Sunday, May 16, 2010

Unimagined levels of mixing and fusion of disparate world cultures

You have ancient Rig Vedic incantations on one channel, a tango and salsa influenced Bollywood dance on the next and a discussion of the Indian IT scene on third and so on. The Indian mind of the 21st century is a highly contextual filing system. Every moment invokes a particular context and perspective. One moment you're praying to the fire gods, the next moment you're debugging your cell phone.
I think India is striving for completeness in a way that makes the US's earlier attempt look like a joke. In religion, you have a baby Jesus shrine on a major intersection, the Muslim call for prayer at 5AM every day, and innumerable Hindu temples, Sikh shrines etc. all over the place. All the religious forces are here clamoring for attention. On one channel you have GOD TV, the next one is MAA TV etc.
In music, you have hip hop fused with Indian ragas with some rap and salsa beats thrown in. There's plenty of jazz-raga fusion going on and there's also a fairly nascent rock scene emerging. I got a chance to play with a roadside band in Bangalore a few weeks ago to promote the standingonfish blog which was a lot of fun. If all goes well - and this is a big if - India should have a developed full spectrum culture in about 100 years with unimagined levels of mixing and fusion of disparate world cultures.

The crucial extra element that Aurobindo brought to Indian philosophy/mysticism is a collective aspect of spirit. While he describes communion, union and identity with Spirit in a manner that is similar to Vedanta, he later articulates the descent of the Supermind along with the creation of a new Man and a new advanced society. The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) attempted to carry out this program and helped found Auroville - a model for such an advanced society. In recent times, this theme has been further developed in a (constructive) postmodern direction by Ken Wilber and his followers. 
The ashram in Pondicherry is also immaculate. Due to The Mother's influence, it has beautiful floral arrangements. In contrast to Ramana Maharishi's ashram, it has much smaller meditation spaces (at least public ones). Through some contacts, we managed to get passes to go to the upper floor of the ashram and observe the living quarters of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother since these have been preserved. You're greeted by the exhortation "Cling to the Truth" as you climb the stairs.
I tried to meditate while sitting in the presence of Aurobindo's portrait and was rewarded with an unexpected communion with his rather arresting eyes when I opened my own and looked up after the meditation. The area surrounding the ashram is very well kept and maintained - in sharp contrast to the squalor in Tiruvannamalai - and this is no doubt due to the "descent of the Supermind" community-centric philosophy and The Mother's influence. The meditation areas left much to be desired though.
In conclusion, and on a somewhat downbeat note, I felt that these spirits had really departed. Both ashrams have a mausoleum-like feel and no new leaders with anything close to these personalities have emerged. Tough act to follow I must admit. I'm going to check out Auroville the next time I'm in India

Zaadz: Anand’s blog » Daniel Stoljar in his book "Ignorance and Imagination: The Epistemic Origin of the Problem of Consciousness" argues that consciousness is logically supervenient on the physical, i.e. experiential facts can be "read off" from more basic physical facts and laws. David Chalmers in his book, "The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory" argues that consciousness is not logically supervenient on the physical, i.e. experiential facts cannot be read off from more basic physical facts and laws. [...]
 I read Wilber in "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution" as upholding a dual aspect theory. Later when Gregg Rosenberg came out with his brilliant book "A Place for Consciousness: Probing the Deep Structure of the Natural World" which laid out a sophisticated, panexperientialist foundation for consciousnessand causation, I thought that the problem of experience was solved - finally.

No comments:

Post a Comment