The Terrestrial Law of Physical Energy

In our ongoing attempt to infuse moral significance into everything that happens in the world, we frequently imply that events and forces occurring in the physical world are “God’s retribution” for some failing on someone’s part. In this view, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes are a sign of some higher judgment upon us. Victims then cry that they do not know why “God did this to them”, or why the innocent children caught in the maelstrom were made to suffer.

Sri Aurobindo makes the point that when we remove this moral filter from our view, it becomes clear that the physical energy operates on its own principles and that it is not some kind of concious retributive machinery of God. “The flood” or “Sodom and Gomorrah” do not represent God’s judgment on humanity, but results of physical energy carrying out its natural functions regardless of who or what happens to be in the way. “The fire is no respecter of persons and if the saint or the thinker is cast into it, it will not spare his body. The sea, the stormwind, the rock on which the ship drives do not ask whether the just man drowned in the waters deserved his fate. If the lightning that strikes impartially tree or beast or man, is–but it would appear in the case of the man alone, for the rest is accident,–the sword of God or the instrument of Karma, if the destruction wrought by the volcano, the typhoon or the earthquake is a punishment for the sins of the community or individually of the sins in a past life of each man there that suffers or perishes, at least the natural forces know it not and care nothing about it and rather they conceal from us in the blind impartiality of their rage all evidence of any such intention. The sun shines and the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike; the beneficence and the maleficence of Nature, the gracious and dreadful Mother, her beauty and terror, her utility and her danger are bestowed and inflicted without favour or disfavour on all her children and the good man is no more her favourite than the sinner. If a law of moral punishment is imposed through the action of her physical forces, it must be by a Will from above her or a Force acting unknown to her in her inconscient bosom.”

These physical forces would otherwise be a blunt and indiscriminate instrument that strikes down whole communities to target one person. Certainly a moral justicer would use a finer tool to target just those who need to be targeted without involving vast numbers of others, including innocent beings, plants and animals in the destruction.

Sri Aurobindo,Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 14, The Terrestrial Law, pp. 118-119,