The Complex Interaction of Forces That Create Karmic Results

While most people try to boil down the “law of karma” to some kind of moral or ethical imperative, Sri Aurobindo points out that in fact, it is much more subtle and complex than that, and is in fact, not primarily a moral or ethical law, but a law of the movement, momentum and direction of energy. This leads to both a very “mixed” thread of results, and particularly if looked at from an ethical or moral standpoint, these results might be hard to accept. For instance, someone might be focused on carrying out certain high principles of morality, but at the same time, not take care of his personal physical health or economic well-being. You would then potentially see a “result” that provides moral benefit and satisfaction, but appearing in the person of someone who is hungry, ill, cold and homeless! The “moral” benefit would occur, but not as some kind of material “reward”.

“Action is a resultant of the energy of the being, but this energy is not of one sole kind; the Consciousness-Force of the Spirit manifests itself in many kinds of energies: there are inner activities of mind, activities of life, of desire, passion, impulse, character, activities of the senses and the body, a pursuit of truth and knowledge, a pursuit of beauty, a pursuit of ethical good or evil, a pursuit of power, love, joy, happiness, fortune, success, pleasure, life-satisfactions of all kinds, life-enlargement, a pursuit of individual or collective objects, a pursuit of the health, strength, capacity, satisfaction of the body. All this makes an exceedingly complex sum of the manifold experience and many-sided action of the Spirit in life, and its variety cannot be set aside in favour of a single principles, neither can it be hammered into so many sections of the single duality of ethical good and evil; ethics, the maintenance of human standards of morality, cannot, therefore, be the sole preoccupation of the cosmic Law or the sole principle of determination of the working of Karma. If it is true that the nature of the energy put forth must determine the nature of the result or outcome, all these differences in the nature of the energy have to be taken into account and each must have its appropriate consequence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 22, Rebirth and Other Worlds; Karma, the Soul and Immortality