A New Understanding of the Action of Karma

The basic tendency and characteristic of the mind is to divide, analyze and classify. We use this power to great advantage in our attempt to harness powers of Nature, but we must also recognize that this power has its disadvantages, particularly when we try to address the meaning of life and our own spiritual development, things which require a unifying rather than a dividing intelligence.

We have used our fragmenting and characterizing capabilities to try to understand the working of the law of Karma, but we have now had to recognize that this has led to over-simplification and, at last, to a failure to appreciate the vast, manifold and flexible movement that actually is the basis for what we call Karma.

Sri Aurobindo sets about to re-set our understanding, and thereby move us beyond the limits of the mechanical view we have had of Karma to a much more dynamic view: “Let us then call Karma no longer a Law, but rather the many-sided dynamic truth of action and life, the organic movement here of the Infinite.”

“Action of Karma follows and takes up into its flexible sweep and surge many potential lines of the Spirit; it is the processus of the creative Infinite; it is the long and many-sided way of the progression of the individual and the cosmic soul in Nature. Its complexities cannot be unravelled by our physical mind ever bound up in the superficial appearance, nor by our vital mind of desire stumbling forward in the cloud of its own longings and instincts and rash determinations through the maze of the myriad favoring and opposing forces of the visible and the invisible worlds. Nor can it be perfectly classified, accounted for, tied up in bundles by the precisions of our logical intelligence in its inveterate search for clear-cut formulas.”

A true understanding of Karma can only come about when we are able to see with the vision of the integrating intelligence which Sri Aurobindo has called the supramental consciousness. This consciousness holds together all the apparently opposing and disparate parts in a complex, interacting, complete Oneness while simultaneously recognising the individual strands and streams of action and manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Appendix 1, Chapter 17, The Tangle of Karma, pp. 155-156, http://www.lotuspress.com/item.php?item=990117

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