Re: Reflections on THE IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY By Debashish Banerji Science, Culture and Integral Yoga
by Rod on Fri 27 Oct 2006 05:56 AM PDT Permanent Link In Sri Aurobindo’s view, the evolution of consciousness is towards larger and more inclusive unities, and a sense of self that is universal. In his view evolution in its large aims works through groups rather than individuals to achieve large ideal potentials, like justice, knowledge, harmony, power.
Fukuyama also argues, as does Habermas, that such values as human dignity and freedom are rooted in a natural condition of equality before the genetic dice throw. (A new slant on “thrownness.”) If we choose to predetermine improvements of intelligence, health, strength, competitiveness, etc., in our species through genetic engineering, then we violate the principle of the luck of the draw and the randomness of opportunity which ground our choices and our sense of identity and dignity. We are who we are by virtue of random selection mitigated by parental breeding preferences and social conditioning. We should be free to change the latter but not the former, or else the balance of natural ethics and human rights will be altered forever.
This point of view is very close to the Judeo-Christian idea of the natural state of fall in which good and evil become known so that we may strive for the good, reject the evil, and be saved; also closely related to the Platonic/Aristotelian idea of the final cause being the good form of each thing, toward which it moves in its development from a state of ignorance, imperfection, smallness, matter toward the fulfillment of its purpose, by becoming capable of rational choice. According to these basics of “natural philosophy” what drives the human being toward its potential is the soul, what Fukuyama calls Factor X, the essence of the human when all the conditioning is stripped away, the principle of “nous” or reason. Faced with the choice to genetically alter and so improve some members of the species, to remain in a natural state of imperfection on a flat playing field and strive for an ethically progressive world order, or to renounce mentality, reason, preferential judgment altogether and allow a new principle of truth consciousness and force to manifest, why would one choose one or the other, on what grounds?
Sri Aurobindo’s leap forward consists in the recognition that the natural and ideal drives toward harmony, truth, justice are the embryonic movements of a Will in life-mind-matter to realize a higher form of existence, consciousness, bliss. But he also brings down the force that makes his solution a tangible, perceptible possibility, for those who make the choice to open to it. And so we may be back to the Augustinian/Pelagian paradox, with a slight twist. Both individual choice and divine grace are necessary if this evolutionary change is to happen. And it must be for the good of everyone – not just the elect. It’s a species, and not a communal or national or individual level process. But because of the dual necessity: choice and grace, it will have to be done first by individuals. Collective change will presumably follow (linearly and chaotically).
At this point in Auroville there is almost no sign of anything happening on the collective level that indicates a change of consciousness, but the supramental force can be accessed by the individual and at times it seems to encompass a group awareness, but still carries little impact in the arrangement of social structure. At the Ashram level, little effort is apparently even made on the outer collective structure. It’s all arranged for maintaining an inner openness, for worship and meditation. If this evolution (of supramental consciousness) depends in any way on social structure, on ethical choice, on economics, technology, or biogenetic engineering, then from what I can tell it’s doomed from the start. It’s strictly a matter of inner choice and grace, which presumes the presence of a soul, divine will, or psychic being in things. RH
by Rod on Sun 29 Oct 2006 01:54 AM PST Profile Permanent Link
This is a kind of reasoning, supported by revelation and text, ie. spiritual authority. As such it requires faith and practice on the part of those who choose to be heroic. Whether such a teaching was meant to become the basis of a new religion, or not, or whether such religion is desirable or not, does not disqualify it as a religious teaching. Sri Aurobindo said his purpose in writing the Arya was to lay down the metaphysical and religious basis for a new movement in humanity to exceed itself. That basis (foundation) is a categorical belief in the immanence of the supermind in evolution and the innate ability of humans to know it because of the presence in them of the soul. The philosophical pertinence of this idea today when everyone is questioning the origin of consciousness happens to make this teaching current and relevant. But, What's wrong with admitting both that this teaching requires existential experience to be meaningful and also that it is very natural, even inevitable, for it to take on all the characteristics of a religion, which in fact it has already done? Why should we take this inevitability as a harmful stigma? Do we think postmodernism should have the last word? Reply
by Rod on Sun 29 Oct 2006 02:36 AM PST Profile Permanent Link
I would like to make an important concession to the techniques of postmodernist criticism and to the importance of an understanding of being-toward-the-future in the context of Sri Aurobindo’s work, as mentioned above.
A meaningful intermediate step might be allotted to phenomenology and deconstruction as a preparation for an actual step of being-toward-the-future as well as a true grasp of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, similar to Derrida’s treatment of Heidegger. That would be to accord Sri Aurobindo’s philosophemes their due position within the history of metaphysics and religion, both Eastern and Western, and then to transcend our own embeddedness in that doxological framework by considering that position under erasure. Because the position of Sri Aurobindo is only really meaningful in relation to an ever-present future of consciousness to be realized through transformation and the transcendence of intellectual concepts, his metaphysical and religious structures must be erased in order for that transformation to be present and in order for the future represented by his writings to be understood.
Supramental truth-force is a direct seeing, through a transformed consciousness, that may or may not be mediated by an inspired text or a direct spiritual influence, such as those which Sri Aurobindo, the writer-yogi created. It is known and valid only through an opening to a unifying consciousness of the oneness and difference of all perceptions that yields a strong sense of their unity, a sense of a divine wholeness and rightness (ritam), “a smooth and even infinity everywhere.” In this experience, the Mother’s insistence that even a superhuman effort to attain a true knowledge and to uplift humanity pales and disappears before the realization of what in fact already is the truth of everything. Reply
by Debashish on Sun 29 Oct 2006 08:39 PM PST Profile Permanent Link
Very well put and true. In fact, to this I would stick my neck out and agree that this is exactly the necessary method (call it postmodern or not) that Sri Aurobindo demands for a legitimate understanding and practice of his teaching. DB Reply [ 3:15 PM 4:23 PM]
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