Karma – part 4

The only permanent, undying reality is found in pure spirit, and when we turn our attention to that, as Job did, and as Arjuna did in the Bhagavad Gita, then we find a freedom from misery and we find that behind this outer pain and distress is a real undying beauty and joy. 

Robert: Welcome to Inner Sight. Our topic for today is Karma part 4. There is much to be said about karma. It’s an issue that’s spoken about often incorrectly, so we’re here to really set the record straight. Here’s a thought from a book called Karma and Rebirth, and the quote is from Christmas Humphreys: “Karma is the expression of the law of equilibrium, and nature is always working to restore that equilibrium whenever through man’s acts it is disturbed. Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and karmic law adjusts the effects. Karma neither rewards nor punishes. It only restores lost harmony.” I like to mention that quote from time to time, because I’ve always found the law of karma very complex, and I think through these shows I’ve begun to understand it a lot better, and I hope you do also. But, we have more to do on this so that we can get a complete understanding. We’ve talked so much about a negative karma, but is there karma in the way we handle our blessings? 

Sarah: Very much so. And as we’ve mentioned in the past, the writings of Alice Bailey say that we have much more good karma than bad karma—most of us—and that’s kind of a surprising insight into karma. We tend to think of it as punishment but, as I think I mentioned, the real definition is retribution, which is the return of whatever has been put out through action. So, our many good acts, our many good deeds, come back to us in the form of blessings. But how we respond to those blessings then in turn generates new karma. If we have a very comfortable, blessed life in comparison to the people around us, we might find ourselves feeling very smug and satisfied with ourselves. Then we would be committing the sin of self-righteousness and of separating ourselves from people who suffer. So, there’s a karma of merit and a karma of demerit, and we’re on a very fine line at all times. 

Dale: Yes, our good fortunes are not something we should gloat over, because as you say, that very act of gloating is incurring some negative karma on top of it. So, it’s something to bear in mind really, because how we handle our blessings is a gift. Our blessings are probably given to us by past karma, by the result of good actions in the past, and they’re not meant to be lorded over other people. 

Sarah: Don’t you think they’re probably in their own way tests? I think God, or the powers that be, sometimes test us through our blessings just as much as through our tribulations. If we forget to be grateful and if we forget to think of others who have less and who have more difficulties, then we incur new karma. 

Dale: That’s right. If we are blessed with lots of money, then perhaps there is a reason for that and we should share. 

Sarah: Share it! I speak as a person who works for a non-profit organization which depends entirely on the karma of people sharing their good fortune. 

Dale: Absolutely. So, keep that in mind. 

Sarah: And they do. 

Robert: Well, speaking of blessings, can we actually go out there and say, “I’m going to create some good karma,” or get results by perpetuating and setting forth good deeds and interacting with people in a positive way? Does that fall in line with what you’re saying? 

Sarah: Well, I don’t know if one should declare one’s intention to do that, because that sounds a little bit self-serving, doesn’t it? We should serve, we should do good, out of purest motives and out of self- forgetfulness, and not with too much consideration of the consequences for ourselves. 

Robert: So, goodwill towards other people really has to come from the heart, as an end in itself, not as a means to creating a good situation for oneself. How does karma deal with the apparent injustice of life? 

Sarah: Well, as I mentioned in our last program, a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about “why me?” when they get into a bad scrape, and as my friend said to her sister, “Why not you?” We should say that to ourselves, “Why not me?” We’re a part of humanity. We can’t be exonerated from the human fate. We have no doubt stubbed our toe time and again in the choices and actions we’ve done in the past. So, as the opening definition from Christmas Humphreys said, karma is simply the restoration of lost harmony. If you believe that, then there’s no injustice in life. But there is the fact that karma takes sometimes a very long time to work out. There’s that saying, “The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine,” and the slowness of that grinding can make it seem as if there’s injustice because the time frame that God’s plan works with is far different than our human time frame. We like to see results right away, and when you have to wait for the appropriate moment chosen by the soul for the precipitation of karma, it might be several lifetimes down the road, maybe. This is why the story of Job in the Bible is so perplexing and so mysterious to us. Job was the good, decent, upright man in the Old Testament who had lived his life according to the highest principles. He knew he had been a good family man, a responsible citizen, and one thing after another befell him and his family, one disaster after another. He could not understand why these things were happening to him and, in a way, he almost turned against God. He began to really question his fate and to question the worthwhileness of living a good life. But finally, after living through one misery after another, then he began to live up to his name, which means literally, “he who will not cry out,” or “the uncomplaining one.” His fate was bad enough that he finally gave up and stopped complaining and went silent. And that moment, that silent acceptance, was when he realized that the “Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” That’s from the Book of Job. God gives, God takes away, God is blessed, and whatever is happening to me, I am blessed. When he could finally put that trust in God’s plan, he made a major breakthrough. It was because he learned to look not just at the outer world and the outer form, but to see the inner spiritual reality as more important, and on that level, there was no misery at all. There was only goodness. 

Dale: That’s an important point to bear in mind. Too often we tend to look at our fate in the world in physical terms, when in fact there is really a lot more going on at the spiritual level, on the inner side, at the level of the soul. And that we don’t always see, but we should really take this into account because, as you say, what appears to be injustice may be actually something that will be balanced out in another lifetime, and it may take a long time to work this out. 

Sarah: Yes, the pain and distress we see in the world is not to punish us. It’s to, as Alice Bailey says, wean man away from his love of the world, his love of the material outer plains where he’s so fixated in his focus and in his desire life. Everything is oriented for a long stage of spiritual evolution to achievement on the outer level and not all of it is bad—the achievement of a happy family, of good work, of a good home. But still it’s focused outward on the material plane and she says in her writings that the purpose of all pain and distress is to wean us away from this craving for the things of the world. Not because they’re bad or good, but because they are not the reality; they’re transitory, and they automatically bring us to grief because on the outer level things come and go, they pass away. The only permanent, undying reality is found in pure spirit, and when we turn our attention to that, as Job did, and as Arjuna did in the Bhagavad Gita, then we find a freedom from misery and we find that behind this outer pain and distress is a real undying beauty and joy. 

Robert: Can a calculating attitude cancel out karma? Because that’s one of my concerns, how to cancel out karma—but I don’t want to cancel out the good karma. 

Sarah: Well, no, we want to keep that! But we do have to live through it all. Karma has to be lived through and we aren’t released from what the Hindus call the Wheel of Rebirth until we have cancelled out all of our karma, good and bad. So, having to live through our good karma keeps us going through the cycle of rebirth too. A little while ago you were kind of calculating karma when you wondered whether if you did good acts, it would bring you good results. We all think like that. We all are constantly measuring and weighing the value of our choices because we human beings are very calculating. It’s part of the way the mind works. 

Dale: Yes, but it all goes back to motivation. Whether karma is going to be bad or whether it’s going to be good depends on your motivation. If you’re calculating that if I do something good, if I do some kind of service, that I’m going to get good merits out of this, then that in itself is improper because your motivation, your intent is for yourself and you’re putting yourself first before this act of service. So really it doesn’t do any good to calculate and play all the angles to get the best out of life. 

Robert: What you said, Dale, makes me think of the importance of the thought that’s set forth in scripture, that God knows the heart of man. I think what you said really underscores and brings new meaning to that particular thought. Sometimes, at least with the negative karma, I’d like to bring it to an end but as far as I’m concerned, the positive karma can go on for many incarnations—I’d love that to happen—but how do we bring karma to an end? 

Sarah: Well, there are many approaches to that question. One I think is pretty obvious: to face ourselves, to face our past, to face wrongs we have done and not deny them, or to use a popular term, not project them onto others like so many of us do. We have to face the reality of the mistakes we’ve made and make atonement, and I think that has to be done not just within one’s own consciousness, but by the expression of regret and remorse to those we have wounded. If we have had bad habits that haven’t particularly wounded any one individual, still, we have to correct those; we have to change our way of living. And in terms of those who have transgressed against us, we have to forgive them. Just as the Lord’s Prayer says, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” It all has to be let go of. The problem is that this karmic rut we’ve been speaking of is deepened by our memory of past events and our shame, perhaps our guilt at wrongs. And then, of course, there’s all the karma from past lives that we’re not even aware of. But it’s stored somewhere in our soul’s memory and we go over and over and over it, regretting it, feeling bitter. It’s baggage that we carry around with us and it keeps us chained. Maybe that’s why Saint Paul in the Bible spoke such truth when he advised the need for contentment. He said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Whatever your present circumstances are, be grateful for them. Be grateful for life and be content. Accept them for what they can teach you. 

Dale: Yes, that’s fine; that’s good. I think the part that you mentioned about repeating the same pattern over and over again is very important to keep in mind because that karma will never end as long as you keep repeating and repeating these old mistakes from the past, and we see examples of that going on in the world today. The situation in Kosovo arose out of events that happened hundreds of years ago, and yet they’re still repeating this same pattern in their lives and it’s just come up again for resolution, and how they resolve it this time will depend on whether they can move forward. We see it also in other historical situations, like in the Middle East situation, the tit for tat kind of back and forth. It’s not moving, it’s in that rut and it’s digging deeper and deeper and deeper and the wheels are spinning, but they’re not moving ahead. 

Sarah: It’s a cycle. The Buddha taught that love could never be ended by hatred. He said, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love.” That’s a basic Buddhist principle from the Dhammapada, one of the great Buddhist texts. Just like Christ taught the need to love. If we don’t return hatred with love, we are just perpetuating it. And it’s not being a doormat, it’s not letting the other person triumph, because whoever has transgressed against you will inevitably meet up with their own karma. But you don’t have to be chained to them, and by your refusal to forgive them and to let go of them, you’re just binding yourself up in their fate and you’re not achieving your own liberation. Love them and release them. It’s said that Buddha’s love was so immeasurable a stream that it could not be exhausted by any hate or hostility. Nothing exhausted his supply of love. What a beautiful thought. That’s surely the ending of karma. 

Dale: Right, and as it says, love brings all earthly karma to an end. And it all depends on right action that we’ve talked about in previous programs. Right action is about cultivating goodness and virtue in the way we treat others, and it’s about creating harmony in our world, in our home, and in this very life that we live in right now. It’s not something in the past. It’s not something in the future. It’s taking right action right now—right action which builds relationships. Really, what is working out in the plan for the planet Earth so much depends on right relationships and we see that happening in the world today. So, these are right actions that cultivate relationships that enables this energy of love to flow. Where you have separation, love does not flow. And that’s where the karma still stands. 

Sarah: I think there’s another aspect to love, too, and its expression in the world as goodwill. It opens up a new path, a new way. We speak of karma as being a rut or an endless repeating cycle, and that’s what happens when you’re caught up in vengeance and payback. But the expression of goodwill opens up a new approach, a new creative outlet for a new beginning. We can see this on the world scene when there will be a breakthrough in problems between two groups of people through the creative imagination of someone like Sadat and Begin who decided that they had had enough of war between Egypt and Israel, and they made a rapprochement that still today has a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. This was goodwill and, we could say, love in action had ended a karmic cycle between Israel and Egypt and let something new start. And there’s the other thought about how to end karma. I think it has to do with getting our priorities straight, remembering what is real, what is permanent, and what is transitory. The outer world and all of its accoutrements are going to pass by, they will come to an end and the only real and lasting is the divine, the spirit. That’s why the Bible says seek you first the Kingdom of Heaven and all else shall be added unto you. 

Robert: The prayer that we say at the end of the show—and I do hope our listeners stay with us long enough to listen to that entire prayer—is truly appropriately named. It’s entitled the Great Invocation. Can it help to overcome karma? 

Sarah: Yes, because it’s a method of transformation; personal transformation and planetary transformation. Working with the Great Invocation on a daily basis, each of us can help to bring our human and planetary karma to an end, because we are invoking, we are inviting energies of light and love and the will to good to come into the world. And those are where we find the restoration of the harmony that karma is seeking to bring about. 

Dale: Yes, we mentioned just a moment ago about the need for love in one’s life and it’s the same love that is needed in the world as a whole. And that’s the very basis of the Great Invocation. It’s invoking this energy of divine love to help bring more love into the world, to offset the tendency in humanity to separateness and separative actions. It is love that builds right relationships which eventually lead to peace. I don’t know that people see this connection, but everybody wants peace in the world—but how to arrive at peaceful situations? 

Sarah: And how to sacrifice for it? 

Dale: What leads to peace is right relationships and any situation where there is conflict, there is a wrong relationship. There is separateness. There is opposing points of view that want to hang into this rut and stay where they are. They don’t want to move forward. But the Great Invocation invokes a divine source of light and love that hasn’t been always present in the world. The Invocation was given out in 1945, and this was a time when there was a great need for love and light to come pouring into human consciousness, and since that time I think we can see many signs where this is beginning to take place. There has been a lot of change and a lot of change for the good. We see it in right relationships that are being established in the European Union and in all the trade agreements and in the economic agreements that are being established. We are relating to each other in a way that we never did before in the world, and this is perhaps a result of the invocative nature of human goodwill. 

Sarah: Another point to keep in mind about the Great Invocation is that it’s a prayer but it’s also a form of meditation. The value of meditation in the eradication of karma is that it develops the ability or the capacity to abstract our thought and our attention and our focus, from the outer worlds to the inner world of spirit, and that’s how we stop the outgoing vibration that fixates us on the material plane. When that comes to an end, it’s said there is no more karma because we have withdrawn our focus totally to the world of spirit. That’s a very deep and perhaps perplexing and confusing thought, but that really is what lies behind the importance of meditation. 

Robert: Well, so much of what you said means so much to me and I’m trying to absorb it all. I think of my own work on forgiveness, forgiving myself, forgiving others. Even though I say I forgive myself, I find myself constantly remembering the experience. Is it important to let go of the experience? 

Sarah: It is. I think the hardest thing for many of us is to forgive ourselves. I think it’s easier to forgive others somehow; we’re very hard on ourselves. I suppose there’s a latent pride behind that because we want to be perfect and it reminds us that we’re not. We do have to do, like Jesse Jackson said, be patient with ourselves. We’re a work in progress. 

Robert: And in closing, we invite you to ponder on this thought. Goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action and it’s the energy that draws us together in right relationship. There is a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light and love and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words. 

Sarah: Closes the program by reciting the adapted version of the Great Invocation

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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