February 28, 2006

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Measure

Psychotherapy has to occupy the difficult middle ground , but without taking sides
By ADAM PHILLIPS The New York Times: Sunday, February 26, 2006
PSYCHOTHERAPY is having yet another identity crisis. It has manifested itself in two recent trends in the profession in America: the first involves trying to make therapy into more of a "hard science" by putting a new emphasis on measurable factors; the other is a growing belief among therapists that the standard practice of using talk therapy to discover traumas in a patient's past is not only unnecessary but can be injurious.
That psychotherapists of various orientations find themselves under pressure to prove to themselves and to society that they are doing a hard-core science — which was a leading theme of the landmark Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in California in December — is not really surprising. Given the prestige and trust the modern world gives to scientific standards, psychotherapists, who always have to measure themselves against the medical profession, are going to want to demonstrate that they, too, deal in the predictable; that they, too, can provide evidence for the value of what they do.
And, obviously, if psychotherapy is going to attain scientific credibility, it won't do to involve such wishy-washy practices as "going back to childhood" or "reconstructing the past" — terms that when used with appropriate scorn can sound as though a person's past was akin to the past lives New Agers like to talk about.
Since at least the middle of the 19th century, Western societies have been divided between religious truth and scientific truth, but none of the new psychotherapies are trying to prove they are genuine religions. Nor is there much talk, outside of university literature departments, of psychotherapy trying to inhabit the middle ground of arts, in which truth and usefulness have traditionally been allowed a certain latitude (nobody measures Shakespeare or tries to prove his value).
It is, so to speak, symptomatic that psychotherapists are so keen to legitimize themselves as scientists: they want to fit in rather than create the taste by which they might be judged. One of the good things psychotherapy can do, like the arts, is show us the limits of what science can do for our welfare. The scientific method alone is never going to be enough, especially when we are working out how to live and who we can be.
In the so-called arts it has always been acknowledged that many of the things we value most — the gods and God, love and sexuality, mourning and amusement, character and inspiration, the past and the future — are neither measurable or predictable. Indeed, this may be one of the reasons they are so abidingly important to us. The things we value most, just like the things we most fear, tend to be those we have least control over.
This is not a reason to stop trying to control things — we should, for example, be doing everything we can to control pain — but it is a reason to work out in which areas of our lives control is both possible and beneficial. Trying to predict the unpredictable, like trying to will what cannot be willed, drives people crazy.
Just as we cannot know beforehand the effect on us of reading a book or of listening to music, every psychotherapy treatment, indeed every session, is unpredictable. Indeed, if it is not, it is a form of bullying, it is indoctrination. It is not news that most symptoms of so-called mental illness are efforts to control the environment, just like the science that claims to study them.
It would clearly be naïve for psychotherapists to turn a blind eye to science, or to be "against" scientific methodology. But the attempt to present psychotherapy as a hard science is merely an attempt to make it a convincing competitor in the marketplace. It is a sign, in other words, of a misguided wish to make psychotherapy both respectable and servile to the very consumerism it is supposed to help people deal with. (Psychotherapy turns up historically at the point at which traditional societies begin to break down and consumer capitalism begins to take hold.)
If psychotherapy has anything to offer — and this should always be in question — it should be something aside from the dominant trends in the culture. And this means now that its practitioners should not be committed either to making money or to trivializing the past or to finding a science of the soul.
If you have an eye test, if you buy a car, there are certain things you are entitled to expect. Your money buys you some minimal guarantees, some reliable results. The honest psychotherapist can provide no comparable assurances. She can promise only an informed willingness to listen, and the possibility of helpful comment.
By inviting the patient to talk, at length — and especially to talk about what really troubles him — something is opened up, but neither patient nor therapist can know beforehand what will be said by either of them, nor can they know the consequences of what they will say. Just creating a situation that has the potential to evoke previously repressed memories and thoughts and feelings and desires is an opportunity of immeasurable consequence, both good and bad. No amount of training and research, of statistics-gathering and empathy, can offset that unique uncertainty of the encounter.
As a treatment, psychotherapy is a risk, just as what actually happens in anyone's childhood is always going to be obscure and indefinite, but no less significant for being so. Psychotherapists are people whose experience tells them that certain risks are often worth taking, but more than this they cannot rightly say. There are always going to be casualties of therapy. Psychotherapy makes use of a traditional wisdom holding that the past matters and that, surprisingly, talking can make people feel better — even if at first, for good reasons, they resist it. There is an appetite to talk and to be listened to, and an appetite to make time for doing those things.
Religion has historically been the language for people to talk about the things that mattered most to them, aided and abetted by the arts. Science has become the language that has helped people to know what they wanted to know, and get what they wanted to get. Psychotherapy has to occupy the difficult middle ground between them, but without taking sides. Since it is narrow-mindedness that we most often suffer from, we need our therapists to resist the allure of the fashionable certainties. Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and the author, most recently, of "Going Sane: Maps of Happiness."

February 26, 2006

Our cells carry the death-instinct

Positive health: The Y.M.C.A. Auditorium in New Delhi was the venue of a seminar on positive health the other day. The seminar was organised by Mr Inder Agrawal, Director of the Institute for Positive Health State. The main speaker and explainer was Sri Gyanchandra, who is the Secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Chetana Samaj, Delhi. For 35 years, he has been researching on and experimenting with "Death Instinct vs Life Instinct and Plus-Psychology."
"Our cells carry the death-instinct engraved deep in the cells", says the learned Sri Gyanchandra. "Like record-disc. This death-instinct influences all our thoughts and deeds whether small or big. Life is itself a highly positive and natural state but due to this death instinct it cannot grow properly and fully. Special gestures, body postures, voluntary alteration of the conscious state and new techniques of vital energy accumulation must be understood properly". Sri Gyanchandra is a sincere student of modern scientific developments. Apart from this, he is a well-known and deep explorer, researcher and promoter of supramental yoga of Sri Aurobindo.
One can do without medicine, without difficult exercises and fasts etc. Body gestures, mental practices and energy-accumulating practices are not difficult to understand and, once understood, are easy to practise. These are logical and effective. Worry, depression, loneliness, boredom, energy depletion, panic and confusion are curable. Sri Gyanchandra's neo-yoga has gone to the village level, besides going abroad. — Cynthia Kanjhlia Tribune News Service Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Vedantic doctrines of spiritual/material co-evolution

A friend of mine linked to an important article in the Guardian about the rise of Creationism at Universities in the UK. And whether it intends to or not, the article points out some red flags that I think non-creationists are not paying attention to.Simply because one is a creationist or sees a role for creation does not mean that this person is dumb or stupid...The creationist movement has published extensively on its own presses and has extremely intelligent and articulate spokespeople.
Creationist ideas and ideas of evolution by means of natural selection are not necessarily incompatible. As many liberal monotheists put it, a metaphorical reading of creation texts is compatible, or at least not necessarily contradictory, with thoughts about species and populations changing over time and serving as common ancestors for later species. Furthermore, religious forms of evolution have remained popular and gained currency from New Age and its antecedent religious movements, such as Sri Aurobindo's Vedantic doctrines of spiritual/material co-evolution. My HInduism students always get a healthy dose of Sri Aurobindo and Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. On Christopher Street Feb. 24th, 2006 01:06 pm

Sri Aurobindo on the origin of human speech by analysing Sanskrit language

GODAVARISHA MISHRA The Hindu Book Review Tuesday, Feb 21, 2006

SANSKRIT AND THE EVOLUTION OF HUMAN SPEECH: Sampadananda Mishra; Sri Aurobindo Institute of Research in Social Sciences, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
In addition to Sri Aurobindo's scholarship in many disciplines, this book makes an attempt to portray his deep and scientific concern for human speech and different aspects related to it. He was of the view that on the basis of original mind impressions one can discover the root sounds which would help us to establish a source language as the basis of all the languages of the world. For doing this, he has chosen the Sanskrit language selecting certain useful specimens from the Vedas and experimented with them grammatically, lexically and etymologically. Organised into five chapters, the book begins with a study of language in general and describes the attempts made by ancient Greeks and Indians. On the basis of Sri Aurobindo's writings, the author presents a critique of comparative philology, which is not scientifically sufficient to study the multifaceted problems concerning language, its origin and growth.
Chapter two discusses theories of the origin of language and particularly the views of Sri Aurobindo on the origin and growth of Aryan speech, and provides an outline of original root sounds. The next one deals with the Sanskrit alphabets, which are taken to be seed sounds that gave rise to the ancient root-sounds. Discovering the root-sounds and recognising their senses, the author feels, would aid the tracing of the common origin of all languages. Further, this chapter analyses the structural pattern of the Sanskrit language, the root meanings of the vowels and consonants and provides samples of original sounds as the source of language formation.
Next it deals with the modern notions of language, showing how language has deeper aspects than just being a communicative tool. It summarises the Vedic and Tantric theories of speech, the Sphota theory, the vibration theory of physics, and the creative word theory of Sri Aurobindo. Chapter five deals with the principles adopted in the past to interpret the Vedas and related issues to their interpretation from Sri Aurobindo's viewpoint. The author critically assesses the views of contemporary thinkers. There is little doubt that the book would come in handy for those interested in linguistic studies, Sri Aurobindo and comparative language. That he was a multifaceted thinker whose holistic thinking embraced many disciplines is reasserted in this book.

February 24, 2006

What is the Meaning of “Integral”?

Michael Murphy maintains that, along with Aurobindo's Life Divine, Heidegger's Being and Time, and Whitehead's Process and Reality, Wilber's Sex, Ecology, Spirituality is "one of the four great books of this century." Dr. Larry Dossey proclaims it "one of the most significant books ever published," while Roger Walsh compares its scope to Hegel and Aurobindo. The most perspicuous reader of the bunch, invoking Alasdair MacIntyre's well-known choice between Aristotle and Nietzsche, claims that no, the modern world actually has three choices: Aristotle, Nietzsche, or Wilber...
Wilber's approach appears to have provided a coherent vision that seamlessly weaves together truth-claims from such fields as physics and biology; the eco-sciences; chaos theory and the systems sciences; medicine, neurophysiology, biochemistry; art, poetry, and aesthetics in general; developmental psychology and a spectrum of psychotherapeutic endeavors, from Freud to Jung to Kegan; the great spiritual theorists from Plato and Plotinus in the West to Shankara and Nagarjuna in the East; the modernists from Descartes and Locke to Kant; the Idealists from Schelling to Hegel; the postmodernists from Foucault and Derrida to Taylor and Habermas; the major hermeneutic tradition, Dilthey to Heidegger to Gadamer; the social systems theorists from Comte and Marx to Parsons and Luhmann; the contemplative and mystical schools of the great meditative traditions, East and West, in the world's major religious traditions. And all of that is just a sampling! Jack Crittenden Author, Democracy's Midwife www.integralinstitute.org

Derrida and Indian Philosophy

Harold Coward - Author Release Date: 10/16/1990ISBN: 0-7914-0499-4 - 200 pages
This book establishes a constructive and mutually stimulating dialogue between Jacques Derrida and Eastern thought. Surprising parallels are found with some traditional Indian philosophies of language, especially with the Hindu philosopher Bhartrhari, and with the Chinese Taoists. Conversely, the views of Sankara and Nagarjuna on language definitely differ from those of Derrida.
Derrida and Indian Philosophy builds a bridge by which traditional Eastern views on language can engage the latest in modern Western thought. It also shows that our understanding of Derrida can be enhanced when his thought is approached from an Eastern perspective on language.
Table Of Contents
1. Philosophy East and West
2. Derrida and Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya on the Origin of Language
3. Derrida and Bhartrhari on Speech and Writing
4. Derrida and Sankara
5. Derrida and
6. Derrida and Nagarjuna
7. Conclusion
Harold Coward is Director of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities and Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Jung and Eastern Thought and Modern Indian Responses to Religious Pluralism, both published by SUNY Press.

Sri Aurobindo, Sartre and Derrida

I find some aspects of literary theory very attractive, but like many others, feel that it is saddled with the weight of too many compartments and ‘isms’...I am not sure why you should feel hollow, considering the very purpose of a lot of modern literary theory could be to help you rid of any hollow feeling, to reject the literary base of an unfamiliar, narrow western philosophical thought and possibly supplant it with a more universal one. I suppose you are not helped by the many people who write about what they think Derrida was thinking when he wrote on a particular topic or issue!
I think this is when you must be able to articulate your perspective of Derrida, although I must say that Derrida is quite formidable to comprehend at places, his basic thesis is not very difficult to 'deconstruct'...well, "Good Luck" if you wish, but I think it shouldn't be very difficult if the pile of interpretations of Derrida can be avoided or if that is not possible, sifted through with a fine sieve!!!...
I think Aurobindo's "Future Poetry" represents a rather good example, in riveting language and style, of an atypical Indian view of literary criticism of English poetry. Sartre's "What is Literature?" is a great essay, extremely well-written and illustrated like many of his other work. Thejaswi Shivanand Location: Bangalore, India posted by Dumaketu Saturday, October 29, 2005 @ 11:43 AM 14 comments

Hafiz, Rumi, Sri Aurobindo, John of the Cross

I've been collecting poems on the theme of divine love as it appears manifest in the world around us. Rounding up the usual suspects, Hafiz, Rumi, Sri Aurobindo, John of the Cross, Mirabai and Lalla, with a few contemporary things from Frost, Stafford and others salted in, it occurred to me that most poets don't address topics such as generosity, kindness, service to others and the like. The exceptions are often-quoted because they're so scarce. I think of Naomi Shihab Nye's wonderful poem Kindness. Where are the poets who write about something beyond the narrow confines of the self and its small grudges and complaints? posted by Rachel Dacus Thursday, February 23, 2006 @ 10:18 AM

February 23, 2006

Inseparability of man from his world and the sacredness of both

J.N. Mohanty, Classical Indian Philosophy (Oxford: 2000) p.126
On the surface, the hymns of Rig-Veda appear to be a sort of “naturalistic polytheism,” which then matures, through stages of internal development, successively into a “henotheism,” a monotheism, and finally an agnostic monism (“who knows that One Being?”). But this reading, combined with the ritualism one ascribes to the Vedic religion, makes use of more modern ideas of “nature” and “naturalism,” and also of “rituals.” It may be more appropriate to use conceptualizations that are
  • prior to the Cartesian divide between nature and spirit
  • and also the anthropologist’s idea of “rituals.”

Luckily, in more recent times, our understanding of the Vedic language has been deepened. As Sri Aurobindo has brought out, the key Vedic words…, even etymologically, carry inner, deeply psychological meanings. Spanning the divide between the outer and the inner, these “deities” or devas (or “shining ones”) show both

  • the inseparability of man from his world
  • and the sacredness of both.

February 22, 2006

I am the Mystery!

In response to the recently released Cosmic History Chronicles and the esoteric meanderings compared to Carlos Castaneda ... Madame Blavatsky ... G. I. Gurdjieff ... Alice Bailey ... Sri Aurobindo .... As we have witnessed in the blossoming of Velatropa's, our "known" universe (which can be called by infinite names--in reference to Spinoza's plea for "God" to be interchangeable with "Nature" or whatever dribbles off the tip of one's tongue when one points at the moon), infinite expansion, there is the Known and there all-ways continues to be the Unknown...
We can, as Buddha hinted at, become a lamp to the ever-evolving Known...which is ultimately: taking responsibility for our own perceptions and the myriad of agreements we choose to make regarding these perceptions. However, darkness remains. And isn't is a darkness that has a lamp onto itself? It screams: "I am the Mystery!" With such silence it screams...and still, the esoteric ones scream back, "I know." What ultimate Truth can be known? Only that which dissolves all dimensions, all dualities, and all definitions. I have come to a place of surrender that the Unknown is Allah's realm and will remain to be. WhiteMagneticWind (a_dancewithrain) wrote,@ 2005-05-13 14:01:00

February 21, 2006

Immense potential of Indian traditions

When two German magazines, Yoga Aktuell and Advaita Journal, expressed interest in a report on a conference on Indian psychology, I was convinced of the demand for the subject in the West. Off I went to Pondicherry, a state in southern India, to attend the conference on 'Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology' a month ago. Pondicherry was home to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who left behind a huge body of work on yoga and psychology. He had stated: "Yoga is nothing but practical psychology." Sri Aurobindo's vision of an impending change in the consciousness of humankind prompted the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology to ask Dr Matthijs Cornelissen from the Netherlands to organise this conference.
He has lived in the ashram for almost 30 years and values the Indian tradition. During his lectures on Sri Aurobindo's vision of psychology in America and Europe, he noticed that there is a big demand for teachers of Indian psychology in the West. The many conference sponsors included the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and the Infinity Foundation of USA. It drew 160 delegates from different universities and institutes from India and abroad, and over 80 papers were presented. In his keynote address, Prof Ramakrishna Rao, president of the Institute of Human Science in Vishakapatnam (India) and former vice-chancellor of Andhra University, said: "Isn't it ironical that there is no Indian psychology in any of our great universities?"
He pointed out that out of the 1,000 colleges in Andhra Pradesh (India), only 20 teach psychology. He asked why psychology was in such a pitiful state and answered the question himself: "Because psychology as it is taught now appears irrelevant in the Indian condition." It slowly dawned on me that Indian psychology is hardly taught in India, at least not at her colleges and universities. It amazed me. Psychology in India is completely ignoring the Indian tradition in spite of the great treasures hidden in its ancient scriptures. The textbooks here are written by western authors and many teachers are trained abroad. Prof Girishwar Misra from Delhi University put it bluntly: "If you mention Freud, nobody asks questions. If you mention samadhi, everyone does."
Prof Anand Paranjpe, who retired from Simon Frazer University in Vancouver, said he smuggled some Indian thought into his regular courses. This, he said, was tolerated and even appreciated in the West, but not in India. Thirty years ago, when he suggested including Indian thought into the curriculum, nobody supported his idea. For him, the conference in Pondicherry was like a dream come true. Finally, professors, lecturers and students from all over India appreciate the profundity of Indian tradition and realise that it is possible to develop a scientific psychology based on this tradition, which goes far beyond western psychology.
About time, because the West has already discovered the immense potential of Indian traditions and techniques like yoga. Yoga and pranayama which concern the well-being and growth of human beings, are no doubt aspects of psychology. Westerners have also taken concepts from India's ancient scriptures, and used them to go beyond behavioural and humanistic psychology to what is termed 'transpersonal' psychology and 'transpersonal' psychotherapy. Contact: mariawirth@rediffmail.com Life Positive, November 2002

The Mother's Service Society

The Mother's Service Society's work since 1969 has focused on identifying the fundamental principles governing the process of social development. These principles form the basis of a comprehensive Theory of Social Development. One basic assumption of this theory is that the same or very similar laws govern the evolution of society, organizations and individuals and the process of political, social, economic, commercial, intellectual, scientific, technological and artistic creation. The theory is based on the conviction that any problem, individual or organizational, in any field of life, lends itself to solution.
The Society has also applied its theoretical knowledge of the development process to the growth of business organizations. These findings are presented in four management books published in the USA over the past ten years. Seeing an opportunity to promote international peace in the late 1980s, the Society helped found the International Commission on Peace and Food (ICPF) whose final report, Uncommon Opportunities was presented to the United Nations in 1994. (click here to see the Preface to the 2nd Edition dated Nov. 2004)
  • Recent News: International Symposium on Uncommon Opportunities: Roadmap for Employment, Food and Global Security -- was conducted in New Delhi on November 19-22, 2004. For details, click here.
  • The Society has undertaken two specific studies -- applying the theoretical principles of development theory to trace the evolution of two crucial institutions in society—money and the Internet. For essay, click here.
  • New -- A new website for ideas on Entrepreneurship Opportunities in India and abroad, has just come up: click here.
  • Experimental School In Pondicherry: Inspired by the methods for early childhood education developed by Dr. Glenn Doman at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in the USA, the Society is operating an experimental school in alternative education at Pondicherry These methods have previously been applied successfully in Shikshayatan School in Tamil Nadu. For articles on alternative education by Aruna Raghavan, click here.
  • The Society has conducted extensive research on the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in order to interpret their philosophic and yogic concepts in a language that can be understood by the common man. For essays on spirituality and yoga, click here.

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother: the deeper meaning of their works

  • In this area of our site on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother we offer our readers our best attempt to interpret and explain the key ideas and principles of the sage and seer Sri Aurobindo.
  • This is a vast challenge for us because to truly understand the deeper meaning of his ideas requires a great steadiness, focus, and intensity of thought.
  • We are not only required to give up our preconceived notions about spirituality, since his ideas are in one sense a radical break with spiritual tradition, but we need to change the very way we understand and comprehend principles of life.
  • To truly understand his works, we must give up some of our normal notions of logic, and settle ourselves in an inner silence that can more readily absorb principles that often defy our normal mentality.
  • From such a poise we can more readily understand the subtleties, complexities, relations, transcendent ideas, and spiritual planes and levels that he is addressing in his works.
  • Ultimately, however, we will need to move further still into the deeper planes of spiritual mind, where we absorb knowledge not through the hard workings of thought, but through descents of light, illumination, and intuition.
  • Fortunately, even if we do not rise to such lofty heights as reader, we can still gain a solid understanding of his thought, since so much of what is expressed with such impeccable reason and logic. What is minimally required of us is a certain level of curiosity, focus, and patience.
  • Most past interpretations of Sri Aurobindo's work -- and there have been a plethora by many sincere and dedicated individuals - have provided mostly a surface understanding of his meaning; or perhaps we can call them conservative interpretations based on traditional understanding and perceptions of what spirit and evolution are.
  • Many others have merely restated his words, with only slight comment; i.e. they have let his original words speak for themselves.
  • Though in one sense this is sincere approach, in another we are still left to interpret and explain these not easily understandable, though thoroughly rational cosmic ideas and principles.
  • Even those who have keen minds, even a keen spiritual sense, have found it to be a very difficult endeavor to explain his central ideas.
  • After all he is writing about a future mode of existence, whose nature transcends our current level of understanding.
  • Still we are dedicated to making this effort, for we believe that an understanding of his ideas are key to moving the human race forward to its spiritual purpose and destiny.
  • Our goal then is to take his writings, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and understand its deeper meaning as he intended.
  • We hope you can appreciate the fact that this is an evolving process, continually changing, as we ourselves change and come to understand and appreciate his ideas at hopefully ever-deeper levels.
  • Fortunately our work has been made much easier as a result of the pioneering work of The Mother's Service Society, who have systematically studied Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's work for over thirty years, have interpreted them at the greatest depths and level of understanding we have found anywhere, and have then further extended and applied them to various field of life, including social and business development, economics, education, literature, science, personal growth, psychology, and others.
  • We wish to express our deepest gratitude to The Mother's Service Society; for their tireless effort to reveal Sri Aurobindo's deepest and most profound insights into the nature of the cosmos.
  • In this site then we will address the key ideas and principles of Sri Aurobindo's thought. Among the areas to be covered are --
    1. His overall vision of creation, existence, and a divine life on earth.
    2. The path he has laid out to achieve individual spiritual progress and transformation.
    3. How the universe emerged from a Divine source (i.e. the involution), and how the universe, the individual, and humanity are evolving upward from matter to spirit (i.e. the evolution), fulfilling the purpose of creation.
    4. The nature of his great discovery, the supramental consciousness and force, which was the key to the emergence of the universe in creation, and the vital link to our own future evolution.
    5. An overview of how life on earth fundamentally operates, changes, and evolves.
    6. An analysis of what a person is fundamentally made up of; i.e. what are the planes that make up our being; what are their limitations and potentials, the keys to their development, etc.
    7. The nature of the integral yoga that can take an individual to our ultimate evolutionary status.
    8. His views on the nature of religion, science, literature, history, social development, human unity, including the unity of nations and societies, and other topics.
    We thank you for your patience as we develop this area on the ideas of Sri Aurobindo, and we hope you can use them in your own life, so that you may find the keys to your own growth, development, evolution, and transformation. INTERPRETATION OF KEY IDEAS OF SRI AUROBINDO Roy Posner Growth Online.

The Process of Creation, Involution, and Evolution

and contributions of Mother's Service Society (MSS) Growth Online
On the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin, people are trying to reconcile his ideas with the spirit. So far, all parties -- secular and scientific, and religious -- seem far away from understanding the true nature of evolution. Evolution takes place for any entity when it organizes itself at a higher level. When a business develops a strategic plan to grow, it is essentially organizing itself and then executing that plan, which creates further progress for the firm. When I as an individual plan out what I want to become, organize the details, and then carry it out, I can rapidly progress. If the organization or individual plans and succeeds in going not just a bit further, but to a substantially new level, there is not only only progress, but evolution.
There is then a single process of accomplishment and creation that is taking place in life: a conception of that which we wish to become, the organization of the details of that vision, and an intense execution that enables the aspiration and intention to manifest. When that process is practiced to perfection it enables not only progress, but evolution. Even the Spiritual reality in creating a universe from its Divine source, followed this same essential approach: it conceived that which it wished to create -- a universe -- and it organized and made it happen through powers of consciousness that turned conscious force into unseen subtle energy that became the basis of the forms of creation. It evolved itself further into a universe.
If we are to understand evolution, we need to understand this single great process of creation that moves from vision to organization to manifestation. Even when a primitive being or an animal evolves, there is some higher quality that is being organized, that is moving from its current level of being to a higher order. We can see this in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the ape vaguely perceives that a bone it has found can be used, tries it out, and then uses it to gain superiority over its rivals. It is the organization of a perception into a living reality. Evolution is then a product of the organization of consciousness -- whether it is consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously takes place -- as in the case of the amoeba.
There is another dimension to the evolutionary process. It is that the higher levels of progress, development, and evolution that entities attain is already involved in their being. Just as a tree emerges of a seed in which all of its existence is mostly predetermined, so too there is an involved capacity to bring about the next stage or phase of its being. When the lowest life forms emerged from unanimated matter, that matter already had within it an involved capacity to develop into an animated life form. Likewise, if I wish to become more intuitively spiritual -- a higher formation of mentality -- that capacity is already there involved as potential in my current mental framework. It is their in the seed of my being as potential.
Thus, not only is there one universal process of creation that moves from stages of vision to organization to manifestation, i.e. through a movement of higher consciousness, but the stages we can evolve to are already there embedded in our being as potentiality. This is the case because in the creation of the cosmos from a Divine Source, those very planes of being were there before the universe even existed, and in creation were then embedded in the forms that emerged, including us.
E.g., a plane of Mind existed before the universe came to be and higher life forms developed a mind with the capacity to think. This preexistence of the planes that we are emerging into, from an involved seed of consciousness that is rooted in these very planes prior to creation, is another dimension to evolution. Thus, we can say that the evolutionary process is able to occur because the involutionary process has created these potentialities in the very fiber of our being. The planes that emerge from us were already involved in us as a seed in subtle form.
Through the process of conception, vision, intention, organization of the intent, and the carrying out the intent, we progress. If it is substantial -- i.e. there is a dramatic change for the positive -- it is more than progress, but evolution. And yet the seeds of our intention are already there in our being, even as we have the free will to become the very thing we wish to become. In the end, we become the next highest thing -- i.e. we progress and evolve -- when we organize that which is emerging turning it into a living reality. We as humans can consciously do this, and accelerate the speed of the evolution of Man. More thoughts on this subject

Role of Dreams in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo

D. Raja Ganesan Ph.D., Professor and Head, Department of Education University of Madras, Madras 600005, India; & Founder (1988)- President, Dream Study Circle, Madras. For Notification: drajaganesan@rediffmail.com 20th Annual International Conference of the Association for the Study of Dreamso June 27 - July 1, 2003oBerkeley, California
Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was a savant of the Indian Renaissance who undertook a grand synthesis of the ideas and ideals of the East and the West. His vision of spiritual evolution encompasses seminal ideas of Western thinkers like Bergson and Nietzsche (Maitra, 1986) His Integral Yoga, the unique means that he developed, by a long and arduous process of trial and error, for deliberately accelerating the evolutionary process with focus on human consciousness, synthesizes the four yogas-- normative styles of living evolved in the ancient Indian tradition, and deemed till then to be discrete and mutually exclusive. These were all designed to achieve in several ways the singular goal of moksa or liberation in the sense of radical termination of existence through endless cycles of birth and death and thereby the merging of the individual into the cosmos, doctrines to which all the major schools of Indian thought including Buddhism subscribe.
The aim of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga is not disappearance into the Absolute, but acceleration of the evolutionary process towards the emergence of Supermanhood. In making Integral Yoga the means of pursuing spiritual evolution, Sri Aurobindo offers a unique synthesis of a vision derived mainly from Western thinkers on the one hand and a way of living developed from repertoires of normative experience accumulated in the East, on the other. The "Mother" (Mirra Richard, a woman of European origin) joined Sri Aurobindo in India in 1920 collaborated with him in the pursuit of this vision and took a major responsibility in translating the vision at the concrete level.
  1. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother anticipate many of the findings of contemporary Western dream science, on the basis of their subjective but rigorous and penetrating explorations of the inner world.
  2. They are unique among Indian thinkers in their conception of the nature and the use of dreams, in that they have sought to ground the same at the philosophical level: There are extensive discussions on dreams in ancient Indian philosophical, popular and medical (Ayurveda) literature (Layek, 1990).
  3. The context in the first one is discussions on mayavada, an argument about the illusory nature of ultimate reality, with dreams providing analogy for the same. The popular literature deals with dreams as omens.
  4. The Ayurvedic literature indicates diagnostic uses of dreams, but not therapeutic.

None of them suggest normative processing of individual dreams towards cultivating a particular form consciousness. The role of dreams in Integral Yoga, gleaned in the relevant observations of Sri Aurobindo and "the Mother", is articulated in terms of:

  • the Ontological Status of Dreams;
  • the Dream State;
  • Nature and Features of Dreams;
  • Classification of Dreams;
  • Psychodynamics of Dreams – Genesis, Manifestation, Consequences; and,
  • Significance and Utilization of Dreams.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have encompassing views about the status of dreams and states of mind: They deem most dreams are mere epiphenomena of the mechanical functioning of the brain during the sleep state without any psychological significance, some dreams have significance for waking life, and some signify deeper realities. In the last one they are closer to Carlos Castaneda (1994). Dreaming, non-REM sleep mentation and dreamless sleep are the stages they have identified within the sleep cycle. Indian thought does not refer to non-REM sleep mentation and western dream science denies the possibility of a state of complete rest.

Their classification of the origins and the nature of dreams follows their conception of personality as consisting of five levels: physical, vital, mental, psychic and the higher one (Vrinte, 1995). However, references to dreams pertaining to the higher level are scarce in the corpus of their literature. Another unique feature is the Mother’s sustained attempt to trace the strands of a dream from its sources in the wake state, through its manifestation, to its impact on the wake state. Yet another distinct feature is instructions for retaining and recollecting dreams. There are descriptions of the dynamics of dream formation and manifestation, as well as guidelines for subjectively exploring non-REM sleep mentation. (653)

Integrating Mind, Body, Spirit in Higher Education

I am a devotee of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, and am practicing Integral Yoga under their aegis. The beauty of Integral Yoga is that it is not limiting—Sri Aurobindo and the Mother acknowledge that all spiritual paths, religions, and forms of knowledge emanate from one single source. This to me is extremely liberating, in the sense that it does not limit me to one spiritual path or one religion. On the contrary, I am able to relate to all spiritual traditions and their teachers with equal reverence. At one level it is so paradoxical—by following one, I am able to follow all.
Also as a teenager and a young man, I was very concerned about the social issues and about the wretched condition of humanity. Social issues like social inequity, poverty, suffering, domination, human rights abuse, exploitation, corruption, violence against women, and prejudice bothered me intensely and immensely. I wondered if this life was worth living at all. When I discovered Integral Yoga, I felt as if I found a fresh lease on life since it is about transformation—it is about the inner and outer transformation. In Integral Yoga, the world does not need to be shunned in order to focus on one's spiritual growth. Integral Yoga envisions a spiritual life that incorporates and honors material life. It is a synthesis of our physical life on earth with full and active participation with the Divine.
I completed a master's degree in Applied Psychology from Delhi University in 1997 after earning a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the same university. Then I worked for Sharan, a nongovernmental organization (the American equivalent of a nonprofit organization) committed to uplifting the urban poor. One of Sharan's primary areas of intervention is drug addiction. I counseled substance users and participated in community outreach programs in the marginalized populations of Delhi.
To me, CIIS is a very radical school where a lot of people are doing many different things with respect to manifesting a "new consciousness" on this earth. Unlike much of mainstream education, CIIS accepts spirituality as a founding principle of education. I was also attracted by the fact that the school was founded by the disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother: Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri.
Due to my upbringing and the kind of education that I received, I feel there is a definitely some kind of synthesis of the East and the West in me—that is, if we can categorically differentiate the "East" and the "West." Even before coming to the United States, I had read quite a bit of Western psychology and literature, in addition to the thoughts of many different schools of Indian spirituality, philosophy, and literature. In a nutshell, I wanted to creatively synthesize, compare, and contrast—as well as critically examine— the psychologies and philosophies of the East and the West.
I had the chance to organize and coordinate the third International Conference on Integral Psychology in the summer of 2003. At this conference I had the opportunity to meet and interact with erudite scholars who are developing the field of integral psychology. This conference also occasioned the presence of a few committed and devoted scholars from Auroville and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, which has in a small way led to the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between CIIS and the Integral Yoga community from India. My role in helping to create this partnership and my contribution to the conference gave me a tremendous amount of satisfaction.
I feel that it is very difficult to find a lot of good-hearted and well-meaning people under one roof, which I find at CIIS. I have come across some very intelligent, thoughtful, and genuine individuals striving to bring a greater meaning to their lives, which is very satisfying to me as an individual. I am very attracted to teaching and research in order to make a difference in the world. At the same time, however, I am open to where the Divine Mother takes me or to the kind of job She assigns me. I feel that if I am sufficiently open to Her, She will definitely find me a place where I will be able to express my potential to its optimum. Therefore, the plan is to remain open to the Divine Mother and to see what happens. Kundan CIIS East-West Psychology Program

Psychotherapy and Sri Aurobindo & the Mother

Brant Cortright, Director of the Integral Counseling Psychology Program at CIIS, acknowledged Sri Aurobindo as the greatest psychologist that the world has ever known. According to him, Integral Psychology is born when we fuse Sri Aurobindo's teachings with the findings of depth psychology. Stating that the vital ego is the main obstacle in sadhana as pointed out by Sri Aurobindo, Dr. Cortright pointed out that the concern of depth psychotherapy is to deal with the vital self of the client. He commented that spiritual practice is not capable of breaking through neurotic patterns, and neurotic living is the norm in the society.
He warned that until and unless there has been the formation of a healthy ego, the chances of spiritual bypassing (a condition where one uses spiritual ideas to avoid confronting one's psychological issues) are very strong. Pointing to the similarity between yoga and psychotherapy, he said that the aim of both the practices is identical. For psychotherapy, it is to make the unconscious conscious whereas for yoga, the goal is to become conscious on all planes and parts of the being. Both psychotherapy and yoga make us turn within. However, when we do so we are faced with the difficulties of the surface self. These difficulties can be psychotherapeutically worked with, which can facilitate psychological and spiritual growth.
However, he did not seem to believe that yogis have special powers to work with the psychological issues of their disciples, which can be done only by psychotherapists. For he commented: "psychotherapy is a type of vital discipline Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did not have access to, because it is only in the past 20 or 30 years that psychotherapy has come of age as a mature and effective discipline". A Report on the Second International Conference on Integral Psychology HomeHistory & Mission

The Integral Way of Healing

Health has evolved over the centuries as a concept from individual concern to world wide social goal and encompasses the whole life. The concept of health will be keep on evolving so long as man's quest for better life continues. A human being is an integrated whole where the different parts of his being i.e. the physical, vital, mental and spiritual work in a harmonious equilibrium. Health is the outer expression of this deep Harmony between them.
Therefore any single dimension of health cannot be considered in isolation, as the human organism works, as an integrated whole always, whether performing its normal functions or defending itself from morbific stimuli. As life situations keep changing one has to adjust constantly to maintain this equilibrium. Therefore to be healthy is a dynamic phenomenon, and not a state to be attained once and for all, but ever to be renewed. Illness The integrity and equilibrium of the "body, life, mind and soul" can break at any time and reduce the normal resistance of the body manifesting in the form of illness or abnormal behaviours, crimes, riots, ethnic conflict and meaninglessness in life. The Mother says,
"An illness of the body is always the outer expression and translation of a disorder, a disharmony in the inner being."
The nature and severity of the illness corresponds to the nature of the disharmony and is expressed by symptoms. Symptoms through their symbolism reveal the patient's current problems. Therefore symptoms are not enemies to be fought, resented and destroyed by any means, fair or foul. Instead the symptoms are a partner, capable of helping one to discover what is lacking in our consciousness, in our inner being. Therefore illness gives us a chance to progress. Cure Just as the concept of health is changing so also the concept of disease, its cause, cure, role of medicines and role of physicians is changing based on a new thought.
To become healthy once again one has to move from the plane of chaos and disharmony to a higher plane of harmony. And this necessitates a growth in consciousness. This movement might meet with resistance resulting in the chronicity of illness and frequent relapses or exacerbations. Therefore it is left to the individual whether he wants to grow in his consciousness and bring back the harmony or prefer to suffer and ultimately succumb to illness by disability and death. The physician can 'use' the hour of crisis as a means and spring board for the patient to launch higher and deeper within himself.
The purpose of healing is not just to return a body or mind back to what society considers normal. Rather, the goal is to become better, more enlightened, or stronger than before in some way. The ideal condition would be a remarkable union of body, mind and spirit. As The Mother exactly puts it,

"An illness of the body is always the outer expression and translation of a disorder, a disharmony in the inner being; unless this inner disorder is healed, the outer cure cannot be total and permanent."

An integral approach assumes great importance as it focuses on the very aim and goal of life itself. It is neither a mere mixing of various approaches, nor is it a new system or a special technique. It is called 'integral' because here the human being is considered in totality along with the universe of which he is a subunit. It is a multidimensional approach encompassing all levels of consciousness i.e. physical, vital, mental and spiritual including all types of forces acting upon the various levels, dealing with both the internal self and external self. Healing means to rediscover and restore communication with our inner self. Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Integral Health and Research (SAIIIHR)

Sri Aurobindo's Psychology

As in Buddhism, Vedanta, Neoplatonism, Sufism, Kabbalah, and other traditional wisdom teachings, the psychological elements of Sri Aurobindo's teachings are embedded in his overall message, which is essentially the transcendence of the human condition (in this case through spiritual-divine evolution rather than the conventianla nirvana or moksha of eastern spirituality). Psychology as a discipline in itself did not appear until the late 19th century, whereas wisdom traditions go back much further, and in this respect Aurobindo, whilst of the 20th century, follows the perennial philosophy.
However, elements of Sri Aurobindo's writings where he does discuss psychology (e.g. in Letters on Yoga and The Life Divine) are simply so far beyond what is generally considered psychology that they have no rivals anywhere in academia. In the modern world, only Jung and Psychosynthesis are comparable. Interestingly, Sri Aurobindo's psychology has almost nothing in it from traditional Indian systems like Vedanta (five koshas, three or four states of consciousness), Samkhya (tattwas), Patanjali Yoga, etc. Although he does sometimes use some of their sanskrit terms, he interprets them in a very different way.
Most of his psychology seems to employ instead Neoplatonic, Theonian, Theosophical, and generic Western Psycho-analytical (the concept of the subconscious) concepts, although he is very critical of the limitations of the latter. Central to his psychology and yoga is the concept of a two-parameters series of levels of being - a "vertical" series consiting of Physical, Vital, and Mental, and a concentric or inner series that includes the subliminal and the psychic being (Divine Soul). This is a very profound arrangement (and indeed inspired me to develop my own "integral paradigm"), but it is not presented systematically.
In the 1940s Dr Indra Sen, a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, established the field of "Integral Psychology" (after " Integral Yoga" - referring to Sri Aurobindo's teachings), although it was only in 1986 that his book on the subject - Integral Psychology: The Psychological System of Sri Aurobindo was published (by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.) Currently the most detailed coverage of Aurobindonian Integral Psychology can be found at Growth Online (see especially The Makeup of the Individual Human and The Course of Human Evolution for detailed material on this). Original content by M.Alan Kazlev and (integral psychology tables) Roy Posner (Growth Online) Kheper Home Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Home Integral Psychology Topics Index Esotericism Kheper Forum News and Events Khepershop Search Guestbook

Sri Aurobindo is a multi-facetted genius

“My father, Prof. Madhusudan Reddy got inspired to start a Sri Aurobindo university in Hyderabad ,” explains Ananda... "You see, Sri Aurobindo is often exclusively referred to as a yogi or a mystic or a poet. But that is a disservice to Sri Aurobindo, who is a multi-facetted genius. In the Orientation Programme we highlight nine different aspects of Sri Aurobindo's genius. He has expressed himself through many aspects, and each of them can be the basis for a study in itself: history, psychology, philosophy, Vedic and Upanishadic knowledge, literature, poetry.
"The Mother's works are no less important. For example, her Entretiens contain an enormous amount of applied psychology, and her yoga in the cells of her body is not even understood.” He gives an example from his own field, that of philosophy. “When you study Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine with The University of Tomorrow, you will be asked to study not only Sri Aurobindo's thought but also the great Indian and western philosophies.
Sri Aurobindo has read all the western and Indian philosophers but in The Life Divine he hardly mentions anybody by name (except for Shankara and a passing reference to Buddha and Ramanuja.) For he is not dealing with persons but with the development of human thought and explains the various philosophies in the context of their contribution to human thought and indicates the levels of their inspiration. Plato, for example, wrote that there is a world from where ideas originate. Sri Aurobindo speaks in his own philosophy of different levels of consciousness, and has classified Plato's inspiration as coming from the Higher Mind, just as he wrote about Buddha's inspiration coming from the intuitive mind.
Someone studying philosophy at The University of Tomorrow could be asked, for example, to research the relationship between Plato's level of ideas and Sri Aurobindo's levels of consciousness. Like this many things will come up.” The University of Tomorrow does not yet offer recognized scientific degrees. “We are in the process of linking up with the University of Pondicherry which has a ‘Sri Aurobindo School of Eastern and Western Thought'.
But they have no professor in Sri Aurobindo's studies, so to link up with SACAR and The University of Tomorrow would be also in their interest. Once recognized, The University of Tomorrow would be able to offer degrees through the Pondicherry university. But there are some administrative problems in it. Let us see what happens. Another possibility which we are looking into is to get affiliated to another Indian university or a university in the USA . For the moment our PhD. level courses will result in the title ‘Sri Aurobindo Scholar.'”
The response so far has been promising. The University of Tomorrow started on August 15th, 2004 , four months ago. “A few students registered for the various programmes, which has been very good for us to figure out where our approach was correct and where it needed to be adjusted, for we were not experienced in on-line teaching. Now the word is spreading and almost 55 students have registered for the Orientation Programme,” says Ananda. He has also offered the programme to Aurovilians and newcomers at subsidized rates so that they can also benefit from the courses offered by this on-line university.

Exclusive concentration

By Matthijs Cornelissen A talk given at the Cultural Integration Fellowship
When one starts with inanimate matter, and one tries to explain consciousness, one doesn’t get there. One gets stranded in what Chalmers called the "hard problem":
  • how can consciousness arise out of an inanimate chemical process? There is a kind of unbridgeable gap. In the Indian tradition there is a similar problem.
  • If you start with an absolute consciousness as the source of everything – the kind of absolute perfection the word purna addresses – how do you get to the nitty-gritty of ordinary life?
  • When you start with the Divine consciousness, how do you get to our level of stupidity?
  • From where can it have come?
  • This has been the central question of Indian philosophy. How did we become so ignorant?

It is similar to the Christian question where evil and the ego come from when God is good. Sri Aurobindo has an extremely neat explanation for it. He calls it a process of involution through exclusive concentration. He compares it to a boy who is reading a book. The boy is fully engrossed in reading and forgets everything else – who he is, his duties, what happens around him, everything. When one is fully engrossed – like we are now engrossed in this question of what is exclusive concentration – one forgets for the moment about Israel, the war, the traffic, one’s family; all that disappears.

Sri Aurobindo takes this exclusive concentration, which is clearly a capacity of consciousness, as the fundamental process responsible for the involution of the original, divine consciousness into its apparent opposite, matter. So what happens when one starts with the ultimate divine consciousness that comprehends everything? At first, there are no limitations – only pure vastness, infinity, light. Then it separates into a multitude of separate centres of consciousness, but each centre is still infinite and containing everything. Then these units start concentrating more. They start excluding other things. And they become more and more focused until in the end they are so focused that they become, for example, electrons which know only one thing, how to turn around a proton. It is an absolute, almost point-like concentration of the formative ability of consciousness. The only thing that still betrays the presence of consciousness at that level is the habit of form – the habit of turning around the nearest proton. Consciousness is here completely limited to one single, fully fixed expression, obeying the most basic laws of physics.

In between the top layer of free, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent consciousness, and the fully determined, purely physical level, all the other, typal planes of consciousness are formed. The mental consciousness is still somewhat free; it can float, it can see things from above. The vital consciousness is further involved. It cannot see things any more from above; it is bound to one point from where it interacts with others. On the lowest level there is the physical consciousness. Here consciousness is completely contained inside itself. There are physical interactions, of course, but only when different entities bump into each other. The consciousness cannot move out of its groove, cannot vary, cannot "play". So here is the end of the process of involution, here consciousness has hidden itself completely and has turned into its apparent opposite, matter. [Cf. Aletheia - TNM]

Integrality and the Purna Stotra

By Matthijs Cornelissen A talk given at the Cultural Integration Fellowship
San Francisco April 6, 2002 INDIAN PSYCHOLOGY INSTITUTE home
Integrality is an amazingly beautiful and powerful concept that, I think, is destined to pay a major role in the next stage of the collective evolution of consciousness in which we all are involved. It is somewhat urgent to talk about integrality because "integral" is becoming a kind of fashion word and once words become more popular, they tend to be used more and more trivially. I have heard a reputed and influential scientist object to applying an integral approach to the relationship between science and religion because he took integrality to mean the same as amalgamation – for him "integrating science and religion" implied that they were considered to be one and the same thing. This seems to me to be a rather tragical misunderstanding of integrality.
The concept of integrality in the names of the Cultural Integration Fellowship and the California Institute for Integral Studies was introduced with a very different purpose in mind. As far as I know, these names were coined to harmonise with Sri Aurobindo’s use of the word integral in Integral Yoga. Sri Aurobindo uses integral here as a translation of the Sanskrit word purna. and the word purna has a very beautiful and long history in India. Whenever the Upanishads are recited, it is a tradition to also recite the Purna Stotra:
Aum purnam adah…..
That is infinite. This is infinite. Infinite comes from infinite.
Take infinite from infinite, still infinite remains.
Aum. Peace! Peace! Peace!
It is a very short text in which the word purna occurs seven times. To translate purna is somewhat complex. In the context of the Purna Stotra you cannot really translate it with "integrality". In this context it is often translated with "the complete", or "the infinite". The stotra starts with, "That is infinite", meaning, "The Divine is infinite." "All This is infinite. This infinite comes from that infinite." And then it starts with a kind of mighty mathematics of the infinite. It says, "If you take away the infinite from the infinite, you still have the infinite." I think it is rather significant that whenever the Upanishads are recited, this Purna Stotra is used almost like a refrain. It realigns the listener to the infinite, and to effect that realignment is the very reason why the Upanishads are recited. The Purna Stotra is put in between other texts, to remind us that the real thing that matters is that completeness, that integrality, that totality that contains everything and that at the very same time is the inmost essence of everything. This ineffable totality exists in the aspect of That, which is totally beyond everything, and also in the aspect of This, the nitty-gritty of daily life. One cannot be without the other, for if you try, if you remove one from the other, still That One Infinite remains.
If one takes this concept of integrality seriously, then it turns upside down everything that we normally do and think. It is something extremely radical. If one really understands the concept of integrality, it gives a completely different perspective, a whole new understanding to life. The Western tradition in its basic approach, at least in the scientific sphere, is following just the opposite of an integral approach. It is rather significant that the scientific tradition has been basically reductionist, as reductionism is the direct opposite of integrality. What reductionism does, is to explain wholes out of their parts.
This non-physical element is not only present in the creation of complex "things" — like a car made out of parts, or a cathedral made out of stones. It is also there in all kind of processes, like the very activity of science. Physics, for example, deals, supposedly, only with inanimate matter, but what we overlook in saying so, is that in its dealing with inanimate matter, physics itself is a mental activity. Physics is to a very large extent based on mathematics and there is nothing material about mathematics. Mathematics is a phenomenon of the mental plane; it is a mental play with mental rules and symbols. So when we say that physical sciences are reductionist, this itself is already a misconception.
It is only because we completely identify with our mind that we don’t see it. When we think about the physical reality, that thinking as such is not a physical activity, but a mental activity; only, the mental aspect of it is hidden in ourselves. The fact remains that the total reality of a physicist looking at physical reality is not a purely physical phenomenon. It is something that is half mental, half physical, mental on the side of the subject, physical on the side of the object. So the physicist can pretend that he is working only with the physical reality, but that is only half the story.

The Mother is a seer

From The Journals, Boston, MA, 1985-1986: The most memorable event of the five days spent at my Harvard 25th Reunion had nothing to do with Harvard and something perhaps to do with the supernatural. During the past few weeks I have been involved obsessively with Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and Satprem. Though I have been reading Sri Aurobindo off and on since 1973, I had decided by the reunion that he was the greatest intellect ever to have addressed itself to the phenomenon of consciousness. Of the various allegations of Sri Aurobindo's supernatural powers I say nothing. These are a matter of record or a subject of skepticism. Whether he himself embodied the first mutation of mankind into supramental consciousness is not a subject upon which I can speak with authority-- or knowledge.
Mother's Agenda is one of the necessary utterances of the 20th century...Mother's Agenda, at least in its first 500 pages-- and I have at this point no reason to doubt that the next 5500 pages will differ in quality-- stands unique in the annals of humanity. That the Agenda is not an imaginative concoction on the part of Satprem is proved by the fact that the entire Agenda except for the first hundred or so pages and the inclusion of letters exists on tapes one of which I heard last night. With the dismissal of any suspicion of fraud one is left with the evidence of the Agenda itself, perhaps the most important statement made about evolution since the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859.
This coupling with Darwin, however far-fetched it might sound, immediately raises central issues. Darwin was an empirical scientist, plodding, exact, meticulous, possessed by a theory first perceived as legitimate in the Galapagos Islands which he spent decades gathering data to prove. Darwin's methodology is sacrosanct. Only Creationists and other Yahoos would regard Darwin as unworthy of consideration. The Mother is not a scientist. She is herself the laboratory experiment for the evolution of the race into another species by means of cellular mutation.
The Mother is a seer. Like Sri Ramakrishna, she enters into trances and has visions. These visions she describes and analyzes with the articulations of one gifted with the most profound of perceptions and aided with the immense intellectual categorizations of Sri Aurobindo. But whereas Aurobindo's stance is abstraction-- a skeptic might argue unprovable theory--the Mother's voice is that of concrete experience. What Aurobindo points to the Mother describes-- in a voice of pain, suffering, anxiety, exaltation, joy. As a seer, the Mother SEES. She sees what is invisible to the rest of humanity. She possesses prodigious powers of healing. Her consciousness, not confined to her body, constantly travels to other dimensions and communicates with other beings.
The Mother is the archetype of the psychic. Telepathy, clairvoyance, prophesy-- these are grist for her mill, preliminary powers to aid her in her monumental work of forging the bridge between terrestrial and supramental existence. Again and again the Mother enters into the Supramental, describing its constituent elements. The Mother is the Swedenborg of the Supramental and the Agenda is her Spiritual Diary. Like Swedenborg the Mother communicates with demons and spirits. That type of mentality called animism which anthropologists designate as the essence of primitive man characterizes the Mother's mind. The Mother is a primitive primeval force which entered into Nature at the beginning of creation and which has reincarnated successively to aid, accelerate, and generate the evolutionary process. The Mother is the incarnation of that which early man worshipped as the Divine Mother, the Mater Magna. Before her wisdom and her perception and her utterance in the Agenda we can only bow our heads in gratitude and thanksgiving.
There are parts of the Agenda that lack credibility. The Agenda is a work of literary magic. In reading it one enters a reality so different from our mundane world that one is obliged to ask certain basic questions. Is the Mother putting us on? Is she suffering from delusions? I have made a list of about twenty items that I find highly unbelievable. For example, the Mother claims that when Aurobindo died his consciousness entered into her body as a means of direct communication with the material world. Nightly the Mother who slept only two hours communes with Aurobindo in another dimension and in fact when Satprem on numerous occasions brings his manuscript of the book on Aurobindo to the Mother for her comments it is Aurobindo through the Mother who criticizes Satprem is writings.
Not only that but once when the disciples sat meditating in the courtyard an enlarged form of Aurobindo pressed down and sat upon them. There exists in the Mother's world a recognizable mythos and cosmology. Thus, according to the Mother, there are four Asuras or satanic forces on the planet, two of whom have been neutralized or converted. One of the other two, the Lord of Death, gave of f an emanation, Max Theon, who was the Mother's teacher in Tlemcon, Algeria at the beginning of the century. The Mother has much to say about Theon, far more than about her ex-husband, Paul Richard, himself an emanation of the Lord of Nations or Falsehood.
At one point the Mother literally threw me off the couch by her statement that it was she who by disguising herself as the Lord of Nations persuaded Hitler to invade Russia in order to insure Hitler's ultimate defeat and that it was she by means of a hovering force who saved Paris from destruction. In fact, the Mother claims that World War II was an attempt on the part of the Asuras to thwart the WORK, the Supramental Manifestation. In addition, in 1962 when China invaded India and suddenly, despite its seemingly imminent victory, withdrew, the Mother claims that it was her force that caused Peking's sudden about- face.
If the Agenda were only a couple of hundred pages long, one could dismiss it as the work of a kook. But the Agenda is 6000 pages and these items are only magical flashes contributing to its unique atmosphere. I am merely mentioning these paranormal items to get them out of the way. Another one is that while in Tlemcon the Mother was approached on separate occasions by the King of the Cats and the King of the Serpents, both spirits of their respective species and both wearing gold crowns, in order to make pacts. Whereas the Mother refused to enter into a pact with the King of the Serpents, she did so with the King of the Cats.
There are entire pages concerning the Mother's relationship with her cats, one of whom she claimed was the reincarnation of a Russian aristocrat murdered by the Bolsheviks. And then there are other things. Theon taught the Mother how to turn aside lightening. The Lord of the Snow, a gnome, came to Madame Theon when she planted Norwegian spruce trees. The gods Shiva and Krishna used to attend meditation sessions in the courtyard at Pondicherry. On November 24, 1926 Krishna entered Sri Aurobindo's body. In Algeria the Mother discovered the Mantra of Life and buried it. In 1923 her body became that of an eighteen-year-old girl. You see, the details add up to strain our credibility. But the portrait of the Mother and her conversations are so much more vast than these incidental items."
Another problem we did not discuss is the composition of the Agenda and the relationship between Satprem and the ashram. Apparently six months before the Mother's death in 1973 Satprem, the Mother's closest confidant and for twenty years privy to weekly sessions to record the Agenda, was barred admission to Mother's room. Not only that, but after the Mother's death all their correspondence from 1962 to 1973 was confiscated by the ashram, Satprem was expelled from the ashram, and he escaped with the tapes of the Agenda to Auroville. To this day Satprem is persona non grata in the ashram. The entire Agenda stems from Satprem's tapes but these tapes, except for the one I heard, are apparently not available. Thus there is no way of knowing what Satprem edited or deleted or changed from the original tapes with the Mother.
It is impossible to give any indication of the richness of these 2178 pages of Mother's Agenda, an experiment in consciousness, the consciousness of a mystic. To speak of another's mental state is ordinarily difficult enough that it has become the prerogative of the novelist. A great novelist, a Virginia Woolf, a Joyce, a Tolstoy, possesses the uncanny ability to empathize, to enter into the mental worlds of other people, to invent mental milieus by means of word and plot. But when the mental world is different in kind, when a mutation in consciousness itself takes place, perhaps one can only remain silent. Both in Greek and in Sanscrit a mystic is one who remains silent. But for 6000 pages the Mother never kept quiet, at least to Satprem, about her states of mind. To speak authoritatively about the Mother would presuppose a comprehensive knowledge of mystical literature, a familiarity with all the conflicting schools of modern psychology, and a literary finesse possessed only by a Satprem. RICHARD TITLEBAUM

Sri Aurobindo's yoga is much closer to Judaism and Christianity

"Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness?" That is more like it, although I wouldn't confuse it with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, because that is a more detached state, when I am talking about a very engaged and dynamic state of engagement. In fact, it is one of the reasons I rejected Buddhism--perhaps because of my upbringing in the Christian west--because I firmly believe that the world is worthy of our being in it, and that "enlightenment," or whatever you want to call it, must take place in the world, not in some detached nirvanic state of bliss. I like a challenge. (And I'm not saying Buddhism isn't right for others.)
For the record, this is the entire basis of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, and what sets it apart from other forms. In this regard, it is much closer to Judaism and Christianity, which unwaveringly regard the world as real and not an illusory condition from which we are best advised to escape: "The object of our Yoga is self-perfection, not self-annulment. There are two paths, withdrawal from the universe and perfection in the Universe... the first receives us when we lose God in Existence, the second is attained when we fulfill existence in God. Let ours be the path of perfection, not of abandonment; let our aim be victory in battle, not escape from the conflict." In other words, the task is to actually embody the higher, to bring it down into the lower, not to flee from life and thereby lose our sense of the divinity in everyday living. posted by Gagdad Bob at 6:58 AM One Cosmos

February 19, 2006

Guru-Bhakti yoga

BEWARE OF THE GOD The Pitbull of Gurus by Jim Chamberlain 1996
Guru yoga thus involves the integration of the positive qualities that have been projected onto a guru. The process by which this integration takes place is a form of the Jungian style meditation called active imagination. In active imagination one interacts with autonomous or archetypal figures arising from the unconscious, until the resultant relationship gives birth to a transcendent quality or an expansive shift in consciousness.
What Da describes as Guru-Bhakti involves first and foremost the finding of a guru figure upon whom one can project one’s wisest, most god-like, radiant, present, and beautiful self, the Self archetype. Then one either imagines, remembers, or contemplates an image or the literal person of this figure. And one then begins to allow this process of projection and identification to be felt throughout the body, inside and out, in every part and even down to the cellular level. The method involves bringing all of one’s sensory apparatus to a state of receptive focus on this singular symbol for the Self, the guru, through seeing, hearing, feeling, intuiting, and being in relationship.
To practice this technology of the body, mind, life force, and emotional being is to directly experience oneself as an interconnected part of everything instead of as Alan Watt’s “skin-encapsulated ego,” or Da’s self-contraction or ego - “I.” As a whole, human beings are only beginning to have access to this boudaryless experience of self, which makes it all the more mysterious, thrilling, and alluring.
  • Who is the guru, anyway?
  • Are gurus only projections of our own powerful and godlike Selves, or are gurus truly those who have fulfilled the highest potential of which human beings are capable, and who out of compassion teach others?
  • Let’s turn to Sri Aurobindo for some answers: - The Synthesis of Yoga

“The spiritual progress of most human beings demands an extraneous support. It needs an external image of God; or it needs a human representative, - Incarnation, Prophet or Guru; or it demands both and receives them.”

“The Hindu discipline of spirituality provides for this need of the soul by the conceptions of the Ishta Devata, the Avatar and the Guru.”
“It is necessary for (man) to conceive God in his own image or in some form that is beyond himself but consonant with his highest tendencies and seizable by his feelings or ihs intelligence. Otherwise it would be difficult for him to come into contact and communion with the Divine”
“Even then his nature calls for a human intermediary so that he may feel the Divine in something entirely close to his own humanity and sensible in a human influence and example. This call is satisfied by the divine manifest in a human appearance, the Incarnation, the Avartar - Krisha, Christ, Buddha.”
The spiritual practicioner should not “forget the aim of these external aids which is to awaken his soul to the Divine within him. Nothing has been finally accomplished if that has not been accomplished. It is not sufficient to worship Krishna, Christ or Buddha without, if there is not the revealing and the formation of the Buddha, the Christ or Krishna in ourselves.”
“...the greatest Master is much less a Teacher than a Presence pouring the divine consciousness and its constituting light and power and purity and bliss in to all who are receptive around him.”
“And it shall also be a sign of the teahcer of the intergral Yoga that he does not arrogate to himself Guruhood in a humanly vain and self-exalting spirit. His work, if he has one, is a trust from above, he himself a channel, a vessel or a representative. He is a man helping his brothers, a child leading children, a Light kindling other lights, an awakened Soul awakening souls, at highest a Power or Presence of the Divine calling to him other powers of the Divine.”
In other words, many of us must first come into contact with the divine through a human intermediary, but the intermediary is not the point, the recognition and openness to the divine is the point. If such a human intermediary becomes inflated, he has broken his “trust from above.” posted by holotrope Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at 12:52 PM