MEETING ALOK PANDEY: CLARIFICATIONS REGARDING HIS STAND IN THE HEEHS CONTROVERSY
On Wednesday I met Alok, with Sraddhalu the other invitee to the AUM conference. Alok repeated what he had already written in an email to me, with copy for a few others: his was an over-reaction, not against me and what I wrote in ‘Mirror of Tomorrow’, for which he apologized, but out of exasperation for having been misunderstood in the blog SCIY (and by others too). In the attempt to solve the Heehs controversy, Alok had come up with a few proposals so as to drop the court case; but these had been twisted as a proof that, as he was proposing alternatives, this meant that he had the power to impose decisions regarding the withdrawal of the court case, hence he was involved in it.
One proposal was that Peter moves to Auroville. Another that a group of twelve senior ashramites takes a final decision, after due hearing from both groups in each other's presence, (he agreed that this is something similar to the system we have adopted in Auroville, but I told him that ours doesn’t always work that well); but this proposal had been misinterpreted by some as him wanting to undermine the authority of the Ashram trust. The other options he had suggested had been turned down too, so he has decided to withdraw altogether.
Alok also explained that, although he has used a strong language, he never wanted a court case against Peter; in fact he is against any court case in general, especially those involving ashramites. Even in his letter to the trustees he had suggested that Peter should step out of the Archives (not the Ashram though).
We discussed other issues, of a common interest for both of us. Alok agrees with the role played by the shadow. He is aware of the avadhuta aspect of young Aurobindo Ghose, and also of the dual nature of the Avatar, divine but also human. He agrees that, instead of Peter explaining and opining, in his own language, Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana and evolution, the transition from his human aspect to that of incarnated divine should have been highlighted using directly Sri Aurobindo’s texts, and particularly “Letters on Yoga” and “On Himself”. And that to highlight this transition is of a paramount importance, instead of keeping aside or minimizing the Avatar issue. Alok has explained his position so, I reproduce his own words:
it is not enough that the writer had this in his mind, it should be explicated in the book itself or in the preface at least, so that things could be put in the right perspective for a lay-reader. By omitting and ignoring this the writer has left scope for ambiguous interpretations.
We discussed other issues as well. It was a constructive meeting. I wish that it had happened earlier and that the issues we have discussed become part of a wider, in depth debate on Integral Yoga, which can no longer be postponed, so that something new is born.
Before posting it I have submitted this text to Alok Pandey and he has done his own corrections. However, he has decided to withdraw from the debate, leaving to me the decision whether to publish this text or not. I feel it should, so as to be evaluated by a larger audience, without preconceived positions, in a spirit of equanimity. Paulette
P.S. Before the controversy commenced I had given to Alok a copy of all the books I have published compiling from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; ours was a dispassionate discussion within the framework of Integral Yoga, as it should be.
The following paragraph has been written directly by Alok Pandey, to further clarify his position and make sure of not being misunderstood:
My position regarding the court cases has been simply this that though in principle I do not support them, I however understood why at least the first complainant went to the court as a last ditch attempt feeling helpless against this in action especially as the date of publication of the book was drawing close. The stand I have taken is not against the person and private life of Peter Heehs (whom in all these years I have never met except once and that too in a dream!), but because Peter misused his official position at the Archives to reveal sensitive data in a way that may be easily misunderstood and interpreted dubiously. I am against supression of truth but I do believe in judicious use of information and exercising utmost caution and discrimination when dealing with a varied audience. Alok Pandey