The Free Individual Power of the Spirit Uses Karma As Its Instrument of Action

As long as we place ourselves within the framework of Body, Life and Mind, and identify ourselves with them, we have the perception that we are bound by the chain of cause and effect, the law of Karma. In order to escape from this bondage, the most frequently proposed solutions involve abandonment of the force of desire, and the consequent abandonment of the life and actions of the world. Whether this leads to “nirvana” or to an absolute, silent and unmoving identification with the eternal Brahman, the path is away from the world.

Sri Aurobindo proposes another solution, however. This solution assigns a real significance and purpose to the life in the world and the evolution of consciousness that we see as the defining thread running through the development we can observe or infer. He accepts the idea that the law of Karma is the instrument of this development. The idea of freedom from karma, which in the past has been based on abandonment of the life of action, needs to find a new meaning from this viewpoint.

Sri Aurobindo finds the answer to this conundrum in the idea that the eternal Spirit, which stands outside the action of Nature, and shapes, controls and utilizes it, has an element here within the framework, but nevertheless independent of it and partaking of the freedom of the Spirit. This is the individual soul. The mind, life and body, as instruments of Nature, are subject to the law of Karma.

Sri Aurobindo explains: “These things are subject to the action of Karma, but man in himself, the real man within is not its subject, na karma lipyate nare”. Rather is Karma his instrument and its developments the material he uses, and he is using it always from life to life for the shaping of a limited and individual, which may be one day a divine and cosmic personality. For the eternal spirit enjoys an absolute freedom.”

The Spirit is free, both outside the manifestation and within it. The action, the energy, the materiality does not bind the freedom of the Spirit. To the extent that we recognize that the individual soul partakes of the eternal Spirit, it too must be free.

“But if….there is any such thing as an individual power of spirit, it must, in whatever degree of actuality share in the united force and freedom of the self-existent Divinity; for it is being of his being.”

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 9, Karma and Freedom, pp. 82-83,

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