Saturday, October 13, 2007

There is no way I could have surrendered to any other gurus apart from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother

Some of us have lately been having a discussion on gender and sexism at the Open Integral (see here and here). After my horrible experience with organized religion, which nearly — nearly! — convinced me of men’s superior intellectual abilities compared to women (how Life got me out of this nonsense will be the subject of a detailed post in the future), I was an agnostic with pretty much zero tolerance for sexism. Not only was religion tainted with misogyny, but, I found, even many “New Age” and spiritual teachers could not seem to shed their biases against women or could not seem to resist undermining women in one way or another.
I think there is no way I could have surrendered to any other gurus apart from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in part because of my zero tolerance for sexism (the main reason is of course that they truly engage the modern mind in a way that I’ve never seen anyone else do). What they say about feminism, how they talk about the spiritual roots of the problem, and show us a way out, has always struck a chord deep within me. They are two of the few gurus who really make a lot of sense when they talk about this subject, without pandering to any kind of fixed ideology, be it traditionalism or even feminism itself. The concept of Supramentalisation is far more radical than anything even the most radical feminist has ever conceived. It is truly the only way to transcend the fixed gender binary permanently.
I would just like to quote a dialogue between Sri Aurobindo and a disciple here to show the high regard in which he held women. Ironically, I have been told by some Indian friends that this is perhaps one of the reasons why Sri Aurobindo is not all that well-received in India itself.
  • “He considered a woman his equal?
  • A French woman of Jewish descent?
  • A salonierre in Paris?
  • Twice-married and twice-divorced?
  • Introduced khaki shorts in the ashram?
  • Played tennis with disciples till she was eighty years old as part of her teaching?*
  • What a scandal!”
Indeed, the fact that Mother was such a strong personality, and not a virginal wife cooking food for her husband’s disciples, is very difficult for many conservative Indians to accept...
This dialogue has actually inspired me to start work on a website chronicling the lives of unrecognized and forgotten female scientists, philosophers, mathematicians, saints, and sages. There is no doubt that history has been written from a male point of view and women’s history has been suppressed. I grew up hearing all this rubbish about women not having contributed anything to human history and civilization, and it took me ages to find female role models, particular in all the male-dominated fields I was interested in — computer science, physics and so on. So the search for the missing her-story is one of my passions — and I want to make all this information freely available on the Internet. There are some sites that cover this topic, but not as comprehensively as I would like. I was actually surprised to find out just how many female scientists were systematically oppressed and unrecognized — even if they had done Nobel-caliber work.
Sri Aurobindo is dead on target in the above dialogue: women were always barred from progress in most fields of human endeavour, and those who managed to achieve some of their goals, did so IN SPITE of the tremendous odds stacked against them. That they achieved those things is not something to be taken lightly — it’s kind of a mini-miracle in itself, given how much they had to fight against the ill-will and ignorance of the men around them. To this day, discrimination remains, and it is much harder for women to get tenure in universities than it is for men. Women have to work twice as hard as men to achieve the same status.
* I kid you not about this. Mother actually integrated tennis into her interaction with the disciples. For her, a game of tennis was part of the sadhana, part of helping the disciples grow spiritually. Talk about dynamic!

1 comment:

  1. Robert E. Wilkinson - robtw@sprynet.com3:18 AM, November 13, 2007

    In every system of higher knowledge there is one ubiquitous principle found at its core. It may be called “the Law of Three” for it expresses an irreducible truth that at the heart of the creation lies a tripartite harmony of energy or “seed” from which the entire cosmos evolves. The three principle gods of India, the “Trimurti” of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are representative of this essential truth and reflect its supreme importance. The ancient tradition of Ayurveda honors this essential harmony of Three as the “Tridoshas” (the three energies), the primary factors of the human body that govern our health. In the Bhagavad Gita this occult knowledge is described as the “Three Gunas” and is extolled by Krishna as the basis of an Ultimate Wisdom. In Christianity this eternal formula is simply known as the “Trinity of God.”

    In more modern times this sublime principle was appropriated by the philosopher Hegel to describe his dialectical process of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. It was re-discovered by the 20th century mathematician/scientist, Peter Plichta who wrote:

    'My thoughts then turned once more to theoretical physics. In this science coincidence has been accorded the status of a demi-god, From the - so apparent - coincidence of all processes in the electron cloud it was rashly inferred that all processes in the universe were caused by coincidence. A comfortable substitute had thus been found for God. From the natural constants to the human mind - everything is a coincidence.' (p-86) '...[But]the origin of life cannot be explained by linear random chains...and that is precisely what the proponents of quantum mechanics have failed to understand from the very outset." '...It was becoming increasingly clear to me that the same natural law [the law of 3], must be at the foundation of all three natural sciences. And the plan must have been based on number theory because I was constantly encountering the same numbers... This means that no such thing as coincidence in the real sense can exist at all.' (p.92) Peter Plichta, God's Secret Formula - Deciphering the Riddle of the Universe and the Prime Number Code

    The ‘Law of Three’ permeates myth, legend and religious forms because it is an irreducible archetype. For this reason, among many others, I have found it stunningly naive that for over 36 years many of the followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have glibly dismissed Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) and her prodigious body of Supramental knowledge as irrelevant to their epochal yoga. Was it not Sri Aurobindo himself who wrote?

    “While the Divine is One, it is also manifold... It is at once Transcendental, Cosmic and Individual. By knowing the eternal unity of these three powers of the eternal manifestation, God, the Cosmos and the Individual self, and their intimate necessity to each other, we come to understand existence itself.…” Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga

    Until this error is corrected, we will continue to limit our inquiry to the Transcendent Divine which Sri Aurobindo embodied and look to the likes of Whitehead, Wilbur and others to explain the more subtle implications of his yoga. Without the knowledge of the Cosmic and Individual Divine that the Mother and Thea have unveiled, we will continue to suffer the meaningless legacy of a patriarchal Bodiless God, the worship of which has entombed the higher truth in a remote static peace and aborted its descent through the feminine into Matter.
    This is the true reason why this greatest spiritual work of the age has languished in the half light of a mental consciousness for nearly forty years.

    For more information on Supramental Time see: