The Word Foundation

Spiritual Karma is determined by the use of the knowledge and power of the physical, the psychic, the mental and the spiritual man.

—The Zodiac.



Vol. 8 MARCH, 1909. No. 6

Copyright, 1909, by H. W. PERCIVAL.


Spiritual Karma.


IN the preceding articles, karma has been presented in its physical, psychic and mental aspects. The present article deals with spiritual karma, and the manner in which other kinds are included with spiritual karma.

Spiritual karma is active and operative in the lower half of the circle, from the sign cancer to the sign capricorn (♋︎–♑︎), breath-individuality.

Spiritual karma is action from knowledge, or desire and mind in action with knowledge. Such action either reacts on the actor, or leaves him free from the effects of the action. Those who act with knowledge, but who are interested in or affected by their action and its results, are under the law of their action and its results. But those who act with knowledge and because it is right, without other interest in the action or its results, are free from and unaffected by the law.

All persons in possession of the ordinary faculties of the mind create and are subject to spiritual karma. Though some persons may on occasions act without interest in the results of the action, he only who is beyond the necessity of reincarnation because he has fulfilled and is above the law, he alone can act at all times without being interested in or affected by action and its results. Though results will follow acts performed by one who is above the law he will not be affected by the acts. For our practical purpose, spiritual karma may be said to apply generally to all beings for whom incarnation and reincarnation is still necessary.

Not all who have knowledge act always according to their knowledge. Knowing is distinguished from doing. All results with their consequences are caused by the doing or the not doing of what one knows to be right. He who knows what is right yet acts not accordingly, creates karma which will cause suffering. He who knows what is right and does it, creates spiritual enjoyment, called blessedness.

One who has knowledge sees that the effect is in the cause and the result indicated in the action, even as the oak tree is contained in the acorn, as there is a potential bird in the egg, and as an answer is indicated and suggested by a question.

He who acts what he knows to be right, will see and know more clearly how to act and will provide the means by which all actions and results of actions become clear to him. He who acts against what he knows to be right, will become confused, and still more confused, in the measure in which he refuses to act what he knows, until he will become spiritually blind; that is to say, he will not be able to distinguish between true and false, right and wrong. The cause of this lies immediately in the motive which prompts the action, and remotely in the knowledge of all past experience. One cannot judge at once as to his sum of knowledge, but one may summon before his conscience, if he so chooses, the motive which prompts any of his acts.

In the court of conscience, the motive of any act is judged to be right or wrong by conscience, which is a gathering of one’s knowledge to a focus. As conscience pronounces the motive to be right or wrong, one should abide and be guided by the ruling, and act accordingly for the right. By a questioning of his motives under the light of conscience, and by acting in accordance with the dictates of conscience, man learns fearlessness and right action.

All beings who come into the world, have each their deeds and thoughts and motives to their accounts. The most far reaching is that thought and act which is from knowledge. These accounts can not be gotten rid of except by working them out, paying them off. The wrong must be righted and the right continued for the sake of right rather than for the happiness and reward which come as a result of doing right.

It is a mistaken notion to say that one should not make karma in order that he might escape from it, or be free from it. One who endeavors to escape from or rise above karma by intending not to make it, defeats his purpose at the outset, because his desire to get away from karma by his not acting binds him to the action which he would escape; the refusal to act prolongs his bondage. Work produces karma, but work also liberates him from the necessity to work. Therefore, one should not be afraid of making karma, but rather should act fearlessly and according to his knowledge, then it will be not long before he has paid all debts and works his way to freedom.

Much has been said about predestination and free will, as opposed to karma. Any disagreements and conflicting statements are due to a confusion of thought, rather than to contradiction of the terms themselves. The confusion of thought comes from not understanding fully the terms, each of which has its own place and meaning. Predestination as applied to man, is the deciding, appointing, ordering or arranging for, the state, environment, condition and circumstances in and through which he is to be born and live. In this is also included the idea of destiny or fate. The notion that this is determined by a blind force, power, or an arbitrary God, is revolting to all moral sense of right; it contradicts, opposes, and violates the laws of justice and love, which are supposed to be the attributes of the divine ruler. But if predestination is understood to be determination of one’s state, environment, condition and circumstances, by one’s own previous and predetermining actions as causes (karma), then the term may be properly used. In this case, the divine ruler is one’s own Higher Ego or Self, who acts justly and according to the needs and necessities of life.

Numerous and long arguments have been waged for and against the doctrine of free will. In most of them it has been taken for granted that people know what free will means. But the arguments are not based on definitions, nor does it appear that fundamentals are understood.

To understand what free will is as applied to man, it should be known what the will is, what freedom is, and also known what or who man is.

The word will is a mysterious, little understood, but commonly used term. In itself, will is a colorless, universal, impersonal, unattached, dispassionate, self-moving, silent, ever-present, and an intelligent principle, which is the source and origin of all power, and which lends itself and gives power to all beings according and in proportion to their capacity and ability to use it. Will is free.

Man, the Mind, is the conscious light, which is the I-am-I thinker in the body. Freedom is the state which is unconditioned, unrestrained. Free means action without restraint.

Now as to the free will of man. We have seen what the will is, what freedom is, and that the will is free. The question remains: Is man free? Has he freedom of action? Can he use will freely? If our definitions are true, then the will is free, in the state of freedom; but man is not free, and cannot be in the state of freedom, because, while thinking, his thoughts are clouded in doubt and his mind is blinded by ignorance, and is bound to the desires of the body by the bond of the senses. He is attached to his friends by the ties of affection, driven to action by his covetousness and lusts, restrained from free action by the prejudices of his beliefs, and repelled by his dislikes, hatreds, angers, jealousies and selfishness generally.

Because man is not free in the sense in which will is free, it does not follow that man is unable to use the power which comes from will. The difference is this. The will in itself and acting from itself is unlimited and free. It acts with intelligence and its freedom is absolute. The will as it lends itself to man is without restraint, but the use to which man applies it is limited and conditioned by his ignorance or knowledge. Man can be said to have free will in the sense that the will is free and that anyone has the free use of it according to his capacity and ability to use it. But man, because of his personal limitations and restrictions, cannot be said to have the freedom of will in its absolute sense. Man is restricted in his use of the will by his sphere of action. As he becomes freed from his conditions, limitations and restrictions he becomes free. When he is free from all limitations, and only then, can he use the will in its full and free sense. He becomes free as he acts with the will rather than in using it.

What is called free will is simply the right and power of choice. The deciding upon a course of action is man’s right and power. When the choice has been made, the will lends itself to the obtaining of the choice which has been made, but the will is not the choice. The choice or decision of a given course of action determines one’s karma. The choice or decision is the cause; the action and its results follow. Good or bad spiritual karma is determined by the choice or the decision made and the action which follows. It is called good if the choice is in accordance with one’s best judgment and knowledge. It is called evil if the choice is made against one’s better judgment and knowledge.

When one chooses or decides mentally to do a thing, but either changes his mind or does not carry out what he has decided, such decision alone will have the effect of producing in him the tendency to think again and again about what he had decided. The thought alone without the action will remain as a tendency to act. If, however, what he had decided to do is done, then the mental and physical effects from the choice and action will surely follow.

For example: A man needs a sum of money. He thinks of different means of obtaining it. He does not see any legitimate way. He considers fraudulent methods and at last decides to forge a note for the sum needed. After planning how it shall be done, he executes his decision by forging the body and signature and then attempts to negotiate the note and collect the amount. The results of his decision or choice and action are sure to follow, whether immediately or at some distant time will be decided by other of his previous thoughts and acts, but the result is inevitable. He is punished by the law provided for such offences. If he had decided to forge, but had not put his decision into effect, he would have set up the causes as mental tendencies to consider fraud, as a means for obtaining his end, but he would not then have put himself under the law of the accomplished act. The decision made him liable on the plane of his action. In the one case he would be a mental criminal because of his intention, and in the other an actual criminal because of his physical act. Therefore the classes of criminals are of the mental and actual type, those who intend, and those who put their intention into action.

If the man in need of money had refused to consider, or after considering refused to act fraudulently, but instead endured the suffering or hardships imposed in his case and instead met the conditions to the best of his ability, and acted for the principle or right according to his best judgment, then he might suffer physically, but his choice and decision to act or refuse to act, would result in moral and mental strength, which would enable him to rise above the physical distress, and the principle of right action would eventually guide him into the way of providing for the lesser and physical needs. One who thus acts according to the principle of right and fearless of results, arouses his aspiration to spiritual things.

Spiritual karma is caused and results from the choice and action with or against man’s knowledge of spiritual things.

Spiritual knowledge is usually represented in man by his faith in his particular religion. His faith and understanding of his religion or of his religious life will indicate his spiritual knowledge. According to the selfish uses or unselfishness of his religious faith, and his acting according to his faith, whether it be narrow and bigoted or a broad and far-reaching understanding of spiritual things, will be his good or evil spiritual karma.

Spiritual knowledge and karma are as varied as are the religious beliefs and convictions of man, and they depend on the development of his mind. When one lives entirely in accordance with his religious convictions, the results of such thinking and living will surely appear in his physical life. But such men are exceptionally rare. A man might not have many physical possessions, but if he lives up to his religious convictions, he will be happier than one who is rich in physical goods, but whose thoughts and actions do not accord with his professed faith. Such a rich man will not agree to this, but the religious man will know it to be true.

Those who think and act for God under whatever name that is known, always do so from a selfish or unselfish motive. Each one so thinking and acting gets what he thinks and acts for, and gets it according to the motive which prompted the thought and act. Those who do good in the world prompted by the motive of being considered pious, charitable or holy, will earn the reputation which their acts deserve, but they will not have the knowledge of the religious life, nor know what true charity is, nor the peace which is the result of a righteous life.

Those who look forward to a life in heaven and live according to the dictates of their religion will enjoy a long or short heaven after death, in proportion to their thought (and acts) in life. Such is the spiritual karma as applied to the social and religious life of mankind.

There is another kind of spiritual karma which applies to every type of man; it strikes into the very vitals and roots of his life. This spiritual karma is at the base of all actions and conditions of life, and man will become great or little as he performs the duty of his really spiritual karma. This karma, as applied to man, dates from the appearance of man himself.

There is an eternal spiritual principle which is operative through every phase of nature, through the unformed elements, throughout the mineral and animal kingdoms, within man and beyond him into the spiritual realms above him. By its presence the earth crystallizes and becomes hard and sparkling as a diamond. The soft and sweet smelling earth gives birth and brings forth the vari-colored and life-giving plants. It causes the sap in trees to move, and the trees to blossom and bear fruit in their season. It causes the mating and reproduction of animals and gives power to each according to its fitness.

In all things and creatures below the state of man, it is the cosmic mind, mahat (ma); in action (r); with kosmic desire, kama (ka); thus all nature in her various kingdoms is ruled by karma according to the universal law of necessity and fitness.

In man this spiritual principle is less understood than any of the principles which go to make him man.

Two ideas are present in the individual mind of man beginning with its first emanation from the Deity, or God, or the Universal Mind. One of these is the idea of sex, the other the idea of power. They are the two opposites of duality, the one attribute inherent in homogeneous substance. In the earliest stages of the mind, these exist in idea only. They become active in degree as the mind develops gross veils and coverings for itself. Not until after the mind had developed a human animal body, did the ideas of sex and power become manifest, active and did they fully dominate the individual incarnated portion of the mind.

It is quite in keeping with divinity and nature that these two ideas should be expressed. It would be contrary to nature and divinity to repress or suppress the expression of these two ideas. To stop the expression and development of sex and of power, were it possible, would annihilate and reduce all the manifested universe into a state of negation.

Sex and power are the two ideas by which the mind comes into close relationship with all the worlds; it grows through them and attains through them the full and complete stature of man immortal. These two ideas are translated and interpreted differently on each of the planes and worlds in which they are reflected or expressed. In this our physical world, (♎︎), the idea of sex is represented by the concrete symbols of male and female, and the idea of power has for its concrete symbol, money. In the psychic world (♍︎–♏︎) these two ideas are represented by beauty and strength; in the mental world (♌︎–♐︎) by love and character; in the spiritual world (♋︎–♑︎) by light and knowledge.

In the earliest stage of the individual mind as it emanates from Deity, it is not conscious of itself as itself, and of all its potential faculties, powers, and possibilities. It is being, and possesses all that there is in being, but does not know itself as itself, or all that is included in it. It possesses all things, but does not know of its possessions. It moves in light and knows not darkness. In order that it might demonstrate, experience and know all things which are potential within itself, might know itself as distinct from all things and then see itself in all things, it was necessary for the mind to express itself by the putting forth and building of bodies, and learn to know and identify itself within the worlds and its bodies as distinct from them.

So the mind, from its spiritual state and moved by the inherent ideas of what is now power and sex, gradually involved itself through the worlds into bodies of sex; and now the mind finds itself ruled and dominated by the desire for sex on the one hand and by the desire for power on the other.

That which is thought to be the attraction between the sexes, is love. True love is the underlying principle which is the secret spring of manifestation and sacrifice. Such love is divine, but such real love cannot be known by one who is ruled by the law of sex though he must or should learn of that love while in and before quitting his physical body of sex.

The secret and cause of the attraction of sex for sex, is that the mind longs and yearns after its original state of fullness and wholeness. The mind is in itself all that is expressed in man and woman, but because either of the sexes will allow only one side of its nature to be shown, that side which is expressed longs to know the other side of itself, which is not expressed. Mind expressing itself through a masculine or a feminine body seeks that other nature of itself which is not expressed through a feminine or masculine body, but which is repressed and concealed from its sight by its particular body of sex.

Man and woman are each a mirror to the other. Each looking into that mirror sees reflected in it its other nature. As it continues to gaze, a new light dawns and the love of its other self or character springs up within itself. The beauty or strength of its other nature takes hold of and envelopes it and it thinks to realize all this by union with the reflected other nature of its sex. Such realization of self in sex is impossible. Therefore the mind is confounded to find that that which it thought to be real is illusion only.

Let us suppose that a being had from infancy lived apart from mankind and that with all latent human emotions it should stand before a mirror in which its own figure was reflected and with which reflection it “fell in love.” As it gazed upon the reflection of itself, the latent emotions would become active and without having any reason to prevent it, it is likely that that being would at once endeavor to embrace the object which had called forth the strange feelings that it now experiences.

We may fancy the utter loneliness and dejection of that being, in finding that with the too earnest effort to embrace that which had called forth its affection and hopes and vague ideals, it had disappeared, and had left in its place only shattered bits of glass. Does this seem fancy? Yet it is not far from what is experienced by most people in life.

When one finds another human who reflects the inward and unspoken longing, there springs into his or her life the tenderest of emotions as he gazes at the reflection. So the mind without guile, acting through youth looks on its beloved reflection in the other sex and builds great ideals of happiness.

All goes well and the lover lives in his heaven of hopes and ideals while he continues to gaze with rapt admiration into his mirror. But his heaven vanishes as he embraces the mirror, and he finds in its place the little bits of broken glass, which will show only parts of the image that has fled. In memory of the ideal, he pieces the bits of glass together and endeavors to replace his ideal with the pieces. With the shifting and changing reflections of the pieces, he lives through life and may even forget the ideal as it was in the mirror before it was broken by too close contact.

The truth in this picture will be seen by those who have memory, who are able to look at a thing until they see through it, and who will not allow their gaze to be taken away from the object by the tinsel and sidelights which might come within the range of vision.

Those who have forgotten or who have learned to forget, who have learned or taught themselves to be content with things as they are, or who naturally content themselves with the senses, after experiencing their first disappointment, which may have been mild or simple or intensely severe, or those whose minds hanker after and are saturated with sensuous joys, will deny the truth in the picture; they will laughingly reject or be annoyed by and condemn it.

But that which seems to be spoken truly should not be condemned, even though it be unpleasing. If the mind’s eye can look calmly and deeply into the matter, annoyance will disappear and gladness will take its place, for it will be seen that that which is really worth while in sex is not the pain of disappointment nor the joy of pleasure, but the learning and the doing of one’s duty in sex, and the finding of the reality which stands within and beyond the fact of sex.

All the misery, excitement, restlessness, sorrow, pain, passion, lust, indulgence, fear, hardship, responsibility, disappointment, despair, disease and affliction, which are entailed upon sex will disappear gradually, and in proportion as the reality beyond sex is seen and the duties are assumed and done. When the mind awakes to its true nature, it is glad that it was not content with the sensual side of sex; the burdens entailed by duties become lighter; the duties are not chains which hold one in bondage, but rather a staff on the road to greater heights and loftier ideals. Labor becomes work; life, instead of a harsh and cruel schoolmistress, is seen to be a kind and willing teacher.

But to see this, one must not grovel on the ground in the dark, he must stand erect and accustom his eyes to the light. As he becomes accustomed to the light, he will see into the mystery of sex. He will see the present sex conditions to be karmic results, that sex conditions are the result of spiritual causes, and that his spiritual karma is directly connected with and related to sex.

To be continued.