| In the course of these articles brief reference has in several instances been made to the Law of Cause and Effect, perhaps better known under its Eastern designation of Karma. The whole of human existence and evolution is so intimately concerned with several aspects of this Law, that it is considered advisable that the student should become better acquainted with some of its details, as these principles play a commanding role in the shaping of man's daily life.
Individual Karma is the cumulative result of all of man's actions and thoughts, not only of his present life but also of his innumerable earlier existences. This individual karma is in itself a most complicated matter and difficult to comprehend in its totality. But the position is even far more involved, because in addition to the result of man's own activities, his life is also subject to several other types of karma over which he has no direct control, and as a result of which he may be considered as merely a puppet, or an insignificant atom in the cosmic destinies. He is, for instance, also subject to Universal or Cosmic karma, to world karma, as well as to the karma of humanity, the race, nation, group, and family to mention only a few. All these different types of karma are intermingled and are interacting in such an inconceivable and inextricable manner that the total complex is far beyond human conception.
The complexity of karma has been pointed out because students are sometimes inclined to over-simplify the position. Every human being is governed by forces far beyond his consciousness, sweeping him, his associates and environment into incomprehensible circumstances from which there is no escape and which he must learn to accept.
Notwithstanding this relatively somber picture, man still retains his free will with which he, within certain limits, can control his own destiny, or in other words `man can make or break his own life'. He can initiate action which will definitely produce recognizable results and he thus can, to a large extent, be the architect of his own future and guide his own affairs. He will certainly be the meeting place of many forces which lie outside his control, but many of these forces he can manipulate and turn to his own purposes according to circumstances and environment.
In the course of man's development there ever comes a life wherein he becomes consciously aware of the practical working of the Law of Cause and Effect. From that stage he learns to recognize karma in life's happenings, and to evaluate events with a questioning consideration, and consequently with greater understanding. He begins to study the radiator quality of his life, and the possible karmic effects of his actions, and thus consciously he begins to build and shape his own destiny and future. From now on his reactions to life's circumstances cease to be purely emotional he consciously and mentally begins to study and analyze the possible causes responsible for occurrences that have been evoked. A totally new approach and outlook on life is engendered as he comes to the recognition that karma is the source of all events and circumstances, and that it is the instrument employed by the soul for shaping evolutionary development.
The one dilemma by which the exploring disciple is so often confronted is that many karmic events will have their origin from activities in previous incarnations of which he has no conscious recollection, and which therefore cannot be correlated with present day conditions. This is even further complicated by karmic conditions arising from extraneous sources, altogether beyond his ken or comprehension. The Law of Cause and Effect teaches that every action is registered in the etheric field and must unavoidably be followed by some reaction of comparable potency. From this it should, however, not be concluded that the vibrations set in motion by the causative action have been canceled or neutralized by the reaction. No vibration can ever be finally effaced it can merely be transmuted to a higher or lower vibration, or deflected into a new direction. Strictly speaking, no new action can ever be initiated it is merely a question of diverting existing energy into other channels, and thus giving rise to the manifestation of changed vibrations, and consequently a different sequence of events. The whole phantasmagoria of phenomena into which man is nolens volens (willy-nilly) caught up must be regarded as a most involved pattern of an interwoven and interacting system of chain-reactions each action leading to some reaction, and this again to a further reaction ... a simply never ending series of actions and reactions!
And notwithstanding all this apparent and impossible confusion, there still remains a systematic Purpose and Plan underlying it all, and leading to some planned Destiny but a destiny which, as far as man is concerned, disappears into the infinite, and for ever keeps on disappearing notwithstanding the ever-expanding vision and the detection of constantly widening horizons. Although many of these thoughts may appear to be paradoxical, the fact remains that man retains a considerable degree of free will and the capacity to guide to a large extent the course of his own life and destiny; he has even been granted the power of neutralizing or wiping out certain bad karma accrued in the past, by initiating the correct redemptive action in the present life. One of the most effective means of realizing this is by leading a life of sacrifice and of dedicated and loving service of the fellow man 'What man has made he can unmake'. Man was never intended to be the helpless victim of circumstance for life after life the soul returns, utilizing a physical instrument to gain experience, and training this tool to become the intelligent arbiter of its own fate and a conscious exponent of the indwelling divinity.
In the past, when discussing the Law of Karma, there has been the inclination to put too much accent on the negative aspect of karma. It should therefore be emphasized that there is as much good karma as bad, all depending on the focus of man's activities. As the disciple advances on the Path, there will be a corresponding change in his motivation and objectives, and his accumulated store of unfavorable karma will systematically be worked off and dwindle, and will be superseded by a commensurate stock of good karma.