Decoupling Karma From Suffering

Much of our view of the nature of Karma, and its inevitable link to the experience of suffering is due to the Buddhist explanation of this connection. The experience of the Buddha was a key step forward in our ability to begin to separate ourselves from the surface personality and begin to seek and, eventually, find a standpoint outside the limited human experience. The impetus for this seeking was the formula that all action creates karma, and that all karma ties us to the experience of suffering.

Sri Aurobindo points out that it is not sufficient to stop with this experience, as it does not encompass the entire realm of possibilities, the true freedom beyond the limits of human surface nature, wherein one finds not only peace and separation, but the true power and consciousness of the eternal Existence that founds and creates all existence.

“To find self is the cure of suffering, because self is infinite possession and perfect satisfaction. But to find self in quiescence is not the whole meaning of the spiritual evolution, but to find it too in its power of being; for being is not only eternal status, but also eternal movement, not only rest, but also action. There is a delight of rest and a delight of action, but in the wholeness of the spirit these two things are no longer contraries, but one and inseparable. The status of the spirit is an eternal calm, but also it self-expression in world-being is without any beginning or end, because eternal power means an eternal creation. When we gain the one, we need not lose its counterpart and consequence. To get to a foundation is not to destroy all capacity for superstructure.”

“Karma is nothing but the will of the Spirit in action, consequence nothing more but the creation of will.”

“When the will is limited in mind, karma appears as a bondage and a limitation, consequence as a reaction or an imposition. But when the will of te being is infinite in the spirit, karma and consequence become instead the joy of the creative spirit, the construction of the eternal mechanist, the word and drama of the eternal poet, the harmony of the eternal musician, the play of the eternal child. This lesser, bound, seemingly separate evolution is only a step in the free self-creation of the Spirit from its own illimitable Ananda. That is behind all we are and do; to hide it from mind and bring it slowly forward into the front of existence and action is the present play of Self with Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 10, Karma, Will and Consequence, pp. 91-92,