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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wilber has not acknowledged the full extent of Sri Aurobindo’s influence

Amod Lele - February 7th, 2012 on 12:49 pm
The best starting point is probably still A Brief History of Everything. It’s a condensed version of his magnum opus to date (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality), in dialogue form. It’s a decade or two old at this point and he has changed his views significantly in later works, but in many respects I actually like the older version better. Brief History is the book I started with and I would continue to recommend it.

I was a “fan” of Wilber’s writings during my days as a doctoral student in Canada working on my dissertation, in a predominantly analytically-oriented philosophy department, on Aurobindo. But I can hardly bring myself to read either of them these days and I don’t feel I am missing anything important! LOL
Breadth? Sure, it is important, but when someone presumes that his “breadth” can extend to everything (a la “A Brief History of Everything”), I begin to have serious doubts about the man’s sense of humility and even the quality of his understanding of the human predicament!
There are so many things about our very own and very intimate “Brother Donkey” (As St. Francis of Assisi lovingly called his body!) we simply do not yet understand! Why presume to divagate with assurance on so many things, not to mention “everything”?
Sufficient unto the day honest, useful, and solid work on one thing, however little or limited that thing may be than a torrent of words “full of sound and fury signifying nothing” on this, that, and the other!

“his central experiment or observation is based on meditation or what he has called ‘one taste’.” We surely would like to know what sort of “meditation” this is, what the alleged truths are, and how this “meditation” yielded those “truths”.
He may have borrowed this notion from Aurobindo (I think Wilber has not acknowledged the full extent of Aurobindo’s influence on his writings). Aurobindo wrote that he was a practitioner of “mystic empiricism”, an undertaking, he believed, was empirical in just the way scientific inquiry is empirical!
But then Aurobindo never explained, although he wrote several big books, the actual process by means of which he allegedly arrived at knowledge of “occult worlds, entities, and forces”, not to mention the modus operandi of harnessing them, e.g., “Yogic force”, to allegedly cure illnesses, influence world events, etc.

Aurobindo Ghose (1872 – 1950) was a prolific writer on Indian metaphysics, religion,  occultism, yoga, literature, art, and politics. He was also a composer of poems and plays. He is reputed to be one of the foremost mystics of twentieth century India. In fact, he is also regarded as some sort of an “Avatar” or incarnation of divinity by most of his followers and inmates of the Ashram he founded in Puducherry (formerly the French colony of Pondicherry), in the province of Tamilnadu, India. This is not surprising since superstitious religious believers in India typically tend to elevate human religious figures, e.g., Sai Baba, Ramakrishna, etc., to the status of deities or demi-gods exempt from and capable of manipulating the laws of nature to fulfill the prayers of their disciples.
Aurobindo made a number of extraordinary and supernatural claims in his writings, letters, and conversations with his largely credulous disciples. You will find claims on “occult worlds”, “hostile forces”, alleged Blackmagic and his efforts to counteract it, alleged poltergeist phenomena in his ashram, healing or cure of even chronic diseases by “yogic force”, the possibility of conquering death by harnessing the “supramental force”, his avowed role in using his “yogic force” to turn the tide of World War II in favor of the Allied forces, and so on. In this series of pieces, I intend to examine and uncover the baloney in these claims.
Let’s start with his claim that during his stay in the Alipore jail (May 1908- 1909) he heard the voice of Vivekananda (1863 – 1902) giving him information on “higher planes of consciousness”, particularly the so-called “intuitive mentality”.  Since Vivekananda died in 1902, this alleged event happened six years or so after Vivekananda’s death. Obviously, Aurobindo is claiming that Vivekananda visited him in the Alipore jail in the form of a “spirit” or disembodied presence and spoke to him. Posted in Philosophical Baloney


I’m generally a big fan of Žižek, as readers of this blog know, despite disagreeing with the majority of what he says. There’s a certain energy there that is compelling beyond all agreement and disagreement. … The reader has a point, in the sense that Žižek in his writings does have a tendency to treat all incorrect views as ridiculous. Nonetheless, he also has a good track record of leaving plenty of free space for contrary opinions outside his written pages. So does Badiou, by all accounts. … That said, I think the reader is right. This is a fairly typical Žižekian trope– setting up the traditional reading of a philosopher as naive or idiotic and then reversing it. Yes, true enough.

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