Almost everybody has, at least once in his life, experienced a fatal blow. It came out of nowhere and it was cruel. You had the feeling that life was unjust, that you did not deserve it, and you had great difficulty dealing with it. The bandaid which was supposed to heal the wound was the comforting thought that it was fate, that there was nothing you could have done. It was no one's fault, because it was so willed from above - from a higher power.
Karma, this generally known expression, is explained in a similar way, with just a slight difference. In it the originator of the fatal blow is not a higher power, or God, but man himself. In one of his previous lives the actions of the person in question have caused the event, the consequences of which he is experiencing later, when he has forgotten about it. That means that karma is connected with reincarnation.
This explanation of karma makes clear that the Buddhists, from whom this expression was adopted, knew the Law of Reciprocal Action very well. For them fatal blows are not reasons for desperation and hopelessness, as they are in the Christian society. If a man believes solely in fate he feels injustice if he receives a blow. As he does not understand the reason behind it, he feels deceived by life. According to karma the expiation of guilt in the life during which it originated is easier, because one knows why he is being punished. Covering up a wrongdoing and avoiding making amends for it brings "unjust" and surprising blows in future lives.
Not all guilt stems from evil intentions or deeds. Man also atones for harm caused unintentionally - by ignorance or negligence. For example a woman who does not know how to properly nourish her family, can cause illness to herself and the whole family. The consequences of this can be felt in several lives through her own health problems or a deadly disease. Her task is to understand the reason for these problems or the disease and then she will no longer repeat these mistakes.
Sometimes karmic guilt can be caused by condemning someone for a deed, the reasons for which are not known fully. This is done quite regularly in politics and with influential personalities. We accept an opinion of someone else, although we do not know the facts. The condemnation harms the person's reputation and burdens us with guilt. This needs to be remedied perhaps through experiencing a situation similar to the one experienced by the person harmed or we may be also gossiped about, apparently without just cause. It is very difficult to know all the reasons for karma, as these reasons are numerous and manifold.
Expiation of karma can proceed in many forms:
1. The famous expression from the Old Testament "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" explains that man will feel the same effects of the consequences of his past mistakes on himself. A murderer will be killed in his next life, a thief will be robbed, an intemperate person will become sick, etc.
Relatives and friends of the victims of violence or injustice should not try to retaliate, because they will burden themselves with similar karma. The laws will proceed - in the right time, and in the proper way. Nothing can be hidden from them or remain unpunished. Punishment at a later date is more severe. Sometimes that is the reason for the delay.
2. Symbolic atonement. If a person improves before the reciprocal action of karma reaches him, the karma will manifest itself only in a symbolic or moderate form.
A certain man overindulged in food, drink and also smoked a lot in his previous life. This is a little excessive for one person, but let's just take it as an example. Through an improper lifestyle and negative inclinations he consciously harmed his health, which tolerated these excesses without injury. In his present life however, because of his previous mistakes, he was supposed to become terminally ill. If, during his illness, he becomes conscious of his bad habits and starts to seriously seek and practically apply ways to attain good health, he can cure his disease through his effort and abstinence.
3. Pure and deep love towards a person, even if it is not reciprocated, ennobles and improves a person so that he forgets his own ego and becomes unselfishly giving and good. This gets rid of many mistakes caused by egotism and indifference in the past. If, however, one only has eyes for one's beloved, and is indifferent to all other pain and sorrow in the world, he does not feel true love, but only greater egotism.
4. Effort to do good. If everything one does is done with a pure intent, in accordance with Eternal Laws, the threads of negative karma are weakened and new, pure karma begins to form.
If a person endures unfavourable karma with resistance and a lack of understanding and there is no betterment and improvement, he does not get rid of his karma, but it continues "punishing" him until there is change. The reciprocal action therefore does not always include the expiation of karma.
People like to generalize and throw all negative manifestations and events into one bag, without thinking. For them everything is karma, as if there was no free will that causes new karma to emerge. If everything was subordinated to karma, and man did not have his own free will for new deeds, there would be no development. Many innocent people, frequently even better than the majority, were victims of the free will of others. There are many examples from history - witch hunts and torture in the Dark Ages, persecution and killing of prophets, concentration camps, etc. Free will gives man the possibility to either ease the expiation of guilt or, on the contrary, to further enmesh himself into "heavy" fate through new karma.
If man takes all evil and injustice passively as his karma, and does not fight for his rights, he multiplies the evil of the perpetrator, as the lack of opposition enables him to do even more harm.
How do we know what is karma and what is not? Theoretically it is very easy, but practically it is difficult. One has to be very honest and open with oneself. If we seriously think about how we suffer in our life and when we realize that, even unintentionally, we treat others in a similar way, we will come to the conclusion that we are being punished by karma and not by the free will of others. That is the only way to learn how to discern between deserved and undeserved evil. No one but the person himself has to understand and help himself.
Accelerated karma. Some people embarking upon a road of improvement suddenly feel much greater evil affecting them than ever before. This is a case of accelerated purification, which is expressed by an increased occurrence of negative influences and events. This fact often dissuades people from their good intention to continue in the positive development. They do not know that if they changed, instead of having to atone till the end of their life, they would only suffer for a few years or for an even shorter period.
The expression karma is also used in the positive sense. We talk about good karma, if somebody is successful, wealthy, wins big or gets an inheritance without using obscure means or trying too hard. Envy is not appropriate in this case as it is the multiplied yield of his or her past deeds. Envy is a treacherous weapon for the one who uses it. In its reciprocal action it will strike back at the originator, in the form of a disease or a loss.
Karma may also mean a task, a mission, with which a person is born, to bring new knowledge and help to mankind. It is determined prior to incarnation. This is the case of great scientists, mainly in the health field, artists, prophets, etc.
It is not important to know whether an event is karmic or new. We should not investigate our past lives. If we could remember them, many people would not be able to forgive their own relatives the evil that they caused them in previous lives, and so would inadvertently prevent them from expiation. A person who would be able to remember his past lives would live in his present one only as a non-participating observer when expiating his guilt or absorbing goodness. He would not experience events fully in their emotional depths and heights and his soul would not develop. It would return to the Astral with the same level of maturity as when it left. It is supposed to improve in every life through experiencing it.
If it was useful or necessary for man he would remember his past lives. Only powerful emotional experiences from past lives influence and improve a person and his or her attitudes. For example a person who experienced war as a victim no longer remembers his suffering, but in his subconscious he knows that war is terrible and he does not wish for it to happen.
If man knew ahead of time everything that awaits him in life, he would not make an effort to decide independently and could not cultivate his free will. A person who is aided by the knowledge of his future or past lives will know about them, even if he would rather not. A person for whom this knowledge would be a hindrance will not receive the knowledge, even though he would like to.
Every human being has his own individual karma, of which someone else cannot and should not have knowledge.
In difficult events in life people frequently lament and complain: "How could God let this happen!?" Because we are already acquainted with the Law of Reciprocal Action, we know that we are being punished by the reciprocal consequences of our own deeds, i.e., karma, and not the wrath of God.
A person who, through his position in society, created conflicts and wars, but was himself spared of their effects, has to suffer the consequences once suitable conditions are created, in several lives, and in a multitude of ways.
Not all war victims have karmic guilt. Sometimes also very pure individuals are affected. They voluntarily decided to suffer together with the people close to them, that's why they reincarnated with them.
War may also have to be experienced by people who outwardly do not harm anyone but in their thoughts are violent and hateful. They do not want to express their thinking publicly, so as not to ruin their good reputation. If they fully experience these negative emotions in war they will get rid of them, as they will recognize their consequences. From what we have just said it follows that wars are actually "planned", as they can be foreseen from reciprocal actions.
In countries where famine occurs people bear the consequences of heavy guilt towards their close relatives. Either they did not give them their deserved reward for work done, which brought them to near starvation, or it could have also been a case of employees stealing from their employer, although he treated them well. This karma is likewise borne by lazy people who took payment for work but did not perform accordingly, thereby consciously disrupting the Law of Equilibrium. It is also suffered by mentally immature people, who did not use their own free will to support themselves in life, but instead abused the goodness of others.
Mass and individual accidents are the reciprocal actions of negligence, irresponsibility, but also of hate and the greed of individuals and groups. For example, former pirates who have killed whole ship-crews, can find themselves on the other side of the coin in several of their lives - become victims of mass traffic accidents.
Natural disasters have two causes: either they are the natural consequence of the disintegration of matter or they are a "punishment" - reciprocal action, for the moral and economic decay of the society. We can use the examples of the cities of Pompeii and Sodom and Gomorrah. Those to be saved were forewarned to escape from the place to be destroyed. Although the disaster proceeded along the lines of natural laws, i.e., in the form of earthquakes, floods or volcanic eruptions, the timing was planned from "above".
A clearer example of karmic "retribution" is the old city of Nineveh, where a state of general moral decay prevailed. After being warned by the prophet Jonas, the Assyrians started to atone and made an effort to change their lives, even through their deeds. Owing to the Law of Reciprocal Action the fast and honest change saved the city from destruction.
Subsequent generations again gave in to previous mistakes and so the enormous city, which seemed unassailable and indestructible, was levelled to the ground from "above".