Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I've always detected a strain of Western secular utopianism in Sri Aurobindo

Warren said... The circle is squared by traditional (ie, Catholic/Orthodox) Christianity, which I have long seen as the bridge between "this-worldly" Semitic monotheism and "other-wordly" Indic mysticism. All the major world religions contain both of these elements, but only traditional Christianity (I believe) contains them in virtually equal measure. The seeming paradox and tension between these two poles is strongest in Christianity. And as one can see throughout Christian history, there is a perpetual tendency to want to resolve this tension, this paradox, one way or the other. The origin of all heresies is in trying to lean too far to one side or the other.
This is why heresies are always more simple-minded than orthodoxy, which has a clash and a contradiction (symbolized by the cross, not to mention the impossible-but-true doctrine of the Incarnation) right at its heart. Orthodoxy is a strait (yes, I spelled that right) and narrow path between two abysses of heresy. So a properly traditional Christian view contains an evolutionary view of the created world against a backdrop of utterly static eternal Truth.
This is why the Church guards its doctrines with such rigor, sometimes extending even to violence (in the past, at least). Humans - including even some saints and Church Fathers - are not easy with this paradox and are always tending to fall one way or the other. The Church exists to prevent that from happening - because the moment one side or the other ever wins, Christianity is essentially dead, just another "religion".
With regard to Schuon, who influenced me very much, I must say that he ever really "got" Christianity, except maybe in theory. Schuon was essentially a crypto-Vedantist regardless of his outward religious practices, and he saw all the other traditions through that lens. But Christianity contains Vedanta, not (as I long thought) the other way around. Because of this, Christianity can comprehend and criticize Vedanta, but Vedanta cannot really comprehend Christianity in its fullness.
Aurobindo is another genius who influenced me very much. In some ways I think he has more of the truth than Schuon. He clearly saw the limits of monistic Vedanta and Buddhism, and tried to "broaden" them by bringing in crypto-Christian ideas (like the New Creation). But I've always detected a strain of Western secular utopianism in Aurobindo, even though its couched in metaphysical terms (we shouldn't forget his past life as a political revolutionary). As a result, his viewpoint is a bit too Faustian for my tastes. He put himself and the Mother in a place that belongs only to Christ (and His Mother). 11/19/2007 09:42:00 AM
Gagdad Bob said... Warren: Cooncur. 11/19/2007 09:59:00 AM
River Cocytus said... Aurobindo was a brilliant man from what I can see. Were he of a different bent he & the Mother might have had a Constantine/Helena thing going. - which is to say, he might've been considered a saint. But, I can't give a canonical opinion; only my personal one. 11/19/2007 10:05:00 AM

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