Monday, October 20, 2008

SR slips on scholarship

Re: Rationalism and the yogic life
by Debashish on Sun 19 Oct 2008 10:10 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

The passage quoted above from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo has come in for some analysis by one of the leaders of what RC calls "the ex-communication movement" - an analysis which has been widely distributed and much appreciated by those who are inclined to routinely nod their heads. It is instructive to read this analysis in the context of the actual passage as carried above:

[SR: "Example 3: Freudian Analysis of Spirituality: Peter deliberately ignores the numerous examples of Sri Aurobindo’s experiments from the Record proving many of these powers....]

The analysis hardly merits consideration, but given the surprising group conformity, it would be good to pay some attention to it. In the passage quoted above, the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo presents Sri Aurobindo's claims as "the result of psychological instabilities"!? He "force us to accept his rational and Freudian explanation of imbalance"!?

What kind of reading skill does this imply? The author "quote(s) lengthily from reductionist and Freudian psychoanalysts"!? Where does he even quote lengthily from anyone in this passage? And is William James a Freudian psychoanalyst?

William James is an early 20th c. American psychologist, whom Sri Aurobindo had praise for and who wrote the famous book Varieties of Religious Experience. His work is still very active today in attempts to study spiritual experiences as having truth value and ontological reality in the field of comparative mysticism.

Similarly Anton Boisen is no psychoanalyst but rather a theological thinker who felt a calling to "break down the dividing wall between religion and medicine." Does the author "quote extensively from Sudhir Kakar's book The Analyst and the Mystic"?

He makes a short reference to this book, to make the point, in fact, about Sri Aurobindo's balance and sanity. In this group Sudhir Kakar is the only (Indian) psychologist with a Freudian background, but his work is much more open-ended than that of usual Freudians and, as the author shows, in fact serves Sri Aurobindo very positively. DB Reply

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