Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Impeachment of Man

Woman Against Time: Remembering Savitri Devi's 100th Birthday
R.G. Fowler Libertarian Socialist News: overthrow.com 10/22/2005
Savitri Devi was a philosopher, a religious thinker, and a tireless activist on behalf of National Socialism, Indo-European paganism, vegetarianism, animal welfare, and deep ecology. She also dabbled in fiction- writing and espionage. In 1958, with the publication of her magnum opus, "The Lightning and the Sun," she emerged as one of the most original and influential National Socialist thinkers of the post World War II era.
Savitri Devi was born Maximine Portaz on 30 September 1905 in Lyons, France at 8:45 a.m. She died shortly after midnight on 22 October 1982 in Sible Hedingham, Essex, England. Of English, Greek, and Italian ancestry, she described her nationality as "Indo-European." Savitri Devi had remarkable intellectual gifts, which she manifested at an early age. As a young child she learned French and English from her parents, then taught herself Modern Greek and some Ancient Greek. In time she became fluent in seven languages (English, French, Modern Greek, German, Icelandic, Hindi, and Bengali) and had knowledge of several others (e.g., Ancient Greek, Italian, Urdu, and other Indian languages). Savitri Devi also earned two Masters Degrees, in philosophy and physics- chemistry, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Lyons. Her first two books were her doctoral dissertations: "Essai-critique sur Théophile Kaïris" (Critical Essay on Theophilius Kaïris) (Lyons: Maximine Portaz, 1935) and "La simplicité mathématique" (Mathematical Simplicity) (Lyons: Maximine Portaz, 1935).
Savitri Devi also had a vast knowledge of religion and history, particularly ancient history, as well as an amazing memory, particularly for dates and names. She was also a brilliant and mesmerizing teacher who could lecture at length on countless topics without reference to notes. A self-described "nationalist of every nation" and an Indo-European pagan revivalist, Savitri Devi embraced National Socialism in 1929 while in Palestine. In 1935, she traveled to India to experience in Hinduism the last living remnants of the Indo-European pagan religious tradition. Settling eventually in Calcutta, she worked for the Hindu nationalist movement, which defended Hindu tradition from all universalistic and egalitarian ideologies, such as Christianity, Islam, Communism, and liberal democracy. In 1939, Savitri Devi married a Bengali Brahmin, the pro-Axis publisher Asit Krishna Mukherji (1903-1977). During World War II, she and her husband spied for the Japanese.
In 1935, while studying at Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan Ashram in Bengal, Maximine Portaz, at the suggestion of some fellow students, took the pen name Savitri Devi. Another focus of Savitri's interest while in India was a fellow sun- worshipper, the Ancient Egyptian "Heretic Pharaoh" Akhnaton (14th century BC), who was surely one of the most remarkable and enigmatic personalities in history. Nearly 60 years later, "Son of the Sun" is still one of the best books on Akhnaton. It is beautifully written, with a novelist's eye for concrete and colorful details. It is rigorously researched, drawing on all the relevant literature of the time.
Savitri revered National Socialist Germany as a Holy Land for all Aryans. But she never saw it during its glory days. Her first glimpse of it was in 1948, in ruins. Savitri's greatest work is "The Lightning and the Sun" (1958), which synthesizes National Socialism and the Aryan cyclical theory of history and advances the stunning claim that Adolf Hitler was an avatar — a human incarnation — of the Hindu god Vishnu, the sustainer of order. Savitri Devi was also a passionate crusader for vegetarianism, animal welfare, and deep ecology. She summarized her views on these matters in "Impeachment of Man." Savitri's other writings include "Souvenirs et réflexions d’une Aryenne" (Memories and Reflections of an Aryan Woman) (Calcutta: Savitri Devi Mukherji, 1976), her most comprehensive presentation of her philosophy.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Federation of the Earth

Crossroads Of Religions: Quantum Resolution of Truth
Dr. Chitta R. Goswami
Sri Aurobindo, a preeminent leader of Indian struggle for freedom during the first decade of the last century, was engaged in envisioning the future of mankind during the second decade of the century. He came to the idea, while observing the progress of World War I, that unless war was prevented human progress would be seriously hampered. He advocated the formation of a world government for making war a thing of the past. He speculated by what process world government could be a reality and what form the anticipated government could reasonably take.
After the end of the War a number of concerned thinkers of Europe, who were shocked by the colossal destruction brought about by the war, began to device a mechanism as would prevent another carnage. Establishment of an international body called The League of Nations was proposed under the earnest leadership of American President Woodrow Wilson, an idealist and a man of great learning. The League of Nations became a reality in 1919. But Mr. Wilson failed to persuade the Congress to become a member of this organization. America chose to remain an insular nation. League of Nation did quite a few good things; but it could not prevent another war breaking out within twenty years.
World War II broke out in 1939. It ended in 1945 with far greater devastation covering the entire world. In the earlier war the death toll was terrible; aerial bombing as well as chemical weapons were used. The second war ended with the dropping of two Atomic bombs killing one hundred thousand Japanese. With initiative taken by F D Roosevelt United Nations Charter was prepared; in 1945 U N O was inaugurated with a handful of free nations as members. Membership has now grown to one hundred and ninety one. With the production of Atomic bombs in 1949 by Soviet Union, Cold War started in right earnest. Third World War has been averted, but so many proxy wars have actually been fought; the process is still continuing; so is the draining of natural resources.
Two Harvard jurists came up with protracted deliberations with a book entitled Complete Disarmament with Full Inspection. The book was circulated widely in original and in numerous translations. There was a chance for a breakthrough as Khrushchev, the Soviet leader was in a favorable disposition, but eventually nothing happened. That was in 1959. In early seventies a few followers of Sri Aurobindo, in collaboration with a number of pacifist organizations in Europe, met in several sessions and produced a document entitled Constitution for the Federation of the Earth. This group met in Europe and North America to press the urgency of a broad-based world government. Unfortunately, attendance at these meetings was negligible.
The great sage and philosopher of modern India, Sri Aurobindo who has written with a strong conviction the inevitability of man’s evolution into a higher type of existence, has nonetheless characterized the present state of our existence as ‘civilized barbarism’. Just think of what is going on right now: wars, race riots, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, starvation and malnutrition for many; on the other hand a small number of people are wallowing in wealth. half the people of the world are living under some sort of autocratic rule; even democracies getting compromised by corruption; environment of the entire world getting polluted rapidly so on and so forth. How then do we expect a turn around to take place? How can all values be transformed? Grim facts noted above form but one side of the coin. If we consider the other side we may not yet lose hope. Let us think of the enormous strides taken toward progress during the twentieth century ended just a few years ago.
After the First World War some colonial powers, namely, Germany lost their colonial holdings. After World War II most colonial powers had to give up their rule over colonies gradually; the process came to completion by the end of the twentieth century. I grew up under British rule; India became free the year I graduated from High School. What an exhilaration myself and most others around me felt is beyond expression. Just try to contemplate what a marvelous transformation it was for hundreds of millions of people in many countries in Asia and Africa. Let us focus on some of the social issues: The apartheid in South Africa, the system of untouchability in India. Apartheid has been removed just a decade ago. It boggles my mind to think how a small white minority could continue to repress, torture and deprive millions of native African people of their basic human rights. It is so gratifying to think that the black leaders made a noble gesture of reconciliation with the white oppressors who are now an integral part of the South African citizenry. In India a small segment of the population was treated as untouchables. These are the people who were doing all kinds of dirty work, namely, carrying nightsoil from latrines, for the society. Instead of rewarding them for their services, Hindu society was treating them as though they were worse than animals.
The great Indian leader, Mohandas Gandhi, agitated against maltreatment of these people whom he designated as Harijans, meaning people of God. In the constitution framed and given effect to, three years after India became free in 1947, a new chapter opened for the Harijans. They have been given equal rights with all other citizens; to make it possible for them to take advantage of their legal rights. Seats have been reserved for them in schools, colleges, in legislatures and in the bureaucracy. Many other things are being done for them, like, removal of all barriers for them in the sphere of private life, namely, entrance into temples. As a noble gesture one qualified member of the community was elected as the President of India for five years. These measures suggest that general public have started to participate, at least mentally, in the life and feelings of neglected and oppressed people. This is how we get to truth. A few other remarkable features of the twentieth century are socialism, the human Rights Movement, and progress in science and technology leading to new consciousness.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mirra the occultist

"I was a downright atheist. Up to the age of twenty,- the very idea of God made me furious." Hearing Mirra, God in his heaven must have laughed in his beard.
He had other ideas about this young lady who said, "I believed in nothing but what I could touch and see." Mirra's hands were now to touch immaterial things, and the eyes she had so meticulously trained were now to become doors through which world after world would come bursting into sight.
God was ready with his cataract.
The floodgates were to be unlocked by Theon.
The rush of experiences would have swept anybody else off his feet. But Mirra was a young woman with both her feet on the ground. Mother told Satprem, "I don't think there's anyone more materialistic than I was, with my practical common sense and positivism.... The explanations I asked were always down-to-earth, and it seemed obvious to me that there's no need of any mystery, nothing of the sort -- you explain things materially."
Indeed, if you want inner experiences without becoming unbalanced, you need to stand on a solid base. Mirra was well equipped. "I had the most solid base -- no imaginings, no mystical atavism: my mother was very much an unbeliever and so was my father. Consequently, it was very good from an atavistic viewpoint -- positivism, materialism." But she did have a rare thing. "Only this: from my infancy, a will-to-perfection in any field whatever. A will-to-perfection and the sense of a limitless consciousness -- no end to one's own progress, or to one's capacity or to ones scope. This from my infancy." She had also another thing from her infancy, remember? "The feeling of a Light above the head, which began when I was very young, at the age of five, along with a will-to-perfection. The will-to-perfection... oh, whatever I did had always to be the best I could do."
However, at the same time, the outward person" could easily have said, 'God? What's this foolishness! He does not exist.' Mentally, an absolute refusal to believe in a 'God'."
This refusal stemmed from a sort of misunderstanding. "Up to the age of twenty-five or so, I knew of no other God than the God of religions, the God as men have made him, and I would not have him at any price. I denied his existence, but with the certainty that if such a God did exist, -- I detested him."
But the real God -- the Divine -- could no longer bear this estrangement from that rebellious Sweetness. "My return to the Divine came about through Theon, when I was first told, 'The Divine is within, there,"' Mother tapped her breast. "Then at once I felt, 'Yes, this is it."'
Who was Theon, that mysterious person? How did Mirra come to know about him and his teaching?
It was from Louis M. Themanlys, Matteo's college friend, that Mirra first heard about Theon and the Cosmic Philosophy. Sujata Nahar MIRRA THE OCCULTIST

Unity Church of Christianity

Madan Lal Goel
Even though Emerson and other transcendentalists met opposition in their time, their ideas have sprung forth a number of non-traditional Christian churches in America. These are called the New Thought or New Age churches. Examples include: the Unity Church of Christianity, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Science of Mind, Divine Science Church, Temple of the Universe, Self Realization Fellowship, and the Center for Spiritual Awareness.
Occasionally, I attend meetings of the Unity Church in Pensacola, Florida. I will describe here several of the Unity articles of faith. Unity Church was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1889.
  • 1. Unity members affirm the following statement of Truth at their Sunday service meetings: There is One Power and One Presence in the universe, God the Good, Omnipotent. Compare this statement with the opening line of Isa Upanishad: Isa Vasyam Idam Sarvam ---In the heart of everything, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord. Traditional Christianity posits a dual power: God and Satan. An Important Unity principle is that duality itself springs from God. Compare this statement of truth with another statement from the Upanishad: Brahman is Ekam Advityam, One without a Second.
  • 2. The founder of the Unity Church, Charles Fillmore and many of his followers believe in the theory of reincarnation. This is the belief that the Soul returns to express itself in another life until it finally gains divine perfection. Traditional Christianity posits a single life span for man and woman.
  • 3. Unity is non-sectarian. One does not have to give up one's religion in order to join Unity Church.
  • 4. Unity does not preach that Jesus was the only Begotten Son of God. Jesus is regarded as a way-shower. He showed how men ought to live.
  • 5. Prayer and meditation are an important part of Unity service meetings. For example, every Sunday service includes a 20-minute period of meditation.

Unity is one of the fastest growing churches in America. The story is told in The Unity Way by Marcus Bach (1982). SRI AUROBINDO ON THE FUTURE ROLE FOR INDIA / By Madan Lal Goel.- University of West FloridaPensacola, Fl 32514 (From http://uwf.edu/lgoel/pdf/sriaurobfutroleindiab.pdf)

Sri Aurobindo and Christianity

Winston Michael R.
Journal of Religious Thought. v51 n1, Summer 1994
One of the first things to be said about Sri Aurobindo is that he recognized what an important advance it would be in our thinking if we could discover the means to connect the personal religious experience--which is self-validating for the individual, though not necessarily for anyone else--to the modern world's larger but inherently non-religious analytical rationality. In the context of India's religious tradition this had implications more alarming for the devout than what may be thought of as similar, and generally unsuccessful, efforts to reconcile Christianity with the claims of the natural sciences.
He rejected the view of those Christians who focus on the promises of the hereafter, on the fulfillment of the individual soul as a reward for renouncing evil and following the positive imperatives of the Gospel. His objection is not based on a conviction that these views are spiritually false, but rather that their truth is partial. The error is not absolute; it is in the exaggeration of a part of the truth into an all-embracing reality. "The ascent of man into heaven is not the key," he wrote, "but rather his ascent here into the spirit and the descent also of the spirit into his normal humanity and the transformation of this earthly nature. For this and not some post-mortem salvation is the real new birth for which humanity waits as the crowning movement of its long, obscure and painful course."[14].
Moreover, in the mystical traditions of Western Christianity, and even in its pagan predecessors, there is extensive witnessing of the "bringing down of the spirit" to the individual. We recognize a dimension of this also in the Holiness and Pentecostal churches of contemporary Christianity. Yet Aurobindo's view is still different in his insistence that the complementary movements of spiritual evolution and involution are not to be thought of as sporadic moments of grace, but a continuing struggle to achieve a higher consciousnes that in fact transforms human nature. That, as he saw it, is the goal.
By positing the plasticity of human nature, not merely human behavior, Aurobindo confronts the contemporary Western Christian with the radical expectation of early Christianity that a new life, transformed by a higher spiritual power, is possible. To follow the implications of his logic, just as Buddhism's triumph placed Indian spirituality on the road to withdrawal from the material world, Christianity's compromise with secular power after the Emperor Constantine's conversion caused it to retreat from the conception that the spiritual imperative conveyed by Jesus of Nazareth was a fundamental call for the transformation of human life. That retreat, combined with the Pauline view of fallen human nature, is basic to the very modest expectations that conventional Western religious opinion has of the possibilities of human life.
Aurobindo's basic claim is that it is possible to break decisively from the compromise with the so-called realities of this world. For him, the achievement of a higher consciousness and human transformation is perfectly consistent with what we know of evolution from a scientific point of view, and equally consistent with what we know from the accumulated spiritual knowledge of mankind. This is not a gift to mankind, but the ultimate result of a progressive struggle between the burdens of what is and the intuition of what might be.

The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo

Winston Michael R.
Sri Aurobindo's ideas are difficult to place in categories derived from European philosophy and religion, since he is part of the Indian tradition which does not recognize a significant distinction between the two. Moreover, throughout the thirty-odd volumes that he wrote, he used, as one would expect, the technical language of Indian spiritual speculation, which continues to be a barrier to Westerners unfamiliar with the many layers of meaning and usage that have accumulated over the centuries in the various schools of Indian thought.
It would be wrong to think of Sri Aurobindo as a philosopher in the Western sense, though he was well acquainted with much of the Western philosophical tradition from his British education and his later reading. It would also be wrong to think of him as a conventional Indian "holy man," even though many in India regarded him as not only the most accomplished Yogi of his time, but also as the Avatar of a new age. It should also be added that it is misleading to think of him as primarily a "Hindu thinker." As one commentator on his work has pointed out: So-called "Hinduism" is an invention of the West; the Indian speaks only of "the eternal law," sanatana dharma, which he knows is not an Indian monopoly.
But I find equally unconvincing the attempt of some commentators to place Aurobindo in the systematic tradition of Western philosophy. McDermott, for example, maintains that in "its philosophic comprehensiveness, Sri Aurobindo's philosophy finds its contemporary Western analogue among the systematic thinkers--Royce, Bergson, Whitehead, and Heidegger; in its spiritual and autobiographic quality, it more closely resembles Kierkegaard and Buber, and perhaps Heidegger and Wittgenstein."[9]
Such a comparison, in my judgment, distorts by the very analogy that is intended to be helpful, since Aurobindo was clear that he was not developing a system for the sake of philosophical analysis or even constructing what one might strictly call a philosophical system. He believed himself to be engaged in a spiritual inquiry with the aim of making clear the weaknesses of current thinking about conflicts between the spiritual quest and functionalist materialism, and opening a new pathway for humanity.
The system, such as it is, is in reality no more than a clearing away of conceptual barriers to new ways of seeing the relationship of man to the natural environment and to the nonmaterial aspects of existence. He frequently finds a reasonable basis for recognizing that what appears to be inconsistent is actually compatible, or merely different aspects of the same reality, by recognizing subtle differentiations within expanded, more complex contexts. This is not dissimilar, as he said, from the actual methods of practicing scientists, as distinguished from the crude claims of scientism. In the history of science, conceptual progress has often derived from the recognition of analytical categories that were more complex yet more unifying than earlier conceptions.
During Aurobindo's lifetime this happened in physics, as the categories of Newtonian mechanics were found to be valid for one level of physical phenomena, but not for physical phenomena at the level of the atomic particle. Aurobindo was aware, it appears, of the new physics of Werner Heisenberg, the work of Arthur Eddington in relativity and quantum theory, and of James Jeans on radiation. In the years since, the conceptual categories that divided the biological and physical sciences, for example, have been supplanted by an entirely new understanding of the interdigitation of chemical, electrical, and physical processes. We take for granted disciplines such as biophysics or molecular biology in which old boundaries of thought have been supplanted by a greater unity of conception that recognizes increasingly the underlying interconnectedness of physical and biological processes once thought entirely separate.

The Life of Sri Aurobindo

Winston Michael R.
We are concerned today primarily with Aurobindo's ideas, but a brief account of his early life will help to locate him in the historical and cultural environment in which he evolved those ideas. Aravinda Ackroyd Ghose, as he was known in childhood, was born in Calcutta on August 15, 1872, the third of five children of Dr. Khrishnadahan Ghose, a physician prominent in the cultural life of Calcutta, and Swarnalata Devi Ghose. An enthusiastic admirer of England, Dr. Ghose insisted that his children have a complete English education, and took his three sons to England in 1879. For thirteen years the Ghose boys lived with English families and had no contact with India or theirs parents except through correspondence. Aurobindo lived in Manchester (1879-1884), London (1884-1892), and Cambridge (1890-1892), developing into brilliant student of Latin and Greek at St. Paul's School (London) and King's College, Cambridge University. As was often the case, the results of this thoroughly British imperial education were unpredictable. "It appears," Leonard Gordon has written, "that the fruits of Aurobindo's education were a thorough knowledge of several Western languages, an elegant English prose style, and an extreme hostility to the rulers of India."[3]
After his return to India in 1892, Aurobindo began a process often described as his "renationalization." He read the classics of Indian thought, studied Sanskrit, Gujarati, Marathi, and Bengali, and immersed himself in the contemporary cultural life of India. A professor of English at the College of Baroda from 1892 to 1906, he also served for a time as vice principal of the college, a perfectly respectable academic--to all outward appearances. He was also clandestinely becoming one of the leaders of the extremist wing of the Indian nationalist movement, causing historians to attach such odd-sounding labels to him as "the mystic patriot" and the "metaphysical revolutionary."
Prolific writer of political tracts, he urged Indians to follow the example of the violent American, French, Italian, and Irish revolutionaries, and was among the first of the Indian nationalists to recognize the need for creating a mass base for the generally elite nationalist movement.[4] From 1901 to about 1905, Aurobindo was also engaged in the establishment or extension of number of secret revolutionary groups in Bengal and other provinces. During these critical years he was convinced that religious ideas were essential for the overthrow of British power. He believed that the debilitation of India was a result of its masses not being aware of the potential power that could be derived from the unification of active individuals. The key to that realization was religious consciousness, since, in his thinking, the source of all strength was spiritual--"the one inexhaustible and imperishable source of all the others."[5]
In 1906 he left Baroda, ostensibly to become head of the Bengal National College, but more importantly to become more active in the nationalist agitation in India's most politically volatile province. There he helped to establish the nationalist paper Bande Mataram (I Bow to the Mother [Country]), and was associated with the more radical paper Yugantar (New Era). For a time he was leader of the faction attempting to displace the moderate leadership of the Indian National Congress and actively worked underground in preparation for an armed insurrection against British rule.[6].
The British authorities rightly regarded him as a dangerous man, and his writings were among the provocations for a crackdown, reflected in the Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908, which gave sweeping new powers to the authorities to jail allegedly seditious authors and speakers. In May 1908 he was arrested under suspicion of involvement in a terrorist bomb plot and imprisoned for a year, although he was eventually acquitted. A British government security report of the time said that Aurobindo was "the master-mind at the back of the whole extremist campaign in Bengal. He is not only a fluent and impressive writer, but an organizer of great ability and ingenuity; and it is probably to him more than anyone else that is due the extraordinary mingling of religion with politics which has imparted such a dangerous character to recent developments. ... [H]e is hopelessly irreconcilable."[7].
While in jail, Aurobindo had intense religious experiences that convinced him that his life was an instrument of God, with a global mission. From 1909, when he was released from prison, until 1910, he continued to write for newspapers; but he was undergoing a change in outlook, from political agitator to religious and cultural thinker. In 1910, just a step ahead of the police, he suddenly left British India for the French territory of Pondicherry by way of the French stronghold of Chandernagore. His political career was over. He devoted the remaining forty years of his life to religious and philosophical inquiry, building an ashram that was to become one of the most influential in India.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sri Aurobindo and world reconstruction

Winston, Michael R.
Aurobindo Ghose and world reconstruction
// Journal of Religious Thought. v51 n1, Summer 1994. Page: 7. Length: 17 page(s). Publisher: Journal of Religious Thought. ISSN: 0022-4235
In Aurobindo we find, in the first place, is not a fusion of philosophical-religious types, certainly the appearance of a new kind of thinker whose methods of spiritual inquiry derived from the Indian tradition, but with a completely new frame of intellectual reference, embracing modern science and the challenge of transcending the late nineteenth century conflict between religion and materialism, tradition and modernization.
I should begin by saying that I certainly do not think that my Baptist, A.M. E., Jewish, and Muslim friends should begin at once to study integral yoga. When Martin Luther King, Jr., began to preach and write of his application of the principles of Gandhian nonviolence to the brutal racial oppression of the American South, I was among the young skeptics who thought his importation of these ideas not only far-fetched but a needless confusion of the real issues which for me at the time were defined in terms of white political power and economic domination on the one hand, and the political powerlessness and poverty of the majority of Negroes on the other. We now know that I was wrong, though all the so-called realistic and hard-headed perspectives derivable from American history appeared to support my position.
With that example in mind, I would like to speculat about the possible application of some of Aurobindo's ideas to the contemporary world. At the close of World War II, there was much discussion of the "reconstruction" of Europe and other war-devastated areas of the world. In the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, there was the hope that a new era in human history was opening, since there was virtual consensus on the waste and futility of war. Instead of rebuilding the world for the liberation of humanity from poverty, disease and war, a substantial part of the productive resources of the globe went into the contest between the Soviet Union and its allies on one side, and the United States and its allies on the other.
It is fair to ask now: what is the connection between the social crisis in the United States, the threat of global impoverishment and instability, and generally obscure Indian thinker named Sri Aurobindo? What possibly places these enormous problems in the same context as the ideas of a solitary thinker who spent most of his life in an ashram in Pondicherry? The connection, as I see it, is our need to break radically with the assumptions which govern our thinking about the nature of human society and the possibilities of human life.
We are trapped, not only in categories of analysis developed at a time of the European domination of the world but by conviction that, in meeting the challenges of the material world, only material means, only force and power will be decisive. This is the so-called realist view. It is a view based on the faulty and superficial postulates of positivism and materialism. In our thinking about society, we have been unable to stretch our thinking to imagine a future that includes a spiritual breakthrough by human beings.
What I propose is that, in this period of exponentially expanding problems and severely strained resources, we need to rethink our ideas about the fundamental purposes of human life, of the place of the spiritual quest in the future of global society. Such thinking goes beyond our conventional religious categories. Even in those faiths that are universalistic in their claims, many find it difficult to embrace the full complexity of humanity. I such an endeavor, the thinking of a man like Aurobindo can bring us to the realization that the basic unity of mankind is not an abstraction devoid of reality, but a fundamental postulate for discovering our genuine possibilities as individuals and as communities.

The Physical being

The Physical faculty or part of the being, in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, refers not just to the physical body, but the body's consciousness as well. The body is just as conscious as the vital and mental parts of the being, only it is a different type of consciousness. One does not find the distinction of non-conscious body and conscious mind that characterises Western thought. A partial analogy might be made with the "Moving Center" of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky's "Fourth Way" philosophy and cosmology.
In Sri Aurobindo's reading of the Taittiriya Upanishad, the physical being (or perhaps just the Physical Purusha) is the anna-maya-atma - the self made of food. As with the other faculties or principles of the being, in Sri Aurobindo's integral psychology the Physical can be subdivided into finer sub-grades, some of which are only described briefly in letters or occasional refernces elsewhere. These might include:
  • the Inner physical - the physical component of the inner being, which is wider and more plastic than the outer physical body. This is also called the subtle physical
  • the True physical being - is the Purusha of the physical level, which is like the Inner Physical larger than the surface body consciousness and in touch with the a larger spiritual consciounsess.
  • the Mental Physical (similar to the Physical Mind - see "Mental")
  • the Vital Physical or Nervous Being (which seems to be equivalent to the Etheric body of western esotericism, and hence pertains to one of the subtle bodies
  • the Physical Proper or pure body consciousness, which represents the consciousness of the external physical body itself.

Like the other principles of man, the Physical not only shades upwards to higher ontological levels, but also downwards into the Subconscient, which equates to the Subconscious or Lower Unconscious, although Sri Aurobindo asserts that the Subconscient includes much more than the unconscious of (Freudian) psychology. And like all the faculties of the being, the Physical in all its aspects has to be transformed and spiritualised through the practice of Integral Yoga.

Reference: Sri Aurobindo, (1972), Letters on Yoga, Volumes 22, 23, and 24, 1972, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; External links The Course of Human Evolution - Growth Online.

Self and Society

William Irwin Thompson (born 1938) is a visionary cultural historian, social critic, yogi, and poet. He is especially interested in keeping alive the esoteric, humanistic, and spiritual traditions of mankind. He describes his writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient texts". Previously professor of humanities at Cornell, York University in Toronto, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he left for a more humanistic and spiritual quest. He has lived for part of the year in Europe in recent years. Thompson's son is Evan Thompson, cognitive scientist and professor of philosophy.
Thompson is especially influenced by Hindu Vedantin Sri Aurobindo, Swiss cultural historian Jean Gebser, and media ecologist Marshall McLuhan. He has practiced Paramahansa Yogananda's Kriya yoga for decades. His objective is to create a "a metaindustrial horizon for our future" by showing the continuity between historical forms of mysticism and contemporary global political, social, economic, and cultural trends.
Thompson has expressed admiration for the esoteric philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the mystical evolutionism of Teilhard de Chardin, the Mother Goddess anthropology of Marija Gimbutas, the biological epistemology of Francisco Varela, the endosymbiotic theory of evolution of Lynn Margulis, the complex systems thought of Stuart Kauffman, and mystic David Spangler.
Thompson is especially fascinated by Sumerian epics, including How Inanna brought the mes from Eridu to Uruk, Inanna's descent to the Netherworld, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. He sees these epics as formative of Western Civilization. He has also written on Venus figurines and the Paleolithic Great Mother goddess cult, artifacts from Çatal Hüyük, the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish, the Hindu Rig Veda, Ramayana, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Tao te Ching. He has written book-length treatments of the Easter Rising of 1916 and Quetzalcoatl.
Thompson considers fellow Irishman James Joyce's stylistically experimental novel Finnegans Wake to be "the ultimate novel, indeed, the ultimate book," and the climactic artistic work of the modern period and the rational mentality. Thompson is fascinated by Los Angeles, where he grew up, and Disneyland, which he considers to be LA's essence.
Thompson sees the contemporary period as a dark age, characterized by unpredictable climate patterns and storms, the worldwide emergence of new viruses, and terrorism. This dark age (hopefully) precedes Gebser's integral period, which will be characterized by a planetary consciousness, a noetic polity, and a chaos-dynamical mentality. However, Thompson believes that another possible – indeed likely – outcome is the destruction of human civilization through techno-tribal warfare and/or environmental catastrophe. If that happens, he believes that cosmic evolution will continue, eventually lifting another species or entity to advanced intellectual and spiritual levels.
Thompson has harshly criticized the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber, postmodern literary criticism, artificial intelligence and the technological futurism of Raymond Kurzweil, the contemporary philosophy of mind theories of Daniel Dennett and Paul Churchland, and the astrobiological cosmogony of Zecharia Stichin. He has also dismissed the approaches of "nihilist" Friedrich Nietzsche, Harold Bloom, and Allan Bloom as irrelevant to the crisis of the present age. Contents[hide]1 Teachings 2 Lindisfarne 3 Quotations 4 Works 5 External links 5.1 Essays and poems by Thompson 5.2 Essays about Thompson

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Impossible Body

Bojana Kunsttitle
In 1946 Paul Varléry writes the essay Réflexions sur le corps, in which he claims that everyone of us has at least three bodies in mind.
  • The first body is therefore "my body", marked by pure experience without history. It is a body of the present, it gives us a feeling of presence that is not merely present but also potential. We are in the possession of that body every single moment and for us it represents the most important object in the world.
  • The second body is the one that others see, it is an approximation facing us from portraits and mirrors. It is a body with a form, appreciated by craft and by art.
  • The third body is the body we know and we can only get to know it by dissecting and decomposing it to parts; that is therefore the body of science and observation.
  • Valéry, however, also suggests the Fourth body, the body that could be called "the Real body or an identical Imaginary body". The Fourth body represents everything that the first three are not, although it always appears together with them.

Our notions, our ideas emerge from characteristics and experience of the first three bodies but gain at least a visage of meaning through presupposition of an unknown object, a certain non-existence, a peculiar incarnation of which the Fourth body is. This is the body that can help provide an insight to the essential questions dealing with death, the source of life, freedom etc., since it is this body that is implied in all those questions. Valéry's Fourth body is therefore the one that constantly exists parallel to (within) body as subject (experience) and object, and it is as inextricable from it as "a whirlpool from the liquid that creates it".

The Fourth body is the real/imaginary body that always shakes the unity of each body and breaks every discourse about that unity. It is what is not but could be, nevertheless always somehow present in the images we have about the body, in our fears, in our desires and the speech we address our body and the bodies of others with. The poet's Fourth body is therefore a field where both horror of death and the joy of life are mirrored; the elusive entity unceasingly making us question and long. It is the unstable entity forming the basis for the production of bodily images and understanding of the body, always showing how the body is necessarily bound to something else and not to itself. Only by employing its elusive language, we can start talking about things concerning the body.

Taking into account Freud's suggestion that throughout the history, art is the one soothing our primeval sorrow at the fact that "we shall never completely master nature; and our bodily organism, itself a part of that nature, will always remain a transient structure with a limited capacity for adaptation and achievement" ; we can observe different modes in which the artificial enters to soothe that primeval sorrow; enters, of course, with all of its paradoxes and characteristics I will attempt to follow in this book. The impossible body is then the one to which the artificial offers the basic illusion that it can become possible and which with its characteristics becomes an ideal model of every day bodies. The illusion is a paradoxical one - on the one hand, it introduces new forms and possibilities of representation but it presupposes the non-existence of the body as such on the other.

Exploring the production of bodily images, I pay special attention to theatre; theatre is namely the artform, which throughout the history most consistently pursued the desire for impossible bodies. The representational dictate of the mechanic structure was most obviously recognized by the Romantics who were first to point to the relation between the form of the human body and mechanic form that seems to fit the criteria of the aesthetic representation much better than the unpredictable human body.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

from Slowly

Lyn Hejinian
Subjectivity even if not of the curling sky is my duration
All day subjectivity is an endurance awaiting objects for a minute digressing
And it hopes for objects eager and unbaffled in spaces somewhere near eye level to greet it with comprehension during its waking hours
Everyone knows that in the dream called "Will My Sprit Live On When I'm Dead" as in the dream called "Will I Be Fired" and the dream called "Do You Only Pretend To Love Me" there are no objects
In the dream called "One Who Is Poor Passes By Inch By Inch" there is no object
Subjectivity at night must last hours with nothing to judge but itself
The walls of the hemispheres face and this produces life to closed admiring eyes
We regularly anticipate this moment at around this hour underway gradually

Images are emitted which through fear I might gradually miss wincing and blinking piecemeal bit by bit
Yet I know that now the day is running well and paralleling yesterday inch by inch

But we'll never get to tomorrow this way
It is under other terms
The fists at the end of the hands strike already
Slowly there are bends in the bank to what happens
Between the two shores down comes a sound track
We get music which is time moving loudly

HOME Electronic Poetry Center

Jean-Luc Nancy and Lyn Hejinian

“[E]verything,” Jean-Luc Nancy writes, is “always inscribed by change and becoming, always carrying the many marks of this inscription.”[8] Bringing Jean-Luc Nancy’s ideas and Lyn Hejinian’s writings into a space of meeting provokes a resonant and extremely productive dialogue. Both Nancy and Hejinian are concerned with the how of being, a core matter of ethical thinking; and with matters of commonality, or to use Nancy’s phrase, with situations and conditions of “being in common.”[9] Both thinkers situate their ethical inquiries alongside and within appraisals of worldliness — Hejinian examines the “in and as” attributes of our “relationship with the world,” while Nancy advances a thesis about “being-toward-the-world.”[10] I want to consider several questions that appear in a ghostly middle ground, or at a border crossing, between the inquiries of Nancy and Hejinian. What does it mean, following Nancy, to be always in-becoming, and how does Hejinian’s work face or generate that concept? Circumscribed by continual change or moment-to-moment negotiation, what might a poetics of encounter look like, and what might it offer for an encounter with ethics?
We have no other experience of living than encounters, suggests Hejinian in “Some Notes toward a Poetics.” “Points of contact or linkages” are the sites of encounter; and in complement, an encounter brings a linkage into being, while existing as a temporary moment of placement on a shifting plane. Imagined further, each encounter is an instance of mutual contextualization, and might thus be interpreted as a literal and reciprocal nexus with an other being. Perhaps, following Nancy’s explorations in a work entitled Being Singular Plural, encounters might be readily observable moments of being with-one-another (etant l’un-avec-l’autre) or being in co-existence.[11]
To Lyn Hejinian’s way of thinking, encounters consequently offer the most pleasurably rich and incontrovertible scope for an ethical poetry, and for a poetry that acknowledges and finds its community. Within an ontology of linkages, described by Nancy as a co-ontology, a ground between subjects — interrelationship itself — becomes a preeminent concern. And within our meetings and links, Hejinian writes, we might discover and make manifest “our reasons to do what we do,” our ethical codes and occupations. by Kate Fagan

Friday, November 18, 2005

Paul de Man's revaluation of early Romanticism

Paul de Man (1919-83)'s writings, which came to be associated with Deconstruction but might best be characterized as "rhetorical reading," focuses on reading as it arises from the rhetorical character of any text- its possibility of having a figural as well as a literal meaning. Like Jacques Derrida's, de Man's work brings to the fore questions of language; he writes that "the advent of theory . . . occurs with the introduction of linguistic terminology in the metalanguage about literature," when historical and aesthetic considerations give place to linguistic ones (Resistance 8).
De Man's own chief contribution to literary history is the revaluation of early Romanticism as the decisive, not yet superseded moment of the modern period. Essays written between 1956 and 1983 gathered in The Rhetoric of Romanticism read Friedrich Hölderlin, Rousseau, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, W. B. Yeats, Charles Baudelaire, and Heinrich von Kleist; complementary to them are rhetorical readings of texts of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, and G. W. F. Hegel gathered in Aesthetic Ideology, focused on the concept of the sublime and on the function and status of the category of the aesthetic.
The concept of materiality that emerges through these readings is connected by de Man with the concept of history as irreversible occurrence. Close consideration of the category of the aesthetic in Kant and Hegel and of a literary text staging the Schillerian notions of "aesthetic education" and the "aesthetic state" (Kleist's "On the Marionette Theater") leads de Man to diagnose and indict, as a fundamental strategy of the aesthetic ideology he links with the totalitarian state, "aesthetic formalization": the aesthetification, as a satisfying, recognizable form, of the formal, mechanical, arbitrary, and contradictory processes of language. Cynthia Chase The Johns Hopkins University Press

QUALIA: What it is like to have an experience

Qualia include the ways things look, sound and smell, the way it feels to have a pain, and more generally, what it's like to have experiential mental states. (‘Qualia’ is the plural of ‘quale’.) Qualia are experiential properties of sensations, feelings, perceptions and, more controversially, thoughts and desires as well. But, so defined, who could deny that qualia exist? Although the existence of subjective experience is not (or anyway should not be) controversial, ‘quale’—which is more clearly a technical term than ‘subjective experience’ is more often used by those who are inclined to reject the common-sense conception of subjective experience. Here is a first approximation to a statement of what is controversial: whether the phenomenology of experience can be exhaustively analyzed in intentional, functional or purely cognitive terms.
Feelings and experiences vary widely. For example, I run my fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry. In each of these cases, I am the subject of a mental state with a very distinctive subjective character. There is something it is like for me to undergo each state, some phenomenology that it has. Philosophers often use the term ‘qualia’ (singular ‘quale’) to refer to the introspectively accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives. In this standard, broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are qualia. Disagreement typically centers on which mental states have qualia, whether qualia are intrinsic qualities of their bearers, and how qualia relate to the physical world both inside and outside the head. The status of qualia is hotly debated in philosophy largely because it is central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness. Qualia are at the very heart of the mind-body problem.

We are all in therapy all the time

"Therapy, or analysis, is not only something that analysts do to patients; it is a process that goes on intermittently in our individual soul-searching, our attempts at understanding our complexities, the critical attacks, prescriptions, and encouragements we give ourselves. We are all in therapy all the time insofar as we are involved in soul-making." - James Hillman, Re-visioning Psychology
James Hillman's Archetypal Psychology is inspired by Carl Jung, yet Hillman, in the spirit of Jung himself, moves beyond him to develop a rich, complex, and poetic basis for a psychology of psyche as "soul." Hillman's writings are of the most innovative, provocative and insightful of any psychologist this century, including Freud himself. What makes Hillman's work so important is its emphasis on psychology as a way of seeing, a way of imaging, a way of envisioning being human. His work is truly originary and involves a radical "re-visioning" of psychology as a human science. Hillman's roots are mostly classical, but in the service of retrieving what has been lost to psychology and, thus, in the service of psychology's future disclosure of "psyche" or "soul."
Soul-making is a method, a way of seeing, and this cannot be forgotten. Hillman's roots include Renaissance Humanism, the early Greeks, existentialism and phenomenology. His thought is rhetorical in the best sense of the word; thus, imaginative, literary, poetic, metaphorical, ingenius, and persuasive. If nothing else, one cannot read Hillman without being moved. Hillman's work is "soul-making" and, in this sense, psychological (the "logos" of the "psyche") in the truest sense of the word. Hillman listens to the saying of the soul, and it speaks in his writing through him. Of Hillman's use of the term "soul," Thomas Moore writes:
"Hillman likes the word for a number of reasons. It eludes reductionistic definition: it expresses the mystery of human life; and it connects psychology to religion, love, death, and destiny. It suggests depth, and Hillman sees himself directly in the line of depth psychology, going all the way back to Heraclitus, who observed that one could never discover the extent of the soul, no matter how many paths one traveled, so profound in its nature. Whenever Hillman uses the forms psychology, psychologizing, and psychological, he intends a reference to depth and mystery."
For Hillman, "soul" is about multiplicity and ambiguity, and about being polytheistic; it belongs to the night-world of dreams where the lines across the phenomenal field are not so clearly drawn. Soul pathologizes: "it gets us into trouble," as Moore writes, "it interferes with the smooth running of life, it obstructs attempts to understand, and it seems to make relationships impossible." While spirit seeks unity and harmony, soul is in the vales, the depths. In his magnum opus, Re-Visioning Psychology, Hillman writes of "soul":
"By soul I mean, first of all, a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment -- and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground. It is as if consciousness rests upon a self-sustaining and imagining substrate -- an inner place or deeper person or ongoing presence -- that is simply there even when all our subjectivity, ego, and consciousness go into eclipse. Soul appears as a factor independent of the events in which we are immersed. Though I cannot identify soul with anything else, I also can never grasp it apart from other things, perhaps because it is like a reflection in a flowing mirror, or like the moon which mediates only borrowed light. But just this peculiar and paradoxical intervening variable gives on the sense of having or being soul. However intangible and indefinable it is, soul carries highest importance in hierarchies of human values, frequently being identified with the principle of life and even of divinity.
In another attempt upon the idea of soul I suggest that the word refers to that unknown component which makes meaning possible, turns events into experiences, is communicated in love, and has a religious concern. These four qualifications I had already put forth some years ago. I had begun to use the term freely, usually interchangeably with psyche (from Greek) and anima (from Latin). Now I am adding three necessary modifications. First, soul refers to the deepening of events into experiences; second, the significance of soul makes possible, whether in love or in religious concern, derives from its special relation with death. And third, by soul I mean the imaginative possibility in our natures, the experiencing through reflective speculation, dream, image, fantasy -- that mode which recognizes all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical." James Hillman Web Site

Plato and Jung

Plato and Jung differ on a very important point, that is, personifying. Classical greek culture is responsible for the disembodiment of pagan divinities : what the Archaic Greeks would have called divinities, became with Plato : "ideas", "forms" and "archetypes". There, the goddess Themis became the concept of law, the god Apollo was replaced by an abstract idea of beauty, every god and goddess lost his or her body and became a concept. Plato was fitted to become the main philosopher of Christianism, followed by Aristotle, because not only did he dis-embody pagan divinities, but he also was one of the first (after Parmenide and Xenophane ) to speak of God as a unified, unique concept.
Jung's contribution goes the opposite way: he worked to re-personify, and to multiply the figures of divinities. Hillman and his collegues in archetypal psychology now give to that movement an even more radical twist. From Plato to Jung, and from Jung to Hillman, there is a reversal of perspective about personifying, which is after all the process of giving body to a concept.
That is why, when Goldenberg presents archetypal psychology as a source of comptempt for bodily life, I believe she is right if she is thinking about Plato's archetypes, but wrong if this criticism is adressed towards contemporary archetypal psychology. I think, as she does, that we loose a sense of our humanity when we are carried away by what she calls "purposeful identities outside of ourselves", meaning a belief in archetypes as if they were transcendental divinities ruling our lives from up there. But when she writes:
  • "Religion called them gods"
  • "Philosophy called them forms"
  • "Psychology (Jung) called them archetypes"

she is identifiyng Jung with Plato. Certainly Jung is partly responsible for that, because he refers to Plato himself. But by the process of re-personifying, Jung contributed to the re-embodiment of psychological concepts, and by doing so, he stressed the link between spiritual experience and bodily life.

One can "see through" Jung's psychology, the hidden christianism, especially in his notion of the self and individuation. Reading Jung is sometimes just like listening to a sermon. The junguian description of Self and Individuation certainly has a christian flavor. This is no problem if one finds, in the psychology of Jung, a new psychological dimension to one's christian religious beliefs. But those who made a move away from traditional beliefs, might feel manipulated by a certain use of the psychology of Jung. At one point, I felt, like Goldenberg, the need to stress that Freud really had a point when he wrote "The Future of an Illusion" , and exposed the alienation of religious dependency. In fact, Jung stood at the frontier between two worlds : born in the Christian faith, and an explorer of the pagan world, his psychology reflected those two influences. Ginette Paris

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Perspectives on Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry, Plays and Criticism

Edited by Amrita Paresh Patel and Jaydipsinh K. Dodiya
New Delhi, Sarup & Sons, 2002, x, 148 p., ISBN 81-7625-263-8.
Contents: Preface.
  • 1. Spacio-temporal transcendence in: Sri Aurobindo’s Sonnets/S. Ramaswamy.
  • 2. Mystical perspective of Sri Aurobindo’s short poems/Kaivalya Smart.
  • 3. Savitri—as an epic/D.S. Mishra.
  • 4. Savitri—its verse, diction, style and imagery/D.S. Mishra.
  • 5. The theme of love in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri/R. Saraswathi.
  • 6. The concept of death in Sri Aurobindo/R. Saraswathi.
  • 7. The poetic contour and context of Sri Aurobindo/Gajendra Kumar.
  • 8. Sri Aurobindo’s poetry : a journey from ‘Sicilian Olive Groves’ to the shores of the Ganges’/Uday Shankar Ojha.
  • 9. Sri Aurobindo’s plays and the principles of classicism/Amrita Paresh Patel.
  • 10. Sri Aurobindo’s dramatic romance rodogune: a study/Amrita Paresh Patel.
  • 11. Sri Aurobindo’s idealistic interpretation of the history of poetry in the Future poetry/Jagidhschandra Dave.
  • 12. Sri Aurobindo’s poetics/D.S. Mishra.
  • 13. An interpretation of Sri Aurobindo’s critical opinions in the Future Poetry/H. Kalpana.
  • 14. Sri Aurobindo : a poet-critic of prophetic dimensions/Gajendra Kumar.

"Sri Aurobindo’s undeniable greatness provides inspiration to publish the present anthology of research articles. It aims at demonstrating the genius of Sri Aurobindo by treating his work under three categories: (1) His poetry, (2) his plays, and (3) his literary criticism as it has appeared in The Future Poetry. The book, it is hoped, will create in the readers not only an interest in his literary work, but also an awareness about his message of integralism and its continued relevance for all times." (jacket)

American interest in Indian spirituality: Emerson and Thoreau

American interest in Indian spirituality traces back to the Transcendental Movement of the middle of the 19th century. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were the leaders of this Movement. Others included Margaret Fuller, Palmer Peabody, James Freeman Clark, and Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Henry David Thoreau is better known in India. This is because Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by Thoreau's short book, Civil Disobedience (1849). Ralph Waldo Emerson shows most clearly the influence of Hindu scriptures on him and his fellow thinkers.
In all nations there are minds which incline to dwell in the conception of the fundamental Unity. This tendency finds its highest expression in the religious writings of the East, and chiefly in the Indian Scriptures, in the Vedas, the Bhagavat Gita, and the Vishnu Purana... I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavat-Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.
His ideas about the nature of the soul and God parallel those found in Hindu scriptures, as is evident from the following. He talked of a divine presence that permeates the whole creation and all living things. Behind the appearances in the universe, there is a Reality of a Being and Consciousness which is One and Eternal. This One Reality is the Self of all things. God could best be found by looking inward into the core of one's being, into one's Soul. By living according to the dictates of an inner Will, one could transcend the materialist world of sense perception, the world of cause and effect. These ideas are best expressed in his lecture on the Oversoul, delivered at the Harvard Divinity School in 1844.

The transcendentalists believed that intuition rather than reason is the higher faculty. A mystical union with the Divine is the goal. The process of seeking unity with the Divine is inherently individualistic rather than congregational. Contemplative solitude is necessary. Henry David Thoreau lived in a 10x15 cabin on the banks of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. He lived deliberately in the tradition of ancient Vedic Rishis or seers. His observations are recorded in a short book, Walden (1854). Thoreau wrote: In the morning I bathe my Intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.
SRI AUROBINDO ON THE FUTURE ROLE FOR INDIA, Dr. Madan Lal Goel (also known as M. Lal Goel), University of West Florida, lgoel@uwf.edu , www.uwf.edu/lgoel

The scientific method: Freud and Marx

Freud was the first to acknowledge the fact that it is not possible to understand the complexities of the psyche, without resorting to multiplicity of structure. He proposed his trinity of the Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego. When speaking of Eros, Thanatos or Oedipus, he was also resorting to personifying, which did in fact contribute to the success of his theory. Everybody began to "believe" in Oedipus' complex, in Eros and Thanatos , almost unaware that this is a metaphoric device that gives some vitality to a concept. Yet we should not take these personified concepts more literally than the Ancient Greeks took their divinities.
But Freud, although convinced of the multiplicity of the psyche, and although he occasionally personified his concepts, never admitted that, he was speaking metaphorically and not scientifically. By his exclusive valuing of Science, Freud and today freudians, are heading right back to the same monotheistic ideal that Freud himself had criticised as oppressive. First, he wrote a remarkable analysis of the alienation that comes from rigid religious beliefs, but then he professed an absolute faith in Science. In the name of scientific truth , he transformed his theories into dogmas. Moreover, by his refusal to acknowledge his own subjectivity in the formation of his theories, he was at fault with the scientific method itself. Ginette Paris
It is helpful to look at Marx’s notion of scientific methodology. Marx, in this sense an heir to Plato, regards as a minimum necessary condition of any science, that it uncovers the reality behind the veil of appearance that conceals it. He claims that without this basic criterion science would be stripped of its legitimacy, because it would be useless to want to get to know something which is already obvious and known pre-scientifically. If scientists did not lift any veils to show what is concealed behind them, they would do something absolutely different than what science requires. They might engage in what Marx calls with reference to some forms of economics: vulgar science. If we follow Marx in taking astrology as a typical representative of such a "science" this idea becomes more feasible.
The basic criterion of separating appearance from reality is fulfilled with regard to most of the noteworthy scientific discoveries made in this field. Our senses perceive the sun as moving around the earth, our brain is just able to imagine the universe as being three dimensional and yet it is widely regarded as reasonable to think of the earth as in reality rotating around the sun and the universe as in reality being four dimensional. A central part of the scientificity of these discoveries seems to be- besides the way in which the investigations were carried out- that they present knowledge which goes beyond everyday appearance. The connection between scientific discoveries and resulting changes in belief systems, which is implied in the previous statements, namely that we accept a scientific theory as showing how things really are and thus attribute an objectivity to it which many of our everyday perceptions seem to lack, is important to keep in mind although it is obviously oversimplified for the present purpose.
One might object to the above mentioned analogy of astrology, that it is impertinent to abstractly attribute a methodological requirement to a diverse field of enterprises, which we for reasons of convenience put under the category of “sciences”, but which in reality do not share one fixed set of methodological rules. This is exactly what Marx is doing with regard to political economy in order to fill this abstract procedural rule with some content and show why the comparison to astrology is fitting. (2) The whole architecture of Capital mirrors this principle. Marx introduces a hypothetical thesis after being faced by a huge number of apparent economic data and later on shows how the postulated hypothesis is able to account for the data. by Mario Wenning

Polymorphously Perverse Nature Posted by larvalsubjects August 17, 2013
there is only nature, that nature looks far more like culture than the old theological concept of nature, and that nature is radically immanent, without teleology, norms, nor species or archetypes that govern what things ought to be.  Nature is auto-constructing without a constructor, not designed.
In short, we must build a concept of nature as polymorphously perverse and differential.  The polymorphous, of course, refers to that which is capable of taking on a variety of different forms.  Far from being characterized by ineluctability and necessity, life testifies to the essential plasticity and creativity of nature.  In a Freudian framework, the “perverse” refers to that which deviates from its aim.  For example, the oral drive is “perverse” in that it aims not at sustenance, but at the pleasure of orality.  The oral drive, as it were, subverts the teleology of the mouth and tongue.  In this regard, Freud gave us a non-teleological account of sexuality.  Despite all of is problems, the novelty of Freud’s account of sexuality lies in having decoupled the sexual and reproductive.  Within a Freudian framework, we reproduce because of sexuality– as an accidental by-product of sexuality –we do not have sexuality for the sake of reproduction.  Sexuality, in a Freudian framework, is inherently queer; even in heterosexual contexts.
Surprisingly, it was Darwin that taught us to think of life as inherently perverse and queer (although this message is often missed).  Despite the abuses to which evolutionary thought is endlessly subjected by things such as Spencer’s social darwinism and evolutionary biology, Darwin’s first step lay in erasing teleology.  Within a Darwinian framework, form does not follow function, but rather function follows form.  The eagle does not have keen sight for the sake of catching its prey, but rather because eagles have keen eyesight they are better able to catch their prey.  First, the function is the result of a particular form, of a particular feature of the organisms morphology.  The form is firstthere and then a use is found.  There is not first a pre-existent problem such as “the need to see prey” and then the production of a particular organ or feature of the body.  Moreover, more than one function can be found for one and the same form.  For example, it is said that lungs initially began as air sacs that ocean going organisms used to float.  They did not originally have a respiratory function.
Darwin’s second step consisted in erasing the category of species altogether.  This might come as a surprise given that the title of one of his books is The Origin of Species.  However, when we look at the details of Darwin’s thought we find that he is a radical ontological nominalist.  For Darwin, there are only individual organisms and no two of these organisms is exactly alike.  There are indeed resemblances between organisms, but there is no shared essence.  What we call a “species”, argues Darwin, is just a statistical generalization of resemblances between different individuals.  There is no additional thing– an essence or form –that exists over and above these individuals.  In this way, Darwin undermines one of the central foundations of the teleological premise at the heart of the premodern concept of nature.  Under the premodern concept of nature, individuals are copies of species.  Species are ideal forms, and individual differences that deviate from those ideal forms are treated as betrayals of the essence of the species.  In this way, the concept of species functions as a description, and norm, and a teleological draw or attractor of individuals.  In the Darwinian framework, everything is reversed.  Here the species is a statistical effect of individuals and has no causal power of its own.  Species are something that are constructed.  They are constructed both “culturally” through our classifications, but also “naturally” through processes like natural selection.
It is with Darwin’s third gesture that we encounter the perverse and differential dimension of Darwin’s evolutionary theory:  random mutation.  Individuals indeed produce copies of themselves through reproduction.  However, no copy is the same as the original or that from which it is copied.  ”Random”, of course, does not mean uncaused.  Random mutation is caused by all sorts of things ranging from chemicals in the environment to highly charged cosmic particles.  It’s as if, with respect to life, nature functioned like Husserl’s practice of “free variation”, exploring the possibilities of formfor their own sake.  This is the perversity of nature.  The mutation of form, its polymorphousness, is not explored for the sake of solving sort of problem such as seeing prey, but simply because.  There is no goal to it, save the endless exploration of form.  In this regard, random mutation resembles some features of modernist art, where features of style and form are foregrounded, while theme, message, purpose, and meaning are pushed into the background.  Nature itself is modernist.  Where the premodern concept of nature saw mutation as a deviant departure from the norm of the species, Darwin instead proposes that random mutation is itself the motor of “speciation”.  Individual difference is thus unshackled from a nomos that measures the degree to which it approximates the essential differences of the species, but instead becomes the generative principle of species.  It is in this regard that the modern concept of nature is differential and creative.  Every species is doomed to be erased because in the replication of individuals new differences, new vectors of speciation, are perpetually being produced.  In this regard, arguments such as Chan’s are immediately annulled, as individuals aren’t supposed to be anything, there is no “natural” norm they’re supposed to embody or exemplify, there is no “ought” of individual organisms.  Nature is queer.
The claim that culture and society are phenomena of nature is often met with raised eyebrows and even outrage.  This is because too many of us in the humanities continue to assume the premodern concept of nature.  When we hear such a thesis, we immediately think that it’s being suggested that we explain culture by reference to biology and evolutionary sociology and psychology.  However, nothing of the sort is being suggested.  First, the claim is that there is only nature, that everything is embedded in nature, and that there is no transcendent outside to nature such as that proposed by Platonic forms and dualistic theories of mind.  The social world is embedded in the natural world and is of the natural world. 

Psyche and Cinema: Hume, James, and Bergson

Ronald Schenk
Both film and psychoanalysis can be seen as ritualistic expressions of the central dynamic of the modern psyche - the tension between self and other, conscious and unconscious, projector and screen – each phenomenon taking place in its own darkly private setting. Whereas the movies show images literally projected onto a screen, in psychoanalysis patient and analyst reflect upon images they mutually "project" upon each other as "screens" which, in their mutual desiring, draw the images out. These images then lead to sequences of images remembered from the past, acted out in the present, as they point onward as intention into the future.
Theories of consciousness have approached this tension through metaphors reflecting the technology of vision. In the eighteenth century David Hume anticipated the technology of cinema with his assertion that the mind was "nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity and are in a perpetual flux and movement."[13] Hume's idea was remarkably accurate both as a description of consciousness and as a prefiguration of how movies work. In 1890 William James emphasized the continuous motion of consciousness, "we must simply say that thought goes on,"[14] and introduced the metaphor of the "stream of consciousness."
Consciousness, then does not appear to itself chopped up in bits…It is nothing jointed; it flows…In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life.[15] For James, following Heraclitus, consciousness was a stream which could be never be entered twice. Although there may appear to be several sources or personalities in an individual psyche, they were always the emanation of one self. "As the brain-changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views."[16] James used the zoetrope as metaphor in addressing the concern regarding the mind's creation of illusion. "Is consciousness really discontinuous…and does it only seem continuous to itself by an illusion analogous to that of the zoetrope?"[17] As the scientist Oliver Sacks observes, had James been writing a few years later, he might have used the analogy of the motion picture camera. "The technical and conceptual devices of cinema - zooming, fading, dissolving, omission, allusion, association and juxtaposition of all sorts – rather closely mimic (and perhaps are designed to mimic) the streamings and veerings of consciousness."[18]
In 1908 Henri Bergson published his book Creative Evolution in which he included a section on "The Cinematographic Mechanism of Thought, and the Mechanistic Illusion." We take snapshots, as it were, of the passing reality, and…we have only to string these on a becoming,…situated at the back of the apparatus of knowledge, in order to imitate what there is that is characteristic in this becoming itself….We hardly do anything else than set going a kind of cinematograph inside us….The mechanism of our ordinary knowledge is of a cinematographical kind.[19]
The images and analogies of Hume, James, and Bergson were confirmed more recently in the paper, "A Framework for Consciousness" published in Nature Neuroscience, 2/03 by contemporary neuroscientists Francis Crick and Christof Koch. From their studies of perception they conclude "conscious awareness(for vision) is a series of static snapshots, with motion 'painted' on them…(and) that perception occurs in discrete epochs."[20] Crick and Koch understand these discrete epochs to overlap, not in the retina as was thought by 19th century researchers of the persistence of vision, but in coalitions of neurons in the cortex. Ocular perception is like observing the moving frames of cinema.
When we are watching movies, three screenings are actually in play - the product of the filming which is being displayed on the theater screen, the physiological perception of the "flicks," and the meaning being made of the event by the consciousness of the observer. As Sacks writes, Every perception, every scene, is shaped by us, whether we intend it, know it, or not. We are the directors of the film we are making - but we are, equally, its subjects too; every frame, every moment is us, is ours - our forms (as Proust says) are outlined in each one, even if we have no existence, no reality, other than this.[21]
Both cinema and psychoanalysis express James' truth that "experience is remoulding us every moment,"[22] and Vishnu's truth that reality is staged, identity created, both to be discovered and revealed through a matrix of veils of imagination or movie screens.