Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AntiMatters & The Immanent Frame

Ulrich Mohrhoff, date 28 April 2008 18:22 subject AntiMatters new issue alert
Greetings from Pondicherry!
With the publication of its fourth issue (Volume 2 Number 2), AntiMatters ( completes its first year.
AntiMatters is an open-access e-journal addressing issues in science and the humanities from non-materialistic perspectives. It is published quarterly by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry, India.
The web-link to the current issue is
With best regards (and apologies in case you receive this information more than once),
Ulrich Mohrhoff Managing Editor - AntiMatters Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education Pondicherry 605002 India

Materialism Sri Aurobindo 1-8
Beyond Natural Selection and Intelligent Design: Sri Aurobindo’s Theory of Evolution Ulrich J Mohrhoff 9-31
Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism Peter Heehs 33-45
Indian Spiritual Knowledge and the Psychology Curriculum Matthijs Cornelissen 47-57
Should We Expect To Feel As If We Understand Consciousness? Mark C Price 59-70
Diseases of Meaning, Manifestations of Health, and Metaphor Kim Jobst, Daniel Shostak, Peter J Whitehouse 71-80
Awakening the Genius Within Yasuhiko Genku Kimura 81-85
Can the New Science of Evo–Devo Explain the Form of Organisms? Steve Talbott 87-102
Book Reviews
Moalem and Prince: Survival of the Sickest 103-110
Vaughan-Lee: Alchemy of Light 111-117
Martin: Does it Matter? 119-126
Northcote: The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth 127-133
Book Excerpts
Reinventing the Sacred Stuart A Kauffman 135-144
The Ascent of Humanity Charles Eisenstein 145-165

from Jonathan VanAntwerpen,
to Tusar Mohapatra, date 29 April 2008 01:08 subject John Bowen on "Islam and authority"
"In his new book," writes John Bowen today at The Immanent Frame, "Abdullahi an-Na`im argues that Muslims need a secular state to live their religious lives. Alongside his immensely informative account of modern developments, he makes a sustained argument against state enforcement of Islam along two major lines. First, it makes no religious sense for a state to force Muslims to follow God’s will, because Muslims should act from conviction and choice. An-Na`im makes a second argument that is parallel to the first: not only is it futile and religiously counter-productive to enforce Islamic piety, but doing so also distorts and impoverishes religion."
Read Bowen's full post.
Also new at The Immanent Frame:
Scott Appleby on "An indifferent pope?"
Charles Taylor on "Secularism and critique"

So-called "selfishness" and "selflessness" can actually be compatible

Scott Site Admin Joined: 20 Jan 2007 Posts: 321 Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:14 pm Post subject: Is Selfishness Compatible with Kindness? by Scott Hughes

Many cultures and moral philosophies have promoted so-called selflessness, such as the ethical doctrine of altruism by Auguste Comte (who coined the term altruism). Perhaps as a result, some other philosophies have promoted so-called selfishness, such as the ethical doctrine of Egoism and Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Putting prescriptive morality aside, I contend that the self-interestedness supported by pro-selfishness philosophers does not necessarily conflict with the kindness supported by pro-selflessness philosophers.

The two philosophical viewpoints appear to directly oppose each other, but that appearance stems from the use of divisively confusing terminology.

Firstly, let's look at the use of term selfish. Generally speaking, what most pro-selfishness philosophers call "selfishness," I would just call self-interestedness. To most people, 'selfishness' generally refers to acting upon especially greedy, uncompassionate or narcissistic motivations. In contrast, 'self-interestedness' can simply refer to acting out of one's own interests, including indirect interests. Many people, including myself, argue that all people are inherently self-interested because, by definition, a person desires and values what he or she desires and values. Those desires and values also develop into goals, and the person makes their decisions in an attempt to most fulfill those desires, values, and goals. While everyone is self-interested, the label 'selfish' is usually reserved only for people whose interests are more greedy, uncompassionate or narcissistic than other people's interests.

Now let's look at the use of the term selfless. Generally speaking, what most pro-selflessness philosophers call "selflessness," I would just call kindness or compassion. Using the term 'selflessness' seems to absurdly suggest that an allegedly "selfless" person does not have any desires, values or goals or at least that the person does not try to act out of his or her desires, values or goals at all. But that is probably not what most pro-selflessness philosophers mean. When they call a person "selfless," they probably just mean that the person has compassionate desires, values and goals, in that the person likes to help other people and other people's happiness makes the person happy. In contrast to the misnomer 'selfless,' referring to such people as kind and compassionate more accurately portrays that the people each have kind and compassionate interests which they each act out as opposed to not having interests or not acting out of their interests.

In conclusion, so-called "selfishness" and "selflessness" can actually be compatible because the former can mean 'self-interestedness' and the latter can mean 'kindness.' And self-interestedness is compatible with kindness. In fact, I believe it is in most people's self-interest to help others, not only because others may return the favor, but also because we naturally love each other. We empathize and sympathize with each other. We feel good when we observe others feeling good. We feel bad when we observe others feeling bad. We feel enjoyment and satisfaction by helping other people and by making other people feel happy. What do you think?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Two very different ways of thinking about things

Shh! Don't give away our secret! Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at April 27, 2008 4:47 AM Articulating Positions photo of the moments of a work process in motion In the throes of writing over the weekend, but I wanted to put up a quick pointer to a post from Carl at Dead ... Musepaper -

Stylistic virtuosity of the sort we find in Hegel’s Logic or ... By Tusar N Mohapatra Here I think N.Pepperell’s observations about Marx’s textual strategies are apropos. In short, the question is whether or not Marx’s claims could have been presented in a different way. I suspect they can. We see N. ... rainbOwther -

A text like A Thousand Plateaus is designed to actualize itself in ... By Tusar N Mohapatra I’m inclined to agree with N, and I’m not sure there’s really anything more to add, save that bad writing isn’t necessarily obscurantist, or ‘difficult’ (in the sense of ‘intellectually arduous’). It’s just a nuisance, which has prompted ... Evergreen Essays -

Freud seemed working out exceedingly complex material in beautiful ... By Tusar N Mohapatra The conversation between N. Pepperell and Daniel strikes me as a classic sort of contrast between two very different ways of thinking about things, which I’ve tried to capture in my title for this post by hijacking Heisenberg’s ... Feel Philosophy -

The Mother's Service Society has begun a project on The Secret, the book and DVD taking the world by storm

The Mother's Service Society's work since 1969 has focused on identifying the fundamental principles governing the process of social development. These principles form the basis of a comprehensive Theory of Social Development. One basic assumption of this theory is that the same or very similar laws govern the evolution of society, organizations and individuals and the process of political, social, economic, commercial, intellectual, scientific, technological and artistic creation. The theory is based on the conviction that any problem, individual or organizational, in any field of life, lends itself to solution. [The complete description of MSS social science research activities and a complete set of research reports is available at the following sister site:]
A new project on Human Science was recently launched by the Society @ Human Science explores the application of universal spiritual principles to a wider range of fields, including personal accomplishment, social development, education, environment, governance, internet, management, money, peace, personality, science and spirituality. Please visit and contribute.

The Society has begun a project on The Secret, the book and DVD taking the world by storm. This study attempts to present the truths the book and movie do not reveal about the process of human accomplishment. The book and DVD explain the method but not the theory of why and how the method works. A full understanding of the theory behind The Secret will enhance its power. When applied with knowledge, conviction and intense aspiration, the method of The Secret is infallible. It cannot fail. (

Recently the famous novel Pride and Prejudice was voted the most popular work of fiction of all time in a UK survey. Our Society has done an extensive and in-depth study of this novel to show how it reveals life's laws. The study includes a detailed character analysis of the main characters as well as a line by line analysis of the plot.
The Society has also applied its theoretical knowledge of the development process to the growth of business organizations. These findings are presented in four management books published in the USA over the past ten years.
A Study of American History was undertaken recently in order to understand that country's role on the global stage. To read the book online, click here.
Seeing an opportunity to promote international peace in the late 1980s, the Society helped found the International Commission on Peace and Food (ICPF) whose final report, Uncommon Opportunities was presented to the United Nations in 1994. (click here to see the Preface to the 2nd Edition dated Nov. 2004)
International Symposium on Uncommon Opportunities: Roadmap for Employment, Food and Global Security -- was conducted in New Delhi on November 19-22, 2004. For details, click here.
The Society has undertaken two specific studies -- applying the theoretical principles of development theory to trace the evolution of two crucial institutions in society—money and the Internet. For essay, click here.
A new website for ideas on Entrepreneurship Opportunities in India and abroad, has just come up: click here.
Experimental School In Pondicherry:
Inspired by the methods for early childhood education developed by Dr. Glenn Doman at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in the USA, the Society is operating an experimental school in alternative education at Pondicherry These methods have previously been applied successfully in Shikshayatan School in Tamil Nadu.
The Society has conducted extensive research on the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in order to interpret their philosophic and yogic concepts in a language that can be understood by the common man. For essays on spirituality and yoga, click here.
Created December 27, 1998 Last updated on Feb. 12, 2008 by The Mother's Service Society Webmaster
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Continental philosophers do make arguments. We expect writing to speak plain truths

The Ends of Thought JOURNEYS TO PHILOSOPHY'S THIRD KINGDOM Friday, February 8, 2008 Do Continental Philosophers Have Arguments? Posted by Roman Altshuler

It isn’t so uncommon to meet someone who thinks that continental philosophers don’t make arguments. I suspect that often this is the result of not having read much, if any, continental philosophy. But of course that isn’t the whole explanation. Perhaps some people have picked up the notion that continental philosophers don’t make arguments from others, but then those others, at some point, must have picked up the notion somewhere. So here I want to briefly say that the answer is: yes. Continental philosophers do make arguments. I am happy to refer anyone who doubts this to, e.g., sections 19-21 of Heidegger’s Being and Time, which feature his phenomenological critique of Descartes. Or to Badiou’s critique of Levinas in his Ethics (pp. 18-23 in Verso’s English translation). The real question is, why might it seem like continental philosophers do not employ arguments? The answer, I think, is that readers trained to recognize the analytic style of argument might often read a continental argument without noticing that it is an argument at all. I have already pointed out one reason for this in a previous post: continental philosophers have a tendency to embed their arguments within a wider conceptual scheme, in such a way that the arguments for the scheme and the arguments within the scheme are co-dependent.

But I think there is another reason why continental arguments often get missed, and this seems to me to reflect a general difference in the way analytic and continental philosophers understand the purpose of argument (an obvious but important point before I start: I am not describing a methodology common to all continental philosophers; nor am I describing a methodology that no analytic philosophers apply). Let me start this train of thought by saying something about arguments, which I hope will not come off as overly controversial or anti-rational: Knock-down arguments, at least against widely accepted positions, are exceedingly rare. Strong arguments, of course, are not all that uncommon. But strong arguments are not knock-down arguments; they are not, in other words, arguments the conclusion of which pretty much any reader must accept under pain of contradiction. Philosophers generally spend some time—a lifetime, or perhaps a week—thinking out a position, and they don’t abandon it lightly. If the position is at all cogent—or, sometimes, even if it isn’t but provides support for another position that many people want supported—it is unlikely to be dropped instantly in response to an argument.

The obvious point that philosophers generally tend to hold on to their positions has ramifications as well, ones that are familiar to anyone who opens an analytic journal. What typically happens when a strong argument is presented is not that the target of the argument rolls over, but that the target comes up with a defense, or a way of preserving her original position by either undermining the critique or avoiding its implications. This need not be understood as the product of simple ego inflation, though there is some of that, coupled with pressures to publish (I am, for example, somewhat at a loss for how else to explain the decades of literature about Frankfurt Examples). There are certainly solid philosophical reasons for maintaining an established position—it is, after all, established for a reason; presumably, it provides a particularly strong approach to some problem, or it lacks the deeper difficulties of its competitors. The point, though, is that a debate can often go back and forth indefinitely, and the waning of such a debate or the prominence of a position is often attributable to factors that have little to do with the rational force of particular arguments.

And here I want to suggest that one typical (though not universal) continental approach to arguments arises out of this recognition: arguments are viewed not so much as techniques used to demonstrate an opponent’s flaw, but rather as attempts to make intelligible underlying issues. An example (though not a continental one): Galen Strawson has argued that moral responsibility is impossible, because it requires of an agent that she be capable of self-creation. Certainly both compatibilists and libertarians have replies to this argument. But the strength of the argument seems to me to lie not in its point (since its point is, really, just the restatement of a very old problem and, as such, hardly worth restating again), but in its ability to make that old point—a point that, in its longevity, seems to reveal a deep underlying philosophical concern—intelligible within a different idiom and conceptual scheme. So while an analytic philosopher might take the arguments primarily as something to be defended or refuted, a continental philosopher may be more likely to look at the context of the arguments on both sides and to search for the deeper conceptual problems involved. Often this involves a method of looking for aporias (a method Ricoeur calls “aporetics”)—points at which both sides have been so thoroughly defended that the fruitful response is not to contribute to one side or the other, but instead to take the problem to be for all intents and purposes insoluble, and to seek the reason for this insolubility in the conceptual scheme common to both sides.

The goal of a continental argument, then, is often not to attempt to resolve a philosophical problem directly, but to try to make the problem itself clearer by providing an intelligible picture of why the problem appears so intractable in the first place. This may seem unphilosophical and, really, unsatisfying to those committed to solving the problem; but it involves the recognition that some problems cannot be solved, and they cannot be solved not because the terms of the problem are badly defined, or because a master argument has not yet been found, but because the problem itself arises out of a mistaken schema. One consequence is that this tends to make continental writing less contentious and more conciliatory—another reason that arguments might seem to be lacking. It is conciliatory in the sense that often continental writing proceeds not by attempting to show that a particular view is wrong, but instead by showing that it is inadequate to grasping a deeper problem. But instead of simply rejecting the view, the method often goes on to seek the truth of the position, roughly, what is right about the position in the sense that it can be used to make sense of the underlying issue.

(An excellent example of this is Ricoeur’s writing in Oneself as Another—he begins by showing that P. F. Strawson’s account of persons in Individuals, according to which persons are the bearers of physical and mental properties, is insufficient for an account of selfhood, and yet throughout his argument in the book he returns to Strawson, reminding us that this dual attribution has to be kept in mind throughout.)

I suppose this mode of argumentation comes from an assimilation of Hegel into the philosophical culture. What may make this continental approach hard to recognize as argumentation, then, is that it lacks two features common to analytic argumentation:

  1. Problems are often approached not by addressing them head-on, but instead by examining their context.
  2. Positions shown to be “wrong” or inadequate are not simply rejected, but partially incorporated into a wider narrative.

This is, to be sure, a different way of doing philosophy, yet its credentials to legitimacy, especially as a form of argumentation, strike me as well-grounded. Update: There's been some further discussion, and a very nice reading that makes my point sound much better than it is, over at Rough Theory. at 10:19 PM Labels: 16 comments Philosophy Blogs Power Blogroll The Garden of Forking Paths PEA Soup Ethics Etc The Splintered Mind Ideas of Imperfection fragments of consciousness Thoughts Arguments and Rants Leiter Reports The Chasm Selbsttatigkeit Now-Times The Space of Reasons

Perverse Egalitarianism “Sneaky, Cruel and Unkind” April 21, 2008 The Plain Truth, Please! by Mikhail Emelianov

Richard Crary of The Existence Machine muses about the difficult reading: We expect writing to speak plain truths–we assume truths are plain. We want the language, in general, to be plain-spoken. If a book cannot be simply opened up and read and grasped by an uninitiated reader, then it must be bullshit (”gibberish”). Writing that is not plain-spoken is difficult and therefore pretentious. People who claim to enjoy supposedly difficult writing are poseurs (or, possibly, elitists). Philosophy is suspect.

I have been thinking along the similar lines recently as I was revisiting the old issue of trying to use “difficult texts” in my Intro class: the rationale for me has always been that I will expose my students to a type of writing that in itself will allow me to teach them a skill. For example, even though Plato’s dialogues are quite “easy” to read, or at least I can say that most college students find the form of a conversation between several people to be quite easy to grasp, we spend a lot of time trying to explain why it is important to ask about the essences of things like “justice” or “piety” - the style of a dialogue itself is never really an issue, because the subject matter is what is most important. Is it possible, for example, to use a text by Deleuze or Derrida or Blanchot as a way of exposing a group of students to the style of philosophizing that, because it is impossible to clearly see the actual subject matter, would draw attention to itself?

Assuming that the students actually read, or try to read the difficult text, is it possible to coherently argue in favor of such an experience of confusion? Does it make sense to say:”Yes, I know some of you told me in private that you tried to read the text but you couldn’t understand anything, but that is precisely what I expected would happen. Now that we are in class we can read the same text together and see if we can figure it out, because that is the skill we are trying to acquire in addition to being introduced to a contemporary thinker.” In a sense, if students could read and understand an essay by Derrida, they wouldn’t need to be in an Intro class.

In a sense, reading a difficult text is an exercise in slowing down the usual speed of reading and comprehesion and thus of training through repetition - reading and rereading, thinking through, connecting one clear idea to another, situating unclear passages in the context of the understood, working through a text in such a way is a philosophical skill, isn’t it?

The post continues: My instincts tell me that this problem has to do with the culture of capitalism (and of course it has everything to do with education), but I have neither the time nor the energy to expand on that notion right now. (Having neither time nor energy being intimately related to said culture.)

I am not sure about this - it seems to me that the culture of plain truth comes before, and makes possible, the culture of capitalism. Think, for example, about Descartes: his Meditations on First Philosophy are written in a very commonsensical style, a sort of a “thinking aloud” style - that simplification of philosophy (vis-a-vis heavy Aristotelian style of pre-Cartesian thinking) constitues, in a way, a philosophical break. Such simplicity encourages seeking out “plain truth” - every time I dare to ask a simple question such as “What Is Thinking?” in my class, I usually get something very plain and simple like “It’s an ability to analyze, break things down, mentally take them apart” - the very possibility of “taking apart” assumes that thinking is all about simplification, about slowing down the act of actual thinking, about simple procedures, calculations, steps… A kind of thinking machine, a calculator, a computer…Posted in Craptasitc Academic Drek, Philosophy Tagged , , 6 Comments 6 Responses to “The Plain Truth, Please!6 Style « Larval Subjects . Perverse Egalitarianism has an interesting post up on “difficult books”. Blogroll 3 Quarks Daily Able Arrt Acephalous Blah-feme Censura Chimères Continental Philosophy Crooked Timber Cultural Parody Center Dialectic: University of Newcastle Philosophy Club Discourse Notebook Dreaming Without Memory in Strangled Sleep Философский Штурм Feel Philosophy (India) Fido the Yak ForaTV How the University Works ibitsu Immanent Frame In Socrates’ Wake Infinite Thought Jewcy John Protevi’s Blog Jon Cogburn Joyous Inquiry La revue des ressources Larval Subjects Lectures Archive Leibniz Translations Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog Meta-Philosophy Metastable Equilibrium Naught Thought Notebook eleven Now Times Outside Philosophy Pharyngula Philosophical Conversations Philosophical Reviews Philosophy Job Market Blog Philosophy Talk Public Reason Rate Your Students! Rough Theory Sadly, No Side Effects Societas: The Blog TalkingPointsMemo The Existence Machine The Pinocchio Theory The Psychoanalytic Field The Valve Voices from Russia What In The Hell… Wildly Parenthetical Writing for Ants

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Donna Haraway like McLuhan argues that technology is a natural extension of the human

Re: Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto (Carolyn Keen)
by Rich on Fri 25 Apr 2008 05:17 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Ned well I certainly agree with your statement here: "for every problem the Cyborg solves it's possible that it will create a new one because we can't predict all the possibilities of our new technologies"

As I read it Haraway's main critique is of the strategies of domination by patriarchal, imperialist and economic regimes through the fixing of essentialist organic identities upon women. On the one hand she is arguing against universalist claims that assimilate all feminine experience to one particular category of female identity, which constrains the ability of women to form other coalitions through affinities (e.g. women of color). In doing this she rejects the claim of archetypal feminine identity which the goddess represents. (Aside from the foundationalist difficulties one would have negotiating perspectives of spirituality in academic discourse this is perhaps why she does not add a metaphysical dimension here)

On the other hand the cyborg provides a certain liminal metaphor by which she can argue that even our most essentialist forms of identity, identity of the body with nature, are false and result in strategies of control, be it the mind over body, subject over object, male over female. Therefore, the cyborg is a rejection of these so called natural boundaries and a recognition that the human machine interface is not necessarily to be regarded as purely an artificial boundary. In a way she like McLuhan argues that technology is a natural extension of the human.

While the transcendence of natural boundaries may in some instances prove liberating - and although Haraway certainly recognizes other problems of domination associated with technology - she does not address the danger inherent in the crossing of boundaries through technological intervention, which Vandana Shiva in her book Stolen Harvest picks up on here:

“The mad cow as a product of boarder crossings is a cyborg in Donna Haraway's brand of cyborg feminism. According to Haraway I'd rather be a cyborg than a goddess. In India the cow is worshiped as Lakshmi because it is the source of renewal of the earth's fertility through organic manuring. The cow is sacred because it is at the heart of the sustainability of an agrarian civilization. The cow as goddess and cosmos symbolizes care, compassion, sustainability and equity. From the point of view of both cows and people, I would rather be a sacred cow than a mad one” (Shiva)

Friday, April 25, 2008

I wonder if terribly dense styles such as we find in figures like Deleuze, Lacan, Hegel, Derrida, etc., aren’t a form of intellectual terrorism

Style from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
Perverse Egalitarianism has an interesting post up on “difficult books”...

Hopefully I have enough “cred” to inveigh against “difficult books” (I am, after all, mired in the work of figures such as Deleuze, Lacan, Hegel, etc., who are the worst of the worst), but I have increasingly found myself suspicious of the “difficult work”. On the one hand, I read texts in the sciences that express extremely complex ideas in very basic prose. Somehow I’m just unwilling to concede that what Hegel is trying to talk about is any more difficult or complex than what the biologist, complexity theory, economic social theorist, ecologist, or quantum physicist is attempting to articulate. This leads to my concern. I wonder if terribly dense styles such as we find in figures like Deleuze, Lacan, Hegel, Derrida, etc., etc., etc., aren’t a form of intellectual terrorism. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not referring to the quality of their concepts or arguments. What I am referring to is a general writing strategy that demands so much work on the part of the reader in the art of interpretation, that by the time you’ve managed to make heads or tails of what Lacan is arguing or Hegel is seeking to articulate or Deleuze is seeking to theorize, you have so much invested that you simply cannot think critically about that figure.

Among the post-structuralists, at least, style was a way of subverting the metaphysics of presence and identity by drawing attention to the differential, the play of the signifier, our inability to pin down meaning due to the inherent polysemy of language. There’s an implicit politics here as well. The metaphysics of presence and identity is seen as being attached to centralized and totalizing social systems similar to the “Great Chain of Being”, where you have the sovereign giving decrees on high. However, isn’t there still an insidious power structure at work in these textual strategies as well?

On the one hand, post-structuralist texts (and other similarly obscure texts) take on the logic of the veil. When confronted by the veil our desire is evoked. We are led to wonder what is behind the veil. The veil suggests something hidden, something tantalizing, something just out of reach. “What is it that Derrida is saying?” “What is the secret of Hegel’s Logic?” “Is Guattari saying anything at all?” The veil in writing either produces a violent reaction of rejection or a sort of hypnotic attachment in the reader like a moth drawn to a flame. On the other hand, if the effect of hypnotic attachment is successfully produced, if we become convinced that the text hides a secret, we become locked in a power relationship with text and authorship where the author is now a master containing the truth of a secret, and the reader is perpetually inadequate, always close to the elusive truth of the secret of late Heidegger, late Lacan, Deleuze, Derrida, etc., while also always falling short. Far from freeing the reader, far from liberating them, the reader instead is locked in identity as a disciple and apostle of the text, devoting, perhaps in the extreme case of the scholar, their entire life to the hermeneutics of the text that has now become sacred. In short, this textual practice stands in stark opposition to its often stated aim.

Does this mean I cease to read such figures or reject them out of hand? No. I do believe they hide secrets. However, if Badiou has contributed one thing to Continental thought, if one thing lasts in the case of Badiou, I hope it is the rejection of stylistic virtuousity. This is not an endorsement of Badiou’s ontology but of his ethics of writing. I confess that I harbor some resentment of the hours of my life penetrating a text, navigating the stylistic gymnastics of some thinker, to grasp a concept that is really rather simple and which could have been articulated far more directly. If someone can articulate string theory in a straightforward way I don’t see why they cannot do so with ereignis. I’ve spent my fair amount of time defensively defending the writing style of figures such as Lacan, Derrida, Heidegger, Deleuze, etc., etc., etc. What I realize is that what I was defending was not their style but the value of their concepts and arguments despite their style. As per Lyotard’s remarks at the beginning of Differend, I would like to gain some time. We live, we work, we must integrate superhuman bodies of information. Perhaps a little consideration is in order.

Popper continued Bergson's work of providing a metaphysical foundation for an open society in an open universe

Home Archives April 24, 2008
The Left's Theft of the Open Society and the Scientific Method By Jonathan David Carson

Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies was aimed at Marx, Hegel, Plato and his philosopher kings, and their anti-democratic successors, such as George Soros. The Poverty of Historicism was aimed at Marxist historical inevitability and its pink cousin Western progressivism. We cannot predict scientific discoveries. Otherwise, they would not be discoveries. Scientific discoveries have an enormous influence on the future. Therefore, we cannot predict the future. Marxists and progressives who think that they represent the future are dangerous and deluded.

The idea of an open society was invented by the French philosopher and Nobel laureate Henri Bergson, who won the prize for philosophy in 1927, one of the few times the honor has been rightly bestowed. Like Popper, Bergson was an opponent of determinism and based his social thought on the indeterminism of the future, that is, its openness.

Also like Popper, Bergson was the object of fierce criticism, some of it perhaps deserved. The scientific establishment accused him of vitalism. The Vatican accused him of pantheism. But Frederick Copleston, a traditional Catholic and a Jesuit, says this about him in A History of Philosophy: "Bergson's widest influence was exercised by his general picture, which offered an alternative to mechanistic and positivist pictures. In other words, this picture exercised a liberating influence on many minds." Late in life Bergson drew near to Catholicism and would have converted but remained a Jew out of solidarity with the victims of Nazi persecution. He died in 1941.

So Popper continued Bergson's work of providing a metaphysical foundation for an open society in an open universe, free people in a world that is free to chart its own course. But a thousand times more significant than his social thought was Popper's philosophy of science. Whenever someone says that scientific theories should be "falsifiable," he is, probably without knowing it, citing Popper.

Unfortunately, The Logic of Scientific Discovery has been as much stolen by the scientific establishment as The Open Society and Its Enemies has been stolen by George Soros. As Popper recounts in Unended Quest, he created his famous philosophy of science in reaction to Marx, Freud, and Alfred Adler, another psychoanalyst, whose advocates found confirmation of their views in everything that happened, no matter how much it contradicted their theories, much as global warming hysterics find justification in both hot and cold weather and in both floods and droughts. The Left is fond of making predictions, not so fond of checking up on them.

Popper came up with the idea that a scientific theory must be falsifiable to distinguish science and pseudo-science, not to deny the meaningfulness of other modes of thought and expression, such as religion and literature. But the scientific establishment, in true Open Society Institute fashion, holds falsifiability up to the general public long after abandoning it itself. Perhaps it had to. What it did not have to do was to abandon it without telling the general public, which would have also meant abandoning its use against religion and traditional values.

The problem that scientists face is that they can often build a myriad of mathematical models that all describe the physical systems they are investigating. They may have no way to choose one among all the others and may never have a way. If we're lucky, they will choose the one that seems most beautiful to them. If we are unlucky, they will choose the one that seems most likely to unsettle the public, as when Scientific American says that each of us has an infinite number of alter egos far away in space, that we really exist in only two spatial dimensions and gravity is an illusion, and so on. None of these bizarre assertions is remotely falsifiable.

The scientific establishment uses falsifiability the way postmodernists use deconstructionism: selectively, to tear down the ideas of their enemies but not to apply to their own ideas. The deconstructionist will happily deconstruct your ideas, but never his own. You say something about economic growth or Islamofascism, and he wants to talk metaphysics. Just don't bring up metaphysics when he condemns Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. We can't believe in God because religion is unfalsifiable. We can believe in an infinite number of other universes from which no information can ever reach us. Western governments literally spend tens of billions of dollars annually in support of such lunacy.

As for the Western society that Popper so loved, George Soros and the scientific establishment are among its most vicious and determined enemies. Contact Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D. For more information, see

Žižek defends the idea of revolution while rejecting revolutionary terror

Home Arts & Entertainment The TLS April 23, 2008
The phenomenal Slavoj Zizek
Is there any subject on earth that isn't grist to Zizek's intellectual mill?
Terry Eagleton

Žižek is not a postmodernist at all. In fact, he is virulently hostile to that whole current of thought, as this latest book illustrates. If he steals some of the postmodernists’ clothes, he has little but contempt for their multiculturalism, anti-universalism, theoretical dandyism and modish obsession with culture. In Defense of Lost Causes is out to challenge the conventional wisdom that ideologies are at an end; that grand narratives have slithered to a halt; that the era of big explanations is over, and that the idea of global emancipation is as dead in the water as the former proprietor of the Daily Mirror.

Žižek is deadly serious about all this, though there is a typical element of contrariness about it as well. He began his publishing career as some kind of post-Marxist, and has now backed his way from there into Marxism. It is a cussedness which marks his sensibility as a whole, as idées reçues are mischievously upended. Paradox for Žižek is the stylistic equivalent of dialectical thought. And nothing could be more paradoxical than scrambling on board the revolutionary vessel at just the moment when it has been holed below the waterline. As he himself has grown more fashionable, his political case has become less so. He has only to scent an orthodoxy to feel the itch to put his foot through it; so that now Marxism is out of fashion, there is a certain twisted logic in the fact that he should return to it so assertively. In this book, as in several of its predecessors, he presses what one might call postmodern techniques (irony, paradox, lateral thinking, multiplicity, even at times a certain barefaced disingenuousness) into the service of thoroughly traditional positions.

The self-consciously outrageous case the book has to argue is that there is a “redemptive” moment to be plucked from such failed revolutionary ventures as Jacobinism, Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism. Žižek is by no means a champion of political terror: the Mao he offers us here, for example, is the mass murderer who mused that “half of China may have to die” in the Great Leap Forward, and who remarked that though a nuclear war might blow a hole in the planet, it would leave the cosmos largely untouched. His aim is not to justify such demented views, but to make things harder for the typical liberal middle-class dismissal of them. In pursuing this goal, the book offers us a wealth of political and philosophical insight; but it is not at all clear that it validates its central thesis...

French radical thought has often turned on a contrast between some privileged moment of truth and the bovine inauthenticity of everyday life, and Badiou is no exception in this respect. There is a spiritual elitism about such ethics, which is hard to square with this book’s suggestive reflections on the idea of democracy.

The keynote of the ethical life for Žižek, Badiou and Lacan is refusing to back off, staying obdurately true to one’s desire. Only by pushing one’s desire all the way through, in the manner of the classical tragic protagonist, can one flourish. Lacan’s great icon is thus Antigone, who refuses to settle for half. There is something perilous as well as attractive about such an ethics; but in this book, it is a view that allows Žižek to defend the idea of revolution while rejecting revolutionary terror. For the point about Robespierre and Stalin, so he argues, is not that they were too extreme, but that they were not revolutionary enough – and that had they been so, political terror would not have been necessary. The Jacobin terror, for example, is seen somewhat implausibly as bearing witness to the group’s inability to carry out an economic as well as a political transformation. Something similar is asserted of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

It is not the nave of its central thesis which makes this book so compelling, but its side chapels. Slavoj Žižek, as usual, seems gratifyingly unable to remember what case he has just been pursuing, and there are some splendid digressions, including an account of the changing role of the scherzo in Shostakovich, a disquisition on Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”, and reflections on Eisenstein’s lost masterpieces. In Defense of Lost Causes is a frenetic, eclectic parody of intellectual scholarship, by one so assured in his grasp of the finer points of Kafka or John le Carré that he can afford to ham it up a little.

Slavoj Žižek IN DEFENSE OF LOST CAUSES 208pp. Verso. £16.99. 978 1 84467 108 3
Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester. His recent books include Holy Terror, 2005, The Meaning of Life, 2007, and How To Read a Poem, 2007

One should not confuse Sri Aurobindo’s “intermediate zone” with Alan Kazlev’s “somewhat clumsy” “intermediate zone guru”

Alan Kazlev (a self-professed “all round eccentric”) coined (as he put it) “the somewhat clumsy phrase ‘Intermediate Zone Guru’” (Ref) to describe what he subjectively believes to be: Gurus who are not as “enlightened” or as “liberated” as he thinks they ought to be. Therefore, one should not confuse Aurobindo’s notable “intermediate zone” phrase with Alan Kazlev’s “somewhat clumsy” and non-notable “intermediate zone guru” phrase.
Let us start by taking a look at Sri Aurobindo’s original letter and convoluted words pertaining to the alleged “intermediate zone”:- Click Here To Read Sri Aurobindo’s Letter About The Intermediate Zone ...
It is peculiar that for someone who is not self-realized, Alan Kazlev postures himself as an authority on people who may or may not be self-realized!
  • Were Aurobindo & The Mother Victims Of ‘The Intermediate Zone’?
  • What greater deception could a conniving and ghoulish Astral Entity from the “intermediate zone” perpetuate than to deceive people into thinking that Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra were above the “intermediate zone” and were thereby self-realized?

Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra claimed special and unique knowledge about the spiritual path and self-realization. It may come as a surprise to many that Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra were said to have communicated with each other telepathically and claimed that they used the “Force” (an “intermediate zone” buzz word) to have influenced the events of the Second World War against Hitler because he was under the possession of an Asuric (demonic) being who called himself “The Lord of the Nations, Master of the Earth” (Ref). As a matter of the fact, the following was written about Aurobindo, Mother Mirra and Hitler...

That’s right; Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra were alleged to have waged a war on the astral plane (aka “intermediate zone”) by using astral powers against an astral demon radiating dazzling light. Therefore, Aurobindo and the Mother’s teachings, visions and alleged powers may have originated from the “intermediate zone” and not from genuine self-realization...
In conclusion, Alan Kazlev’s self-described “intellectual arguments” are not so “intellectual” after all. He coined “the somewhat clumsy phrase ‘Intermediate Zone Guru’” by twisting and extrapolating on Sri Aurobindo’s words. The end result is a “somewhat clumsy” argument that is nothing more than camouflage for a lack of original ideas. Reference Filed under: Alan Kazlev, Aurobindo, Gurus, Hinduism, Hitler, Intermediate Zone, Intermediate Zone Guru, Joe Moreno, M. Alan Kazlev, Mirra Alfassa, Spirituality, Sri Aurobindo

Rawls and Habermas have not understood the normative basis for the contemporary secular state

Is critique secular?, Religion in the public sphere:
Secularism and critique posted by Charles Taylor

I think that these positions of Rawls and Habermas show that they have not yet understood the normative basis for the contemporary secular state. I believe that they are on to something, in that there are zones of a secular state in which the language used has to be neutral. But these do not include citizen deliberation, as Rawls at first thought, or even deliberation in the legislature, as Habermas seems to think from the above quote. This zone can be described as the official language of the state: the language in which legislation, administrative decrees and court judgments must be couched. It is self-evident that a law before Parliament couldn’t contain a justifying clause of the type: “Whereas the Bible tells us that p.” And the same goes mutatis mutandis for the justification of a judicial decision in the court’s verdict. But this has nothing to do with the specific nature of religious language. It would be equally improper to have a legislative clause: “Whereas Marx has shown that religion is the opium of the people,” or “Whereas Kant has shown that the only thing good without qualification is a good will.” The grounds for both these kinds of exclusions is the neutrality of the state.

The state can be neither Christian nor Muslim nor Jewish; but by the same token it should also be neither Marxist, not Kantian, not Utilitarian. Of course, the democratic state will end up voting laws which (in the best case) reflect the actual convictions of its citizens, which will be either Christian, or Muslim, etc, through the whole gamut of views held in a modern society. But the decisions can’t be framed in a way which gives special recognition to one of these views. This is not easy to do; the lines are hard to draw; and they must always be drawn anew. But such is the nature of the enterprise which is the modern secular state. And what better alternative is there for diverse democracies?

Now the notion that state neutrality is basically a response to diversity has trouble making headway among “secular” people in the West, who remain oddly fixated on religion, as something strange and perhaps even threatening. This stance is fed by all the conflicts of liberal states with religion, past and present, but also by a specifically epistemic distinction: religiously informed thought is somehow less rational than purely “secular” reasoning. The attitude has a political ground (religion as threat), but also an epistemological one (religion as a faulty mode of reason).

I believe we can see these two motifs in a popular contemporary book, Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God. On one hand, Lilla wants to claim that there is a great gulf between thinking informed by political theology and “thinking and talking about politics exclusively in human terms.” Moderns have effected “the liberation, isolation, and clarification of distinctively political questions, apart from speculations about the divine nexus. Politics became, intellectually speaking, its own realm deserving independent investigation and serving the limited aim of providing the peace and plenty necessary for human dignity. That was the Great Separation.” Such metaphors of radical separation imply that human-centered political thought is a more reliable guide to answer the questions in its domain than theories informed by political theology.

So much for the epistemological ranking. But then towards the end of the view, Lilla calls on us not to lose our nerve, and allow the Great Separation to be reversed; which seems to imply that there are dangers in doing so. The return of religion in this sense would be full of menace.

This phenomenon deserves fuller examination. Ideally, we should look carefully at the double grounds for this stance of distrust, comment on these, and then say something about the possible negative political consequences of maintaining this stance. But in this contribution, I shall only really have space to look at some roots of the epistemological ground.

I think this has its source in what one might call a myth of the Enlightenment. There certainly is a common view which sees the Enlightenment (Aufklärung, Lumières) as a passage from darkness to light, that is, as an absolute, unmitigated move from a realm of thought full of error and illusion to one where the truth is at last available. To this one must immediately add that a counterview defines “reactionary” thought: the Enlightenment would be an unqualified move into error, a massive forgetting of salutary and necessary truths about the human condition.

In the polemics around modernity, more nuanced understandings tend to get driven to the wall, and these two slug it out. Arnold’s phrase about “ignorant armies clashing by night” comes irresistibly to mind. What underlies the understanding of Enlightenment as an absolute, unmitigated step forward?

This is worth asking, I believe, because the myth is more widespread than one might think. Even sophisticated thinkers, who might repudiate it when it is presented as a general proposition, seem to be leaning on it in other contexts.

Thus there is a version of what Enlightenment represents, which sees it as our stepping out of a realm in which Revelation, or religion in general, counted as a source of insight about human affairs, into a realm in which these are now understood in purely this-worldly or human terms. Of course, that some people have made this passage is not what is in dispute. What is questionable is the idea that this move involves the self-evident epistemic gain of our setting aside consideration of dubious truth and relevance and concentrating on matters which we can settle and which are obviously relevant. This is often represented as a move from Revelation to reason alone (Kant’s “blosse Vernunft”).

Clear examples are found in contemporary political thinkers, for instance Rawls and Habermas. For all their differences, they seem to reserve a special status for non-religiously informed Reason (let’s call this “reason alone”), as though a) this latter were able to resolve certain moral-political issues in a way which can legitimately satisfy any honest, unconfused thinker, and b) where religiously-based conclusions will always be dubious, and in the end only convincing to people who have already accepted the dogmas in question.

This surely is what lies behind the idea I mentioned at the outset, entertained for a time in different form by both thinkers, that one can restrict the use of religious language in the sphere of public reason. We must mention again that this proposition has been largely dropped by both; but we can see that the proposition itself makes no sense, unless something like (a) + (b) above is true... This entry was posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 12:02 am and is filed under Is critique secular?, Religion in the public sphere.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Avoid all vulgarity in speech, behaviour and acts. The thoughts must be pure and the aspiration ardent

Revolt, Restlessness and CalamitiesPRAPATTI In Mother’s Light, NOVEMBER 24 , 2006

Revolt and restlessness are the sign of evil. The consequence of evil is disaster. In modern times, an all swallowing revolt, unbearable worries, restlessness and a disaster is the common go of the world. Many have presumed that, the humanity can not last longer. Passing through this deep calamities it may be totally ruined. Even reaching the maxim of grandeur and prosperity, Man is passing through a total discomfort and discontentment.

Now the question arises what could be reason of this all total revolt and restlessness? The first reason is that both individually and collectively, Man has been uprooted from his prime spiritual Origin. Anything if it separates from its origin, becomes unstable, unsteady, restless, unprotected and finally destroyed, similarly humanity has make itself completely separate from it’s inner, spiritual and Divine Origin. How can the humanity will survive leaving this Supreme Presence and Existence which is most Essential, supremely Good, Auspicious, which is the only Bliss, Knowledge, Light, Love and the very origin and basis of harmony? This very Presence and Existence is within the man – this is the Supreme Discovery. Here lies the essential valu of life. The Mother has said,

"It is the Divine Presence that gives value to life. The Presence is the source of all Peace, all Joy, all security. Find this Presence in yourself and all difficulties will disappear."

One comes in contact inside with a heavenly consciousness by aspiration, a great hankering, surrender, self offering and a deep eagerness. This is New Birth. A peaceful, harmonious, luminious, soothing atmosphere is created within. This Presence, Inspiration, Indication and Guidance or Information becomes a living fact. This is the real source of strength and protection. The Mother has said –

"True strength and protection come from the Divine Presence in the heart. If you want to keep this Presence constantly in you, avoid carefully all vulgarity in speech, behaviour and acts. Do not mistake liberty for license and freedom for bad manners: the thoughts must be pure and the aspiration ardent." (NJ.24.4.1965/66)

Edited by Sri Gadadhar Mishra, Published & Owned by New Light Society, Matrubhaban, Sri Aurobindo Marg, Cuttack - 753 013. Kindly send your valuable suggesion to the Editor, In Mother’s Light, at

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Role of magnetizing, sensitizing the world around to the new tidings

Dr. Shyama Kanungo In Mother’s Light AUGUST 15, 2004

Each centre, each study circle is an island of hope, of peace, of regeneration, of healing, of quiet contentment of growing Ananda. For in each centre ‘They’ are there to nurture the New birth. In fact, carrying Their Force and Light, the movement of study circle has started. The study circle is the cradle of New Race, a God making instrument. From the occult point of view The Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s Presence itself has become the study circle. So, to serve the study circle is to serve Them, to love and belong to the study circle is to love and belong to Them and to work for the study circle is to work for Them.

The purpose of our interaction with the society from the platform of study circle is to give a chance to this civilisation to raise and change itself lest it gets totally destroyed by catastrophe. The avenues of the study circle activities have this role of magnetizing, sensitizing the world around to the new tidings.

Thus this goal is never to be lost sight of when we work in the different fields of our activities that emerge from Sri Aurobindo study circle organization. At the top of the priority list of the activities taken by the ‘Sri Aurobindo study circles is the organization of the study circles themselves. The next in priority is the activity in the field of Integral Education. The momentum to these two activities were at their peak during the physical life time of Babaji Sri Ramakrishna Das and Sri Prapatti.

Closely And very importantly would follow the entry through the fields of agriculture, health, commerce & technology, literature & art (both performing and visual). The idea in taking up all these would serve a dual purpose. The most important is to allow the spirit to manifest itself through these forms. Next is to give scope to those in the society who are deprieved of, or are ignorant of such a Divine possibility, to come in touch with it, bathe in it and change themselves; should they choose to do so.

With an intense, unifying and loving, but free, interaction let us leap forward as massive all- powerful instruments of the Divine and get the joy of collaborating in Her work to change the face of the earth. Let us start with Orissa.

Let us shed all lethargy - physical and intellectual as well as the attitude of selfish recoil upon oneself, break all barriers of doubt, disbelief and mistrust, give up feelings of superiority and inferiorty but rather behave as if we were all sailing in the same boat sitting on our Sweet Mother’s Lap.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Future Poetry, a study of immanent-transcendent aesthetic potential, is well worth reading

17 April 2008 Spirit AND Matter

One of the foremost syntheses of immanent and transcendent, material and spiritual, eastern and western modes is represented in the person and thought of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950):

"IF then the conclusion at which we have arrived is correct,—and there is no other possible on the data upon which we are working,—the sharp division which practical experience and long habit of mind have created between Spirit and Matter has no longer any fundamental reality. The world is a differentiated unity, a manifold oneness, not a constant attempt at compromise between eternal dissonances, not an everlasting struggle between irreconcilable opposites. An inalienable oneness generating infinite variety is its foundation and beginning; a constant reconciliation behind apparent division and struggle combining all possible disparates for vast ends in a secret Consciousness and Will which is ever one and master of all its own complex action, appears to be its real character in the middle; we must assume therefore that a fulfilment of the emerging Will and Consciousness and a triumphant harmony must be its conclusion. Substance is the form of itself on which it works, and of that substance if Matter is one end, Spirit is the other. The two are one: Spirit is the soul and reality of that which we sense as Matter; Matter is a form and body of that which we realise as Spirit. "

More of this interesting, important and influential essay HERE. Aurobindo has been an important theorist of "the return of the Goddess" and has contributed greatly to interreligious dialog about the Goddess and immanence.
He also prophesies a shining, hopeful future, and his great poem SAVITRI is a fit offering to one of his poetic mentors, Walt Whitman. The Future Poetry, a study of immanent-transcendent aesthetic potential, is also well worth reading.
Posted by Copper Asetemhat Stewart at 4/17/2008 04:20:00 PM Labels: , , , , , , Pagan Priest especially dedicated to the Goddess Isis-Fortuna, practicing independently and in the Reclaiming and Fellowship of Isis traditions.

Buddha contributed to the full entrance of humanity into the age of darkness, a preparation for the coming light

from Lori Tompkins to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 18 Apr 2008 01:56
The Revolt of Spirit Against Matter: a Two-Thousand-Year-Old Negation Rooted in Buddhism
A selection of Sri Aurobindo and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet's writings on the Buddha and Buddhism

The first section of this collection of quotes [originally found on] is an excerpt is from Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine. The second section will take excerpts from Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet's The Gnostic Circle (1975) and The Vishaal Newsletter (1986) which further discuss the negation of Matter rooted in Buddhism, and the need of a correction in the course of the evolution of consciousness, so that man's journey to the highest heights of Reality can proceed towards its goal of full Realisation of the One Self in multiple form. Ms. Norelli-Bachelet notes that the 2,000 year old revolt against matter was equally a phenomenon of both Eastern and Western spirituality.

Part One
Sri Aurobindo writes about the mistake of negating material existence and the impulse to transcend material reality in The Life Divine and in Letters on Yoga:

The Life Divine, Chapter III, 'The Two Negations: II - The Refusal of the Ascetic':
'... this conscious Being which is the truth of the infinite supermind, is more than the universe and lives independently in Its own inexpressible infinity as well as in the cosmic harmonies. World lives by That; That does not live by the world. And as we can enter into the cosmic consciousness and be one with all cosmic existence, so we can enter into the world-transcending consciousness and become superior to all cosmic existence. And then arises the question which first occurred to us, whether the transcendence is necessarily also a rejection. What relation has this universe to the Beyond?
'For at the gates of the Transcendent stands that mere and perfect Spirit described in the Upanishads, luminous, pure, sustaining the world but inactive in it, without sinews of energy, without flaw of duality, without scar of division, unique, identical, free from all appearance of relation and multiplicity, - the pure Self of the Adwaitins [3], the inactive Brahman, the transcendent Silence. And the mind when it passes those gates suddenly, without intermediate transitions, receives a sense of the unreality of the world and the sole reality of the Silence which is one of the most powerful and convincing experiences of which the human mind is capable. Here, in the perception of this pure Self or of the Non-Being behind it, we have the starting point for a second negation, - parallel at the other pole to the materialistic, but more complete, more final, more perilous in its effects on the individuals or collectivities that hear its potent call to the wilderness, - the refusal of the ascetic.
'It is this revolt of Spirit against Matter that for two thousand years, since Buddhism disturbed the balance of the old Aryan world, has dominated increasingly the Indian mind. Not that the sense of the cosmic illusion is the whole of Indian thought; there are other philosophical statements, other religious aspirations. Nor has some attempt at an adjustment between the two terms been wanting even from the most extreme philosophies. But all have lived in the shadow of the great Refusal and the final end of life for all is the garb of the ascetic. The general conception of existence has been permeated with the Buddhistic theory of the chain of Karma and with the consequent antinomy of bondage and liberation, bondage by birth, liberation by cessation from birth. Therefore all voices are joined in one great consensus that not in this world of dualities can there be our kingdom of heaven, but beyond, whether in the joys of the eternal Vrindavan [4] or the high beatitude of Brahmaloka [5], beyond all manifestations in some ineffable Nirvana [6] or where all separate experience is lost in the featureless unity of the indefinable Existence. And through many centuries a great army of shining witnesses, saints and teachers, names sacred to Indian memory and dominant in Indian imagination, have borne always the same witness and swelled always the same lofty and distant appeal, - renunciation the sole path of knowledge, acceptation of physical life the act of the ignorant, cessation from birth the right use of human birth, the call of the Spirit, the recoil from Matter.
' ... We seek indeed a larger and completer affirmation. We perceive that in the Indian ascetic ideal the great Vedantic formula, "One without a second", has not been read sufficiently in the light of that other formula equally imperative, "All this is the Brahman". The passionate aspiration of man upward to the Divine has not been sufficiently related to the descending movement of the Divine leaning downward to embrace eternally Its manifestation. Its meaning in Matter has not been so well understood as Its truth in the Spirit. The Reality which the Sannyasin seeks has been grasped in its full height, but not, as by the ancient Vedantins, in its full extent and comprehensiveness. But in our completer affirmation we must not minimise the part of the pure spiritual impulse. As we have seen how greatly Materialism has served the ends of the Divine, so we must acknowledge the still greater service rendered by Asceticism to Life. We shall preserve the truths of material Science and its real utilities in the final harmony, even if many or even if all of its existing forms have to be broken or left aside. An even greater scruple of right preservation must guide us in our dealing with the legacy, however actually diminished or depreciated, of the Aryan past.' *
*Notes taken from The Life Divine (as presented in the book):
[3] The Vedantic Monists.
[4] Goloka, the Vaishnava heaven of eternal Beauty and Bliss.
[5] The highest state of pure existence, consciousness and beatitude attainable by the soul without complete extinction in the Indefinable.
[6] Extinction, not necessarily of all being, but of being as we know it; extinction of ego, desire and egotistic action and mentality.

An Excerpt from Sri Aurobindo's Letters on Yoga on the 'mistake' of Buddha:

'It [the overmind liberation] can't be supreme if there is something beyond it—but there is a liberation even in higher Mind. But in speaking of supreme liberation I was simply taking the Buddhist-Adwaita view for granted and correcting it by saying that this Nirvana view is too negative. Krishna opened the possibility of overmind with its two sides of realisation, static and dynamic. Buddha tried to shoot from mind to Nirvana in the Supreme, just as Shankara did in another way after him. Both agree in overleaping the other stages and trying to get at a nameless and featureless Absolute. Krishna on the other hand was leading by the normal course of evolution. The next normal step is not a featureless Absolute, but the supermind. I consider that in trying to overshoot, Buddha like Shankara made a mistake, calling away the dynamic side of the liberation. Therefore there has to be a correction by Kalki.* I was of course dealing with the ten Avatars as a "parable of the evolution", and only explaining the interpretation we can put on it from that point of view. It was not my own view of the thing that I was giving.' [bold emphasis added] '... Krishna opens the possibility of overmind, Buddha tries to shoot beyond to the supreme liberation but that liberation is still negative, not returning upon earth to complete positively the evolution Kalki is to correct this by bringing the Kingdom of the Divine upon earth, destroying the opposing Asura forces.'

Krisha is considered the 8th Avatar of the Hindu Line of Ten, Buddha is typically believed to be the 9th of the same line. Part Two presents Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s writings on the error of this belief.

Part Two Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet discusses in her various books the significance of the negations of Eastern and Western spirituality as an important but surpassable stage in the evolution of consciousness.

In The Gnostic Circle, she writes that the 2160 year Age of Pisces (from 234 BCE to 1926 AD) saw a fossilization of all religions:
‘... it was during the first 1440 years of the Age that the spiritual experience became dogmatised and subject to the rigid demands of ritual. We find this not only in the religions of the West but the East as well contributed its part to the mosaic.' - The Gnostic Circle, Chapter 8, 'The Age of Pisces'.

In the The Vishaal Newletter, Volume 1, Issue 2 (page 7) Norelli-Bachelet writes:
'There has been no spiritual movement of this century that has been sufficiently powerful (and I use the word purposefullly) to arrest the course that science and western materialism are imposing on the world. The reason for this is more than clear. All the spiritual movements have become bogged down in the past and are merely repeating the old formulas. And those formulas were, even in the past, incomplete. They catered to the religions and demands of the spirit, disregarding the life of the body. Indeed, the spirituality we know as 'eastern' is founded on the basic principle of escapism. This is the same as the foundation of western religion and mysticism: the Earth is a hell and birth thereupon is a scourge; salvation lies in heaven or nirvana, -- anywhere, but decidely out of this cosmic dimension and free from the strangling coils of a corruptible flesh.'

Ms. Norelli-Bachelet discusses the error of considering Buddha as the 9th Evolutionary Avatar in the Hindu Line of Ten, in The Gnostic Circle (p.48-49):
'After Sri Krishna [the 8th Evolutionary Avatar] there seems to be some confusion in spiritual circles regarding the next Avatar and the subsequent stage of development for the Earth. One factor which contributes most to this reigning confusion is that is seems to have been forgotten that the Evolutionary Avatar, when appearing for that particular work, can only come during the Ages which pertain to Vishnu, the force of Preservation, the four faces of the Sphinx, or the four Fixed signs of the zodiac. But it seems that man is in a hurry to fill in the blanks before the time periods are completed, and before even entering the 9th Manifestation [a Time period including the Ages of Pisces, Aquarius and Capricorn - 234 BCE to 6246] he has already proclaimed the next Avatar, before actually understanding in full what it is that the advent is to truly mean. Therefore to include the Buddha in the list of Avatars as the 9th, which in the deeper meaning would signify that he was the Avatar of the 9th Manifestation, is impossible. The Buddha's birth and the span of his life formed a part of the 8th Manifestation[a Time period including the Ages of Gemini, Taurus, and Aries 6714 BCE - 234 BCE], opening the way to the 9th, and his function was precisely to bring about a greater cleavage between the seekers after the 'Void' and those seeking fulfillment in the full manifestation of the Divine. It may appear odd to speak here in these terms of the Buddha and the student may consider that one is attempting to minimise his role, or in some way to place him in a negative light. In actual fact we seek to do the contrary. This great spiritual figure was an element that served to bring about a certain depletion in the spiritual effectiveness of India as a nation, and thus contributed to the full entrance of humanity into the age of darkness, a preparation for the coming light. This was a necessary step, though one which nonetheless requires a consequent corrective measure, the work of Kalki, as Sri Aurobindo and the Indian scriptures have pointed out. Kalki, the last Avatar of the Hindu tradition, has as his mission to bring the movement back to its rightful destiny, to join the two poles [Matter and Spirit] and then erase the separation that exists in the reservoir of spiritual energy on the planet. All paths, all realisations can give us the experience of God, but the plan of evolution is only one, though this is all-embracing and makes use of different means to arrive at the Goal. 'All forms of spiritual thought and practice that have served to heighten the rift between the two poles of spirit and matter must, at this time, give way to the new creation...'

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ram Seghal addressed the audience on technology and intuition. Seghal sees the answer in Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine

Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > Current issue > Psychology conference Archive copies Auroville Experience March 2008

Three-day psychology conference in Auroville
- Robert
The Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity was the venue of a three day conference with presentations on subjects like global warming, beauty, architecture, transformation, and economy. A fascinated audience listened to speakers Michael Murphy, Marc Luycks Ghisi and Georges Van Vrekhem among others. Some excerpts:
Michael Murphy, member of the International Advisory Council and co-founder of the Esalen Institute in California gave a presentation on “Possibilities of a new matter and a new flesh”. According to Mr. Murphy, “scientists are discovering more and more that great philosophers, like Plato, were also yogis. Things that were always taken as metaphors are real. Supernormal things, like stigmata as described by witnesses, are foreshadowing of what will be normal in future.” At present his Esalen Institute is working on a database of supernormal human events. A group of scientists are trying to develop a theory about them. “We are strongly influenced by Sri Aurobindo, who wrote in his time about the Superman and described the transformation of the cells,” says Murphy. He has found in the archives of the Sri Aurobindo ashram in Puducherry evidence of experiments that Sri Aurobindo did to find out more about “the overmind”, as described in his book The Life Divine. “I found pages from him experimenting with it, saying “experiment failed”, but also “experiment succeeded”. Michael Murphy invited the Ashram and Auroville to do more research together with the Esalen Institute.

Replace money by ‘chakra' system
Aurovilian Olivier Hetzel gave an insight on money. He sketched how money is created in the present world economy: “It is created out of debt. You go to the bank to take a loan on a house, that money is created and given to you. You have to pay it back. But what is not created is the interest you pay on it. It means that there is always a shortage of money and some of us have to go bankrupt.” But according to Olivier there are other, more honest, ways of creating an economy. For instance the Auroville system of putting money on your account. “If you put one thousand rupees on your account, you can use the amount of one thousand credits. At the same time the organisation can put the money in a bank and get interest. In that way you instantly create two thousand rupees out of one thousand.”Olivier introduced a so called “chakra” system in which he sees seven levels:
1 The global common financial system in any presently known form, bank notes, credit cards, bank accounts, bonds, stocks, mortgages, mutual funds etc.
2 The community-deposit account (the Auroville cash account which is the first layer of community currency used for personal fund deposits.)
3 The community activity and exchanges account (the Auroville kind account) which is the virtual system of exchange amongst community services, individuals and activities.
4 The monastic or ashram system (the Auroville Pour Tous distribution centre) which provides for the basic needs of community members who contribute in recognized, meaningful ways to the collective through work, kind, or cash contributions.
5 The mutual credit system (ACCESS – Auroville's Conscious Community Exchange System for Sustainability), which allows for individual exchanges of goods and services on a direct and personal level and is very suited for art, healing, education and freelance skills.
6 The gift economy (free services) which relates to the countless and unaccounted for, help in kind we extend to our close friends and family members.
7 The economy of self (our personal spiritual connection), which refers to the amount and quality of time spent alone in dedication with our higher selves, as the preciousness of these moments often allows us huge savings of other life resources through inner intuitive guidance, insights and deep healings.
Olivier advised Auroville not to embrace any one of these methods, but to use all of them in a complementary way. On the same topic, Marc Luyckx Ghisi warned the audience of the dangers of the stock markets. According to Marc, who will publish a book on the subject, it is very hard to asses the value a company nowadays, for they are trading in non measurable products. What is the value of a computer programme that adds value to another programme? Marc Luyckx warned of manipulation on the financial markets. “One of the biggest threats for the future”.

Computers are not intuitive
Ram Seghal addressed the audience on technology and intuition. Ram grew up in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and is now Group Advisor at Rediffusion DYR and its group of companies. “Can technology lead us to our goal?” was his question. Ram Seghal described how Kasparov, the chess world champion, played against an IBM computer. He won 8 out of 10 games. What does Kasparov have that the machine does not? “The answer is: intuition”, says Ram Seghal. He also gave the example of the visit of the world richest Indian to Kolkota ( Calcutta ), the city of his youth. Lakshmi Mittal was thrilled to see the changes. He was excited about the many flyovers, dotting the skyline of the city. “This is progress”, he said. Ratan Tata, very recently, launched a very inexpensive small car in the same city. The question Ram Seghal asked himself was, “Is it about economics or politics or is it about the acute shortage of higher intuitive power that is needed to build cities in which mobility does not mean cars?” And: “…man will soon discover that true creativity that can provide perfect solutions to all earth's problems will come from spheres far beyond the human mind. He will have to climb much higher than he has ever done before. In fact, it is the beginning of a spiritual journey. Seghal sees the answer in Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine. Sri Aurobindo writes that we need to go beyond the mind and reason. For if we examine carefully, we shall find that intuition is our first teacher. Intuition brings those brilliant messages from the unknown, which are the beginnings of higher knowledge. One will need to leave behind all that one knows, the courage to travel towards the unknown by braking all the shackles. This, I believe, is the path that the divine is unfolding.

Is the supermind an illusion?
A third speaker who quoted from Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine was the writer and Aurovilian Georges Van Vrekhem. “Is Sri Aurobindo's theory of the supermind only a grandiose illusion”, Van Vrekhem asked, “or will humanity die out before anything like the apparition of the supramental being can happen on our planet?” He continued: “Sri Aurobindo has made predictions. In his writings in the Arya, later published in book form, one can read that: 1. India had to become free; 2. Asia had to awake; 3. humanity had to become one; 4. Indian spirituality had to spread through the whole world; 5. the human species would be succeeded by a new species of supramental beings. It should be borne in mind that these predictions were made during the First World War and its immediate aftermath, when reasonable people could only consider them as chimaeras. In 1947, in a text broadcasted on the occasion of India 's freedom, Sri Aurobindo summarized these predictions himself and called them his “five dreams”. When one considers what has become of these “dreams” at present, one cannot but agree that all five have been realised to a considerable degree. Thus they may be held to be a rational justification of Sri Aurobindo's visions of the future. He wrote that a next evolutionary step is inevitable, a statement which, considering the evolutionary process, can only be doubted for fear that our Earth might not survive its present predicament. But the fundamental cause of this predicament is precisely the Umwertung aller Werte, the revaluation of all values required to create the new, as yet unknown ones. In this so-called post-modern period of a humanity caught in the vortex of its unification, Sri Aurobindo's vision provides us with the interpretation of the apparent chaos. “Mentally conditioned by the physical sciences, few people still believe in miracles, but I know of two which are historically proven. The first is Joan of Arc, the young French village girl who, at the head of a medieval army, defeated the English, put her king on his throne, and told her judges frankly: Je suis venue de par Dieu – I have come from God. The other miracle is Auroville, the utopia of all utopias, which after forty years in quasi impossible circumstances and despite all ordeals, is still there – and growing,” concluded Van Vrekhem.

Towards a New Imagination
Writer and Aurovilian Anu Majumdar spoke about a New Imagination we are facing in the future. She took as an example the classic Indian tale Ramayana: “When the Ramayana was serialised on Indian TV some years ago, week after week people wept with the noble heroes, all programmed by dharma, and with the sad and helpless heroines caught in their destinies. It was a pitiful tribute to Valmiki. But people just loved it. It was a phenomenal success.” Anu compared this story with Sri Aurobindo's Savitri. “In Savitri the battlefield changes. It is the inner war without escape, but no victory is declared nor revenge sought afterwards. Savitri is a gateway to the new myth”, said Anu. “But is is difficult to find, for the news everyday is still about war. In his essay, The Passing of War, published in the volume War and Self-Determination, Sri Aurobindo wrote: ‘The progress of humanity proceeds by a series of imaginations which the Will in the race turns into accomplished facts and a train of illusions…One of the illusions is the expectation of the passing of war. This grand event in human progress is always being confidently expected, but since we are now all scientific and rational beings, we no longer expect it by a divine intervention but assign sound physical and economic reasons for it… But now we see militarism and commercialism united in a loving clasp, driving by their force the most irrational, the most monstrous wars of modern times...' And Sri Aurobindo goes on to say that the illusion was to ignore the one thing that matters: human nature.”
What then could be a new imagination that could transform the Will of human nature and life? Where could one possibly find it? The answer is Auroville, according to Anu. “It was right before my eyes: Auroville, a dream, still unknown and growing up in the world, a tiny blueprint for all the transformations to come. Not the literal story of Auroville and its few inhabitants, but that of the new consciousness which belongs to every single person on earth. And the power of this consciousness to transform the divisions of human mind and life with unity. Auroville, the Mother said, was the last hope against war and catastrophe.”

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