Failure of the Ordinary View of Karma

We generally approach the world and life with an overlay of the moral and ethical viewpoint that we would like to see operative there. We tend to try to shape the world in our own image, rather than try to view it “as it is” independent of our specific viewpoint or ideology. This filtering of experience, however, tends to distort the reality and eventually, to mislead us about the significance of our lives. Sri Aurobindo points out that “The problem of knowledge is after all this, to reflect the movements of the Infinite and see, and not to force it into a mould prepared for it by our intelligence.”

This faulty methodology of knowledge colors our view of Karma as well. We expect the world to conform to our notions of morality, right and wrong, and when we see that the world appears not to reward the good, or punish the evil, we try to find a way to justify what we perceive to be a failure of the universe by creating the idea of rewards or punishments in some after-life or next lifetime.

A more sound method must be used to understand the significance of life and the world, a method not colored by emotional or mental preconceptions, a method that first observes, then organizes the observed facts before overlaying convenient interpretations over them.

Sri Aurobindo proposes in this chapter to do such a review of terrestrial life, as a basis and foundation for a further review of the concept of Karma.

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 14, The Terrestrial Law, pg. 117,