One for All, All for One
Karma is far larger than the mere result of an individual action. Its effects not only create new settings for the current lifetime but also influence the future lives as well. It not only works for individuals but also works for nations.
The environment where a person is born, his friends and family are basically all decided by karma! The environment, the family and the country where a person is born and raised is sometimes designed to develop the person and to teach him lessons that he needs to learn. While in other times the environment is chosen to give him proper equipment to exercise the faculties that he has developed already, which are required to help others at that place and time.
For example, “a man who had developed a strong concrete mind, apt for commerce, say, in the vaishya (merchant) caste in India, may be thrown down into the United States of America, and there become a Rockefeller. In his new personality he will see that vast wealth is only tolerable when used for national purposes, and he will carry out in America the vaishya ideal that the man who has gathered huge wealth becomes a steward in the national household, to distribute wisely for the general benefit the stores accumulated as personal possessions. Thus the old ideal will be planted in the midst of a new civilization, and will spread abroad through another people.” Annie Besant
Sometimes in one lifetime the person has the opportunity of being in the company of superiors and spiritual teachers to stimulate certain powers in him and accelerate his development. In the following lifetime however, he might be placed among ordinary people in order to test his inner power and the reality of the strength acquired and the solidity of conquest over the self. In these situations, if the person shows power and will to follow the correct path, he will pass the test brought about by the forces of karma.
Sometimes a person who has already gained certain mental faculties and stabilized them by sufficient practice, will be born in an environment where these strengths are useless, and activities and tasks with a different nature are asked from him. An ignorant person in this situation might think that his talents are wasted and he is “not fit to fill.” What should be realized here is that a lesson, which he has already mastered, would not help him grow further! A person who knows karma in this situation will quietly study his surroundings and realize that he would gain nothing by doing the things which are mastered by him already and appear easy to do; and only by doing and mastering new fields and lessons, he will grow further.
In this case, a person who finds himself with responsibilities that he doesn’t find interesting has two options. One is to let go of the responsibilities and run away from the situation, which will bring about the same situation again and again until the lesson is learnt. Another option is to study the situation, the responsibilities and the lessons he needs to learn from them. The knower of karma will see in these duties the reactions of his own past activities and will patiently accept them. He tries to accomplish them and learn the lessons that will leave him free with greater power and development. In relation to nations in this scenario, the knower of Karma should study the national conditions and discern whether he has been born in this nation to develop certain qualities that he lacks or to help the nation with the use of qualities already well developed in him. For example, when a nation is in time of transition, a number of souls will be born in that nation, who have the qualities needed for the new conditions and for the transition to take place.
In fact the law of karma can be studied from different levels of individual to collective.
The individual karma deals basically with the areas and characteristics already discussed in previous articles. The relationships, friendships, good and bad happening to a person are all the effects of karma. Karma brings people in touch with us, whom we had know in the past; with some we still have debts to pay and some owe debts to us. No one treads this long way of evolution alone and there are a group of souls to whom we are linked and these links bring us together from all parts of the world.
There are lessons to be learnt in any position we are put into and there are responsibilities given to us. The individual karma is in fact the easiest to modify and can be changed with greater freedom, in a shorter time. The collective Karma however is more difficult to modify as it involves more complex forces and people.
The collective karma in this case refers to the complex results of collective thoughts, desires and activities of groups, weather large or small. The way karma works here is the same as individual karma, but the factors are far more numerous and complex.
The idea of considering a group as an individual is already familiar to modern science. This larger individuals such as families or nations also generate karma along the lines similar to the ones discussed. They have a past, creating their current situation and all have a future ahead.
A soul being born into such a larger individual, by his own special karma, must share in its general karma and must work his karma out within it. The larger karma often offers conditions that enable the smaller karma to act and be worked out.
Let’s consider the collective karma of a family. The family has a thought-atmosphere of its own with all the traditions and customs, family pride and ways of regarding the external world. Being born in any specific family, the thought forms and thinking patterns of the person will be influenced by the family. Tendencies in him that are in conflict with family traditions will be suppressed and the ones in favor of family will be promoted.
If the collective karma of the family is good, it will provide the person with opportunities, create avenues of usefulness and bring him advantages in the struggle for life. However if the family karma is bad, the person born in it will suffer and will get hindrance in different aspects of his life.
National karma in this way, refers to the collective karma of a nation. Dealing with national karma, comparatively the person is helpless, because there is very little he can do to free him from it and “he must trim his sails to it as best he may. Even a Master can but slightly modify national karma, or change the national atmosphere.” Annie Besant
In fact the fall and rise of nations are due to collective karma. Acts of national righteousness or national criminality basically bring about national ascent or descent. The national disasters such as earthquakes, famine, drought, volcanoes and floods are the results of negative national karma being worked out.
Similar to family, a greater degree happens with nation and the atmosphere created by the nation’s past, such as national traditions, customs and viewpoints, affects the minds of people dwelling in that. Few individuals can basically free themselves fully from these influences and think of affecting a nation without bias and see the nation from an objective viewpoint, different from their own people. Many wars have happened in history just because of differences in opinions and thinking patterns of nations. What the knower of karma needs to do here is to understand that his ideas are largely affected by his nation and to check this bias as much as he can. When being born in a nation with a difficult situation, the knower of karma should calmly study the causes, which have led to the current situation and try to set to work forces to remedy them, endeavoring to influence public opinion along the lines that will remove the previous causes. Although this might seem difficult and slow, it is the best thing that a person can do to help his people and nation.
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