Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I strongly disagree that someone like Kripal is a fellow traveler

A comment has been posted in reference to an article titled: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part A Comment posted by: Srikanth Comment permalink: http://www.mirroroftomorrow.org/blog/_archives/2009/6/22/4229761.html#1253543 Comment subject: Re: National attitudes in yoga Comment body:-------------Judging from how the quotes are directed, I can say that there appear to be two assumptions being made: one that we are all of us the Sadhaks that SA is talking to in those quotations! Second, I had implied by my questions that Indians were on the whole superior to westerners in their approaches to yoga and should keep their identities. I think both are wrong.

I asked several questions, of course, to know what others thought about them. Mainly, I wanted: to flesh out what it was that we were fighting for and to see if it was defensible; to debate the value of the tendency that makes Indians especially to keep out of a controversy and remain uninvolved even when it threatens matters and individuals very critical to their lives; to address the idea that anyone can write anything about SA and those who were offended by it should simply shut out their own better instincts and judgments; to argue against the dangerous assumption many make that everyone helps/contributes in their own ways (it is true at a deeper level Sri Aurobindo tells us but one has also to remember that he acted against those he thought were working against the Truth). I strongly disagree that someone like Kripal is a fellow traveler as Mr Mohapatra seemed to indicate. And not all those who claim to be following Sri Aurobindo should blindly be accepted as “Sadhaks”. Both SA and the Mother have also said that Indians by virtue of their spiritual heritage come with distinct advantages (doesn’t mean they have it easy). The loyalty to the Guru (not a narrow value as some would have us believe) is something that comes naturally to many of them (the contrast is very apparent in this Heehs controversy and they have held SA to be more important than any personal rights or freedom of expression). That does not mean that westerners are incapable of it or have nothing to offer or are unfit for IY – that is not at all what I implied.

I did bring up the issue of colonization for several reasons. Partly, I also wanted to analyze the publically aggressive and provocative behavior of some of Heehs supporters. For eg: one of the first responses of a “Sadhak” on SCIY (who recently floated a benign personality named Tony Clifton presumably to reinvent his image and appear cherubic himself!) to the Heehs controversy was an expression of regret that he had sponsored a visa for one of the letter writers (the lucky privileged few!!) and took a stance that was essentially nationalistic (wrong word? as some one said, Americans call themselves patriots. it’s all the others that may be branded as nationalists). Considering how much the visa is wielded as a weapon by the US, I am sure many who read it would have been particularly irked.

A comment has been posted in reference to an article titled: India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part A Comment posted by: Srikanth
Comment permalink: http://www.mirroroftomorrow.org/blog/_archives/2009/6/22/4229761.html#1253545 Comment subject: Re: Re: National attitudes in yoga Comment body:-------------
““The sadhaka of the integral Yoga will make use of all these aids according to his nature; but it is necessary that he should shun their limitations and cast from himself that exclusive tendency of egoistic mind which cries, “My God, my Incarnation, my Prophet, my Guru,” and opposes it to all other realisation in a sectarian or a fanatical spirit. All sectarianism, all fanaticism must be shunned; for it is inconsistent with the integrity of the divine realisation.””

This particular one has been used extensively on SCIY for demonizing all those on the other side as fanatics, fundamentalists and sectarian zealots. I don’t see why I should assume that the SCIYites have arrived at this point (that SA refers to) in their own lives and have started to pursue IY or a spiritual life much less that they were already Sadhaks. In fact, the manner in which they have gone about their business suggests just the opposite. From what I have seen, they anointed themselves as Heehs’ guardian angels and responded to the personal and confidential correspondence of people on the other side (to the Trustees and other Ashramites) with Texan and American styled aggressiveness and expressions of justice. They quickly went on the offensive and in public began to accuse, shame, and prosecute all those they decided were their enemies. There does not seem to have been even a feeble attempt to talk privately or any show of restraint. If anything, the SCIYites talked down to everyone perhaps with the expectation that the other side would buckle and beg to be forgiven! Does anyone think that such misbehavior should be rewarded with love and forbearance or even yogic stoicism?? I don’t see how these quotes of Sri Aurobindo’s would be applicable to this type of Heehs supporters. In fact, you may have arrived on the scene quite late – there was a point when SCIY had become very derisive and critical of anyone that inconveniently quoted Sri Aurobindo or Mother to them!

A comment has been posted in reference to an article titled:India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part A
Comment posted by:
Kepler Comment permalink: http://www.mirroroftomorrow.org/blog/_archives/2009/6/22/4229761.html#1253593 Comment subject: Re: Re: National attitudes in yoga Comment body:-------------Srikanth, your comments are sharp and stimulating, as usual. Below are a few thoughts in reply.

Srikanth: “Judging from how the quotes are directed, I can say that there appear to be two assumptions being made: one that we are all of us the Sadhaks that SA is talking to in those quotations!“

The first two quotes are from a single long letter (SABCL v23, p555-560). If you read it carefully you'll see it appears to have been written to a westerner. The third quote is from the Synthesis of Yoga where Sri Aurobindo is addressing the broadest possible audience. All three seemed perfectly general to me and pertinent to the questions you raised. That's the only sense in which they were “directed”.

Srikanth: “the idea that anyone can write anything about SA and those who were offended by it should simply shut out their own better instincts and judgments”.

I'm hopeful you're not including support for things like violence, expulsion and imprisonment of an ashramite as part of “better instincts and judgments”. If those are the better ones I'd hate to see the worse.

Srikanth: “I wanted: to flesh out what it was that we were fighting for”

I also wonder what that is. If it's just freedom to express and act on hurt feelings and anger, it may be perfectly understandable human behavior, but let's not pretend there's anything yogic about it. If it concerns the negative impressions Heeh's book might give to others, one needs to also consider the negative impressions the reaction against the book is giving to others.

Srikanth: “And not all those who claim to be following Sri Aurobindo should blindly be accepted as 'Sadhaks'”.

Accepted by whom? Is there a certification board?

Srikanth: [moving on now to your second posted comment] “This particular [quote] has been used extensively on SCIY for demonizing all those on the other side”

The fact that a quote is frequently cited by people you don't like is irrelevant to the validity of the quote. I'll assume you're not disputing what Sri Aurobindo said, but that you just feel it's misapplied to the anti-Heehs campaigners.

Srikanth: “Does anyone think that such misbehavior should be rewarded with love and forbearance or even yogic stoicism?”

Well, if you mean yogic samata and equanimity, then absolutely yes. I could produce dozens of quotes from Sri Aurobindo prescribing yogic samata in the face of perceived insults, rudeness, or insensitivity from others. I can't think of a single quote where he counsels righteous indignation and outrage. That's because the latter have nothing to do with yoga or spirituality – they are purely reactions of the ordinary vital ego. Natural and common, yes; yogic or spiritual, no. And the nationality of those indulging in them is irrelevant. Of course I'm not attempting to disqualify speaking out to question or correct what one feels to be incorrect or misleading; that's a different matter.

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