If there is a reality to free will it must be placed in a poise or standpoint outside the operations of Karma. The freedom to participate or not in the world of cause and effect, which we have seen as a hallmark of the Buddhist and Illusionist understanding, provided us the clue that there must be some consciousness that exists outside the causal action. We may also find another clue in the extremely complex and subtle inter-working of the world of forms and actions, which clearly cannot have developed by “chance” or as the result of an “illusion”. The illusion results, not from the world of forms itself, but through our artificial division and fragmentation of the unified Whole and through our attachment to the things of the world rather than the much wider understanding that links us to the Spirit and the significance of the unfolding universe.
Sri Aurobindo sums this up with the following: “…some secret self-knowledge and wisdom there must be which guides the Energy of Karma in its idea and has appointed for her the paths she must hew in Time. It is because of their persistence of principle in all the transiences of particular form that things have such a hold on our mind and will. It is because the world is so real that we feel so potently its grasp on us and our spirits turn on it with this grip of the wrestler.”
Sri Aurobindo’s conclusion is that if we seek for liberty it is liberty of the spirit: “We shall do better then to fix on that other more generally admissible distinction, namely, of the world of Karma as a practical or relative reality and the being of the Spirit constant behind it or brooding above it as a greater supreme reality. And then we have to find whether in the latter alone is any touch of freedom or whether, as must surely be if it is the Spirit that presides over the Energy at work and over its action, there is here too some element or some beginning at least of liberty, and whether, even if it be small and quite relative, we cannot in these steps of Time, in these relations of Karma make this freedom great and real by dwelling consciously in the greatness of the Spirit. May not that be the sovereignty we shall find here when we rise to the top of the soul’s evolution?”
Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 9, Karma and Freedom, pp. 79-80,