[Sanskrit karman, nominative karma, “act,” “deed,” “work”] Energy/consciousness in action; the law of cause and effect and retribution. Also called the law of the circle, which decrees that whatever we do comes full circle to our doorstep for resolution.
The law of karma necessitates the soul’s reincarnation until all karmic cycles are balanced. Thus, from lifetime to lifetime man determines his fate by his actions, including his thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds.
Karma is God’s energy in action. Originating in the Mind of God, energy—action-reaction-interaction—is the Trinity of the Logos. The creative forcefield of the Mind of God is the source of karma.
The word karma has been used both broadly and narrowly through the centuries to define man’s ever-evolving concepts of causation, of Cosmic Law and his relationship to that Law. The ancient origins of the word are an energy key governing the flow from Spirit to Matter. Karma, according to the ascended masters, is taken from the Lemurian root meaning “the Cause of the Ray in Manifestation”—hence “Ka-Ra-Ma.”
Karma is God—God as Law; God as principle; God as the will, the wisdom and the love of Spirit becoming Matter. The law of karma is the Law of being, being always in the state of becoming—the movement of the Self transcending the Self.
Karma is the law of cycles, the moving out and the moving in through the spheres of God’s own cosmic consciousness—the breathing out and the breathing in of the LORD.
Throughout the seven spheres of the Spirit-Matter cosmos, karma is the law of creation, the antahkarana of the creation. It is the integration of energy flow between the Creator and the creation. Karma is causes becoming effects, effects becoming causes—which in turn become effects. Karma is the great chain of hierarchy, link by link transferring the energies of Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending of cycles.
► Main article: God
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” —and the chain of action-reaction-interaction was begun. God, the First Cause, created the first karma. By his will to be, God willed into being both Creator and creation and thereby set in motion the eternal movement of his energy—karma. By God’s eternal desiring to be God, the one great Self makes permanent the law of karma in the cycles of the cosmos. God’s creation is his karma. Sons and daughters of God are the karma of the living God most high.
God’s karma is the karma of perfection—perfection being the flow of harmony from Spirit to Matter and from Matter to Spirit. God’s karma, fulfilling the law of his energy in motion, can be understood as the movement of his will in an endless succession of primary forces producing secondary forces and tertiary forces and so on infinitum, from the center of his Being to the circumference and from the circumference to the center. God’s karma is the synchronization of such cosmic forces interplaying through cosmic forcefields, extending to the bounds of his habitation in Spirit and in Matter.
Free will and karma
Without free will there can be no karma, whether in God or in man. Free will, then, is the agency of the Holy Spirit, the cause of the ray in manifestation. Free will is the crux of the law of integration. Only God and man make karma, for only God and God in man have free will. All other creatures—including elemental life, the devic evolution and the angelic evolution—are the instruments of God’s will and man’s will. Hence they are the instruments of the karma of God and man.
The free will of angels is the free will of God. Angels are required to fulfill God’s will, for unlike man, they are not given the liberty to experiment with God’s energy. Although angels do make mistakes that produce results which are contrary to God’s will, they can later rectify their mistakes and realign that energy with God’s will.
Angelic rebellion against God’s will is of a different order than the karma-making exercise of free will in man. Free will is central to man’s expanding God-identity within the framework of the Great Law. Man is given the liberty to experiment with his free will, for he is a god in the making.
On the other hand, angels, who partake only of the free will of God, remove themselves from their lofty estate if they rebel against the will of God that they are charged to carry out. Thus, if an angel chooses to act against God’s will, he must be banished from the angelic realm to the footstool kingdom and embody in the kingdom of man.
Man, who is made a little lower than the angels, is already confined to the lower spheres of relativity. So when he creates negative karma, he simply remains at his own level while he balances it. But an angel who rebels against God’s will is removed from his high estate of complete identification with God and is relegated to the lower spheres of man’s habitation to balance the energy of God that he has misqualified.
In Hinduism the Sanskrit word karma (originally meaning act, action, work or deed) evolved to mean the actions that bind the soul to the world of existence. “Just as a farmer plants a certain kind of seed and gets a certain crop, so it is with good and bad deeds,” says the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic. Because we have sown both good and evil, we must return to reap the crop.
Hinduism acknowledges that some souls are content to continue doing this lifetime after lifetime. They enjoy life on earth with its mixture of pleasure, pain, success and failure. They live and die and live again, tasting the bittersweet of the good and bad karmas they have sown.
But there is another path for those who weary of the endless return: union with God. Each life, as French novelist Honoré de Balzac explained the concept, may be lived to “reach the road where the Light shines. Death marks a stage on this journey.”
Once souls have decided to return to their source, their goal is to purify themselves of ignorance and darkness. The process may take many lifetimes. The Mahabharata compares the process of puriﬁcation to the work of a goldsmith purifying his metal by repeatedly casting it into the ﬁre. Although a soul may purify herself in one life by “mighty efforts,” most souls require “hundreds of births” to cleanse themselves, it tells us. When puriﬁed, the soul is free from the round of rebirth, one with Brahman. The soul “achieves immortality.”
Buddhists, too, see the cycle of rebirth as a wheel—a wheel to which we are bound until we can break the karmic chains. Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563–c. 483 B.C.), the founder of Buddhism, began life as a Hindu. He borrowed from and expanded on the Hindu ideas about karma and reincarnation.
The Dhammapada, one of the best-known Buddhist texts, explains karma as follows: “What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. If a man speaks or acts with an impure mind, suffering follows him as the wheel of the cart follows the beast that draws the cart.... If a man speaks or acts with a pure mind, joy follows him as his own shadow.”
Karma and fate
Today, the word karma is used as a fashionable substitute for fate. But belief in karma isn’t fatalism. Karma, according to the Hindus, can cause people to be born with certain tendencies or characteristics, but it doesn’t force them to act according to those characteristics. Karma does not negate free will.
Each person “can choose to follow the tendency he has formed or to struggle against it,” as the Vedanta Society, an organization promoting Hinduism in the West, explains. “Karma does not constitute determinism,” we read in The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion. “The deeds do indeed determine the manner of rebirth but not the actions of the reborn individual—karma provides the situation, not the response to the situation.”
Buddhism concurs. Buddha taught that understanding karma gives us the opportunity to change the future. He challenged a contemporary teacher named Makkhali Gosala, who taught that human effort has no effect on fate and that liberation is a spontaneous event. For the Buddha, belief in fate, or destiny, was the most dangerous of all doctrines.
Rather than consigning us to an irreversible fate, he taught, reincarnation allows us to take action today to change the future. Our good works of today can bring us a happier tomorrow. As the Dhammapada puts it, “Just as a man who has long been far away is welcomed with joy on his safe return by his relatives, well-wishers and friends; in the same way the good works of a man in his life welcome him in another life, with the joy of a friend meeting a friend on his return.”
According to the Hindus and Buddhists, our karma requires us to continue reincarnating until we achieve divine union. The union with Atman may occur in stages while we are alive and be made permanent after death.
Karma and Christianity
► Main article: Karma in the Bible
The law of karma is set forth throughout the Bible. The apostle Paul makes clear what Jesus taught him and what he learned from life:
Every man shall bear his own burden....
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Karma can bring boon and blessing to those who have sown well according to the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The law of cause and effect and of free will is affirmed by Jesus over and over again in his parables to his own and in his warnings to the seed of the wicked. Our Lord speaks often of the day of judgment, which is the day of reckoning of every man’s karmic accounts as recorded in his own book of life. In Matthew 12:35–37 he lectures to the scribes and Pharisees on the law of cause and effect:
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things [i.e., positive karma]: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things [i.e., negative karma].
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
In Matthew 25 Jesus illustrates that the final judgment is based on the karma of an active (positive) or an inactive (negative) Christianity. Here works of love (i.e., charity) are the key to salvation. The Lord promises to those who minister unto him even in the person of “one of the least of these my brethren” that they shall inherit the kingdom; whereas to those who do not minister unto him for the very love of Christ in all people, he says, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The apostle Paul, in his exhortations to the stubborn Romans, confirms Jesus’ teaching on the wages of karma:
[God] will repay each one as his works deserve. For those who sought renown and honor and immortality by always doing good there will be eternal life; for the unsubmissive who refused to take truth for their guide and took depravity instead, there will be anger and fury. Pain and suffering will come to every human being who employs himself in evil...; renown, honor and peace will come to everyone who does good.... God has no favorites.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus states the mathematical precision of the law of karma: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” In fact, the entire sermon (Matthew 5–7) is Jesus’ doctrine on the rewards of righteous and unrighteous conduct. It is his teaching on the consequences of thoughts, feelings, words and deeds. It is the greatest lesson on karma, as the law of personal accountability for one’s acts, you will find anywhere.
Lords of Karma
► Main article: Karmic Board
The Karmic Board is a body of eight ascended masters who are assigned the responsibility to dispense justice to this system of worlds, adjudicating karma, mercy and judgment on behalf of every lifestream. The Lords of Karma are divine intercessors who serve under the twenty-four elders as mediators between a people and their karma.
The Lords of Karma adjudicate the cycles of individual karma, group karma, national karma and world karma, always seeking to apply the Law in the way that will give people the best opportunity to make spiritual progress.
Astrology and karma
► Main article: Astrology
Properly understood, astrology accurately predicts returning karma. By astrology it is possible to chart the time and manner in which persons, institutions, nations and planets receive their karma and their initiations. Every sign of the zodiac and every planet is an initiator and can play the role of guru in our life.
It is not our astrology that creates us but it is we who create our astrology. Our astrology at birth has encoded within it the sum of karma that the Lords of Karma have decreed we will face in this life. And when karma returns we are tested. Each individual will respond to his astrology, hence his karma, according to the psychology of personality developed through many embodiments.
What we think of as “bad” astrology really indicates our own karmic vulnerability. It tells us that we will be vulnerable to a particular transit and the momentums it will deposit on our doorstep on a day and hour that can be foreknown.
Karma as opportunity
When people talk about karma, they often think of the wrath of God, of punishment, of the idea that if they have been bad before they’re going to have to suffer now. This is one more ramification of the teachings of hell-fire and damnation, the concepts that have been propounded by Lucifer to thwart the true Christian doctrine.
Karma is not punishment. Karma returning to us is simply the law of cause and effect—for every wrong that we have done we must anticipate a joyous opportunity in the future to undo that wrong. And we have to seize that opportunity with rejoicing because here is a chance to balance our debts to Life.
Returning karma is the glorious opportunity for us to be free, for us to learn the law of non-attachment, non-possessiveness, and to realize the effects of the causes we have sent out. It is altogether natural and proper that we should be able to be on the receiving end of whatever we’ve sent out. If we have sent out love, we have a right to know what it feels like to receive that love in return, and if we have sown hatred or sadness, that’s going to come back also. And when it comes back we shouldn’t have any sense that this is unjust.
Unfortunately, many see the Law of God as a law of disaffection and disavowal. They envision a God who has no use for us but is simply the Lawgiver who stands ready to strike mankind with a rod of punishment. But God does not deal our karma to us as punishment. Karma is a manifestation of an impersonal law as well as a personal one. The purpose of our bearing our karma is that karma is our teacher. We must learn the lessons of how and why we misused the energy of life.
Until that day comes when we recognize the Law of God as a Law of love, we will probably encounter difficulties. But if we will only hasten that day’s coming into our own life, we will recognize that karma is actually grace and beauty and joy. We should understand, then, that the Law that comes to us is the Law of love. When it becomes chastening, it is the chastening of love. When it becomes the fruit in our life of our own advancement, this is the fruit of that love.
Transmutation of karma
Saint Germain teaches the accelerated path of transmutation of karma by the violet flame of the Holy Spirit and the transcending of the rounds of rebirth through the path of individual Christhood leading to the ascension demonstrated by Jesus.
For more information
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Lost Teachings of Jesus: Missing Texts • Karma and Reincarnation, pp. 173–77.
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Lost Teachings on Your Higher Self, pp. 238–47.
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Path of Self-Transformation.
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Saint Germain On Alchemy: Formulas for Self-Transformation, Glossary, s.v. “Karma.”
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Path of Self-Transformation.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet with Erin L. Prophet, Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianty, chapter 4.
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Masters and Their Retreats, s.v. “Karmic Board.”
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Path to Attainment.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, December 31, 1972; June 29, 1988.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, “ Prophecy for the 1990s III,” Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 33, no. 8, February 25, 1990.
- Gal. 6:7.
- Mahabharata 13.6.6, in Christopher Chapple, Karma and Creativity (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), p. 96.
- Honoré de Balzac, Seraphita, 3d ed., rev. (Blauvelt, N.Y.: Garber Communications, Freedeeds Library, 1986), p. 159.
- Kisari Mohan Ganguli, trans., The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, 12 vols. (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1970), 9:296.
- Svetasvatara Upanishad, in Prabhavananda and Manchester, The Upanishads, p. 118.
- Juan Mascaró, trans., The Dhammapada: The Path of Perfection (New York: Penguin Books, 1973), p. 35.
- Brahmacharini Usha, comp., A Ramakrishna-Vedanta Wordbook (Hollywood, Calif.: Vedanta Press, 1962), s.v. “karma.”
- The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1989), s.v. “karma.”
- Mascaró, The Dhammapada, p. 67.
- Gal. 6:5, 7.
- Matt. 25:40.
- See Lake of fire.
- Matt. 25:41.
- Rom. 2:6–11 (Jerusalem Bible).
- Matt. 7:2.