Thursday, April 29, 2010

The true story of an event is often revealed only long afterwards

Re: Explanation of my Stand wrt The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
by David Hutchinson on Sat 29 Nov 2008 08:55 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
A few thoughts that may be applicable to this discussion and current situation:
  • Every individual believes he/she knows the absolute truth, and that others are misguided. 
  • Group consciousness has a deep and unrecognized influence upon the individual. 
  • Emotion is a stronger force than reason, even when the truth is known. 
  • A lie repeated often enough, and loudly enough, will appear to be the truth. 
  • Hysteria, once begun, needs to play itself out. 
  • Divisive movements usually have a stronger force than inclusive ones. 
  • If you can dictate the terms of the discussion, you have already won. 
  • The most subtle and problematic aspect of an organization is its culture. 
  • Fear incites immediate destructive actions, which have to be remedied when the fear has passed. 
  • A useful tactic when mobilizing people is to define and then vilify an imagined common enemy. 
  • The true story of an event is often revealed only long afterwards. 
  • Those who sit on a fence get to see everything, but they never go anywhere. 
  • Just because a person has knowledge in one area does not mean he/she is wise in another.

Reply Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by David Hutchinson on Sun 30 Nov 2008 07:54 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
I agree with Rich, that those who started this are unlikely to participate in any kind of dialogue. And I think the suggestion by Rich for publicizing it is probably the most practical one that can be reasonably attempted, and the most likely to be effective.

Specifically, I think one (or several) of us should write an account of what has happened, giving names, dates, events, outcomes. Include the lawsuit, the banning, even the violence against Peter. Do it not in inflammatory language, but essentially as a journalistic piece.

Then send this to every center, institution, etc. that we know that interacts with the Pondicherry Ashram. This would have the virtue of at least making facts known. This can include all centers and study groups in the United States (there is a list that can be used for this purpose); teaching institutions that have sponsored speakers (such as CIF and CIIS); and centers around the world, including places like the
Delhi ashram.

At the same time, let the Ashram trustees know, and send the same material to them.

This would effectively put public pressure on those who started the affair, the Ashram as a whole, and the Trustees to be transparent with what is happening. Doing something in secret is very different from doing it in the public eye.

Given the highly emotional nature of the events, it is likely that most people are getting a biased or partial account, and cannot evaluate things for themselves. Putting out a well-documented notice would at least give people information with which to understand the situation. I would be happy to assist with this, in terms of drafting, editing, and distribution.
Reply Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by David Hutchinson on Wed 03 Dec 2008 07:09 AM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
Thomas asks "How’d we all end up in this mess, and what part do we play in resolving it?"

I think the answer to the first is complex. It is in our human nature, and the difficulties of achieving true spirituality versus a form of religion. Everyone is prone to falling back into religious forms, mistaking belief for faith, ideas for experience, dogma for knowledge. The whole difficulty is trying to move from one to the other.

The history of religion -- and this yoga -- is one of some people moving deeply into religion, while fervently believing that they have the "one true yoga." We should remember the Satprem era, which has not ended, as well as Patrizia,'s influence and other, less-well-known "teachers."

There are many specific factors that come into play. The rise of Indian nationalism, as India modernizes; the rise of Hindu fundamentalism, which appeals to deep feelings of group and self; the place of Pondicherry historically in this yoga, as well as it being the resting place of the bodies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; the quasi-official status of the Pondicherry Ashram as "owner" of the texts in this yoga; the role and influence of the west in terms of scholarship and academic cachet, which creates a love/hate relationship in many in the yoga, and how that plays out in the role of the Archives within the Ashram.

There are also the familiar dynamics of groups, which has been studied and documented over the last century, and how impressionable people are, how prone to being swayed as a group, the power of group thought and action, and the difficulties of breaking free to be an individual. Add to this the particular group culture in
India as a whole, where individuality is much less a force than it is in the west.

Then we have to add the spiritual/religious dimension of devotion to a teacher, which has a strongly Indian character, but is not limited to
India. In this instance, in this yoga, the commonly accepted view within this yoga is that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are avatars, beings of an exalted, and in this yoga, unique character, world-changing individuals who partake of divinity, or whose entire being and action are/were divine.

In this yoga there is also a strong tendency among many to limit their reading to source texts by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Even if they have a secondary book available, they prefer to spend their time with the original texts.

Then there is the inability of most people (educated or not, east or west) to recognize rhetorical devices, false argument, circular chains of thought, appeals to emotion couched in the voice of reason. It takes real intelligence and work to see a manipulative argument.

Then there is the aura effect of people who are seen as teachers, who have given lectures, who can speak at length on a subject. It is natural to be less critical of them, to believe what they say.

There is also the natural tendency of people to believe themselves (and those they identify with) as good, honest, true, and not susceptible to bad thoughts, forces, or actions. Even in the face of evidence to the contrary, people tend not to accept that they have done a bad thing.

There is also the drive for power and control. The Ashram is a very wealthy institution, which has extensive businesses and land; has considerable reputation and authority in the area, and elsewhere. Some people are simply drawn to power, see themselves as worthy of it, and will engage in less than perfect behavior to achieve it.

There is the tendency of a group to believe in its own description, or narrative, even when evidence points in another direction. The Integral Yoga community prides itself on NOT being a religion; so that when religious behavior appears, people actively want to deny it. "It must be something other than that -- must be anything but that." As a community, we are vested in a self-view, I would almost say a self-serving view, that we are not religious.

Similar to this, there is the "narrative" within the Ashram that there is "no politics." So that people may tend to look at a situation, an event, and say "Well, something is going on, but it can't be political -- that doesn't happen here, isn't allowed here."

This yoga is also prone to individuals proclaiming themselves the repository of truth, because there is no specific structure to the yoga, no ecclesiastical hierarchy, no definite creed or dogma. In the absence of these forms, one can simply say "I see the truth." Essentially, many of the real arguments in this discussion boil down to "I feel something bad here," and it is a question whether one believes that speaker.

There may be deeper forces at work that none of us are privy to. It may be that this is in fact the force of the yoga, of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, working through all individuals, to break up some defect or blockage in this yoga, in the Ashram, or elsewhere.
As to the second question, how to resolve it -- will leave that for another day. Dave Hutchinson
Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by Debashish on Mon 01 Dec 2008 04:08 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
"The Ashram is a Force - field for a certain kind of work."

The question we are debating is who gets to authorize what constitutes this force-field, once the founders of the organization have left the body? The trustees of the organization, the majority of the "inmates," a minority of vociferous teachers, a hermeneutic examination of the original intention of the founders, a charismatic interpretation based on contemporary circumstances or something else?

Given that there is no written charter by the founders for what constututes this "force field," except for the fact of being accepted by Them (or now the ashram Trust) as their disciples in the Integral Yoga, and bound only by the rules of the ashram, it is clearly illegitimate for any majority (or minority) of inmates, who have developed their own sense of "inmate-bonding" as their definition of the "force-field" to dictate or authorize such a thing.

Except for an opt-repeated quote from the Mother about bringing Sri Aurobindo "down to a gossiping familiarity" - another matter of interpretation and questioning who gets to authorize such an interpretation - there is no evidence of any definition of the boundaries of such a force-field by the founders.

If the home of the Integral Yoga is going to be authorized by those who hold such a narrow definition of a force-field which eschews all expression of critique, in spite of the author's clear dedication to the path, the teachers and their institutional work, then we cannot but conclude that this force-field and consequently, the version of Integral Yoga being authorized by it, must be just another narrowly defined cult with its own blood-enforced taboos - an obscure religion of the human past which its founders were at pains to distance themselves from.

Re: reconciliation, expectation, outcome
by koantum on Mon 01 Dec 2008 06:55 PM PST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
The Ashram is a Force - field for a certain kind of work.
I just want to add something to Debashish's comment: Who the heck knows anything about this "Force-field"? Those who pretend that they do are imposters. They have by this very act disqualified themselves from being taken seriously.

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