Immediately we start to think deeply over the Aphorisms on Karma (U. L. T. Pamphlet No. 21) we find ourselves in difficulties. Aphorism No. 1 says: "There is no Karma unless there is a being to make it or feel its effects." This we can understand, for, if action ceases, pralaya sets in. As Krishna points out in the Gita, "If I did not perform actions these creatures would perish" (Chapter III). Yet we are told in The Voice of the Silence that Shila is "the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action." And we are supposed to learn how to practise this key.
How can we act so as to counterbalance the cause and the effect? How can we remain unattached to the results of action? Since the actor is bound by his action and therefore must receive the effect of it, how can he act so as to leave no room for Karmic action? We are familiar with the Gita teaching that we must perform all actions for Krishna alone, but how does this enable us not to feel the effects?
Perhaps an analogy will help. We are familiar with the example of a stone thrown into a pond; the ripples reach the limits of the pond and then return to the centre of disturbance. That is analogous to self-centred action, action whose repercussion comes back to the performer of the act. But if we could imagine the pond to have no limits, no beginning or end, like space, then we would see that the disturbance caused by the action would affect the Whole, without limits; i.e., it would be universally diffused. Therefore actions performed in the name of Krishna, or the all-pervading SELF, would affect the Whole. The actor would not be the only one benefited, but all would be benefited.
There is still need to pause and ponder, for Aphorisms 13 and 27 are difficult to understand:
If effect follows cause without fail, and each man suffers the effects of his thoughts, feelings and deeds, how can any effect be mitigated, that is, be made easier to bear, be lessened in severity? To understand this difficulty we need to view the problem from two points of view—that of the person who performs the act and gets the reaction, and that of the larger area in which the effects are felt, that is, the environment in which they manifest.
We can see that since no man acts alone, the effects of his actions do not fall on him only. This is true not only of evil acts but also of good and ennobling ones. The Great Ones, we are told, shield erring humanity "from further and far greater misery and sorrow" by building around it a mighty "Wall of Protection," Silently and invisibly, They impress the atmosphere of our earth with Their Ideation and Imagination. Their benevolent acts, having potency for good, can mitigate or make less, though not obliterate, the severity of the effects of our wrong doings. Even in our immediate environment, we know that those near us can make things easier for us by their kindness and understanding, their strength and support. Even the mere presence of a sympathetic individual helps us for good.
So we have different kinds of effects manifesting together and affecting one another. This combination and interaction of effects goes on all the time because Humanity is one in reality and no one acts in isolation. In this sense, others help or hinder us, make our Karma easier or more difficult to bear, and we do the same to them.
There is also another factor to be taken into account. As we act and go through life we grow in knowledge and understanding and ourselves begin a new line of Karma by setting up different causes. We come to understand that effects have to be accepted and that all that comes to us is the result of our own thoughts, feelings and deeds. In fact, though we do not recognize it, we are always, by our thought, feeling and action, "altering" our own, or another's, or even a nation's Karma. We have to take our share in fomenting wars, pestilences, etc .
Is all this preordained? Can the action of Karma be known by anyone? Aphorism 8 seems to imply so:
As the seventh of the Ten Items of Isis Unveiled states:
It is "by calculation from cause to effect" that this is possible, provided that the "ultimate division of time in this Universe" is known. Karma is not subject to time, but depends only on the presence of an appropriate vehicle or instrument.
In our human vanity we forget that all beings are subject to Karma. We are reminded that just as there are those less evolved than ourselves, so there are those who are much more evolved, who do not leave humanity alone to sink into greater and greater misery and sorrow. Humanity's Karma is being daily influenced by the collective efforts of generation of Adepts, Mahatmas and Nirmanakayas. If one good man could save a city from destruction as in the Bible story, so each individual sways the balance of Karma for the whole.