The Three Inter-Connected Aspects of the Law of Karma

All existence is a nexus between the individual, the universal and the transcendent. The law of Karma, therefore, in order to be fully understood, must take into account each of these three aspects. Most people look at the law of Karma from a purely individual standpoint. This obviously is too simplistic a view and does not provide much guidance or real understanding. It is just one aspect and not the complete picture. The idea that a person is reborn from life to life with a consistent personality that is subject to some kind of retributive justice is clearly not the meaning of the law of Karma.

We have explored the interaction of the individual and the society and world within which the individual lives and acts and determined that part of the action of Karma is the impact of the individual on the world and the world on the individual. The individual as a manifestation of the universal force of Nature expresses larger forces that are a work generally and which have consequences generally. This too, however, does not present us a complete picture.

In order to complete the view we need to remind ourselves that the ultimate significance of our lives lies in the connection to the transcendent Spirit which is manifesting itself through Time using both the individual and the universal as the field of that manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo integrates these three together: “But there is another, an ultimate and essential sense of Karma, a relation in it between the soul in us and the Supreme or the All-Self; on that all is founded and to that all leads and must refer to it at every step. That relation too is not so simple a thing as is imagined by the religions. For it must answer to a very vast spiritual sense underlying the whole process of Karma and there must be a connection of each of our workings in the use of the universal energy to that fundamental and perhaps infinite significance. These three things, the will of the soul in Nature and the action of Nature in and on the soul and through it and back to it, the effect of the intercrossing between the action of the soul on others and the return to it of the force of its action complicated by theirs, and the meaning of the soul’s action in relation to its own highest Self and the All-Self, to God, make up between them all the bearings of Karma.”

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 13, The Foundation, pg. 116,

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