Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo is a bogus biography

Nearly two months back, on 15th of April, Indian media swayed with ecstatic joy singing paeans of Justice and liberalism… Thirdly, Heehs is accused of impersonation. His journey from a research scholar and Archivist  to  one of the founders of Archive to  Director of Ashrama Archive and many more in the middle [ 1,2 ] is intriguing… Now, you see, Heehs’ book got acknowledged because he worked in Ashrama Archive for 40 years. Ironically, the same Ashrama, the laboratory of Heehs’ research distanced itself from the book which is evident from this notice but did Sagarika tell this to you? That apart, Sri Aurobindo Society, another institution set up by The Mother herself having presently more than 350 centers and 75 branches across the world, had to put this notice on its home page saying, “Sri Aurobindo Society strongly disapproves of the book

In this situation, considering our feelings, the following actions could be initiated:
1. The author of the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, Peter Heehs, be removed from the services of the Archives as well as from the Ashram.
2. The Trust, should publicly oppose the controversial contents of the book which have hurt the sentiments of devotees of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
3. The Trust, must not approve of the book.
4. One man’s “freedom of speech” which hurts the feelings of lakhs cannot be tolerated.
5. The precious manuscripts, scripts, entirely published and unpublished literature of the Archives should be kept in the absolute safe custody of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust and/or another trustworthy institution to safe guard the genuineness of this valuable heritage.

The withdrawal of Sri Aurobindo will always remain a mystery to us. It is too luminous, too occult, too profound for any human faculty to comprehend or feel or grasp. Yet in our own foolish way we can continue to narrate it as an ordinary mundane story or event, give a “factual” account. The best example of this foolishness is in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
The claim is, the author would maintain, to be just objective. But in the objective realm itself even the most scientific thinking is governed by values. To say that facts are all is a fallacy for the simple reason that they do not mean much. There is always the driving urge to get at the underlying principles of things and processes. In the combination of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen is the appearance of water which carries none of the values of the constituents. Science is not in a position to tell anything about the coming of new qualities, new properties. But the quest of science is to get down to it. However, we have absolutely no notion of any such quest in the Lives though its author is living in a spiritual institution for about four decades and is writing an account of a spiritual colossus. The pity is, he is not even open to the spiritual revelations made by him or his collaborator, the Mother. He seems to be oblivious of what the Mother has all along been saying about Sri Aurobindo. One may ask the question “why?”; but unless that opening, that call is there one cannot expect to see the “value” as against the “fact” in the life of the Yogi. It is this lack of deeper and intuitive perception which makes The Lives of Sri Aurobindo a bogus biography. I can affirm this even if a thousand Ashish Nandys and Debashish Banerjis and Gautam Chikermanes and Pratap Bhanu Mehtas are going to applaud it, drum it up in the public and in the frivolous non-scholarly media bazaars for propagandist gains. Who cares about the drumfish when they start applying the doctrine of Freedom of Expression selectively? I’ll simply advise them, if they care to heed it, to read the Mother carefully and perceptively if they value values. What wonderful depths are there in her revelations about Sri Aurobindo’s withdrawal! their evolutionary meaning and consequences! Who knows? Who knows?

Intuition And The Limits Of Reason: A Cross-Cultural Study Seminar "A" Consciousness and Knowledge: Scientific and Spiritual Perspectives Delhi Sundday, December 12, 2010 Session V : 12.30-13.00 Abstract Author Hartz, Richard
The success of the scientific method in unlocking the secrets of the physical universe has given the typical modern mind a confidence in the power of reason that is almost without precedent. Historically, the spread of European rationalism coincided with the temporary decline of older cultures where intuitive approaches to knowledge were highly valued. But the ascendancy of the West now appears to have been a passing phase. Meanwhile civilization has been plunged into a crisis for which science and its offshoot, technology, seem largely to blame. As the prestige of rationalism is eroded, recent scientific and cultural developments have stimulated a revival of interest in intuition.
Before considering the scope and reliability of intuition, we have to clarify what we mean by it. Philosophers, psychologists and mystics in the East and the West have defined intuition in various ways. For some it is an inferior faculty whose operations, however indispensable, are liable to mislead us if not corrected by the rational intelligence. Others see intuition as a higher kind of knowledge for whose influx intellectual activity is only a preparation. In either case, reason and intuition play complementary roles. Science bases itself on the rational analysis of empirical data, yet paradigm-shifting discoveries often come in intuitive flashes. Spiritual teachings depend on intuition for their deepest revelations, but these are commonly supported by psychological observation and metaphysical thinking.
Western “epistemologies of limitation” discourage us from recognizing the access of intuition to unconditioned knowledge beyond the reach of the mind and senses. In the shadow of scientific materialism and the Western domination of global culture, intuition has fallen into comparative neglect. But even in the West there have been prominent thinkers in the last century or so – including William James, Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead – who have assigned a high value to intuition. More recently, the power of intuition has been studied by researchers in transpersonal psychology. Cognitive psychology has also enhanced our understanding of the workings of intuition. Asian “epistemologies of enlightenment” favour the flourishing of spiritual traditions that foster intuitive insight. These traditions have adapted to changing times, creatively assimilating modern ideas such as that of evolution.
In India, for example, Swami Vivekananda spoke of an ascending scale from subconscious instinct to conscious reason to super conscious intuition. A similar but more detailed theory of the evolution of consciousness, from the infra-rational through the rational to the supranational, was formulated by Sri Aurobindo. His writings contain an exceptionally comprehensive treatment of the subject of intuition, accounting for the apparently contradictory conclusions of several other psychological, philosophical and spiritual systems. Thus Eastern philosophies and the practical disciplines associated with them offer attractive alternatives to the limiting assumption that the reasoning intellect represents the summit of human possibilities.

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