Under the Law of Karma every action, yea, every thought as well, has its Karmic effect upon the future incarnations of the soul. And, not exactly in the nature of punishment or rewards, in the general acceptation of the term, but as the invariable operation of the Law of Cause and Effect. The thoughts of a person are like seeds which seek to press forward into growth, bud, blossom and fruit.
Some spring into growth in this life, while others are carried over into future lives. The actions of this life may represent only the partial growth of the thought seed, and future lives may be necessary for its full blossoming and fruition. Of course, the individual who understands the Truth, and who has mentally divorced himself from the fruits of his actions–who has robbed material Desire of its vital force by seeing it as it is, and not as a part of his Real Self–his seed-thoughts do not spring into blossom and fruit in future lives, for he has killed their germ.
The Yogis express this thought by the illustration of the baked-seeds. They show their pupils that while ordinary seeds sprout, blossom and bear fruit, still if one bakes the seeds their vitality is gone, and while they may serve the purposes of a nourishing meal still they can never cause sprout, blossom or fruit. Then the pupil is instructed in the nature of Desire, and shown how desires invariably spring into plant, blossom and fruit, the life of the person being the soil in which they flourish. But Desires understood, and set off from the Real Man, are akin to baked-seeds–they have been subjected to the heat of spiritual wisdom and are thus robbed of their vitality, and are unable to bear fruit. In this way the understood and mastered Desire bears no Karmic fruit of future action.
The Yogis teach that there are two great principles at work in the matter of Karmic Law affecting the conditions of rebirth. The first principle is that whereby the prevailing desires, aspirations, likes, and dislikes, loves and hates, attractions and repulsions, etc., press the soul into conditions in which these characteristics may have a favorable and congenial soil for development. The second principle is that which may be spoken of as the urge of the unfolding Spirit, which is always urging forward toward fuller expression, and the breaking down of confining sheaths, and which thus exerts a pressure upon the soul awaiting reincarnation which causes it to seek higher environments and conditions than its desires and aspiration, as well as its general characteristics, would demand.
These two apparently conflicting (and yet actually harmonious) principles acting and reacting upon each other, determine the conditions of rebirth, and have a very material effect upon the Karmic Law. One’s life is largely a conflict between these two forces, the one tending to hold the soul to the present conditions resulting from past lives, and the other ever at work seeking to uplift and elevate it to greater heights.
The desires and characteristics brought over from the past lives, of course, seek fuller expression and manifestation upon the lines of the past lives. These tendencies simply wish to be let alone and to grow according to their own laws of development and manifestation. But the unfolding Spirit, knowing that the soul’s best interests are along the lines of spiritual unfoldment and growth, brings a steady pressure to bear, life after life, upon the soul, causing it to gradually kill out the lower desires and characteristics, and to develop qualities which tend to lead it upward instead of allowing it to remain on its present level, there to bring to blossom and fruit many low thoughts and desires. Absolute Justice reigns over the operations of the Law of Karma, but back of that and superior even to its might is found the Infinite Love of the absolute which tends to Redeem the race. It is that love that is back of all the upward tendencies of the soul, and which we all feel within our inner selves in our best moments. The light of the Spirit (Love) is ever there.
Our relationship to others in past lives has its effect upon the working of the Law of Karma. If in the past we have formed attachments for other individuals, either through love or hate; either by kindness or cruelty; these attachments manifest in our present life, for these persons are bound to us, and we to them, by the bonds of Karma, until the attachment is worn out. Such people will in the present life have certain relationships to us, the object of which is the working out of the problems in which we are mutually concerned, the adjustment of relationship, the “squaring up” of accounts, the development of both. We are apt to be placed in a position to receive hurts from those whom we have hurt in past lives, and this not through the idea of revenge, but by the inexorable working out of the Law of Compensation in Karmic adjustments.
And when we are helped, comforted and receive favors from those who we helped in past lives, it is not merely a reward, but the operation of the same law of Justice. The person who hurts us in this way may have no desire to do so, and may even be distressed because he is used as an instrument in this way, but the Karmic Law places him in a position where he unwittingly and without desire acts so that you receive pain through him. Have you not felt yourselves hurting another, although you had no desire and intention of so doing, and, in fact, were sorely distressed because you could not prevent the pain? This Is the operation of Karma. Have you not found yourself placed where you unexpectedly were made the bestower of favors upon some almost unknown persons? This is Karma. The Wheel turns slowly, but it makes the complete circle.
Karma is the companion law to Metempsychosis. The two are inextricably connected, and their operations are closely interwoven. Constant and unvarying in operation, Karma manifests upon and in worlds, planets, races, nations, families and persons Everywhere in space is the great law in operation in some form. The so-called mechanical operations called Causation are as much a phase of Karma as is the highest phases manifest on the higher planes of life, far beyond our own. And through it all is ever the urge toward perfection–the upward movement of all life. The Yogi teachings regard the Universe as a mighty whole, and the Law of Karma as the one great law operating and manifesting through that whole.
How different is the workings of this mighty Law from the many ideas advanced by man to account for the happenings of life. Mere Chance is no explanation, for the careful thinker must inevitably come to the conclusion that in an Universe governed by law, there can be no room for Chance. And to suppose that all rewards and punishments are bestowed by a personal deity, in answer to prayers, supplications, good behavior, offerings, etc., is to fall back into the childhood stage of the race thought. The Yogis teach that the sorrow, suffering and affliction witnessed on all sides of us, as well as the joy, happiness and blessings also in evidence, are not caused by the will or whim of some capricious deity to reward his friends and punish his enemies–but by the working of an invariable Law which metes out to each his measure of good and ill according to his Karmic attachments and relationships.