When we review the 3 concepts of the nature of existence, it becomes clear that the first two have been widely explored in the past and leave us unsatisfied due to the apparent weaknesses in their positions. The third one, the free and eternal Spirit manifesting through individual souls within the framework of the action of Nature, and becoming ever more conscious as higher stages of evolution manifest, clearly requires a further review and deeper consideration.
In this instance, the fact that the law of Nature is being carried out and allowed to operate does not negate the inner or underlying freedom of the Spirit. Since the Spirit created this process, it is certainly reasonable to expect that it would abide by that process in its systematic evolution of consciousness in the manifestation. It is analogous to a business organisation setting up a series of procedures and having everyone in the organisation, including the founders and top management personnel, work within that framework. The decision is one of “choice”, but there is a benefit to working within the framework that has been developed.
Sri Aurobindo comments on this concept: “This law would be in phenomenon or as seen in a superficial view of its sole outward machinery an apparent chain of necessity, but in fact it would be a free self-determination of the Spirit in existence. The free self and spirit would be there informing all the action of material energy, secretly conscient in its inconscience; his would be the movement of life and its inner spirit of guidance; but in mind would be something of the first open light of his presence.”
The progressive development of new and higher powers of consciousness, unfolding successively through Matter, Life and Mind, would appear to be totally involved and bound at the material level, still bound but gaining a sense of more free action in Life and, while still bound in Mind, awakening to the higher possibilities of freedom by contact with the higher spiritual powers of creation.
This would yield a result “Free in the spirit within, conditioned and determined in Nature, striving in his soul to bring out the spiritual light, mastery and freedom to work upon the obscurity and embarassment of his first natural conditions and their narrow determinations, this would be the nature of man the mental being.”
Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 9, Karma and Freedom, pp. 81-82,