Thursday, August 7, 2008

To operate with all the trappings while claiming not to be a religion is a Huge contradiction

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Previous: Aspects of Amal Kiran: Part II—by Anurag Banerjee Next: Aspects of Amal Kiran: Part III—by Anurag Banerjee
Frank Visser's Integral World: ideological genealogies
by Rich on Tue 05 Aug 2008 08:53 AM PDT Permanent Link

There is an extended essay on Integral World on a topic which began as a short article here on SCIY. The article was on ideological orientations of theories and practices which claim the title integral. The article on integral world goes into much greater depth exploring the genealogies of ideological orientations. The link is here: Posted to: Main Page PHILOSOPHY .. Critical Theory & Postmodernism

Comments by ned on Tue 05 Aug 2008 01:33 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Rich, I just read this article. It's excellent and very comprehensive. I would also drop the name of Robert Godwin (of the "One Cosmos" blog) as being one of the "neo-conservatives" coming under your classification. Although on his blog he constantly mocks and makes fun of what he calls "new age integralists" (not to mention leftists, Muslims, Palestinians, gays, feminists, etc. etc., i.e. anyone he doesn't personally like), he frequently (mis)appropriates Sri Aurobindo to push his individualistic pro-American capitalist agenda. If you've read his book, he has come up with his own philosophy. He uses Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to support his ideas, but my impression is that he has no idea what they are talking about.

Re: "One Cosmos," Robert Godwin's Blog
by ned on Tue 05 Aug 2008 09:42 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Have you guys read Godwin's blog? It showcases some of the worst misuses of Sri Aurobindo I've seen. He used Sri Aurobindo's stance on violence to justify the patently immoral war on Iraq, for instance. This guy is a typical American capitalistic individualist -- and I think he isn't even conscious of his biases and quite happily goes on projecting his shadow onto every group he perceives as threatening to his political and economic agenda. Reply

Reply by ned on Tue 05 Aug 2008 01:48 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Some additional comments on another part of the article:

'While claiming to disassociate his yoga from Hinduism many of the practices of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram during his lifetime (and certainly today) in fact mimic traditional forms of Hinduism. These practices include performance of an audience with the Guru (darshan) and prostration at the feet of the Guru. Moreover, it appears that these practices were deliberately cultivated to satisfy the psychological needs of Indian followers by preserving their religious traditions, because in the words of the Mother : “it gave them the fullness they needed”. (Heehs 2008 p356). Even if uttered with the best of intention this statement is absolutely patronizing.'

Personally, I'm a Westernized Pakistani, who more or less gave up on all religions and religious practices many years ago. I thought it was all superstitious nonsense. However, I have recently been coming around and learning to respect and see the value of traditional ritualism.

The reason for this is very simple. Traditional structures provide a base which can hold the newer consciousness as it descends -- although of course newer forms must be brought into existence. My contempt and disregard for traditional structures was just a lack of equality in the vital being -- a reactionary attitude, which I'm now working on yogically to rectify. The reality is that the Divine is equal to all forms of worship. I don't think Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were patronizing their followers by allowing them to indulge in these rituals -- I think it's a testament to their equality that they were able to take on devotees with such differing and contradictory approaches.

And sometimes, when I've had experiences of darker dimensions of Reality, I tell you, spontaneously prostrating to photographs of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has gotten me out of an awful lot of trouble. The simple heart-centered bhakti aspect of such rituals is really good for teaching the vital being humility, without which it can get really overblown and out of control. To me this isn't cultic behavior, it's just a metaphor for my aspiration to surrender to the Supreme directly -- of which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are symbols for me.

But of course the value of prostrating to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's photos or whatever depends entirely on one's inner state. One could do this in an egoic state, being a loud bhakta and showing off one's devotion, which is just vital ego, or one could do this in a spirit of psychic equality and surrender, which is completely different. For me, these sorts of rituals have never been planned -- they just happen spontaneously.

Reply by Rich on Tue 05 Aug 2008 06:27 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Lets see if I remember correctly the context here was that Mother was speaking with a Westerner who has reservations about watching Indians perform Hindu religious ceremonies in a discipline called Integral Yoga, which made the claim that it was not sectarian nor was it a religion, but which in fact presented all the forms and trappings of a religion.

In such a context Mother remarks that we are doing this for the benefits of Indians, apparently because they require such religiosity or forms of religious expression. In other words its not a religion and you as a Westerner may understand this, but Indians need religion served up with their yoga!

If one treats people or groups differently based on nationality, ethnicity, race etc, and their propensity to comprehend things, in this instance as if one nationality namely, Indians are not capable of a more nuanced understanding of yoga and religion, then yes by definition this is patronizing.

Remember my critique is not that they continued a traditional religious practice of South Asia, that would have been entirely appropriate, had they not claimed that Integral Yoga stood above narrow sectarianism and in fact had risen above all religion.

Continuing to operate with all the trappings of traditional religious practices while claiming not to be a religion is a Huge contradiction and IMO has produced a myriad of unresolvable problems in the Integral Yoga community after Sri Aurobinodo's and Mother's passing.

This is a social critique however, and I am not speaking of the value one may get from practice of Bhakti. I personally value the experience that Bhakti can provide, and neither I nor anyone else can judge the value one gets from a subjective experience derived from any practice.

Reply by ned on Tue 05 Aug 2008 06:52 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
*In other words its not a religion and you as a Westerner may understand this, but Indians need religion served up with their yoga!*

But there are certain karmic tendencies which do exist, for different sexes, races, cultures, etc. If someone has already risen above those tendencies, great -- and generally as soon as you come into contact with the psychic being a real individuality comes to the fore. But that doesn't change the fact that people who are still immature in their consciousness inherit atavisms from the culture and that needs to be taken into account by the Guru who has taken responsibility for their spiritual progress.

I agree with what you're saying about the contradictions that arise when people confuse integral yoga with traditional Hindu practices. And even Sri Aurobindo says somewhere that people who stick to traditional forms like the Muslim namaz or the Christian prayer or various Hindu rituals would eventually find such rituals becoming an obstacle in their sadhana. But nevertheless there are cultural realities that people have attachments to. (Westerners, for their part, have attachments to individualism.)

I guess personally I give Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the benefit of the doubt. It's a huge sacrifice to be a true Guru and to consent to bear the karma and ignorance of your devotees.

Reply by ned on Tue 05 Aug 2008 07:16 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Also, I'm quite certain that if an Indian had come to the Mother who was not interested in traditional Indian spiritual practice, she would never have insisted on it. She does sometimes make general statements about the sexes, races, nations, etc., but always with a detachment and an awareness of the temporality of such statements. In the Agenda I remember she gives a caveat that reality is never all that clear-cut, that all these karmic tendencies have gotten mixed together in the evolution toward Oneness anyway, and so on.

The whole purpose of finding the psychic being is to finally be liberated from the habits of Prakriti and the attachments to the past and be someone totally new, totally unique. Which, frankly, none of us can be at the level of the ego, although we often pretend we are. ;-) Reply

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