This is part of an ongoing series of posts regarding specific concepts related to theosophy.

Other Resources: Evolution, Reincarnation, Souls

The intention of these posts are to create a resource for inquiring students, so we'll approach it a little differently than we would a normal discussion.

Here's how we'll do this:

  • Members are invited and encouraged to post their favorite quotes along with links to websites for further reading. If the quote is long (i.e. an entire chapter of a book), please select a couple sentences that stand out and then provide a link to the full chapter online (or if the book is not available online, please provide the title and author name). Anonymous quotes will be deleted, so be sure to source your info...
  • Members are also invited and encouraged to share their own thoughts/interpretations on the concept. However, no rebuttals or counter arguments are to be made in regards to any member posts. As this will be a resource for students interested in learning about a topic, we're not looking for debates on its validity, but instead are looking for sincere attempts at interpretation of its meaning (whether by Plato, Buddha, Blavatsky or Mr. Average Joe Smith!).
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The main idea here is that when you come across something while reading and think to yourself: "wow, what a beautiful description of such and such!", you can come here and post the quote and/or link so that we may all share in the discovery! As this resource builds, when we say to ourselves: "Oh, now where did I hear that quote again? I know it was somewhere!?", we can come to Theosophy.Net, run a quick search, and viola! find the quote/link we were looking for!


Here we will post quotes, thoughts and links on the much popularized concept of Karma.

I hope everyone will feel free to add to this ongoing resource. Don't be shy... share away! This is a "no debate zone". :)

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According to the major religions, the first act of karma is creation. The children of the religions of Abraham believe that God the Father created this world, the Hindus believe it was Brahma, but Buddhists do not believe in a creator. According to them, the universe and our world within it are created at every moment by the human mind.  Yet before there were gods and before there ever was a human mind, there was the karmic action described and only humorously ascribed to morality by Lawrence Krauss:

 “Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics. You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. And the only way they could get into your body is if the stars were kind enough to explode. So forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be here today.”


From the Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali, published in 1911 in bengali by Swami Hariharananda Aranya, translated in english by P.N. Mukerji (1963).

Book II.12


Karmāśaya or latent impressions of action based on afflictions, becomes active in this life or in a life to come (1).


(1) The latent impressions of virtuous and vicious actions are Karmāśaya. Any manifest state of the mind leaves a like imprint on it and this is its latent impression. Samskāra or latent impression may be either Savija, i.e. potent or Nirvija, i.e. impotent. Potent Samskāras are of two kinds – those which are born of afflictions and those which are their opposites...

The potent Samskāras based on Kleśas are called Karmāśayas...

Karmāśaya brings about three consequences, viz. Birth, span of life and experience (of pleasure or pain).

When the consequences take place, the Samskāra based on the feeling experienced thereby is called Vāsanā or subconscious latency. Vāsanā does not of itself produce any consequence or result, but for any Karmāśaya to produce result the appropriate Vāsanā is necessary. Karmāśaya is like a seed, Vāsanā is like a field, the birth or embodiement is like a tree and experience (of pleasure or pain) is like its fruit.


More to read on Karma in Book III.22 & Book IV.7,8,9

Karma is the universal law of compensation and equilibrium in Nature.

I will not add a link, for this is my own personal thoughts on karma.

I dont totally get into the eastern version of Karma, but it goes without saying,

there is cause and effect. Most of us have seen what comes around goes around.

I believe in using karma in my day to day living, my choices, and acts, what I say, etc.

Understanding, what we put out will come back, we have ownership of our words and actions.


I dont like eastern Karma, for I take issue with the philsophy, or how it is misinterpreted, and

assuming we have karma debt from a life before which we may or many not recall, seems silly,

and really just doesnt jive, at least not for me.


Thanks Tammy aka Devilwoman

While cause and effect based theory of Karma is widely accepted, for the curious other postulates are available, too.

Indian sage Kanada, in his treatise on Vaishesika Sutra considers Karma to be Motion. He says:

In the second chapter of the first book Kanada first says that if there is no cause, there is no effect, but there may be the cause even though there may not be the effect. 

One of the members of Theosophy.Net, Roopa H Narayan is also an expert on Vaishesika thought system. In the paper 'Nyaya-Vaisheshika: The Indian Tradition of Physics', paragraph 8.3 appearing on page 10 explains the concept of Karma as motion.  The Vaishesika thought system considers Dharma as the principle of motion and Karma as the motion itself. Adharma is the principle of rest or cessation of motion.

Distinguished theosophist Bhagwan Das has dealt with this topic of motion at length in his classic 'The Science of Peace', pp 319-330. 

Dharma and Karma as the principle and motion itself, may lead one to a slightly different interpretation of the meaning of various other texts. For example the the most popular verse 2.47 of the Bhagavad-Gita exhorts Arjuna to indulge in Karma alone and not to aspire for results. It is not too difficult to derive that there may be no algorithm to predict the point where this motion will yield a result. As Kanada says, there may be cause without effect.

In verse 4.8 of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna informs that in every age he appears to restore Dharma. It could mean that whenever the motion slows down (influenced by Adharma - the principle of rest), he provides momentum to it. 

Distinguished Soviet scientist Nikolai Kozyrev had other views on Cause & Effect. The 2nd and 3rd postulates of his Causal Mechanics state that cause and effect are separated in space and time. This would imply that depending upon the relative position of the observer, the same event could appear either as cause or as effect. This is fully in conformance with the theory of relativity of Einstein, but poses a problem for the philosophers if they considered only the linear motion of time.


From « Man, God and the Universe » by I.K. Taimni »


« The Law of Karma is nothing but the Law of Cause and Effect operating in the realm of human life and bringing about adjustments between an individual and other individuals whom he has affected by his thoughts, emotions and actions. The adjustments which restore the equilibrium in Nature are of two kinds.

They are either immediate or delayed or follow a period of accumulation...

It is these accumulated reactions involving a large number of souls which pile up in the invisible realms and produce cataclysmic results like wars, pestilences and revolutions...


Most thoughtful people are vaguely aware that there is a law of compensation underlying the phenomena of life.But very few people realize that this law of compensation is not a law which governs only limited spheres of life or natural phenomena but is universal in its application. And it is universal and inviolable because it is the expression of the fact that a perfectly balanced Ultimate Reality which we refer to as the Absolute lies at the core of the manifestation. »


From this quote, we may want to remember a key concept for karma : balance, equilibrium which is the natural state of the Absolute and must be compensate each time unbalance is generated by our thoughts, speeches or acts.

Thirty-one "Aphorisms on Karma" were published simultaneously in The Path and Lucifer for March, 1893. These were highly recommended to me by a Theosophical friend, so much so that we reprinted them in 1983 along with some other material in a small book titled, Karma Lore: One. They were introduced by William Q. Judge as follows:

"The following, among others not yet used, were given to me by teachers, among them being H. P. Blavatsky. Some were written, others communicated in other ways. To me they were declared to be from manuscripts not now accessible to the general public. Each one was submitted for my judgment and reason; and just as they, aside from any authority, approved themselves to my reason after serious consideration of them, so I hope they will gain the approval of those my fellow workers to whom I now publish them."

Later, I found that in the May and June 1893 issues of The Theosophist, E. Desikacharya published a reply under the same title. He opens by quoting the part about these being given "by teachers. . . some were written, others communicated in other ways. To me they were declared to be from manuscripts not now accessible to the general public." He continues:

"Now whatever may be the meaning of the last sentence, and whatever sense of reverence Theosophists may be led to feel concerning the mysterious origin of these aphorisms, it will be evident to anyone having even a superficial knowledge of Hindu literature that the majority of the aphorisms are to be found in the Shastras and are current in every bazaar. They are, in fact, as common and as universally well-known in India as St. John's Gospel is in England, and all the best are in printed books. I am glad to notice that Mr. Judge, in his own case, makes the reservation that these aphorisms "approved themselves to his reason aside from any authority," and I doubt not but that he desires his readers to exercise a similar discretion. We are, I trust, far distant from the day when judgment and reason will be thrown on one side in the case of writings emanating from anonymous "teachers," in a second-hand sort of way, and vague statements as to the origin of any form of teaching must, to say the least, be regarded in a spirit of active criticism."

"I have stated above that many of Mr. Judge's "aphorisms" are to be found in our Hindu books and, I must further add, others appear to me illogical and even absurd. I propose, therefore, to deal with each aphorism in its order, and shall endeavour to quote parallel passages from the Hindu Books, . . ."

These two articles are here attached.

I see that the attachment did not upload. I will try again.


David;  Our lodge in SB studied these aphorisms over and over again over the years.  Thank you for bringing our attention back to them.  We found them extremely helpful.  I know we are not supposed to comment on each others posts in this particular discussion group.  But I was compelled.

Glad to hear this, Gerry. I think that Jon is just asking that we do not critique each other's personal statements. Probably comments like yours on quoted sources are welcome.


E. Desikacharya in the second article, besides providing many valuable parallels in the Hindu Sanskrit writings, does offer some criticisms. To me, aphorism 28 for example makes perfect sense as it is, despite his criticism of it. But he is providing food for thought so that we may form our own conclusions.


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