More than You Ever Wanted to Know About Karma . from the Theosophists

Written and published on 9 February 2014; revised


Dear Ones,

Below is a quaint but vivid School of Theosophy description of the karma we all carry around with us from lifetime to lifetime.

By way of solace, I would like to mention this: I have heard that contemplation of the hridaya chakra, the hidden cave of the inner heart, can dissolve karmas. It does this by bringing the work of the Soul to the forefront in our lives. Personality and its distortions of truth recedes, and our true nature comes forth, thus offering a shortcut through what may seem from the below account to be a somewhat dismal and time-consuming project.

In love, light, and joy,
I Am of the Stars


“H.P. Blavatsky, in her vivid, forceful and inimitable language, gives the following, description of the ego coming to rebirth., and being met by his Skandhas : ‘Karma, with its arm of Skandhas (1), waits at the threshold of Devachan (2), whence the Ego re-emerges to assume a new incarnation. It is at this moment that the future destiny of the now-rested Ego trembles in the scales of just retribution, as it now falls once again under the sway of active Karmic Law. It is in this rebirth which is ready for it, a rebirth selected and prepared by this mysterious, inexorable, but in the equity and wisdom of its decrees, infallible LAW, that the sins of the previous life of the Ego are punished.

“Only it is into no imaginary Hell, with theatrical flames and ridiculous tailed and horned devils, that the Ego is cast, but verily on to this earth, the plane and region of his sins, where he will have to atone for every bad thought and deed. As he has sown, so will he reap. Reincarnation will gather around him all those other Egos who have suffered, whether directly or indirectly, at the hands, or even through the unconscious instrumentality, of the past personality. They will be thrown by Nemesis in the way of the new man, concealing the old Eternal Ego…The new personality is no better than a fresh suit of clothes with its specific characteristics colour, form and qualities: but the real man who wears it is the same culprit as of old.’ (‘The Key to Theosophy,’ pp 141-2).

“Hence it is the law of Karma which guides the man unerringly towards the race and nation herein are to be found the general characteristics that will produce a body and provide a social environment fitted for the manifestation of the general character, built up by the Ego in previous earth-lives, and for reaping of the harvest he has sown….

“… the Ego, ere he plunges into the ‘Lethe (3) of the body’, sees  the causes which result in the conditions of the incarnation, on which he is to enter, and the opportunities which will be afforded for growth: hence it is easy to see how lightly will weigh in the balance all passing griefs and pains trivial, to that piercing, farseeing gaze, the joys and woes of earth.

“For what is each life but a step in the ‘Perpetual progress for each incarnating, Ego, or divine soul, in an evolution from the outward to the inward, from the material to the Spiritual, arriving at the end of each stage of absolute unity with the Divine Principle. From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego’ (‘Key to Theosophy, p. 155).

“And as Annie Besant graphically puts it, ‘with such a destiny, what boots the passing suffering of a moment, or even the anguish of a darkened life?’

“Continuing with our brief examination of the question of the karma of an ego, it is possible to see the great mass of the accumulated karma – know as the sanchita or piled-up karma — hovering over the ego. Usually it is not a pleasant sight, because, by the nature of things, it contains more evil than good. The reason for this is as follows.

“In the earlier stages of their development most men have, through ignorance, done many things that they should not have done, and consequently have laid up for themselves, as a physical result, a good deal of suffering on the physical plane. The average civilised man, on the other hand, is trying to do good rather than harm, and therefore, on the whole, is likely to be making more good karma than bad. But by no means all of the good karma goes into the accumulated mass and so we get the impression in that mass of a preponderance of evil over good.

“This again needs further explanation. The natural result of good thoughts, or good actions, is to improve the man himself, to improve the quality of his vehicles, to bring out in him qualities of courage, affection, devotion, and so forth. These effects thus show themselves in the man himself, and in his vehicles, but not in the mass of piled-up karma which is waiting for him. If, however, he performs a good action, with the thought of its reward in his mind, then good karma for that action will come to him, and it will be stored up, with the rest of the accumulation, until such time as it can be brought forward, and materialised into activity.

“Such good karma naturally binds the man to earth just as effectually as evil karma: consequently, the man who is aiming at real progress learns to do all actions entirely without thought of self, or of the result of his action. This is not to say that any man can avoid the result of his actions, be they good or bad: but he can change the character of the result. If he forgets himself entirely, and does good actions out of the fulness of his heart, then the whole force of the result is spent in the building of his own character, and nothing of it remains to bind him to the lower planes. The fact is that in each case the man gets what he wants: in the words of the Jesus: ‘Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.’

“An ego may sometimes choose whether he will take certain karma in the present life, though often the brain consciousness may know nothing of the choice: the very adverse circumstances, at which a man is grumbling, may thus be exactly what he has deliberately chosen for himself, in order to forward his evolution.

“A pupil of a Master may often dominate and largely change his karma, setting in motion new forces in many directions, which naturally modify the working out of the old ones.

“All of us have more or less of evil karma behind us, and, until that is disposed of it will be a perpetual hindrance to us in our higher work. Hence one of the earliest steps, in the direction of serious progress, is to work out whatever of this evil still remains to us. This results in the Agents of Karma giving us the opportunity of paying off more of this debt, in order that the way may be cleared for our future work; this, of course, may, and often does, involve a considerable increase of suffering in various directions.

“The portion of karma selected for discharge in a particular life is known as ‘ripe’, or prarabda karma. With this in view , the mental, astral and physical bodies are constructed for a particular length of life.

“As a man’s will is free, it may happen that the karma selected for him, for particular life, is worked through sooner than the Administrators of Karma had expected, if one may put it that way. In such a case, They give him more, that being the explanation of the otherwise perplexing statement that ‘Whom the Lord loveth He Chasteneth’.

“The parabda karma of an individual divides itself into two parts. That which is to express itself in the physical body is made by the Devarajas into the elemental which builds the body, as described in the “Etheric Double,” Chapter XV.

“The other far larger block, which is to indicate his fate through life, the good or evil fortune which is to come to him, is made into another thought–form which does not descend. Hovering over the embryo, it remains upon the mental plane. From that level it broods over the man, and takes or makes opportunities, to discharge itself by sections, sending down from itself a flash like lightening to strike, or a finger to touch, sometimes far down on the physical plane, sometimes a sort of extension which reaches only the astral plane, and sometimes what we may call a horizontal flash or finger upon the mental plane.

“This thought-form goes on discharging itself until it is quite empty, and then returns to the matter of the plane. The man can of course, modify its action by the new karma which he is constantly making. The ordinary man has usually scarcely will enough to create any strong new causes, and so the elemental empties itself of its contents according to what may be described as its original programme, taking advantage of convenient astrological periods and surrounding circumstances, which make its work easier or more effective. And so the horoscope of the man may work out with considerable exactitude.

“But if the man be sufficiently developed to possess a strong will, the elemental’s action is likely to be much modified, and the life will by no means follow the lines laid down in the horoscope. Sometimes the modifications introduced are such that the elemental is unable fully to discharge itself before the time of the man’s death. In that case, whatever is left of it is again absorbed into the great mass of the sanchita or accumulated karma, and out of that another and more or less similar elemental is made, ready for the next physical life.”

–excerpted from Citation: “The Causal Body And The Ego,” compiled by Arthur E. Powell, 1928, public domain, “Chapter XIII: The Permanent Atom and the Mechanisms of Incarnation” …


(1) Skandas “consist of material qualities, sensations, abstract ideas, tendencies of mind, mental powers, the pure aroma of all these having been built into the causal body, the remainder being stored, as stated, in the permanent atoms and mental unit.” –from Citation: “The Causal Body And The Ego,” compiled by Arthur E. Powell, 1928, public domain

(2) devachan: the dwelling of the gods

(3) Lethe: “In Greek mythology… Lethe … was one of the five rivers of Hades. Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness.” –from Link: “Lethe,” in Wikipedia, … CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License


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karma, Theosophy, Arthur E. Powell, causal body, cause and effect, hridaya chakra, heart energy,

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