If men were not so entirely absorbed in the necessities and the many trivialities of every-day life, but would also pay some attention to and observe more closely both the great and small happenings around them, they would soon come to a new recognition. They would be astonished at themselves, and hardly believe it possible that up till now they could so thoughtlessly have overlooked something so obvious. And there is every reason to shake their heads at themselves with pity. If they were only a little observant a whole world of strictly-ordered, living happenings would suddenly reveal itself to them, enabling them to clearly recognize the stern guidance of a higher Hand: the world of symbolism!
Its roots reach deep down into the ethereal part of Creation, while only the very outskirts enter into the fringes of the materially visible world. It is just like an ocean which appears perfectly calm, and whose continuous movement is imperceptible; only its last ripples can be observed on the beach. Man has no idea that with only a small amount of effort and by paying attention he can clearly observe the activity of karma, feared by him, yet so crucial for him. It is possible for him to become more familiar with it so that the fear which is often awakened in thinking people will gradually fade and karma will lose its terror. For many people this may develop into a way upwards if they learn to perceive and to trace the deeper vibrations of ethereal life through the visible happenings on earth, as a result of which they gradually become convinced of the existence of absolutely consistent reciprocal actions. Once a person has arrived at this stage, he will slowly adjust himself step by step, until he finally recognizes the strictly logical and gap-free driving power of the conscious Divine Will in all Creation; i.e. in the Gross Material as well as in the Ethereal World. From that moment onward he will reckon with it and submit to it of his own free will. This means, however, that he will swim in the power, the effects of which can only be of advantage to him. It serves him because he knows how to make use of it by adapting, attuning himself to it properly. Thus the reciprocal action can only bring him happiness. Smiling, he now sees every biblical word being fulfilled literally, whereas previously, because of its childlike simplicity, it often tended to become a stumbling block for him. A fulfillment often threatened to become difficult because in the opinion he had previously held it required a slavish attitude. As his eyes are opened, the high handed demand for submissiveness which he regards as so unpleasant will gradually become the highest distinction for a creature; a truly Divine gift carrying within itself the possibility for an immense unfolding of spiritual power, which will allow for personal and conscious co-operation in the magnificent Creation. The expressions: “Only he that humbleth himself shall be exalted;” man must “humble himself before his God” in order to enter His Kingdom. He shall “obey,” “serve” and similar biblical counsel all somewhat repulse the modern man immediately because of their simple, childlike, and yet apt form of expression. They offend his pride which is rooted in the consciousness of intellectual knowledge. He no longer wants to be led blindly, but desires to understand and consciously co-operate in all things in order to obtain through personal conviction the inner upswing necessary to accomplish everything great. And this is not wrong!
In his further development man is meant to stand more consciously in Creation than he used to. And when he will have joyfully recognized that the simple biblical expressions, the nature of which seems so foreign to the present times, counsel precisely what he voluntarily and with complete conviction decides upon through his knowledge of the mighty Laws of Nature, it will be as though a bandage falls from his eyes. He will be deeply shaken by the fact that hitherto he only rejected the old teachings because he interpreted them wrongly, and never seriously tried to penetrate into them aright so as to bring them into harmony with the perceptive capacity of today.
Whether it is said: “To submit in humility to the Will of God” or “Having recognized the mighty Laws of Nature aright, to use them according to their nature and activity,” it is one and the same thing.
Man can only make use of the powers that bear the Will of God when he studies them exactly, i.e. recognizes them and adapts himself to them. To reckon with or adapt oneself to them really means nothing but to adjust oneself to them, thus to yield to them! It means not to go against these powers, but to go with them. Only when man adapts his will to the special nature of these powers, thus going in the same direction, can he make use of the might of these powers. This is not mastery of the powers, but it is humble yielding to the Divine Will! Even if man calls this or that thing ‘clever’ or ‘a scientific achievement’ this does not alter the fact that it is nothing but a so-called “discovery” of the effects of the existing Laws of Nature, that is, of the Divine Will, which man has thereby “recognized,” “adjusting” himself to this Will by the use or application of these laws. This unquestionably is humble submission to the Will of God; it is “obedience!”
But now to symbolism! Every happening in Creation, thus in the World of Matter, must come to a proper completion of its cycle, or one might say: it must close its cycle. Therefore, according to the Laws of Creation, everything absolutely must return to its starting point, where alone it can find its end and thus be resolved, dissolved or extinguished, no longer effective. This applies to the entire Creation as well as to each single happening. Absolute reciprocal action is the result which in turn entails symbolism.
Since all actions must end where they originated, it follows that each action must end in the same species of substance in which it arose. Thus an ethereal beginning must have an ethereal ending, and a gross material beginning must have a gross material ending. Men cannot see ethereal substance, but they call the gross material ending of every happening symbolism. Although it is visible to all, for many people the actual key to it, the beginning, is missing, because in most cases it lies in a previous gross material existence.
Although the greater part of all happenings of reciprocal action takes place only in the Ethereal World, the operating karma could never be completely redeemed unless in some way the end manifests in the Gross Material World and becomes visible there. Only when a visible happening corresponds to the nature of the reciprocal action can an open cycle be closed and thus bring about complete redemption, no matter whether, depending on the nature of the origin, the process brings good or evil, happiness or unhappiness, blessing or forgiveness. This final visible effect must manifest at the place of its origin, i.e. with that person who, through some action or other, initiated it. In no case can this be avoided.
If in the meantime the person concerned has changed inwardly to such an extent that something better than the original action came to life in him, then the nature of the reciprocal action cannot gain a firm foothold. It no longer finds homogeneous soil in the upward-striving soul, which has become more luminous and thus lighter in accordance with the Law of Spiritual Gravity. *(Lecture No. 6: Fate) The natural result is that a darker reaction becomes infiltrated and thereby considerably weakened when it approaches the more luminous environment of the person concerned. Nevertheless the Law of Cycles and of Reciprocal Action must be entirely fulfilled in its automatically acting power. Cancellation of any Law of Nature is impossible.
Consequently, such a weakened returning reciprocal action must, in accordance with the immovable laws, become visibly effective in the World of Gross Matter in order really to be redeemed, i.e. become extinguished. The end must flow back into the beginning. Because of his more luminous surroundings the dark karma, however, is unable to bring harm to the person concerned, and so it happens that the weakened reciprocal action can only work on his immediate surroundings in such a way as to provide the person concerned with the opportunity to do something voluntarily, the nature of which corresponds only to the sense of the returning reciprocal action. In comparison with the original unbroken strength of the returning dark reaction intended for him, there is the difference, however, that it causes neither pain nor harm, but may even bring joy.
This is a purely symbolical redemption of many a heavy karma, but completely in accordance with the Laws of Creation, which operate automatically in that way because of the change in the condition of the soul. Therefore most people often remain quite unaware of it. The karma has thus been redeemed and Immutable Justice has been satisfied to its most delicate currents. These happenings, which accord so naturally with Creation Laws, hold such mighty acts of Grace as only the Omniscience of the Creator could bring forth in His Perfect Work.
There are many such purely symbolic processes of redemption where otherwise reciprocal action would strike heavily!
Let us take an example: A once hard, domineering character has burdened himself with heavy karma by indulging these attributes through the oppression of his fellow men. This karma runs its cycle according to its specific nature, and must then fall back upon him with the same characteristics, but many times reinforced. As it approaches, this current of ruthless despotism, often reinforced immensely through the Law of Attraction of ethereal homogeneity, will so permeate the whole ethereal environment of that person that it will have an incisive effect on the gross material environment with which it is closely connected, thereby creating conditions that force the originator to suffer to a far greater extent from a similar tyranny as did the people he once tormented.
If such a person has arrived at a better understanding in the meantime and has, through his genuine efforts to ascend, gained a more luminous and lighter environment, then of course the nature of the final effect will also be changed. The returning denser darkness will be more or less permeated depending on the degree of luminosity of the new surrounding of the person concerned and will thus be rendered more or less harmless. In the case of great ascent of the former tyrant, that is, if the guilty person has made exceptional improvement, it may happen that the original process of redemption will be as good as cancelled, and that he will only do something in passing which outwardly resembles atonement. Let us suppose it be the case of a woman. It would suffice for her to take the brush out of her servant girl’s hand to show her in all kindness how to scrub the floor. Even if it is only a matter of a few gestures, they still satisfy the symbolism of the lowliest kind of service. This brief action results in a redemption that had to happen visibly and which, despite its ease, can end a heavy karma.
In the same way the re-arrangement of even one room can become a symbol of ending and redeeming a debt, the atonement or reciprocal action of which would have required a greater, more painfully incisive transformation. Such things occur in one way or another through the weakened influence of a reciprocal action; or random actions are often skillfully used by the spiritual guidance to bring about redemption.
In all this it is naturally presumed that an exceptionally great upsurge, with a corresponding change in the condition of the soul, has already set in. These are circumstances that an astrologer is actually unable to take into account, as a result of which he often occasions unnecessary worries with his calculations, sometimes even evoking such fear that the power of this alone is able to call forth or form something unpleasant. Thus the calculation may be apparently fulfilled, when without such fear it would have proved to be wrong. In such cases, however, the person concerned has through his fear opened a door in the circle of light surrounding him. Whenever a man voluntarily stretches out his hand beyond his protecting cover no help can come to him from any direction. His own will breaks every protection from within, whereas nothing can reach him through the Light from outside unless he exercises his own volition.
Hence the smallest kindness to a fellow man, a genuinely felt sorrow of a neighbor, even a single friendly word, can lead to the symbolic redemption of karma, as soon as inwardly the underlying foundation is earnest striving for what is good.
Naturally this earnest striving for the good must come first; for otherwise there can be no question of symbolic redemption, and all the returning currents would have to work out to the fullest extent. As soon as a person’s earnest volition to ascend sets in, however, he will quickly notice how his surroundings become gradually more and more animated. It is as if all sorts of things were being put in his path, but they always turn out well which becomes strikingly apparent to him. Finally, however, it will become just as apparent that a more peaceful period has set in, a time when it is clearly noticeable that everything that happens also serves to uplift him in an earthly sense. Then the time for redemptions is over. With joyful thanks he may cherish the thought that much guilt has fallen from him, for which he would otherwise have had to do heavy penance. He must then be on his guard that his volition and desires only weave good threads of fate so that only good can return to him!