Since our last Newsletter the world situation seems not to have changed much. Millions of the human family are facing not only starvation and death but unimaginable suffering and cruelty. Those of us who are of the firm belief that the cosmic process in all its aspects, including human affairs, is subject to immutable law are left wondering how this law can possibly be responsible for all the miseries that humanity is heir to at the present time. Even the developed and affluent parts of the world are now suffering the effects of recession by way of unemployment and economic instability. It is not just the breadwinners of whatever sex or grade who are involved but their dependents. Political systems seem to be powerless against the great economic tides. Huge national budgetary deficits hang over them like nemesis. The governmental services that were instituted to meet social needs to relieve poverty and effects of sickness and disease, unemployment and old age, must necessarily be curtailed when a nation ceases to generate enough wealth to pay for them.
In some of the underdeveloped counties there are now the warlords or their equivalent ruthlessly seeking power and exploiting what meagre resources their countries have. We have the example of ill-fated Yugoslavia with its internecine killings born of quite irrational appeals to national or religious loyalties. The further tragedy in these cases, as in that of the I.R.A. and their victims, is that the perpetrators of the atrocities are themselves willing to die for their cause. What is wrong?
What has the occultist or the theosophist to say about his universal Law? Let us look at a definition of the word Karma often applied to this Law:
... it is the ultimate Law of the universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature, Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknowable law which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable.
How can we reconcile that with what is going on in the world? Where is the wise and intelligent adjustment and what is equitable about much that is happening? Because of the diversity of factors involved in any situation it would not be possible, even with a computer of great power, to resolve the multiplicity of contributory causes or forces, the effects of which are having such dire results in human affairs. We can see, however, and for example, that the men behind such callous and ruthless acts behave because of what they are. Everything they do is dictated by their characters. With its belief in reincarnation Occultism can show that these characters are made by a chain of causative personalities going back into the remote past. What a man now is, that he has made himself: that is the Law. Moreover, whatever he does now, and whatever the results it may have on other people, will similarly, somehow or another, be visited upon him either immediately or in the future. The Law cannot be thwarted.
What of the victims who, if they have survived with their lives, are in the depths of despair? They lack even the minimum of the necessities for supporting life in any tolerable way. Could it be that they have deserved their present state? In some cases that may be so, in others it may not. What then of those who suffer unjustly? Occultism says of them that in the after-death states they will enjoy long periods of compensative bliss and somehow in their next physical lives, all other things being equal, their circumstances will be adjusted accordingly. In the case of those who inflict the cruelties, the Law had its retributive aspect, and its retribution will be as dire as the crimes. In ways unknown to us the Law will make its adjustments to restore harmony, equilibrium and balance, at all levels of being both physical and moral.
A belief in reincarnation becomes a necessary factor in our consideration of the feasibility of the workings of the Law. At physical level no compensation is possible to those who have been murdered or die of starvation if there is only one life. Obviously further lives are necessary.
People who have been killed can hardly come back again. What therefore is it that persists in the after-life that does come back or which overshadows another life? According to the occult teaching man is a threefold entity. He has his physical body with its life aspects; he has a mento-emotional soul and at the highest level he is an expression of divine spirit, linked inseverably with Universal Spirit. The spiritual man is, so to speak, a spark of the Divine. The vehicle of expression of this spiritual man during a lifetime is his thinking and feeling soul, the inner man behind the outer person that we see. It is the spiritual man, the spark of the Divine, that persists life after life, creating with every incarnation a new soul and a new body, but which are conditioned by the previous one.
The Law which applies to this process is evolutionary. There are causative links between successive personalities whereby the present one is the result of the previous ones. The overshadowing spiritual man, however, is virtually everlasting, is progressing in knowledge and power, life by life.
A picture such as this puts a single lifetime of whatever content into perspective. Its experiences are in a vast chain of lives, each with some good, some bad, some enjoyable, some of great misery, but as the process continues there is a growth of capacity to respond to the finer things of life. Man is becoming more 'spiritualized' and as he does this his tendencies to act cruelly or even selfishly are slowly diminished until they fade out. That is the long-term view.
There are complications to this seemingly simple and optimistic view of things, but in the main that is the evolutionary trend in store for all of us. The complications come by way of our limited understanding of the nature of the cosmic process and of the part that our world plays in it. The Ancient Wisdom has it that the globe, Earth itself, is a living entity and all that happens on it is part and parcel of the operations of this great Law that we have been talking about. How then to account for the natural catastrophes: the floods, the earthquakes, the droughts, the hurricanes, which affect all of us in some measure throughout our lives? Occultism tells us that the forces and elements which determine the very nature of our surroundings - trees, rivers, flowers, grasses and even clouds - are all manifestations in one way or another of invisible lives, and all these lives are subject to this universal Law. Factors which affect their operations are quite beyond our understanding in any detail but is it possible that mankind can, so to speak, ravage the earth as he does without some dire consequences? This, however, is another field of investigation altogether.
The purpose of the forgoing is to acquaint us with the inescapable workings of the Law and to indicate that it is possible for each of us to act according to it; to behave as responsible human beings and to have some regard for the consequences of our actions. Whatever we do is as a stone being thrown into a pond and causing ripples. Eventually but inevitably these ripples will reach the edge of the pond and reflect back at us. Somehow or another all we members of the human family have to learn of and understand the workings of this inexorable Law and abide by it - or face the consequences.