Friday, October 30, 2009

Multi-poised Unity that has infinite room in it for the diversity of our approaches

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Rationalism and the yogic life
by Debashish on Mon 29 Sep 2008 10:23 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Re. the present flurry of attacks against the book and its author, at the risk of over-simplification, I may add what seems obvious - that differences in cultural psychology between modern western and Indian habitus lies at the foundation of the matter. But with this as basis, certain collective formations have grown up.
On the Indians' side, this has taken the form of an unconscious religiosity whose bane is the self-righteous orthodoxy of worship and the aggressive policing of largely self-created and interpreted myths and whose detrimental effect is that the growth of consciousness is obscured and the non-religious see only a stereotypical structure of hyperbole which they reject even before having a chance to see the solutions which have been offered.
On the westerners' side it is an insistence on "fact" and an analysis of objective facts on the basis of reason and an infants' psychology. This is what has been happening on a large scale in western scholarship of late and it is largely to this audience that Peter's book has been addressed. In doing so, he has naturally offended the Indian sentiments and in anticipating and answering the western analytical framework, has sometimes acknowledged these approaches, which has raised eyebrows.

The problem is that though neither side is sufficiently illuminated, the religious attitude ends up building an impenetrable wall (unless one knows the right passwords for the gatekeepers, such as "avatar", "divine", "surrender", "psychic" and "falsehood of reason") and thus excludes a wider reach of the yoga.
Sri Aurobindo's yoga is for the transformation of the world and unless all the different mentalities and vitalities can see what he has to offer, it cannot achieve its ends. And for this, all these mentalities and vitalities must be spoken to in their own languages. The bridges must be built. If even the attempt is stifled because of pedantic injunctions and through inquisitions and witch-hunts, what future can we expect? DB Reply
Re: Rationalism and the yogic life by koantum on Mon 29 Sep 2008 06:05 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Debashish, You summed up the underlying differences very well.
The sectarian spirit, which has declared jihad on Peter, is a far greater threat to Sri Aurobindo's "image" than Peter's biography, which is no threat at all but a welcome corrective to those childish hagiographies. These jihadis prove to the world that Sri Aurobindo is at the head of a sectarian religious movement. This a disaster.

Re: Rationalism and the yogic life by koantum on Mon 29 Sep 2008 10:14 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Someone objected to my labeling the hagiographies as "childish." That person is right and I apologize. I can only speak of my personal reactions when I read some of those hagiographies many years ago. In comparison to Sri Aurobindo's own luminous writings, I found them painfully limited in their vision and comprehension. I have no such reaction to Peter's book because he deliberately limits himself to the documented externalities of Sri Aurobindo life. Reply
Re: cultural (in)sensitivities Kripal vs. Heehs
Rich on Wed 01 Oct 2008 08:47 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Regards the matter of cultural sensitivities. This controversy has raised the issues of other works, which the Heehs book is being identified with has been brought up by some, particularly the work of Jeff Kripal on Ramakrishna, which is a Freudian psychoanalytic deconstruction of its subject.
I will admit to only reading synopsis of this book and issues surrounding its controversy so will limit my thoughts to the approach that the author took to his subject. And I find Kripal's approach of reducing the traditions of one culture boarders on intellectual imperialism. e.g. Hindu India, to the criteria set forth by another, in this case the Judeo-Germanic that backgrounded Freud
In this example the voice of the Western psycho-analytic tradition assumes a dominate perspective by imposing foreign interpretations on the subaltern voice that in the process denies its integrity
The great historian of Religions Huston Smith wrote in the Harvard Divinity School Bulletin that, "I doubt that any other book — not even those of early, polemical, poorly informed, and bigoted missionaries — has offended Hindu sensibilities so grossly. And understandably, despite Kripal's protestations to the contrary in Secret Talk: The Politics of Scholarship in Hindu Tantrism, Kali's Child is colonialism updated." (Wiki) ^ a b Smith, Huston (Spring 2001). "Letters to the Editor". Harvard Divinity Bulletin 30/1: Letters.
In Fact on p27 in his book Indian Religions Heehs accuses Kripal of dogmatic Freudian interpretations
Although sexuality is discussed in the Heehs book it seemed to me that the author goes out of his way to remind us that it played a negligible role of Sri Aurobindo's life, and the matter held little interest for him. Moreover, although the book is a Western academic style it does seem to be culturally sensitive to the subcontinental traditions and context in which the story unfolds. Reply
Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
Vladimir on Sun 05 Oct 2008 09:07 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Many of our misunderstandings are based on these cultural differences. To go beyond them we should rise to a higher level of consciousness, says the Mother, from where we could see things as they are, in a state of perfect disinterestedness.
Re: Corrections to textual excerpts of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs
Rick on Sun 12 Oct 2008 07:03 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
As I understand it, in responding to an intellectual position taken by another, an approach practiced and favored by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother begins with this premise:
Not only all forms and forces, but all thoughts, chains of ideas and works of reason, have behind them, are ultimately based on some truth. This truth has real existence, in the Absolute and in the Saccidananda and, however changed, diminished, distorted it may have grown from the original, any idea of any coherence derives from some basis in truth. What Sri Aurobindo will often do, in his writings, is express clearly a thought, idea, and chain of reasoning and demonstrate what truth is trying, through such ideas, to be expressed.
There is, for example, some truth in Materialism that is aspiring to be realized in life. Sri Aurobindo will then go to express another truth, which may be at apparent odds with the first (There is a truth in Spirituality that presses to materialize), showing clearly how both truths—may be even multiple truths—are striving for living expression, and he will proceed to suggest a more comprehensive truth that assimilates the principal elements in each, reaching in this way some expanded synthesis only partially contained in the various elements of seemingly contradictory truths. He will do this using perfectly well the outward form of mental reasoning, but applying from behind it a wider view based on a more comprehensive or intuitive mode of perceptive understanding.
What he will NOT do is what we human beings always seem to want to do. We always find ourselves saying: This is wrong! I don't agree, I don't like its expression, it's simply not true; maybe it's a deliberate lie, on the basis of some hostile agenda, but it is most certainly false, pernicious even. I don't accept it and I in fact question the very motives of the person who puts forth this pernicious form of expression.
The Mother said more than once that when we disagree with another person's position, a healthy exercise is to identify with that exponent and their position sufficiently so that we can express their side of the issue. This can be a means to broaden our viewpoint, help us not only relate to the other person but strengthen our mental faculties, our understanding, and if we have enough aspiration, reach a greater truth than ours or the other's alone. [...]
We all have to realize that there are real and still-potent forces that WANT us to clash just as we've been doing, fall into an ambush, so to speak. If we have the aspiration, if we can summon it back, there are greater more conscious forces that are leading, even as we speak, to a multi-poised Unity that has infinite room in it for the diversity of our approaches. Rick Lipschutz Reply

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