Some Thoughts on Karma

The idea of karma is very old; it is already anchored in the Vedas since the second millennium before Christ.

Some Thoughts on Karma

Karma derives from the Sanskrit term for ACTION and represents the consequences of all actions. It is also called the law of cause and effect. Karma and reincarnation provide for the appropriate continuation of the path of human development, even beyond the barrier of death. Karma is therefore a cosmic fact, without which spiritual awakening and liberation from the wheel of birth and death would ultimately be unthinkable. Hinduism and Buddhism have deepened and refined the doctrine of karma over the centuries; theosophy and anthroposophy have incorporated it. The Rosycross has adopted it as an element of a universally valid doctrine and further elaborated it in relation to the spiritual-emotional development of man.

Often, karma is seen primarily as a balancing of “good and evil” that works across incarnations. If a person lives and acts in such a way that he does good to others, including animals, then he obtains a favorable rebirth for himself, which according to ancient Indian teachings can take place in a high caste or even in the world of the gods. On the whole, such a person can then expect a life under favorable circumstances and without adversity. If a person lives and acts in such a way as to harm others, he acquires a “bad” rebirth, in a low caste, as an animal, or even in a realm of hell.[1] It is always clear, however, that neither bad nor good karma is liberating. The circle of incarnations cannot be broken in this way. “Good” rebirths therefore often mean only a kind of temporal resting place where the good karma is consumed. This way of balancing the books regarding the fruits of a life is certainly one aspect of karma, but we do not yet see the whole in this way.

Nevertheless, our actions are significant and can be a path to liberation. This has already been taught by the Bhagavad Gita (ca. 5th-2nd century before Christ), in which Krishna, an embodiment of Vishnu, says:

Whatever thou doest, whatever thou enjoyest, whatever thou sacrificest, whatever thou givest, whatever energy of tapasya, of the soul’s will or effort, thou puttest forth, make it an offering unto Me.
Thus shall thou be liberated from good and evil results which constitute the bonds of action; with thy soul in union with the Divine through renunciation, thou shall become free and attain to Me.
I (the Eternal Inhabitant) am equal in all existences, none is dear to Me, none hated; yet those who turn to Me with love and devotion, they are in Me and I also in them.
If even a man of very evil conduct turns to Me with a sole and entire love, he must be regarded as a saint, for the settled will of endeavour in him is a right and complete will.[2]

We cannot withdraw from the active life, and even if we did nothing physically-externally, we would still be active in our thinking, desire and will, which we can only stop for moments at best. Therefore, it is crucial where the origin and goal of our actions lie. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “Turn to me, surrender everything to me.” In the end, God – or the Divine within us – will be the origin and goal of all actions. Since He is the same in all beings, this all-connectedness leading to all-consciousness ensures the end of actions that cause darkness and pain. Our actions are then free not only from selfishness, but also from the ignorance with which one can do as much harm as with ill will. Thus, our deeds no longer generate karma. But how does one get there, “to unite one’s soul with God and be centered only on God”?

Karma is the vehicle that carries us forward on this path of attaining awareness. This aspect lies hidden behind the aspect of “balancing” through karma. How single experiences condense over incarnations to growing soul maturity can be indicated on the basis of the richness of the soul’s experience which is accumulated in a supra-personal way over the incarnations and significantly forms the next incarnation. This too is karma! Karma is therefore not only divine reward or retribution. It is both cause and effect and growing maturity of the soul. This is the link to understanding karma as a tool of consciousness.

Paracelsus[3] (1493-1541) names two forces (among others) that shape the human being. He calls them Ens Astrorum and Ens Naturale. The Ens Astrorum, the “being of the stars”, is reminiscent of astrology and describes how, through the law of cause and effect, the fruits of our actions are transformed into character strengths and weaknesses, and how, as a consequence, life goals, forces and obstacles arise from them. The Ens Naturale refers to the effects of karma on the physical constitution, that is, on the strength and weakness of the organs and all bodily processes. Thus, “balance” and “awareness” form the conditions of a new incarnation, with the aim of bringing awareness to its fullness.

In order for karma to materialize and be fulfilled, the respective events must come to us “from outside”. We humans ensure between each other that the karmic threads are spun on until awareness enables us to untie the knots. For we encounter our personal karma in other people. What we have created together as humanity, through egocentric thinking and the corresponding desires, through a consciousness encapsulated in the ego, we encounter in the unresolved problems and crises of the world. As humanity, we have made the world a “global village.” Now it is time to develop the consciousness for this – a consciousness that knows about its own responsibility for the well-being of the whole, and that is capable of healing involvement in the whole. If everything substantial we encounter is karma, then we encounter ourselves in this way. This is more than meeting the consequences of past deeds: our own state of being comes at us from outside. Can we accept this? The world is what we are.

It is time that we learn to accept what is. If we accept it, then a door to a new awareness opens. Because acceptance – allowing something into the heart – makes it possible to get to know a thing from the inside, as it were. Acceptance opens in us the boundaries between inside and outside. Therefore, through acceptance, a process begins that leads us into the oneness that underlies our reality. Philosophy and meditation will not accomplish this, but the open heart makes it possible.

This “inner world”, to which we open ourselves in this way, transforms us into an alchemical laboratory. It enables a healing work on ourselves and thus also on all things that are our part. To get to know the inseparable connectedness with everything is a first step. When the soul explores this space of connectedness, it also encounters there the divine love that permeates it. Here it can learn to open itself to the true divine Self that dwells in everything, and slowly detach itself from ego-ness. In the end, there is the surrender of egotism, the awakening of the self in God, and freedom from cause and effect.

“Thus shall thou be liberated from good and evil results which constitute the bonds of action; with thy soul in union with the Divine through renunciation, thou shall become free and attain to Me.“

It is time that we as humanity should recognize this task. To tackle it means to accept one’s own life with all that there is. It also means gathering all the insights that are made possible by giving up delimitations and polarization. Responsibility and healing – they are related, they go hand in hand.

As Krishnamurti said, “You are the world. “[4] This is what we are, every one of us.

[1]     This corresponds to the belief of the Hindus as well as to that of the Buddhists – with the latter, of course, the caste thinking is non-existent. Rosicrucians are of the opinion that humans reincarnate only as humans, because the acquired richness of experience cannot bring itself to bear in any animal. “Hell” in this context is an after-death state, which is followed by a new birth as a human being.
[2]     Bhagavat Gita IX, 27-30. The translation of the Gita presented here was compiled mainly from Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita. It first appeared in The Message of the Gita, edited by Anilbaran Roy, in 1938.
[3]     See also „Paracelsus – vom Sichtbaren zum Verborgenen“ von Dr. med. Klaus Bielau, Hanni Studer, Dr. med. Stephan Sigrist, Dr. Roger Kalbermatten. Birnbach o.J. or Paracelsus-Heft-2-Mar-Apr-2014.pdf (
[4]     Title of a book, containing a compilation of Krishnamurti’s talks at Berkeley, California in 1969.

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Date: July 8, 2023
Author: Angela Paap (Germany)
Photo: statue-Bild von Patrizio auf Pixabay CCO

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