January 26, 2006

A lone voice

Spiritual seekers have always recognized the problems of unconscious mind parasites, but until Freud, they didn't know where they came from or what to do about them. Therefore, they just lumped them all together in this hopeless thing called "ego," and counseled people to abandon the whole enterprise. However, doing so will often backfire, as it can simply leave you more vulnerable to the unconscious, with no defenses at all. This is why people who have supposedly obliterated the ego generally must live in monasteries or in caves, like Sri Ramana Maharshi. They can't actually function in society. I mean, the first time they saw a Victoria's Secret catalog they'd lose their minds.
Having said that, I believe that the most pervasive mind parasite would fall under the heading of what Freud misleadingly called the "death instinct." In reality there is no death instinct, but the phenomena Freud attributed to it are nonetheless real. We come into the world so alive, so vital, so curious, so playful, so full of a sense of wonder, but something along the way shuts all of this down in most people.
Bryan's second question is related to the first: Why are contemporary people on an authentic spiritual path almost unanimously leftist? There is, of course, the counterexample of Sri Aurobindo, but he appears a lone voice crying in the wilderness these days.
Buddhists and traditional Hindus tried to get around the problem of mind parasites by eliminating the ego with extreme prejudice, which is completely impractical and unworkable for most people, especially in the modern world. While there is much wisdom in Ramana Maharshi and Ramakrishna, there is much that is frankly primitive, not to mention pre-scientific and mythological.
There are spiritual paths of "ascent" and paths of "descent." The ascending paths try to take you out of the world, into some conflict-free realm above it all. This is in direct contrast to Judaism, to Christianity, and to Sri Aurobindo's yoga, which are all primarily descending paths: they attempt to bring the higher, or divine realm, down into this plane. This is the meaning of "tikkun" in Judaism, or the holy spirit "descending like a dove" in Christianity. And in Aurobindo's yoga, the divine shakti descends down through the chakras, rather than being awakened below and trying to force it upward.
Evolution is actually only possible with the descending approaches. This is why the East stagnated for so long under the weight of the notion that the world is an illusion and the ego unreal. posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:22 AM 4 Comments:<<> About Me Name:Gagdad Bob Location:Nestled in his Personal Cloud, At the Still Point of the Turning World, United States View my complete profile

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