Every energy in the universe has its “cause and effect” aspect, and thus, we can expect that there is a karmic consequence to the impulse that turns the seeking for knowledge, light, truth, God, into an imperative of the soul. As we have seen in other instances, the karmic impact of each energy is primarily focused on the plane and to the type of energy that is involved, even if there are tangential or secondary effects that take place across other types of energy.
Sri Aurobindo focuses on this issue: “But the result that it brings on this higher plane of the seeking in mind is simply and purely the upward growth of the soul in light and truth; that and whatever happiness it brings is the one supreme reward demanded by the soul of knowledge and the darkening of the light within, the pain of the fall from truth, the pain of the imperfection of not living only by its law and wholly in the light is its one penalty of suffering. The outward rewards and the sufferings of life are small things to the higher soul of knowledge in man: even his high mind of knowledge will often face all that the world can do to afflict it, just as it is ready to make all manner of sacrifices in the pursuit and the affirmation of the truth it knows and lives for.”
One cannot expect that the intense drive that motivates an individual to place the pursuit of knowledge as the highest goal and aspiration is going to yield rewards of physical comfort, vital satisfaction or some kind of success in the world as its ordinary result. This illustrates the basic principle that Sri Aurobindo has described that untangles the normal view of karma to show that specific types of energy do not tend to provide clear results of another and different type. Just as the focus on vital success in life, the accumulation of wealth and material comfort is not tied, one way or the other, to moral or ethical focus in the being, so the “rewards and punishments” that are attendant on the seeking for pure knowledge must necessarily be primarily related to the mental and spiritual energies being put forth in that seeking.
Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section III, Chapter 16, The Higher Lines of Karma, pp. 153-154, http://www.lotuspress.com/item.php?item=990117