A Key to Karma
Articles By Martha Burleigh
The Tragedies that befall us, the pain and suffering we endure are a mystery to us. Why do these things happen to us? Why? That is our eternal question, and well it should be, because by asking why, we will someday find the answers.
Those of us who know about Karma know that there is a law of cause and effect. We are told, and we accept the fact that our tragedies, great and small, are the effects of causes set in motion at some earlier time, either in this life or a former life. But our interpretation of Karma varies greatly.
There are those of us who look on Karma as a burden, with which we were saddled at birth, a burden to which we must be resigned. Some believe that we must pay through our suffering for the sins of our past lives; that Karma is a punishment for some act we don't remember, an act that was done by another personality, which in some way is connected with us. Interpreted or understood in this way, the principles of Reincarnation and Karma would be a doctrine of defeatism. Such a concept of Karma would lead us to a negative attitude. We could say, "These things are my fault though I don't know why. I am no good." We could wallow in self-pity. Or we could say, "There are no accidents. This is my Karma and I must go through it." We could become martyrs. We could say these things, and we could believe these things there are many who do. But Reincarnation and Karma are not a doctrine of defeatism. Karma is not punishment. It is a part of the Plan of God for man, and God's Plan for man is good.
God gave us free will in order that we may have experience and learn from it, in order that we may know, in order that we may have wisdom. We reincarnate many times in order that we may have all experience, not limited experiences of a single lifetime. The law of Karma or Cause and Effect provides us with experience. It is the means by which we grow, by which we learn to Know, by which we attain to Wisdom.
When we have pain in the body we start to look for the source of pain. We recognize pain as a warning signal, as a help and a guide that leads us to the source of the trouble, in order that we may correct it. So it is with the karmic patterns, they are warning signals; of trouble brewing, of imperfections in our being, of lessons we need to learn. They are not punishments for misdeeds, inflicted on us wilfully. They are signals to Stop, Look, Listen, and Learn. A well-known singer said the best advice she ever received came from a friend who asked her if she could face her faults and learn from them. These karmic patterns are signals asking us to do just that. They are warnings that we are less than perfect, that we must seek to find and understand the source of trouble, and correct the area of imperfection.
For example - an accident befalls us: hidden in it is a lesson for us to learn. We find the lesson by asking "Why?" the soul searching question. If we seek sincerely and patiently we will find the cause, we will find the lesson to be learned, and we will be able to correct the fault. The accident will be seen in the true light; it is an opportunity for growth, it is a step on the Path.
Or again another person hurts us deeply. Do we blame and resent them? Or do we look for the reason in ourselves that caused them to do the thing which hurt us? By blaming them we shed responsibility we close the door on the revelation which this experience could hold for us. If we look for the answer in ourselves, we will find it revealed, and even more important, we will find another step that leads us upwards. The day will come when we can say truthfully, "I have learned so much from this experience, I'm glad that it occurred."
A striking illustration of this point is shown in the following story of a physician. He has made a contribution to medicine that has saved the lives of thousands of people. His whole life is dedicated to the service of humanity. Service is the golden thread from which the fabric of his life is woven, his recreation as well as his profession. Yet in later years this man had polio and was crippled by it. "Why?" It was his question, it was our question, and probably it is your question. Service to his fellow man was the keynote of his life; why should such a man be crippled by polio? This searching question brought out this: When he was in college, three men from his fraternity undertook his "initiation". They did such a thorough job of it that he was in the hospital for many months. When relatives sought to take action against the three, he forbade it. This was his own private war. After he had recovered from his wounds, he embarked on a systematic training program to develop his skill as a fighter. When he was ready he announced to the three men that henceforth they should avoid him at all cost or take the consequences. Over the next few years he beat them up thoroughly, any time he met them face to face. But he did not need to seek vengeance. There is a greater law than the laws of men: one of these men died in prison, one of them died of a horrible disease, the third was still alive but he had lived a miserable life. The doctor hated these men; he still hates them, with a mighty hatred. Perhaps they deserved no better, but the doctor did deserve better. His hatred for them was a poison that hurt himself. Hate is a negative energy that can cripple and destroy. In this case polio may have been the resentment. It will poison your blood stream and do more harm than your worst enemy can ever do you."
No matter how well earned we judge our hate to be, it is a luxury we cannot afford. It will destroy us if we do not curb it. The physician paid the Karmic price. By asking "Why?" we find the answer. Polio can be a millstone on the Path, when through it a man learns that Hate in not for him. If he does not learn then it is merely the beginning of a long line of obstacles on his way, which will grow rougher and rougher until he is forced to learn.
When we finally learn that all things truly happen for a purpose, and the purpose is good, we have grown, we have found the Path that leads us ever to Him from whom we came. In small events we have learned this, we can then travel rapidly. In small events we will recognize great lessons. From our own experience and from the experience of others, we learn. We need not force ourselves to the torture rack, we need not become so unbearably uncomfortable that we will cry out "Why?" in utter agony. We must ask this "Why?", sooner or later, not vindictively, or accusingly, but humbly, meekly, sincerely, and dynamically. "Why" is the magic word, the key to karma. By its careful use we can, one by one, unlock the gates which block our way to the Mountain top.
Keywords: A Key to Karma, cause and effect, path, Journey, Martha Burleigh, Intuition, Intuitive, Articles, UK, South Africa, Cape Town,