A Study in Karma


Annie Besant


Published in 1917


Annie Besant

1847 - 1933



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Family Karma



Let us consider the collective karma of a family. The family has a thought-atmosphere of its own, into the colouring of which enter family traditions and customs, family ways of regarding the external world, family pride in the past, a strong sense of family honour. All the thought-forms of a member of the family will be influenced by these conditions, built up perhaps through hundreds of years, and shaping, moulding, colouring, all the thoughts, desires and activities of the individual newly born into it.


Tendencies in him that conflict with family traditions will be suppressed, all unconsciously to him; the things "a fellow cannot do" will have for him no attraction; he will be lifted above various temptations, and the seeds of evil which such

temptations might have vivified in him will quietly atrophy away.


The collective karma of the family will provide him with opportunities for distinction, open out avenues of usefulness, bring him advantages in the struggle for life, and ensure his

success. How has he come into conditions so favourable? It may be by a personal tie with some one already there, a service rendered in a previous life, a bond of affection, an unexhausted relationship. This avails to draw him into the circle, and he then profits by the various karmic results which belong to the

family in virtue of its collective past, of the courage, ability, usefulness of some of its members, that have left an inheritance of social consideration as a family heirloom.


Where the family karma is bad the individual born into it suffers, as in the former case he profits, and the collective karma hinders, as in the former instance it promoted, his welfare.


In both cases the individual will usually have built up in himself

characteristics which demand for their full exercise the

environment provided by the family. But a very strong personal tie, or unusual service, might, without this, draw a man into a family wherein was his beneficiary, and so give him an

opportunity which, generally, he has not deserved, but had won by this special act of his past.





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