One of the most amazing books ever published, January 28, 2015 By Don Salmon
This review is from: Mother's Agenda: Agenda of the Supramental Action upon Earth, 1951-1960 (Paperback)
Remarkable that nobody has reviewed this book yet. Read it without any preconceptions, with as quiet a mind as possible, opening yourself to the possibility of "seeing" a completely different world, one that is right here.
Don Salmon, 15th Apr 2015, 06.14 PM
As an American clinical psychologist living in a community (Asheville, North Carolina) where both NVC and RC are very popular, I'm glad to see these being used in Auroville.
Having said that, I feel deeply saddened that techniques aimed at what Sri Aurobindo characterized as the superficial, surface consciousness are not being adapted along the lines of the deeper integral yoga vision.
Jan (my wife) and I hope to be able to visit Auroville more regularly beginning some time in the next year or two. I've been hearing for many years that people in Auroville don't really spent time actually studying the writings of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. I am not so much of a cultist as to say, "You don't need NVC or RC - just read Mother and Sri Aurobindo".
But it is rather strange and perplexing that the Aurovillian approach seems so much the opposite - practice mindfulness, try out NVC, RC or whatever, and even if we borrow a bit from Integral Yoga (Awareness Through the Body) only take as much as can be made to accommodate to the surface, modern consciousness, with perhaps a mention or two of the psychic being thrown in.
I hope this changes substantially in the coming years, as I believe the lack of in-depth, deep attention to Integral Yoga is at the root of all the problems Auroville faces.
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Sri Aurobindo articulated what could be considered a truly post-metaphysical vision - Read more... .
INTEGRAL PSYCHOLOGYBEYOND WILBER-V Inviting Open-Minded Skepticism of the Materialist View Integral World Don Salmon
Taking "metaphysical" to mean intellectual speculation, it seems then that we already have a "post-metaphysical" spirituality in the form of the Indo-Tibetan tradition. What I think is really needed to further the scientific understanding of consciousness is a "post-metaphysical" science.
Physicist Paul Davies has written recently of the unspoken assumption on the part of many scientists that "laws of nature" are "immutable, absolute and universal". It is here, rather than in the yoga tradition, that you find purely intellectual speculation regarding what Ken Wilber refers to as "eternal, timeless structures". It is taking these "laws" to be ontological, objective realities that, in my estimation, reflects the error Wilber calls "the myth of the given". Davies refers to this attitude toward laws of nature as a "faith-based belief system"...
As I mentioned earlier, the reason for weak effects has been made clear in yogic texts for thousands of years, and the exposition of yoga psychology in our book explains in some detail both the basis for and obstacles to the accessibility of psi phenomena. I will also offer an experiment you can do for yourself that demonstrates why they are so difficult to access. Integral World Posted at 9:27 AM
Very good and important column. I think a number of caveats are on order. I’ve meditated and talked with people who practice various forms of meditation, contemplative prayer, and related practices for approximately 40 years. I would say, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the amount of time and effort people put into meditation/contemplation – rarely more than 20-30 minutes a day, and quite often not on a daily basis – will have very few negative effects. Of course, this also means it’s likely – unless they make a strong effort to integrate their individual practice with compassionate action, supporting their family, neighbors and community, living a healthy, responsible and dedicated life, the positive effects may not be so strong either.
As far as the negative effects of more intense practice go, I’m always mildly amused (though sometimes mildly annoyed) at the repeated (repeated ad nauseum) amazement of modern meditation researchers that some new discovery they’ve made turns out to be old knowledge. I call it the “law of secular exclusion.” First, you search through some contemplative tradition, East or West, leave out anything that looks vaguely threatening or even just too foreign to the modern mind (too religious, not religious enough, too supernatural, not supernatural enough, etc). You proclaim that, “yes, those medieval folks (European, Asian, whomever) may have had some insights, but we with our superior scientific knowledge know better.” You discover all kinds of positive things those primitive mystics didn’t know, and then you discover all kinds of negative things those primitives didn’t know.
Somewhere down the line, someone comes along who was never afraid of all those annoying, foreign, threatening things in the medieval/ancient traditions. It turns not, not only did they know most of this stuff all along (the dangers of contemplation/meditation, the subtleties of human development, mind-body interaction, how to conduct paranormal explorations, the source of genius, the nature of dreams, etc etc) but when you go just a bit deeper, it turns out that these primitive folks, without the benefit of “modern science,’ may actually have known all kinds of things our modern methods have simply excluded from our universe of knowledge.
I’ll conclude by mentioning that approximately 80 years ago, the Indian poet and yogi, Sri Aurobindo, wrote a wonderful letter to a disciple warning him of a host of dangers that can arise in the midst of dedicated practice of meditation.
You won’t find anything even remotely resembling this in any “scientific” study, because we don’t (yet!) have a scientific methodology adequate to the study of such things (remember St. Bernard’s statement that one’s method of study must be “adequate’ to that which one is studying – at least, I think it was St. Bernard of Clairvaux).
I wonder if this might not drive everyone here crazy….. but perhaps B.o.B. is not a liar or naive, but a radical empiricist along the lines of William James – he may be giving us a mahamudra view that the earth as flat or round may be a “conventional” truth but on the Absolute level, it is absurd.
See this from Ronald Nixon (a British man who later took the name “Krishna Prem”, the first Westerner to be accepted into the Vaishnava tradition in India and much admired by Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo)
“It is well that we should find time to pause and remember that the world as a thing in itself has no existence. We mean that there is no such thing as a solid globe of earth, spinning its way on an orbit around another globe called the sun in a detached, self-existing, and quite impersonal manner. Not withstanding all that may be written by scientists upon the nature of such a globe, there is no such thing. .. The descriptions of [the earth] as a globe and as moving on an elliptical orbit are convenient schematizations of our experience, but they are not more than that and should not be taken as such. … There is no floor on which we sit, no paper on which we write, no hand which guides the pen, no separate self which guides the hand… —Sri Krishna Prem, “Philosophy and Religion”
Don Salmon reviewed a product. Mar 11, 2015 Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality
The most important scientific book of the 21st century
“Beyond Physicalism” – the result of an expansion of the CTR group that produced “Irreducible Mind” – is, I believe, one of the most important signs in recent years of the impending global shift i...
Don Salmon reviewed a product. Mar 12, 2015 Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century - Essential reading if you want to know what mid-21st century science will be like, March 12, 2015 By Don Salmon
Now that “Beyond Physicalism” (the follow-up book to “Irreducible Mind”) is out, I would strongly recommend readers purchase both books. If you are someone in the intended audience, it’s going to be an enormous help to look at both books together – very much worth the price.
I’ve gone into great detail in my review of “Beyond Physicalism”, so I won’t say more about either book here. I just want to add one thing – I notice a number of reviewers expected a very different kind of book and ended up writing negative reviews as a result of their disappointment.
So you should know – both books are complex. They require a great deal of study. They are not intended to be “practice” or “self-help” books. If you’re looking for something practical (that is, to make personal changes in your day to day life) you probably won’t want to get these books.
However, if you want to see what science will be like by the middle of this century, it’s well worth the money to buy these. I wasn’t so sure when “Irreducible Mind” came out, but now that “Beyond Physicalism” has been released, I can say – at least, based on 45 years of study of these subjects – that this very much represents the leading edge of science. Together, these books represent – to me at least – the best books on the integration of science and spirituality I’ve ever read. Permalink
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One of the best books on yoga and meditation written in the 20th century By Don Salmon on January 20, 2016
This is one of the best and most accessible books on yoga and meditation written in the 20th century. Sri Krishna Prem was born Ronald Nixon. A science prodigy, educated at Cambridge, he became the first Westerner accepted into the Vaishnava order (devotees of Krishna) in India. He later developed a universal approach to spirituality, and was much admired by both Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo. I have shown his works to atheists and Christian theologians, and all have been deeply impressed by his prodigious knowledge and insight.
This book is a collection of essays, mostly written in the 1920s. The title essay, "Initiation Into Yoga," as well as the concluding one, "Religion and Philosophy" were immensely popular in India, as many seekers found themselves perhaps somewhat surprised as native Indians to be seeking out yogic guidance from a European - and a native of the British Empire, no less.
I first came across this book in 1977, and have returned to it regularly over the years. Just a few weeks ago, at a Jungian discussion group here in Asheville, I found that some passages from "Religion and Philosophy" were immensely helpful in clearing up some questions about Jungian archetypes and Platonic ideas. I've found various essays similarly helpful over the years in regard to questions about art, science, politics and many other areas of life.
But most important, reading Krishna Prem clears up so many misunderstandings that us modern folks have about the nature and practice of yoga. If you just spend some time reading the initial essay, you'll discover profundities and depths to the practice of "mindfulness" that are very difficult to find in any of the current literature, even the best such as the writings of B. Alan Wallace.
Once you've read this, if you have a sense of some personal connection to Krishna Prem, you might enjoy Dilip Kumar Roy's book, "Yogi Sri Krishna Prem." It is mostly a collection of letters written between Krishna Prem and Dilip over a period of 20-30 years. If that is not so much to your taste, but you enjoyed this book, I would urge you go to on to read his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, far and away the best commentary available in English except for Sri Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita, but much easier to understand than Sri Aurobindo's.
i've studied Prem's Gita commentary repeatedly since I first came across it in 1975 and it never fails to amaze. I hope you are able to get at least a glimpse of the beauty and wonder that was (and is!) Sri Krishna Prem. Comment
A very important, well-written and thoroughly enjoyable book, January 4, 2016
By Don Salmon This review is from: Infinite Awareness: The Awakening of a Scientific Mind (Hardcover) Permalink
This is a very important book. It is also a well-written book – and perhaps more important if you’re still not sure whether to buy it, a very enjoyable book to read.
Dr. Woollacutt, from a young age, had a deep interest in exploring the world. For years after becoming a scientist, she combined her exploration of the “outer” world with a deep, meditative exploration of the “inner” world of consciousness. After nearly a quarter century, she began to find ways to integrate these two. This book is the result of her successful efforts at this inner-outer integration.
The book reads as an “inner” adventure story. She shares poignant stories of her childhood and early years as a scientist/ meditator. Then she takes us slowly through a variety of “edge-science” explorations, including near-death experiences, solid, empirical research on “consciousness after death”, scientific explorations of “energy” healing – informed by her own experience, and several other very interesting, thoughtful and provocative areas.
Dr. Woollacutt, throughout the writing of her book, was supported by Ed Kelly’s group of scientists based in Charlottesville, VA. Dr. Kelly has written what I think is the single most important book in science today, “Beyond Physicalism.” His group has been meeting for 14 years, and in the last few years has come up with a well-integrated understanding of consciousness and evolution, inspired in large part by the work of 19th century philosopher/psychologist William James and educator Frederick Myers.
Dr. Woollacutt’s final chapter is a very well-done overview of the understanding that Kelly’s group has come to regarding the relationship of consciousness and the brain, making use of Myers’ and James’ “filter” theory (I might mention here that Bernardo Kastrup, in his unfortunately titled but otherwise very well-written book, “Why Materialism is Baloney”, also presents some very interesting and quite similar views of the consciousness-brain interface.)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable as well as very important book and I strongly recommend that anybody who is conscious and/or has a brain, get a copy as soon as possible!