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

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 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…
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 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.


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

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

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

Sri Aurobindo--A Forerunner

Timo Vitala

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

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

How to Live Hundred Years

In this remarkable little volume, Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has, as a skilful doctor, an expert Yogi, an ace psychologist, and a Perfect Sage, laid down several medical, Yogic, Vedantic, psychological, scientific, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic methods for becoming a Centenarian. For all those who are earnestly seeking for perfect health and a very long life, this work will be highly inspiring, informative and valuable.
The Divine Life Society is a shining example of the creative aspect of the Divinity within man. It is a remarkable achievement of the Founder, His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda, who from the year 1936, has built up the wonderful mansion of 'Divine Life' brick by brick, on the firm foundations of purity, integrity, nobility and magnanimity.

E.M. Bucke, Buckminster Fuller

E.M. Bucke, author of Cosmic Consciousness, saw that the mystical geniuses of all faiths are a foreshadowing of evolutionary potential of humanity. In Cosmic Consciousness he wrote: "Cosmic Consciousness is a third form which is as far above Self Consciousness as is that above Simple Consciousness. The prime characteristic of Cosmic Consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the life and order of the universe... There occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence -- would make him almost a member of a new species. To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral sense, which is fully as striking and more important both to the individual and to the race than is the enhanced intellectual power. With these come, what may be called a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it already. " Reading:Cosmic Consciousness
Buckminster Fuller was one of the 20th century's great proponents of humanity's cosmically endowed evolutionary potential. In Critical Path he writes:
"Humanity is moving ever deeper into crisis—a crisis without precedent.
"First, it is a crisis brought about by cosmic evolution irrevocably intent upon completely transforming omnidisintegrated humanity from a complex of around-the-world, remotely-deployed-from-one-another, differently colored, differently credoed, differently cultured, differently communicating, and differently competing entities into a completely integrated, comprehensively interconsiderate, harmonious whole.
"Second, we are in an unprecedented crisis because cosmic evolution is also irrevocably intent upon making omni-integrated humanity omnisuccessful, able to live sustainingly at an unprecedentedly higher standard of living for all Earthians than has ever been experienced by any; able to live entirely within its cosmic-energy income instead of spending its cosmic energy savings account (i.e., the fossil fuels) or spending its cosmic-capital plant and equipment account (i.e., atomic energy)—the atoms with which our Spaceship Earth and its biosphere are structured and equipped—a spending folly no less illogical than burning your house-and-home to keep the family warm on an unprecedentedly cold midwinter night.
"Humanity's cosmic-energy income account consists entirely of our gravity- and star (99 percent Sun)-distributed cosmic dividends of waterpower, tidal power, wavepower, windpower, vegetation-produced alcohols, methane gas, vulcanism, and so on. Humanity's present rate of total energy consumption amounts to only one four-millionth of one percent of the rate of its energy income.
"...Ninety-nine percent of humanity does not know that we have the option to 'make it' economically on this planet and in the Universe. We do."
Reading: Critical Path, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Websites: ,
About EVOLVE Partner Organizations EVOLVE Principles and Values EVOLVE: a Global Community Center for Conscious Evolution—to serve as a central resource hub for individuals and communities worldwide that are choosing to embrace and apply the emerging principles, tools and templates of cocreative self and social conscious evolution. EVOLVE is being catalyzed by and is a program of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution (FCE).

The 'Superman' in Sri Aurobindo & Nietzsche

by Antonio Roybal

Nietzsche is quite emphatic that his Superman is not another word for God. "God is a conjecture," he repeats three times in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, whereas Sri Aurobindo seems to view the Superman as an inherent stage of spiritual evolution towards God, hence a manifestation of God. Only a single passage in Nietzsche is even remotely opaque on this point. In his chapter "On Poets," he writes, "Verily, it always lifts us higher-specifically, to the realm of the clouds: upon these we place our motley bastards and call them gods and overmen. For they are just light enough for these chairs-all these gods and overmen." However, I think it is quite clear that the overmen which are here being equivocated with the gods are not true overmen, but misconceptions of such by poets (i.e. "motley bastards").
Every other mention of the overman is decisively juxtaposed with God: "'Dead are all gods: now we want the overman to live'-on that great noon, let this be our last will," "Once one said God when one looked upon distant seas; but now I have taught you to say: overman," "Could you create a god? Then do not speak to me of any gods. But you could well create the overman," and "God died: now we want the overman to live." When examined closely, the phrasing of the second quote especially begs the question: is Nietzsche not simply replacing God with another God-just one disguised behind a new name? Is it just a question of semantics?
In Bernd Magnus' reading, "an übermensch is a secular god equivalent, the inverted embodiment of the God of the world-weary." Other critics have pointed out the overwhelming similarities between Nietzsche's portrayal of Zarathustra and the Christian portrayal of Christ. Perhaps his drive for the divine is so strong and uncompromising, that he refuses to accept any conception of the divine which emanates from anything less than the eternal itself. If we focus instead on the third quote, perhaps the issue is whether gods and Overmen can be created.
Nietzsche seems to be saying that we should focus on the Overman, because it is Life's next step for mankind, is within our grasp, and is within our scope to create. He writes, "I desire that your conjectures should not reach beyond your creative will." Yet isn't this the same Nietzsche who referred to God as a human invention or creation? Although his line of thinking gets tangled and reveals knots of paradoxes, he is apparently counseling us not to bite off more than we can chew.The Superman for Sri Aurobindo is, on the other hand, part and parcel of God. The divine has set in motion a process of involution whereupon it condensed itself into Matter.
Nietzsche and Sri Aurobindo are also in agreement about the transitional nature of man. In Aurobindo's words, "Man is a transitional being; he is not final. For in man and high beyond him ascend the radiant degrees that climb to a divine supermanhood." In Nietzsche's words, "Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman-a rope over an abyss." He often summons the image of a bridge, as he does here in his perhaps most definitive passage about the Overman: There it was too that I picked up the word "overman" by the way, and that man is something that must be overcome-that man is a bridge and no end: proclaiming himself blessed in view of his noon and evening, as the way to new dawns-Zarathustra's word of the great noon, and whatever else I hung up over man like the last crimson light of evening.

Rig Veda Samhita

Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry institute of Vedic culture, Bangalore has published a print and digital edition of the complete text of Rig Veda in June 1998. Salient features include
- Foreword by Swami Prabhudhananda- Foreword by Dr. H Narasimhaiah- Preface- Text of Rig Veda Samhita- Text of Khila Suktas- Translation and commentary of 108 verses- Translation of First Ashtaka- Introductory essay on Rig Veda- Topical Index of Mantras

Sri Aurobindo, T.S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley

Consciousness and Creativity: A Study of Sri Aurobindo, T.S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley
Sumita Roy Publisher: South Asia Books Publication date: March 1, 1991

Joseph Vrinte (1949- )

After reading an article in Times Magazine on the opening ceremony of Auroville in 1968, I decided to go to India in order to participate in this collective experiment for human unity. However, while living in Auroville I did not understand Sri Aurobindo's integral vision and, therefore, decided to follow a Yoga Research / Training course to get familiar with various practical / theoretical aspects of Yoga. In order to acquire a detailed background of Indian Philosophy and to approach Sri Aurobindo's philosophical vision from an academic background I decided to study Indian and Western Philosophy at the Lucknow University. While doing my M.A. in Philosophy / Psychology I chose Sri Aurobindo as a special subject. During my research work I was living in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, a place, which I used as a field of experimentation and where I received the necessary guidance from some Aurobindonians with an academic background.
After finishing my research work I became more familiar with the Transpersonal Psychological movement and Sri Aurobindo's Integral Sadhana, which resulted in the publication of my second book. Afterwards I moved to Auroville where I studied Ken Wilber in detail, as he claimed to offer a 'refinement' of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Vision. While sympathetically exploring points of convergence as well as points of divergence in their views I discovered that the weak areas Ken Wilber identified and his refinements of Sri Aurobindo's metaphysical vision are more related to the devotees of Sri Aurobindo than to Sri Aurobindo's vision itself. That is why I wrote the third book in 2002 explaining all these points. In the near future I hope to start a detailed study on F. Schelling's and Sri Aurobindo's transcendental idealism.

October 26, 2005

Why Sri Aurobindo Is Cool

JOY: The Journal of Yoga January 2004, Volume 3, Number 1 What Is Enlightenment? magazine proves that sometimes even dead gurus kick ass. By Craig Hamilton This interview first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2002 issue of What Is Enlightenment? magazine, entitled The Future of God, Evolution and Enlightenment for the 21st Century.
“But Sri Aurobindo is cool!” I exclaimed to Andrew Cohen, my spiritual teacher and editor-in-chief.
“Yes, we know that, but how are you going to communicate that to our readers?” he asked.
“Won’t it be enough for me to just tell them his incredible story? I mean, check it out: Controversial freedom fighter attains enlightenment in jail and relinquishes leadership of the revolution to become one of the greatest philosopher/yogis and evolutionary thinkers to have ever lived. You’ve got to admit, that’s one hell of a headline.”
Andrew smiled. “Okay. Maybe for the Enlightenment Times. But listen, there’s one problem. He’s a dead guru. A great dead guru, no doubt. An amazing dead guru. Probably one of the most extraordinary dead gurus the world has ever known. But face it, he’s old news. We’re What Is Enlightenment? We’re cutting edge. This is about living inquiry. We don’t do dead gurus. As Adi Da said . . .”
“. . . dead gurus don’t kick ass!” My colleagues finished his sentence in chorus.
I couldn’t believe we were having this conversation. “What about Babaji?” I leapt up. “Nobody can seem to prove that he was ever alive! And we’re doing him!”
“Immortal sages are one thing. But Sri Aurobindo has been decidedly buried for fifty years. I know the doctors were all amazed that his body didn’t start to decay for four days, but I’d hate to see it now,” Andrew laughed.
Swami Vivekananda’s in this issue and he’s not exactly tearing up the conference circuit these days, is he?” I was sure I had him with this one.
“It’s okay to print an excerpt from someone’s book,” he replied, “but you’re asking us to fly you all the way to India to do in-depth research on someone we can all read everything we need to know about on the web.”
“But look,” I pleaded, “we’re doing an issue on
evolutionary enlightenment. How many people even know what that is? Everybody these days thinks enlightenment is the end, the grand finale, the ultimate blast-off into nirvana never to return again. But Sri Aurobindo GOT IT. He was the first one to get it. And he got it like few have ever gotten it since. Sure, people can read about him on the web, but first they have to find out how amazing he was. That’s why I want to do this piece, to tell them. And to really do it right, I think I have to go to India, to visit his ashram and talk to the people who knew him, to get the real inside story.”
Andrew motioned for me to sit down. “Okay, listen,” he said. “I can’t argue with what you’re saying. And I’m not going to say there’s no way you can do it. But before I agree to send you halfway around the world, you’ve got to come up with some kind of angle, some way to bring Sri Aurobindo alive that is hip, modern, intriguing, and, most of all, relevant to
enlightenment in the twenty-first century. This can’t just be another rehash of the old story. Give it some thought and we’ll talk again tomorrow.”
As we wrapped up our daily editorial meeting, it was all I could do to contain my excitement. It had been tough going, but I had gained the foothold I’d been hoping for.
I had shown up at that afternoon’s meeting with a stack of books on the pioneering twentieth-century sage Sri Aurobindo, knowing I probably had my work cut out for me. Although I had no doubt that everyone on the team had tremendous respect for his work, I knew that a feature story about a great figure from the past—particularly in an issue about the future—would be a tough sell.
“Isn’t he extremely hard to read?” one of my colleagues had asked straightaway, “as if somehow he accidentally got his genes crossed with a German philosopher or something?” I couldn’t deny that he was in fact a tough read, having first learned to write in Latin and Greek, two languages in which the construction of long sentences is actually a sort of high art. But nonetheless, I knew that my only chance to win my case lay in reading a few passages aloud:
The animal is a living laboratory in which Nature has, it is said, worked out man. Man himself may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom and with whose conscious co-operation she wills to work out the superman, the god.
That got their attention. I read a little more:
. . . for the full and perfect fulfillment of the evolutionary urge, [the spiritual] illumination and change must take up and re-create the whole being, mind, life and body: it must be not only an inner experience of the Divinity but a remoulding of both the inner and outer existence by its power; it must take form not only in the life of the individual but as a collective life of gnostic beings established as a highest power and form of the becoming of the Spirit in the earth-nature.
After reading a few more pages in the same vein, I looked around at their faces. They were captivated. I wasn’t surprised. In the course of our research for this issue, we had already come upon some extraordinary evolutionary thinkers, but Sri Aurobindo’s words carried a spiritual weight like no one else we had read. A weight that, in light of our issue topic, and our reasons for choosing this topic now, meant a lot. For the idea to do an issue on evolution and enlightenment had been triggered by a series of unexpected breakthroughs in the collective practice of our own spiritual community. Breakthroughs that, unless we were all crazy, seemed to suggest a great deal about the relationship between enlightenment and humanity’s potential for a further collective evolution. So far, however, none of the traditional religions had been able to shed light on our experience. But on page after page, Sri Aurobindo was coming through in spades.
Although reading aloud from Sri Aurobindo had made our entire editorial team curious to learn more about his teachings, it had only brought me a hair’s breadth closer to my goal. As I left the meeting that afternoon, it was clear that I still had a lot more persuading to do before I would be on my way to India. That night, while ruminating over how I could possibly convince the world that Sri Aurobindo was cool, I got a sudden flash of what I hoped was inspiration. And after spending the better part of the night trying to put it into words, I showed up at the next afternoon’s meeting ready for another round.
“I want to read you what I’ve written,” I jumped in at the start of the meeting before anyone could even mention the day’s news.
Andrew looked slightly puzzled. “About what?”
“About Sri Aurobindo,” I answered confidently. “I thought about what you said about needing to make him look cool, and I think I’ve got an angle. I’ve already written the first four pages.”
“That’s a new one,” he laughed. “Writing the piece before you do the research. If we could all do that, maybe we could start coming out quarterly. It would save us a lot on airfares, too. Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s hear it.”
I began:

When most of us think of Sri Aurobindo, we probably think of that famous image of him, sitting there in that throne of a chair, long white beard and hair, looking like something straight out of a Hollywood movie in which he was cast in the role of God. You can almost imagine his voice, thundering with frightening authority in perfect King James English like Robert Powell’s classic rendition of Jesus of Nazareth. But take a look behind the scenes at the life of this revolutionary mystic, and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a very different sort of character. You see, the real Sri Aurobindo was no otherworldly ivory tower patriarch, calling out to the lost masses from on high. No, he was a man of action, a fiery wit, a power yogi, a spiritual renegade if there ever was one. In a word, this guy was cool. Really cool. As
Michael Murphy, best-selling author, co-founder of Esalen Institute, and a former resident of Sri Aurobindo’s ashram, put it: “Auro­bindo is a stupendously great guy. He opened up so much. Hardly anyone has this vision that puts the two together—God and the evolving universe. Hardly anyone! Most people in Eastern philosophy take the more traditional view that’s represented by Huston Smith or Ram Dass. Which is the classical mystical view that factors in evolution little if at all.”
Let me translate. What Mike is saying here is that Sri Aurobindo brought a radical (not in the California sense) new vision to spiritual life that, as far as anyone can tell, no other mystic before him had done. The fact is, with the possible exception of Judaism, almost all religious and mystical traditions, East and West—even if they promote doing good works in the world, chopping wood and carrying water, or being a bodhisattva dedicated to the liberation of all beings—ultimately see the goal of spiritual practice as some kind of vertical liftoff, out of this world into either a transcendent beyond, a heaven, or a final cessation in nirvana. Sri Aurobindo had the audacity to say that this view was a mistake. A big mistake. He even had the chutzpah to say it was a mistake made by the likes of
Shankara and the Buddha. To him, the goal was something much more significant. He said that if we were only willing to consciously participate in evolution, we could create a “divine life” right here on earth. No vertical liftoff. No great escape, but a ceaseless, dynamic, miraculous unfolding of ever-higher expressions of harmony and unity, here in this world.
And there’s more. A lot more. Take poetry. Poetry is cool these days, right? Well, let me tell you, if Sri Aurobindo were alive, he’d take the “poetry slam” to a whole new level. He’d make the beats look like deadbeats. He’d have the rappers running back to grammar school. He published his first poem when he was twelve. His longest poem, Savitri, which took him almost thirty-five years to write, is twenty-four thousand lines long. It’s his highest example of what he called “future poetry” or “overhead poetry”—poetry written from the highest planes of consciousness. And it’s high all right. Good luck digesting more than a few stanzas without going into samadhi [ecstatic absorption]. Definitely not to be read while operating heavy machinery. And did I mention that Aldous Huxley, Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck, and others independently nominated Sri Aurobindo for the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Indic Ideas in the Graeco-Roman World

by Subhash Kak, PhD
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, Louisiana
It is common to speak of "civilizational ideas,'' but do they exist? For example, are the doshas of Ayurveda peculiarly Indian since they are a tripartite classification that is basic to the Vedic system of knowledge? Plato introduced a similar system based on three humours into Greek medicine, with a central role to the idea of breath (pneuma in Greek). But this centrality of breath (prana in Sanskrit) is already a feature of the much older Vedic thought. So do we agree with Jean Filliozat (1970) that Plato borrowed the elements of the wind, the gall, and the phlegm, from the earlier tridosha theory,and that the transmission occurred via the Persian empire? Others claim that any similarities between the Indian and the Greek medical systems must be a result of the shared Indo-European heritage and what may appear to be Indian is actually Indo-European.
Dumezil's demonstration that tripartite categories operated elsewherein the Indo-European world supports this latter view. Dumezil argued that all Indo-European religions have three hierarchical functions: sacred sovereignty, force, and fecundity, represented by the categories of brahman, rajan (or kshatra), and vish. Religious and political sovereignty is conceived as a dual category: the magician-king and the jurist-priest. In India, this duality is in the roles of the rajan and brahman; in Rome, of rex and flamen. Even the names are similar! In his Mitra-Varuna Dumezil (1948) shows that the magician-king (Varuna in India or Romulus in Rome) initiates in violence the social order that the jurist-priest (Mitra in India or Numa in Rome) develops in peace.
Magical sovereignty operates by means of bonds and debts, whereas juridical sovereignty employs pacts and faith. This pattern is repeated in time: in the cult of Christ as the "son'' he is the "intercessor" and savior juxtaposed to the avenging, punishing father.'' There is similarity between the Indian and the Greek religions as also in the society sketched in the Mahabharata and Homeric poems. Metempsychosis is known in both places. The imagery of the "world-egg,''so central to Vedic thought, is described in the later Orphic legends. According to Rawlinson (1975), "the resemblance between the two legends is too close to be accidental.'' These parallels are the result either of shared origins, migration, or cultural diffusion, or a combination of the three.
As an illustration of a civilizational idea consider the notion of self in the Upanishadic dialogues, which the texts assert is the essence of the Veda, its secret knowledge. A similar emphasis on self-knowledge is introduced into Greek thought by the Pythagoreans and the Orphics. Corresponding to the three gunas of sattva, rajas, tamas, Plato spoke of three categories logistikon, thumos, epithumia and he used a three-part classification for society. According to Lomperis (1984), "Plato, through the Pythagoreans and also the Orphics, was subjected to the influence of Hindu thought, but that he may not have been aware of it as coming from India.'' Irrespective of the source of these ideas, it is clear that, civilizationally, by the time of the Greek philosophers, there existed very important parallels between India and Greece. Innovations in art and scientific knowledge, when supported by archaeological and textual records, can help delineate the process at the basis of pivotal cultural transformations. Indian Science & Technology

F * l * o * w * e * r * s

The Earth Laughs in Flowers... - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thursday, December 04, 2003 posted by Ranjini @ 2:04 PM
Marigold {Rose of India}
Significance given by Mother : Plasticity
Meaning : Always ready for the progress demanded
All your nature must be plastic to her touch, - not questioning as the self-sufficient ignorant mind questions and doubts and disputes and is the enemy of its enlightenment and change; not insisting on its own movements as the vital in the man insists and persistently opposes its refractory desires and ill-will to every divine influence; not obstructing and entrenched in incapacity, inertia and tamas as man's physical consciousness obstructs and clinging to the pleasure in smallness and darkness cries out against each touch that disturbs it soulless routine or it dull sloth or its torpid slumber.- Sri Aurobindo

Journal of Consciousness Studies

How does the mind relate to the brain? Can computers ever be conscious? What do we mean by subjectivity and the self? These questions are being keenly debated in fields as diverse as cognitive science, neurophysiology and philosophy. JCS is a peer-reviewed journal which examines these issues in plain English Current Issue: Vol.12, No.8-10, August-October 2005 BBC Reith Lectures 'The Emerging Mind' based on three JCS papers by V.S. Ramachandran Also of interest: Holland on Machine Consciousness Dean on Astrology; Alcock on the Psi Wars Full text also available from: Contentseditors Full Text Subscriptions Authors Reviews Online Books
For those who have not checked it out, the Journal of Consciousness Studies is a very impressive forum. It brings together minds as diverse (and as in disagreement with each other) as the transcendentalist Huston Smith and materialist Daniel Dennett -- I think it's very good to have this sort of discussion take place openly. Certainly such dialogue is necessary as we move into an era where the West has to globalize its outlook. Another good journal I've checked out is Anthropology of Consciousness. spiritofnow


Saturday, October 1st, 2005 6:27 pm - Wilber and Evolution
Would anybody like to explain to me why Wilber incorporates Erich Jantsch's evolutionary stages into his cosmology in Sex, Ecology and Spirituality, and then goes on to say the most ridiculous anti-Darwinist Creationist nonsense in A Brief History of Everything? How can a top academic philosopher make a mistake like that?
Friday, October 21st, 2005 4:00 pm - Richard McKeon
I've recently been informed about one of the greatest unsung intellectual giants in human history by my friend Glenn. His name is Richard McKeon. Paul, you might be interested to know that Charles Hartshorne worked with him at the University of Chicago. McKeon interests me because I'm always looking for people who have been synthesizing different knowledge systems together, and one of his main contributions has been the synthesis of many different systems of philosophy and in the working out of an approach to unify disparate views, branches of knowledge, etc. Basically, he presented us with the fundamentals of the science of epistemology as a fait accompli.
Here is what one student had to say about McKeon: He completely analyzed the limited number of possible assumptions underlying all philosophies, and showed how the range of observable phenomenae are determined, not by the universe itself, but by the lens of the philosophy used to examine it. One of his major goals was to help philosophers understand what part of their disagreemeents are simply semantic, based on different assumptions, and which are based on different truths, possibilities, or knowledge . . . so that thinkers could stop quibbling about things they can never possibly agree upon, and concentrate on the areas of possible discovery, resolution, agreement, and the advancement of knowledge.
The core of his semantic analyis of philosophy is a 17-page paper, "Philosophic Semantics and Philosophic Inquiry," which he gave out at the beginning of every basic course. It is astonishingly demanding. You need to be prepared to have your philosophical and mental lenses absolutely and painfully shattered . . . and then rebuilt as simply one of many ways of looking at the universe. Repeated, thorough, rigorous, and painstaking dissection, analysis, and reconstruction of that paper is the basis for a beginning of a comprehensive understanding of the basic fundamentals of the philosophical process.
Glenn recommended his book On Knowing: The Natural Sciences. From the Amazon description: "Well before the current age of discourse, deconstruction, and multiculturalism, Richard McKeon propounded a philosophy of pluralism showing how 'facts' and 'values' are dependent on diverse ways of reading texts. This book is a transcription of an entire course, including both lectures and student discussions, taught by McKeon. As such, it provides an introduction to McKeon's conception of pluralism, a central aspect of neo-Pragmatism, while demonstrating how pluralism works in a classroom setting."
Thursday, October 20th, 2005 9:12 am- Why I Like R. D. Laing
Ronald David Laing was one of the most controversial figures of 20th century psychology and philosophy. His writings -- a mix of psychoanalysis, mysticism, existentialism and left-wing politics -- make for powerful and often disturbing reading; disturbing because they so clearly demonstrate the extent to which the average human being is entrapped by the pressures of social conformity. His first book, The Divided Self, was an attempt to explain schizophrenia by using existentialist philosophy to vividly portray the inner world of a schizophrenic, which Laing presented as an attempt to live in an unlivable situation.
His later books, such as Self and Others and The Politics of Experience, expand upon this to show how contemporary culture conspires to rob us of our individuality. Laing remains a highly enigmatic figure. His work tends to be dismissed by most psychiatrists; however, droves of mentally ill people insist that this was a man who truly understood how they felt. Laing always insisted that psychotherapists should act as shamans, exorcising the illness through a process of mutual catharsis. This is particularly apt, since, like the archetypal shaman, Laing did not appear to so much preach a doctrine as live it.Since Laing refused to view mental illness in biomedical/clinical terms, he has often been labelled as part of the so-called 'antipsychiatry' movement, alongside figures such as David Cooper, Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault. However, Laing vehemently rejected this label. He never tried to deny that mentally ill people are in need of help -- he simply did not believe that conventional psychiatry provided the answer. He was especially opposed to the use of lobotomies, ECT and the dehumanising effects of incarceration in psychiatric hospitals.

Sri Aurobindo, Mirra Alfassa and Ilse Middendorf

Evolution of the Divine living within people Transformation of the physical body and the Perceptible Breath Experiences, Insights and Visions on the basis of the work of Sri Aurobindo, Mirra Alfassa and Ilse Middendorf First published in the Internet On the 15th August 2001 at Helge Langguth
Ilse Middendorf - as a Person - the Perceptible Breath
Ilse Middendorf was born on the 21st of September 1910 in Frankenberg in the German state of Sachsen as the second child of Johanna Kullrich and Carl Kullrich. Her parents were loving, humorous and tolerant. What was remarkable in her as a child was her thirst for knowledge which survived her initiation into school life. At the age of 12 she had a strong sense of intuition. She heard a significant voice: “You have to breathe”.
In the 1930s Ilse Middendorf (at that time still Ilse Langguth), who had always been interested in breathing and was trained in gymnastics, nutrition and nerve massage, began to search for possibilities to address people more “inwardly” and “deeper” than was possible with gymnastics and massage. As a result she commenced systematic research into her own breathing. Through that she made many discoveries which she then investigated intensively. When she met Cornelis Veening in 1938, she found in him a person who confirmed her own experiences of breathing, and who accompanied her for many years on this path.
In the course of her research, it became clear that a sensing access to one’s body could be so much the better achieved the more that breathing could “come and go its own accord”, that means taking place unconsciously or not intentionally directed. This “permitting” she formulated with the well-known sentence: “I let the breath come on its own, go on its own, and wait until it comes back on its own“. In this manner Ilse Middendorf discovered that “focusing, perceiving, breathing” influence each other and established with that the basis of “Perceptible Breath“.
Surrender and conscious awareness support this way of working, and themselves grow too through the work on breathing. So the breath is the medium through which we can develop all necessary abilities and characteristics of the body which are required for the tasks which are under discussion here. The Mother likewise stressed the importance of experiences: ”I have noticed unmistakably that something is guiding me to the discovery of this power – to this knowledge –, of course on the only possible path, that of experience.”

Lurianic Kabbalah, Sri Aurobindo, and the New Physics

M.Alan Kazlev
The Divinisation Of Matter - This essay first appeared in Esoterica (later Magick) magazine, issue no.7, 1996. Contents The Kabbalistic Cosmology The Fall - Stage One The Origin Of The Universe According To Modern Physics The Cause Of Imperfection The Restitution (Stage One), And The Fall (Stage Two) A Lurianic-Physics Synthesis Tikkun Or Restitution (Stage Two) The Aurobindoan-Mirran Conception Of Supramentalisation The Collective Transformation Stages On The Path To Supramentalisation The Universal Body The Transcendence Of Life And Death The Physics Of Supramentalisation The Kabbalistic Cosmology
In Kabbalah, the Absolute Godhead is referred to as En Sof, literally "no end", i.e., "The Infinite," which is not only infinite, eternal, and unitary, but ineffable and indescribable as well. Most Kabbalists, being good monotheists, identified the En Sof with the God of Revealed Religion (the "God of Israel", etc). Rabbi Luria however was very perceptive in allocating the Personal God to a lower station, the World of Atzilut, so that the En Sof becomes the Transcendent Absolute, equivalent perhaps to the Nirguna Brahman of Vedanta, and the original Tao of Taoism. Modern occultists tend to understand the En Sof in this manner too.