This week we bring you a selection from our Key Concepts section, on Karma.
Karma is a central concept in the Theosophical Philosophy, and it can be understood in a variety of ways. On one level it can be seen as simply the natural law of cause and effect, or action and reaction in the physical cosmos. On another level it can be seen as the moral law of compensation, binding each individuality to the effects of the causes they initiate. In a holistic sense it can be imagined as the natural result of Unity, expressing itself as the law of harmony and balance in the universe – the law of interdependence.
The image above symbolizes one of the common analogies used to describe the Law of Karma. As H.P. Blavatsky explains:
“Think now of a pond. A stone falls into the water and creates disturbing waves. These waves oscillate backwards and forwards till at last, owing to the operation of what physicists call the law of the dissipation of energy, they are brought to rest, and the water returns to its condition of calm tranquillity. Similarly all action, on every plane, produces disturbance in the balanced harmony of the Universe, and the vibrations so produced will continue to roll backwards and forwards, if its area is limited, till equilibrium is restored.”
In Theosophy Karmic action is inseparable from the Actor, and thus every action we initiate leads to effects that we as individuals will experience, just as a punching-bag inevitably swings back towards the boxer. Thus also Karma is intimately related to Reincarnation, which is often described as its “companion-doctrine”. In Theosophy there is no vicarious atonement, no magic solution by which our karma can be avoided or bypassed. As we sow, so shall we reap is the eternal verity. So Theosophy teaches us to accept and bear the brunt of our past karma with strength and courage, and to learn how one might lessen the karmic load we actively create for our own future.
To aid students, we’ve put together a section on Karma with a featured quotation and several key articles on the subject. We welcome you to explore this central idea in conjunction with its “companion-doctrine” Reincarnation.