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Volume 1:634-647

In Chapter XVI, H.P. Blavatsky developed the theme of karma and destiny. Exoterically, karma is nothing more than "action." Esoterically, it is "quite a different thing in its far-fetching moral effects." It is the "unerring LAW OF RETRIBUTION" in relation to the actions of the "inner, immortal man."

  1. (Chapter XVI). CYCLIC EVOLUTION AND KARMA: Karma is free will. It is not something fixed and automatic generated from past lives, but rather it is something vibrant and active in this very moment. Karma is an unbounded, unbridled, endless freedom of choice that operates upon the demands of its wielder, the interior man. We are "self-produced beings." Karma is nothing other than our own self-production in any one particular instant. In The Secret Doctrine 1:639, H.P. Blavatsky differentiated between the "external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions" where it is "within our power to follow either of the two." But these two conditions only affect the display of free will, not the essence of free will. A reader can turn to Immanuel Kant's writing on "pure practical reason" to comprehend the nuances of this argument. Kant introduced his notion for the categorical imperative in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785). On page 28, the categorical imperative represented an "action" that was "good in itself" and "objectively necessary by itself, without reference to another end." The implications of this categorical imperative were drawn out in Critique of Practical Reason (1788) on pages 28-30 in that what is true in all times and in all situations ought to be acted upon in a way that converts actions into duties because it is the right method of living. Kant presented his fundamental maxim, "So act that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle in a giving of universal law." A man must learn to "will" so fairly that he wishes that will to become a universal law without a hint of desire for individual ends. Therefore, pure practical reason teaches a man through maxims (the purity aspect of reason) that he ought to behave (the practical aspect of reason) in a certain manner. As such, pure practical reason is "immediately lawgiving" to a man's life. For Kant, the "will" is "independent of empirical conditions" and it is "regarded as the supreme condition of all maxims." The freedom of will transforms into an unconditional "duty" to other men in that the individual must act from a universal maxim in such a manner that it impacts himself and others equally and beneficially. The "sole principle of morality" consists in the "determination" of this choice. The "independence" of choice is freedom in an inner sense and to the extent that the maxim is universally applied to actions affecting all people it is an outer freedom as well. Free will applied universally negates the "unerring LAW OF RETRIBUTION" because they are one and the same. As H.P. Blavatsky reminded us in The Secret Doctrine 1:643, "Were no man to hurt his brother, Karma-Nemesis would have neither cause to work for, nor weapons to act through." The purpose of the Theosophical Society, as expressed in The Secret Doctrine 1:644, is to act as a "palliative to the evils of life" by establishing a "Brotherhood IN ACTU, and altruism not simply in name."


H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 2019).

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1015).

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Mary Gregor and Jens Timmermann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

(Photo by Julia Taubitz on Unsplash)


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