Karma is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning ‘action’. It is the Great Law of Nature keeping the universe in equilibrium. Scientific research shows that the world could not have existed on earth were conditions not exactly and precisely right. The Laws of Nature create and maintain this fine balance, allowing life as we know it to continue. The whole of the cosmos from black holes to microscopic life, is in a cycle of change and balance, maintained by the Laws of Nature.
Karma is the great cycle of cause and effect: "The Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being". It "adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause". (H. P. Blavatsky, the Secret Doctrine).
There are subtle realms in nature, planes of matter which are not ordinarily experienced in the material world - on the physical plane. Every action, thought and desire has, to a greater or lesser extent, a ripple effect on the equilibrium of the world - from the physical to the subtle realms of life. The conditions of the whole world are the collective result of our past and current actions, thoughts and feelings. In each lifetime, in every minute, we create our future destiny through the Karma we create for ourselves and carry from one life to the next.
It is this karmic action of cause and effect which life after life gives us the opportunity to learn from our past experiences, until we turn away from selfish actions and place ourselves in spiritual service for the world. What we do not learn in one lifetime will return in a future life, but we will never be faced with more than we can cope with or we would not be able to make progress. The laws of government or of natural justice, all seek to maintain a wise balance of correctness and mercy, in their small turn reflecting the Great Law of Karma.
By Karma we do not mean predestination, we choose our future destinies. We will meet old friends, sometimes in our families or the groups we join, and we will also meet those who present us with challenges or with opportunities to serve. Each time we incarnate and take on a new body and a new personality, characteristics from the past experiences of the Soul will influence how we are able to live our lives, dependent on the state of growth and maturity. These become the beads on the thread of life from one incarnation to another. However, the law of Karma is very complex and it is extremely difficult to know why we were born into any particular circumstances and conditions.
Only by understanding that reincarnation and karma exist, can we begin to know something of the soul’s journey and through spiritual self-development start to direct our future lives.
Below are some theosophical writings and articles which explore this further.