“As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap”?

Sri Aurobindo brings up the phenomenon that has been so frequently the basis of the idea that there is a moral order in the universe that manages responses to our actions in some kind of relatively precise way. “For there can be distinguished in Nature a certain element of the law of the talion or–perhaps a more appropriate figure, since this action seems rather mechanical than rational and deliberate–a boomerang movement of energy returning upon its transmitter. The stone we throw is flung back by some hidden force in the world upon ourselves, the action we put out upon others recoils, not always by a direct reaction, but often by devious and unconnected routes, on our own lives and sometimes, though that is by no means a common rule, in its own exact figure or measure. This is a phenomenon so striking to our imagination and impressive to our moral sense and vital feelings that it has received some kind of solemn form and utterance in the thought of all cultures…”

At the same time, Sri Aurobindo cautions that we cannot simply adopt this rule as “sufficient evidence of a moral order.” While such dramatic incidents impress us, they are neither universally occurring nor generally applicable. “If it were a regular feature, men would soon learn the code of the draconian impersonal legislator and know what to avoid and the list of life’s prohibitions and vetoes. But there is no such clear penal legislation of Nature.”

This retributive action, when it occurs, is more illustrative of the more general principles of the lines of energy having their own effect, and eliciting forth both forces that respond to such action and those that oppose and deny that line. Thus, those who “live by the sword” will tend to “die by the sword”, not by some moral imperative of the karmic order, but because the energy they create and the efforts they make put them in the way of a response in kind.

Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 15, Mind Nature and Law of Karma, pp. 135-136, http://www.lotuspress.com/item.php?item=990117