Mercy and the Law of Karma
A Private Letter on Universal Justice
Robert Crosbie (1849-1919)
An Editorial Note:
The following text - the first part of a
personal letter -, is reproduced from the book
“The Friendly Philosopher”, by Robert Crosbie
(Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, 1945 edition,
415 pp.). See pp. 30-32. We add two footnotes.
(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)
You have asked me for comment on the questions sent in by our English brother; particularly, as to “Karma being as merciless as the Bible-God”. But does he consider that Mercy is not opposed to Justice, and that the fullest justice is the same as the fullest mercy?
Some take the meaning of Mercy to be a permitted escape from the results of wrong-doing; but this would not be Justice, nor would it be merciful to those injured by the wrong-doing. He should remember the definition of Karma: an undeviating and unerring tendency in the Universe to restore equilibrium, which operates incessantly. Karma is inherent law and its operation must therefore be impersonal. Some might take this to be “merciless”, but that would only be because they desire escape from consequences that are unpleasant.
There are just two ways of looking at the question: either the Universe is governed by Law and under Law, or all is Chaos. Our experience in every department of Nature points to the fact that Law reigns everywhere; nothing is done of any kind or anywhere, except under Law. Our control of the elements, our use of the materials in Nature is possible only because the same thing can always be done when the same conditions are present. Having discovered some of the laws of electricity, for instance, we may direct that fluid or force, and use it for many different purposes.
Now as Law reigns in the material world, it can be seen to rule in the mental and moral world as well. Karma simply means “action” and its consequent “re-action”. There is no [individual] Karma unless there is a being to make it or feel its effects ; unpleasant effects predicate causes that send forth unpleasantness in the world, affecting others, and finding the restoration of equilibrium at the point of disturbance. There can be, then, but one consideration, and that is, Justice. Why should we desire anything but Justice to be done?
The Bible says, “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap”, and “Resist not evil and it will flee from you”. What is “evil” but the reaping of effects of wrong done? If we try to avoid the restoration of equilibrium, the evil will not flee from us, but come again. But if we accept all as just and right, then the “evil” flees. We should apply Karma not merely to what we call good and evil in physical life. The earth rolls on in its orbit, carried further and further by the Sun in his greater orbit; it grows old through the cycles; it changes its appearance, and comes under states of matter undreamed of by us. Such is the Karma of the earth. Soon or late, even while revolving in its orbit, our planet will slowly move its poles and carry the cold band of ice to where are now summer scenes - the Karma of the earth and its inhabitants. How, then, shall Karma be restricted in consideration to the details of one life, or judgment passed upon it from that basis? I should say that Karma is Mercy itself, for do I not know that nothing can prevent me nor any other from obtaining what is his by law, exact and unerring?
“It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter true
Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs;
Times are as naught, tomorrow it will judge,
Or after many days.
“Such is the Law that moves to righteousness,
Which none at last can turn aside or stay;
The heart of it is Love, the end of it
Is Peace and Consummation sweet. Obey!” 
He asks if we have changed our “Faith”. Theosophy is not a “Faith”, for “Faiths” may be changed; but, being knowledge which each can make his own, there is no question of change, or fear, or doubt. We know of all the claims of every description that are made by societies and individuals. How is any one to determine as to their respective values - if any? Just this way: if you are asked to accept anything on the statement of another and the means are not at the same time afforded you to see and know for yourself before acceptation, you will be safe to refuse, for you would in that case have surrendered your own judgment and taken that of another in blind faith.
 We added the word “individual” in square brackets. The whole universe is in eternal movement and its movement is regulated by the Law of Karma. There is nothing outside the Law. Karmic Law is omnipresent in Manvantaras and Pralayas alike, and it regulates them. However, the existence of individual karma depends on the existence of an individual being. (CCA)
 This is a quotation from “The Light of Asia”, by Edwin Arnold, Theosophy Co., see pp. 218-219. (CCA)
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.
000Mercy and the Law of Karma