Karma 101 Charles Johnston

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54 pages


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Karma 101  by  Charles Johnston

Karma 101 by Charles Johnston
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THE THREE KINDS OF KARMA.The truth, so often obscured in later times, in various ways, that the getting rid of evil and the acquisition of good can be gained only by personal effort- that there is not, and cannot be, any contrivance through whichMoreTHE THREE KINDS OF KARMA.The truth, so often obscured in later times, in various ways, that the getting rid of evil and the acquisition of good can be gained only by personal effort- that there is not, and cannot be, any contrivance through which either individual or common good can be attained, save ones own personal effort.—Count Leo Tolstoi, on Karma.WHEN the word Karma is used by writers on Indian philosophy and religion it is generally supposed that only one quite definite thought is implied, and that this has been uniform and clear throughout the whole period of Indias development—from the dim Vedic times, thousands of years ago, to the present day.

But the truth is that this term has a lengthy and varied history, and its latest meaning is the fruit f of a long development, which may be divided into three clearly distinguished periods. When the word first became prominent—at the close of the Vedic epoch, about five thousand years ago—it had a quite definite and rigid meaning: a signification, however, which bears hardly any relation to the idea it was later used to convey.

Its earliest meaning was the ritual law —the complete - ceremonial which grew out of the Vedic religion, a great artificial system of life which laid hold of every man born under it (even before he saw the light of day) and did not relax, in the belief of its followers, even when the flames of the funeral fires- had died out and nothing was left of the visible man but a a handful of ashes to be scattered on the waters of the sacred v rivers.

At present we need not concern ourselves with the details of this ritual law- it is enough that, growing up as precedent and tradition out of the superstitions not less than the true and healthy instincts of Vedic times, it wove itself into a vast, all-embracing system, touching and regulating every act of life, determining for each man beforehand what might and what might not lawfully be done, and becoming for each man an absolute predestination which made any spontaneity of life and will almost impossible.

Even if, weary of this formal life and worship, a man elected to have done with it all—to give up every ambition and hope and become an aimless wanderer or hide himself in the forest far from the homes of men—the way of his renunciation was by injunction already defined for him, the year in which it should be made, and even the thoughts with which his mind should be busied after his renunciation was complete.This ritual law, as already stated, was called Karma- the life of obedience to it was the way of Karma, and the books which contained its ordinances were the sections of Karma.

Believing in its divine origin and inspiration, its followers held that it embraced all the possibilities of human life- that every development of life was already foreseen and provided for- that righteousness consisted solely in this—to find out what the traditional law enjoined, and to follow it with perfect obedience.

The ritual law being regarded as an expression of the whole of life, the way of Karma came to mean right action through the whole of life—a right direction and application of all the forces of life.



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