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Karma is a Buddhist and Hindu teaching which means the outcomes on this present lifetime is coming from deeds of previous lifetimes. A subsequent belief with Karma is Reincarnation which means the cyclic re-existence of human beings from being born to dying and being born again to a different embodiment. It is the law of cause and effect when it comes to people’s thoughts, words, and actions.

“But lofty or base, intellectual or passional, serviceable or mischievous, divine or bestial, it is always in man a mental image, the product of the creative soul, and on its existence individual karma depends.” - Annie Besant

Annie Besant of the Theosophical Society wrote about the importance of thoughts when it comes to generating Karma. She wrote her book entitled “Karma”in the light of the teachings of her Master, K.H. who said that our thoughts are built by unseen forces called elementals (builders of form namely, fire, air, water, and earth) in the Akashic realm (a higher spiritual plane where are activities on earth are recorded) and in the psychic realms (Higher mental and lower mental planes) (1).

The principles of the Karmic law on the mental images is (1):

“Aspirations and Desires become Capacities,

Repeated Thoughts become Tendencies,

Wills to perform becomes Actions,

Experiences become Wisdom,

Painful Experiences become Conscience.”

So when a person dies, he comes back to this mental body where he left off from a previous lifetime. Hence, he actually reaps what he has sown and his tendencies before are carried over to the new embodiment.

When it comes to deeds, Besant gives an example of how a previous deed is reaped to the next life, but is not the same result at all times :

1. Three men whose action is to give happiness to other people, with different motives (one is purely benevolent, another is for social honors, and the other a mixture of selfless and selfish motives), will actually reap the same benefit of a comfortable or luxurious life.

2. If a man owes affection or attention to someone and neglects this need of the other. They will be reborn as parent and endeared child, but the endeared child will pass away too soon.

3. Congenital defects arise from serious rebellions form the Laws of God (Brahman) and from ill deeds done to others.

Now the author adds by saying that we are not bound in chains by our previous karma, we can actually start anew in each lifetime by a change of heart (feelings), mind (thoughts), and actions. For example if we have a momentum/ tendencies of evil thoughts we can change it to compassionate thoughts, if we have hatred then we can contradict it with love. The “Divine Teachers, who spoke as men having authority on the duty of overcoming evil with good”(1) actually teaches us that we have the power to direct the course of this and the next life. Besant goes on to add that there is also “pardon”or forgiveness that could be granted to us or by us hence eliminating a bad karma if you call it that way.

To be free from Karma means to eliminate the desire of reaping good, to free oneself from attachments, to do things out of duty to the Law of God (Brahman), and to perform service by helping all in a joyful manner. This is “inaction in action”, bound to nothing for the benefit of oneself, and the “joy of seeing other souls growing into their likeness, beginning to share with them the conscious life of God.” This is the self in place of the I, the Real God-conscious Self.


(1) Besant, A. (1986). Karma. India: The Theosophical Publishing House.

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