THE LAW OF KARMA: can we escape the circle of necessity?   by Clive Bellgrove

Karma is the all-pervading law of Infinite Nature, and it manifests its purposes through Cause and Effect, Action and Reaction. There can be no effect without a preceding cause, and no cause without a succeeding effect, however delayed the result may be.  A circle in itself is very interesting. It cannot create itself. Somebody has first to want to draw a circle; then proceeds the placing of a point on paper and, with compass and pencil, drawing a circle. The circle is both a finite and an infinite line, and constitutes the limit beyond which the central point cannot expand, its “ring-pass-not”. The Ancient Wisdom teachings show that the sphere, an extension of the circle, is the most perfect form in Nature, because the periphery is everywhere equidistant from the centre. The surface of the sphere is both a finite plane as well as being infinite, starting nowhere, ending nowhere. Infinity is a continuum, full of Conscious Entities. There is no emptiness anywhere, there are no hiatuses. Every entity within Infinity is obliged through past karma to reimbody. After a period of rest the entity desires to reimbody to gain more experience and to strive further along the pathway to spiritual enlightenment. “Desire first arose in the heart of the Absolute”, and within every other entity that reimbodies. But each entity can manifest only on planes of Being that are appropriate for its development. It cannot reach higher into spiritual planes than it karmically deserves; and it has already evolved out of and beyond the limitations of those planes of Being lower than itself. Coming into manifestation in the planes of Being appropriate to itself, it does so in a state of ‘nescience’, of unknowing. As its evolution proceeds, always in strict accordance with its karma, it makes many mistakes through its ignorance, and later by choice. By the time the ability to discriminate between right and wrong has been reached there is a load of karma that it has been gathering, and which will be added to all the unfinished karma from past times that brought us back into incarnation.           

The Law of Karma is relentless, but it is also absolutely just. Saint Paul in the New Testament, explained the doctrine perfectly when he wrote: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; butwhatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.  Nature calls upon all beings to redeem only such wrongs as they have thought or done; never more, never less. But Nature ensures that, whether we like it or not, we do the redeeming ourselves. To aid us in our endeavours we have the guidance and inspiration of great sages who, however great their stature now, have lived through and triumphed over the experiences equivalent to our humanhood, and who therefore are entitled to teach because of that experience. As everyone knows, or comes eventually to know, we learn more quickly and certainly through our mistakes than through mere lecturing and book learning. These latter touch the mind; but the former become ingrained in the soul. We have lived thousands of lives on Planet Earth already, and will live thousands more before our association with this sphere ends. There has never been a time when we did not exist, and there will never be a time when we will cease to exist, in some form or other. Is it possible, then, to escape this present Circle of Necessity? The answer is emphatically yes; and just as emphatically no! Both are true. Let us take this paradox in two stages. No one, no Being, comes into imbodiment without countless strands of karma from the past. No human being reincarnates with a load of karma too heavy for him to bear, for Nature is fundamentally compassionate, and seeks to nurture her products, not destroy them. But a human being can, through wilfulness, so add to a load of karma during a lifetime that the burden becomes insupportable. It is at this stage that people begin to look for ways and means to avoid their problems and difficulties, their sorrows and sufferings. They turn to one or more of the many diversions such as tarot cards, astrology, tea cup reading and a host of other such means by which they hope to learn something of the future, and thus be able to avoid further problems and difficulties, and perhaps learn a few solutions to present ones. In fact, they are tying to avoid the working out of their own karma, the results of their own thoughts and actions in the past. Nevertheless they readily accept, without question, the “good” things that come their way. As a result of past actions they have deserved these “good” things too, and Karma, being thoroughly impersonal and impartial, brings these as well. One can suppress the working out of “unfortunate” karma for a while; but when it comes naturally it comes when conditions are best for coping with it. When put off, and the longer it is put off, it becomes progressively more difficult to handle. The lesson, then, is to learn how to accept one’s karma as it arrives day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and to meet it with the strength of character, such as it is, that one has developed over many lifetimes and the ages. By this process the development of strength of character continues ceaselessly. With what result? One of the early lessons learned is that, in hurting others, one eventually hurts oneself most. So one learns not to harm other people by word or deed; and then to help others when one can without interfering in their karma; for they are learning entities also. Nevertheless “inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.” But one must remember that one does not help others by allowing them to impose upon oneself. 

The great sages have given, over the ages and in many languages, teachings as to the best way to live harmlessly and helpfully in the world, how to live wholesomely, how to cleanse oneself physically, emotionally, mentally; and since Nature abhors a vacuum, as the lesser qualities are overcome and flow out of one’s character, they are replaced by the higher and yet higher mental and spiritual thoughts of a person living in a wholesome physical body. Somewhere along the line of this spiritual progress one has become a student of the wisdom teachings, eventually to attract the attention of some chela or teacher or sage, who teaches the searcher how to triumph over the lesser part of his character, and how to redeem more and more of his past karma through good works.  The eventual result, as some will have read or heard, is that the aspirant will have the opportunity and duty to undertake the experiences of genuine initiation. During that event he will survey all the events of not only his present life, but many others on this Planet Earth, and know the absolute justice of all that has happened to him in the past; and, returning safely from those experiences of initiation, he will have overcome his karma and his Circle of Necessity will be finished. Nevertheless he can thereafter, as and when he wishes, return to imbodiment on Earth and help and teach retarded humanity, some of whom are beginning the struggle on the upward path to spiritual enlightenment and attainment; others, indeed the majority, who are unaware of the splendour that lies ahead of literally everyone who walks the face of Earth, eventually. Thus, one sees, it is impossible to escape the Circle of Necessity. But what happens next? Infinity is a continuum, and so there must be a consequence to this initiatory attainment. He who triumphs can return to imbodiment to help and teach and encourage lesser mortals. Or he can enter a prolonged Nirvana and rest in the sublime conditions which he has earned through his own efforts. But, as with heaven and ‘Devachan’, there is an end to Nirvana for every entity experiencing it. That ‘Nirvanee’ finds himself in a higher world of manifestation, beyond the understanding of our present humanity; but still a realm of Being where the Law of Karma applies, as it does throughout all infinity. And so our Nirvanee finds that, having escaped from one circle or cycle of necessity, he has, after a long rest period, entered another one which, though next higher than that in which we present humans function, still has its “ring-pass-not”, its zenith or apex beyond which he cannot soar until a far higher initiation takes him into that next higher sphere; its nadir impinging on that realm of existence which he has just left behind in his march of evolution, but in which we still at present function.            And so we see that one Circle of Necessity is replaced by a higher one, on and on through infinite time and space. And although the Law of Karma is of infinite application, because of that fact it can never finally be overcome; which explains the paradox.  

The text is from a lecture delivered at a meeting of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Melbourne, Australia. The views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena).