Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Forceful conversion and transportation of children to orphanages and seminaries

Sri Aurobindo Service Society (SASS) wants probe into murder Kozhikode Selasa, Agust 26 2008 IST India

Sri Aurobindo Service Society (SASS) today demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the August 23 murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati in Orissa.

Condemning the murder, the SASS, in a release here, said the Swamiji 'obstructed forceful conversion and transportation of children to orphanages and seminaries in South India' thus developing enmity with large number of non-governmental organisations and foreign funding agencies in the Eastern State. It also sought a probe into bulk money transaction by the NGOs working among the people. -- (UNI) -- 26MS52.xml

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Van Vrekhem makes the interesting point that it is no coincidence that the Protestant revolt began in Germany with Luther

Of Messiahs and Monsters from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob

I was building up to this important point about Nazism, progress, transcendence, and mysticism, when Will appeared out of nowhere and stole my God of Thunder. (BTW, I haven't had time to check it out, but that site looks like a pretty interesting.) As he pointed out,

"Nazism was, in a sense, a stab at progress, and a spiritual progress, to be sure. Doomed to failure, of course, because it, like communism, attempted to transcend collectively, an impossibility. I think we should make no mistake, though -- there is a meta-power in the collective that can be harnassed, channeled. Thus Nazism was a mysticism gone bad, and when mysticism goes bad, it becomes evil."

Precisely. In Hitler and His God, we have to get to page 568 before we read Aurobindo saying the same thing, only in the 1930s:

"Hitler is a new type, an infra-rational mystic, representing the dark counterpart of what we are striving to arrive at: a supra-rational mysticism.... He is a mystic, only a mystic of the wrong kind! He goes into solitude for his messages and waits till they come."

This was true. As a psychologist, I find the description of Hitler's "voice" to be very different from any typical psychosis, in which the individual has no control over his delusions and hallucination. But in Hitler's case, he would court and call upon "the voice," in the same way that an artist might call upon his muse or I might call upon my household gnome. So who or what was the voice? Whatever it was, it gave him a kind of absolute conviction, plus the complete fearlessness and unwavering faith to carry out its promptings. Now, who does this remind us of? Yes, the Islamists follow that same pattern, with their insane faith in the transcendently evil. Clearly, it is no coincidence that Mein Kampf is a perennial bestseller in the Muslim world, or that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was an ally of Hitler, or that Jew hatred is central to both ideologies.

Just as the Divine leaves its traces in time, Satan always leaves his scent, so to speak. It reminds me of one of the final scenes of Batman Begins, where the Lieutenant hands Batman the Joker's calling card. For what is the Joker card? It is simultaneously nothing and anything. In fact, it can be anything you want it to be, from the highest of the high (the king) to the lowest of the low, or anything in between. It can even be another gender (the queen). As such, it abolishes all distinction and hierarchy, except that in a perverse way, the nothing-anything of the Joker is the "top," as he stands completely outside -- he transcends and upends -- any established or meaningful order.

Now, this is surely a kind of mysticism, but it is again a mysticism "from below" rather than above. It abolishes distinctions before they even have a chance to become distinct, which was again one of the central features of Nazism. You might say that there are only two distinctions, 1) the Volk, and 2) the Fuhrer -- who was truly a "nothing" and nobody who became the German "all." There was also the SA and the SS, but in both cases, their admittance into the hierarchy very much depended upon the degree to which they had subordinated their own will and identity to the Fuhrer principle. The SS in particular was a sort of esoteric mystic body; in fact, they modeled themselves after the Jesuits, only absolutely committed to Hitler instead of Christ.

In his comment, Will also noted that "Personal responsibility arises from genuine individualism and self-awareness -- meaning the attempt to overcome one's self-love, one's own lower instincts. When the emphasis is on a collective responsibility -- meaning making sure you recycle and pay respects to Gaia, etc. -- and personal responsibility is distinctly de-emphasized, then we're veering close to a mysticism gone bad."

We'll discuss the nature-worship of Nazism in a later post. But as Will implies, the nationalism of Germany was a parody of the patriotism of the United States, the latter of which must first involve defense of the sacred principle of the individual. But in the case of German nationalism, it was in defense of the innate superiority of the German people in the collective sense. Again, this was conceived in terms of a mystical essence that emanated from the Volk, and only through the individual in a derivative way. There was a "German genius" that was in the blood, not on "paper," as it is in the case of America's founding documents.

Therefore, in the case of Nazi Germany, they needed to eliminate "foreign blood" in the same way Americans must constantly battle against "lies," or more precisely, "the lie." Hitler had no scruples whatsoever in lying, murdering, or backstabbing in order to further his "higher" truth, which was the racial purity of the German spirit. In fact, in that context, no degree of barbarism was off limits. Everything followed logically -- or infralogically -- from his first principles, which were written in the blood.

Van Vrekhem makes the interesting point that it is no coincidence that the Protestant revolt began in Germany with Luther. I have no idea whether this is generally accepted by other scholars, but Van Vrekhem notes that Christianity always had an uneasy relationship with the German psyche, and was very much superimposed on a much more primitive pagan mythology that was never forgotten among the "volk." Therefore, when Luther came along to declare independence from the central church, he was merely exploiting collective psychic energies that were already very near the surface.

In fact, it can easily be seen how Luther was a kind of proto-Hitler, in particular, with his appalling anti-Semitism. (I'm not trying to compare him to Hitler, as I just don't know enough; but I wonder if someone like Jakob Boehme -- or Meister Eckhart before him -- was the "bright side" to Luther's "dark side" of the German psyche?) Van Vrekhem notes that Luther exploited the same divide "that had opposed the Roman civilization against the barbarian world of the Germanic tribes," and that Germans "had been ready for a long time to recapture the fortress stolen by Christianity." "German utopianism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries almost always meant a return to pre-Christian, pagan spirituality in some form."

Furthermore, it seems that the longing for a "strong man from above" was a continuous feature of the German psyche. As Van Vrekhem notes,

"This need for an all-powerful master was an important feature in the psychological make-up of the Germans long before the strong man became the paragon of Fascism in many European nations. The Furher was longed and prayed for; he was expected before he took the shape of Adolf Hitler. It was not the least of of Hitler's intuitions that he knew exactly how to take on the part and act in a way to which the German masses subconsciously responded with religious fervor."

Another observer wrote that "The cry for a leader arose from the searing wish for somebody who would provide meaning in a secularized time, which apparently burdened the individual with an excess of individual responsibility and made him feel lonely" (emphases mine).

I want to emphasize that I am not trying to invoke Godwin's law in demonstrating the parallels between this and the Obamessiah hysteria, but parallels there are (not in the ends, but in the deeper structure of the infrarational mysticism). As we continue this series, I will be very curious to analyze the language and imagery of Obama's acceptance speech at his Nuremburg-like mass-hypnosis rally at Invesco Field before 75,000 adoring "fans" (which is the proper term, since this whole creepy exercise is "infra-poltical" and emotional, devoid of intellectual substance).

I just did a quick google search, and found this typical story, which says that "In a little more than a week, 75,000 lucky ticket-holders will head for Invesco Field, ready to usher in a new era of photos for their Facebook pages.... And eventually, upon the entrance of the Great Half-White Hope, they will be reduced to one giant goosebump.... But it won't just be the arrival of Barack Obama that will send chills down their spines. Obama, no doubt, will enter the stadium to the tune of some inspiring piece of pop music. Whose song will it be?.... Which song will electrify the crowd next Thursday?"

I don't know, WWLD? That is, what would Leni Riefenstahl recommend? A little Wagner? Interestingly, there is no question whatsoever that she was a gifted artist. But look at the mesmerizing effect Hitler had upon her will -- and she is hardly alone in this regard. Van Vrekhem relates story after story of how strong men -- generals, diplomats, artists, and journalists -- were reduced to Jello in his presence. He clearly transmitted a kind of supernatural power to which many individuals attested. Is there an "artist" in Hollywood, or a celebrity journalist, who hasn't fallen under Obama's spell? Yes, a few, but only a few. .

Obama clearly has a similar kind of power, at least over the susceptible -- for example, his vaunted ability to make Chris Matthews' pasty thigh tingle. Obviously it can't be Obama's ideas, which are so banal, nor his accomplishments, which are nil. As was very much true of Hitler, Obama's words often make no literal sense on paper, and yet, he personally has this undeniably potent persuasive power. And he especially has this power over people who are not inoculated by genuine religion. In other words, he has a "religious effect" on the secularized mind. Deepak could be speaking of Hitler when he writes of how the Annointed One will bring about a "quantum leap" in human consciousness. How could anyone believe such utter sacred cow manure?

In Riefenstahl's case, she writes of how she read a single page of Mein Kampf and was hooked: "The book made a tremendous impression on me. I became a confirmed National Socialist after reading the first page. I felt a man who could write such a book would undoubtedly lead Germany. I felt very happy that such a man had come."

Michael Burleigh writes of how Germany went "going boldly into the future in search of an imaginary past." In so doing, they created a gilded mythology in which they were the ones the world was waiting for.

Sri Aurobindo stressed the crucial importance of the individual, always of a higher consciousness than the group or the mass, and the center or 'dynamo' of the cosmic forces in humanity.... The message of Sri Aurobindo lay precisely in the possibility and necessity of an upward transformation of the human being, the only way of real progress. -- Georges Van Vrekhem

There are some people among us who feel very superior over the others

Superiority Complex of "some" of devotees of Sri Aurobindo....Posted by Gopal on August 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm ... here i guess i need to discuss something which i have been observing with many of my fellow devotees of The Mother and The Master. there are some people among us who feel very superior over the others because they are the followers of Sri Aurobindo, or for practicising Integral Yoga. They even go to an extent that they will announce the rest of the teachings, or philosophies are myth. some even tend to propagate the Masters vision like missionaries, though i have come across some words of The Master and The Mother to not to do so. they even like to overpower others beliefs...

the other one is a sort of egoistic statement. i am a follower of Sri Aurobindo, and i am following a philosophy which is beyond all the philosophies so far....on the surface it may not seem like an egoistic statement, but in the core what lurks is...i am superior than the this a right attitude? what The Mother and Master have said about such an attitude?

1 Comment Comment by Barindranath Chaki
Dear Gopal, it is a good question. The ideas in this regard which are in your mind definitely need a solution. But before answering this question, I may be questioning myself, as to whether I am committing the same mistake when I am answering you. Because, I am certain that what i am going to present here is perfectly true and correct, but when I am presenting them before you, one may have the impression that I am stating and emphasizing my statements in an egoistic way, or in a missionary way [two are different things].

In all that you have told, there are several things. I am touching them one by one. The Teaching of Sri Aurobindo, if we analyze rationally and philosophically, is a TURNING POINT in the history of all human endeavours. All philosophies are surpassed by Him, especially, because it is a great Synthesis. All previous thoughts and realizations of true value and worth are synthetized by Sri Aurobindo. None of the previous Realizations are left by Him. He opposes nothing. Nobody opposes Him, philosophically. But each of the previous teachings and discoveries [spiritual or philosophical] form a part in His Synthesis. So, naturally, when you find what Sri Aurobindo has taught us is the most unique and most universal Realization, you have the idea that He has surpassed all other things, all other teachings, and therefore all religions!

And when I will say that, one may have the Idea that I am having a feeling of superiority. But no! That is simply a statement of facts. What Sri Aurobindo has said to us is a New Truth — the truth about a New and Higher plane of Consciousness, the Supramental Consciousness, which will solve all the human problems. But that will be done only when we are ready for that. If we, the followers, think that His Teaching is just one of many Teachings, His discovery is one of the many discoveries, then we are mistakes! His truth is the final truth, at this moment. It has to be accepted and followed. Or else, we will meet ABYSS.

The Mother has told us: Men, countries, continents! The choice is imperative: Truth or the abyss.

When They [The Mother and sri Aurobindo] have brought the Truth and the New Consciousness and Force on earth, They have also chosen some persons as Their instruments, bigger or smaller. And Their forces are active though those instruements! And Some of the instruments feel their Work to be a Mission. So thay are often forced to take a missionary spirit. That is different from Ego. Ego or egoistic attitude is definitely bad, as it will lead nowhere. And our task is to go ahead. Hence, we shall have a clear understanding, a clear vision and a straight march ahead! Barin Chaki 22-08-08 11-14 PM.

It may be a long time before Avatarhood can be shown to be connected with evolution

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by RY Deshpande on Fri 22 Aug 2008 10:32 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Sri Aurobindo writes in a letter: "Avatarhood would have little meaning if it were not connected with the evolution."

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by Vikas on Fri 22 Aug 2008 12:35 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Very nice indeed coming directly from the Master. The challenge today comes from the rational mind. The Darwinian theory is a sound logical explanation with an overwhelming appeal to reason. Dawkins one of its strongest proponents - author of "The Blind Watchmaker" which purports to explain history of life on earth without any need of a God behind it - redefined biology to be "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." Dawkins gives credit to Darwin because his theory made it possible for one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist!.

According to him there is no need of a supernatural power to explain the development of life. So what remains and still in debate is - perhaps His last refuge and hiding place - the possibility of Him being the First remote Cause. So it may be a long time before Avatarhood can be shown to be connected with evolution. First the existence of an Avatar or atleast a supernatural power will have to be accepted.

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity--About Avatarhood
by RY Deshpande on Fri 22 Aug 2008 05:26 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

About the modern insistence on the biographical and historical, the external factuality of the Avatar’s life, Vikas has given us in the above a very relevant quotation from Sri Aurobindo. The full letter probably written to Dilip Roy is a masterly presentation of the theme dealing with the purpose of Avatarhood. The related complete text of the letter bearing on the present discussion of ours is reproduced in the following. (Letters on Yoga, pp. 428-30)
There is, it seems to me, a cardinal error in the modern insistence on the...

Sri Aurobindo clearly states that the modern insistence on the biographical and historical, on the external factuality of the Avatar is an error—because his life is never there on the surface for men to see. Mark also the assertion that the Avatar—a direct action from the Supreme—has no meaning if he does not stand for that, the Eternal. What is significant, what matters is that something which is manifested through him. The verifiable historicity gives us very little of that. It’s therefore a cardinal mistake to ignore if not write off this aspect from the account of one whose life is not on earth for men to see. Either take this into consideration in an appropriate way in the presentation or else call it anything else including a story of the life of such a person. ~ RYD Reply

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vrekhem makes a convincing case that there actually wasn't any such thing as "Nazism"

Dialogue With Death from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
I'm so preoccupied with this book on Hitler, that I don't think I can blog about anything else. The problem is, I haven't had time to reflect upon or assimilate it, so I will have to do so in real time, with you as guinea pigs. I think I last did this almost a year ago, with the book God and Gold, by Walter Russell Mead. That book was so rich with implications that I spent a couple of weeks "dialoguing" with the author.

This book is also rich with implications, although I still can't say whether I can give it a general recommendation, due to the Aurobindo factor (I also haven't quite finished it yet). Actually, there's not a single mention of Sri Aurobindo for the first 522 pages, which analyze the Nazi phenomenon from every angle, including its well documented immersion in the occult. Only in the last 140 pages or so does the author attempt to tie it all together with Sri Aurobindo's spiritual vision of the cosmos, which will not be to everyone's taste. (Oddly enough, the book ends on page 666.) ...

But let's first wrap up the last few posts about the source and end of cosmic evolution, because that itself might provide an important context for understanding "ultimate evil," which will in a sense represent "evolution gone wrong." For if evolution has an ultimate point, or destination, then anything that interferes with the process of realizing it will be more or less evil (but not absolutely everything, for if evolution were a "smooth" and linear process with no obstacles, little could be gained from it; let's just say at this juncture that there are "legitimate" or intrinsic obstacles and "illegitimate" or extrinsic ones).

To cite one obvious example, if reconciliation with the absolute principle requires that we first individuate from the group, then any political system that is hostile to individuality will be a priori evil. Thus, on that basis alone, Nazi Germany, or communist China, or any other nation that radically subordinates the individual to the group is evil, because they specifically prevent the emergence of the "many" that can be reconciled on a higher level with the One. Rather, they impose a "false oneness" from on high, or in the case of the left, enforce a radical diversity, or absolute relativity, from below. But in both cases, power ultimately trumps truth and prevents evolutionary progress, which rests on the synthesis into higher unities, both individually and collectively.

In Reason Through Revelation, Errol Harris attempts in the last chapter to reconcile Christianity with cosmic evolution in a manner that is strikingly compatible with Sri Aurobindo's vision (not to mention Teilhard's Phenomenon of Man, which was only posthumously published in 1959, a year after Harris' book). Harris writes that,"

It is therefore in and through the human mind in its moral organization and its social setting that the cosmic process fulfills itself, and the completion of its fulfillment would be the final perfection of conscious personality. The perfection of man thus merges into the perfection of God" (so to speak, God "in himself" not being subject to change). He quotes Charles Raven, who remarked that "If history is the completion of the story unfolded in its earlier stages by biology and psychology, [then] theology, whose primary data are the lives and experiences of the saints through whom God most fully reveals himself to us, should be at once the culmination of the whole."

Once again we are confronted by the idea of wholeness, which for me is the missing ontological key, without which nothing makes sense on any level. Wholeness is a thread that courses through every artery of the cosmos, unifying the above and below on the vertical axis, but also accounting for the relative totality of any given horizontal level. It is why there can be the relatively autonomous worlds of matter, life, and mind, but also why they are descended "from above." In the absence of wholeness, there is no accounting for either fact.

Harris then goes into a discussion of Jesus, whom he describes as an ideal of "human perfection which is the truth of all other ideals and the fulfillment of every other doctrine of human good. It is that upon which all moral and political theories converge. And it is an ideal of human personality, realized in a community such that every possible achievement in every field of human endeavor would be open to its members -- for what, in such a society, could serve as a bar to progress in other respects, so long as this moral achievement were assured?... This would be the commonwealth of God, and the charge upon its citizens is to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect. The final perfection of man and the perfection of God are identified" (emphases mine).

Now, this comes very close to the Raccoon ideal of "political truth" outlined on pp. 178-180 of your Coonifesto. For there it is written that the universal criteria we may apply to the goodness of a culture is in its ability to foster or impede integration and actualization. As I wrote there,

"If you apply these simple criteria, you will quickly come to the realization that for ninety-nine percent of human history, most cultures have actively stifled the expression of any unique potential, while at the same time erecting preposterous worldviews encouraging psychological fragmentation in the form of bizarre rituals, scapegoating, belief in strange gods, paranoia between the sexes, racial hatred, institutionalized violence, pointless taboos, and the abuse of children. This is why, with regard to history, my specific recommendation is the same as it would be for anyone involved in an abusive relationship: get out."

Now, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we shall soon see that Nazism represents a perfect shadow of what we might call "Christian evolution," or the possibility of further spiritual evolution within a Christian framework. In virtually all areas, Hitler wished to invert Christianity and literally create a new religion that represented its very opposite. As John Toland wrote, "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ."

Van Vrekhem makes a convincing case that there actually wasn't any such thing as "Nazism" in any consistently articulate sense. Much less was Nazi Germany primarily "fascist." Rather, its ultimate principle was not only the fuhrer in general, but Hitler in particular. Truly, just as Christianity is not fundamentally a religion of "ideas" but of a person, so too can it be said that Nazism was a man. Furthermore, as we shall see, he was most definitely a kind of "word made flesh," only in a very different sense than that with which we are familiar.

Nevertheless -- and this is another key point -- the Hitler phenomenon could not have occurred in the absence of a cosmic principle that allows word to become flesh. In other words, it was as if he were hijacking a legitimate channel for a very illegitimate end. But when you think about it, this is not fundamentally different than when someone uses language in order to lie. Our cosmos is built in such a way that objects and symbols may embody, encode, and transmit truth. But for that very same reason, they may encode and convey lies and ugliness. Likewise, if art is to exist, it will be capable of transmitting the celestial light from above as well as diabolical darkness from below.

It seems that in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and rapid change, human beings will begin to long for a messiah. In some sense, the messiah answers to a need in human beings, even a built in archetypal expectation. If one studies the cultural matrix of first century Judaism, one can better understand the context in which Jesus appeared. Given the difficult situation of the Jewish people at the time, there was much general longing and expectation for a "savior from above," who would smite their enemies, restore order to the world, and bring about justice for the wronged and oppressed.

Similarly, Van Vrekhem goes into considerable detail about the utter trauma sustained by the German people in the wake of losing World War I. In contemporary America, our lives are so stable that we just can't imagine what it would be like for every pillar of stability to be obliterated. I suppose we got a taste of it in the Great Depression, which was precisely why so many nations lurched toward a fascist solution. There is no doubt that FDR rode to power on a similar messianic wave as Hitler, which is precisely what allowed him to usurp and wield presidential power in a theretofore unprecedented way. Most of what FDR did was demonstrably harmful to the economy, but the need was so deep for a "strong man from above," that the people let it slide. Again, there was a kind of perfect resonance between the messiah and the masses. (We will later discuss this in the context of Obamania, as it is a reflection of these same enduring principles.)

Now, to back up a bit, there is no doubt that man has been dealing with an ongoing existential crisis with the onset of modernity. I'm not going to press the point, partly because it's just too obvious, but the rupture between the Middle Ages and the scientific revolution was so great, that we are still dealing with its implications. It is as if there are tectonic plates in human time, more or less continuous planes that occasionally shift, causing an earthquake in history. One such quake was the "axial period," during which most of the world's revelations were downloaded from above.

Then, after the world was largely oriented around these revelations came the massive quake of the scientific revolution, with all of its implications and challenges, blessings and curses. To be continued.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How far political activities will be proper on the part of a sincere Sadhaka

Political activities Posted by Barindranath Chaki on August 16, 2008 at 7:58pm View Discussions

Presently, some followers of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have declared to have formed some political parties: namely, National People's Congress of Shreepal Singh and Savitri Era Party of Tusar Mohapatra.

How far these political activities will be proper on the part of a sincere Sadhaka, following The Mother and Sri Aurobindo? Tags: political-activities, sriaurobindo, themother

Reply by Mamata dash on August 17, 2008 at 7:30pm

Politics has been strictly forbidden my Mother in the Ashram. Mother has categorically said four things should not be accepted by the Ashramits, means sadhakas. 1) Politics 2) Sex 3) Smoking 4) Alcohol (?) I do not very well remember the fourth one and now I can not search for it and write here. But about Politics I am sure. Even in Letters on Yoga several times sadhaks had asked Sr. Aurobindo and he had said that Politics lowers the consciousness. So for Sadhakas it is forbidden.

About the sadhaks who had decided to enter in Politics we can never say anything .. if they have got some indication from the Mother, then? If some body who is a devotee of Mother and Sri Aurobindo do something which should not be done, I never judge, because we do not know the whole thing of some body's life. Who knows? May be he or she has got some order, may be some thing in his or her being should be resolved, which he had not resolved in the past birth. who knows? only Mother knows and the person who is dong politics knows.

In Integral Yoga , one has to be whole, so by which means, follwing which path he or she will reach in that Integraliity only Mother knows. And politics is now possesed by Asuras if some body can try to be in the true path and try to conqure them then he can do that. So it depends..Mamata dash ► Reply to This

Permalink Reply by Pramod Kumar Das

I am unaware of the intention behind this initiative, but my understanding is that (I am open to refinements to my views) a political must first seek to work with the communities at the grassroot level and only after a strong understanding of the problems at the this level it should move to form a political party (although it is not the only available step forward).

I believe sincere work with communities at the ground level is surely the work of the sadhaka but a political party is a very slippery ground. May god guide the persons in these tumultuous ground. ► Reply to This

Anonymous said... Those who are devotees of Sri Aurobindo should not be involved psychologically and externally in favour of any political party and political opinions. There is a difference between one's own country and the political parties of that country. This political discussions will surely bring in conflicting psychological conditions in the minds of the devotees. 11:23 AM, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

There cannot be a mass following in IY as Sri Aurobindo has pointed out

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by rakesh on Fri 15 Aug 2008 11:20 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Rich, I agree to most of the stuff you have explained. That SA/M have not intended to make a religion out of their teachings. All their teachings are for getting in contact with the Divine or spiritual rather than religious and are meant for submitting to the Divine will. But they have not refused to use the knowlegde and spiritual practises of hinduism which have been developed by many great yogi's, bhaktas etc. If the spiritual practises look religious to others then whose fault is it? You cannot look at a person from outside and say if their practise is religious or spiritual.

It might be true that there are some people in the Ashram who may have deflected from seeking the divine as their primary aim and getting lost in religious practises. This result is also natural as Sri Aurobindo has mentioned that this IY is first realised by a few individuals and there could be many individuals misunderstanding their teachings in the Ashram itself. This has happened even when they were alive.

The question that if SA/M were the leaders of the organisation and why did it turn into what they have not intended can be easily explained. If people do not obey their instuctions what can they do. The Divine does not impose its will , the Divine gives freedom to choose the right will.

I have come to know what the Divine means from them so I would not question their knowledge or if they were perfect or not? I have come to know the definition of an Avatar from the Letters of Yoga. I assume they were perfect. How do I question someone who has given me this supreme knowlegde which converts itself to ananda, if they were perfect or not? I would call this stupidity.

I am sure they knew when publishng these letters that there would be many people who would misinterpret them but they still allowed for the benefit of the few who are sincere and earnest in seeking the Divine.

All the spiritual practises which may look religious but which help the growth of conciousness can be used in IY. We have to learn to accept that there will be people who will misinterpret their teachings. There could be people who may deify SA/M without even knowing their IY teachings. What can we do about it. It is a natural consequence of Ignorance in humanity. We have first accept it and then try to find solution to the problem instead of not acknowledging that the problem exists as you have pointed out. There is a problem on the organization level and how do we find solutions for a harmonious functioning? There are people in the organisation who deviate into fundamentalism or sectarianism instead of seeking the Divine in everything ? How does the organisation deal with such problems? Does it take any action at all and what is the impact of these deviating people on the organisation.

Rich says: "take special care that some followers will not become attached to the forms of worship and inevitably confuse levels of consciousness, as well as secular and sacred, subcultural and cultural, theocratic and democratic values"

IY is a spiritual teaching. Its concentrates on the change of consciousess of the individual and his nature. Each individual is different. There cannot be a mass following in IY as Sri Aurobindo has pointed out several times and even the path on traverses to the same goal is also different depending on ones nature. One cannot impose ones opinions or cultural conditioning on other sadhaks. One has to learn to accept others way of approaching the Divine. Reply

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Vikas on Fri 15 Aug 2008 10:42 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

RY, I am reproducing the entire text (that I happened to fortuitously come upon) of the Mother's statement of "...the decisive action direct from the Supreme". It is interesting to note that she closes it with "And I am just trying to fulfil that action". Would you read into it the fulfillment of that "action" is the supramentalisation of the body? Here is the text.

"The essential mistake was to have considered Sri Aurobindo's teaching as one among the spiritual teachings - and the work done here now as one among the many aspects of the Divine works. This has falsified your basic position and has been the cause of all the difficulties and confusions. If this mistake is corrected in your mind and in your attitude all other difficulties will disappear easily. You must understand that what Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history, is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme. And I am just trying to fulfil that action."

Acceptance of death so as to overcome it in a divinized resurrected body

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Debashish on Fri 15 Aug 2008 07:20 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

It is not "God's night" and the "pilgrim's progress" that I was referring to when speaking of the Christian mythos, but the avatar's suffering in a human body and the acceptance of death so as to overcome it in a divinized resurrected body, thus bringing the possibility of a universal victory over material unconsciousness and the death of things.

Christianity makes this claim for Christ, thus establishing a mythos of avatarhood not very different from what is being claimed here. Irrespective of whether there is a shakti involved, and the finer details of the correspondence, the question is about the truth-value here.

  • Did Christ really achieve the immortal body?
  • Does he hold out the possibility for the transformation of matter and a divine kingdom on earth, as indicated by John of Patmos?

It becomes a matter of faith alone, bolstered no doubt by the propaganda machine and the assenting multitudes. We must find other means of veracity than that.

Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Debashish on Fri 15 Aug 2008 06:59 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

I am not referring to everything written by him. In the article, the text for which this claim is made is that of his philosophical darshan - ie. The Life Divine. Here too, and in relation to his other writings, I am not distinguishing between grades of integrality.

What I am recording is the fact of inner mental experience of contacting a "rationality" miraculously superior to that of the mind, and characterized by an exhaustive and complex inclusion and ordering which nevertheless bears the mark of the simplicity and self-evidence of "nature" - not the nature of unconscious correspondences but the conscious source, the truth-idea.

This numinous other-dimension that the mind becomes awake to takes philosophy out of its "reasoning" world into the world of literal darshan - the word as self-evident perception of truth. Of course, in Sri Aurobindo's own telling, none of his writings directly express the supramental word - the human language is not yet ready for that - and in Savitri he attempted to find a sustained expression for the overmental word, so certainly all his writing could not be of the same mint, but all this is akin to saying that Sri Aurobindo embodied the supramental prusha but his body was not supramentalized.

The presence, the contact and the action are sufficiently clear and made tangible for all to experience, establishing the link between the human and divine operations of ideation. Here, again, the invitation is to grow in consciousness, to accustom our inner eyes to the dazzle of spiritual light so as to distinguish between "grades of integrality." Sri Aurobindo extends that invitation to us but from the very start, there is no mistaking the bearer of the "Word of integrality."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sri Aurobindo was not against religious practices

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by Rich on Thu 14 Aug 2008 08:41 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

These letters actually confirm for me that my interpretations are correct. Lets not forget that these letters were written to specific people, perhaps to those who had the intellectual maturity to engage in these devotional practices and not confuse them with religiosity. Although we dont know who they were written to, we do know that they were disseminated to a larger audience

When these letter are disseminated to a wider audience and read by those who lack the intellectual maturity to both engage in these practices yet not confuse them with religiosity then they become problematic

Unfortunately, there are consequences and unintended consequences for every action, more unfortunate here is the fact that Sri Aurobindo did not foresee the consequences or unintended consequences that may be derived from the wider dissemination of these letters, or the continuation of those sectarian religious practices in the Ashram that would reduce his Integral Yoga to the practices of a new Religion .... rc

Reply Re: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of Humanity
by rakesh on Thu 14 Aug 2008 10:16 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

There will be people always in a large organisation who will misinterpret the meaning due to lack of intellectual maturity. Everybody knows that.

It is also a lack of intellectual maturity if we link sectarian fundamental rhetoric to religious practises. One may use religious practises for growth of consciousness. That does not mean what whose who practise these indian devotional practises are fundamentalist as some of the Non-Ashramites would like to brand them. It all depends on the Individual(s) how they would like to associate with the practises. Do they want to use them for a means of inner growth or for other egoistic purposes?

Although we do not know to whom they have been written atleast we can get an idea that Sri Aurobindo was not against these practises. That is the most important thing we have to understand. The problems that may arise in the Ashram are natural to an organisation. Instead of blaming Sri Aurobindo or blaming others for publishing letters which have helped thousands of sadhaks worldwide we have to think how to fix problems in the organisation in a suitable way.

In the Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo mentions that the Integral yoga takes the essense of Vaishnavism, vedanta, tantra, raja yoga and teachings of Gita. There is no integral yoga without the tenets of these philosophies and spiritual practises which may look religious to some people but unfortuantely they have not understood that these practises can be used for inner growth.

We do not know what are the sectarian practises in the Ashram and the New religion you talk about. If there are they should be eliminated by proper understanding of SA/M teachings. Reply

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lord Buddha or Christ did not bring down any higher consciousness from any higher zone for man

Permalink Reply by Debabrata Ghosh on August 9, 2008 at 5:56pm

Firstly, what is Sri Chaki's understanding of a religion? The terms like 'culture' and 'religion' are most complicated to define in simple ways as both the terms are involved in collective psychology and social traditions. And both of them also are inter-related. One can not be isolated from another.

Secondly in what ways Sri Aurobindo was different from those after whose teachings some religions were came into existence. As for example - I like to name three persons on whose influence three great religions were established - Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha and Prophet Muhammad. Christianity, Buddhism and Islam came as organised religions long after the death of their founders (though they did not think of founding religions after them).

However as religion was related to collective aspiration for a greater or higher authority (read God) the sociologists and historians are inclined to analyse the social conditions of a particular collectivity that led into a religion. So this obviously will drag us to scholastic discussions which is not the intention of Sri Chaki. But there is also a problem in leaving spiritual or religious matters to the social scientists for proper explanations. In that case we are bound to hear such explanation that religion is the opium of people offered to them for their exploitation. Actually it is not possible for scientists and historians to give explanations as to what is the basis of a religion to evolve as a collective organisation...

There were spiritual power or shakti behind the establishment of all the religions. But these powers were of different regions of consciousness. They did not come from the same strata and their purposes are not same. If one is not completely apprised of such powers as explained by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo it can not be understood. These powers or shaktis descends as Avatars or Bibhutis for helping evolutionary process in its particular junctions. Not all the times they are aware of their missions.

Napoleon was a great Bibhuti and unknowingly he served a great purpose in the process of evolution. But he can never be compared with Vivekananda or Sri Ramakrishna and also Julius Caesar. Buddha was an avatar of mind and so it's in Buddhism the mental factor is more prominent than any religion. So there was also a power of the world's latest religion of Marxism-Leninism. Though the god in it failed quickly-but it also served its purpose. A great atheism was required for the coming of a pure spiritual truth.

It is not that for propagation of religion the patronage of kings and nobility is required as told by a person in a forum. The power itself organises every thing required around it for fulfilment of its purpose. So a shakti as avatar or bibhuti descended to help man in various stages of his status to attain what was his highest-i.e. already existed in him as his consciousness.

Lord Buddha or Christ did not bring down any higher consciousness from any higher zone for man. They came to push , create and empower man to attain what was his highest and already in him step by step -the Overmind-according to the terminology of Sri Aurobindo.

There lies the difference between Sri Aurobindo and other avatars. Sri Aurobindo brought down something beyond man's local own godhead. So far it was a world of gods that performed through different religions. After the Supramental descent -all the gods lost their powers by merging in the Mother and the very basis of religion was rendered useless. There will never be any new religion in this world. The days of religions are gone. What we see now is a hangover of religious sanskaras.

The inner man has already become very great. It seeks the greatest of all godly ideas in his life. Man is already been free from all bondage-religious, social, economical, political, cultural -all that bind him. But he is not conscious of it.

So those who are inclined to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have become inclined not to be so attached to their concerned religions. But how can they assert their choice for a new freedom? They are in the transition externally from their journey from God of religion to the God of absolute freedom. In the years to come there will be seen some elite groups in varied ways. And there will also be those who will be the followers of Sri Aurobindo. Generally the elites -the elites of consciousness will be evolved in a sporadic manner. So it is not proper to call an elite group -who for obvious reason -is the follower of Sri Aurobindo -a religious sect. It's for the remnants of sectarianism in man that he feels comfortable to belong to sects (read religion). Even some followers of Sri Aurobindo love to think them as separate from other sects (read inferior sects). It is because -the inner has yet to grasp the outer.

The followers of Sri Chaitanya (a founder of a sect and a bibhuti) came from the economically and socially lower rung of society. But a follower of Sri Aurobindo is generally psychologically elevated. Again religion without creeds is unknown. One can best see the contrast in the life of a collective group-Sri Aurobindo Ashram-where the devotees are not bound by any creed for their stay in the Ashram.

Finally -without a temple-and without any mohanta-without any motivated preacher and without knowing what to do in daily life -how and why Sri Aurobindo (I do not like to add any suffix as 'nian' or 'dian' etc) can become a dharma? The Ashram may not be there in future. Even in its present form it never insists people to come to its fold. So where do people go to become religious with Sri Aurobindo?

Perhaps we have become unnecessarily restless to see a future after Sri Aurobindo. We will have to see many queer contradictions of what we want to believe. It is perhaps not futile to discuss about matters related to Sri Aurobindo but it is certainly futile to see or comprehend a future-as life never teaches us-life prepares us. And we are yet to be prepared. ► Reply to This

Permalink Reply by ned on August 10, 2008 at 11:48pm

Fascinating discussion going on here. What I would like to add is that it is part of human nature to require mental symbols to hold on to their faith. In short, we have a tendency to be religious. Even though I had absolutely no connection with Vedanta or with spirituality before coming to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (I was quite happily agnostic), I too find myself sometimes resorting to behavior that would be seen as "religious" or "devotional". This is not a bad thing, in and of itself, as long as we recognize what all the mental symbols and rituals are: metaphors for the inner transformation.

Where things become really problematic is when people start to use their preferred philosophy or spiritual teachers to push what is really a vital-emotional agenda, which they try to pass off as "spirituality". This involves prosyletizing, trying to convert others, preaching at every available opportunity, not being able to resist arguing, etc. etc. None of this is spiritual -- it has no connection with the equality and acceptance of all that one experiences when one comes into contact with the psychic being. It is all vital, and it is the vital in a very immature and crude state.

To make it clear, I am not being judgmental as I have noticed the same vital weaknesses in my own nature! I frequently overdo it, for instance with my atheist friends, by talking about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother too much or revealing more than they can understand for now. But the point is to recognize these things as vital self-indulgence, and offer them up to the Mother for transformation.

In short, inner transformation is a very difficult process. Getting distracted by these vital by-ways that lead us to dream of imposing our preferred grand narratives onto others is very deceptive and treacherous -- it could potentially lead to us getting possessed by vital beings (perhaps even those of an adverse nature) which could use us to pervert the higher Truth of the spiritual teaching (indeed I see this happening with those who are pushing a new "religion" in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's name).

The only way out of the human condition is inward and upward. "There is a soul within and a Grace above." That should be our unshakable faith at all times, even when the lower nature persists in the old ways. ► Reply to This

To prove that Sri Aurobindo was just a commoner, not a yogi

from bijan ghosh <> to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" <> date 13 August 2008 20:33 subject tampering

I draw your attention to p. 648 of Mother India, August, 2008 issue, where you printed, "Sri Aurobindo began his practice of Yoga in 1905" - source thereof is mentioned at pg. 9 of the book, namely "AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTES and Other Writings of Historical Interest", though at the beginning an impression has been given that the materials are available in the book written by Dilip Roy in "Among the Great", where Sri Aurobindo wrote on himself in third person.

While in a letter dtd. 13.09.1946, published in "On Himself", at pg. 67-68, which was further quoted by an authentic and trusted disciple - A.B. Purani, at pg. 114 of "The Life of Sri Aurobindo" - both these books are published by Ashram itself - where Sri Aurobindo wrote: "My Yoga began in 1904".

Why this discrepancy? What impression people would get? To say that Sri Aurobindo was inconsistent? To prove that Sri Aurobindo was just a commoner, not a yogi, who failed to memorise important dates of his life? To say that Sri Aurobindo himself failed to attach proper importance to his own Yoga, to remember even since when he started his Yoga, while he said it is unique in the spiritual journey of human consciousness?

-- bijan ghosh 09958580664 09310953580 New Delhi

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sri Aurobindo Ashram ought to expel Peter Heehs

from bijan ghosh <> to
date 10 August 2008 08:39 subject Fwd: Run peter Run

I have seen your reactions and responses in net. Please do raise strong demand - to Trustees - and ask all others to raise the same demand - to ask Ashram to kick off peter - to expel from ashram for ever with a black stigma for disowning Sri Aurobindo, for degenerating Sri Aurobindo, for mutilating Sri Aurobindo, for hurting the inner spiritual sentiment of the devotees of Sri Aurobindo.

Let there be a demand from rest of the world. -- bijan ghosh 09958580664 09310953580 New Delhi

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Reactionary sensibility has emerged in some Integral Yoga institutions

Re: Frank Visser's Integral World: ideological genealogies
by Rich on Fri 08 Aug 2008 01:12 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Hi Ned

While certainly there are many spiritual or occult nuances at play here, that is exactly what is problematic. How does one translate spiritual necessities into the world of social practice? What may not be a contradiction on one level becomes a glaring one on another.

My critique, deconstruction, genealogy, interpretation whatever it is, of continuing the forms of religion, while officially renouncing them, and/or apparently condescending to a particular ethnic or national group, does not diminish my respect for SA/M whatsoever.

Here is a passage I have quoted before: as Gayatri Spivak - one of the most erudite of all Derrida's translators - reminds us deconstruction is not only a “textual event” or a destructive act, but a creative one.

“Deconstruction is not simply the practice of breaking things down. As she puts it, “[It] is not the exposure of error. It is constantly and persistently looking into how truths are produced.”

While no doubt some truths are eternal, there are others whose forms morph over time. If one does not remain pliable enough to adapt to these new forms a reactionary sensibility can emerge. (As I think it has in some IY institutions)

Therefore, I not only think it is merely a right of one involved in the practice of a spiritual discipline but also a obligation to critique those elements of its practice which seems to have ill adapted to the new realities of the future. rc Science, Culture and Integral Yoga

btw. Michel Buawens is also hosting a discussion of the paper, on his p2p foundation site. There have already been some pot shots taken at the paper from those with apparent Wilberian sensibilities. Its can be a bit difficult to dialog with the Wilber/Beck folks as my experience has been that when one critiques their "integral theory" one is immediately stereotyped according to their color coded typology. You are labeled green for sure if you quote any post-modernist. Your then accused of being a relativist and since you are suppose to believe that all things are relative, well there is no need to take you seriously. Its also generally a response of theorist and folks whose arguments rest on the presupposition of possessing a more evolved, purer, transcendent epistemology that those contesting their theory are trying to posit their own purer, more highly evolved epistemological system. It can escape them that one can simply be taking a moral or ethical position. FYI: Here is the link to that discussion:

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We are inviting people to jump into the ocean and immerse in the body of God...everyone participates and is their own priest

Is Sri Aurobindo's teaching a religion? Reply by Donna Osborn

I agree with Mamata, Mother is very clear on this answer. From Satprem’s Agenda notes:

“The Ashram was slowly closing over Her. The old world wanted to make a new, golden little Church, nice and quiet. No, no one wanted TO BECOME. To worship was so much easier. And then they bury you, solemnly, and the matter is settled – the case is closed: now, no one need bother any more except to print some photographic haloes for the pilgrims to this brisk little business. But they are mistaken. The real business will take place without them, the new species will fly up in their faces – it is already flying in the face of the earth, despite all its isms in black and white; it is exploding through all the pores of this battered old earth, which has had enough of shams – whether illusory little heavens or barbarous little machines. It is the hour of the REAL Earth. It is the hour of the REAL man. We are all going there – if only we could know the path a little …”


“What did all this mean, then, this ‘Ashram’ that was already registered as the owner of a great spiritual business, and this fragile, little silhouette at the center of all these zealous worshippers? In truth, there is no better way to smother someone than to worship him: he chokes beneath the weight of worship, which moreover gives the worshipper claim to ownership. ‘Why do you want to worship?’ She exclaimed. ‘You have but to become! It is the laziness to become that makes one worship.’ She wanted so much to make them become this ‘something else,’ but it was far easier to worship and quiescently remain what one was. She spoke to deaf ears. She was very alone in this ‘ashram.’ Little by little, the disciples fill up the place, then they say: it is ours. It is ‘the Ashram.’ We are ‘the disciples.’ In Pondicherry as in Rome as in Mecca. ‘I do not want a religion! An end to religions!’ She exclaimed. She struggled and fought in their midst – was She therefore to leave this Earth like one more saint or yogi, buried beneath haloes, the ‘continuatrice’ of a great spiritual lineage?”

Just for the sake of discussion, what can be gained by making it a religion? And if the Teaching is taken as a religion…can we have a religion without priests? Then, from where would they come and who would be willing to step to the pedestal?

I think that religion puts up walls thru doctrine and dogma. On the other hand Spirituality embraces all people by it’s nature of ‘self-selection’. By virtue of birth, people are indoctrinated by culture into a religion. Religion is like a ship on the ocean; the captains are the priests. Every ship is guided by a captain pointing to doctrine and dogma. Adhering to a religion we think that our ship is the best. We may believe that everything is right on our journey…the speed, the direction, the ultimate destination…but we are divided from everyone that is not guided by the same captain.

But why do we feel the need to board someone else’s ship? As a passenger we are not in control of where the ship is sailing ; invariably, these ships never come to port. Rarely will you find the captain that says dive off of the ship and into the ocean of God. If we make Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s Work a religion, we will demand people to change ships. If we encourage it to remain a spiritual philosophy we are inviting people to jump into the ocean and immerse in the body of God...everyone participates and is their own priest.

Maybe the desire of some to make this Work a religion is just the yearning to ‘know the path a little.” ► Reply to This

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sri Aurobindo's cyclic view of Yugas; progress as circular not linear

Rich Carlson’s critique of Integral Theory: 1) the ideological aspects Michel Bauwens 4th August 2008
It is always great when you feel that you have discovered a 'soul brother’, someone whom you feel has a similar understanding of the world, even though of course many details may differ. One such person is Rich Carlson, who is an integral/integrative thinker who went through Aurobindo’s school of Integral Yoga, but has processed his tradition in his own way. I discovered him through a critique of Wilber’s theory , which echoes my own.

Peer to peer theory is very indebted to integral/integrative approaches, because only a non-reductionist (inter) subjective-objective understanding can do justice to the manyfold emergence of peer to peer, which is ‘at the same time‘, a way of being, a way of knowing, a technology but also a ‘way of life’. I have tried to explain my own methodology in the launch essay of the Integral Review (see page 14 and following), which sadly refused the excellent essay by Rich Carlson I will discuss next.

The sad truth is indeed that most of what passes for integral theory is a front for system-confirming ideological approaches, sometimes aligned with the neo-conservative war party that has dominated the last US administration, but such a conclusion would be superficial, as quite a bit more is at stake.

Rich Carlson has finally tackled this aspect in a systematic way, and his essay is now published in Integral World, the excellent site maintained by Frank Visser. I will attempt to present this essay in several parts. An introduction today, a critique of the politics of Don Beck and Ken Wilber tomorrow, and finally a critique of Wilber’s mapping compulsion as exemplifying a particular type of consciousness, which according to Rich Carlson, is not an integral one.

Here is how Rich Carlson introduces his work:
“This paper explores the relationship between integral theory and ideology. I have identified three ideologies specific to a variety of integral theories and practices. Using categories which most easily demonstrates how these ideologies correspond to those which drive world events, I refer to them as fundamentalist, neo-liberal, and neo-conservative.

My hope is to provide an in depth analysis of how particular integral theories and practices lend themselves to the three ideological orientations under review. Any attempt to understand the reasons that these ideologies have crept into specific integral theories or practices requires tracing their genealogy. In tracing genealogies I wish to show that the ideological sources particular to specific integral theories and practices are not only to be found in historical figures or events but are to be located through an excavation of their very organizing ideas.

The importance of this study is two-fold. The first of course is to uncover any ideological drivers integral theory brings with it to the table in its socio-political analysis.”

One remark imposes itself: what about the non-ideological approaches to integral theory, and specifically the participatory approaches? This aspect is not treated by Rich but doesn’t diminish the quality of his analysis.

Here are some interesting insights.
First of all, Rich Carlson shows that the evolutionary point of view of Wilber (so-called Recapitulation Theory), is not a necessary aspect of integral theory, and he shows how Gebser himself (sometimes seen as the founder of modern integral theory, while Gebser himself acknowledged Aurobindo), did not adhere to it:

“Perhaps more importantly Gebser’s thought is incommeasurable with certain key beliefs of Modernism, that he attributed to the “mental mutation”, such as the progressive values it assigns biological/cultural evolution. Gebser asserted that evolution was not continuous or progressive. Rather, Gebser viewed evolution as discontinuous, characterized by epochs with periodic ruptures and bifurcations in which new mutations of consciousness emerge. In speaking of Teilhard De Chardin, whose work he contrasts with his own because “Teilhard’s discussion is centered more on development of mankind then on consciousness itself. “(Gebser 1984 p103) he approvingly notes: “even a thinker who is indebted to the teleological principle of evolution, ultimately takes recourse to the concept of discontinuous occurrence that is mutation to explain the decisive events”. (Gebser 1984 p40)

Gebser’s conclusion that concepts such as progress are proper to the mental rather than the integral structure of consciousness are interesting in that other integral theories and practices are undergirded by ideas of progressive evolution. Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga grafts itself to the Modernist idea of progressive evolution. Although Sri Aurobindo, who was also attempting to reconcile the cyclic view of Yugas in Indian mythology with Darwinian evolution, referred to progress as curiously circular not linear. More recently, Ken Wilber has also voiced acceptance of a directional ordering of evolution. Although he claims its basic building block the holon exerts influence in either direction, the unfolding of evolution follows an arrow of time which is viewed as progressive.”

After considering the objections to the progressive interpretations of history, Rich then tackles the ideological assumptions, in three different rubrics.

1) Fundamentalism
“The specific population I wish to consider under the rubric of fundamentalism are Westerners who adopt Eastern spiritual practices. The fundamentalist tendency can present itself when one adopts a religion or spiritual teacher from the East yet, lacks a sufficient understanding of the broader cultural or political disposition which constitute the “nomos” (2a) (Bourdieu 1977) of its indigenous followers.
What appears to happen to some Westerners who adopt Eastern spiritual practices is that they also assimilate the unstated ideological assumptions which define the socio-political belief systems of some of their indigenous followers. These indigenous followers however, are themselves a sub-group situated within a larger cultural field. Because the new Western followers are reliant on the subgroup for knowledge of the larger cultural field in which the subgroup is located, they become dependent on the subgroups interpretations of the norms of the greater culture.”
Example: “It is in fact the transference of Hindu religious practices on to Integral Yoga which has facilitated a fascination of some of his followers with the fundamentalist rhetoric of todays militant Hindu nationalism (Hinduvta). ”
2) Neo-liberalism
For this, Rich uses Zizek’s critique of eastern thought and the new age, as used in the West:
“What Zizek is stating is that these “new age” practices, many of which can be called “integral” practices, facilitate the conditioning of a neo-liberalist subject no longer concerned with matters of social justice but with simply feeling good and gaining a competitive edge.”
Example: “For example at M.I.T’s Society for Organizational Learning when Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge teach the theory of presencing or U theory to their corporate audiences, to my knowledge they do not first try to discern the executives emotional intelligence to determine their commitment to social responsibility nor, do they first perform environmental impact studies on their respective corporation’s global footprints in an effort to understand how their instruction will be applied. Rather these programs are offered to one and all regardless if the participants are representatives of non-profits, executives of major multinational companies, or major defense contractors interested in more efficient ways to wage neo-cortical warfare through advance applications of technology . ”
3) Neo-conservatism
Rich Carslon here tackles specifically the role of Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics (which may be unfair to Chris Cowan’s branch) and Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute. I will quote extensively from this section separately in a next entry. This entry was posted on Monday, August 4th, 2008 at 10:04 am