This being the case even in the present life we have interconnections with the other worlds. Influences are coming from above and our present desires are not only desires of our physical life. Our present ideations are not only ideations of the physical world. Many of our desires are desires imported from the vital world. Many of our ideas are ideas derived from the mental world. That is why when our body is left at the time of death there is a travel to these worlds and when we go to these worlds many of the things that we have desired here they find their greater satisfaction there. And then they can be exhausted there. So there is sojourn in the vital world, sojourn in the mental world and we then enter into the psychic plane where there is a rest for sometime. There is then a preparation for the next birth.
With regard to the next birth there are two ideas which are current. As Sri Aurobindo points out there is a metaphysical side to it and a moral side to it. Metaphysical means in the very nature of things, fundamentally it is so; moral means, because of the nature of arrangement of things. So when we say metaphysical we mean the very nature of things rebirth is necessary. And when we say there is a moral aspect, it means that because of the arrangement of things of the world rebirth will be of a particular kind.
First we see the metaphysical aspect. It is said metaphysically that because of the nature of God, because of the nature of the world and because of the nature of the soul, because of the intention of God in the world and in the soul, rebirth is inevitable.
What exactly is the import of this statement? The meaning of it is since it is intended that the Totality is to be manifested in the embodied individual and since this Totality cannot become embodied within one life span, rebirth becomes inevitable. One is bound to be reborn, you cannot escape it. It is not left to us at this stage because in the very nature of it we have consented to this adventure. Until this task is done rebirth is inevitable.
Now this intention is you might say is the very first karma of every one of us. In our agreement we have consented to participate in the manifestation of the Totality in embodied individuality, our agreement to manifest the Totality in our embodied individuality, this intention we might say is the very first karma.
The word karma means action. Action is nothing but a will behind which force is exercised to produce a result. So we are bound by this first will. This is our first bondage. We have agreed to it, because of this agreement we have entered into a play of exclusive concentration of consciousness. Exclusive concentration of consciousness produces ignorance and ignorance produces desire. And once ignorance and desire are present our bondage becomes extremely tight. The first bondage was not tight as it was nearer freedom. You were free to choose to enter into this game and you had the freedom to do so. But once you have taken this decision and entered now into a greater depth where ignorance and desire are also produced then the bondage is very tight and you can hardly now expect to be free from it quickly. That is why it is said ignorance and desire are our greatest bondage. It is this ignorance and desire which bring us back again and again to rebirth.
Until ignorance and desire are dissolved, we cannot hope to be free from the necessity of rebirth. And even when ignorance and desire are removed, you may be free from the necessity of rebirth but not necessarily from rebirth itself. You may consciously choose to be reborn because the intention is to reach that goal and intention is not to get out of the cycle of rebirth.
So you might say there are three main steps of our movement. The first is the bondage to ignorance and desire, as a result of which rebirth becomes necessary, inevitable and you cannot escape from the wheel of rebirth at all. Second is the abolition of ignorance and desire as a result of which you can become free from the necessity of rebirth but you may continue to be reborn. That is why you find even great bhaktas praying for rebirth again and again so that they can continue to work in the world. Even Buddha when he was about to enter into Nirvana took a vow that I will not enter into nirvana until every individual in the world is liberated. The third is attainment of that goal viz. the manifestation of the Totality in the embodied individual. These are the three main steps of the whole process. And this entire process is basically a process of the Will starting from the first Will, the first Karma. And that is why the importance of Karma in the entire machinery of the world and our selves.
That brings us to the moral aspect of the question. How is this Karma organized and arranged in the world? What kind of relationship between the Soul and the Will, the Soul and its Karma?
According to the normal, ordinary notions, everyone is reborn according to his past karmas. The arrangement is such in the world that the past karma determines his new birth. And people conceive of this arrangement to be so tight, so rigid, so fixed that one is apt to forget the presence of the soul altogether. Karma becomes the most important element and we are apt to forget that the karma was started by the soul itself so the soul must have kind of a place in the arrangement of things. So if you want to have a clear notion as to how the arrangement of karma, we must see constantly the relationship between the Soul and Karma.
Supposing I decide today that I will fly by a certain flight in the evening, this is a karma I have put forward, a will and as a result of the will that is put forward my consequent activities will be determined by this karma. But since it is I who has decided to go there I should also have the possibility of saying in the evening that I will not fly today. So, I can cancel out my karma by a new will. Such is the real position of soul and karma. When you put forth a karma, it is true that it binds you but it binds you so long as the soul does not take a new decision and cancels it, overrides it or modifies it. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says that karma is a process but process is not all. There is a spirit also in the process. And spirit therefore can be modified. Now if this knowledge is possessed by us then the ordinary obsession that many people have with karma can be remedied, – because very often people are obsessed with the bondage to karma and people feel that if these things are happening in my life it is because of my karma and one cannot help it – can do nothing about it. It is written in my astrological horoscope that something will happen and it is bound to happen. But even in the Indian astrology where law of karma is given a great predominance, there is a conscious acceptance that whatever is indicated in your graph can be modified, can be changed, can be altered, can be over passed altogether.