Saturday, April 7, 2007

Meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted

One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
Someone yesterday suggested that Sri Aurobindo was essentially a pacifist like Gandhi, the Dalai Lama (who is apparently not as one-dimensional as his followers -- see link at bottom), or Christian leftists, but nothing could be further from the truth. Nor, as the reader stated, did he believe that evil was simply here for the purposes of our spiritual instruction.
For example with regard to World War II, he wrote that a victorious Germany would spell an end to "freedom and hope of light and truth, and the [spiritual] work that has to be done will be subjected to conditions which would make it humanly impossible; there will be a reign of falsehood and darkness, a cruel oppression and degradation for most of the human race such as people in this country do not dream of and cannot yet realize." Could these words not apply equally to the falsehood, darkness, oppression, and degradation of Islamist evil? Are we really supposed to turn the other cheek and return their evil with kindness?...
How on earth does someone become as morally deranged as Deepak Chopra? What is the source of such an enfeebled ability to reason in the realm of morality? It's not just that he's wrong -- rather, it is that he reverses good and evil, right and wrong, decent and indecent. So it's more than just moral ignorance. It's some kind of active process that bypasses his conscience and makes it dysfunctional. It is a moral dementia.
At least in part, this moral dementia seems to come from a radical leftist application of never resisting evil and always turning the other cheek. Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't come from orthodox Hinduism or Vedanta. The Bhagavad Gita, probably the most beloved text in Hinduism, takes the form of a dialogue between a frightened and equivocating warrior, Arjuna, and the incarnate god, Krishna. Arjuna is afraid to do what needs to be done -- which is kill the bad guys -- but Krishna responds, "You ought not to hesitate; for to a warrior, there is nothing nobler than a righteous war. But if you refuse to fight in this righteous war, you will be turning aside from your duty. You will be a sinner, and disgraced.... Your enemies will also slander your courage.... Shake off this fever of ignorance.... Be free from the sense of ego. Dedicate your actions to me. Then go forward and fight."
Likewise, contrary to what reader Ned suggested yesterday, Aurobindo wrote in his Essays on the Gita that it "does not preach indifference to good and evil for the ordinary life of man, where such a doctrine would have the most pernicious consequences." He dismisses the notion that human beings are at a stage in their evolution that they can use "soul-force" (Ahimsa) alone to stop evil, as knaves such as Chopra and Gandhi would have it. In the face of such "soul force," the evil "in men and nations tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes." Resort to passive resistance and "you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence."
"A day may come -- must surely come -- when humanity will be ready spiritually, morally, socially for the reign of universal peace; meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted and accounted for by any practical philosophy of religion." And here is the key: for it is not compassion which causes Arjuna to reject his mission to fight evil.
Rather, as Aurobindo writes, "That is not compassion but an impotence full of weak self-pity, a recoil from the mental suffering which his act must entail on himself.... [It is] also a form of self-indulgence... This pity is a weakness of the mind and senses -- a weakness which may well be beneficial to men of a lower grade of development, who have to be weak because otherwise they will be hard and cruel; for they have to cure the harsher by the gentler forms of egoism". I believe this last statement is a key to Jesus' meaning with regard to evil, both fighting it and forgiving it...
It is suggested that Sri Aurobindo was a forerunner of [Gandhi's] gospel of Ahimsa. This is quite incorrect. Sri Aurobindo is neither an impotent moralist nor a weak pacifist.... Peace is a part of the highest ideal, but it must be spiritual or at the very least psychological in its basis; without a change in human nature it cannot come with any finality. If it is attempted on any other basis (moral principle or gospel of Ahimsa or any other), it will fail and even may leave things worse than before. --Sri Aurobindo, On Himself
posted by Gagdad Bob at 4/06/2007 07:06:00 AM 78 Comments: River Cocytus said... Bob, I think that one people's problems with Jesus' teaching in this regard is, it (in general) refers to personal relationships and not to the actions of nations (or at least, not yet-- as Sri notes.)

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