Divine Justice, Karma and Dharma - how it works
Each one of us has lessons to learn in our life, mistakes to put right. We cannot avoid this, and in one way or another we must ‘pay’: pay in order to learn and pay by correcting the mistakes we have made. This payment is part of the laws of karma; we have to accept it. Besides, even if we do not accept it, it makes no difference; we cannot avoid divine justice, nor can we circumvent it. So do your best to understand how divine justice works, and trust it. It is as if all the mistakes you have made are going to be weighed in one pan of a pair of scales and all your good actions in the other. So, when the time comes to pay for the transgressions, everything good you have done will play a part in making the payment less onerous. This law is true in all spheres: the efforts you make to strengthen and purify yourself will always enable you to face your ordeals in more favourable conditions. So let this be clear: on the one hand, you must know that you cannot escape divine justice, and on the other, you must always be aware that everything good you do is transformed into energy to help you overcome difficulties.
Karma is the application of the law of cause and effect on human destinies. And because it is the application of a law, we cannot escape it; but we can pay it in different ways. Prayer is one form of payment, because into your prayer you put gold, in other words all that is best of your heart, your soul and your spirit. You realize your mistakes, you regret them and you promise to make up for them with good deeds, positive actions. So Heaven says: 'Since he regrets and wants to make amends, it means he has understood, so let's ease his trials.' Because what does Heaven want? That we improve ourselves. Heaven has no desire to quash us. What would it gain by that? Heaven desires only that our consciousness grows and that we become wiser, which is why, if we show ourselves to be thick-headed, it will continue to send us trials. If, however, it can see that we understand without the need to be subjected to all this tribulation, that is enough. Heaven is not resolute on destroying us.
Having heard of the laws of karma, some people become indifferent in the face of other people’s suffering. If they see a good and honest person suffer they say to themselves that their suffering must be due to a past incarnation where they made mistakes that they now have to repair, and so they do nothing to help them. But perhaps they are wrong... When such people see others suffer, they always think it is justified, but when they themselves suffer, they feel that they do not deserve such injustice. So what is the right attitude to have? Exactly the opposite: when you are suffering, tell yourself this suffering is most probably justified; but when others are suffering, tell yourself they are not guilty and try to understand and help them. This way of doing things will help your evolution greatly.
Every human being that comes to incarnate on earth is certain to have mistakes to correct, debts to pay – what we call karma. How many initiates, saints and prophets have worked and suffered in this way to make amends for the mistakes they made in previous incarnations! But that did not prevent their soul and their spirit from living in divine splendour, for, despite obstacles, despite adversity, they strove to maintain contact with the divine world. The greatness of human beings lies in the fact that they are always aware of a region within them that is inaccessible to disturbances and attacks, namely their spirit, where they can seek refuge to continue their work. Once they have succeeded in rising to that region, even if they are assailed by karma, they feel they are above it, always above it. If karma wants to restrict them, they free themselves. If it wants to make them gloomy, they remain in the light. In the face of all opposition they carry on with their work.
Initiation involves working with memory. In an initiatic school, the disciples’ activity has meaning only if they begin trying to remember the world of light they have come down from and to which they must one day return. Thanks to the truths and beneficial influences they receive, and with the help of entities in the invisible world, they are able to uncover the traces of this lost Paradise within themselves, and they experience this memory as the greatest blessing. They must also remember the suffering they have endured, together with the mistakes they have made and the debts incurred, for they must one day find all the beings they have wronged, make peace with them, repair all their wrongdoings and clear their karma. It is this task that awaits the disciple, the same task that awaits all human beings. Only those who have been able to correct their mistakes and repair the damage they have done are admitted once and for all to the assembly of the sons and daughters of God.
You are beginning to have difficulties as a couple… Instead of immediately thinking of separating, look at how you can sort things out. A marriage is like a problem which destiny has given you to solve. If you have met a particular woman or man in this life and decided to link yourself to them, it is not by chance. This encounter is the result of what you experienced in your previous incarnations. Now you have a lot of inner work to do – to understand a particular truth, to put right a certain mistake, to develop a specific quality… If you run away, the problem will remain unresolved, and then, whether with this person or someone else, in this incarnation or another, you will encounter this problem again, and it will become harder and harder to resolve. Those who do not reason like this do not know the law of cause and effect, the law of karma. Actually, it is not absolutely forbidden to separate from someone, but not before you have resolved the problems you are faced with. This is the only way to win your freedom. It is difficult, of course, but what seems hard at first turns out to be what is easiest in the end, and vice versa. If you choose the hardest path, you will receive help within to see things through to the end.
Instead of deciding to do something to help those who are suffering, some so-called spiritual people merely say, ‘Oh, it’s their fate; it’s their karma’. If all it does is give them good reasons for being selfish, it would be better if they had never heard of karma! Of course it is better for everyone to know the laws of destiny and to understand why certain misfortunes befall them and others too. But when they see people in great difficulty, they should do what they can to help them. You might say, ‘But why try to help them when what is happening was written in their destiny?’ Because, firstly, the efforts you make to help others are never pointless: in certain situations, when the heavenly entities see your compassion and good will, they may let themselves be swayed and alleviate their suffering. And it is also good for you, because by helping others you develop new qualities. It is not easy to be really helpful to others, it’s true, but that doesn’t matter; whatever the circumstances, you should try to help them. If you do not succeed, at least you become more intelligent, stronger and freer yourself.
The relationship between humans and animals is still not well known. It is not easy to recognize signs that a human soul has been condemned to live in an animal’s body to atone for mistakes made in a former life. But this is a reality: the law of karma can for a certain length of time place a human soul in an animal’s body, where it will live together with the animal soul without displacing it. How many tyrants are thus condemned to live at least for a time in an animal’s body! Exposed to bad weather, made to search for food every day, constantly on the look-out, hunted, mistreated and beaten, they experience what they made others suffer. That is their punishment, and when at last they understand, their soul is set free. For we must never lose sight of the fact that the human soul and the animal soul to which it is linked for a time are different in nature: once the human soul is freed, it separates from the animal soul, which continues to live its own life.
Nowadays, more and more Christians are leaving their religion and turning to other forms of spirituality, without really knowing what they are getting into and without realizing just how dangerous it can sometimes be. In what are known as the esoteric or occult sciences, you find the best and the worst, and those who are tempted to devote themselves to them are not all able to tell the difference. Those who leave Christianity for eastern spirituality say it is mainly because it offers disciplines and a philosophy: meditation and breathing techniques, as well as a knowledge of the laws of karma, which throw light on the meaning of our destiny. But what is there to stop a Christian from practising meditation, breathing and even the different yogas? And what is there to prevent a Christian from accepting reincarnation? For those who really know how to read the Gospels, there are certain passages that can only be explained by reincarnation.
Giving and taking are like the two pans on a pair of scales. When you take, you must give to restore balance. And even if you do not take, you must also give. Why? Because in this way you set up a motion and receive something in return. But begin at least by learning to give when you have taken; this in itself will be progress. Check your relationships with those around you: take a very honest look at how you behave, not only with your parents, your children, your friends and society, but also with nature, and finally with God. You will see you have taken a great many things from visible and invisible creatures without taking care to give anything in return. Therefore you have debts. Well, be aware that the reason you reincarnate is to pay off all these debts. We all without exception have karma to pay off. Whether it is individual karma or collective karma matters little. There is personal karma as well as social, national and racial karma, but it is not really necessary to ask yourself which it is: we have to pay our debts, that is all, because that is justice. And when you hear the word ‘justice’, your whole being should quake at the thought that this word contains the secrets of cosmic balance.
Nothing is more difficult than giving an opinion on the nature of events as they are happening. This is true whether they involve ourselves or others, for we have no knowledge of the past. For example, you may want to help someone become free of a vice that is both destroying them and obviously harming those around them, so you make every effort to help them out of it, but without success. Well, eventually, instead of becoming upset, you must tell yourself that perhaps the vice they are prey to is saving them from committing more serious acts. The fact is, there are people who are fundamentally bad, who have committed abominable acts in a past life. This is why in this life the laws of karma condemn them to remain slaves to a passion, diverting them away from activities that would make them even more dangerous. They are completely caught up in this passion, as if chloroformed. Yes, it is very difficult to interpret present situations and events, because we know nothing of the past events which could explain them.
It isn’t hard to see how human evolution corresponds to the evolution of the earth! Yes, most men and women are like earths being formed: they have not yet succeeded in making their inner ground really stable – it is always bubbling up, being shaken and fissured by volcanic eruptions. And the Lord, who would so love to come with his angels and establish his dwelling within them, still has to wait for them to settle down. The Lord works within all creatures, but they are not all at the same stage of formation, that is, not all in the primary, secondary or tertiary era, and so on. This is why certain earths are still inhabited by dinosaurs, while others have orchards and cultivated fields. Spiritual Masters are beings who have worked on their own earth for a long time, which is why they come to move the ‘plough of the world’ forward, to lift humanity’s karma.
The moment you act, you inevitably activate certain forces, which will just as inevitably produce certain results. This connection between cause and effect is the initial meaning of the word karma. It was only later that it took on the sense of payment for a sin committed. So you could say that karma (in the second meaning of the term) manifests whenever an action is not totally inspired by divine wisdom and love – which is the case most of the time. But human beings make attempts and need to practise. Their attempts are clumsy, imperfect, but it doesn’t matter – they have to mend their ways, put right their mistakes, and of course they struggle, and they suffer in the process. You will say, ‘Well, since we can’t help but make mistakes when we act and then we have to suffer to make amends, isn’t it better not to do anything?’ No, you have to act. Obviously, you will suffer, but you will learn, you will evolve, and one day you will no longer suffer. When you have learned to act well, when all your actions and all your words are inspired by kindness, purity and disinterestedness, they will not entail any ‘karma’ but will attract beneficial effects. This is called dharma.
When a person decides to walk God's path and keeps unfailingly to his or her decision, the lords of destiny, the twenty-four elders who abide in the sephirah Binah, have to take note of the fact that this being speaks their language, the language of stability. Then, they change the decrees concerning this person, so that new possibilities and greater freedom must be allowed them. But the elders are not in a hurry; they wait to see how long the person will persevere. And when they see them faithfully continuing to progress on the right path, they are virtually obliged to write a different page into that person's destiny: a page where providence, that is, grace, appears. Grace belongs to the sephirah Chokmah, the region on the sephirotic tree directly above the sephirah Binah. The twenty-four elders confer with it and pass on the person's file with a favourable opinion! So providence begins in the region of Chokmah. The sephiroth below Chokmah are ruled by justice and karma, but at Chokmah, the region of the Christ, we are under the rule of grace, that is, of freedom.
You have entered into a relationship with someone, and then one day you decide you have good reason to leave them. Relationships can be of different kinds, not just those of marriage. Of course, you can always leave someone, but only once you have given them what you owe them, according to the agreement you made previously. Otherwise, you will be forced by cosmic laws to find this person again, in this incarnation or the next, to finish discharging your debt. If you really don’t want to see someone again, settle all your debts. But this is a law most people don’t want to recognize. As soon as someone no longer suits them, they cut the link in order to feel free. No, no; how many times already has karma forced humans to find their parents, their wives, husbands, friends, bosses or subordinates again in another incarnation, so they can repair the wrongs they have done them!
Human beings have emerged from the bosom of the eternal where they lived in bliss and plenitude. They wanted independence in order to act and create, but, because they have not yet found the best form to give their actions and creations, they suffer. Does this mean they shouldn’t do anything? No, they must act. ‘But they will suffer!’ you say. Of course they will suffer, but they will learn, they will perfect themselves, and when they have learned how to work they will no longer suffer. The suffering we have to endure in this life is the consequence of mistakes we have made in past lives. What the Hindus call karma is merely the law of cause and effect as it applies to human destiny. Those who are neither very enlightened nor very selfless are incapable of actions that are truly harmonious. They grope in the dark. And they meet with shocks and collisions, but they learn.
Cosmic Intelligence has established laws which we must all know and respect if we are to evolve. Some will think: ‘But if we all have to conform to the same norms, won’t we all be the same, like mass produced articles?’ No, you needn’t worry; you will all still be different from one another. And since you have different temperaments, faculties and qualities, you cannot all be attracted to the same methods. For example, consider the different yogas which the masters of India recommend to their disciples: Raja yoga, or self-mastery; Karma yoga, selfless action and renunciation; Hatha yoga, the mastery over the physical body; Kriya yoga, work with the light; Laya yoga, the development of the kundalini force, Bhakti yoga, the way of devotion, and so on. As disciples, then, we can follow different yogas, but, correctly understood, each of these yogas has the same purpose: to teach us to draw closer to the divine Principle.
Since we are all heirs of our heavenly Father, of his splendour, his power and his light, this means that we are all princes and princesses. So why is our life on earth so difficult at times? Now and then we meet very beautiful souls, true princes and princesses, but they are like beggars, condemned to live in deplorable conditions. Why is this? There is always a reason. It may be, of course, that they have debts to settle, karma to pay, and that divine justice has placed them in these conditions. But often there are other reasons, for the goal of cosmic Intelligence is always to push us to perfect ourselves, and for this it has to put us through ordeals. Yes, only certain very specific ordeals educate us and make us stronger, and it is thanks to them that one day we will be able to assume our divine heritage.
Initiation is a work of remembering. The activity of a disciple in an initiatic school makes sense only if he begins by trying to remember the luminous world from which he descended and to which one day he must return. Thanks to the truths and good influences he receives, and with the help of the luminous entities in the invisible world, he rediscovers within himself traces of this lost paradise, which is for him the greatest blessing. But he also must remember all the suffering he has endured, and even all the mistakes he has made and the debts he has incurred, because one day he will have to seek out all those he has wronged; he will have to reconcile with them and make amends for these wrongs in order to pay off his karma. This is the task that awaits the disciple, the task that awaits all of us. Only those who manage to correct all the mistakes they have made and to repair all the wrong they have done are admitted permanently to the assembly of the children of God.
Even among spiritualists, how many have discovered the inner attitude that enables them to surmount their difficulties? They will give you erudite commentary on the law of karma, with references to all the books of India and to complicated Sanskrit terminology… They will tell you that the law of karma is the law of cause and effect, the law of justice; that a particular action leads to particular consequences for an individual's future, and so on. But as soon as they themselves are afflicted with misfortune, they rebel: they study, they practise a spiritual discipline, they work for good, so how is it that God has not protected them? Suddenly they have forgotten that the earth is a school through which they too must pass. They are perhaps more educated than most, but they still have much to learn.
Of necessity, every human being who incarnates on earth has mistakes to correct and debts to pay, and this is what we call karma. So many initiates, saints and prophets have suffered in order to rectify the mistakes they have made in previous incarnations! But this did not prevent their soul and spirit from living in divine splendour because, despite the obstacles, despite the adversity, they worked tirelessly to maintain their contact with the divine world. An initiate's greatness lies in the fact that he never loses sight of an invincible region within himself: the region of his spirit, in which he can take refuge and work. Once he has succeeded in rising to that place, even if he is assailed by karma, he senses that he is above it, always beyond it. When karma tries to limit him, he frees himself; when it tries to cast gloom over him, he remains in the light. Despite all opposition, he continues his work.
Man cannot perform the slightest act without inevitably triggering certain forces that, just as inevitably, produce certain effects. This notion of the relation of cause to effect was primordial in the original meaning of the word karma. It was only later that karma was taken to mean the debt incurred by past misdeeds.
Karma-yoga, one of the many different yogas that exist in India, is nothing more than a discipline that teaches individuals to develop themselves through disinterested activities destined to set them free. It is when man acts with covetousness, cunning and dishonesty that he begins to incur debts, and it is then that karma takes on the meaning that is now commonly attributed to it: punishment for faults committed in the past.
When we know the law of karma, we must not take it as a pretext to remain indifferent to the sufferings of human beings. Unfortunately, instead of thinking about those people who suffer and deciding to do something to help them, some so-called spiritualists merely say, 'Oh! It's their karma,' and do not lift a finger. And in this way they think they are very evolved: they imitate Hindus! If some people see in this a good reason to wallow in their selfishness, it would sometimes be better that they never heard of karma! That is why we can say that Westerners possess the great quality of refusing to be indifferent to other people's misfortunes. We observe this at the time of famines, epidemics, floods and earthquakes: people quickly send money and organize help. This is fantastic!
From the moment we perform an act we inevitably release certain forces, which in turn will inevitably produce certain results. It is this concept of cause and effect that is contained in the word ‘karma'. This word has subsequently taken on the meaning of payment for a transgression committed. In reality it could be said that karma (in this second sense of the word) occurs each time an act is not fully inspired by divine wisdom and love, which is the case most of the time. But human beings experiment and have to practise. These experiments are somewhat crude and clumsy, but this is not important. They must correct themselves, put right their mistakes, and of course in order to obtain these results they struggle and suffer. You will say: ‘But surely it is better not to do anything, if by acting we inevitably make mistakes and will have to suffer to put them right.' No, you must act. Obviously you will suffer, but you will also learn, you will evolve, and then one day you will suffer no longer. When you will have learnt to act correctly, when all your actions, all your words are inspired by goodness, purity, and total lack of self-interest, they will not induce karma, but will attract beneficial consequences. And this is referred to as ‘dharma'.
If you take, you must also give. And even if you do not take, you should still give. Why? Because in doing so you initiate movement, and you will receive something in return. Start, at least, by learning to give when you have taken; this will be a step in the right direction. Review your relationships with the people around you; look honestly at how you behave with your parents, your children, your friends, your society, as well as your attitude towards nature and, finally, with God. You will see that you have taken many things from beings both visible and invisible without the slightest thought of giving anything in return. This means that you have accumulated debts. Well, know that you reincarnate in order to pay off all such debts. Everyone without exception has a karma to deal with. Whether it be an individual or collective karma matters little. There are personal karmas as well as social, national, and racial karmas, but it is not really necessary to concern yourself with those. What is important is simply to pay your debts, because justice demands it. And when you hear the word ‘justice', a shiver should run through your entire being, for this word contains all the secrets of cosmic balance.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov