Chaos, Complexity, and the Karmic Law
I left off the last post with a few brief comments about the karmic law, and how the law is working itself out today in contemporary events. I also mentioned that insight into, and knowledge of, the karmic law of action and reaction (which knowledge is called “dharma“) was the essential task for human beings, if not the very meaning of “existence” itself. In fact, it is the very meaning of “the spiritual life”, if we want to put it that way.
Here, I want to expand on that further — that the very purpose of your life and your task, individually and collectively, is to gain such insight, knowledge, and ultimately mastery of the law, and this is what is properly called “transcendence” and also therewith, “freedom”.
Samsaric existence is such because of the karmic law of action and reaction. Samsaric existence means to live in a world of Time and Death, a world of “impermanence” which, in Buddhism, is called the condition of “dukkha“, which we may translate generally as “malaise”. In those terms, karmic existence is samsaric existence, for basically the laws of karma are the laws of time. And in broader terms, the laws of karma, as the laws of action and reaction in and of time, pertain to the laws of dynamics and of thermodynamics, too.
Karma and time are pretty much synonymous, and the saying “sow the wind, reap the whirlwind” or “you reap what you sow” are connected to the karmic law, as is the Hercalitean principle of “character is fate” (ethos anthropoi daimon). What we call “fate” is the working out of the karmic law. What we call “sin” pertains to the karmic law; what we call “hybris” and “Nemesis” pertains to the workings of the karmic law; what we call “transgression” also, for it is the same as “hybris”; what we call “divine justice” (or even “retribution”) has to do with the karmic law. But it has nothing to do with the arbitrary whims of a god, who supposedly distributes rewards and punishments according to a metaphysical and mysterious moral code. It is an impersonal law that governs all things equally, accordingly, “the rules of the game”.
The reason why we remain ignorant of the karmic law and its workings has to do with dualism. We have separated “mind” and “body”, “spirit” and “matter”, “society” and “nature”, and so on, and hold that mind and body are subject to different laws or formulae, which is a false logic. It is actually a duplicitous logic, and a self-contradictory logic which itself has quite pernicious consequences in terms of the karmic law. There is only one law that governs all forms of energy, for all energy is one energy. Knowledge of that one energy and its governing laws and workings is what is called “the spiritual” or “wisdom”. “Spiritual” and “consciousness” (or “knowledge”) are the same thing. There is not a “substance” called “the spiritual”. The “spiritual” is the insight into the karmic law itself.
Because karma and time are pretty much synonymous, insight into the karmic law is also insight into time. With insight comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes power, and with power comes liberation or emancipation. Because insight into the karmic law is possible for human beings, by virtue of their consciousness, mastery of the karmic law is possible, and because mastery of the karmic law is possible, liberation from time and death, or samsaric existence, is also possible. This is what we call “enlightenment”, and is the true issue of “freedom”.
In that sense, “time-freedom” as Gebser calls it, or “the end of history” as Mr. Fukuyama called it, is indeed possible. Only, not in the way Mr. Fukuyama represented it and understood it, because Mr. Fukuyama did not understand the karmic law, the laws of action and reaction. The importance of self-knowledge is for no other purpose than for escaping the snares of the karmic law, — the zigzag path or pendulum of history — which is why “know thyself” was such an important principle for the ancient Greeks, who believed that without such self-knowledge they were fated to commit hybris and, consequently, suffer Nemesis perpetually. The blind working out of the karmic law is what is called, and experienced as, “fate”.
The karmic law is the “net of the Fisherman”. It is also “Indra’s Net”. Everything is connected to everything else, and as such co-dependent, co-arising, and interdependent, in and through the karmic law. The karmic law constitutes the fundamental working rules of all physical existence — its very principle of “order” or “kosmos”.
The legend of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, which I’m sure you all know (or of Aladdin and his lamp), is a parable about having command of the karmic law, but without true mastery of the laws, which can only come from insight. Consequently, both Aladdin and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice both unleash chaos. This is our situation. We have command of powers but no true mastery of them, for we have no understanding of the karmic law. This, however, is now being forced upon us.
The karmic law cannot be transcended or mastered by the mental-rational consciousness alone, for it is itself implicated or “entangled” in the karmic net and doesn’t perceive it. This is the problem of the “point-of-view” or perspectivist consciousness structure. The “leap” that is presently perceived as a new possibility for human consciousness is the perception of the net itself, which is the implicit possibility of developments in Chaos Theory and Complexity Theory. Perception of the net of karma, though, is not necessarily insight into it. All time and space, all that is finite in terms of beginnings and endings, is bound in the net or matrix. But perception is one thing, insight another. Perception of the net is called “cosmic consciousness”, but insight is called “emancipation” or “transcendence”.
“You create the reality you know”, as Seth insistently puts it, is about the karmic law, and is the issue of what is called “intent” or “intentionality”. This is different from “will”, which is egoic interpretation of intentionality. The dissonance between what we call “will” and what we call “intent” is the issue of self-contradiction, and arises from dualism and from the failure to understand the meaning of the karmic law. Self-contradiction internally works its way out as being self-negation externally. Consequently, will and intent often work at cross purposes and represent the “divided self”. This is the reason why “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, and why we are beset today by aberrations like “unintended consequence”, “perverse outcome”, “revenge effect”, “blowback”, or various other forms of ironic reversal. This pertains to the workings of the karmic law.
As time becomes more central to human consciousness, so too will the karmic law become more evident in its workings, and therewith the potentiality for true “freedom”. But as it stands presently, the human consciousness is ensnared and entangled in the web of consequences of its own making, according to the laws of karma, and which it experiences as a “fate”.