Physics and the Law of Karma | April 1987

FMBR Editorial: April, 1987

Physics and the Law of Karma

Robert L. Shacklett

Ken Wilber, in Quantum Questions, inveighs against those who attempt to make a connection between physics and mysticism: "The material realm, far from being the most fundamental, is the least fundamental: it has less Being than life, which has less Being than mind, which has less Being than soul, which has less Being than spirit. Physics is simply the study of the realm of least-Being."

Far be it from me to disagree with someone who has been called the "Einstein of consciousness;" but I tend to think in physics a lot and occasionally find some remarkable similarities between this mundane realm and the loftier reaches of mind and spirit. Such is the case with karma.

The connection comes about in this manner: The goal of physics is to understand the infinite diversity of physical phenomena in terms of the least possible number of principles or "laws." During its relatively short history physics has made remarkable progress toward this goal with the identification of four basic interactions or force laws: gravity, electromagnetism, strong (nuclear), and weak (radioactive decay). There is a strong possibility that even further unification can be achieved.

The theories of relativity and quantum mechanics have provided guidelines or principles which determine just how the force laws are to be formulated mathematically. One of these principles is called "invariance" and leads directly to the "conservation laws" of which "conservation of energy" is a more familiar example. Energy conservation is more than just saving fuel. It says, in effect, that in any physical process the total energy before must equal the total energy after the process is concluded.

It seems to me that the law of karma is one of these "conservation laws." The great teachers say it operates with mathematical exactitude. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." It is more than morals. It deals with action, energy, cause and effect. In the words of H. P. Blavatsky, "Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigor." (The Secret Doctrine).

In simple terms, maybe the rules which govern the "realm of least-Being" are "projections" onto our level of spacetime of much more general laws which are multi-level in application and expression. The conservation of energy means that the universe keeps a set of books that must balance for every energy transaction. But this is what the law of karma is saying also. Action, whether it be expressed through physical energy or thought (mental) energy is balanced on the other side of the equation. "What goes around, comes around." And, just as in physics, time is not an issue. The transaction does not have to be consummated all at once as long as there is some storage mechanism available. Solar energy can be stored in plants; "karmic energy" can be stored in the body, often manifesting as chronic pain.

Wilber is correct in his point that the mystical truths do not need the "proofs" of science. But the illumination from below oftentimes makes these truths sparkle with new brilliance.

Robert L. Shacklett, April 1987