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Are We Refusing Helping Others, cuz it's Their Karma?

Updated: Aug 28, 2022


A few years ago, a friend and I were discussing the good luck and bad luck some people have. She said that if people had "bad karma" she felt it was somehow "their fault" and they had to deal with it. Using new age ideas, this somehow let her off the hook entirely from the situation. Frankly, it sounded heartless.

Rudolf Steiner states, " The teaching of karma signifies for life in the world that which the ledger signifies for the merchant. According to the law of karma we must assume that the effect of what I have done in a former life approaches me in the present life, and that what I now do will come forth again in a later life. Thus we have a complete life-balance: on the one side the good deeds are entered, on the other side the bad ones.

Now if someone believes that under the dominion of the law of karma he cannot perform any voluntary acts, as his mode of acting is always the result of his former deeds, he is like a merchant who would say: “I have just balanced my books, I cannot do any more business, for this would make my balance sheet incorrect.” For a merchant this would be a wrong way of thinking, and the opinion we have described above in respect of the result of karma is equally incorrect.

When rightly understood, the teaching of karma is not fatalistic; freedom of will and karma can be united with one another in the most beautiful manner. When rightly understood, karma is never something that is unchangeable. And if a man refused to help another in misfortune, saying that he must not interfere with his karma, he would be acting just as wrongly as a merchant who refuses a loan, or a gift of a sum of money, when this can save him from bankruptcy.

Just as a merchant enters a loan like this as a debt which he has to pay later, while the lender writes it down in his books as a loan so will the one who does a good deed write it as an entry to his credit, while he to whom it is done will write it down as a debt. Thus the rendering of help is not excluded by the law of karma, and it seems quite in order to lighten the karma, of one's neighbor by deeds of mutual help. A man can by his good deeds show kindness to one of his fellow-men; but there are also deeds which can benefit a large number of people, that is to say, it can lighten their karma and can thus be inscribed in the life-account of many."

We've all heard the term, "You Create Your Reality" meaning that if you are thin, rich and good looking, then Brava! you have created the life almost everyone is striving for! Multi-billions of dollars are marketed to help sufferer's who are not "thin" or "rich" or "good looking" thousands of products to help you get there. On the flip side, if your current reality is struggle, fear based, challenging, you might be dealing with financial debt, ill health and your children are running amuck. In fact, you are not the FaceBook Happy Selfie or You and Happy Spouse... then there is the unsaid thing, "Well, You are creating your own reality. I guess that is how You want to live." or "You must deserve this." And going further into selfishness,"I am not going to mess with their karma, it's theirs to fix!"


Again Rudolf Steiner addresses this issue, "Now someone might come along and say: It is quite right that things should have gone wrong with that person, for this is the retribution for what he did during his past incarnation. It is very reasonable that things should have taken this course, because his Karma demands it. People who say this do not understand Karma, for to understand Karma we must know that another person's Karma does not concern us at all! The fulfillment of Karma will come of its own accord; our only task is to help him! We must, however, draw in everything which might bring about a favorable change in his Karma. To know and to feel this forms part of a deep understanding of Karma and its laws. ..." (Morality and Karma

Karma is a real law; its result will appear in a very peculiar way. If we lovingly penetrate into the weaknesses of such people, our influence upon them will be an immense relief to them and bring them freedom and health. If we can immerse ourselves completely in them, we shall have a rejuvenating influence upon such people.

Our attitude towards people may be an understanding one or a critical one. What is the effect? We may help them or be unable to help them. We may come towards a person with understanding; i.e., immerse ourselves lovingly in his soul, with a real understanding for his weaknesses, if Karma demands this from us, as a task. But we may also criticize him and remain bound by this.

Let us observe life in both cases. What is the effect of criticism and rebuke upon the object of such rebuke? One effect can be that the reproaches helped him, but it may also be otherwise. People who habitually criticize and rebuke others will also bring about a certain result: a certain feeling of isolation will take hold of them; they will feel themselves cut off from the others.

Let us compare this with the effects produced in one incarnation, when we immerse ourselves with love and understanding in the other person's soul, in spite of his failings. In this case, too, the result may be a good one or a bad one, but the effect upon the soul will undoubtedly be a favorable one.

This shows us that entirely different laws hold sway when we remain standing, as it were, by criticism and rebuke, or when we progress as far as real understanding. Rebuke recoils upon ourselves and forms new Karma, but understanding gives rise to a store of wealth in the other soul; it dissolves Karma, smooths it and eliminates it.

This is a very significant fact in life. Let us now recapitulate the result of our observations in a sentence which constitutes a deep truth; namely, that we are in the position to be of very little help to ourselves, and that we can, on the other hand, harm ourselves greatly. We can, however, be of great help to others, whereas we cannot cause them much harm by our own errors.

Our good qualities can therefore be of great help to others; our bad qualities cause us great harm, but cannot cause much harm to others, at least not permanently.

This is a very peculiar law. It shows the effect of Karma in one and the same incarnation: for one who helps another person by his good qualities and by immersing himself lovingly in his soul, may be sure of a favourable effect in his own life at some later period. Do not say that this is egoism, that it is selfish to be good and noble. No, goodness must be something quite natural, and its good effect at some later time arises as a natural consequence.

If we do not go beyond our own interests, if we have no understanding for other people and only criticize them, no good effects will arise. The strange thing is that unless we are good towards others we cannot progress; this is a condition for our own progress." RS (as above)

I find these images of installation and performance art pieces by Nick Cave to be pictures or imaginations of consciousness. Each seems to house it's own karmic systems, intricate, complex, multi-leveled interconnecting karma. I find in studying them a feeling of satisfaction of what I think we all are carrying around with us, inside of us. What do we look like stripped of our human body? When we cross the threshold of earthly consciousness, we drop the sack of the physical and we emerge over the threshold either in dreamless sleep consciously or after death. I think meeting our double would be a severe wake-up call. Perhaps no matter how beautiful we are on the outside, inside we are a raving toothless hag?

Now it's very difficult to forgive betrayals. Each time we experience a betrayal, we may have a knife in our backs, but if we do not forgive the Other, we are dragging stones around behind us. And the knife? It stays put. So to forgive, for some may be easier than for others. I am not discussing the rapid, "OH! I have forgiven them/him, her, the Thing." Because just scratch a little around that scab and quickly there will arise THE STORY of what THEY/HIM/HER/THE THING, did. That is not forgiveness, that is stuffing and denial, the make-nice-I-must-look-appropriate face.

Looking up Forgiveness in my thesaurus;

1 she would not forgive him: pardon, excuse, exonerate, absolve; make allowances for, feel no resentment toward, feel no malice toward, harbor no grudge against, bury the hatchet with; let bygones be bygones; informal let off (the hook); formal exculpate.

ANTONYMS blame, resent.

2 you must forgive his rude conduct: excuse, overlook, disregard, ignore, pass over, make allowances for, allow; turn a blind eye to, turn a deaf ear to, wink at, indulge, tolerate. ANTONYMS punish.

So how to work or live in the becoming of forgiveness? Well, I like to gather books of others who have undergone suffering and came out the other side.

1. The Book of Forgiving; the fourfold path for healing ourselves and the world. Desmond Tutu.

2. The Occult Significance of Forgiveness. Sergei Prokofief

3. The Wisdom of Forgiveness. Dali Lama

4. The Art of Forgiveness, Loving Kindness and Peace. Jack Kornfield

Artist: Nick Cave

Desmond Tutu asks us to carry around a goodly weight stone for a week or more. This gives us a reality check, on the heavy weight of the Un-Forgiven Things. Making art, getting a good therapist or co-counselor, meditation, all these are ways and means of coming to grips with and transforming or metamorphis the pain and suffering, to lift it to another level. But Steiner recommends "Understanding the Other, regardless of their Faults." Now, this does NOT mean staying in situations of power-over, narcisstic, authoritarian groups or relationships. We, like Mary Oliver know when to walk to save our own lives.

So forgiving others, will lead, to forgiving ourselves. And that means a long hard scary look inside. Barbara Brown Taylor states:

“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on. At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light."

If we can see ourselves Truly.... Faults and Goodness... Criticalness and Fairness... Envy and Kindness actually a practice of the Virtues has long been the turned down pages of many a Forgiver-in-Training.

The Seven Virtues

(Also called the Seven Contrary Virtues or Seven Heavenly Virtues)

The concept of the seven capital virtues has been an aspect of Catholic Faith for several centuries, having gained recognition and popularity in the middle ages. This list of seven virtues is a set of virtues which are to counter the temptation to succumb to the seven capital sins. For this reason, they are sometimes also called the seven contrary virtues; they represent the opposite of the seven sins.

The list of seven capital virtues stems from the subject matter of an epic poem written by an early Christian poet, Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, at the end of the 4th century. The poem, Psychomachia (meaning Battle of Souls), is an allegory which describes seven virtues defeating seven vices.

The seven contrary or capital virtues are as follows:

Humility – Humility is the virtue that counters pride. As pride leads to other sin, true humility clears a path for holiness. Pride is a sin based on undue and inappropriate appreciation of one’s self worth. Conversely, the virtue of humility is about modest behavior, selflessness and the giving of respect.

Liberality – Liberality, or generosity, is the virtue that is counter to greed – the sin of immoderate desire for earthly things. The virtue of liberality is focused not merely on the appropriate concern regarding one’s earthly things, but furthermore on generosity and a willingness to give, freely and without request for commendation.

Self-Restraint or the dated term Chastity – Chastity is the counter-virtue to the sin of lust. Chastity embraces moral wholesomeness and purity, and in both thought and action treats God’s gift of sexuality with due reverence and respect.

Gentleness- Meekness – Meekness, or patience, is the virtue that counters the sin of unjust anger, also called wrath or rage. Where the sin of wrath is about quick temper and unnecessary vengeance, the virtue of meekness focuses on patiently seeking appropriate resolution to conflicts, and on the ability to forgive and show mercy.

Temperance – The virtue of temperance or abstinence counters the sin of gluttony. To be gluttonous is to over-indulge. On the opposite hand, the virtue of temperance is centered on self-control and moderation.

Kindness – Kindness, or brotherly love or love for one’s neighbor, is the virtue which counters the sin of envy. Envy, in contradiction to God’s law of love, is manifest in a person’s sorrow and distress over the good fortune of another person. Conversely, kindness and brotherly love is manifest in the unprejudiced, compassionate and charitable concern for others.

Perseverence-Diligence – Diligence, or persistence, is the virtue which acts as a counter to the sin of sloth. Sloth, as a capital sin, refers to laziness in matters of Faith. Diligence in matters of the spiritual combat laziness and this virtue is manifest in appropriately zealous attitudes toward living and sharing the Faith.

When I discovered the Virtues during my M.A. at JFK University while working with my Sophia installation, they were truly an answer to my prayers. See Deities, Dialogues & Dreams; Extraordinary Conversations with Ordinary People 2002.

Forgiveness, I have found is a journey, a practice, a patience, an expedition, a parabolic conversation, unlocking the rubix cube of my consciousness and trying to live into the consciousness of others. When I was at the two-week course at Esalan with Michael Harner Shamanic Training 1995, all hell broke loose because I had the audacity (At ESALEN!???) to tell a man that we we in an all-woman hot tub and he could go over to the next one where the guys were. Well. (Me? I sensed a predator and eventually that was what was discovered from this man) I was protecting myself and the other women in the hot-tub. But there is this new word that is meaningless, "Political Correctness" and Shit if I may say so, Hit the Fan. The guy came in the next day with his 6' staff with a crystal on top and brought the entire workshop down because he demanded it. Michael Harner, was put off the teaching we all came for to assuage one man's hurt pride. My room-mate a professor of anthropology in Tulane, said, "For Heaven's Sake Michael, What are some of the Forgiveness ceremonies you've witnessed?"

This led to a very simple ceremony. One person stood in the center of the circle. Anyone of the 75+ participants stood in a spiral around the person in the center. Everyone had their rattle. Whoever had something to say to the person in center came up and stood facing each other. They would say (briefly) something and then complete the conversation with "I forgive you. Will you forgive me?" - rattling going on- then the person in the center would reply, "I forgive you. Will you forgive me?" Now there I had to listen to what the man who was upset with me had to say, but there were other men there waiting to speak to me in that spiral. Oh! My heart sank. I didn't even know them! How could they have an issue with me? But when they came up, each lovely man said something like, "You have every right to sit in a hot-tub with women only." and "You have the right to ask for what you want." and from some women "You are a very brave woman. I could never do what you did." So that is a picture of traditional peoples Forgiveness Ceremony, people who had to live together, as they were groups and tribal.

Artist: Nick Cave

We are all in the soup together, you and I, and Them That Did THAT! We all make mistakes, use other people to get what we want, are unfair to some, curry favor with others, do the one-up-man-ship thing, we step on those weaker, YOUR IN and YOUR OUT!, and most of us want to be in the IN Club. Hopefully, after trial and error, like children in school, we learn that we must take care of ourselves. We must learn to protect our tender hearts, but not by refraining from love. We all get hurt. Some become porcupines, other's badgers, some hide away and are rarely seen, and others continue to open the sore tender heart once more to new possibilities. Oh Friends of God, let me be in the latter group; Loving and opening, and understanding for you and me brother and sister.

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