Views from the Borderland

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An Esoteric Journal by

David Spangler Year 10, Volume IV

Views from the Borderland


This is Issue 40 of my journal of explorations into the expanded fields of life beyond the boundaries of the physical world; it is a compilation of “field notes” based on contacts and observations within the subtle worlds. As always, I offer the following caveat:

All the material contained in this journal is based on my personal observations and experiences. While I present it as accurately and clearly as I am able, it is subject to the limitations of my own background, understanding, bias, perceptual abilities, and skills of interpretation. While I have years of experience in this area, I am most certainly not infallible. I am still exploring and learning. This being said, I invite you to join with me in this exploration. If anything you read here resonates with your mind and heart, may it be a blessing and a help to you.

This Issue

In a recent class, one of the participants asked me about karma and its influence in the incarnational process. This is something my subtle colleagues had discussed with me, but many years have passed since then and I have not thought about it much in the meantime. However, the question made me think that this would be a good topic to explore here in Views from the Borderland. So, the theme for this issue is karma.


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Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning simply “action,” but it carries with it the recognition that actions produce effects and consequences. These consequences may be immediate, or they may take time, perhaps a long time, to show themselves. The effect of an action may be short-lived, or it may be long-lasting. If an individual is believed to live many lives, the effects of actions in one life may last long enough to carry over into a later incarnation or may not appear until a later life.

In its simplest, most commonly understood form, then, karma is a doctrine of cause and effect. It especially used to characterize effects whose causes lie in a previous incarnation. When viewed through the lens of a moral universe, these causes and effects take on a judicial character; they manifest as punishment for bad deeds and rewards for good deeds. Karma becomes a doctrine of “just desserts,” a balancing of the scales of justice, an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If I harm others in one life, I will be harmed in equal measure in a later life; if I do good for others, I will instead be rewarded in a subsequent incarnation.

Is this the true meaning and operation of karma? Is it just the giving out of punishments and rewards so that justice is served, and balance is maintained in the universe?

Let me share my explorations and field notes. I wish to say at the outset, though, that an exploration like this, especially one guided or contributed to by subtle allies and partners, is not about accessing interesting occult or esoteric information. It is about tapping into spiritual forces, both within ourselves and in the cosmos, that act to liberate us, enhance our freedom, and empower us in creating wholeness. Behind the information is a deeper context, one grounded in love and its expression in the world. Being alert to this deeper level, especially as it moves and arises within us, is an important part of our investigation.

In 1965, when I was twenty, two friends who ran their own metaphysical center in Los Angeles invited me to come give a series of lectures—which, as it turned out, started me on the path of spiritual work that I have followed ever since. Becoming part of the metaphysical and esoteric milieu of the greater Los Angeles area, I discovered that past lives and karma were major topics of interest and concern. In fact, one of the services my friends offered through their center was counseling based on psychic readings of karmic patterns resulting from a client’s


Views from the Borderland

previous incarnations.
The idea of having lived past lives was not new to me. I had already

had experiences growing up that showed me that I had lived before, though they had provided me with very few details about those previous incarnations. I knew, for instance that my parents and I had known each other before this life and that love had drawn us together again. Aside from knowing that we had been in other relationships besides that of parents and child, I had no other information. Certainly, there was nothing in those experiences that told me anything about karma, either as it related to me specifically or as a principle at work in the universe.

Arriving in LA, though, and becoming part of the high-energy, bustling metaphysical, occult, and esoteric scene there, it seemed to me that karma was a high-priority topic on the minds of many of the people I met. Everyone seemed to be “working off their karma” or dealing with situations and events in their current lives that they believed were the products of choices made and actions taken (or not taken) in some earlier existence on Earth.

I also observed how karma could become an excuse, especially for a lack of compassion. I met people who used karma to shame and blame others. They would look at people who were impoverished or suffering, especially from a serious illness such as cancer, and dismiss them as “learning a karmic lesson.” Of course, this provided a rationale for not doing anything to help them in order to avoid interfering with that lesson.

I found all this confusing. Whatever karma was, it didn’t seem either accurate or correct to invoke it as a catch-all explanation for life’s challenges and opportunities. I had no doubt some deep spiritual principle was at work here, but the diverse and superficial ways the term was being used seemed to me to obscure or distort it.

At the time, I had begun my work with my first subtle colleague and mentor, “John.” During one of our conversations, I asked him what his perception and understanding of karma was from his vantage point in the subtle worlds. His reply proved very interesting and was not at all what I was expecting.


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Karma as Thought-Form

John said that much of what we call karma is not a necessity imposed by cosmic law but a choice that souls make based on beliefs the soul carries over from its incarnate life. “If a soul expects to be punished for a misdeed, either in the afterlife or in a future incarnation, it can create the conditions that will satisfy that belief. If it expects to be rewarded, then the same is true. In either case, what truly binds the soul is not karma per se but its own expectations and beliefs. These shape a reality the soul will bring into being and experience. The true action of karma, which is not always apparent when viewed through surface appearances, is to free a soul bound to such limiting expectations and restore it to wholeness.”

In effect, John was saying that there existed a thought-form of karma rooted in incarnate thinking and expectations. Feeding this thought-form was a too-literal understanding of the nature of balance in the universe, shaped by human projections of ideas of punishment and revenge (as well as reward). He said, “The objective of karma is not balance in a linear sense but wholeness. Exchanging an eye for an eye may seem to create balance but it does not necessarily create wholeness. Wholeness brings the freedom of an open system, one able to change and to grow. Balance, while important, may lead only to the stasis of a closed system, one that feels complete and thus closed off to further growth and emergence.”

The thought-form of karma, like other collectively-held thought- forms within the field of human life, can generate a “sticky” energy, like a spider’s web, within which souls can become entangled and bound. To counteract this, John said, the higher spiritual worlds emphasize the liberating force of grace and forgiveness. Jesus, one of humanity’s exemplars of this force in action, stated it as “your sins are forgiven.” He, and others whose lives embody this principle, demonstrate the gift of love that cuts through the stickiness and entanglements of “karmic patterns” that have no grounding in universal law or in love or wholeness but only in the expectation and rule of unforgiving consequence.

Thinking back on this conversation with John, the example I would now use for what he was saying would be that of student debt here in the United States. As of 2021, individuals owe approximately 1.5 trillion dollars of student debt. In effect, many people start their working career in a form of indentured servitude. They are in debt for learning and for trying to better themselves. This debt creates a drag on their ability to be


Views from the Borderland

fully productive and creative members of society, since now they have to spend energy paying for the education that gives them the tools to be productive and creative. Ultimately, this harms society as a whole. As a consequence, there is a growing movement in the United States to forgive this debt as a way of freeing up this productive energy to truly benefit society.

An important point here is not whether or not an education should be paid for, that is, whether or not the teachers who provide their time, skill, knowledge, and materials to educate others should be compensated. The question is how. Should learning be a product that the student buys, even if it means borrowing money to make the purchase, or should it be a gift that the society offers, knowing that by ensuring its members can learn and be able to fulfill their potentials, society itself will benefit, making a free education a valuable and powerful investment? There are no universal laws at work here. There is no “karmic lord” saying, “Thou shalt pay for thy education!” There is only human choice, based on our values and assumptions. We decide how society and the individuals who make it up shall grow and benefit.

Given the power of grace and forgiveness, one of the simplest yet most powerful and effective things we can do in our lives to counteract this thought-form is to love one another, to forgive, and to witness the capacity of individuals to expand, grow, and move beyond the limits of their mistakes, or, for that matter, of their accomplishments. It is an act of seeing each other standing in the wholeness and freedom of our souls and our future, rather than in the bondage of our past. This is the act of witnessing the sacredness within each other.

Karma As Holopoiesis

Is karma, then, simply an illusion we have created in our search for incarnate perfection or in believing that justice is based on balance rather than on wholeness? No. Living in an environment in the Sixties in which karma was being used as an explanation (or an excuse) for everything that went wrong (or right) in a person’s life—and often used as a club, as well, for blaming and shaming, especially around illness—John’s communication to me at that time was in response to these excesses and misuses of a deep spiritual process. He was addressing questions I had at the time rather than attempting to provide me with a complete


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explanation of karma and all its mysteries. Over the years, though, while keeping John’s perspective in mind, I have observed the working of karma in individuals and in groups that goes beyond the influence of a thought-form. There are at least planetary, if not universal, laws at work here. So, what might these be, to the extent I can currently see and understand them? What field notes would I offer now?

I see karma as a specific manifestation of the holopoietic impulse at the core of creation—the impulse to create, manifest, and nurture wholeness as a platform for emergence and unfoldment. Although it is often described as a law of consequence and of balance, it is to my mind a principle of wholeness in action. It is restorative justice rather than punitive or compensatory justice.

The restoration of wholeness can take many forms. Karma is often presented as linear, a line of cause, effect, and consequence. A does X to B and in consequence, A will undergo Y (which might be the same as X, the “eye for an eye” concept). But if we are thinking about restoring or expanding wholeness in a system, then perhaps that might be accomplished by S, T, U, or V instead of only Y or a repeat of X. In Western law, we have the concept of “paying a debt to society,” usually through the punishment of imprisonment. We say such a person has “learned their lesson” (at least we hope so) but we don’t say that person has been healed and restored to wholeness. Contrast this to, as an example, the Navajo method of restorative justice which puts the emphasis on healing and reintegrating the wrongdoer back into the community, determining the method of doing so uniquely in each case.

In my understanding, the issues that drive the working of karma are: Has wholeness been lost and if so, what will help restore it so we can move forward together?

There was a period in my twenties when, as part of my training with John, he asked me to do “readings” for people. I did this for about a year. It was a scary undertaking, especially as I had no training as a counselor. People came to me for advice and insight on a whole range of issues and questions which were important to them and which often were life-changing. With each client, I needed to tune into them and their soul pattern, tune in to John as a partner, and to my own inner wisdom. And with each client, I always felt fear before I began that I would fail them in some way. I learned a lot from this experience that proved invaluable for my later spiritual work, including trust in myself and in my subtle


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colleagues, but at the time, it felt like walking out a tightrope with no net below.

As part of this experience, I learned to perceive patterns in people’s lives that were not directly caused by anything in their current life. These were the kind of patterns that were often called “karmic” by other sensitives or psychics whom I knew, for no other reason than that they had their origin in the subtle dimensions or in their soul’s intent prior to their incarnation. At first, I called them “karmic patterns,” as well. But John indicated they were not actually karmic in nature and suggested I look more deeply. In this process, I learned that there were other subtle or spiritual processes at work that helped shape a person’s life that might look like karma in action but in fact, were not. Three that stood out and were often labeled as “karma” were: habits, lessons, and consequences.


Souls can develop incarnational habits. These may be ways of doing things that worked exactly right to meet a particular set of needs and conditions at a particular time in a particular incarnation. Having been successful once, the soul may repeat this behavior again....and again.... and again, but in later lives, this habit may not be so appropriate and may begin to have unwanted and unfortunate consequences. A soul, recognizing this, may then take steps in a particular incarnation to break that habit. This kind of action may be misconstrued as karma.

In a sense, it is, in that the habit may be preventing the soul from developing a flexibility and resilience to recognize when conditions have changed and to adapt accordingly. The soul is imposing limits on itself so that it begins to act not from its sacredness and wholeness but from past inclinations now developed into habits. Something must be done to restore the capacity to act holistically and appropriately in changed situations. The soul is seeking to free itself from the automatic reactions of its habit. But this action is taken from within the soul itself out of recognition of a problem, just as we would make an inner decision out of our own will to stop or change some habitual behavior. The soul is acting from wholeness to restore and maintain wholeness. Its choices and actions are not being compelled by anything outside itself.

Here’s an example. A young man began doing alcohol and drugs and in consequence, had a series of automobile accidents that were so bad he


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should have been killed. He was never even hurt in them. Fortunately, he never injured or killed anyone else. I came to know him in his twenties, and as he was interested in esoteric things, he asked me why he kept having these accidents and walking away from them unscathed. When I tuned in, I could see that he was in the middle of a habit that extended back through several lives. The habit was that of dying young. He had yet to experience old age in an incarnation. In this life, the habit was there, but now, he was being protected by his soul that was determined to experience a full incarnation of many years. I then got a very clear message that said that if he persisted in putting himself needlessly in danger (mainly by drinking and driving), he would not die but he would end up an invalid. In effect, his soul said, “You WILL live to experience old age even if you have to be paralyzed in a bed or a wheelchair to do so.” He took this warning to heart and joined AA. He has not had a drink since and is now approaching 70.

As another example, I read of a soul who kept dying young because it loved being a warrior and kept being killed in battle as a youth. In the current life, the soul incarnated as a woman as a way of breaking this habit since as a woman, she would not be given the chance of becoming a warrior in an army and thus would avoid this fate.

Sometimes, therefore, what we might think of as a karmic pattern - because we can sense the origins of the behavior in question as originating long ago in a previous life - is really the working out of a soul-habit and perhaps the efforts of the soul to change it. What is the difference, you might ask? I’m not sure I can explain it. It’s as if a true karmic pattern has a certain energetic “flavor” or “odor” I’ve come to recognize, whereas a soul habit feels differently. It is more entwined within the energy field of the soul itself rather than extending outward in resonance or entanglement with someone or something else. There may also be connections with individuals who are participating in helping the soul work through this habit, but again, the “flavor” or feel of these connections is different. The sense of loving, caring intention and helpfulness is usually present in the subtle energy of these relationships in a way they may not be in a karmic situation.


Views from the Borderland

Learning Lessons

Karma is often conflated with the idea of learning lessons. “He or she is learning a lesson,” we may say when thinking of someone who appears to be experiencing something whose origin lies in another life. There is no question that the soul learns from its incarnational experiences or that it can set up particular events and relationships in order to gain some specific knowledge, skill, or wisdom. The soul can have an agenda for its incarnation, something like a “course syllabus” that will bring it the experiences it desires for what it wishes to learn. However, is that agenda the same as karma? No, not necessarily.

But what if a soul fails to learn a lesson and then repeats that experience in a later life, like a student who fails a class and has to take it over? Isn’t that karma in action? Not necessarily. It would depend on what caused the failure. Let’s use the physical student in school as an example. Let’s say Davey fails a class because in spite of his best efforts, he can’t grasp the lesson material. It turns out to be harder or more complex than he had anticipated or can handle at that point. (Interesting autobiographical tidbit: this nearly happened to me when, as a junior in high school, I was put into an advanced math class designed for seniors. The class was mainly about learning calculus, which depended on knowing trigonometry. But I had skipped the class in which you learned trig, so I really struggled and came close to failing.) As a consequence, he decides to take the class over again now that he is more familiar with the subject matter. Ace, on the other hand, fails the same class because he didn’t care to learn. His attitude was one of dissing the class and the material, perhaps because he was also dismissing his own capacity to learn it. The consequence is that he has to take the class over again, too.

In this second class, then, we have Davey and Ace, both now experiencing the same thing: a repeat of lesson material they failed before. But only one is experiencing karma, as I understand it, and that is Ace.

The issue here is not that Ace failed a lesson but that he possesses a potentially crippling attitude, both about himself and about learning how to engage the world successfully. Perhaps it’s arrogance, perhaps it’s fear of failure, perhaps it’s not understanding why learning is important—what matters is that his attitude could prove limiting to him and to others. It is potentially disconnecting, both within himself and in relationship, leading to a lack of wholeness. The karma is a corrective


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mechanism to restore Joe’s capacity for wholeness. It’s not “punishment” for an outer action (failing the class) but a restorative correction to an inner condition (ignoring or rejecting the capacity and opportunity for learning and growth). From the soul’s point of view, this corrective action or karma could take different forms. Maybe instead of repeating the class he’s failed, he’s put into a class that will excite him and energize his love of learning, enabling him to discover this capacity for growth within himself. Then, with this newly developed attitude, he can retake the lesson he failed, assuming it is still relevant.

Karma, then, is not as much about “learning a lesson” as it is about developing our capacities and potentials, strengthening what is weak in us, and nurturing our ability to understand and manifest wholeness.

My understanding is that the fundamental desire or intention that impels a soul into incarnation is not to learn lessons per se but to fulfill the love the soul has for the possibilities that can unfold within itself, within humanity, and within Gaia. The soul wants to be part of this great adventure. It wants to contribute what it can. The soul is motivated by its relationship to the potentials within humanity and within the Earth.

In this context, of course a soul will seek to learn what it can, grow as it is able, and unfold all the potentials it has in order to contribute to the wholeness and betterment of the world and of humanity’s role within it. And in this process, it will seek to heal any dis-integration and lack of wholeness it may cause or that it may find, for generally speaking, souls are responsible and accountable. But karma is a secondary motivation compared to the love and joy that lie at the heart of all sacred manifestation, of which incarnation is an example.

I remember vividly the excitement I felt at the beginning of a school year. Perhaps you remember this for yourself, too. In my case, the excitement and joy weren’t about any particular subject matter in the curriculum but for the whole idea of being in a place of learning and engaging something new. It was the adventure of engaging something new and discovering something new about myself as well that filled me with anticipation. It made me eager and glad to be going to school. This, I feel, is what a soul feels coming into incarnation, at least in its core.

In school, what could be most damaging wasn’t whether I failed a particular class or not; it was whether I lost the enthusiasm and openness to learning, becoming discouraged and alienated from education itself and the true meaning of the word: the drawing out of inner potentials.


Views from the Borderland

I have seen this happen with children where the needs of the system outweighed the needs of the child, where passing or failing a particular lesson was held up as having more value and meaning than whether the child discovered his or her own unique ways of learning and thriving.

The spiritual forces and intelligences that overlight life on Earth and seek to help each and every being unfold its innate sacredness are less concerned with whether a particular “lesson” is learned or not than whether the soul continues to open to its own potentials and possibilities. From an incarnational standpoint, they are concerned that souls do not reject incarnation out of discouragement or alienation. For us to believe that coming to this world is simply to learn lessons or to make up for past mistakes diminishes both who we are and what this world has to offer. It’s like telling a child that the only reason for him or her to go to school is to pass tests and make high grades, an attitude that imposes a limited, linear perspective on education that can easily deny and thwart the wholeness that is potential within both the child and the school. If a child is taught to hate school, it may be years before it rediscovers how to love learning.

Incarnation is not so different. In this respect, karma is not about the relationship of a soul to a curriculum or to a particular course but about its relationship to the art and act of learning itself. It’s not about failing a particular opportunity to grow as much as it is about failing to be open to growth itself. Karma’s not about lessons but about learning.

There is a further aspect to this. My youngest daughter is taking a year-long training in a particular counseling methodology, and she’s doing very well at it, getting consistently high marks. But in spite of her success with the course, she told me recently she plans to take it again. “There’s so much there to learn, Dad! I want to take the course over in order to go more deeply into the material.” I have students like this in my classes as well. Such repetition has nothing to do with failure but everything to do with gaining insights one might have missed the first time around.

I mention this because there are times when I am privileged to perceive some of the soul dynamics behind the experiences a person is having. At such times, I may see that this is not the first time that person is going through that experience or that the causes of their situation lie in a previous life. When I was younger and less experienced myself, I thought that these were “karmic patterns” in the sense of “fixing” or “redeeming”


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something left undone or done badly. With more insight, I came to learn that this was not always the case. I learned to recognize when someone was experiencing something in their lives, the roots of which were in the past, not because of karma but because of the soul’s desire to learn even more from the experience than it may have done in the past.

Cause And Effect, Sowing And Reaping

I was watching a show on television recently in which two policemen were chasing a man who was fleeing from a crime he had just committed. In his attempt to get away from the police, the man tried to run across a highway but was struck by a car and killed. Coming up to his body, one of the policemen turned to the other and said, “Well, this was his karma for running into a busy street.”

Perhaps the most common definition of karma is that it is the principle of cause and effect. We reap what we sow. In many cases, this is true. But consider another well-known saying: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. If the “law of consequences” is an iron law in which effects always reflect their causes, then we would expect that sowing good intentions would give us a harvest of good results. We know this doesn’t always happen.

The challenge with equating karma with cause and effect is that life itself is a complex system. Often, we can clearly see a line between a particular cause and its resulting consequence, but just as often, the actual causes and their effects are not so clearly delineated. When we define “karma” simply as “cause and effect” in a linear, straight-line manner, this can lead to conclusions such as “if Sally is suffering from cancer, Sally must have done something bad in her past.” Cancer is an evil effect, so there must be an evil cause, if not in this life, then in another. Or, if Bob was born into poverty or with a birth defect, he must be “paying off karma” for something evil he did in another life whereas if Jane had a wonderful childhood, she must have earned it for a previous life of doing good deeds. I have seen a great deal of psychological pain caused by this kind of thinking.

A “tit for tat,” “eye for an eye,” cause and effect can and does take place. An action taken in one life can have reverberations felt in another. Souls do take responsibility for their actions, and such responsibility can span and influence more than one incarnation. But from what I’ve been


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able to observe, souls can bind themselves to consequences in a lifetime because of the “karma thought-form” I wrote about earlier rather than because of some deeper karmic law at work. That is, a soul believes that it should experience a particular consequence, good or bad, because of actions it took in a previous life, rather than having to do so because a law of cause and effect demands it, and it will arrange things accordingly. We can certainly call this “karma,” but when we do so, we may diminish our understanding of a deeper process at work.

We live in a complex universe, one that is far from being linear in its operation. Quantum physics, for example, has demonstrated that effects can precede causes, thereby upending our usual conception of how time operates. When we think of karma as sowing and reaping, we imagine time as a single string moving from the past to the future. Causes are in the past, effects are in the present or the future, at any rate, further down the string. We imagine ourselves as a single string of individuality as well, so that our life and its timeline, our “string of time,” is our own, and any causes upon it are our causes and the effects are our effects.

We understand our world through the lens of a single lifetime spent in a three-dimensional environment in which space is extension and time is a line always moving forward from past to future. Given this situation, it’s not surprising that we would see the linear manifestation of cause and effect. As long as we are in incarnate life and we are measuring things by the characteristics and standards of the physical world, then we can certainly see the connection between various causes and their consequences. It’s natural, then, to call that connection “karma” and view it as a universal law. It’s similar to the way people thought of the earth as flat because they weren’t in a position to see the curvature of the planet. Most people were not in a position to see or understand the complex nature of the soul and of the spiritual environment in which it lives. By contrast, the soul is “curved and global” rather than “straight and linear.”

Once we move out of the three-dimensional world of physical embodiment, therefore, and the further we move through the adjustments and acclimations of the Post-Mortem Realms, it’s as if the single string of our incarnate life moves into and becomes part of an increasingly large ball of twine. The string is still there, but it’s no longer straight; it’s entangled with many other strings, and the whole is operating as a ball of string rather than as one single string. Individuality is not lost,


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but it expands and deepens and is shared in ways that are hard for us to appreciate here on earth

When time and space as we know them transform into something else in the subtle and spiritual worlds, then any linear notion of cause and effect based on linear time and linear space breaks down and transforms as well. Is responsibility lost then? No, but it may be diffused within a field or “cloud” of participation and responsibility within which it may be dealt with in a variety of ways to restore, maintain, or advance wholeness.

A metaphor might be a communal house in which all the furniture, appliances, tools, and so forth are shared by everyone. At the moment I’m using a tool, it’s “mine,” but when I put it back on the shelf, it’s “ours.” The next person to use that tool does so in his or her unique way, unaffected by how I used the tool when it was “mine.” If I damage a tool, I will want to repair it because I feel the responsibility to do so, but I may not know how. Someone else in the house may actually have the knowledge and skill to make the repair and steps in to do so because a broken tool affects the whole household and diminishes what we can do together. In this case, even though I broke the tool, observing the skill and knowledge of my housemate and seeing how he or she repairs it is a learning experience in its own right. It will help me understand and master the tool so that I don’t break it again.

Imagine, though, if my household insisted that since I broke the tool, I had to repair it, whether I knew how to do so or not. This could take time while I learn what I need to know to make the repairs, and in the meantime, we are all without the use of that tool. Let’s say I damaged a car engine in some way. It’s repairable, and the mechanic who lives in the house with me, could fix it simply and easily. But since I “sowed” the damage, “karma” demands that I “reap” the consequences of how to fix it. Now I have to take a course in auto mechanics to gain the knowledge I need, and in the days (or weeks, if I’m a slow learner!) it takes for me to do so, the household has no car to use. We are all disadvantaged. We all suffer. Better to have let the mechanic handle it while I watched and learned so that I wouldn’t do it again.

At the soul level, consequences—i.e. “karma”—can be shared or taken up by someone better able or more skilled at handling them. The issue is not so much “who is responsible” as it is that “we are all responsible” because we are all sharing and benefiting from the wholeness of the world. Holopoiesis—the creation and fostering of wholeness—is a shared


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responsibility. No matter who breaks it, it is to the advantage of all of us to engage in restoring it.

This, in effect, is what the Christian tradition says Jesus Christ did. Humanity had “broken” something in its incarnational process, we did not know how to repair it, and the Christ came to make the repairs so we could all get on with the business of becoming more whole. This is the meaning behind the idea of Christ as Redeemer. Christ fixed something we were at the time unable to fix and by example, showed us how to do it in the future. We were losing wholeness, and Christ demonstrated how love could restore wholeness. The example is there, even if we’ve proven to be slow learners.

The Boulder in the Stream

In the previous sections, I’ve suggested that there is more to karma than simply habit, learning lessons, or dealing with cause and effect. None of these fully capture the deeper principle or process at work here. What is this deeper principle?

Let me begin by using a metaphor I’ve used before, that of a boulder in a stream. The boulder has a shape, and the flow of water around the boulder conforms to this shape; for a certain time and distance, there is a “boulder-shaped flow” within the stream. Now, imagine that the shape of the boulder is smooth, graceful, and streamlined so that the flow of the water around it is equally graceful and unobstructed. There is a wholeness between the boulder and the stream, so to speak. But now imagine that something in the shape of the boulder projects a jaggedness into the flow of water which in turn generates turbulence. The water does not flow smoothly and gracefully but is caught up in the turbulence, perhaps creating an eddy that further changes the flow of the stream.

In this metaphor, karma does not arise because of the actions of the eddy or the turbulence. In fact, chaos and turbulence may at times be necessary creative forces in their own right. Chaos may be energy in the process of discovering the form or forms it should take; turbulence may act to break up what has become static so that something new may emerge. No, the origin of karma lies in the shape of the boulder. Something in this shape is now obstructing flow and creating a turbulence that is not creative but disconnecting. Wholeness is broken.

To correct this situation and restore a graceful flow to the water


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around the boulder, one would not address the eddy or the turbulence itself. They are a secondary effect caused by the shape of the boulder. Instead, one would smooth out the jagged bits that are generating the turbulence in relationship to the flow of the stream. One would change the boulder’s shape.

Action and Shape

We usually associate karma with actions: act one way and you get good karma, act another way and you get bad karma. The word itself, as I mentioned at the beginning of this issue, means “action” in Sanskrit. But actions don’t proceed out of nothing. Actions arise from a deeper pattern of being, character, consciousness, and energy. My original subtle mentor, John, called this pattern a “shape,” meaning the way a number of elements co-relate and interact within and as a whole system. It also describes the nature and quality of connections that pattern makes with whatever environments it engages. It’s more than just a form; it’s a pattern of flow and relationship. While I can “see” inwardly what he means by “shape”—as when he would ask me “what is the shape of your energy field right now?”—we both recognized that the word didn’t fully describe or explain what he was showing me. For us, a shape is three-dimensional and often static. For my subtle colleagues, a shape is multi-dimensional and dynamic. Still, shape comes closest to the image I wish to convey, so I continue to use the word.

The point is that actions arise from the shape of our consciousness, how we stand and operate in the world, how we shape the field of energy around us that determines our influence in both physical and subtle dimensions. If the shape generates disconnection and disharmony, then it is the shape that needs to be changed. That is the focus of the spiritual worlds; that is the focus of karma as a principle of holopoiesis, a principle of restoring wholeness.

This is the principle behind restorative justice which seeks rehabilitation of an offender so that he or she can once again be a productive member of society. If this is the objective (and it most certainly is the objective of the soul and of the higher spiritual forces overlighting Humanity’s evolution), then simply mandating punishment for a person’s harmful actions isn’t sufficient or even at times effective. Recidivism is a major problem for the penal system in the United States, an indication


Views from the Borderland

that punishment by itself doesn’t restore wholeness and may in fact exacerbate the problem by creating new or further criminality and harm. All too often, the prison system focuses on the act for which a person is jailed rather than on the person and his or her capabilities for change, for learning, and for growth.

As a principle for spiritual growth and the restoration and maintenance of wholeness, karma is directed towards the person and his or her “shape” of energy and consciousness, not towards specific acts (the thought-form of karma, though, like the penal system, does seem to focus on actions and thus on punishments and rewards). Karma uses a variety of means to alter and transform a shape that has become dysfunctional in some manner and is breaking the flow of wholeness. Some of these means may show up in an actual incarnational pattern connected to a previous life, but some do not. Balance, restoration, and wholeness may be achieved in the subtle realms, outside of any incarnation and thus not requiring a specific incarnation to “work things out.”

Going back to my example of Ace who failed a class because his mental and emotional “shape” resisted learning and classes. Simply punishing him by making him take a class over and over again until he “learns” the lesson isn’t going to help him change his “anti-learning” shape. It’s not going to change the basic energy pattern here and may even make it worse. (How would you feel being made to do something over and over again that you disliked? You would probably come to hate what you’re doing and hate the system making you repeat it.) As I suggested before, a more productive and creative strategy would be to take Ace out of that class and lesson agenda altogether and find something with which he can connect, something that truly engages him and opens him to his creativity. The goal is for him to experience the joy of learning. That will take him far, including back to the lesson he was refusing to learn if it should prove important to him.

Here’s an example from my own family. Our oldest son was having difficulty learning math. It was his hardest subject, and he was losing interest in it. He was even beginning to resent having to deal with it. Fortunately, he was going to a school that allowed students to design their own curriculum with help from parents and teachers. Johnny came home one day and said he had worked out with his teacher not to take any more math classes. Was this alright with Julie and me? As someone raised on STEM classes, I admit I had to swallow a couple of times. What


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would Johnny lose by not learning math? But we supported the school’s philosophy of giving the child freedom to choose his subjects, so we said yes. Johnny then happily went through his next whole school year never taking math. Was it a balanced curriculum with “reading, and writing, and ‘rithmatic,” such as I followed and enjoyed? No, it wasn’t. But for Johnny, it was a joyous curriculum that fostered his continuing love of learning.

However, the following year, he developed a passion for scuba diving and became quite good at it. In the process, he discovered that he needed to calculate things like how much oxygen he had and how pressure changed as he went deeper in the water. This turned him on to the usefulness of math in accomplishing the things he wished to do. Once he discovered how important math was to something about which he was passionate, then he became passionate about math as well. After that, he quickly caught up to where his fellow students were who had taken math the previous year.

It’s not uncommon to find people who believe karma is a form of compulsion, forcing people to do things in order to learn lessons and restore balance. But that’s the human idea of it; it’s not how karma operates. The forces behind the working of karma are at least as wise as Johnny’s teachers were and, happily, Julie and I were, in focusing not on a lesson to be learned but on the person doing the learning. Empowerment was more important than curriculum in this situation.

Karma acts on the shape of the boulder in the stream because that shape determines the actions that are generated as the boulder and the stream interact.

The Lords of Karma

Over the years, I have heard karma referred to as a “universal law,” much like gravity or thermodynamics, and like those, operating automatically and blindly. I have also heard it described as the intelligent activity of the “Lords of Karma,” great Beings who, rather like cosmic accountants, work to maintain balance and order in the universe, making sure every T is crossed and every I is dotted and that whatever is entered into one side of the ledger is balanced by what is entered on the opposite side.

The truth, as far as I can tell, is somewhere in-between.


Views from the Borderland

On the one hand, the universe (or the multiverse, really, taking into account the many dimensions that exist other than this one) is itself alive and sentient, an expression of a Presence and consciousness I call the Generative Mystery but that most people call “God.” Consequently, there are no “blind” forces. Everything is the expression or manifestation of creative Intelligence. As a consequence, karma acts neither blindly nor randomly but as an intelligent and aware expression of a core holopoietic purpose within creation.

The operation of this principle and purpose, though, is often through the mediation of a variety of intelligences and consciousnesses that oversee and overlight particular areas of development and growth within the multiverse. In this sense, there are indeed Lords of Karma, who are not at all like accountants keeping track of jots and tittles, but who are beings of profound awareness and love who act to draw harmony and wholeness out of a complex array and combination of forces and relationships that we all weave in our incarnational journeys. In effect, they monitor the shape of the boulders and their effects within the rivers of life.

I have on rare occasions witnessed Lords of Karma operating on a planetary level to monitor and help shape the field of consciousness and development—the “boulder”—that is Humanity and its evolution. To say they are busy is an understatement! My impression of them is of a profound love and an equally profound impartiality. I think of them as Lords of Learning as well as of restoration and wholeness.

Much, much closer at hand, though, our souls themselves are our personal Lords of Karma, overseeing our individual states of wholeness and grace, connection and development. They, in turn, are aided and guided by Lords of Karma that overlight whole groups and “schools” of souls.

In fact, the “true” Lord of Karma is the Spirit of Holopoiesis itself, the spirit of love and wholeness in action, and all other “Lords of Karma,” including our own souls, are agents or fractals of this universal Presence. Anyone who vibrates in resonance with this Spirit becomes in some manner and to some degree a “Lord of Holopoiesis,” an agent in the expression and the restoration of wholeness.

I feel this is an important perspective. When we view the “Lords of Karma” as beings far distant from ourselves, impersonally weaving the destinies of trillions of lives, we can feel disempowered, as if our fate were not in our hands. We can feel hemmed in or trapped by a karma dictated


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by powers from whose judgements there is no appeal. Understanding that we are Lords and agents of karma as well enables us to be partners and co-creators with this universal Spirit of harmony and wholeness. We become like dancers, partnering with the music and practicing our steps until we can execute them flawlessly and with beauty.

Karma and Subtle Energies

Consistently, when I have enquired of my subtle colleagues about the working of karma, they have said, in effect, “Yes, you see its action on the surface, the balancing of cause and effect, but you need to look more deeply. Karma also works with the connection and flow of subtle energies, acting to correct what impedes or blocks that flow.”

This makes sense to me. An experience I often have in observing the subtle environment around us is how subtle energies flow, often forming currents. Ideally, in the subtle interactions between one person and another, energies circulate and are exchanged, leaving both charged and uplifted in some way. There is nothing binding between them. Where there is love, a shared interest, or some other linking factor, then channels of resonance can develop between people that connect them together but without curtailing or obstructing their freedom or Sovereignty. They are enhanced but not entangled in limiting ways. Energy circulates freely between them.

Human incarnate life, though, is not always ideal. Emotions such as need, fear, desire, or hatred can lead us to generating “sticky” subtle energies. These can bind, forming attachments that can impede or obstruct the free flow and circulation of energy in and around our subtle field. Even love, when colored by need or fear, can become sticky.

These humanly-generated sticky energies form like webs within the subtle field of humanity, webs in which we all can be caught in one way or another. Vital subtle energies that do not circulate freely but coagulate around individuals, relationships, places, and situations, become obstructions to a healthy flow of living forces.

This stickiness and the impedance to flow it can create can be very short lived, depending on how much energy—i.e. how much emotion and thought—goes into the situation or the connection, its intensity and duration. A person abruptly cuts in front of me on the road, and I feel a surge of anger at their lack of courtesy and care in driving. This can form


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a subtle energy link with that other driver, one that is “sticky” because of how I’m attached to my anger. But if I release this and don’t dwell on my feeling, letting it go, that sticky link quickly dissolves as I’m not putting any continuous energy into it. I’m not feeding it. I may even bless the other driver with a prayer that his actions on the road will not cause harm to him or to any others. This elevates the subtle energy between us into the spiritual realm, the soul realm, where it can act to our benefit, not binding either of us and opening us to wholeness.

On the other hand, the energetic stickiness generated in our relationships with others and with the world can become very sticky and can last a long time, perhaps through an entire incarnation. Trauma of all kinds generates this kind of stickiness in which we become attached to an experience in ways that are binding and limiting. This, in turn, can lead us to “spin” sticky energies ourselves into our world in response.

It’s this kind of “sticky webbing” of attachment, obstruction, and limitation in the healthy flow and circulation of subtle energies within us, around us, and between us and the world, that karma acts to dissolve. This is the work of the Lords of Karma, not to judge us for our actions as much as to “unstick” and liberate us from energetic attachments that are unhealthy, distorted, and an impedance to wholeness. In this process, as I said above, the “Lords of Karma” are everywhere, including within ourselves, as our own soul can be a Lord of Karma in acting and shaping our incarnate experiences in ways that will cut through what binds us and others and bring freedom and flow into our world.

An Example of Karma

Let me illustrate my understanding of karma with an example. Let me bring onto the stage of our imagination Joe and Bob, and we see them right at the moment when Joe murders Bob.

As long as Joe is alive, he will suffer the legal consequences of killing Bob, assuming he was caught. Does his imprisonment resolve the subtle consequences of his act? Perhaps. It will depend on the nature of Joe’s inner state that led up to the act of murder. What if he is not caught but eventually dies, never accused of Bob’s murder and thus never directly suffering consequences? Will his crime catch up with him? Will he have to pay restitution to Bob in the Post-Mortem Realms? In another life?

The working of karma here is not to punish. It is never to punish.


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It is to restore wholeness. Let’s go back to the moment of the murder to see what may be transpiring in the subtle environment and the subtle realms.

Murder is an act, over with in a moment of time. If it was a sudden impulse, a surrender to a moment of anger and a loss of control that is not habitual, chances are very good it will not have any lasting impact on the soul. If the “shape” of Joe’s energy and consciousness is fundamentally conducive to wholeness but there was this moment of jaggedness, there will be consequences in the physical world, especially if he is arrested, but there will be few if any consequences in the subtle and spiritual worlds. There is no energetic effect generated here of sufficient power to carry over through the transformations that occur in the Post-Mortem Realms and into the soul’s domain and later into a subsequent life. The energy between Joe and Bob is not “sticky” enough to endure.

But if Joe hated Bob and was angry at him, especially over a period of time, then these energies lodge themselves in Joe’s subtle body because of their intensity and duration. They change the energetic “shape” of Joe’s subtle body. If left to “harden” unchanged through lack of remorse or repeated bursts of anger leading to further acts of violence, the sticky energies generated by this subtle shape can last to become part of the soul’s “incarnational shape,” that is, the part of the soul’s energy field and beingness that is engaged when an incarnation is undertaken. It’s as if it becomes part of the incarnational “muscle memory” of the soul, an “inner stickiness” that, unless and until transformed, may spin out again to create binding webs of subtle energy and connection.

Let’s leave Joe for the time being. What about Bob at the moment of his death? What is happening with him?

Bob’s own subtle body is impacted both by this violent death and also by being impacted by Joe’s sticky subtle energies of anger and hate directed towards him. These energies can hit like a blow and can lodge in Bob’s subtle body, potentially changing its “shape” as he enters the Post-Mortem Realms. If Bob contributes his own sticky vibrations of fear, anger, and perhaps of his own hatred and desire for revenge against Joe, then he will carry this traumatic energy “shape” into the subtle realms. We’ll explore what happens to Bob in a moment.

There is a third “victim” of this murder. The negative, sticky vibrations coming from Joe as he kills Bob (and likely from Bob, too, as he is murdered and thrust violently into the subtle dimension) become part


Views from the Borderland

of the energy field of the subtle environment in which the crime just took place. Not only that, but because of the empathetic connection that exists between all of us as part of Humanity and part of Gaia, some “tingle” of this killing touches all our energy fields, all our lives. It may pass unnoticed, but if we are in a psychological and energetic state receptive to energies of anger, hatred, violence, and even killing, then that impact may stimulate and add to our own “sticky” subtle field.

Now we have possibly three “dis-integrated” and disconnected energy fields vibrating with the trauma of pain, suffering, anger, hatred, loss, and so on. We have an energetic complex lodged in and shaping Joe’s subtle body, we have a corresponding energy complex lodged in and shaping Bob’s subtle body, and we have a third correlated energy complex imprinted on the subtle environment. This murder as an energetic event and phenomenon now exists in these three distinct yet interrelated areas, disrupting wholeness in each of these three cases.

The energy complex imprinted on the subtle environment may be cleared and healed by deliberate and mindful energy hygiene. However, given the current state of humanity when it comes to attachment to violence and negative emotions, chances are that even if the local subtle environment is cleared, the imprint of violent death and the mental and emotional energies behind it become part of the “muscle memory” of collective humanity and perhaps of Gaia itself. It feeds a collective habit that continues to make murder and killing, hatred and violence not only possible but often a course of least resistance within the body of humanity itself. One murder may not seem like much, but it resonates with this habit within humanity. It “deepens the groove” along which the destructive energy of that habit can flow within the consciousness of our species. To repeat the image I’ve been using, these negative energies shape the collective field of Human life and consciousness, a shape we all participate in and that affects us all to some degree. Who can say whether a murder committed in China becomes the energetic tipping point that leads to someone committing a murder in the United States?

Let’s return to Bob who is now in the Post-Mortem Realms? What happens to him? There are many possibilities, all correlating with his soul’s development, the integration and wholeness of his incarnate life, the nature of the “Pit Crew” or subtle allies around him, and so on. On the best side, he immediately forgives Joe, accepts what has happened, opens his heart to his soul and his new life, and moves on. The negative


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energy complex within him is totally transformed and integrated, changing his energetic shape. He is free of the impact of his violent death and free from Joe, as well. There is no energetic stickiness left. Any tie between Bob and Joe because of the act of murder is dissolved and is now non-existent (though they may have other ties, based in love and soul resonance). Bob now has no karmic connection to Joe, no karmic pattern to work out to achieve balance. His love and forgiveness have already performed the necessary act of integration where his own energy and wholeness are concerned, giving him the freedom to move on. His soul has more important things to do than to worry about what happened to a particular physical body in one of his lifetimes.

On the worst side, though, Bob can’t let go of the fact that Joe murdered him and can’t let go of his own energies of grief, anger, hatred, loss, and a desire for revenge. He does not and cannot forgive. He cannot find any love for Joe. He is energetically holding on to a connection with Joe. “Joe, his Murderer” has now become part of his energetic shape. In a sense, he carries Joe with him as a subtle muscle memory. He is caught in the stickiness of his own subtle energies related to Joe which are impeding the natural flow of love and vitality between the two of them.

This maintains a state of “un-wholeness” and “dis-integration” in his own being. Like the jagged piece on the boulder in the stream, it is a “shape” that can generate its own chaos and turbulence in the flow of Bob’s life. This shape now becomes a focal point around which the integrative and holopoietic nature of karma will act in his own life to restore grace, flow, and wholeness.

What this means will be determined by Bob’s soul and other subtle allies, acting as collaborative “Lords of Karma.” It might mean a future life with Joe to “balance the scales” but if doing so simply perpetuates the grievances between them, then Bob’s soul may look for other solutions. Perhaps Bob being killed by Joe was in reaction to Bob having killed Joe in a previous life; if so, simply having Bob now kill Joe in restitution and “balance,” could harden a repetitive pattern into a habitual shape here, leading to life after life in which Bob and Joe keep killing each other!

The karma here is not around the action per se. It’s not about who killed whom or even the act of killing itself but around the pattern of consciousness and energy that holds the potential (the shape) for destructive and disconnecting actions within the soul’s incarnational expression. Is this a potential that will manifest itself whenever the soul


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takes incarnation because it is part of a stored field of energy, memory and connection that a soul draws upon when formulating a new incarnation? Karma is the response of the soul, and of other beings seeking to help, to do that which heals and restores a shape of wholeness within itself. It is the healing of energetic “muscle memories” that can lead to obstructive and “sticky” actions.

Chances are, though, that Bob is neither a saint nor a devil, so his actual response to his murder will fall somewhere along a spectrum between these two extremes. He may forgive Joe, but he still retains some resentment and bad feeling and can’t bring himself to love the guy. Since the subtle body one has in the Post-Mortem Realms is effectively made up of our mental and emotional nature, Bob’s subtle body is suffering from a “rash” (metaphorically speaking) brought on by his inability to let go of that resentment. Still, he’s open to healing, so he’s making progress.

Let’s leave Bob for a moment, stewing and trying to heal, and look at what happens with Joe, who has died and is now in the Post-Mortem Realms. Here he discovers to his dismay and astonishment that whatever trauma of pain, fear, and anger that Bob experienced when Joe killed him has been transmitted to Joe through their sticky connection in that moment. It became part of his subtle experience and subtle “shape” as well. Joe didn’t feel this consciously at the time (he was not in an empathetic mood), but his subtle body felt it. Joe’s act and Bob’s death are a shared trauma, the energies of which Joe now encounters in the Post- Mortem realms after his own transition, not because it is “punishment” but because it is part of the shape of his subtle body.

Metaphorically, it’s as if, in killing Bob, Joe’s hatred and anger cut off his own subtle leg. This wouldn’t bother him while still embodied, but when he died, he would discover himself in the Post-Mortem Realm missing a leg! Joe will discover that to the degree that his hatred, anger, and other hurtful thoughts and emotions have, through constant expression, become part of his energetic shape, his subtle body will be deformed or limited in some manner. He is now experiencing directly and fully who he is—or rather, what he has turned himself into.

Worst case scenario is that Joe stays in this state a long time because he surrenders to self-pity and refuses the help that is ceaselessly offered him by his own soul and by his Post-Mortem allies. For one thing, if he does open his heart and mind to healing, he will likely have to experience everything the victims of his violence experienced at his hands, since it


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is imprinted in his own subtle body as part of the shared memory of the experience. This will be painful for his soul, but if he’s willing, he can get through it and find healing. As part of our “digesting and assimilating” the incarnation just ended, we cannot escape experiencing the impacts of the good and the bad we have done for or to other people when we arrive in the Post-Mortem Realms. This is not punishment or reward; it is simply the consequence that they are us and we are they.

If Joe resists this “Life-review” process and is unable to heal and advance, it is possible he will be unable to reincarnate. His soul may feel that if it took on another body while in this current unresolved and unintegrated state, the new life might well make things worse, adding to his problems. His karma—his need to reintegrate and rebuild wholeness—will have to be resolved in the Post-Mortem Realms, which may take a long time.

But let’s consider a best-case scenario for Joe, too. We find that Joe is open to healing, steeling himself to experience the energies created by his cruel actions—like enduring pus being drained from a wound. He genuinely wants to be whole, and he will experience everything he needs to in order to make this possible. It may still take time and a lot of work on his part, but he is reintegrating with the love and Light of his soul, which is what karma desires. Doesn’t he owe something to all his victims? Not necessarily, or rather, this may depend on whether engaging with them will actually accomplish healing all around. If some of his victims are themselves closed off to offering Joe any forgiveness or healing but only want revenge, then reengaging with them, whether in the Post-Mortem Realms or in another life, won’t actually fulfill the restorative and integrative purposes of karma itself. A “karmic debt” is a relationship that includes all involved. If some of those involved refuse to be “paid back” for harm done in the true currency of karma, which is love, forgiveness, and the creation of wholeness, but are only interested in revenge or punishment or “balancing the scales,” then that is their problem to work out in their own way. Joe is not bound to them if their refusal to move on would prevent him from moving forward as he is ready and able to do.

It’s possible, of course, that in his healed state, Joe will want to help those to heal whom he has injured and who are trapped in the traumatic energetic shape of that injury. If he undertakes a relationship with them for that purpose, acting out of his love and his desire for them to be whole,


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this is not a karmic relationship for Joe to “work out” but a freely given act of love and grace, which is much more powerful and transformative. To use my earlier metaphor, Joe becomes the mechanic who can fix the car engine when others cannot so that the household as a whole will not be without its automobile. If Joe can affect healing with any whom he has harmed, we all benefit; humanity benefits. This is not karma in the sense of some compulsive “law” at work. This is soul action at work.

Let us now say that in the course of things, Bob and Joe meet in the Post-Mortem Realms, each now holding an intent to heal and to be whole. Bob’s forgiveness to Joe and Joe’s vulnerability to Bob allow any sticky negative energies that may still be embedded in their relationship to drain away and be healed. Love can emerge. Wholeness is regained. The holopoietic nature of karma is satisfied.

Or is it?

At this point, both Bob and Joe may recognize that the relationship they had while embodied on Earth has left an imprint there in the incarnational realm. They may not need any further healing between them—there is no karmic link now that binds them to each other, only the normal, healthy links that one soul has with another—but the collective field of incarnate humanity may need some healing. Gaia may need some healing. Joe’s murder of Bob has left a residue; it has enhanced to some degree the habit of killing and violence and murder within the psyche of humanity.

Now, this can be healed in ways that don’t involve Joe and Bob, but now they realize that all souls ultimately are responsible and accountable to all other souls, indeed to all of life and to Gaia. We are all part of the same household; we are all housemates. If they have added a bit to the disharmony and lack of wholeness within the household, within humanity as a whole, then as souls, they feel a loving desire to correct this. So, in a sense acting as their own “Lords of Karma,” they decide to reincarnate and arrange things so that in their new lives as Bobby and Joey, they can be agents of healing for humanity as a whole. They decide that they will again come to a point where one will want to murder the other. However, in that moment of crisis, that person will refuse to do so, will reconcile with the other, and through that act will set up a resonance of forgiveness and wholeness that will be a counterforce of healing to the habit of hatred and dis-integration which they furthered in their previous life.

A psychic tuning into the conflict that Bobby and Joey have that could


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have led to murder might say, “Oh, this was a karmic relationship. Karma was being worked out.” That psychic would be right, but the karma in this instance is not between Joe/Joey and Bob/Bobby but between the two of them as healed souls and the destructive habit of killing within humanity. Here it is humanity that is the jagged boulder that needs smoothing. What is also correct is that their capacity to offer healing in this instance was directly due to the previous relationship of hatred and murder that they had experienced as Joe and Bob, and the way they resolved it in the Post-Mortem Realms. It is this act of resolution that gives their action in their new lives the power of healing that it has. It also becomes an act of teaching, showing by example how human relationships can be instruments of wholeness and mutual empowerment and not occasions of destruction. This also advances the collective agenda of Humanity.

In this example, it is also possible that Joe and Bob as souls could have decided on different strategies to contribute to healing whatever damage their altercation and murder did to the collective field of humanity in their previous life. Maybe they became medical missionaries. Maybe they became therapists, helping others to resolve their traumas and murderous inclinations. The point is that the restorative action they wish to take, to make up for creating an impedance in the past to the flow of love within the energy body of humanity, could take many forms. The working of karma to dissolve stickiness and restore wholeness does not demand that they must confront the possibility of murder once again. That was their choice, freely and lovingly made as souls.

Collective Karma

This brings up the subject of humanity’s collective karma. From what I can see (which, as I often point out, is determined by the limits of my skill and subtle perception), this takes two forms. The first is related to our overall destiny in relationship to Gaia. This is to become true partners with the soul of this planet and in the process, to develop a planetary or “Gaian” consciousness within ourselves that becomes a capacity we can embody and wield in our own cosmic future. In this regard, subtle energies and qualities are released into the human collective energy field in order to stimulate certain qualities, such as love or will or a sensitivity to perceiving whole patterns. Engaging and absorbing these new qualities and energies presents humanity with various challenges from which


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we can learn and grow—or not, in which case the lessons will repeat. This repetition is not because some planetary being or Lord of Karma dictates that it be so but because the soul of humanity itself—the creative, collective field shared by our own individual souls—wishes it. Again, it’s like a dancer repeating steps until they are part of her muscle memory and she can perform them flawlessly and gracefully.

One thing that is certain. We do seem to have a way of making our learning more challenging and difficult for ourselves than it need be. One of our current “lessons” is learning to set aside our individual differences in order to act collectively for the good of the planet, which is a step towards developing a Gaian awareness. Climate change is one of the situations that is presenting this lesson to us and driving home the need for “thinking like a planet.” The knowledge of how human activity is altering the climate of the world and not for the better has been available for decades. Had we had the collective will to change our policies and behavior as recently as forty years ago, we would be in a far better, far safer situation now than we are. The more we cling to business as usual, the harder the challenge becomes. We are like a student who procrastinates, putting off doing all his assignments until the day before everything is due and thus facing a nearly insurmountable task of reading and writing in order to catch up.

In this instance, the lessons themselves—the qualities of consciousness and being that we seek to learn and embody—are not the karma; they are the agenda of development we have created for ourselves. The karma lies in how we have approached these lessons and the ways in which we have delayed learning them, allowing the work of change to pile up, so to speak.

An important reason for this lies in the second form that collective karma takes, and that is the existence of attitudes and habits that have coalesced into thought-forms that resist change and create inertia within our collective energy field. These thought-forms are for the most part ancient, having been developed when humanity was younger. The value and glamor of war is an example of a such a thought-form. The idea that humanity is the pinnacle of evolution is such a thought form. In recent days, the idea of progress or of unending economic growth are thought-forms.

Such thought-forms can be seen as complexes of subtle energy within the subtle field of humanity as a whole. They can and do coalesce around


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nations, ethnicities, religions, and organizations and groups of various sizes, putting psychic and energetic pressure upon people belonging to these organizations, groups, nations, and so forth, to conform to the attitudes and beliefs of which the thought-form is composed. They can energetically capture and then structure human thought and feeling the way a vortex in the ocean can pull in a swimmer and drag her down, making her part of the ocean.

Collective thought-forms can be very powerful energetically and certainly can exert that power over how people believe, think, and feel. This influence can be countered, however, when we stand in our own Sovereignty, honor our individual sacredness and its freedom to think, to feel, and to act, and at the same time, align with the higher spiritual forces and powers that are working for wholeness and partnering at all levels of life.

It could be said that the karmic challenge of humanity right now is that of entrenched and inertia-filled attitudes and beliefs that prevent us from seeing ourselves and the world as a wholeness and taking actions that preserve and express that wholeness. How we meet this challenge will determine how successfully and gracefully we move through the years ahead of us.

An Exercise

One of my subtle colleagues suggested the following simple exercise or meditation for addressing and forgiving energies bound up in collective human karma.

Stand in your Sovereignty, honoring your sacredness.

Forgive yourself. For actions done or left undone; for any thoughts and feelings and the subtle energies they create, for anything that may have left wholeness less manifest in the world, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself so that you may move forward in the wholeness and freedom that allows your sacredness to manifest.

Forgive others. For any actions done or left undone; for any thoughts, feelings, and the subtle energies they create, that has impacted you and left you feeling less whole, forgive others. Forgive others so that you and they may move forward in the wholeness and freedom that allows sacredness to manifest.

Forgive humanity. For all actions done or left undone, and for the


Views from the Borderland

motivations, thoughts, feelings, and subtle energies that have impacted the world that all humans and all life share and left the world less whole,forgive humanity. Forgive humanity so that you and all human beings may move forward in the wholeness and freedom that allows sacredness and life to manifest.

May Grace and Forgiveness open the hearts of all, that love may heal and wholeness be restored in all beings upon all the world.

In the spirit of this Forgiveness and love, stand in your Sovereignty, and then move out into your world as a presence of wholeness.

Final Thoughts

These field notes only scratch the surface of understanding the nature of karma and how it operates in our world. We see its operations from the perspective of a world in which cause and effect can be linked in linear ways; we think of it in terms of balance. We intuit that we live in a moral universe, which is a correct intuition, but then we project our own ideas of morality upon it and understand karma accordingly. When this happens,karma becomes an instrument of our particular brand of morality, a way to envision the punishment for those who break the rules we set up and the reward accruing to those who abide by those rules. But the “rules” of the universe invariably transcend those of our human creation and understanding. This means that karma, which we see as the power that adjudicates those rules, doesn’t always operate as we think it should.

We try to fit the sacred into the conceptual boxes we create. This can be a tool to arrive at a particular insight, but then we need to let the box go or expand it. When we don’t, it becomes a seed around which a collective thought-form can develop. The morality of God becomes the morality of the human. Not that there can’t be a connection between the two, but the latter is usually smaller than the former.

In this respect, we need to take into account the evolution of human consciousness as it affects the operation of karma. Where at one time in human history, an eye for an eye may have made perfect sense as a way of achieving balance and restoring wholeness, now we are growing into a consciousness that can make perceive and understand the holistic nature of the world and how complex systems, like ecosystems, operate. We can see more fully how wholeness is restored and maintained. We are able to see the universe through a different lens, and in the process, our


Year Ten - Volume IV

understanding of many things, including karma, changes and grows. Karma, as I understand it, is not about lessons but about learning. It is not about justice per se but about the maintenance and, when needed, the restoration of wholeness as necessary. It is about freedom, not bondage, so

that the soul is able to move forward in wholeness to create wholeness. Karma is not about the past but about the future.



David Spangler, MCS is the Director of Research in the Lorian Association. He is a mystic, writer and educator in the integration of spiritual values, energy and presence into everyday life. He was co-director of the Findhorn Community and has taught extensively for over 40 years. Since 1965, David has worked clairvoyantly with a group of spiritual beings whose purpose was to explore and develop a spiritual teaching around the process of incarnation.

Views from the Borderland Year 10, Volume IV, July 2021 Copyright © 2021 David Spangler

Views from the Borderland is a Quarterly Journal provided as a subscription service of the Lorian Association. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this booklet, or portions thereof, in any form.

For more information contact us at:

Lorian Association

PO Box 1368 Issaquah, WA 98027

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