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Monday, May 14, 2007

Sri Aurobindo posits only “One” ontological level and that is: Sat-Chit-Ananda

Edward Berge Says: May 13th, 2007 at 9:10 am Richard is engaged in a dialog at ARINA on Bonnie’s paper, and I’ve brought this issue of Gadamer, ontology and play into it. Here are some excerpts of our discussion there:
Richard: In turning to art and symbol rather than the word Gadamer also skillfully avoids the Derridian trap of signifieds/signifiers, because art is sensual, enacted, art presences through the sensual. Unlike discursive practice it does not simply substitute an infinite chain of signifiers in its presentation, rather it bodies forth in the world through each performance. I’ve always admired his hermeneutic skills for interpenetrating seeming dualities through an interpretive process unique to every instance. His aim was never toward a static end state but involved continuous phenomenal (interpretive) transformations through the fusion of horizons (horizonverschmeltzung). More importantly regards process view he manages not to tie his project down to any single method or any one truth, since his interpretive method resists any one reifying hermeneutic scheme. This seems in accord with view as play.
I believe it is incorrect to refer to Aurobindian ontological levels. (e.g. in the plural, but I will qualify this) Sri Aurobindo posits only “One” ontological level and that is: Sat-Chit-Ananda. It is from this reality which Aurobindo terms the upper hemisphere of the Divine Mother (Shakti) that the rest of creation (in the lower hemisphere) proceeds. The boundary layer between lower and upper hemisphere is what Aurobindo terms Supermind.
But although there is ultimately only one ontology Sat Chit Ananda, in the context of the evolutionary play however, this original ontology enters the lower hemisphere through the process of involution and subsequently bifurcates into three contingent ontological levels or structures which Sri A calls: Physical, Vital, Mental. Additionally there is the psychic being who is the true actor of the play. The psychic being is not an ontological level but an entity, one could perhaps say an ontological being which seeks to recover its essence through its embodiment, in a game of hide and seek (involution/evolution). (In a Heideggerian sense one could perhaps refer to the ontology of Being = Sat Chit Annanda, and the ontology of beings = psychic being)
But the psychic being (chaitya purusha) is not the only actor in the terrestrial play, there is a whole supporting cast, who perform within the horizons of the different “Koshas” of sheaths of Being which in Sri A number seven. In the lower hemisphere of creation there are three sheaths which are all inhabited by a being or a purusha (soul) proper to their (contingent) ontological level. There is the physical annamaya purusha, the vital pranamaya purusha, and the mental being proper to humanity called manomaya purusha. Sri Aurobindo unique contribution to this metaphysical schema is the disclosure of the chaitya purusha or psychic being as the integrating entity.
But what attracts the attention of most integral theorist, especially Wilber is the mental being, the manomaya purusha. Although this being (purusha) is particular to “man the mental being” and it is the mental being which takes the lead in evolution of the species making a vertical evolutionary/developmental ascent through the graduations of consciousness, the actual clearing of the horizon toward experience of Being and the integration of the super-conscient transcendent/mind with the inconscient immanent/physical, is accomplished through the play of the psychic being who topographically inhabits not so much the heights of Being but its depths.
The manomaya purusha (mental being) is described only an as ambassador of the psychic being, a minister of the true sovereign of our being. The reality or ontology of the mental being is somewhat contingent on the psychic being. The mental being and the psychic being also serve different function in the evolution. The function of the mental being is toward knowledge, while psychic being moves toward integration of knowledge with embodiment.
Additionally in Sri Aurobindo the graduations of consciousness are not ontological levels proper -although they each may each spawn countless worlds - but are stages of increasing knowledge, ways of knowing. These stages may appear ontological - as they do to Ken W who confuses Aurobindian structures with its stages - because to a certain extent one’s own consciousness assumes the structure and view of its epistemological backgrounding. But although these epistemologies background play these stages of consciousness begin to fray as ontologies as one understanding expands, (e.g. mental to higher mind to illumined etc).
Edward: Would you consider what Gadamer is getting at with “play” to be more in line with this psychic being? Or more with the Supermind? Or more with Sat-Chit-Ananda? Or what?
Richard: I relate play with the psychic being which presences sat chit ananda, I believe what is special in Gadamer’s idea of play, namely the individual presentment, and ontological difference is also what is unique in the psychic being “a single instance bearing all within itself”. But of course in general play would also be something which turtles all the way up and down..

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