While it is the first formulation of human motivation, the force of desire, attraction towards what is pleasant and avoidance of what is unpleasant, is not the sole motivating factor in our lives. We sometimes overrule physical and vital happiness to achieve results of another order. For instance, we may choose to forego the physical joys of food, sex or other pleasures in the pursuit of a mental or spiritual result. Similarly, many undergo extreme difficulties, privation and pain in order to achieve some goal, whether this be a goal of intellectual research or climbing mountains, or participating in extreme sports of various kinds. We see then, both the ability and the aspiration to move beyond the most basic law of attraction and repulsion, greed and fear, arising with the growth of the inherent powers that are our higher nature.
Sri Aurobindo discusses “our own greater motives of action”. “The pursuit of Truth may entail on me penalties and sufferings; the service of my country or the world may demand from me loss of my outward happiness and good fortune or the destruction of my body; the increase of my strength of will and greatness of spirit may be only possible by the ardours of suffering and the firm renunciation of joys and pleasures.”
This paradigm works not just in the present life but in whatever other lives the process of rebirth creates. “Happiness and sorrow, good fortune and ill-fortune are not my main concern whether in this birth or in future lives, but my perfection and the higher good of mankind purchased by whatever suffering and tribulation.”
The joy that comes about through these acts is a higher spiritual joy, eventually leading to the “highest spiritual Ananda which has no dependence on outward circumstances, but rather is powerful to new-shape their meanings and transform their reactions. These things may be above the first formulation of the world energy here, may be influences from superior planes of the universal existence, but they are still a part of the economy of Karma here, a process of the spiritual evolution in the body. And they bring in a higher soul nature and will and action and consequence, a higher rule of Karma.”
Once we admit the action of impulsions that defer the immediate seeking of joy or avoidance of pain, we develop a much more complex and subtle hierarchy of action and result of Karma.