A child is sick. We lose our job. Friends betray us. The stock market drops. We break a leg. Karma! Karma! Karma!
But is it bad? Or is it grace?
Master tells us that at the time of initiation he, personally, takes over the administration of our karma from Kal. Master buys our I.O.U.s, as it were. Yet, probably few of us think deeply about just what that means. We assume that there is a purpose for the changeover, but we do not much concern ourselves with puzzling out what it is, especially when we are new on the path. We are too warm and happy in the cosy nest Master makes for new initiates. We do not think too much about the growth pangs, which must come later. If we think about the administration of our karma at all, we probably don’t spend much time pondering who it is that administers it. Certainly Master does not say he will absolve us of our destiny or debts due for payment in this life. He never says that we will not be required to pay.
Regarding his role as administrator of our karma, Master tells us that a father’s measures to correct the child sometimes may seem far more severe than those of the law; the father seeks improvement while the law is concerned with justice or equalization of accounts – an eye for an eye, punishment for crime, reward for virtue.
We have learned to expect and to live with duality: hot, cold; up, down; good karma, bad karma. Even knowing that Master is the administrator of our karma, we still tend to think in terms of these opposites. We tend to look upon pain as bad karma and on pleasure as good karma or his grace. Consequently, we plead for Master’s grace, the good; and we pray for the fortitude to tolerate the bad, the painful, when it comes. Of course, we are generally secretly hoping to avoid the pain altogether. Or, barring that, we hope that Master will arrange for the pinprick rather than the fatal stab. Yes, we relish the good and try to grin and bear the bad. So does the world.
But what is good? What is bad? What is karma? What is grace? Is grace getting what we ‘want’ or is it getting what we ‘need’? Is grace only the easy, the comfortable? Is it only the pleasant? Or could it also be the hard scrubbing that we must have to become clean? Once, when someone asked Master for his grace, his response was something like: Are you sure you want it? Are you sure you could stand it?
Is it not possible that everything – the apparent good, the apparent bad – may all be grace, since Master is the administrator of our karma and, at the same time, the source of all grace? Is it possible that everything which touches us, even our karmic debt, is grace, grace, and more grace? Is it not grace to be permitted to pay off our karma and to pay it when and in the specific way he chooses? Is it not grace to pay our debt, no matter how painful, for the purpose of going home rather than for the sake of Kals’ justice, which binds us more and more firmly to the world? Is not everything that comes from Master a blessing? Does not his touch on our ‘bad karma’ make it a blessing? Is a gift of sorrow or pain less a gift than one of pleasure? When both are from his hands, are they not equally precious? Can he give a bad gift?
How can we imagine that anything bad can befall us when we are in Master’s keeping? To this plane of garbage pails and outhouses, he came for us. It is his responsibility, his joy, to take us home, and in the quickest way possible. In Quest for Light, he says, “More love will come into your heart when it is safe and fitting.” He knows what is good, what is safe for us. He knows the proper treatment and, yes, the timing of that treatment to make us strong. The medicine to cure the disease of maya may be bitter, but can we say that it is bad karma? Can we say that it is less than good? Can we not trust Master enough to know that his touch is always sweet, always tender? And do we not know that he, and only he, can touch us? Must we, like a small wild bird, try to escape from the hand that would bind the broken wing?
So, what karma?
The Master administers our karma with love. He is not demanding payment for payment’s sake. He is seeking to make us clean and whole. How can we – with our tiny, limited vision – question his methods? Furthermore, as we know, when pain comes, he always gives us a special sense of his presence and love. He is so near at those times.
Yet, we cling to, beg for, his ‘good’ gifts calling them grace, while we recoil from his gifts of pain, calling them karma. Is it the gift, not the giver, that we cherish?
When will we appreciate that we are no longer under the law of justice, but under the rule of love? Rather than whining or wailing, “Karma! Karma! Karma!” in times of pain as though it were bad, should we not sing, “Grace! Grace! Grace!” at all times in happy gratitude? Should we not strive to joyfully accept and treasure all of his gifts as the gentle touch of the Beloved?
Adapted from Radha Soami Greetings, February, 1975