October 31, 2005

Evolutionary Psychology

With the rise of evolutionary psychology over the last decade or so, and particularly with the adoption of an evolutionary perspective by someone as visible as Steven Pinker, many have begun to believe that the evolutionary stories told by evolutionary psychologists will revolutionize the way we think about human cognition, if it hasn't already (it obviously has for Pinker).
But is this true? I don't think it's obviously so. I'm not alone in thinking this, either. For the most part, cognitive psychologists have not jumped on the evolution bandwagon. What is it that they doubt? First, let's look at what evolutionary psychologists think evolutionary psychology brings to the table. Here's the opening to Leda Cosmides and John Tooby's primer on evolutionary psychology
The goal of research in evolutionary psychology is to discover and understand the design of the human mind. Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are put to use in research on the structure of the human mind. It is not an area of study, like vision, reasoning, or social behavior. It is a way of thinking about psychology that can be applied to any topic within it. [original emphasis]
In other words, evolutionary psychology is a paradigm that will allow us to understand the mind. Moreover, it is a paradigm designed to replace the naive paradigm that has dominated the psychological sciences since the days of William James. The paradigm approaches problems of the mind with 5 principles, which Cosmides and Tooby claim come from biology:
Principle 1. The brain is a physical system. It functions as a computer. Its circuits are designed to generate behavior that is appropriate to your environmental circumstances.
Principle 2. Our neural circuits were designed by natural selection to solve problems that our ancestors faced during our species' evolutionary history.
Principle 3. Consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg; most of what goes on in your mind is hidden from you. As a result, your conscious experience can mislead you into thinking that our circuitry is simpler that it really is. Most problems that you experience as easy to solve are very difficult to solve -- they require very complicated neural circuitry.
Principle 4. Different neural circuits are specialized for solving different adaptive problems.
Principle 5. Our modern skulls house a stone age mind.
The most common explanation for the usefuleness of an emphasis on 2 (given by Cosmides and Tooby, as well as other prominent evolutionary psychologists like Pinker and Buss) is that understanding the conditions under which human cognitive capacities evolved will help us to understand their functions, which will in turn help us to understand the capacities themselves. To sum up, most cognitive psychologists seem to feel that evolutionary considerations provide little insight into the mind. The best way to gain an understanding of cognition is to run experiments on modern subjects, and use the resulting data to form hypotheses. At most, evolutionary stories can tell us why human cognition works the way it does, but we don't need them to tell us how it works. To the extent that evolutionary stories have provided how exlanations, rather than why explanations, they have been either wrong or merely repeated what we already knew. posted by Chris @ Thursday, December 30, 2004 4 comments

October 30, 2005

Religious Cognition

A common theme that runs through the recent cognitive literature is that, contrary to the way scientists and philosophers have traditionally viewed religion, its cognitive aspects may actually be fairly mundane. As Justin Barrett writes1:
Are god-concepts much different from gorilla-concepts? Is performing a religious ritual a profoundly different action from sending a greeting card to a friend? Perhaps not. When considering the kind of cognitive resources required for representing and acquiring these concepts and actions, the sacred and the profane may be less discriminable than is commonly assumed... Much as language is naturally acquired as a result of cognitive preparedness plus exposure to a typical sociolinguistic environment, ordinary cognition plus exposure to an ordinary environment goes a long way towards explaining religion. (p. 29)
In this post, I want to focus on one particular theoretical framework for understanding religious cognition, as described in Scott Atran's In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion and Atran and Norenzayan's "Religion's evolutionary landscape: Counterintuition, commitment, compassion, communion." posted by Chris @ Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Habermas

Brian Leiter and Jerry Fodor had an email exchange in which they discussed the definition of analytic philosophy. In one of his remarks to Fodor, Leiter wonders whether philosophers like Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, or Habermas could be considered analytic philosophers, primarily for doctrinal reasons. While I think Hegel is out automatically, because "analytic" and "continental" are at least partially historical (anyone before Frege is neither), Husserl was certainly more similar to Frege or Russell, in the early years, than he was to the later Heidegger, much less Sartre or Derrida. Still, the influence of Husserl has been more widely felt among the "continentals" than the "analytics," and that's probably why he's referred to as one of the former rather than the latter. As for Heidegger, while his view of language may be compatible with some (not many!) analytic conceptions of language, he doesn't really embody any of the other properties of analytic philosohpers, so he's probably not someone we should include. Habermas is actually a good choice for an analytic philosopher, though, and if he were read by more analytic philosophers, I think they would probably agree. Why he's considered a continental philosopher, I'm not quite sure. It probably has something to do with his use of terms like "crisis," which are ordinarly pretty vague. However, in his hands, they become quite specific, and powerful at that. posted by Chris @ Friday, October 22, 2004

Baudelaire, Baudrillard,Bourdieu, Badiou

Baudelaire argued in favor of artificiality, stating that vice is natural in that it is selfish, while virtue is artificial because we must restrain our natural impulses in order to be good. The snobbish aesthete, the dandy, was for Baudelaire the ultimate hero and the best proof of an absolutely purposeless existence. He is a gentleman who never becomes vulgar and always preserves the cool smile of the stoic.
Baudrillard: What people are contemplating on their word-processor screens is the operation of their own brains. It is not entrails that we try to interpret these days, nor even hearts or facial expressions; it is, quite simply, the brain. We want to expose to view its billions of connections and watch it operating like a video-game. All this cerebral, electronic snobbery is hugely affected and this itself is a superstition. A M E R I C A
Bourdieu: The concept of habitus challenges the concept of free will, in that within a certain habitus at any one time, choices are not limitless—here are limited dispositions, or readinesses for action. There are limitless options for action that a person would never think of, and therefore those options don't really exist as possibilities. In normal social situations, a person relies upon a large store of scripts and a large store of knowledge, which present that person with a certain picture of the world and how she or he thinks to behave within it.
Badiou explains in detail in his major work to date L'Etre et l'événement (1988) that truths are militant processes which, beginning from a specific time and place within a situation, pursue the step-by-step transformation of that situation in line with new forms of broadly egalitarian principles. Only a pure commitment, one detached from any psychological, social or 'objective' mediation, can qualify as the adequate vehicle for a truth, but reciprocally, only a properly universal truth qualifies as worthy of such a commitment. Only a truth can 'induce' the subject of a genuine commitment.

Roy Bhaskar

Creativity, Love and Freedom
The Philosophy of meta-Reality ROY BHASKAR Centre for Critical Realism
This new, long awaited study, is the first and defining volume in which Roy Bhaskar, originator of the increasingly influential, interdisciplinary and international philosophy of critical realism, systematically presents and expounds the principles of his new philosophy of meta-Reality, a philosophy which is already the subject of worldwide attention and debate.Building on a radically new analysis of the self, human agency and society, Roy Bhaskar shows how the world of alienation and crisis we currently inhabit is sustained by the ground-state qualities of intelligence, creativity, love, a capacity for right-action and a potential for human self-realisation or fulfilment. He then demonstrates how transcendence and non-duality are necessary and ubiquitous features of all social interaction and human agency; and how these and connected features of human being and activity sustain the totality of the structures of the world of duality and oppression in which we live.
Moreover, meta-Reality argues that any objective an agent chooses in life will ultimately set him or her on a process or dialectic to self-realisation, entailing a commitment to universal self-realisation; and it shows how these goals or ideals are explicit or implicit in all emancipatory projects, of whatever political, social or religious declension. Furthermore they all imply the same principles of clarity and commitment to social transformation (on all the planes of social being), which Roy Bhaskar articulates here. In a very real sense he demonstrates how these principles, for the first time clearly elaborated here in meta-Reality, are indeed the culmination of all traditions of thought and practice oriented to human well-being, emancipation or flourishing

Zygmund Bauman

"If, as Freud postulated, modern society assails man's freedom by repressing his sexual expression, then the postmodern era can be said to be defined by the individual's quest for sublime happiness at the expense of security. Society has held to the concepts of beauty, purity, and order for centuries; now a new worldview has emerged with the individual at its nucleus." Zygmund Bauman, Postmodernity and Its Discontents.
Themes of ethics, morality and social tie in the works of Zygmund Bauman
Margarita Norkute, Magistrant of Sociology, Vilnius University

Zygmund Bauman (born. 1925) is one of the most famous representatives of contemporary British sociology, professor of Leeds University (England). As one of the most prominent postmodernal theorists, in his works he is interested in various phenomena and processes of nowadays social life - culture, politics, ethics and morality, freedom and many else.
1989, Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity Press.
1993, Postmodern Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.
1991. Modernity and Ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity Press.
1995. Life in Fragments: Essays in Postmodern Morality. Oxford: Blackwell.

October 29, 2005

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull By Richard Bach

Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar. Ultimately this is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe, or neighborhood finds your ambition threatening. (At one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock.) By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan gets the ultimate payoff: transcendence. Ultimately, he learns the meaning of love and kindness. Gail Hudson Amazon.com Home

Dal Sabzi for the Aatman

Dr Mangesh Nadkarni spoke to us on very interesting topics:
Wonders of the Mind
Western thinkers believed that the world was born 5000 years ago.
Indian Puranas claimed that Creation is 8.64 billion years old.
The ‘Big Bang Theory’ now says that the ‘Big Bang’ took place about 10 billion years ago.
Darwin’s Theory claims that life emerged from water and went on to become more intricate.
The Avataars in the Shrimad Bhaagvad claims a similar theory.
Relativity of Time
Indians knew about it long ago as is apparent from a story in ‘Yoga Vashishta’.
Modern Psychology was ‘simple’ until mid 19th Century.
The deep insights into the Human psyche as is described in Patanjali Sutras, boggles the mind.
Pingala discovered the 0 (zero) 2400 years ago (without which Mathematics and Computers would have become an impossibility).
Nobody has written a ‘grammar’ comparable to Pannini 2000 years ago…
Transhumanism.
Humans can become ‘Gods’ with the ‘help’ of Technology.
Humanists and Sri Aurobindo claim that Humans can live a perfect life through Spirituality:
Disease free, deathless…Transhumanism can harm, be destructive.
Man has to change from within. We may be able to reach the moon, but cannot conquer the negativities of the ego.
Mother said: Death is a bad habit. We can transcend it. Science is also claiming the same thing.
Vedic assumption: God is already involved in matter…a tree is more like God than matter…
Without matter’s permission, God cannot re-establish Himself.
Earth and Heaven must join.
Man has to rise to Divine Greatness.
Darwin has no answer as to how ‘life’ came from ‘non-life’.
Human life change without change of human nature is unnatural not impossible.

Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya, Dr Radhakrishnan and Sri Aurobindo

Of those who are in the forefront of philosophical thinking in modern india, three names deserve special mention: Sri Aurobindo, Acharya Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya and Acharya Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

The philosophy of Acharya Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya is great by virtue of its profound insights and its richness in extremely subtle analyses. But that philosophy has only one direction and it is not comprehensive.

The works of Acharya Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan betray amazing scholaship and his style is doubtless wonderful; but it is also true that his thought is not as profound as that of Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya or Sri Aurobindo.

The philosophy of Sri Aurobindo is free from both these limitations. It is extremely profound, yet wonderfully comprehensive. Though its nature is synthetic, it takes into account the details of universal existence. Penetrating analysis and sound logical argument are spontaneously evident everywhere while the style of this truely wise philosopher whose intelligence is fixed in the Truth is classical- controlled, beautiful, and noble.

In the philosophy of New India, Sri Aurobindo is ekamevadvitiyam, one without a second. Kali Das Bhattacharya, SA, A Garland of Tributes, Ed. Arabinda Basu

The Life Divine is a challenge

The justification for including Sri Aurobindo's philosophy under "the schools of Vedanta", if any justification were required, is that almost every page of The Life Divine is inspired by the creative vision of the seers of the Vedas and the sages of the Upanishads. As a free commentator on Vedanta, Sri Aurobindo comes after the great Acharyas of Vedanta, like Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhava, Vallabha and Nimbarka. The Life Divine is a challenge to the false notion that philosophy in India died after the 16th Century. Dr Chandradhar Sharma, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, MLBD

Barbara, Beatrice, Brian

Barbara Marx Hubbard, 1929-: This American futurist, author, and public speaker is pioneering a new spiritual paradigm called "Conscious Evolution."
Beatrice Bruteau, 1930-: A student of Hinduism and Catholicism, Bruteau has written numerous books about evolutionary theory and theology.
Brian Swimme, 1950-: A physicist, cosmologist, and author, whose popular works convey the epic grandeur and mystery of the evolutionary process.

J. B. Robinet, 1735-1820

A little-known French philosopher who was among the first to explore the temporal unfolding of the Great Chain of Being.
“The active power seems to be making efforts to raise itself above the extended, solid, impenetrable mass to which it is chained.... In man...it is evident that matter is only the organ through which the active principle brings its faculties to play. The former is an envelope which modifies the action of the latter, one without which it would perhaps act more freely, but also without which, perhaps, it could not act at all, and without which it assuredly could not render its activities sensible. Does it not, once more, seem that the active power grows and perfects itself in being, in proportion as it raises itself above matter?... At first it would be but the smallest portion of being. By a multiplication of efforts and progressive developments, it would succeed in becoming the principal part. I am strongly inclined to believe that this force is the most essential and the most universal attribute of being—and that matter is the organ whereby this force manifests its operations. If I am asked to define my conception of such a force, I shall answer, with a number of philosophers, that I represent it to myself as a tendency to change for the better.” (Vue philosophie de la gradation naturelle des formes de l'etre, 1768)

A Brief History of Evolutionary Spirituality

by Tom Huston
Evolution has always been a fundamentally spiritual concept. In fact, some of the first thinkers to seriously explore the topic—the German Idealists of the early 19th century—were mystic-philosophers who predated Darwin's Origin of Species by at least half a century. Writing in the year 1799, the 24-year-old philosophical wunderkind Friedrich Schelling summarized in a single sentence the profoundly original insight that was exciting him as well as his philosophical contemporaries (men like Immanuel Kant, J.G. Fichte, and Georg Hegel): “History as a whole,” he wrote, “is a progressive, gradually self-disclosing revelation of the Absolute.”
In other words, long before the Western worldview was shaken by theories of biological development by means of natural selection, a tour de force of metaphysical geniuses had already intuited that reality as a whole was, in some essential way, going somewhere. Nature—and humanity—had a purpose and a direction. And that direction was, as Hegel put it, towards ever-greater expressions of “universal Spirit” within the realm of time and space. Combining their mystical intuitions with the “clear light of reason,” the Idealists bridged the gap between God and humanity, between the transcendent and the immanent, forging a uniquely Western conception of human purpose and meaning. No longer were human beings seen to be simply adrift in a state of sin and suffering, having “fallen” away from the presence of God in the primordial past; instead, God was now understood to be in humanity's future, to be revealed in the world, with increasing depth and clarity, as human history marched forward and consciousness evolved. “God does not remain petrified and dead,” said Hegel. “The very stones cry out and raise themselves up to Spirit.”
Echoing that sentiment almost two centuries later, the American philosopher Ken Wilber wrote: “Both humans and rocks are equally Spirit, but only humans can consciously realize that fact, and between the rock and the human lies evolution.” And in the span between Wilber and Hegel reigned numerous champions of this revolutionary concept of “spiritual evolution” in both the East and the West. Foremost among these were the Indian philosopher-sage Sri Aurobindo, the French philosopher Henri Bergson, and the French paleontologist and Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Other key figures included the American essayist and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Austrian theosophical visionary Rudolph Steiner, and the German integral theorist Jean Gebser.
Writing in the first half of the 20th century, Bergson and Teilhard, in particular, are notable for taking the scientific understanding of evolution and running with it, tracing the development of the Divine through the cosmological, biological, psychosocial, and transcendent domains. Bergson's Creative Evolution, published in 1907, became a popular bestseller for its lucid, stream-of-thought consideration of the motive force behind the evolutionary process, which Bergson identified as consciousness itself. And Teilhard's masterwork, The Human Phenomenon, equally based its speculations on science, while emphasizing the back-and-forth interplay of individuality and collectivity over the course of cosmic history. Specifically, Teilhard saw the potential for human beings, like molecules and bacteria before them, to come together in a higher integration or “megasynthesis” of a new evolutionary potential. He wrote: “The way out for the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the superhuman, will not open ahead to the privileged few, or to a single people, elect among all peoples. They will yield only to the thrust of all together (even if it were from the influence and guidance of an elite) in the direction where all can rejoin and complete one another in a spiritual renewal of the Earth.”
Yet it was the work of the great Sri Aurobindo that, while following a similar thread to Bergson and Teilhard, brought an entirely new dimension to this burgeoning field— namely, translating the concept of spiritual evolution into a spiritual practice. After completing his studies in literature and philosophy at Cambridge in 1892, he became a leading figure in the Indian independence movement and was declared “the most dangerous man alive” by the British Empire, but eventually left the freedom fight to devote his life to exploring liberation of an altogether different kind. After experiencing a deep spiritual awakening, Aurobindo's consciousness opened onto a vision of human possibilities that saw the attainment of nirvana—typically held to be the goal of all mystical pursuits—as merely the beginning of a personal engagement with the evolutionary force that has been driving the cosmos forward since the dawn of creation. Leading his spiritual community in the practice of “integral yoga,” Aurobindo was the first to synthesize the modern understanding of evolution with the timeless revelation of enlightenment, and pioneered the idea that human beings are capable of aligning their lives with the trajectory and purpose of the universe itself.
Today, the notion that the evolutionary process is ultimately driven by a spiritual impulse is more popular and widely accepted than ever, with a growing number of progressive thinkers, scientists, and mystics exploring its implications. Yet to many it still remains little more than an alluring philosophy, its ultimate significance divorced from our daily lives. What would a human life based on the principles of an “evolutionary spirituality” look like? Freed from the mythic dogmatisms of premodern religion, transcending the materialistic biases of modern scientific thought, and liberated also from the narcissistic self-obsessions of postmodern spirituality, what kind of world might a universal, evolutionary spirituality—or a truly twenty-first century religion—create? As one of the few pioneers in this nascent field who is attempting to put the philosophy into real-world practice through his teachings of Evolutionary Enlightenment, Andrew Cohen is endeavoring to find out... The Evolutionary Enlightenment teachings of Andrew Cohen « back to historical context spiritofnow (spiritofnow) wrote,@ 2005-10-29
Worldviews: The Philosophy of Evolutionary Spirituality
Evolutionary spirituality is based on the notion that the Evolution of the Cosmos was preceded by the Involution, which is the descent of Spirit into matter. The Evolution of the Cosmos is the reverse process -- the emergence or ascent of Spirit from matter. The Involution goes from the Omnipresent Reality to manifest a universe for the delight of Being, creates the planes of mind, life, and matter, and then hides them before creation; whereas the Evolution is the reverse process where matter appears, where the plane of life emerges from matter, where mind emerges from life, and Spirit from mind, and in that process enables humankind to discover the delight of Becoming (using the evolutionary philosopher Sri Aurobindo's terminology here). In other words, this is a teleological view of cosmic Evolution (matter to life to mind to Spirit) -- the Cosmos itself being the unfolding or self-discovery of the Godhead, evolving to greater and greater levels of self-awareness, with humans, since they are self-conscious, being pivotal to this evolutionary process, which, it is claimed, will culminate in the divinisation and perfection of the Cosmos itself (this is the esoteric as opposed to exoteric understanding of terms such as "Kingdom of God", "Day of Judgment", "The Second Coming", etc.). To sum it up with a Sufi saying: God sleeps in the rock, Stirs in the plant, Dreams in the animal, And awakens in man.

Kautilya Institute

As early as 1919 Sri Aurobindo had written in The Foundations of India Culture (p.154) "we have both made mistakes. Europe has understood the lesson. She is admitting the light of the East, but on the basis of her own thinking and living, not abandoning her own truths of life and science and social ideals. We should be as faithful and free in our dealing with Indian spirit and modern influences, be if possible not less but more spiritual than were our forefathers. India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature, be keeping to her own Centre. This does not mean the rejection of everything new that comes to us."
There is a need to study the principal Upanishads from sociological perspective. Structuralism of Levi-Strauss and Lacan can be of much help in the study of Upanisadas, Ramayan and Mahabharat. I had planned once the study of Advaita Vedanta through Durkheimian approach. I see Levi-Strauss, Lacan and Focault as the improvement over Durkheimian approach now. Now, I am convinced that sociology has great potential. We can outgrow the colonial experience and distortion as a community of scholars. The French structuralist tradition and American sociological tradition is relatively an open ended system of discourse which can be useful in the advancement of a genuine understanding of India through indigenous sources. As a descriptive and as an institutionalised way of looking at society, culture and humanity sociology started in Indian with Manu smriti.
Modern sociology has refined some of the techniques of data collection and data interpretation. These techniques and methods can be of some help in the study and interpretation of Indian tradition. For example, recent studies by French scholars in the field of social history and mythology can be very useful in the study of our Puranas, Ramayan, Mahabharat and other myths, stories, kathas and akhyans. It is better to use tried and trusted methods of sociology than to rely on the commonsense, whims and wishes of self-proclaimed scholars of Indian tradition. After all it is the community of scholars who make sense of a particular type of intellectual discourse. The same "text' thus generates different types of intellectual discourses in different community of scholars and activists of cultural moments. Our aim is to develop our own sociology or a science of society. But we cannot develop this sociology from scratch. The problem of reading our texts and interpreting our tradition in contemporary language, conditions of communication, socialisation and transformation of ideas into interests is very much there. In such a context we will have to read selected Hindu texts of substance as well as methods by the appropriate (selective) use of modern (western) traditions of intellectual discourse.
For example, Weberian thesis of Hinduism is not very relevant for us but we cannot say the same for the Durkheimian attempt to understand the "Elementary forms of Religious life" and "Primitive Classification". In the same way, Parsonian pattern variables are easily dispensable but we will be a loser if we do not utilise the researches of E. E. Evans-Pritchard (African system of Politics and Nuer Religion etc.), Levi-Struss (Elementary Structures of Kinship and the three volumes of Mythologies), Focault (History of sexuality and Archeology of Knowledge etc), Toynbee, Will Durant, Spengler, Sorokin, Braudol and I. Berlin (Study of Civilisations), the classical political economy of Adam Smith, Marshall, Richardo and its valuable critique by Marx and Developmental Theorists.
Dr. Amit Kumar Sharma
Sociologist and Vedic Cosmologist Faculty Member, Centre for the study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110067
E-mail :
amit@kautilyainstitute.com amitjnu@yahoo.com

Nehru, Tagore & Sri Aurobindo

Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore & Aurobindo Ghosh : A Comparative Study in their Internationalism/M.T. Desai. 1999, 327 p., ISBN 81-87235-10-1.
Contents: 1. Introduction. 2. Jawaharlal Nehru's concept of internationalism. 3. Aurobindo Ghosh or Sri Aurobindo's concept of internationalism. 4. Rabindranath Tagore's concept of internationalism. 5. Comparison of the concept of internationalism of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore. 6. Conclusion. 7. Bibliography.
"It is a book which looks at the Internationalism of three eminent Indians, Jawaharlal Nehru a statesman. Rabindranath Tagore a poet and Sri Aurobindo an activist, a philosopher and a spiritual leader from comparative perspective. In this book a detailed study is made of their international thought and how they tried to promote internationalism in practice. The book also compares their internationalist perspective of these three with the western perspective. As the author rightly stresses, "the intenationalist orientation in Nehru. Tagore and Sri Aurobindo could be seen even before India had become a nation state". The author tries to examine the causes of this orientation with reference to their socio-cultural political background and the need of internationalism as felt by these great Indians in terms of world context and the Indian context. All the three also felt that India could make significant contribution to the cause of internationalism as it possessed certain assets and had responsibilities to fulfil." (jacket) [M.T. Desai is at Present Working as Professor and Head Department of Political Science, Gujarat University at Ahmedabad.] Return to History and Politics Catalogue Home

False Religion

THE NON-DUALITY OF SRI AUROBINDO AND THE MOTHER: A PROFILE
The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo Epitomizes False Religion
"Twentieth-century Hinduism has been chiefly characterized by attempts to purify and reform the doctrines of its medieval period, to deepen its spirituality, to reassert its moral dimension, and to inspire social reform. Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo, the founder of a spiritual community and a Communist, were significant in such ventures. Aurobindo has been compared with the French Jesuit paleontologist and theologian Thielhard de Chardin insofar as both have a repeated experience of cosmic consciousness and a profound belief in evolution, both of which point to a divinization of man." (Encyclopedia Britannica, History of the Philosophy of Religion, "Hindu Concepts")
The Works of Sri Aurobindo: The reader should be warned, there is an occult presence about Aurobindo's books. They should not be read, taken into the home, or purchased. Some have burned them all, and say it was as if a dark cloud had been swept from their lives. (Acts 19:19)Although Sri Aurobindo is little known, and never made an effort to gather a following, he is thought to have been a major, low-profile, behind-the-scenes influence in the paganization of the West, and the occult revival in this country that began in the late 50's. See A Resolution to Combat Mind Control With Truth. Notice that creating and spreading false religion is the ultimate form of brainwashing, with the most horrific consequences.
Aurobindo's writing is elitist and euphoric. Its influence is mesmerizing -- hypnotic. The reader is drawn to it, to the exclusion of all else. And anything we read often enough, to the exclusion of everything else, we will begin to believe is true. It may be only 70 percent truth, but when read exclusively, the false begins to sound true, and then even the elect may be deceived. See Mind Control, Intimidation, and Coercion. Yet if one reads the Bible, then the words of Aurobindo do not ring true. See also Textual Criticism. Olsson, Eva, The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo in the Light of the Gospel (Madras, India: Christian Literature Society, 1959).

Who

I am not an Aurobindonian in the sense of being a sadhaka of the Ashram and therefore I do not speak with any special authority on this matter. I am an admirer of Sri Aurobindo, and have read something of him and on him. So while my interpretation may not be fully in consonance with the 'official' version, shall we say, it is what I think is the essence of his teachings. But before I go into his teachings I am going to reproduce a poem by him. I do this because I think in this poem, he has expressed more dramatically, with more immediacy than in his longer and more complex words, his vision of the Divine which is very important for an understanding of his philosophy. The poem is called "Who".
This poem beautifully expresses the basic feature of Sri Aurobindo's thought. The first point that I wish to make is that he accepted the primacy of the supreme, all-pervading reality. What the Upanishadas speak of as isha vasyamidam sarvam yatkinchya jagatyam jagat, the Vedantic concept of the spirit pervading not only the manifested cosmos but also the unmanifested cosmos and with the Gita, even transcending both in the concept of the Purushottama who is both the manifested cosmos and the unmanifested cosmos and something beyond. This basic reality Sri Aurobindo accepted. Dr. Karan Singh

Tagore, Darwin and Huxley

'The Singularity Is Near' Singularity.com
In this much-anticipated sequel to The Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil presents the next stage of his compelling view of the future.

Philosophy, Cosmology, & Consciousness Program mfoley@ciis.edu The California Institute of Integral Studies is an accredited institution of higher learning and research that strives to embody spirit, intellect, and wisdom in service to individuals, communities, and the Earth

Amardeep Singh, Assistant Professor of English at Lehigh University. amardeepsingh.com

Critics on Ken Wilber - list of papers critical of Wilber
A Suggestion for Reading the Criticisms of My Work - on Frank Visser's "World of Ken Wilber" Site - Wilber's reply to his critics Ken Wilber's Critique of Deep Ecology and Nature Religion: A Response - Gus diZerega David Lane's critiques/essays/reviews of Wilber A tangle of lines and levels: a critique of Wilber's integral psychology - by John Heron. see also Heron and Wilber What Enlightenment? - The Promise of Integralism - A Critical Appreciation of Ken Wilber's Integral Psychology essay by Christian de Quincey Intersubjective Musings: A Response to Christian de Quincey's "The Promise of Integralism" - Sean Hargens' reply to Christian de Quincey Do Critics Misrepresent My Position? - A Test Case from a Recent Academic Journal - Ken Wilber's reply Response to Ken Wilber - Robert McDermott's reply to Wilber. Response to McDermott - Ken Wilber's reply to McDermott Critics Do. Critics Don't. - A Response to Ken Wilber de Quincey's counter-reply to Wilber

The Cycle of Time

The Cycle of Time is a version of history that was virtually forgotten, even though it was common to all great civilizations of antiquity. It tells us of a time when humankind experienced the highest stage of civilization and how this was eventually lost. It also points to the possibility of a return to that state. A growing number of books are now bringing up the subject of ancient wisdom and the search for a 'lost knowledge'. Labelled as 'alternative history', most of these writings inevitably end with a questionmark. As Graham Hancock puts it in his best-selling Fingerprint of the Gods:
'There are certain structures in the world, certain ideas, certain intellectual treasures, that are truly mysterious. I am beginning to suspect that the human race may have placed itself in grave jeopardy by failing to consider the implications of these mysteries…”One thing seems to be certain: there exist huge gaps when it comes to explaining our origin and our understanding of ancient history.In the midst of so many theories, there is an interesting view to consider. It comes from India, the place once called the land of dharma - a path that remembered humankind's ancestors as enlightened beings who lived in a land of truth. The images of deities depicted in Hindu temples are but a reflection of a bygone era; an attempt to preserve the memories of a still remoter culture, whose traces were lost in the shadows of the past.Unfortunately, these very images have sufficed for Hindus to be taken as infidels and to be openly persecuted by Islamic iconoclasts and Christian inquisitors in their own land.
Only recently has India began to get rid of centuries of a colonial mindset and started exploring its unparalleled heritage from a different perspective. A new breed of historians and indologists are part of this scenario, together with the revival of an ancient system of yoga.It was in India that the quest for a lost knowledge developed into a myriad of paths and managed to produce a number of methods and schools of thoughts, which aimed for a complete understanding of life. No efforts, time and resources were spared in the attempts of knowing the eternal self and its interaction with nature and the divine.This was the cradle of metaphysics, the land where a few illuminated souls realized that our original nature is kind and peaceful, and that we have come to this world to enjoy life according to certain rules. Living in harmony with the laws that govern life was believed to be the means to return to a state of fullness and completion.
The Cycle of Time is a non-fiction account based on research and experience, a collage of quotes from old and contemporary sages. It aims to reveal the essence of the existing patterns between events and their relation with the human consciousness.More than a perspective or reading of history, the Cycle is a journey of the spirit through time. The teachings that the concept of cyclic time encodes are profound and will certainly require the meditative experience to be understood in its deeper aspects.I hope this can be the beginning of a journey for you as it was for me. For this is indeed a fascinating perspective - one that is not only able to scrutinize the distant past but also dares to envision the future and beyond. Simone Boger

The Singularity is near

Relativism, Self-Referentialilty and Beyond Mind
by Kundan
Postmodernism and India: Some Preliminary Animadversions
by Makarand Paranjape, A.M., PhD
Decolonizing English Studies: Attaining Swaraj?
Makarand Paranjape, Prof. of English, JNU
The Integral Cycle of Knowledge: Some thoughts on integrating Ken Wilber's Developmental and Epistemological Models by Mark Edwards
Three challenges for global religion in the 21st century
peer to peer, integralism, transhumanism byMichel Bauwens
Intellectual Treason by Meera Nanda
Meera Nanda uncovers an extraordinary coalition that is undermining science
The Eye of Spirit:Contemplative Experience and Integral Science
Thomas Maxwell, tmaxwell@zoo.uvm.edu
Philosophy as Spiritual Discipline
byRobert A. McDermott
Seth on “The Origins of the Universe and of the Species” – A (Conscious) Creation Myth by Paul M. Helfrich

The Center for Process Studies

The Center for Process Studies was founded in 1973 by John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin to encourage exploration of the relevance of process thought to many fields of reflection and action. When Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, Mary Elizabeth Moore, and Philip Clayton joined as co-directors, CPS broadened its interests. As a faculty center of the Claremont School of Theology in association with the School of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University, CPS seeks to promote a new way of thinking based on the work of philosophers Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) and Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) through seminars, conferences, publications, and an extensive library.
With a foundation in the metaphysical system of Alfred North Whitehead (among others), and a methodology that integrates both speculation and empirical verification, process thought brings its unique metaphysical perspective to bear on many fields of reflection and action. Ultimately, process thought seeks to integrate and reconcile the diverse facets of human experience (i.e. ethical, religious, aesthetic, and scientific intuitions) into one coherent explanatory scheme. The most common applications of process thought are in the fields of philosophy and theology. However, process has also found a meaningful foothold in many other discussions, including ecology, economics, physics, biology, education, psychology, feminism, and cultural studies.
Process metaphysics, in general, seeks to elucidate the developmental nature of reality, emphasizing becoming rather than static existence or being. It also stresses the inter-relatedness of all entities. Process describes reality as ultimately made up of experiential events rather than enduring inert substances. The particular character of every event, and consequently the world, is the result of a selective process where the relevant past is creatively brought together to become that new event. Reality is conceived as a process of creative advance in which many past events are integrated in the events of the present, and in turn are taken up by future events. The universe proceeds as "the many become one, and are increased by one" in a sequence of integrations at every level and moment of existence. Process thought thus replaces the traditional Western "substance metaphysic" with an "event metaphysic." Terms that further characterize process thought are inter-relatedness, unity-in-diversity, non-dualism, panentheism, mutual transformation, person-in-community, and panexperientialism.
One-page synopsis by Sheela Pawar Process Philosophy A Perspective from Process Theology by William Stegall What Process Thought Means to Me by Charles BirchAlfred North Whitehead Charles Hartshorne Process Theology: An Introductory Introduction by John B. Cobb, Jr. (Streaming Audio)

October 28, 2005

Jürgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo and Beyond

Knowledge and Human Liberation: Jürgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo and Beyond by Ananta Kumar Giri, MADRAS INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, CHENNAI, INDIA; European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 7, No. 1, 85-103 (2004)DOI: 10.1177/1368431004040021© 2004 SAGE Publications
Knowledge and human liberation are epochal challenges and a key question here is what the meaning of knowledge and the meaning of human liberation are. This article argues that knowledge means not only knowledge of self, society and nature as conceived within the predominant dualistic logic of modernity but also knowledge of transcendental self beyond sociological role playing, knowledge of nature beyond anthropocentric reduction and control, and knowledge of cosmos, God and transcendence in an interconnected spirit of autonomy and interpenetration. Liberation means not only liberation from oppressive structures but also liberation from one’s ego and the will to control and dominate. The article discusses the transformative link between knowledge and liberation through a critical dialogue with Jürgen Habermas and Sri Aurobindo, focusing mainly on their works, Knowledge and Human Interests and Synthesis of Yoga. The article does not simply compare and contrast Habermas and Sri Aurobindo or compare and contrast the so-called Western rationality and Eastern spirituality but seeks to create a condition for transformative criticism for both.
Key Words: global conversation • human liberation • knowledge • liberatory aspiration • self-cultivation • social movements, References:
Aboulafia, Myra Bookman and Kemp, Catherine, eds (2002) Habermas and Pragmatism. London: Routledge .
Bhaskar, Roy (2000) From East to West: The Odyssey of a Soul. London: Routledge .

Bhaskar, Roy (2002) Reflections on MetaReality: Transcendence, Emancipation and Everyday Life. New Delhi: Sage .

Brennan, Teresa (1995) History after Lacan. London: Routledge .

Connolly, William E. (1991) Identity/Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press .
Ferry, Luc (2002) Man Made God. New York: Columbia University Press .
Giddens, Anthony (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity Press .

Giri, Ananta K. (2002a) Conversations and Transformations: Toward a New Ethics of Self and Society. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books .

Giri, Ananta K. (2002b) ‘Spiritual Cultivation for a Secular Society’, working paper. Madras: Madras Institute of Development Studies.

Giri, Ananta K. (2002c) Building in the Margins of Shacks: The Vision and Projects of Habitat for Humanity. New Delhi: Orient Longman .

Giri, Ananta K. (2003a) ‘The Calling of Global Responsibilities’, in Philip Quarles van Ufford and Ananta K. Giri (eds) A Moral Critique of Development: In Search of Global Responsibilities. London: Routledge .

Giri, Ananta K. (2003b, forthcoming) ‘A School for the Subject: The Vision and Projects of Integral Education’, in Ananta K. Giri Reflections and Mobilizations: Dialogues with Movements and Voluntary Organizations.
Mohanty, J.N. (2000) Self and Other: Philosophical Essays. Delhi: Oxford University Press .
Mohanty, J.N. (2002) Between Two Worlds: East and West. Delhi: Oxford University Press .

October 27, 2005

Derrida, Bhartrhari and Sri Aurobindo


Philosophy East and West Vol. 41, No. 2 (1991)pp. 141-162
Derrida and Indian Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.
The Sphota Theory of Language. Columbia, Missouri: South Asia Press, 1980.
By Harold G. Coward
Derrida’s Indian Literary Subtext by William S. Haney II

Stephen H. Phillips

Professor, Philosophy & Asian Studies
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, Texas 78712 USA
Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy of Brahman Leiden: Brill, 1986. Revised as an epublication (2001) e-publications Education, Teaching, Academic Service Specializations: (Vedanta, Nyaya, Yoga; philosophy of religion, and meta-philosophy)

Integral phenomenology

A method for the “new psychology”, the study of mysticism and the sacred
Dennis Hargiss
According to Eliade, the perceptive scholar may discern “patterns” in diverse religious phenomena, and the recognition of these patterns or “structures” facilitates our understanding of their meaning. While this “search for formal structures with universal values” has recently fallen into disrepute among certain postmodern critical theorists (e.g., Foucault, Derrida), the endeavour has found support among others (such as Habermas and Halbfass) who lean away from the totalizing pretensions of deconstructionism and argue rather that deconstructionists’ concerns may be integrated with meaningful dialogue and intercultural rapprochement into a pragmatic approach to communication and understanding across the traditions.
This present study joins this on-going discussion concerning the efficacy of postulating “patterns” or “structures” as examples of the “pragmatics of communication” in the study of religion. Eliade combined these notions with a more Jungian understanding of structure and envisioned a discipline called “metapsycho–analysis” for the phenomenologist of religion. According to Eliade, “The symbol is not a mere reflection of objective reality. It reveals something more profound and basic. Therefore, religious symbols are capable of revealing a modality of the real or a structure of the world that is not evident on the level of immediate experience.” Here symbols are seen as the conceptual representations of essences within the organizing structure of categories (st 1), and mediate metaphysical realities to the receptive mind of the scholar—the actual realities behind the phenomena the scholar attempts to understand (st 2). Consequently, the apprehension of the symbol is not merely an academic, intellectual endeavor, but rather “the cause of the creation in [the scholar] of a spiritual state analogous with the object it represents (Ionescu).” SRI AUROBINDO CENTRE FOR CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation, Pondicherry: SAICE

Evolution, Complexity and Cognition

Peter Russell

Other Lists of Great people

Sri Aurobindo--A Forerunner

Timo Vitala
THE BEACON MAGAZINE MAY/JUNE 1999

The Lucis Trust, The Anthroposophical Society,The Swedenborg Society and The Foundation for Theosophical Studies more information

Dante and Sri Aurobindo

A Comparative Study of the Divine Comedy and Savitri by Prema Nandakumar (Author) (Hardcover - July 1982)
Sri Aurobindo, Seer and Poet by Vinayak Krishna Gokak (Author) (Hardcover - December 1973)
Founding the Life Divine by Morwenna Donnelly (Author) (Paperback - 1976)
The Quest for Political and Spiritual Liberation: A Study in the Thought of Sri Aurobindo Ghose by June Oconnor (Author) (Hardcover - March 1976)
Six Pillars: Introductions to the Major Work of Sri Aurobindo by Robert A. McDermott (Author) (Paperback - July 1974)
The Essential Writings Of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs (Author) (Paperback - February 2000)
The Religious, the Spiritual, and the Secular: Auroville and Secular India by Robert N. Minor (Author) (Paperback - December 1998)
Sri Aurobindo by Prithwindra Mukherjee (Author) (Paperback - May 23, 2000)
Sri Aurobindo Ghose: The Dweller in the Lands of Silence by William Kluback (Author), Michael Finkenthal (Author) (Hardcover - February 2001)
Hindu Muslim Unity by Mangesh Nadkarni Dr (Author) (Paperback - August 1, 1996)
Designing a New Social Order by G.P. Gupta Dr (Author) (Paperback - April 1, 2000)
A House for the Third Millennium by Ruud Lohman (Author) (Paperback - August 1986)
Sri Aurobindo by B.K. Chaturvedi (Author) (Paperback - December 31, 2000)
Perspectives on Sri Aurobindo's Poetry, Plays, and Criticism by Arti Paresh Gupta (Author) (Hardcover - January 2002)
Sri Aurobindo by S. Paul (Author) (Paperback - July 6, 2004)
Integral Psychology by Indra Sen Dr (Author) (Paperback - January 1, 1999)
Integral Health by Soumitra Basu (Author) (Paperback - 2000)
Sri Aurobindo's Treatment of Hindu Myth by Jan Feys (Author) (Hardcover - February 1984)
Worthy Is the World: The Hindu Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo by Beatrice Bruteau (Author) (Hardcover - January 1975)
Education and the Aim of Human Life by P.B.Saint- Hilaire (Author) (Paperback - July 1, 1999)
Education of the Future (Integral Education Series, No 5) by Norman Dowsett (Author) (Paperback - June 1976)
Sri Aurobindo Ghose by Verinder Grover (Author) (Hardcover - December 1993)
Consciousness and Creativity: A Study of Sri Aurobindo, T.S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley by Sumita Roy (Author) (Hardcover - March 1991)
The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo by Satyajyoti Chakravarty (Author) (Hardcover - March 1991)
Sri Aurobindo on Philosophy of Yoga by Satyajyoti Chakravorty (Author) (Hardcover - October 31, 1997)
The Dialogue with Death (Sri Aurobindo's Savitri, a Mystical Approach) by Rohit Mehta (Author)
Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo by Ram Shanker Misra (Author) (Hardcover - July 1, 1998)
Sri Aurobindo As a Political Thinker: An Interdisciplinary Study by Som P. Ranchan (Author), K. D. Gupta (Author) (Hardcover - December 1988)
Sri Aurobindo by Purnima Majumdar (Author) (Paperback - January 15, 2005)
Sri Aurobindo's Vision of the Supermind: Its Indian and Non-Indian Interpreters by Anil Kumar Sarkar (Author) (Hardcover - September 1989)
Adisankara and Sri Aurobindo by V. Narayan Karan Reddy (Author) (Hardcover - April 1, 1992)
Sri Aurobindo's Ideal of Human Life by M. Rafique (Author) (Hardcover - June 1987)
An Introduction to Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy by Joan Ockham (Author) (Paperback - December 1994)
The Meeting of the East and the West in Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy by S.K. Maitra (Author) (Paperback - 1988)
Economics Natural or Integral Economics by J.N. Mukherjee (Author)
A Bouquet for My Master by Damodar Reddy (Author) (Paperback - May 1, 1994)
The Light That Shone into the Dark Abyss by Maggi Lidchi (Author) (Paperback - August 1, 1994)
A Captive of Her Love by Janina Stroka (Author)
Man - a Multiple Personality (Six Talks) by Murari M. Bhattacharya (Author) (Paperback - November 1, 1996)
On Democracy and Secularism by G.P. Gupta (Author), M.S. Srinivasan (Author) (Paperback - April 1, 2000)
Management with a Difference by G.P. Gupta Dr (Author) (Paperback - April 1, 2000)
India's Contribution to Management by Pravir Malik (Author) (Paperback - August 15, 2000)
Sri Aurobindo: The Spiritual Revolutionary by Atulindra Nath Chaturvedi (Author) (Hardcover - January 1, 2002)
Plays of Sri Aurobindo by S.S. Kulkarni (Author)
Sri Aurobindo by D.Venkateswara Rao (Author) (Hardcover - June 1997)
Sri Aurobindo, Jung and Vedic Yoga by Satya Prakash Singh (Author) (Hardcover - April 15, 2005)
Tradition and the Rhetoric of Right: Popular Political Argument in the Aurobindo Movement by David J. Lorenzo (Author) (Hardcover - March 1999)
Freedom and Future by Daniel Albuquerque (Author) (Paperback - August 1, 1998)
Symbolism in the Poetry of Sri Aurobindo by Syamala Kallury (Author) (Hardcover - May 1990)
The Persistence of Religion: An Essay on Tantrism and Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy by K. W. Bolle (Author) (Hardcover - August 1997)
Sri Aurobindo by V.C. Joshi (Editor) (Hardcover - December 1973)

Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard De Chardin

Teilhard de Chardin and Sri Aurobindo - A Focus on Fundamentals by K. D. Sethna Stated first edition, 1973
Sri Aurobindo et Teilhard de Chardin by Gérard Mourgue (Author) (Paperback - February 15, 1995)

Sri Aurobindo Came to Me

By Dilip Kumar Roy
First edition, 1972 Books By Netsifters
In the Mother's Light Part One - by Rishabhchand First edition, first printing, 1951! Chapters include The Mother, Peace, Love, and Divine Union.
Teilhard de Chardin and Sri Aurobindo - A Focus on Fundamentals by K. D. Sethna Stated first edition, 1973
The Indian Spirit and the World's Future by K. D. Sethna First edition, 1953
The Vision of India by Sisirkumar MitraTrue first edition, first printing, 1947!

Beyond the Human Species

The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (Omega Books)
Georges Van Vrekham
A very exciting book indeed. And for those who already know of the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, this book could serve as an inspiration. But frankly, as far as introducing someone else to their way of thought, I think it might actually be doing some harm. Whether the practice of Yoga has any value at all is for each individual to find out. But if I were to do so, such stories of miracles are the last thing I would choose to think about. They may entice you and fill you with hope and inspiration when you are depressed. But I am not sure if they lead you in the right direction. Reviewer:Thinking (USA) - See all my reviews

Sri Aurobindo, Jung and Vedic Yoga

Sri Aurobindo, Jung and Vedic Yoga is a product of the author’s keen study and contemplation extending over four decades. It embodies his deep philosophical insight, keen psychological acumen and profound Vedic scholarship. It is a study in the structure, nature and content of the human psyche approached from three such diverse angles as yogic sadhana, psychological experimentation and Vedic revelation. Placed as they are so distantly in terms of space as the East and the West and in terms of time as the ancient past and the contemporary present, the three sources, though dealing pre-eminently with one and the same central theme, namely the human psyche are supposed to differ from one another to an appalling extent. With this point of challenge in mind the present author has worked out his way in such a penetrating manner and with such an objectivity that most of such presumptions have got falsified on evidence, leaving thus the way to re-emergence of the human psyche in all its non-spatio-temporal immensity and purity. The study is rewarding inasmuch as it gives an inkling from different angles into the phenomenology of the collective unconscious, the subliminal, and the cave of panis, the archetype and the Gods, the self and the Atman, besides the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious. Vedic yoga is a very special feature of the book worked out in contravention of the entire spectrum of misunderstandings created by hasty generalisations regarding Veda, the paramount basis of Indian culture and ethos. May 2003

Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective

Wilber is right when he says that the ultimate resolution of the mind-body problem, and the ultimate understanding of spiritual nondualism, can only be achieved by a higher than rational, contemplative thought. But there are different levels of transrational and transpersonal consciousness, which result in different conceptions of nondualism. The conceptions of the Brahmavidya and of Dzogchen are important examples of such differing views. It appears that the work of Ken Wilber and of Sri Aurobindo diverges along fairly traditional lines of psychological and spiritual development: the one ending in "liberation" and the other in "transformation." This is a distinction that has been emphasized throughout his writings by Sri Aurobindo and constitutes the most prominent contrast between his and Wilber's work.
Intrinsic to Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of the Brahman, with Supermind as the Conscious Force of the Brahman, and therefore both the creative energy and the immortal self of all creation, is the principle of involution. But in this view, involution entails the descent of infinite and eternal principles – Supermind, Overmind, Mind, Life, Matter. These are therefore eternally self-existent planes of Divine Being, not only involved in the evolving universe as potential, but, more importantly, as the overseeing and underlying universal support of the evolving planes, pressing down upon them from above to bring forth their evolving forms in Time and Space. Without these essential, universal divinities, so fundamental to the Vedic knowledge, how could the infinite diversity and integrality of the forms of life and mind have emerged? And how could the embodied soul become cosmically conscious of universal life and mind and of the eternal forms of Truth, Beauty, and the Good, and the Godheads of the Overmind – Divine Love, Power, Joy, without entering into such ideal, divine planes?
Even Plato would consider these Ideal Forms self-existent and therefore irreducible to a quadrant or to any or all of the particular forms of temporal unfolding. Without these principles, how would a psychic transformation of consciousness be possible, by which we might look out over the commons and witness, not merely a myriad of sensorimotor instruments performing rational-scientific operations in order to manifest substitute gratifications, nor an essential emptiness of being in the soul, but divine force embodying, however imperfectly, through minds, lives, and bodies the vibrations of an all-creative divine love and light? And yet, the Atman-project does not take this principle of descent into account, and therefore relies upon a linear, bipolar, and mechanical process of expansion and contraction to bring forth the infinite diversity of being in space and time. This is the second major contrast that we find when comparing the theories of involution and evolution of Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo.
The third important contrast in the critical perspective that a textual comparison of the works of these authors provides is found in the form of thought and language that each uses to express his vision. Wilber's is, as he points out, dialogical, analytical, and contemplative, and aims at a psychological interpretation of existence from a synthesizing mental perspective. Sri Aurobindo's is metaphysical and supramental, and attempts the spiritual interpretation of existence, on the basis of thought and language that originate on a spiritual plane of consciousness beyond mind. This characterization is especially true of the language of Savitri, but it is also evident in many passages of The Life Divine which have the clear intention to express the vast and integral truth of the Brahman. Rod Hemsell Jan. 2002