensation of his acts. He may even succeed for a time in escaping what he believes is imminent, but it is a fact that no one has ever successfully avoided, evaded, or escaped the operation of the Cosmic law completely and continuously. Men and women may cheat one another of their just rewards, and people may fail willfully or unconsciously to make proper compensation to others, but the Cosmic law never fails. It is immutable, of course, but it is also fair, just, and really worthy of our admiration when we understand the principles of Cosmic compensation.
I have met many men and women who believe most implicitly that whenever they do a kindness or an unselfish act for someone else or contribute in any way to the health and happiness of others, they can expect some reward of Cosmic blessing, suddenly and uniquely, at almost any hour. They had learned from experience that the Cosmic brings its rewards not only suddenly, but at a most propitious moment, and that by helping others or giving in whatever way they could they could to the needs and happiness of another, they were accruing a certain amount of Cosmic blessing or help that would come to them just when they needed it.
I do not mean to say that such persons constantly had in mind the reward or return of their blessings whenever they planned to do something for someone else. I have noticed from many reports, and from intimate contact with those who follow such principles in their lives, that most of the unselfish or kindly acts performed by these persons were unplanned and wholly spontaneous, and that it was only as they were performing the act or immediately thereafter, that the thought came to them that in compensation for their rashness or liberality there would be a proper return. It is but natural for anyone promptly to question the logic of a spontaneous act or sudden urge, and to wonder whether it is worth while, diplomatic, or reasonable. It is such moments of consideration of the spontaneous act that these persons generally conclude that though it was sudden and probably urged by an emotional impulse, the Cosmic was conscious of the urge, and the whole-hearted response to it, and would compensate accordingly.
The laws of Karma and Cosmic Compensation reveal that one can do an injustice to another, or take advantage of another or even live a dual existence without bringing into their life inevitable suffering and sorrowful adjustment. Hence, the mystic's comprehension of ethics and morality has a clear and more definite meaning to him, and elicits obedience to Cosmic Law which man is reluctant to give a mundane law or laws of man's invention.
As a man chooses, sows, so shall he reap and pay. The Law of Compensation - Karma. Nature in every department of manifestation demands justice, equalization, and Compensation.
It is so old in the understanding of men that most of his self-made laws, even among primitive tribes and races are based upon observations of its working. The manifestation of the Law of Compensation constitutes the 'great school of experience'. Through this school man has come to learn of his powers and limitations, his weaknesses and strength, his advantage over all other living creatures.
From childhood unto old age, man learns that his evil acts are essentially a sin against his own career for which he must suffer or pay. He learns, too, that his noble deeds, unselfish acts, and idealistic thoughts bring balanced rewards. Each experience with the Law of Compensation - Karma adds to the molding of his creed of life, his guide of conduct, his code of thinking. The memory of each experience, each lesson, remains a stone in the structure of the character that he is building.
Personality or character is thereby evolving from childhood onward through every hour of conscious existence. Thus the Soul of man, the immaterial part of his dual being, the consciousness of the self, is an evolving entity which mystics call 'personality' or Ego. And because of its very nature, because of its association with the immaterial part of his being, personality is a spiritual, eternal, and immortal entity.
In society and in our private personal affairs, man must be true unto himself, and this self must be the inner self, if man is to be true at all. He must let the Divine power within him dominate the physical power of his body and the world around him. He must let the beauty and grandeur, and the sublime thoughts of the Divine Mind of his being fill him with inspiration and comprehension of his real place in the universe and of his relationship to all other beings. He must let the God Consciousness of his soul control and direct his health and activities of the physical self so that it may truly be the servant unto himself. In this way will man rise to power and glory and attain the highest degree of success and happiness in his affairs."
Next the views of former Imperator Ralph M. Lewis.
Imperator Ralph M Lewis comments:
"In the scriptures of Confucius there is an example of how good and evil, as effects of acts, must be realized by us. A student asks Confucius if there is any word which by itself would serve as a practical rule of life; more emphatically, is there a single word which in its meaning alone will represent how man shall live? Confucius answers: "Reciprocity." This may be construed to mean that which we do not want done to ourselves we should not do to others. In the Confuciusian Scriptures, it is made plain that if a man has done an injury, he shall be punished in the exact nature of his injury to you. Consequently, we find that 'retribution' is the basis of the Confucian Law of Compensation.
From the ancient Hindu teachings has ascended a Sanskrit word which signifies moral cause and effects. This word is 'Karma'. Etymologically, it means deed, or to do. The doctrine which surrounds this word, or which the word is a basis, spread to many of the other principal religions in India, Buddhism, for example. Causes and effects are karma and karma accumulates and is inherited or brought over from a former life.
The soul, therefore, must exhaust Karma before it may be delivered from the necessity of incarnating time after time, in physical form on the mortal plane. Incarnations are like the potter's wheel who keeps it spinning. The acts of each incarnation are an impulsation, which keeps the wheel of rebirth into physical form. When there is no more Karma, when our acts have not produced such, there are no more impulsations; the wheel of rebirth ceases its movement, and the soul is not again obliged to inhabit a body on earth, such are the Buddhist doctrines.
The Buddhists also say that Karma is fourfold. There is a Karma that bears fruit in the present existence, during our mortal existence here; the Karma that bears fruit in rebirth in a future life; the Karma that bears fruit at no fixed time, that is which may occur in this life or in one of the many subsequent lives from now on; and then there is the bygone Karma. Thoughts which produce acts now in our current life result in Karma in the next incarnation. If, however, they fail to produce effects, they have become bygone Karma ,which implies that they have been mitigated in some way by subsequent acts. The Buddhist makes plain that the blame for our deeds is strictly our own. It is strictly a 'personal' responsibility.
We cannot transfer that responsibility to others. There is no escape from our own deeds; the effects must flow from the cause into the heavens, into the sea, or into the earth. When we experience evil, we must learn to flee from it. This does not mean an escape, but once having known what effects follow from a cause, we learn to avoid such a cause again.
Karma as a law is inexorable. There are no exceptions, no deviations. The Buddhists doctrines include two general kinds of Karma: one is pure and the other is impure. Impure Karma necessitates further existence; it requires incarnation again in mortal form. In impure Karma the suffering is always proportionate to the deed itself. The extent of the evil of the act determines the consequence or effect. Here again we have the principle of retribution for the act. Pure deeds of Karma eventually stop the wheel of rebirth. The soul is liberated from further imprisonment in the physical form.
In orthodox Christianity there is little place for the doctrine of Karma. In Christianity as in Judaism before it, God is conceived as a Father, as a Supreme Being. He is held to transcend the world, and yet, He is considered as having an influence upon the world as seeking to establish a theocracy upon earth, namely, a Kingdom of God. Men are said to be His children. The relationship between humanity and God, from the Christian point of view is not greatly unlike the relationship which exists between mortal children and their father. Just as mortals do, orthodox Christianity conceives God as expressing, love, hate, and forgiveness. Men violate the Divine Father's wishes just as mortal children disobey their parents. The Divine Father, orthodox Christianity expounds, can and will punish the erring human. This punishment consists of a personal act. It is purely arbitrary on the part of God. It is not that the individual by his act has evoked an inexorable law.
Further, according to Christianity, men's moral acts produce no independent personal effects which may react upon them. The effects of man's moral acts, the consequences of them, lie entirely in the arbitrary judgment and love of God. Thus one may leave in his wake in life, because of the manner in which he lived and personal conduct much sorrow and hurt to others. At death, if he embraces God, of he sincerely asks the Divine Father for forgiveness, according to orthodox Christianity, he will receive it. Thus while others may to continue to experience the effects of his acts and continue to endure suffering because of previous conduct, the instigator of the evil may be forgiven if he embraces God and admits his wrong doing.
The punishment the evil doer may receive, according to this Christian dogmatic conception, may have entirely no relationship to the original evil act. The individual may be punished in such a manner that he does not experience the serious consequences of his wrong doing. Good and evil in Christianity become but a series of admonishment, the establishment of ethical and moral rules which one is obliged to adhere.
Rosicrucian mysticism also employs the doctrine of Karma, but its application is considerably unlike that of its Oriental predecessors. To the Rosicrucian Karma is commensurate with the Law of Causality. For every effect there must bean active and a passive cause. Every act, mental or physical, brings about a result which has a value related to the cause itself. Thus, if one sets into motion a series of creative, morally good acts, they will ultimately rebound to the benefit of the individual.
The Law of Causality, Rosicrucians teach, in mysticism as in science, permits no deviation. The effects must follow. From mistakes pain may be often experienced. The pain, however, which may be associated with the result of the act is not an intentional result. It is inevitable, it follows from the necessity of the cause, but it is not intended as punishment. It is not a matter of retribution. From such pains, or may be pleasures, man learns the consequences of his causative acts. He knows what to expect when he puts them into effect. Many persons may object to moral codes. They may find codes not consistent with reason. They find them illogical, but man cannot argue with or refute the effects of his own acts which he experiences. He knows that they are inevitable, and he must adjust his life to them. Karma thus provides each individual with an intimate experience with Divine Cosmic laws. It is an experience which he must have in his own consciousness. It is not related to him by others. Karma thus removes blind faith, doubts and skepticism, and provides knowledge as to right living instead. We have been given a spiritual barometer, which is the moral sense which we possess, or conscience. This barometer informs us whenever our acts, or contemplated acts are contrary to Cosmic laws and principles, in effect, this may be experienced as a reluctance to continue certain acts or to proceed along lines of action which we have in mind. If, however, we proceed in opposition to the prompting of this barometer of conscience, we then, of course, experience the effect, which may be an unpleasant one and a bitter lesson to learn.
All Karmic effects are not adverse. Many persons speak of Karma only when they speak of effects which are unpleasant. Very seldom do they mention, in the light if Karma, circumstances or conditions which are beneficial. There are many deeds which produce a beneficial effect.
Eternity may be only a tick of a second. Our acts, as causes, may have their effects projected into the future; that future may be the next moment, as we think of it, or this day or this year. Or the future may be several subsequent lives from now. Today's experiences, today's good fortune, may be rooted in the past. The effects of such causes may occur several generations later. When we experience misfortune, when we encounter adversity, we should not be embittered, we should not try to affix the responsibility on others, but inquire into the nature of the condition of the cause, which may have brought about the misfortune. Analyze the effects intelligently for the determination of the cause. At least with an open mind, accept the effects as a lesson, as one possibly teaching tolerance or humility. Favorable and unfavorable events principally lie in our own acts as causes, which we alone can institute. Each of our acts is a moving positive cause, and acts upon the passive and be negative factors of our environment, as objects, events, and conditions. In contrast to ourselves, all else is a negative cause. WE are the prime mover, the active cause, and the two - ourselves and our environment - produce the effects, and the effects partake always of the nature of their causes. If we are conscious of this, we will be cautious in acting upon things and conditions which surround us."
Copyright © 1998 Robert E. Dreier