Monday, May 31, 2010

Between Jerusalem and Puducherry

Len Moskowitz May 30, 2010 at 11:09 am | Reply
Have you seen the film “Jews and Buddhism: Belief Amended, Faith Revealed”? In it there’s a clip of Ben Gurion being interviewed along with the Prime Minister of Burma, and they discuss religion.
It’s a shame Ben Gurion couldn’t find the gold buried in his own backyard.
I have a screener at home- I was the talking head for TJC showing. At some point I might post the documents of Ben-Gurions visit to a Buddhist monastery, his letter to various Buddhist leaders, and the Religious party’s protest.
Would you have liked him to follow the mekubbalim of the old yishuv and reject Zionism, army, and physical labor. Or would you have liked him to follow Rav Ashlag who met with Ben Gurion to make sure that the Jewish state would be communist, the only true Jewish economic system. Rav Ashlag also rejected the performance of the kavvanot.
I liked this piece becuase it brought in Bergman, Sadan, and the Theon society.
There is a paper entitled “Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Sri Aurobindo: Towards a Comparison” by Margaret Chatterjee that appeared in the book “Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism” edited by Hananya Goodman, SUNY Press, 1994. (I found it through a citation by Y. Mirsky.) It’s not a groundbreaking work on either figure, but it’s sort of interesting that it was written at all. 

 But all will not be lost if the teachings and works of the recent Spiritual Masters like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and Ramana Maharishi are publicized. Wendy Doniger and her likes can wave a few pages of the Rig Veda translated by half-baked knowledge and may shout the scripture to be primitive. But works like Aurobindo’s “The Secret of the Veda” written about a century ago is an antidote to such travesties. The Secret of the Veda obliterates the ignorance about the sublime Sruti. Sri Aurobindo decoded the inner meaning of the Rig Veda through such tools as philology and etymology. For example, Ashwa is not a horse but Energy/Force,  and Cow means Light/Illumination,  and Soma is not alcohol, but Divine Bliss. The yogi thus fetched the sublimity of the mystic poetry to the vicinity of a commoner. Similarly Swami Vivekananda  takes us to the Atharva Veda for the true explanation of the Shiva Lingam.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mohrhoff is no amateur

9 nemonemini 05/17/2010 2:35 pm
The idea of involution is problematical, discussed here:
10 Timaeus 05/17/2010 4:04 pm
I’ve already made a general statement about Hinduism in my comment on the May 15 post by Denyse, so I won’t repeat it here. Regarding Mr. Mohrhoff’s explication of the relationship of Hinduism to evolution, I find it muddy.
One of the problems is that discussions of evolution in a Hindu context often employ the term “evolution” equivocally. Sometimes it means something like “self-development” or “expression over time of an implicit nature”, and sometimes it refers to the psychological or biological development of the individual, rather than a cosmological or macroevolutionary process, and at other times several meanings overlap in unclear ways.
The problem goes back to the original meaning of “evolution” in English, which prior to the fusion of Darwin’s ideas with Spencer’s vocabulary (Darwin hardly used the term “evolution” in his earlier writings) meant something different from what it does today.
Thus, older translations of the Hindu texts may use the word “evolution” in a way that misleads the modern reader. Even modern expositions of Hinduism (like the one attempted by Mr. Mohrhoff) may do this.
I think the point that Mohrhoff is making is that the kind of self-unfolding of the physical and organic universe may be conceived in a way that is neither the random chance of Darwinism nor the intelligent design of Paley, but more like the development of an oak tree from an acorn. Thus, there is a design or plan, but not necessarily proceeding from a conscious intelligence, but more like an implicit intelligence. So later life forms might “evolve” from earlier life forms neither due to chance nor due to conscious steering by a man-like Deity, but due to an inner necessity. Of course, that inner necessity would ultimately be traceable back to the ultimate divine source of all being, Brahman, but Brahman does not stand to nature as a Creator-god does in Western religion. That is why he is distancing his Hindu solution from intelligent design. At least, that is my guess about his meaning.
Of course, one could argue that the unfolding or “evolution” of an acorn into an oak testifies to an implicit intelligent design, a kind of packed-in plan. Thus, if the evolution of the cosmos and life is like the development of an oak tree, or of a human embryo, etc., this “Hindu” solution could be thought of as an indirect form of intelligent design. But I don’t think Mohrhoff would accept that interpretation.
Generally speaking, I distrust discussions of evolution in relation to Eastern religions. Almost always I find they involve some distortion, because the writers or speakers have an inadequate understanding of modern evolutionary theory, or of Eastern religion, or of both, and frequently they are so eager to find connections that their scholarship is sloppy. I do not know of a first-rate *scholarly* treatment of Hinduism and evolutionary theory, and I think the lack of authoritative scholarly handling has allowed a lot of amateurs and dilettantes into the discussion. And while Mr. Mohrhoff may be a bright individual, I don’t think a German physicist is the right man to put together Sanskrit studies of the Upanishads with modern evolutionary biology. Nor does the editorial board of his journal strike me as filled with people who are highly qualified for such a project. T. 
11 Matteo 05/17/2010 11:08 pm
There is an affinity between atheism and Hinduism (at least as understood pantheistically) in terms of rejecting ID. It flows from the simple fact that both belief systems reject the maxim: “There is a God, and you are not Him”. 

Timaeus 05/16/2010 2:10 pm
Some comments have been made here about Hinduism. As I did graduate-level study of that religion, I thought I should make some points. […] If the speaker wanted to make the very general point that evolutionary ideas *can be found* in Indian thought — Hindu or Buddhist — I would have no objection. But to say that evolutionary ideas can be found in Indian thought is different from saying (1) Indian thought overall is evolutionary [in the modern Western sense] or (2) Indian evolutionary thought is historically responsible for Western evolutionary thought.
On the second point, while it is possible that some Greek thinkers came into contact with Indian thinkers, it is not certain (the ancient accounts of Pythagoras’s travels and so on are notoriously unreliable); and in any case, what we have left of Pythagoras is not evolutionary in a Darwinian sense. As for the proto-evolutionary ideas in Ionian thought and atomist thought, they are a logical outflow of materialism and atomism, and don’t require any hypothesis of Indian influence.
Almost any “big idea” is found in parallel forms around the world. That doesn’t show historical influence. There is no evidence that Darwin, Lamarck, etc. were thinking about Hinduism when they formulated their evolutionary notions. If they were thinking about ancient thinkers at all, it was probably the atomists or the Stoics, and both of those schools can be accounted for as home-grown phenomena of the West.
As for the other comment made by Ilion, that Christianity and Hinduism are in opposition, it of course depends entirely upon which features of Christianity and Hinduism you single out for comparison. There are important differences and important similarities. But both are opposed to all forms of purely mechano-materialistic thought insofar at they affirm a spiritual reality which cannot be reduced to matter in motion or laws of nature or chance.
A Hindu philosopher might easily be a “theistic evolutionist” of some sort, i.e., might believe that the universe in its physical aspect unfolds in accord with a set of material necessities, while affirming ultimate divine sovereignty over all that happens, and the freedom of the human soul to transcend material necessity through knowledge of the divine.
A Hindu thinker might even be able to accept, in some limited form, neo-Darwinian mechanisms. But the Hindu thinker would never agree with the interpretation put upon evolution by Dawkins, Coyne, etc., and still less with the sunny, “progressive” notion of evolution promoted by Huxley and others. Neither atheism nor “progress” in the Western sense are acceptable principles to orthodox schools of Hinduism.

25 Timaeus 05/18/2010 12:42 pm Zephyr @ 20:
Perhaps I made a hasty judgment about Mohrhoff and his associates.
From the description of their academic training given on the web site, it seemed to me that very few of them had any deep exposure to bona fide Indian thought, and that gave me the impression that they were dilettantes of a New Age variety. However, if you can verify that they are all serious scholars in their fields, then perhaps they have also taken the time to read serious works on Indian philosophy. So I’ll suspend judgment.
Nonetheless, I think it’s fair to say that any public arguments trying to link Indian thought with western science in general, or evolutionary theory in particular, ought to make substantial use of the texts of the Indian tradition. This can be done well or badly. On the related thread to this one, from a few days ago, I pointed out where someone had done it badly.
Capra, in the Tao of Physics, demonstrates a serious knowledge of Indian tradition. I cannot speak for his interpretation of modern physics, but he appears to understand the basics of Hindu and Buddhist thinking well, and to have consulted well-established secondary literature. If Mohrhoff knows the Indian tradition as well as Capra does, then I would listen to his suggestions with respect. T.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rise above personal beliefs in order to seek a harmonious integration and synthesis

from aurosatya vrata to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 11 May 2010 18:26 subject Controversies
Dear Mr. Mohapatra,
I am writing in response to Mr. Timmerman’s concern about the continued raking up of controversies, particularly the re-posting (and re-cyling) of old and probably obsolete messages that serve the purpose of keeping the fire of some controversies raging on the SEOF and other related websites.

It is evident that the purpose of a controversy is to find fault with those who are on the receiving end of the controversy. It is also evident that as long as there are people, particularly large and diverse groups of people, there will always be differences of opinion which are likely to lead to controversies. And that is why controversies are a rather common phenomenon and are not unique to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

In the particular context of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, I have observed that people on either side of the divide (of controversies), claim to defend and represent the best interests of their Masters, that is The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Isn’t it ironical therefore that Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s followers and disciples fail to apply the principles of the Integration and Synthesis of Yoga and Life that have been imparted by their Masters?

Why is it that particularly those who initiate and fuel controversies, allegedly to defend the best interests of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, fail to rise above their personal beliefs in order to seek a harmonious integration and synthesis of views and opinions? Why is it that those who trigger and stoke controversies forget these important principles of their Master's advise and instead continue to try to assert (and even impose) their opinion on those who might have a different approach, belief or outlook on the same issues?

But, without wanting to take sides, I would like to share the observations that the existence of controversies however indicates at least two things.

Firstly, it shows that the Aurobindonian collectivity is diverse, varied and heterogeneous. I personally do not see this as a short-coming and instead value this and find it very representative of Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s principles and approach. And I believe that if instead of wasting one’s time, energy and resources on emphasizing the differences and controversies that may exist, one spent them on finding ways and means of synthesizing and integrating these differences of opinions and approaches, we would all do a real and greater service to our Masters by achieving a harmonious unity in diversity.

Secondly, whether we like or not, all institutions and organisations are imperfect and there will always be some people who believe that they are aggrieved by this. Even during Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s time, there are numerous instances of aggrieved members (well documented in many of the letters that were written during their time). So, is it reasonable to blow out of proportion the grief that some of the members are feeling and put the entire blame on an institution or its leaders? Will there ever be a perfect institution or organization as long as it is populated and criticized by imperfect members?

Therefore, shouldn’t those who are outside of the institution of the SAA Trust and who find fault with it refrain from poking their nose into the internal affairs of the SAA Trust (and therefore mind their own business), instead? And shouldn’t those who are part of the institution and are aggrieved by it, consider whether they are not wiser to find an inner solution to their problem - as The Mother would repeatedly recommend to the many laments that she would receive from the Ashram inmates - instead of making it into a controversy that results among other things, in the washing of dirty linen in public?

I can therefore only end by asking what good does one really achieve by raking up controversies? And are there other more constructive and positive ways of dealing with differences of opinions? Best Regards, S.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jung war

7 May 2010 ... and acknowledge the value of Norelli-Bachelet's [Thea's] claims. David Johnston: Eros is a kosmogonos, a creator and father-mother of ... Mirror of Tomorrow :: Main Page ... of Numbers and Unity of Spirit and Matter (Part VI-A)—by David Johnston ... by way of manipulating living numbers and then Norelli-Bachelet's [Thea's] ... 
Not only the two times Norelli is mentioned she is mentioned in tandem with the Mother [Thanks David Johnston, too kind of you! The Mother should feel honored, we know who Norelli claims she is!!!], but to dispel all doubts her pupil-prodigal son triumphally concludes, “I acclaim the intrinsic value of the Mother’s achievement and Norelli-Bachelet’s [Thea’s] esoteric use of numbers regarding the measurements of the inner chamber of the Matrimandir”!
Was it worthy to do witch-hunt for Peter Heehs, alive or dead – to end up glorifying Norelli and starting a new crusade against the measurements of the Matrimandir’s Chamber? Please check that my name appears, not some “Anonymous”. I want everybody to know that the only Aurovilian compelled to comment on psychic/overmental/supramental Jung (a sheer projection of David Johnston’s fantasies), and now Norelli and the Matrimandir’s Chamber, rejects this machinerie on behalf of the entire Auroville. Nobody in Auroville wants to hear about Patrizia Norelli, but she has found a fertile ground in “Mirror of Tomorrow”, where her two watchdogs and [not so ex] coordinator are free to glorify the “Goddess”, Matrimandir included!!!
Is it true that Pranab has left his body because of a monstrous titanic force threatening the Ashram and Auroville? It certainly looks like. Paulette

Circumsolatious: Sri Aurobindo's New Yoga & the Inadequacy of ...
9 Feb 2010 ... [Responses to: David Johnston's - 'Jung's Psychology of the Living God ....soon be posting in which Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (Thea) writes ... Circumsolatious: February 2010 Other Letters from Skambha by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet...... Response to Part I: Let me begin by saying that David Johnston has made an admirable ...
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Reviewed By David Johnston. During 1985 And 1986, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet Wrote A Series Of Insightful Essays That Have Now Been Collected Together In A ...
Having read David Johnston's presentation on the Mirror of Tomorrow blog ..... “I refuse to read anything coming from Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet...