Buddhism and the Law of Karma

Physical scientists focus on and describe the laws that govern the operations of matter and energy on the material plane. They are unable, however, to provide us any realistic insight to the operation of moral and ethical laws for our higher emotional and mental parts of our being. Buddhism however takes up this challenge and proposes a schema of law and organized action for the moral being of man, through their discussion of the law of karma. The Buddhist framework provides us the system that explains and helps us to gain mastery over our moral and ethical impulses and our relationships to the social organization of life.

At the same time, just as the physical scientists cannot and do not explain anything beyond the physical laws of nature, the Buddhist conception assigns what is beyond our human range to a silent, uninvolved status, called Nirvana, which is beyond the impulsions of the senses and the force of desire, and therefore, is the place where the law of karma is dissolved into a Oneness of quiescence.

Sri Aurobindo, while acknowledging the progress represented by the Buddhist conception, also notes that it has a similar gap when it goes beyond the mental/emotional status of humanity, to what the physical scientist has when he tries to go beyond physical, material nature.

Sri Aurobindo advises that just as the next stage of progress revealed the operations of a set of principles, so also when we move beyond the limitations of the human mental framework, we can expect to find another level and a corresponding set of principles operative there.

“It is by no means so certain that a high spiritual negation of what I am is my only possible road to perfection; a high spiritual affirmation and absolute of what I am may be also a feasible way and gate.”

“To the everlasting No the living being may resign itself by an effort, a sorrowful or a superb turning upon itself and existence, but the everlasting Yes is its native attraction: our spiritual orientation, the magnetism that draws the soul, is to eternal Being and not to eternal Non-Being.”

Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 8, Karma, pp. 72-73,

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