What is Karma?


Background music � �Yesterday�, Lennon, McCartney


Jens Roland Prochnow


Who was I? The Empress Sissi? Napoleon? Or better still Tchaikovsky? Not Goethe, that would be going too far, but maybe Winckelmann? And who before that? A pharaoh, mystery priest or even a martyr? One daydreams half an afternoon away and considers himself extremely important. I am actively involved in a historical world mission, so to speak.


Therewith I avoid one question however. No wonder, for it points to less glamorous results: Who am I? An undetermined being who somehow wangles his way through the world�s necessities, or the sensations which often press despairingly against these necessities. Am I as other people see me? Or is there something else waiting to be discovered � by me as well as by those in my surroundings?


Give me just one proof of karma!� an acquaintance once demanded, quite excitedly. I was speechless at first, until I realized how deeply rooted is the inclination to ask false questions in order to avoid breaking out of old habits of thought. What kind of proof could be given? A dove fluttering down from heaven? A weeping statue of the Virgin Mary?


Facts of the inner life can only be experienced within the inner life and thus proved. Only when I have lived a certain time with the idea of karma can I arrive at experiences and decide if this impulse is viable. A fact, which I have recognized as true in my inner self, is not arbitrary or �dreamed up�, but just as proven as are other things � although this proof is an individual step in life which no other than myself can take.


Karma means justice, although I live in a world that is not always just. Instead of exhausting myself over the contrast between I and world, I concentrate on the interplay of cause and effect. Is the injustice I experience, the pain I feel, an effect of a past cause? Or the cause of a future effect? Or even � both together? The more intensively I involve myself in this interplay � in calm thoughts or in direct everyday experience � the wider the limits of my self becomes. And If I penetrate so far as to find the effects and causes within my own being, I become Lord of Karma.


Karma doesn�t mean an inflexible mechanism in the works of which my destiny proceeds. The old needs to be lived through, and new karma created. I stand in the world between both, old and new. And the world in me.


Who am I? Who was I yesterday? Who will I be tomorrow?These questions receive a new quality with each level of my perception of cause and effect � karma. �Every soul is born of soul.� From where do I obtain the soul substance from which I am born � or I create myself? From my environment, which is just as soul penetrated as I myself am. And from the being that I once was and one day will be. The images of karma which I form change with the evolution of my own being. They are never static and cannot be objects of faith � only facts of experience.


The ways of karma are sometimes inscrutable: it is a very common convenience to attribute every human failing to �karma�. But karma is not an excuse. The purpose of karma isn�t to explain away actions, but to explain, fathom them. If I can�t understand this fine distinction, I will lose myself in illusions.


Occasionally, though, illusions can be very useful, a necessary helping process which embraces me and gently and cautiously leads me to the reality of the idea.


For who doesn�t like to dream? On the Internet there is a �Karma-Oracle� that can relieve one of difficult decisions and research: To the spectacular question �Who was I in my previous life?� I get the answer: �Astronomer somewhere in the region of today�s Iran around 850�, including a personality profile of me then. Someone very well read in Rudolf Steiner�s works immediately cried: �Harun al Raschid!� Okay, Harun al Raschid then�I can think about who I am now tomorrow.


Why live in today when there is always a yesterday?


This article originally appeared, in German, in Info3. Translation: FTS�����


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