“The Yogi teachings related to the law of Karma do not teach us that sin is an offense against the Power which brought us into being, so much as it is an offense against ourselves. We cannot injure the Absolute, nor harm It in any way. But we may harm each others, and in so doing harm ourselves. The Yogis teach that sin is largely a matter of ignorance and misunderstanding of our true nature … The Yogis view the sinning soul as the parent does the child who will persist in playing with forbidden things [until he is injured]. The injury is not a punishment for the disobedience … but comes in obedience to a natural law which is invariable. … The parent sought to save the child the pain of the burn, and yet the child-nature persisted in experimenting, and was taught the lesson.” ~William Walker Atkinson
Many people believe that God Himself is punishing us when we do something wrong or something stupid. As Mr. Atkinson points out, that is neither true, nor necessary. God simply has laws, as does nature, and those who insist those laws can be violated quickly find they can’t. An insane person may believe that he can jump from an airplane without a parachute and drift slowly to the ground like a flying squirrel, but the law of gravity says otherwise and I haven’t heard of a case yet where gravity failed to win that argument. I know, of course, that there are a few well-documented cases of people levitating a few feet off the ground, but that is not quite the same as jumping from a plane 5000 feet above the ground. And the person who is levitating, assuming he is not just a clever magician, is not really defying gravity, but rather working with it. He uses esoteric methods to temporarily reduce the weight of his body until he is lighter than air and starts floating in complete compliance with the law of gravity. When he increases his weight again, he quickly descends.
One reason some people believe that God is punishing their wrong doing is because He is injured in some way by their behavior, much like a human parent gets a headache from the noisy kids. Atkinson correctly notes that such is not the case. God is so different from us in out material form (disguise?) and so far above us, expecting Him to feel our every bit of misbehavior is like expecting to see a drop in the level of the ocean when we get a drink of water. We do not harm God, but we do harm ourselves and each other, and that is why such natural laws must exist.
Here is where is get tricky. There are basically two levels of natural law: those natural laws based on nature as we see it and believe it to be, and those based on the real nature and what it truly is. The first group of such laws are sometimes real, but are just as often of our own making and we obey them simply because we believe them. Recent studies show that aging is more a matter of what we eat and what we believe than when we were born, for example.
On the most basic level of natural law, we are dealing with matter and the apparent laws that govern it. The aforementioned gravity is one such law. We believe that we can stick our hand into a pond full of water and think nothing strange about the fact that the hand goes right down into the water. But if someone told us to try to do the same with the big rock nearby, we would think they had gone nuts! You can’t stick you hand into a rock like you did in water because the rock is solid, not liquid. But science tells us that the difference in density between the atoms and subatomic particles in the rock is not significantly greater than in the water. It is not the density of the matter that keeps us from pushing our hand into the rock, but energy. Energy and the belief that it can’t be done. I’m sure most of us have heard the stories of a blindfolded person being touched with an ice cube that he has been led to believe is a hot poker, and a burn is left on the spot where the ice touched the skin.
On the higher level of nature, we know through spiritual schools, great prophets and mystics, and now the science of Quantum Physics, that the world of matter is not what it appears to be. If we could see it as it really is, we would see the water and the rock as simply nodes of energy or light vibrating at different frequencies. As they are all light, one should be no harder to travel through than another and there may actually be a few individuals who have reached this level and can do that. But even on this level there are laws. The laws may be slightly different than on the lower level, but they do exist and are just as persistent. Even on this level, that law of karma functions just fine. It doesn’t matter if you burn down an enemies house on the level of matter, or degauss the associated energy node on a higher level, you have created negative karma for yourself. God didn’t do it, you did. The difference is that a karmic debt on the level of matter will almost always be paid on that level, but a karmic debt accrued on a higher level may affect you on a physical, psychic, or spiritual level and possibly on multiple levels. The good news is that if you ever achieve the ability to see the world around you as nodes of light/energy, you will almost certainly lose all desire to harm others, competition being almost exclusively on the physical level of being.
The important thing to remember from all this is that you may be able to escape the laws of man sometimes, but you don’t escape the laws of nature or the laws of God because they are built into the very fabric of the universe.