ROBERT CROSBIE ON THE LAW OF KARMA
Here is a compilation of insightful, inspiring, and sometimes challenging quotations on Karmic Law from Robert Crosbie, founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists. You can learn more about Crosbie from the articles just linked to. There are numerous other articles about Karma on this website and you can find them all listed under the heading “THE LAW OF KARMA” on our Articles page. While this present article is very useful, there is much more to this vast subject than what is contained on this page alone. One article closely related to this one is Karma, Justice, and Forgiveness.
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“There is but one law for all beings; it has been called the Law of Laws, and is known under the name of Karma. This word means “action,” without which there is no re-action; it is also known as “Cause and Effect” or “Sowing and Reaping.” It is taught that there is no action unless there is a being to act or feel its effects, and as any action affects other beings, these must obtain their adjustment at the point of original action. Thus Justice and Mercy are provided for in the inherent nature of all beings, for both in their last analysis are one and the same.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 22)
“You have asked me for comment on the questions sent in by our English brother; particularly, as to “Karma being as merciless as the Bible-God.” But does he consider that Mercy is not opposed to Justice, and that the fullest justice is the same as the fullest mercy? Some take the meaning of Mercy to be a permitted escape from the results of wrong-doing; but this would not be Justice, nor would it be merciful to those injured by the wrong-doing. . . . remember the definition of Karma: an undeviating and unerring tendency in the Universe to restore equilibrium, which operates incessantly. Karma is inherent law and its operation must therefore be impersonal. Some might take this to be “merciless,” but that would only be because they desire escape from consequences that are unpleasant.
“There are just two ways of looking at the question: either the Universe is governed by Law and under Law, or all is Chaos. Our experience in every department of Nature points to the fact that Law reigns everywhere; nothing is done of any kind or anywhere, except under Law. . . .
“Now as Law reigns in the material world, it can be seen to rule in the mental and moral world as well. Karma simply means “action” and its consequent “re-action.” There is no Karma unless there is a being to make it or feel its effects; unpleasant effects predicate causes that send forth unpleasantness in the world, affecting others, and finding the restoration of equilibrium at the point of disturbance. There can be, then, but one consideration, and that is, Justice. Why should we desire anything but Justice to be done?” (“The Friendly Philosopher” p. 30-31)
“The fact that Law rules in everything and every circumstance (Karma) is evidence that exact justice is the rule of life. As soon as one sees that there is no “God” to condemn or punish him and that he can only get that which belongs to him, and will surely get everything that does belong to him in a Universe of Law, then he has no reason for being “cheerless,” but feels satisfied, responsible, and confident. And no matter how much we may have transgressed or how little we may have known in the past, as soon as we sense the truth of Reincarnation – the process by which Law rules – we realize that we can set up better causes and make the future what we wish.” (“The Friendly Philosopher” p. 197-198)
“We must get the fact clearly in mind that Karma is Action with its consequent re-action; that the re-action is not something different or separate from the action, but a continuation of it. Karma therefore includes all action, good or bad, remedial or otherwise. . . . Karma is the Law of “sowing and reaping,” getting the exact results of our thoughts, words and deeds. We never lose the power to act, so how could we lose our Karma? We are Karma.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 82)
“In considering any question of experience we have first of all to take into account the Law of Karma – action and re-action, or sowing and reaping; this on the face of it cannot be anything else but exact justice. Reincarnation is the result of karmic action, and also offers the opportunity to set better causes in motion. If selfishness rules in any one life, evil causes are set in motion the results of which must be adjusted either in that life or a following one. . . . if we find any people particularly marked out for persecution, we may be sure that as egos in other times they had been the offenders and are reaping what they sowed.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 102)
“There is no injustice. What we see as apparent injustice seems so because we do not see the causes which have produced the present ill effects. If we have no knowledge of our own real nature and the Law of Karma that is inherent in it, then the feeling can only be that we have received injustice, and we harbor hatred and resentments. What prevents our understanding these things is mainly that we do not know what we are here for. We look at things from a one-life basis, and finding ourselves in this life we imagine it as something we had nothing to do with. Seeing others, according to our view, more fortunate than ourselves, we want to know why, and no answer being possible on the basis we have assumed, we assume that we are receiving injustice. If Karma is the doctrine of responsibility, Reincarnation is the doctrine of hope. The two go together. The reason we are on earth, according to the Occult teaching: we are not here because of our virtues; we are here because of our defects. The “personality” is really the working off of defects. If we do not learn what the object of life is, and don’t do the work, then we are only creating more defects to adjust, and more trouble for ourselves.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 143-144)
Q. What, then, prevents men from understanding right and wrong, and this justice we call Karma?
A. “They take the position of irresponsibility, by resentment at supposed injustice; they expect to reap where they did not sow; they are looking for something for themselves. So they are ready to listen to any or all of the various panaceas offered, and go after whatever promises something for nothing. They do not look within; they are not humble; they do not ask what is the purpose of the Inner Man; how is it they are as they are, and not in some other place under other conditions.”
Q. Do you feel that the understanding of these ideas of Karma and Reincarnation alone can save the nation from internal troubles?
A. “It is the only way out. Until men understand that they are here not for once, that whatever they receive they have merited, we shall have just as much and worse trouble than that we have already had, for the longer it goes on the more intense will be the reactions. But, perhaps men will listen to these obvious self-evident truths only when there has been such an absolute subversion and destruction that they have to stop and think. How the Masters would if They could, save humanity! They have done all they can. The Message is here, and it is our only hope. . . . So if there are those who have eyes to see, who have ears to hear and who can understand, let them work in season and out of season to put these ideas before their fellow-men, that the ideas may spread and make others think.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 151-152)
“Karma is the key-note to all conditions, for it governs the smallest atom as well as the highest spiritual being; it governs men, animals, worlds, and periods of evolution, in their individual actions and in their collective interactions. In its broadest sense, Karma is action; every effect flows from some action, from some cause precedent, and the reaction is but the continuance of that action. Karma is the basis of evolution; the ocean of life separating into its constituent drops, after pralaya, is action, in continuance of past actions which entered into that assimilative period, and go forth from it as a cause. Karma is the means by which evolution proceeds.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 161)
“We are Karma; we represent Karma; as we think, we are the creators of Karma. There is no Karma unless there is a being to make it or feel its effects, and as each being in its degree has the power to act, to perceive and receive the effects of action, it must be realized that Karma is not a law imposed on man by gods, devils, men or beings of any kind, but is inherent in all beings; hence, it is the law of absolute justice, and each man is responsible for his own external affairs, conditions and circumstances, for his character, qualities and tendencies, for his mental, moral, psychic and spiritual nature, upon every plane of consciousness. He is likewise responsible for the effects of his thought and action on his fellow-men, and on the kingdoms below man; he cannot save himself at the expense of any other being, nor can he have true happiness so long as any of his fellow-men suffer.” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 161-162)
“The laws and principles of existence – the true rationale of life – are presented by Theosophy; hence, each man’s contact with it is alike an opportunity and a responsibility, to which he has been brought under Karma. He can make the most of it, or he may neglect it so as to fail to obtain or extend benefit. His refusal to take advantage of it now will make him less determined in some other life to carry out the purpose of his nature, which is defeated presently if he neglects, under any circumstances or pressure, that which he sees to be leading him in the right direction. But always there are those who will test Theosophy out in their own lives, and learn what it is, and will carry on the work to the last end. They in their good time must come to be the leaders and pioneers of humanity, which must learn, even though the learning takes centuries of suffering. If the light of pure Theosophy is kept burning clear, it will be the saving light of the whole world. That must be. But the question is, who will be the light-bearers?” (“Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 162)
Whatever IS, is Karma.
The Law of Karma is the Law of self-created destiny.
This article may have raised more questions about various things. Please make us of the site search function (the magnifying glass symbol at the top of the page) and visit the Articles page to see the complete list of over 300 articles covering all aspects of Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement. One article closely related to this one is Karma, Justice, and Forgiveness.
“Every action, good or bad, is a prolific parent, saith the Wisdom of the Ages.”
(H. P. Blavatsky, “The Key to Theosophy” p. 141)
4 thoughts on “There is No Injustice”
Where I get bogged down with the concept, er, LAW of Karma – is when considering events that effect entire populations. I think I can stutter through an explanation but this is only satisfactory in the sound of my own mind and not for open discussion with friends.
I ask you then for some elucidation:
• How does Karma explain the Holocaust and the millions of victims. Were these victims perhaps ALL former agents of the Inquisition or some other past madness?
• How about the hundreds of schoolgirls captured by Nigeria’s Islamist sect Boko Haram who have subsequently been subjected to rape, forced marriage and coerced participation in ambushes OR the citizens of North Korea who for their “sins” against the state will have 3 generations of their families executed?
• Are children raped or otherwise abused by their parents/relatives or family “friends” living their presence as they set up for themselves in their past? Of course I can go on and on…
No such thing as innocent victims?
I don’t ask these questions to challenge but truly so that I may understand. I have read (I believe) all of the Karma related articles posted on this site yet the answer eludes me still. If I can’t resolve these questions in my own mind I cannot properly discuss Karma as Law with anyone.
Thank you very much for your reply AND for this wonderful web site. I am very happy to have discovered this treasure trove of truth.
Home at last. R
Hello Ray, thank you for sharing these pertinent thoughts.
You are not alone in asking such questions. These are some of the issues which cause many people to question whether the teaching about the Law of Karma can indeed be true.
However, perhaps one way to address it is by posing another question to oneself:
If these awful situations are not due to the Karma of the souls involved, then what are they due to? And if Karma is an accurate explanation for SOME things, how can it not be valid for ALL things? If it is only applicable in some circumstances and not others, it is not a Law at all but rather a peculiar and inexplicably haphazard and unreliable operation within the Universe. Can that be likely?
These are difficult issues and you are right in wanting to satisfactorily resolve them before attempting to explain and discuss the subject with others, since we need to be able to address any challenges, objections, and questions that may arise.
Only an Initiate with extremely refined powers of clairvoyant perception can state reliably what the particular past actions may have been of one or many or all of those who became victims of the holocaust or any of the other tragedies of history. It would be presumptuous for us to even speculate as to what the actual causes may have been which eventually resulted in the horrific effect.
But a study of Theosophy and careful thought over its doctrines of Karma and reincarnation leads one to conclude that these MUST all be Karmic consequences. The particular past action that puts one person in such a position may be quite different and may have occurred in quite another time, place, and era, from that which puts another in the same position at the same time. But in all cases everything proceeds according to the Law of Karma – the Law of self-created destiny – and so yes, it is true in one sense that there are no “innocent victims.”
As you’ve read numerous articles now on this site, you’re probably aware of the important distinction between the present personality and the permanent individuality. The current personality is most probably innocent of anything which could have justifiably led to its terrible experiences in the present lifetime. But the personality – the personal self – is not the real being but rather its current and temporary covering and clothing, the vehicle through which the real being (the unseen entity within) is presently gaining experience, learning lessons, and facing a certain portion of the Karma it has accumulated in previous embodiments through previous personalities and that Karma is in every case a mixture of “good” and “bad.”
It is the individuality – the soul – which suffers and experiences through its personality.
Hence “The Voice of the Silence” asserts that “Rigid Justice rules the World.”
But we are very much mistaken and in dangerous error if we think that this means we can simply turn a blind eye to the sufferings, needs, and pains of others or casually disregard any type of tragedy as just being “his Karma” or “their Karma” or saying to ourselves “she deserved it” and then coldly forgetting about it. Such is not the Theosophical way. That same book, “The Voice of the Silence,” adds that “Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin” and that Compassion is not an attribute but is actually the Law of Laws.
Through past actions and deeds, each soul has indeed fashioned for itself its own experiences and circumstances, whether pleasurable or painful, but it is our own Karmic duty and responsibility to endeavour to relieve suffering where we may find it and bring healing to those who have been hurt. Their Karma caused their pain but our Karma requires that we try to remove it and to prevent it from occurring in that form again. A central maxim of the Jain religion is that “The function of souls is to help one another.”
Please take time to think over this answer and never accept something as true unless it stands up to your own sense of reason and intelligence.
Thank you very much for the reply – which makes me laugh – as your reply was another question(s). Listen to your heart Grasshopper (smiley face here).
You are right of course. It is the unsentimentally and emphasis on personal responsibility, love for others and what I call “the deep space and timeless” perspective of Theosophy that resonates as THE TRUTH in me.
My Catholic upbringing which I could never reconcile with my own spiritual experiences and insights has nonetheless left me to struggle with living a life without pageantry, guilt and the expectations of answered prayers, even as I knew in my heart that I was only getting a piece of the truth from that “Faith”.
As for The Law of Karma, the questions you ask in your reply elicit an “of course” from me. There is nothing more “…peculiar and inexplicably haphazard and unreliable operation within the Universe” than the belief that a human centric God/Trinity is watching and listening and responding to the individual concerns and conflicts (my football team needs this win or my candidate needs your endorsement god) of the people “on Earth” (no questions about the billions of solar systems viewable in the deep field photos from Hubble and what, or who, they might contain???).
My struggle with the aspects of reincarnation and karma is that I have not expanded my own consciousness to accept, as Mr. Crosbie writes above -…if we find any people particularly marked out for persecution, we may be sure that as egos in other times they had been the offenders and are reaping what they sowed.”and that “… the learning takes centuries of suffering.” I have been too short sighted – you know – “we have this one life to make it work” mentality is not sloughed off that easily.
I’m coming around though, with less effort than I might have guessed. My life time of gnostic tendencies is finally finding some affirmation – your web site and the writings of HPB among others to my rescue. Rest assured that I am shedding my self importance and judgement daily. I completely accept intellectually and hopefully will soon internalize as my full nature the “central maxim of the Jain religion – “The function of souls is to help one another.”
Thanks very much.
Though if I write that about my self importance – you can tell I have a long way to go. Sorry – I wasn’t really puffing but just sharing out loud my struggle. Didn’t edit well enough.
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