Sunday, December 31, 2006

Words that stretch the English language to embody the Divine Reason

The Life Divine- Study Group Date: December 4, 2006 to December 25, 2006 Timings: Dec 4 2006 8:00PM Dec 25 2006 9:30PM Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles 12329 Marshall Street Culver City , California
THE EAST-WEST CULTURAL CENTER welcomes you to participate in "The Life Divine" Study Group. Sri Aurobindo''s magnum opus, in words that stretch the English language to embody the Divine Reason, covers all the philosophical issues related to man''s existence on earth, his relationship with the Cosmos, the gods, the planes of existence and the conditions for his Divine collective future. Contact Details: Sri Aurobindo 310-390-9083

Sri Aurobindo is like an ocean

Joe Perez said... hi alan - i'm looking forward to reading more aurobindo next year. i feel a kinship with your thoughts on aurobindo, wilber, etc, but hesitate to comment more because my knowledge of aurobindo is superficial. but I have studied Hegel in some degree of depth, and I find Aurobindo's prose to be more or less of the same difficulty. That is to say, extremely "abstract." And yet it is beautiful, more so than ... well, very much so. I hope you can find a way to communicate Aurobindo's genius in more plain language. joe 12:05 AM

m alan kazlev said... Hi Joe, I have to say I have found ideas in your blog very helpful in further developing and widening my understanding of Integral and the Integral movement.
Yes much of Sri Aurobindo's writings are heavy in style, perhaps because of his English private school upbring. Interestingly his Letters on Yoga (it's since been published under another title, On Yoga or some such) are very easy to read; they're just extracts from letters to disciples, replying to their questions (unfortunately the disciples letters are not included, so the complete context is at times hard to follow).
It took me a long time to learn how to read S.A.'s heavier books like The Life Divine and Synthesis on Yoga. I eventually realised you have to read just small parts here and there, whatever line or paragraph grabs your inspiration, and allow your inner being to be receptive to and uplifted by the Meaning behind the words. It's the same with reading Ramana Maharshi, or any great sage. Approached on that level, Sri Aurobindo isn't abstract at all!
I could never read his books from cover to cover, but Tusar seems to approach them in a more scholarly way, and that's fine too. If you would like a good idea of what he is on about, but don't want to have to plough through hundreds of pages of philosophy, I would recomend just read the last four chapters of The Life Divine. That way you go straight to his message of spiritual evolution pure and simple!For a while now I have felt more of an affilation with Synthesis of Yoga, which is more practical and mystical than philosophical in approach.
Then I discovered Sri Ramana, who is even more important to me now, as he teaches the realisation of the non-dual Self, which is necessary if one is to then progress to the stages beyond that, which is what Sri Aurobindo teaches (these stages, culminating in the Supreme individual and collective Realisation of the Supramental Godhead, are all described in those last four chapters of The Life Divine). Of course, for us ordinary mortals, even Self-Realisation (basic Enlightenment) is a huge task!
For me philosophy is mostly of little interest, perhaps because of that abstract quality that you refer to, although I appreciate for some it is a genuine sadhana (spiritual path). The way I tend to communicate what Sri Aurobindo taught is to focus on the practical and mystical side of the teachings, and their implications for the integral paradigm and the Earth as a whole. Of course that leaves out all the more purely philosophical and intellectual stuff, as well as all the poems and the political and social commentary.
But Sri Aurobindo is like an ocean, and it isn't possible to encompass the whole ocean. One can only splash in the shallows. It's like that when approiaching the teachings of every truly great sage. 3:09 AM

Divinisation of the world

I think where I went wrong before was to try to look for things that everyone had in common. It just didn't work. Now I'm considering instead recurring themes. Even though there is no teaching that includes all the themes, there are still many common themes - e.g. Unity, Holism, Evolution, Divinisation, etc. So I decided to write the book based on these themes. Of course I still consider that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have the highest perspective, since only they refer to the Divinisation of the world, rather than just seeing the world from enlightenment eyes (although that too, and that';s the starting point). posted by m alan kazlev at 2:59 PM Saturday, December 30, 2006

Much Aurobindian and post-Aurobindian work (inclusive of much of Wilber) is not critical

To be an internal critic of integral, you've gotta do more than just think skeptical thoughts. You've gotta have tried on the theory, worked with it, played with it, slept with it, made love to it, and then had a really nasty bitter falling out, great make-up sex, and then filed for divorce. Your pen's gotta be no more than an inch away from signing the divorce papers. You've really gotta KNOW that integral has its shortcomings, you've gotta feel these limitations at every level of your being and say "Nah, thought it was for me, but it isn't. Time to move on. Maybe it's time for a worldview that's MORE inclusive, MORE holistic, MORE expansive, MORE original, MORE demanding, MORE liberating, MORE useful, MORE fiercely loving!" That's what I call good internal criticism of integral.
Heck, at that point, whether it's "internal" criticism or "trans-integral" doesn't matter. It's just plain good criticism. If you're not doing THAT sort of criticism of integral, then please keep writing and adding value but do everyone the favor of making clear that you are INTERESTED in integral but NOT yourself integral. If in your highest Self that you know, you're not sure what you believe that's okay too, of course. Say it out loud. Write it on your blog or Integral Naked. Embody your believer; embody your skeptic. Listen to them, see what they have to tell you, what they want from you. Call yourself whatever you want, just so you're honest with yourself and the world. Wanna be integral but not sure you make the cut? Fake it 'til you make it. Act the role and LIVE the experience. posted by Joe Perez at 11/16/2006 2 Comments
DGA said...I'm working toward an integral theory that is also critical, which is to say, is capable of holding up to a rigorous ideological analysis. Much Aurobindian and post-Aurobindian work (inclusive of much of Wilber) is not critical, but this does not mean integral praxis is not capable of doing it.

The highest form of life is immanent in all of the lower

In his other writings, Wilber (1981; 1995), following Aurobindo (1985), has described the universe as originating from an involution, or stepping down, of the highest level of existence. This highest level creates the lowest forms of matter, enfolding in them the potential to evolve progressively upwards to the highest level. Thus all forms of life are ultimately rooted in the highest forms of life, not the lowest. Another way in which this concept is often expressed is to say that the highest form of life is immanent in all of the lower.
The concept of evolutionary potential or immanence, however, is not very clear. Does it mean that atoms, for example, have a tendency to form molecules, which in turn have a tendency to form more complex molecules, then cells, and so on? It presumably means something more than this, for atoms as science understands them have this tendency without postulation of any further properties necessary. Likewise, recent work in the new science of complexity suggests that the evolution of higher forms of life may also be understood in terms of inherent tendencies of molecules and cells to organize into more complex forms (Eigen and Schuster 1977; Prigogine and Stengers 1984; Casti 1992; Kauffman 1993). UP AND IN, DOWN AND OUT The Relationship of Interior and Exterior in the Holarchy Andrew P. Smith

Plato, Plotinus and Sri Aurobindo

Methodologyand Philosophy Bald Ambition: Chapter 8 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Jeff Meyerhoff
Instead of the orienting generalizations of knowledge, the reader is often told what famous writers say. Wilber makes statements of fact and validates them by attributing them to a few great thinkers. The assumption is that if a great and influential thinker asserts something, then it should carry authority. For example, Wilber uses Ferdinand de Saussure's distinction between the signifier and the signified without any mention of Derrida's critique of the distinction, nor other approaches to the sign which followed Saussure's. The assumption appears to be that if a great thinker like Saussure says it, that's validation enough.
In another example, he spends an entire page convincing us of the precocity, brilliance and great influence of the German philosopher Friedrich Schelling, as if these traits have some bearing on whether what he said was true or false. The same is done with Jurgen Habermas, A. O. Lovejoy and Charles Taylor. It's a curious pre-Enlightenment way of validating statements by reference to authority and is contrary to Wilber's post-Enlightenment desire to rely on science as the arbiter of truth. Reputation replaces orienting generalizations because the method is unworkable...
Another way Wilber tries to validate his system is based on a distinction between thinking and being...Wilber is a mystic and a thinker and so inhabits both worlds. The bulk of his written work uses the criteria of the thinker: arguments and evidence...This is a problematic conflation of intellectual and spiritual insight. Wilber uses Spiral Dynamics and his own developmental scheme to merge intellectual and spiritual attainment.
  • But what of thinkers like Habermas, Max Weber, Foucault and Piaget? Did they have any distinctive spiritual attainment? Not that I know of.
  • And what of contemporary spiritual adepts like Ramana Maharshi, Ramesh Balsekar or Poonjaji? Did they create great social analyses?

No. Profound spiritual adepts do not necessarily have superior social scientific theories. This assumption of a confluence between superior thinking and spiritual attainment is the reason Wilber advances Plato, Plotinus and Aurobindo as individuals and scholars. He implies that the validity of their philosophical work is connected to their spiritual attainments, but there is no necessary correlation between the two. Email at

Understanding higher consciousness in scientific terms

It goes by many names: Oneness...Peace...Ecstasy...Suchness...The Light...The Now...The Void...Pure Being...Higher Consciousness...God...
Whatever you want to call it, many people claim to have experienced it. This experience is, arguably, the basis of all genuine religion.
  • But how does this experience fit into our ordinary understanding of existence, based largely on science?
  • For example, is higher consciousness correlated with activity in a particular part of the brain, an activity we can actually measure and quantitate?
  • Or is it associated with some larger form of organization than a single individual, such as humanity itself, or the entire earth?
  • Did consciousness emerge from matter, or does it create matter?
  • Is higher consciousness the next inevitable step in the evolution of life on earth, or a vision restricted to a few?

Having followed a meditative practice for thirty years, I appreciate that the insights and experiences of higher consciousness are mostly beyond words. But as a scientist with a background in molecular biology, pharmacology and neuroscience, I'm reluctant to ignore the implications another level of existence has for my profession.

  • How far can we go in understanding higher consciousness in scientific terms?
  • Or should we turn the question around, and ask, to what extent are the insights of higher consciousness relevant to our understanding of ordinary existence?

This site is devoted to this dialogue between science and spirit. It features links to my own writing on this subject, as well as discussions with and links to others exploring this area. My Books My Articles Dialogue/Feedback Related Links

Integralism has to confront deep philosophical questions

Integralism has to confront deep philosophical questions as to the nature of our experience: sensory, mental and spiritual.
  • What does it mean that we touch Reality with such diverse avenues of knowledge?
  • Why has modernity priviledged knowledge based on the phsyical senses -- resulting in the physicalist worldview held sacred by many in the modernist and postmodernist world?
  • And when we undo this restriction, and open ourselves up to knowledge gained by other means than the senses, such as interpretation (eye of mind) and spiritual realization (eye of spirit), what does that tell us about the Kosmos we live in?
  • If flatland denies interiority, what does rehabilitating interiority (or consciousness) mean in terms of formulating a view of reality at large -- otherwise known as ontology? Perennialism Postmodernism Integralism Frank Visser June 2004

Sri Aurobindo has been a great part of my life for the past 50 years and has given me much joy

Auroville- A city for the future: Cedric Levy Jerusalem, Israel Aurora Mirabilis
I have been to Auroville twice in the past five years. I stayed with my wife at Afsaneh's guest house, which was wonderful clean with a most hygenic kitchen and excellent food. My wife and I also made the ride home on the antique bicycles in the pitch dark. (Not to be recommended.) I miraculously avoided running into some cows which were crossing the road in the dark. I did not notice them until I had gone past them. Your notes brought back some wonderful memories for me. Of course I have meditated in the Matrimadar. Beautiful!!!! But I was a little surprised to read that there is still scaffolding inside. It is two years ago since I was there and I would have thought they had finished by now. Sri Aurobindo has been a great part of my life for the past 50 years and has given me much joy.

If you take deconstruction seriously, you will, sooner or later, encounter the other

Postmodern spirituality, A dialogue in five parts Part III: The Postmodern Mind – And Its Future Roland Benedikter II: THE RESULT: THE EMERGING OF THE TWO “I”'s Question: Yes, exactly that is the question of the postmodern, “fragmented” subject.
RB: I must be, as my own clear logic teaches me, something like a double being, a double “I”: a normal ego that is an illusion, but also a secret witness that becomes aware of this illusion. There must be, behind the normal ego or “I”, another “I”, which I cannot deconstruct. Question: Why?
RB: Because I cannot make an object out of it. I can try to do that, but I will just become aware that the one who does this trying is the one who would be the one to reach. I become aware that the one who does this trying is the one from which everything else depends. Everything, in the strictest sense of the word. Every sensorial perception, every concept, and every state of ego and “I” I can ever be or imagine. The whole world. But this one cannot deconstruct itself, because he or her is the one who is trying to do the deconstruction. Therefore, that “I” (or witness) must be something like a last, pre-egoistic, pre-conceptual and pre-objective basis for everything else – an “individual, i.e. non-divisible self” or a “permanent origin in itself” (Jean Gebser: The Ever Present Origin, Reprint Edition, Ohio University Press 1986). This “permanent origin” or “pure pre-conceptual life-stream of attention” (Georg Kuehlewind), or, if you want to call it that way, “last meta-conscious basis of postmodern emancipation and every day life” (cf. Roy Bhaskar: The Philosophy of Meta-Reality, SAGE Publications 2002) seems to be the essence you wake up with in the morning.
It is the first think that appears in the morning, then you awake. It seems to produce every concept, every perception, as well as the pictures and illusions of the normal ego which then become a self-reflected mask or “persona”. It is the witness which does the deconstruction of the normal ego. Deconstruction obviously does not happen “from alone”. Somebody has to do it. And this somebody can be only your “other” or “pre-objective” “I”: the “I” behind the normal “I”, the “I” which is able to observe even the illusionary “I” from the standpoint of “the other” (Lévinas), and to deconstruct it from the standpoint of “the other”. Who is it? And what remains, if the normal ego and its world, its beliefs and its reality eventually have been completely deconstructed? That's what a normal human being, a contemporary subject who takes postmodernity seriously, must ask, sooner or later, without any chance to avoid these questions. And then, an answer, for a rationally self-aware, contemporarily enlightend (aufgeklärt) subject must be found through and out of deconstruction, not avoiding it.
Question: Yes, that's what you said. Isn't all that a kind of paradox situation of the postmodern “I”? Kind of a structural, fundamental inner schizophrenia - as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari pointed out in “Capitalism and Schizophrenia” (1983-1987, 2 volumes), or more recently Judith Butler in “Undoing Gender” (2004)? And - where does this situation lead?
RB: Right. Let me first say: This kind of schizophrenia, this structural paradox of the “two 'I''s” emerging rationally and almost inevitably from postmodern deconstruction, may be, that is my thesis, the most evolved form of rationality and enlightenment (Aufklärung) we currently posses. It leads almost inevitably to a certain kind of borderline synchronicity – of the ego with “the other” in myself. And even if this “other” (whom you may call the witness, or better: a borderline form of the witness) is, in most cases, not fully conscious for the postmodern subject, it starts to be there. Its presence slowly seems to become a reality – the more as deconstruction proceeds as universal method of conduct and self-awareness in postmodern culture. All that, of course, can be something horrible, it can cause a split or a distorsion. And in fact, what we see is that schizophrenia has become, in the last decades, one of the most “popular” diseases in the European-Western world - as, by the way, Rudolf Steiner predicted it for the end of the 20th century as part of the general evolution of consciousness through the splitting up of the consciousness of the subject (cf. a.o. Rudolf Steiner, Collected works Nr. 10, 13 and 300c, Dornach 1955/56-2005).
But despite all this negative outcome, which is undoubtedly there on a very broad scale, all that can, in the whole, maybe also be something productive - some kind of strong evolutionary impulse. Because out of this situation may come, and I would say: almost with necessity, something like a borderline spirituality, as I called it. There is no chance to avoid this kind of “post-egoistic”, mainly negative and at the same time empirical, “post-belief” or “post-metaphysical” spirituality, if you take deconstruction seriously. If you take deconstruction seriously, you will, sooner or later, encounter the other – maybe in distorted forms, maybe as a deeply kathartic experience, maybe as something that frightens or even shocks you and you want turn off your eyes. But you cannot avoid it in the long run. No chance.
Question: But is this true also for, let's say, some very materialistic or (de)constructivistic postmodern theories? Some postmodern theories which are currently dominating cultural theory and academic self-understanding on a broad scale? Do they really produce something like a “double I” with borderline qualities?
RB: Well, the answer may be, at least as far as I can currently see: Yes, increasingly yes. Even if not consciously. You should always remember: Yes, the “two I's” are increasingly produced by postmodern culture, but still not consciously. It's a little bit like the famous advertising sentence of Nike: Postmodernists (and their academic paedagogics) “just do it”; but they don't know exactly what they are doing. They do it out of a strong impulse of equality and liberation, and they generally just wanna see what will be the outcome. That is what most postmodernists would call “a proceeding that is not speculative, but empirical”.

How to split the personality from essence

Marko Says: December 30th, 2006 at 7:02 am Alan said: "the Fourth Way material can be better read as metaphor rather than as literal fact”
Most of it has to do with the way the development of essence works and, like alchemy, can be understood in a very literal way if you decipher the code. I don’t claim to have deciphered the code, but because I know the dimension of essence I can understand what he is refering to, f.i. with the hydrogeen stuff or how to split the personality from essence. Essence is a personal spiritual dimension instead of the impersonal of the Indian traditions almost everybody in the Integral movement seem to solely incorporate. In a former thread about Sufism I already explained that I miss this dimension of essence in the Integral theories so far.
Almaas integrated a lot of Gurdjieff’s work. He worked together with E.J Gold, but translated it into more psychological language, which for me made it simpler to understand and (more importantly) to apply. Although I don’t know E.J. Gold very well, of what I know he would fit into my view of the integral person: fourth way/ sufi teacher, architect, philospher, scriptwriter for Hollywood, jazz musician, painter and writer. I wonder how much sleep that man gets though.
Andy, I would like to see you starting a thread on Gurdjieff’s ideas and how to place them in an integral context, just like you did with these view examples in this thread. I wouldn’t have the feeling like you were 'selling’ Gurdjieff (I myself do not want to do that with Almaas either b.t.w.). But I think there would be specific interest from the people on this forum, including myself.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Steiner, Wilber

alan kazlev Says: December 29th, 2006 at 10:31 pm Andy said “To me, these are the words more of a thinker, a philosopher, a systematizer, rather than a mystic. “
If you read Synthesis of Yoga you will find that Sri Aurobidno was also a mystic as well.
“But when you and Alan claim that he was the greatest realizer of all time”
I never said “the greatest realiser”. But were I to do so, I would probably give The Mother that status; in The Agenda she refers to details regarding the enlightenment of the Cells that even Sri Aurobindo doesn’t talk about.
What I did say is that for me personally their teachings are the most profound, the most integrative, the most inspiring. I have argued why in part 3 of my first essay on Integral World. But please don’t think I am saying this dogmatically, like some bigot trying to get everyone to think the same as I do. I am only talking about my own experiences and insights. And if someone could show me a more integrative, universal, and profound teaching, I will most certainly recognise that.
Andy I respect you when you say that you’ve had experiences, that you find Gurdjieff the most original teacher. I also have great admiration for Gurdjieff (although that doesn’t diminish my greater admiration for Sri Aurobindo). Ultimately this comes down to the fact that one can only follow one’s own Inner Light and Guidance, which when followed with sincerity is the only true Guru, and that whilemental discussions of this sort are great fun, they are ultimately futile, because realisation is beyond all such words.
“I would point out that he was teaching his students in Moscow about holarchy years before the term was even coined, about different brains half a century before Paul MacLean developed the idea of the triune brain, that his system specifically addresses questions of physiological events that occur during meditation,”
Yes the Fourth Way material is incredible. Here is something i have always wondered, but others on this forum are probably more knowledgable than I and better able to answer. How much of the Fourth Way is what Gurdjieff said, and how much what Ouspensky said? How much of such superb books as In Search of the Miraculous and The Fourth Way was Gurdjieff’s own words and how much Ouspensky’s? I don’t pretend to know the answer, nor am I or nor do I claim to be a scholar of or authority on Gurdjieff.
“that he was virtually alone in suggesting that there is a limit to how many people on earth can realize higher consciousness, and so on and so on.”
Yeah I heardabout this too (maybe in Ouspensky). Gurdjieff apparently didn’t want his knowledge to get out too widely, because there’s only so much enlightenment to go around, and if the knowledge he taught was made too readily available it will be used up. This very negative and closed exclusivist approach is the opposite of the more open and universal approach of people like Blavatsky, Aurobindo, Wilber, etc. There’s no popssibility of collective growth in Gurdjieff’s system, it’s the old school of individual realisation only.
Interestingly Steiner was somewhat similar in that he didnt want his lectures written down (because the spiritual presence is lost when words are written down, i don’t necessarily agree, although maybe sometimes it is), but I find his lectures far more interesting than his books. However unlike Gurdjieff, Steiner was concerned with collective as well as individual evolution.
Gurdjieff also supposedly said that the moon gets hungry and that’s what causes war. So there is all sorts of stuff there, some of it quite crazy! But even the crazy stuff had an occult truth (as with Steiner). Gurdjieff was an amazing person and he probably would fit the mould of manipulative guru quite well (according to Webb The Harmonious Circle he was a spymaster at one time). As with Steiner, the Fourth Way material can be better read as metaphor rather than as literal fact. For that matter so can Wilber-II, which has intriguing parallels with Steiner’s cosmology.

I do not believe in "cafeteria style" spirituality

The Absurdity of Absolute Relativity posted by Gagdad Bob
at 12/29/2006 06:44:00 AM 63 comments Friday, December 29, 2006
There are some things that human beings may know with metaphysical certitude. In fact, our access to absolute truth is one of the principle things that defines us as human. Obviously, no other animal can know truth, much less absolute truth. The moment you realize this -- assuming you really and truly do -- you will understand that the human state is not a Darwinian "extension" of the animal state, but something fundamentally inexplicable on any materialistic grounds. It is, in fact, a gate of exit out of mere animality -- indeed, out of the relative cosmos itself. Humans are a "hole" in creation that allows them to know the whole of creation.

For in knowing absolute truth, human beings may participate in eternity on this side of manifestation -- in the relative world. The trick is to, so to speak, "prolong" eternity on this plane. We do this by 1) aligning ourselves with truth, and 2) assimilating truth. By "assimilating," I mean that we must metabolize truth so that it is "interiorized" and becomes entwined with our very psychic substance. We must "eat and breathe" absolute truth in order to become it and live it.

Authentic religion is the vehicle of absolute truth. You might say that absolute truth, the Godhead, the Ain Sof, the Supermind, Nirguna Brahman, or the God beyond being, are analogous to white light, whereas each authentic revelation is analogous to a color in the rainbow. This is why religions cannot be mixed "from below," lest you produce a manmade blending of colors that eventually ends up black, not white. However, this hardly means that one religion cannot illuminate this or that obscure or underemphasized doctrine of another.

Christianity, for example, is a obviously a complete religion. Nor will I argue with someone who believes it is the "best" religion. Nevertheless, it is obviously the case that the greatest Christian thinkers -- true theologians such as Meister Eckhart, Origen, or Denys the Areopagite -- exist only at the margins of contemporary Christianity, which is often sadly atheological -- either that, or couched in a ridiculous theology that makes religion itself look ridiculous -- a terrible sin by the way, for it amounts to taking the name of the Lord in vain. At the moment I am thinking of a genial dolt named "Osteen" that I caught on Larry King for a few moments, but it could be anyone.

Once you immerse yourself in, say, the genius of Meister Eckhart, you immediately see the parallels with, say, the greatest Jewish theologian, Moses Maimonides. Then you cannot help seeing certain unavoidable parallels with perhaps the greatest pagan mystic, Plotinus, then it's hard to distinguish him from the immortal Vedantin, Shankara. You needn't "blend" any of these truly celestial beings to appreciate how they are reflected in one another, each a particular color that carries and transmits real light. Most of us cannot know the white light, but each color is in the end nothing other than light, just as rain or snow are nothing other than water.
I am as comfortable in a Catholic or Orthodox service as I am in a Vedanta or Jewish temple, so long as they radiate the sacred. However, I am definitely not "eclectic." I do not believe in "cafeteria style" spirituality. It is more like being able to appreciate, say, Arvo Part, Dexter Gordon, Merle Haggard, and James Brown. Each is a musical "avatar" who conveys real musical light, but I wouldn't want to blend them.

Apparently, it is difficult for most rank and file human beings to conceive of the Absolute on its own absolute terms, so they create a human substitute to stand for the Absolute. In short, they intuit the Absolute and believe in the Absolute, but the only way they can "think" about it is to elevate something on the relative plane to the status of Absolute. This is fine as far as it goes, and it does help those who are not metaphysically gifted to think about ultimate things. One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Gurdjieff is the most original teacher

Andy Smith Says: December 29th, 2006 at 5:04 pm Tusar, Ken Wilber was never my hero, I am not now and never have experienced grief because of his recent rants. I am not “willing and eager” to believe that others have not lived through what I consider universal experiences, I came to this belief only after many, many years of great resistance. Eventually, one has to believe what one sees, not what others claim.
I have read some Aurobindo, perhaps I will read more, but what I have seen so far I just don’t find that compelling. To me, these are the words more of a thinker, a philosopher, a systematizer, rather than a mystic. As I said before, I respect him as a great man, probably one of India’s greatest, and I particularly think his time in jail greatly enriched his spiritual drive. I have no problem if others find he speaks best to them, different teachers for different people. But when you and Alan claim that he was the greatest realizer of all time, that he solved philosophical questions that had eluded others, I think you are going overboard, and need to be called on it. And when you cite poetic descriptions of the kind that others have expressed from time immemorial as evidence of realizing higher states, then many people not even considered mystics would also have to be recognized as great realizers.
Personally, I feel Gurdjieff is the most original teacher I have encountered, but I don’t feel the need to start a thread on him, or to convince others that he was the most realized man of all time. I would point out that he was teaching his students in Moscow about holarchy years before the term was even coined, about different brains half a century before Paul MacLean developed the idea of the triune brain, that his system specifically addresses questions of physiological events that occur during meditation, that he was virtually alone in suggesting that there is a limit to how many people on earth can realize higher consciousness, and so on and so on. I know he didn’t invent these and other ideas out of whole cloth, that he had his sources, but nevertheless I have never found ideas like these in the writings of others. I have personally confirmed some of his most important ideas, but like all great teachers, he encouraged his followers to be critical of him, and I am. I think this is a healthier attitude than what seems like total belief on your part that Aurobindo was infallible. [Andrew P. Smith, who has a background in molecular biology, neuroscience and pharmacology, is author of e-books Worlds within Worlds and the novel Noosphere II, which are both available online. His website SCIENCE VS. SPIRIT is devoted to the question: "how to integrate experiences of higher states of consciousness with the established body of scientific knowledge."]
Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: December 29th, 2006 at 9:02 pm I am glad that Andy Smith has come out in the open about his love for Gurdjieff and a separate thread on him would be quite in order. But I am more happy for he says of Sri Aurobindo as “more of a thinker, a philosopher, a systematizer, rather than a mystic.”
In fact, we are all ill equipped to measure mysticism but can compare philosophies as to their superiority. “One of the Greatest” is a very vague phrase, so we should attempt to mention the three top persons in the three categories of thinker, philosopher, and systematizer. If Sri Aurobindo commands the top position in at least one category, that is enough.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Suffering, conflict, confusion and despair

Andy Smith Says: December 29th, 2006 at 2:51 am Tusar: I hope your previous post was not intended to be an example of Aurobindo’s description of spiritual states. It may be very nice poetry, but it’s not very original, there are countless writers before him who have said much the same thing: boundless, infinite, rapture, drunkenness, etc. And not just mystics, there have been many writers/poets who were not enlightened, who did not submit themselves to a long and arduous discipline, who were capable of saying things like that.
In addition, these passages, like so many other descriptions I come across, are about a final state, they say nothing about what one experiences on the way, which is where virtually every seeker spends virtually all of his or her life. The day to day reality of the seeker is not much about rapture and bliss, it’s more about suffering, conflict, confusion and despair, about learning the consequences of our actions, the relationships between what we do and what we experience, the preciousness of energy, and so much more that I rarely find gurus writing about. You will forgive me for believing the reason they don’t write about such things is because they haven’t lived through them.
Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: December 29th, 2006 at 5:55 am I fail to understand why Andy Smith is so willing and eager to believe that “they haven’t lived through them” without even scratching the surface to acquaint himself with their biographical details. I can empathize with all of you for the sense of loss you are going through after the fall of your hero, but the grief has to be overcome, and the sooner the better.
Rather, this has created the most opportune moment to know about the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Don’t feel threatened that others have read more. Within a few weeks you can catch up and acquire an overview of things. Then only you will be able to critically analyze and judge for yourself. Otherwise, what you say about them now sounds so puerile and it doesn’t behove of a person of your eminence.

A science of exceeding Man's mental consciousness

Sanjay R. Desai [ Central Page Journal Main Page ]
"Sri Aurobindo Darshan: The University of Tomorrow " February 2006 Volume VII Issue I
Sri Aurobindo … A nationalist? A politician? A Vedantic monk? A new-age guru? A mystic? Who is Sri Aurobindo? What is he to us? More importantly, why should we bother raising this issue in the first place? The lines that follow offer a modest attempt to decipher this amazing awesome maze...
Sri Aurobindo is not just another brand of mystic philosophy, nor is he an exercise in abstract critical thought. His life is the record of a discipline, a methodology, a science of exceeding Man's mental consciousness—contingent on a set of finite terrestrial senses—to realise the truth of his being and expanding it into a cosmic, universal, spiritual delight of existence. His yoga equips us with the roadmap to be followed to contact and bring down that force without which the ascension to superseding the mind cannot be effected. He delivers to us that formula, that mantra which otherwise the physical thinking mind cannot conceive of. His documented spiritual experiences reveal to us not only the presence of regions that lie beyond the mind but also how these can be journeyed to. He is the solid shining mirror of truth wherein we are compelled to ask:
  • Do we truly know ourselves?
  • Has man conquered all the domains of knowledge or are there other worlds yet to be explored?

Sri Aurobindo provides us with the tools with which we proceed to pierce open our evolutionary consciousness further onto extra-terrestrial regions of a liberated intelligence. Sri Aurobindo could fashion these ideals for he did bring down and craft these higher gradations of consciousness here on earth in a physical body. And he did so to make them realisable to an aspiring humanity! His integral yoga is the blueprint made available for every individual to manifest his body's soul. His is a life taken to demonstrate that the supramental consciousness cannot only be attained but be brought down and be made a permanent part of the earth-consciousness to effect a divine transfiguration of the human race!

Above all, to me personally, Sri Aurobindo is the master of the Divine Game; an idealistic explosion reverberating through the cosmos; a volcanic prophecy beginning to erupt; an intellectual revolutionary tempest that knocks beyond the frontiers of human knowledge; a material envelope that defied the laws of death; a decree straight from the Divine! I end with this quote from the Mother: "What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme." (Dr. Sanjay R. Desai from Vadodara, Gujarat, has a Doctorate in Management Studies)

Experiences on the way to realization

Andy Smith Says: December 28th, 2006 at 5:12 pm Obviously I’m not as familiar with Aurobindo’s writings as Alan or Tusar. But why don’t one of you quote at length here some passage from him that describes in detail experiences on the way to realization, and we can go from there? I read most of Alan’s recent articles on Visser’s site, and I don’t recall coming across a quote with the kind of detail I’m interested in, but you can repeat that here, or provide something else.
Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: December 28th, 2006 at 10:20 pm Why not spare a fortnight or so to read and write about the works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo bypassing the current obsessions? That would be a nice way to begin the New Year. 10:54 AM

Four pillars

Robert W. Godwin: The spirituality that I practice, which is Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, has as its aim to bring the vertical into the horizontal. The Only Journey There Is: An Exploration of Cosmic & Cultural Evolution (WIE) An interview with Robert W. Godwin by Elizabeth Debold One Cosmos
M Alan Kazlev said... And if there were any greater Sages than Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I would without a microsecond hesitation switch to their perspective and use that as a starting point isntead. So far I haven’t found any, but I am open to all possibilities. Integral Transformation
Roland Beneditker: By the way, Savitri and The life divine are two of my absolute favorite books. Official Homepage
Daniel Gustav Anderson: Integral theory may very well amount to a conversation about Aurobindo. ( Of Syntheses and Surprises: Toward a Critical Integral Theory: INTEGRAL REVIEW 3, 2006) For the Turnstiles

Ananda-isation of matter

Andy Smith Says: December 27th, 2006 at 8:30 pm I don’t see a lot of this in Aurobindo’s writings. Most of his writings seem to be couched in very broad and abstract generalizations.
alan kazlev Says: December 28th, 2006 at 3:54 am This was certainly not my experience when reading Synthesis of Yoga. I found the descriptions of the transcendent states are very precise (I quoted one passage in my first essay on Frank’s Integral World website)...
By the way, Sri Aurobindo never claimed to have taught the highest truth. He only taught the next, and very radical, stage in cosmic evolution. But beyond Supermind are even higher states of realisation like Ananda. So in a sense you are right, even Supermind can be considered an intermediate state between the highest enlightenment and the Ananda-isation of matter. However, I find that (with a few partial and metaphoric exceptions, e.g. certain elements of Lurianic Kabbalah) almost every teaching I have looked at doesn’t go beyond conventional enlightenment, whether it be non-dual or theistic. As Sri Aurobindo says, “my yoga begins where the other yogas end.” That is why I stand by the words I stated and which Tusar repeated here. So if you know of a more profound teaching, I am most interested in hearing about it! Integral Transformation OpenIntegral

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I would never ever trust a guru whose human flaws weren’t evident

Andy Smith Says: December 27th, 2006 at 8:30 pm The problem is, anyone can claim experiences that are not found in second hand sources,but just because they aren’t, there is no way of validating the experiences. I have had many experiences that I am quite sure are authentic, but I don’t ask anyone to believe me just because I say so. One difference between mine and Aurobindo’s is that I can give very specific descriptions of experiences that occur on the way to realization. I don’t see a lot of this in Aurobindo’s writings. Most of his writings seem to be couched in very broad and abstract generalizations. As I have said before, the devil is in the details. Show me someone who can provide details of experiences, no matter how much limited by language, and I will listen. But even then, most such descriptions have been recorded by individuals in extreme isolation, who didn’t seem to understand that awakening is an external as well as internal process.
Your very use of “intermediate zone gurus” suggests to me that you are a priori buying into Aurobindo’s scheme, and then using it to invalidate anyone whom, according to that scheme, is not enlightened. I could always claim that I have found a scheme in which the highest state described by Aurobindo is just another intermediate way station. As I said before, this strikes me as a game of “my highest state is higher than your highest state”. Adi Da, of course, loved to play this game. Non-duality seems to offer a way out of this bind, but that of course is hardly original with Aurobindo.
Any alleged guru has people who have known him/her who are prepared to praise him/her to the skies...The distinction you are missing here is necessary vs. sufficient. Lots of authorities don’t abuse their position. The Pope doesn’t. Does that make him enlightened? Aurobindo’s disciple Chaudhuri didn’t. Did that make him enlightened? Is someone a great President or great leader because he doesn’t abuse his position? I would say that is a necessary basic quality, hardly evidence by itself of great leadership or knowledge. Tendency to abuse is largely a personal trait. Many people are relatively free of it, that doesn’t mean they have some special knowledge. Some people have to struggle with it, and I will grant you, with great spiritual powers come great temptations. Being able to master these temptations I think is valid evidence of some kind of knowledge, but if you don’t know how much power the person has, you aren’t in a position to gauge how great are the temptations he/she must deal with.
Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Aurobindo. I certainly have no problem with discussion of his ideas on the forum, and if they are inspiring to you and others, more power to all of you. But in this area, I think anyone can and should be criticized. As Joe says, “If it were possible to define “perfect,” then I think it’s safe to say there’s never been a fully perfect human being in every sense, horizontal and vertical, every stage/state/line, etc. For me, it only makes sense to talk about gradations of human development and persons on paths, not enlightened beings.” And: “I would NEVER ever trust a guru whose human flaws weren’t evident, because that would surely be a sign that they are psychologically disassociated beings, not enlightened.” Ken, of course, has made this point many times.
Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: December 27th, 2006 at 11:05 pm Sri Aurobindo’s details of experiences are available in his two volumes of “Record of Yoga.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Call it integral, second tier, holistic, or systemic

Now, if you've been following the evolutionary trajectory of What Is Enlightenment? over the past couple of years, you may have noticed that a new kind of thinking has indeed been finding its way onto more and more of our pages. Call it integral, second tier, holistic, or systemic, this new thinking is the hallmark of a growing wave of visionaries with the eyes to look beyond the surface turbulence and grapple with the multilayered complexities undergirding our global dilemmas. Challenging us to face the elaborate interwoven forces that are shaping our destiny for better or worse, these evangelists of higher-order thinking offer what many feel may be the best chance we have at meeting the demands of the years ahead...
As firm believers in Plato's assertion that the highest form of knowledge is that which emerges in dialogue, we couldn't imagine what could give us a better chance of seeing the biggest possible picture than a roundtable discussion between some of today's brightest integral minds, who are each attempting, in their own way, to forge a more evolved course through our present and future world... –Craig Hamilton. by rjon on Mon 25 Dec 2006 06:12 AM PST Permanent Link

Help the evolution of the earth consciousness for establishment of human unity and fraternity

The Mother came from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic roots and Sri Aurobindo harmonized the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian legacy. Between them, they integrate the entire gamut of religious and philosophical diversity. The Savitri Era religion, therefore, is the religion of the future world. By surrendering before the divine manifestation of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo we can help the evolution of the earth consciousness for establishment of human unity and fraternity. 5:14 PM
In the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo one can find the answers to every question human beings ask. But for that one must be willing to come out of the geriatric mythologies and feel the warm embrace of the 20th century Savitri Era religion. Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 6:30 PM

You are saying that Aurobindo was an enlightened being, that you know this for certain?

alan kazlev Says: December 26th, 2006 at 2:41 pm Andy asked, And you are saying that Aurobindo was an enlightened being, that you know this for certain?
Yes. And The Mother too. This is evident from
  • The authoritory with which and about which they wrote or spoke (KW in contrast always uses second hand sources when discussing these matters, so do I. However this argument in itself is not persuasive because an Intermediate Zone guru also speaks with authority and direct experience).
  • The anecdotes of those who knew them.
  • Most importantly, and in addition to the above two points, there has not been a single case of them abusing their position. This is in contrasts to the “intermediate zone” gurus who have only partial enlightenment, but speak with authority and have dedicated followers whose lives were transformed. But the IZ guru will almost always in some way absue their position. The authentic and totally enlightened being never will.

The only person who was equal to Sri Aurobindo was Mira Alfassa, The Mother

ebuddha said... Alan,

I have no doubt that Aurobindo was the premiere spiritual philospher of the early 20th century. The issue with using Aurobindo as a model, it seems, is the lack of incorporation of the last 50 years of progress. Psychology has gone well beyond Freud and Jung, no matter the giants those two are.

Now, that is a square that can easily be circled, and probably what you are attempting to do, by STARTING with Aurobindo. Is there continuing research into Aurobindo's techniques, improvements, incorporations of new understandings, etc? 10:23 AM
m alan kazlev said... Hi ebuddha, you said

"The issue with using Aurobindo as a model, it seems, is the lack of incorporation of the last 50 years of progress. Psychology has gone well beyond Freud and Jung, no matter the giants those two are."

Yes, this is an interesting question! But the problem here is that we are talking about two totally different realities.

What Sri Aurobindo says is timeless. It pertains to the Supreme, the Absolute Reality, God if you will (although I dislike that term because of the exoteric religious connotations, old man in a cloud, only way is through the true church, giving out authoritarian rules in some revealed scripture, etc).

50 years of progress in science, philosophy, psychology, historical criticism, etc etc pertains to the world of the relative intellect, the outer material world. It is not that this is not included in the Aurobindonian compass, it is only that it is one smallpart of the whole.

The situation is different with Freud and Jung. Great genuises that they were, they were still working at the level of the rational intellect. Like explorers of the unknown, but the world they explored is still accessible to our understanding.

Jung certainly touched on the greater reality; he is one of the very few of the 20th century who did. This is probably why many in mainstream psychology are still uncomfortable with him. But Jung's interpretations, a biologiacl racial memory, are nonsense, as any biologist will tell you. So Jung was trying to put a materialistic slant on things. Like Wilber, he was a bridgebuilder and he tried to define non-empirical things in the language of science out of a desire to appear respectable to mainstream academia (and like Wilber, he never did become so, but instead established his own "sacred tradition" if one might call it that). It's only in his older years, when he was no longer concerned with what his collegues thought of him, that he could be himself. That's when he spoke about synchronicity, psychoid archetype, things that were beyond the compass of secular knowledge.

In the intervening 50 years, has any Jungian improved on Jung? Ok you have people like James Hillman, Jospeh Campbell, etc. But has anyone in that tradition gone beyond Jung?

So the myth of progress doesn't apply. It's not like Edison or Tesla or Henry Ford or the Wright Brothers or Baird or other great technological pioneers, and that technology surpassed them and their were more advanced gizmos.

It's not like pure science where you have a Newton or an Einstein and others come along and refine and build upon their discoveries, using experimental method and empirical observation,or even a thought experiemnet, like how Einstein went beyond Newton with the discovery of Relativity.

The only person who was equal to Sri Aurobindo was Mirra Alfassa, the Mother. And yes it is interesting taht she did go beyond him, if you compare the Mother's Agenda (transcribed by her devotee Satprem) with the Aurobindonian corpus, she put what he said philosophically into practice. But since she left her body, there has been no-one of that level.

Is there continuing research into Aurobindo's techniques, improvements, incorporations of new understandings, etc?

Research implies the limited external consciousness. I might equally ask, has there been any research and improvements in the techniques that the Buddha taught? That Rumi taught? That Bodhidharma taught? That Sri Ramana taught? That's what I mean, it's a misplaced metaphor.

But as for incorporations of new understanding, well, that's different. There is also the possibility of greater external insights. Not just commenting, but bringing more things together. That's what I'm trying to do for example. Perhaps that's what the mainstream integral movement is also doing. This is the promise I see in the Integral Movement, and the reason I feel affiliated with it. It's not that anyone there can be another Aurobindo, or another Maharshi. But it is possible to take the outer forms of what these great sages taught, and try to put it together in a greater perspective.

And of course, to do this, one needs to start somewhere. One can start from one's own rational mind, but then why is what one says better than what anyone else says? There are just endless arguments, the mind turning around but not arriving at a higher truth.

That's why I prefer to start with the teachings of the greatest sage(s) I can find. And if there were any greater Sages than Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I would without a microsecond hesitation switch to their perspective and use that as a starting point isntead. So far I haven't found any, but I am open to all possibilities.

Not sure if that answers your question. The problem truly is about acknowledging both the transcendent Supreme and the relative world, both, together. Reconciling the two, without contradiction. That's the real paradox. 2:41 PM

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The transformation is through the Cells of the Body

And as I argue in my essay, the Integral movement, especially the Wilberian Integral movement, cannot even be distinguished from the New Age sensu lato (see Wouter Hanegraaff New Age Religion and Western Culture, SUNY 1998). There just isn't enough of a common denominator between Aurobindo and Wilber to constitute a worldview. This was brought home to me even more clearly in discussions on Open Integral - see the threads The Integral movement - new page at Integral Wiki and What does the Integral Movement represent? which made me question whether there even is such a thing as an Integral Movement.
There is a Wilberian Integral movement, an Aurobindonian Integral Yoga community, etc etc. Sure. But an Integral movement over and above all these? Forums like Open Integral and SCIY may or may not be able to define the Integral Movement. And sure one can construct a mental viewpoint based on the "big three" of Aurobindo, Gebser, and Wilber, or even on one of these alone, but it would be mental only, arbitrary, artificial, a mere construct, not a real revelation...
The solution is simple. For an Integral worldview I have a strong nucleus. That strong nucleus is (or will be in my book) the essence of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on this...The transformation is through the Cells of the Body (Satprem's "Mind of the Cells" - incidentally I find The Mother's quotes here far more useful then most of Staprem's commentary)...
  • Why aim small, when you can aim high?
  • Why aim only for trying to be harmonious and interconnected in the workplace, when you can realise the Supermind (the Supreme Godhead) in the cells of your body?
  • Why strive only for better ways of loving and playing, when you can reverse entropy?...

So to get back to the question, why start with the Aurobindonian stance rather than the Wilberian, my reply is simply that (to me) the Aurobindonian is more majestic, more awesome, more inspiring, more provocative, more inclusive, and more amazing and more profound in every way then any other teaching and any other praxis. And that is why, in my book on the Integral paradigm, I am using as the foundation and point of reference the Aurobindonian revelation. posted by m alan kazlev at 5:44 PM

Monday, December 25, 2006

Bloodless ballet of categories

Sri Aurobindo and Hegel on the Involution-Evolution of Absolute Spirit
Steve Odin Philosophy of East and West, April 1981
Hegel later appropriated this notion of an impersonal unity of self consciousness, which was for Kant a purely logical principle, and transformed it into the supreme metaphysical category of highest generality at the base of actuality, reifying it as the ‘Absolute Spirit’, or God, a self positing universal consciousness which entirely creates and projects its own experiential contents, only to reabsorb them again into a self mediated identity in difference. Hegel’s category of the Absolute was itself derived as the culminating product of his dialectical process, which functions to sublate (aufheben) all abstract opposites, that is to overcome all one sided thought determinations yet preserving them as ideal moments of a concrete totality.
Epistemologically, the notion of the Absolute represented for Hegel the unification of the knowing subject with the object known, making possible a true knowledge of “things-in-themselves,” a knowledge which Kant had denied. And theologically, the notion of the Absolute represented a philosophical explication of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which involves, according to Hegel’s interpretation, the self-differentiated identification of nature and God or man and the divine, as propounded by such Christian mystics as Meister Eckhart and Jacob Boehme.

The twentieth century Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, who framed his own full scale metaphysical synthesis, appropriated Hegel’s notion of an Absolute Spirit and employed it to radically restructure the architectonic framework of the ancient Hindu Vedanta system in contemporary terms. However, before considering this functional resemblance between Sri Aurobindo’s doctrine of the Absolute of that of Hegel’s, first some of the central distinctions between their respective doctrines must be grasped. Sri Aurobindo first critiques the Hegelian concept of the Absolute conceived as a totalistic system of dialectical reason, what F. H. Bradley has called the “bloodless ballet of categories.” Sri Aurobindo’s concept of the Absolute is not deduced product of a dialectical logic, as Hegel’s, but rather a...

Three main areas of life: mating, parenting and leading

Book Review: Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, Prometheus Nemesis Book Co.. 1998, 350 pg. The definitive work on Temperament theory., September 18, 1998 Reviewer: John Falt (Almonte, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
Back in 1978 Keirsey and Bates wrote Please Understand Me. It was one of the first books to popularize the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), and it included "The Keirsey Temperament Sorter" so people could get a sense of what their psychological type was. However, Keirsey and Bates main interest in the MBTI was to use it as a way to determine temperament. They saw that the SP, SJ, NF and NT grouping of types fit the four temperaments that Hippocrates had written about twenty-five hundred years ago.

Keirsey had long been interested in the concept of temperament, and while he does discuss the MBTI preferences, both books focus mainly on temperament. Unfortunately, in the first book he labelled the four temperaments with the names of Greek gods, Dionysus, Epimetheus, Apollo and Prometheus. I found these names really difficult to work with when I first read the original book, and had to have a dictionary in my hand to make any sense out of some of the material. In the intervening years Keirsey (Marilyn Bates has since died) renamed them: Artisan for the SP, Guardian for the SJ, Idealist for the NF, and Rational for the NT, which made for easier reading.

In the revised edition "The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II" has been updated with some different questions, and this can still be used to determine your type. He has added "The Keirsey FourTypes Sorter" which determines only your temperament. Both of these quizzes are also on his web site:

The book discusses in detail the similarities between temperaments and MBTI, and also how they are different. The MBTI bases psychological type on internal mental functioning. Keirsey finds it more useful to stick to what can be observed or people's behaviour: how people use words and tools.

Words are either abstract or concrete, and tools are used in a mainly cooperative or utilitarian way. Thus, SPs use mainly concrete words and use tools in a utilitarian way; SJs are concrete and cooperative; NFs are abstract and cooperative; and NTs are abstract and utilitarian. According to Keirsey, temperament determines behaviour.

Keirsey devotes a chapter to each temperament, including a description of each of the four psychological types included in that temperament, e.g. Rationals include: INTJ, INTP, ENTP and ENTJ. As would be expected the descriptions focus more on behaviour than on internal thought processes. Each temperament is described in terms of language, intellect, interest, orientation, self- image, values and social role. The book is well set up as it has numerous charts, and while emphasizing a specific temperament, it also shows the corresponding entries for the other three temperaments.

Having given a basic description of each temperament, the book then devotes a chapter to the three main areas of life: mating, parenting and leading.

In mating styles the Artisan is the Playmate, the Guardian is the Helpmate, the Idealist is the Soulmate, and the Rational is the Mindmate. While any temperament can and does marry any of the four temperaments, Keirsey finds that people tend to be attracted to their opposite: Artisans to Guardians, and Idealists to Rationals. He further describes how each temperament is likely to get along with each of the other temperaments and then gives further detail into how the temperament is likely to interact with each of the four types within the opposite temperament, e.g. an Artisan with a Guardian (ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ and ESFJ).

In the Parenting chapter, Keirsey describes children with each of the four temperaments and describes each of the combinations of temperament of parent and child. The Artisan parent tends to be the Liberator and is very tolerant of the child's behaviour. The Guardian parent sees the job of parenting as one of socializing the child. The Idealist parent wants to harmonize all relationships the child has. The Rational parent wants children to become individuals. The main task of all parents is to stimulate children to help them develop their potential.

There are also descriptions of how each temperament learns best. In his work as a school psychologist, Keirsey found that many behaviour problems were the result of poor instruction techniques rather than problems such as ADD or ADHS. The Artisan child needs lots of hands-on learning. The Guardian is more willing to do what he is told. The Idealist wants to be authentic and get along. The Rational just loves to soak up information, but quickly spots the teacher who doesn't know the material.

The final chapter looks at leadership. Keirsey sees leadership as a function of intelligence. He sees that each temperament has a main intellectual skill with lesser ability in the other forms of intelligence. Artisans are best at tactics, Guardians at logistics, Idealists at diplomacy, and Rationals at strategy. Churchill was a good example of a tactician. He could quickly accesses what was happening and knew what to do next. Washington was the man to lead the new nation with his ability to organize all of the details needed to bring the country out of the chaos of war. Gandhi used his example of passive resistance as the diplomatic way to bring about the end of British rule in India. Lincoln, the Rational, used his skill at strategy to give the leadership required to win the civil war. Keirsey makes the point that each of these intelligences are needed in society. As such, each intellectual skill is equally valid. Unfortunately, most intelligence tests do not measure these traits.

This updated version of Please understand Me II is almost double the size of the original. In the intervening years Keirsey has accumulated a lot of additional material that he has included in his latest book. There is a great deal of useful information for those who prefer the MBTI, and you might find that the concept of temperament is well worth considering and another useful tool to add to your psychological tool bag.

The caste system actually had a sensible basis

Thursday, February 16, 2006 Hey Baby, What's Your Caste?
posted by Gagdad Bob at 2/16/2006 06:39:00 AM
Let me clarify a comment I made yesterday about people belonging to different castes. I did not mean this in an elitist way, and I certainly didn't mean to imply an endorsement of how the caste system was applied in India.

That system actually had a sensible basis. Remember, before the scientific and market revolutions, culture was virtually static. There was no notion of progress; in fact, most cultures thought that the reverse was true--that our ancestors once lived in the mythological "Great Time" of a golden age, but that subsequent generations had somehow deviated from the ideal. The purpose of culture was to try to imitate the ways of the ancestors, otherwise the passage of time would simply lead to more degeneration and chaos.

Obviously human beings all over the world still struggle mightily with the allied notions that dynamic chaos is the source of order and that the application of rigid order generates chaos. Where would the socialist left be, for example, without the primordial distrust of free markets and individual liberty?

In fact, European conservatives are the same way--by and large, they are nothing like the revolutionary conservatives of contemporary America, in that they tend to be elitists who wish to preserve inherited power and privilege (Margaret Thatcher notwithstanding, who was a modern Hayekian "conservative liberal"). Prior to the conservative intellectual movement founded by William F. Buckley in the mid-1950's, American "paleo-conservatives" were similar to their reactionary European counterparts...
Now the Hindu caste system was originally based on the banal but accurate observation that individual human beings do indeed belong to different castes--that there are different personality types (for example, consider Jung's typological system of 16 main personality types; see book below). This should surprise no one. It is simply a variant of the idea that "it takes all kinds to make a world." Their mistake was in wedding this idea to the primordial fear of disorder, and creating a rigid system in which one's caste was determined by genealogy instead of inclination.

In a perfectly functioning market system, the same thing will happen spontaneously, as people discover their particular gift, actualize their innate potential, and find their adaptive "niche." (Yes, troll, let me save you some time and say that I realize the system is not perfect.)

Again, the original caste system was based on the idea that a functioning society required very different tasks and skills, and that certain temperaments were better suited than others to discharge those tasks. Warriors, priests, intellectuals, merchants, laborers--all have very different temperaments (in fact, there even appear to be temperamental slaves, but I don't think I'll go there; suffice it to say that there are a great many sheep in the world whose collective energy creates wolves).

It has long been observed that living another man's dharma is a grave spiritual danger. In other words, it is possible for us to get stuck in the wrong caste, so to speak. If this happens, we will never actually be. Rather, we will only seem to be, and our life will pass by unlived before we plunge into the abyss.
Now, my crack about religion being only for the very stupid and very smart probably also sounded elitist. My point was this: there are different kinds of men--emotional men, physical men, intellectual men, spiritual men, and various shades in between. And there is a religion for each.
To put it in yogic terms, for the physical man there is karma yoga, the yoga of action. For the emotional man there is bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. For the intellectual man there is jnana yoga, the yoga of metaphysical and philosophical knowledge. And for the spiritual man, there is raja yoga, the yoga of meditation and ascent. They all work, and no one is better than the others, but one can be worse than the others if you are practicing the wrong one.
To cite just one example, many sophisticated westerners such as JWM have difficulty embracing Christianity because in the West it has largely lost its sapiential (knowledge) and transformational components, and has been reduced to a simple fideism of bhakti yoga, or worship of Christ. But in fact, all of the major religions are analogous to yoga, in that they have a place for all the castes and temperaments.
In Christianity, the sapiential-transformational component was never lost in the Orthodox tradition, whereas by necessity it was under-emphasized in the Catholic West due to the exigencies of worldly power and the need for organization and orthopraxis. But even then, you don't have to search far in Western Christendom to find the most sublime and unsurpassed spiritual wisdom, for example, in the figure of Meister Eckhart. One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The experience is theirs, not mine

Gagdad Bob said... One more quick point: do not confuse our philosophy with a political party. Rather, we simply identify with the party on which our philosophy might have more influence. In the present political mindscape, it just so happens that there is absolutely no place in the Democratic party for people who hold certain foundational truths, such as that the Constitution means what it says, or that racial discrimination is wrong, or that competition would cure the ills of our sick educational system, or that the Judeo-Christian tradition is fundamental to America's identity and character. 12/23/2006 10:47:14 AM
Integralist said... You make some good points in your post, not least of which is that we are all trying to be "integralists." But of course I've been using the term in a relatively specific, even technical, way, along the lines of Ken Wilber's usage. Thus as a serious, if not utterly orthodox, student of Wilber's work, I strongly agree with you that to be integral we must at least recognize the different "modes of reality" (Wilber would add Soul to your four). The subjective and objective aspects basically equate with Wilber's left and right hand quadrants--again, important stuff.

Where I start to disagree with you, and call it "not integral," is when you talk about what you refuse to integrate. Your post has helped clarify in my own mind what I take issue with, which I will try to express as concisely as possible.

What I see you and others doing here is over-simplifying and consolidating ideologies, taking them wholesale so to speak, and outright writing them off if any of its parts you disagree with. It is as if you refuse to, or cannot, see ideologies as composed of different aspects, as dynamic even, but rather as static entities that are utterly unmalleable.

So when you talk about Marx's legacy via the supposedly "seductive intellectual pathologies that continue to infect the mind of man," you refuse to recognize how all of these have some veracity to them, are "true from a certain angle." Not absolutely true--just as your ideology is not Absolute Truth (no matter what Psycho Princess claims).

Another example is when you say that atheism and theism are incompatible. Strictly speaking, I agree. But what if we look less at the surface structures and more at the deeper, subtler dimensions of both? Atheism questions the belief in God, or anything that cannot be experienced with the senses. Theism posits a Power within and/or beyond the sensory world. "Mature" atheism is agnosticism, which is not anti-theistic, it just doesn't settle for belief. "Mature" theism is mysticism: it is not based in belief, but in experience.

What I'm doing here is, as Ken Wilber likes to say (perhaps ad nauseum), not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The bathwater of atheism is its refusal to be open to anything other than the sensory; the bathwater of theism is its reliance upon belief. The baby of atheism is its adherence to experience, to what one can verify personally; the baby of theism is its recognition of a deeper order or energy or power.

I would even say there is a relatively natural sequence, an evolution of consciousness: From theism to atheism to agnosticism to mysticism, which is roughly synonymous with premodern to modern to postmodern to post-postmodern (or integral). In my opinion, everyone must let go of their belief in God to actually experience the Divine (this is somewhat related to the notion of Grace, where all we can do is surrender--we cannot "grab" the Divine). Thus the synthesis of the thesis (theism) and antithesis (atheism) is agnostic mysticism.

Another thing that I see you and others here doing is a simple fallacy of elevating one's personal relative and contextual worldview with some kind of Absolute Truth. This is where the "good news" of postmodernism--recognizing context and cultural situation, as well as personal interpretation--is utterly missing from this blog. It is as if no one here recognizes that their views are at least to some degree shaped by their culture, their personality, and their personal beliefs. This is why any codified ideology is not, cannot be, "absolute"--only Absolute Truth is absolute.

When you discuss Marx and other Leftists and speak of how their views are based on total falsehood, it sounds to me as if you are projecting your own shadow onto them. I get the sense that you believe that you are without blindspots, without any degree of falsehood. In other words, you believe you have found THE Truth against which everything else is Lies, instead of what you may have actually found: a clearer vision (and interpretation) of Truth than you previously had. In other words, we're all deluded, we're all prone to falsehoods--and none of us truly, fully gets it! We're all works in progress. 12/23/2006 04:49:48 PM
Gagdad Bob said... Integralist--I didn't intend to jump back in, but "fed up with the troll" makes an excellent point. You are an "orthodox Wilberian." In point of fact, there can be no "Gagdaddians," orthodox or otherwise. If you had read my book, you would understand this. The point of most of my writing -- both in substance and in style -- is to facilitate a personal experience (O) in the reader of whatever it is I am writing about. The experience is theirs, not mine, even if I may have provoked it. I could say more, but those who get it, get it, those who don't, don't. And anyone who thinks I am presenting a dogmatic intellectual system (k-->O) that someone can follow, a la Wilber, doesn't get my approach. And please, I am not criticizing Wilber. If he speaks to your soul, again, it would be entirely inappropriate for me to argue with you. 12/23/2006 05:58:56 PM

How are the organs of perception formed?

Re: Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies
by rakesh on Sat 23 Dec 2006 05:41 PM PST Profile Permanent Link
How are the organs of perception formed? There existed mental and vital planes before evolution on earth started in nature just like supramental plane is now available to descend into terrestrial world. The long march of evolution from the protozoan life to mammals and the pressure of external vital and mental planes on matter to reveal its involved mind and life must have shaped the organs of perception that we presently have and will do so futher in the future to mould matter to higher nature and its powers.
by RY Deshpande on Sat 23 Dec 2006 07:23 PM PST Profile Permanent Link
Yes, that is true. But how does that happen? How is it effected? worked out? RYD

Truth cannot be reduced to genetics

In my view, in order to be truly integral, one must first integrate the different modes or expressions of reality, which, at the very least, include matter, life, mind and spirit (hence the subtitle of my book). Any philosophy that ignores one of these modes or tries to collapse or reduce one into another will be hopelessly incomplete.

Each of these modes of existence has a different aspect, which I call objective and subjective, or exterior and interior. For example, as I mentioned the other day, matter has an obvious subjective aspect that we know of as beauty. Matter has a metaphysical transparency that can never be reduced to its mere physicality. To do so is absurd, not to mention non-integral. This is why we needn’t waste any time trying to integrate any philosophy of materialism with ours, because materialism is simply the philosophy of the objective aspect of matter. It cannot even account for the subjective aspect of matter, much less the other modes -- life, mind and spirit.

Nor could we ever elevate natural selection to an all-encompassing integral philosophy. Certainly we take note of whatever truth it contains, but in so doing, we are clearly dealing with a category -- truth -- that cannot be reduced to genetics. At risk of pointing out the obvious, the human ability to know truth is not dependent upon genes. If it were, it wouldn’t be truth...
In my theory, I find no place for leftism, that is, for any ideas that can trace their squalid genealogy back to Karl Marx. Marx, like every other philosopher, was an ingegralist. In his case, he was trying to integrate Hegel and materialism, or Falsehood with falsehood. In so doing he created many seductive intellectual pathologies that continue to infect the mind of man -- the ideas of class struggle, oppression, exploitation, and collectivism, which have morphed into critical theory, deconstruction, victimology, political correctness, radical environmentalism, gender theory, feminism, afro-centrism, multicultrualism, cultural relativism, queer theory, the designated hitter, etc. There is no place for any of these things in my theory. If that makes me “non-integral” in the minds of some, that’s fine with me. I’m only trying to integrate truth, not lies. posted by Gagdad Bob at 12/23/2006 09:09:00 AM 43 comments links to this post Robert W. Godwin One Cosmos Under God