Laws of Nature and Moral Law

While we can recognize that the mental viewpoint that associates our actions with moral or ethical consequences does not appear to be entirely correct, it is nevertheless a fact that there must be some underlying truth to which our viewpoint is connected, however distorted or incomplete our current view may be. Sri Aurobindo undertakes a review of the laws of Nature as we can understand them to help sort out this underlying truth from the accretions of the mental and vital nature which may distort it.

“First, it is sure that Nature has laws of which the observance leads to or helps well-being and of which the violation imposes suffering; but all of them cannot be given a moral significance. Then there is the certainty that there must be a moral law of cause and consequence in the total web of her weaving and this we would perhaps currently put into the formula that good produces good and evil evil, which is a proposition of undoubted truth, though also we see in this complicated world that evil comes out of what we hold to be good, and again out of evil disengages itself something that yet turns to good.”

The complications we see here indicate a level of complexity that goes beyond the human mental view, and which also adheres to the larger universal manifestation and thus does not necessarily fit neatly into the framework that we want to fence around the laws of Nature. Further, it must be recognized that human mental considerations of good and evil are somewhat adaptable through time and circumstance. Finally we need to recognize that there may be some level of confusion of different orders of results in our view of the consequences of actions, karma. Each of these elements needs to be disengaged in order to gain a more true perspective of the laws of Nature in operation and to understand the relativity of our attempts to define moral law within our mental framework and then impose it on the universe.

“Perhaps our system of values is too rigidly precise or too narrowly relative; there are subtle things in the totality, minglings, interrelations, cross-currents, suppressed or hidden significances which we do not take into account. The formula is true, but is not the whole truth, at least as now understood in its first superficial significance.”

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 12, Karma and Justice, pg. 104,