Once we recognize the chain of karma and our subservience to it, we begin to consider whether it is possible to ever free ourselves from this chain of causality. Are we forever bound to run on this treadmill? Is there no way to change this relationship, either by getting off the treadmill, or finding a standpoint outside of it?
It is an axiom of modern social science that we are always defined by the frame within which we experience our lives, and that we cannot see that frame; however, once we step outside of that frame, one way or another, we can look in with a new perspective and a new freedom.
The brilliance of the Buddhist approach was to essentially recognize this truth and understand that the way out is to be liberated through dissolution of the motive power of the karmic bond. Sri Aurobindo describes it in this way: “The motive power which keeps Karma in motion is desire and attachment to its works, and by the conviction of impermanence and the cessation of desire there can come about an extinction of the continuity of the idea in the succession of Time.”
The solution therefore is what one may call a “negative” state of dissolution, inaction, removal from the chain.
The Buddhist approach does not provide a positive freedom of the soul, because it does not recognize the need or existence of the soul.
The Mayavadin approach recognizes the soul’s existence, but it too is focused on “liberation” in its essentially negative sense of non-action, non-attachment. It is however the recognition of a Self, a Soul, which provides us a basis for a further development, a positive freedom that can possess and master the law of Karma.
“What we see in both these systems is that spiritual freedom and the cosmic compulsion are equally admitted, but in a total separation and an exclusion from each other’s own proper field,–still as absolute opposites and contraries. Compulsion of ignorance or Karma is absolute in the world of birth; freedom of the spirit is absolute in a withdrawal from birth and cosmos and Karma.”
We can see by the focus on opposition and exclusion that we are still operating within the framework of the mental power, the power that divides, fragments, separates and divides.
Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 9, Karma and Freedom, pp. 77-78,